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During the Revolutionary War when General John Sullivan and his army moved through the Finger Lakes region in 1779, most resident Indians fled to the British at Fort Niagara, Canada where they had been promised safety and care. Small groups remained outside the perimeter of the Army’s march which was ordered by George Washington as a move to deprive the British of support provided by their Indian allies. Villages and crops were destroyed.
After the war some of the veterans of the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition returned to the region to settle the lands. Earliest permanent settlers arrived in: Town of Montour 1788; Hector 1790; Dix 1797; Cayuta, Reading and Tyrone, 1798; Catharine 1799 and Orange in 1802.
As known today, Schuyler’s eight towns were formed as follows: Catharine in 1798; Hector 1802; Reading 1806; Tyrone 1822; Cayuta 1824; Dix 1835; Orange 1836; and Montour, the last defined geographically, 1860, six years after the county was established.
Watkins Glen was officially declared the county seat in 1877 after a prolonged legal struggle with Montour Falls for the designation.