The story of Livingston County begins 200 years ago today. It was on Feb. 23, 1821, the Livingston County was formed from parts of Ontario and Genesee counties.
The county is named in honor of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston. Though he never resided in Livingston County, he was among the Founding Fathers of the United States and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Livingston also helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase.
Current Livingston County officials marked the occasion during a Board of Supervisors meeting today, which included a proclamation commemorating the date, and the county will continue to celebrate with special events planned throughout the year.
A schedule of events can be found online at www.livingstoncounty.us and below.
The 12 original Livingston County towns were: Avon, Caledonia, Conesus, Geneseo, which was designated the county seat, Groveland, Leicester, Lima, Livonia, Mount Morris, Sparta, Springwater, and York.
Livingston (1746-1813) was the eldest son of Judge Robert Livingston (1718-1775) and Margaret (née Beekman) Livingston, uniting two wealthy Hudson River Valley families.
Among his many contributions, Livingston was a member of the Second Continental Congress, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, and in 1789 he administered the oath of office to President George Washington. As a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, Livingston worked alongside Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Roger Sherman.
A regional and national luminary, Livingston served as Chancellor of the Supreme Court of New York (1777 to 1801). As the United States Minister to France from 1801 to 1804, he was one of the key figures in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon Bonaparte, a sale that marked a turning point in the relationship between the two nations.
During his time as U.S. Minister to France, Livingston met Robert Fulton, with whom he developed the first viable steamboat, the North River Steamboat, whose home port was at the Livingston family home of Clermont Manor in Clermont, Columbia County.
In addition to the naming of Livingston County in his honor, Robert R. Livingston's legacy lives on in numerous ways including a statue commissioned by the State of New York and placed in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol building, his inclusion on the Jefferson Memorial pediment sculpture which honors the Committee of Five, and in the famous painting by John Trumbull of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Livingston died on Feb, 25, 1813, and is buried in Tivoli, Dutchess County.
Livingston County was formed almost exactly eight years after his death.
Learn more about Livingston County's history in this special commemorative special section published in January by The Livingston County News: