The First Settlements in Orange County, New York

Jeannette Holland Austin
9 min readAug 18, 2023
1906, Miniski, New York, Unionville courtesy of

There is a tradition that the first settlement of Orange County was in the old Minisink territory along the Delaware River. Although the supposed payment was mainly in Pennsylvania, the reported excavations, roads, and other work of the settlers were primarily in Orange County. The story of the tradition, and evidence that it has a basis of fact, are given in a letter by Samuel Preston, Esq., dated Stockport, June 6, 1828, which is published in Samuel W. Eager’s county history of 1846–1847, and reproduced in Charles E. Stickney’s history of the Minisink region of 1867. Eager says the letter “will throw light upon the point of early settlement in the Minisink country,” Stickney assumes that its second-hand statements are substantially factual. But Ruttenber and Clark’s more complete county history, published in 1881, discredits them. The essential parts of Preston’s letter are condensed here.

The Minisink Settlements

He was deputed by John Lukens, surveyor general, to go into Northampton County on his first surveying tour, and received from him, by way of instruction, a narrative respecting the settlements of Minisink on Delaware above the Kittany and Blue Mountain. This stated that John Lukens and Nicholas Scull — the latter a famous surveyor, and the former his apprentice — were sent to the Minisink region in 1730 for the government…