American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
Go
  • Records of the Holland Land Company

    Marian S. Henry

    A previous article discussed the role of the Holland Land Company in the settlement of western New York State. This consortium of Dutch bankers in Amsterdam had purchased 3.3 million acres west of the Genesee River in 1792.  When the company ceased operations in America in 1859, its records were transferred to the offices of Van Eeghen, one of the original members of the company.  Each volume or folder was given an inventory item number.  In 1964 the records were transferred to the Municipal Archives in Amsterdam.  The entire collection was microfilmed in 1984.[1]   This collection constitutes a local history of the area written by the participants – settlers, local land agents, bankers, and lawyers.  In this article we explore information contained in this archive, access to the microfilms, and how to use the records.

    The Holland Land Company was involved in many enterprises in America.  Most of the 202 microfilm reels are filled with details of the stuff of everyday lives, but as they are not indexed, they are of little use to genealogists.  The bulk of the records are made up of correspondence between the general agent in Philadelphia and the directors in Amsterdam, annual reports from local agents to the general agent, surveyors’ reports, legal papers, maps, etc.  Records may be written in Dutch, French, or English. 

    When local agents sold land, the location of the land was specified relative to the grid of townships and ranges laid down by the original Ellicott survey described in the preceding article.  A range is a strip of land six miles wide running north-south.  Ranges are numbered from one at the eastern border and run to the western border, reaching as high as fifteen in the southern part of the state.  Ranges are subdivided into six-mile squares termed townships.  Townships are numbered one at the Pennsylvania border and go north, reaching as high as sixteen along Lake Ontario.  Each square is identified by a township and range number.[2] In reality, many of the townships were not six miles square.  Surveyors had to work around the several Indian reservations not in the Holland Land Purchase as well as waterways and other natural features.

    The microfilmed collection of the company’s records is available at the Reed Library at SUNY Fredonia, the New York State Library in Albany, and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The microfilm reels are available through interlibrary loan and local Family History Centers.  The Holland Land Company resource page gives further details and a bibliography.

    Although there is no overall index to the collection, bound volumes often have some summary of the contents either at the beginning or the end. The most useful items for a family historian are the land tables. The land tables take up only three full reels and two partial reels out of a total of 202 reels. They allow a researcher to connect a name with a location and a date.  The general agent of the company compiled this information from annual reports of local agents.  Each agent was required to send a list of all land transactions to the general agent.  Each entry names the person, the location, the date, and the details of the transaction.  Karen Livsey extracted these microfilmed records [3] for her two-volume work titled Western New York Land Transactions.

    The following example shows how to use this finding aid.  In outline, one looks for a name in the index of the book, locates the appropriate extracts in the body of the book, uses the first table appended to this article to determine which microfilm reel contains the transaction information, and uses the second appended table to “translate” the township/range designation to a present-day county/town location.

    Nehemiah Sayer is the first name in Volume I, so I chose that for our example.  In the index to Volume I the name occurs five times, each time at the same location.  The five corresponding extracts are as follows.

    Name

    Date

    Lot

    S T R

    D

    Ref-page

    Nehemiah Sayer

    21 Sep 04

    2

    060501

    s

    484-0002

    Nehemiah Sayer

    21 Jun 03

    2

    060501

    o

    484-0016

    Nehemiah Sayer

    26 Jun 06

    2

    060501

    s

    484-00#8

    Nehemiah Sayer

    1 Feb 13

    2

    060501

    s

    490-0033

    Nehemiah Sayer

    4 May 13

    2

    060501

    s

    491-0032

    Column “STR” lists section, township, and range, which specifies the location.  Column “D” indicates the type of transaction.  In this case, “o” means original contract issued, and “s” indicates subsequent transactions.  The column “Ref-page” lists the inventory item number of the land table folder or volume and the page number within the volume.  From this table of extracted entries we already know that Nehemiah Sayer originally contracted for lot 2 in section 6 of township 5, range 1 on June 21, 1803. The details of this transaction are to be found on page 16 of item #484. We do not know from this entry when he actually occupied the site.  However, he had additional dealings with the local agent concerning this lot on September 21, 1804, June 26, 1806, February 1, 1813, and May 4, 1813.  It is likely that these transactions involved additional payments.  Deeds to the land were not issued until final payment was made.

    From Table I below we find that item #484 is on reel 109 (FHL film number 1,414,983) and items 490 and 491 are both on reel 110 (FHL film number 1,414,984).  From Table II we find that township 5, range 1 is in the town of Caneadea in Allegany County.  This gives a fairly precise location to begin searching tax lists, church records, census records, and other sources.  The table also indicates that the first contract in T5R1 was written in 1803, making Nehemiah Sayer one of the earliest settlers in the region.  Allegany County was created in 1806 from Genesee County.  We would therefore look for the Nehemiah Sayer household in Genesee County in the 1800 federal census and in Allegany County in the 1810 census.

    Table I. Relationship between inventory number and reel number and FHL film number

    Reel Num.

    Inventory Num.

    Year

    FHL film Num.

     

    Reel Num.

    Inventory Num.

    Year

    FHL film Num.

    109

    484

    1804-06

    1,414,983

     

    111

    499

    1821

    1,414,985

    109

    485

    1807

    1,414,983

     

    111

    500

    1822

    1,414,985

    109

    486

    1808

    1,414,983

     

    111

    501

    1823

    1,414,985

    109

    487

    1809

    1,414,983

     

    111

    502

    1824

    1,414,985

    110

    488

    1810

    1,414,984

     

    111

    503

    1825

    1,414,985

    110

    489

    1811

    1,414,984

     

    111

    504

    1826

    1,414,985

    110

    490

    1812

    1,414,984

     

    111

    505

    1827

    1,414,985

    110

    491

    1813

    1,414,984

     

    111

    506

    1828

    1,414,985

    110

    492

    1814

    1,414,984

     

    112

    507

    1829

    1,414,986

    110

    493

    1815

    1,414,984

     

    112

    508

    1830

    1,414,986

    110

    494

    1816

    1,414,984

     

    112

    509

    1831

    1,414,986

    110

    495

    1817

    1,414,984

     

    112

    510

    1832

    1,414,986

    110

    496

    1818

    1,414,984

     

    112

    511

    1833

    1,414,986

    110

    497

    1819

    1,414,984

     

    113

    512

    1834

    1,414,487

    111

    498

    1820

    1,414,985

     

    113

    513

    1835

    1,414,487



    Table II.  Relationship of Townships of the Holland Purchase and Towns and Counties

    County (year formed)

    Township

    Range

    Present Town

    1st Contract

    Allegany (1806)

    1

    1

    Bolivar

    1821

    Allegany (1806)

    1

    2

    Genesee

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    3

    Portville

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    4

    Olean

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    5

    Burton

    1823

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    6

    Carrolton

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    7

    Little Valley

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    8

    South Valley

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    1

    9

    South Valley

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    10

    Carrol

     

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    11

    Ellicott, Carrol, Busti

    1808

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    12

    Busti, Harmony

    1810

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    13

    Harmony

    1811

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    14

    Clymer

     

    Chautauqua (1808)

    1

    15

    French Creek

    1812

    Allegany (1806)

    2

    1

    Wirt

    1810

    Allegany (1806)

    2

    2

    Clarkesville

    1821

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    3

    Portville, Hinsdale

    1813

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    4

    Hinsdale, Olean

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    5

    Burton

    1820

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    6

    Carrolton, Great Valley

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    7

    Little Valley

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    8

    Cold Spring

    1819

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    2

    9

    Randolph

    1821

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    10

    Poland

    1807

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    11

    Ellicott

    1807

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    12

    Busti, Harmony, Ellery

    1804

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    13

    Harmony

    1807

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    14

    Sherman

     

    Chautauqua (1808)

    2

    15

    Mina

    1811

    Allegany (1806)

    3

    1

    Friendship

    1806

    Allegany (1806)

    3

    2

    Cuba

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    3

    Hinsdale, Rice

    1807

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    4

    Hinsdale, Rice

    1813

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    5

    Humphrey

    1805

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    6

    Great Valley

    1811

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    7

    Little Valley

    1805

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    8

    Napoli

    1819

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    3

    9

    Connewango

    1815

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    10

    Ellington

    1815

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    11

    Gerry

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    12

    Stockton, Ellery

    1805

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    13

    Stockton, Ellery, Chautauqua

    1805

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    14

    Chautauqua, Westfield

    1810

    Chautauqua (1808)

    3

    15

    Ripley

    1804

    Allegany (1806)

    4

    1

    Belfast

    1804

    Allegany (1806)

    4

    2

    Belfast, New Hudson

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    3

    Lyndon

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    4

    Lyndon, Franklinville

    1805

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    5

    Franklinville

    1805

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    6

    Ellicottville

    1813

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    7

    Mansfield

    1816

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    8

    New Albion

    1816

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    4

    9

    Leon

    1818

    Chautauqua (1808)

    4

    10

    Cherry Creek

    1815

    Chautauqua (1808)

    4

    11

    Charlotte

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    4

    12

    Stockton

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    4

    13

    Stockton, Portland, Chautauqua

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    4

    14

    Chautauqua, Westfield

    1810

    Allegany (1806)

    5

    1

    Caneadea

    1803

    Allegany (1806)

    5

    2

    Rushford

    1808

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    3

    Farmersville

    1811

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    4

    Farmersville

    1805

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    5

    Machias

    1806

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    6

    Ellicottville, Ashford

    1816

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    7

    Otto

     

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    8

    Otto, Persia

    1820

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    5

    9

    Dayton

    1810

    Chautauqua (1808)

    5

    10

    Villanovia

    1809

    Chautauqua (1808)

    5

    11

    Arkwright

    1805

    Chautauqua (1808)

    5

    12

    Pomfret

    1805

    Chautauqua (1808)

    5

    13

    Portland

    1804

    Allegany (1806)

    6

    1

    Hume

    1806

    Allegany (1806)

    6

    2

    Centreville

    1808

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    3

    Freedom

    1810

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    4

    Machias, Freedom

    1809

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    5

    Machias, Yorkshire

    1810

    Erie (1821)

    6

    5

    Sardinia

    1810

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    6

    Ashford

    1807

    Erie (1821)

    6

    6

    Sardinia, Concord

    1807

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    7

    Otto, Ashford

    1809

    Erie (1821)

    6

    7

    Concord, Collins

    1809

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    8

    Otto, Persia

    1816

    Erie (1821)

    6

    8

    Collins

    1816

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    6

    9

    Perrysburg

    1815

    Chautauqua (1808)

    6

    10

    Hanover

    1805

    Chautauqua (1808)

    6

    11

    Hanover, Sheridan

    1804

    Chautauqua (1808)

    6

    12

    Pomfret

    1804

    Wyoming (1841)

    7

    1

    Pike

    1805

    Wyoming (1841)

    7

    2

    Eagle

    1808

    Wyoming (1841)

    7

    3

    China

    1808

    Wyoming (1841)

    7

    4

    China

    1809

    Cattaraugus (1808)

    7

    5

    Yorkshire

    1809

    Erie (1821)

    7

    5

    Sardinia

    1809

    Erie (1821)

    7

    6

    Sardinia, Concord

    1808

    Erie (1821)

    7

    7

    Concord, Collins

    1809

    Erie (1821)

    7

    8

    Collins

    1809

    Wyoming (1841)

    8

    1

    Gainesville

    1805

    Wyoming (1841)

    8

    2

    Weathersfield

    1809

    Wyoming (1841)

    8

    3

    Java

    1809

    Wyoming (1841)

    8

    4

    Java

    1811

    Erie (1821)

    8

    5

    Holland

    1807

    Erie (1821)

    8

    6

    Coldon

    1819

    Erie (1821)

    8

    7

    Eden

    1803

    Erie (1821)

    8

    8

    Eden

    1806

    Erie (1821)

    8

    9

    Brandt, Evans

    1805

    Wyoming (1841)

    9

    1

    Warsaw

    1803

    Wyoming (1841)

    9

    2

    Orangeville

    1803

    Wyoming (1841)

    9

    3

    Sheldon

     

    Wyoming (1841)

    9

    4

    Sheldon

     

    Erie (1821)

    9

    5

    Wales

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    9

    6

    Aurora

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    9

    7

    Boston, Hamburg

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    9

    8

    Evans, Hamburg

    1804

    Wyoming (1841)

    10

    1

    Middlebury

    1802

    Wyoming (1841)

    10

    2

    Attica

    1802

    Wyoming (1841)

    10

    3

    Bennington

    1803

    Wyoming (1841)

    10

    4

    Bennington

    1804

    Genesee (1802)

    11

    1

    Bethany

    1803

    Genesee (1802)

    11

    2

    Alexander

    1802

    Genesee (1802)

    11

    3

    Darien

    1805

    Genesee (1802)

    11

    4

    Darien

    1807

    Erie (1821)

    11

    5

    Alden

    1808

    Erie (1821)

    11

    6

    Lancaster

    1803

    Erie (1821)

    11

    7

    Black Rock, Amherst, Cheektowaga

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    11

    8

    Buffalo City, Black Rock

    1803

    Genesee (1802)

    12

    1

    Stafford, Batavia

    1801

    Genesee (1802)

    12

    2

    Batavia

    1801

    Genesee (1802)

    12

    3

    Pembroke

    1803

    Genesee (1802)

    12

    4

    Pembroke

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    12

    5

    Newstead

    1801

    Niagara (1808)

    12

    5

    Royalton

    1801

    Erie (1821)

    12

    6

    Clarence

    1801

    Erie (1821)

    12

    7

    Tonawanda, Amherst

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    12

    8

    Tonawanda

    1805

    Genesee (1802)

    13

    1

    Elba

    1803

    Genesee (1802)

    13

    2

    Elba, Oakfield

    1801

    Genesee (1802)

    13

    3

    Alabama

    1810

    Genesee (1802)

    13

    4

    Alabama

    1804

    Erie (1821)

    13

    5

    Newstead

    1805

    Erie (1821)

    13

    6

    Clarence

    1810

    Niagara (1808)

    13

    6

    Royalton, Lockport

    1810

    Erie (1821)

    13

    7

    Amherst

    1806

    Niagara (1808)

    13

    7

    Pendleton

    1806

    Niagara (1808)

    13

    8

    Wheatfield

    1805

    Niagara (1808)

    13

    9

    Niagara

    1804

    Orleans (1824)

    14

    1

    Barre

    1812

    Orleans (1824)

    14

    2

    Barre

    1805

    Orleans (1824)

    14

    3

    Shelby

    1810

    Orleans (1824)

    14

    4

    Shelby

    1803

    Niagara (1808)

    14

    5

    Royalton

     

    Niagara (1808)

    14

    6

    Royalton, Lockport

    1802

    Niagara (1808)

    14

    7

    Lockport, Cambria

    1803

    Niagara (1808)

    14

    8

    Lewiston, Cambria

    1803

    Niagara (1808)

    14

    9

    Lewiston

    1803

    Orleans (1824)

    15

    1

    Barre, Gaines

    1808

    Orleans (1824)

    15

    2

    Barre, Ridgeway, Gaines

    1809

    Orleans (1824)

    15

    3

    Ridgeway

    1810

    Orleans (1824)

    15

    4

    Ridgeway

    1810

    Niagara (1808)

    15

    5

    Hartland

    1803

    Niagara (1808)

    15

    6

    Hartland, Newfane

    1804

    Niagara (1808)

    15

    7

    Wilson, Newfane

    1805

    Niagara (1808)

    15

    8

    Wilson, Porter

    1810

    Niagara (1808)

    15

    9

    Porter

    1803

    Orleans (1824)

    16

    1

    Carlton

    1804

    Orleans (1824)

    16

    2

    Carlton

    1803

    Orleans (1824)

    16

    3

    Yates

    1810

    Orleans (1824)

    16

    4

    Yates

    1815

    Niagara (1808)

    16

    5

    Somerset

    1809

    Niagara (1808)

    16

    6

    Somerset, Newfane

     



    [1] For more information of the microfilming project see Franciska Safran’s “The Preservation of the Holland Land Company Records,” New York History, April, 1988.

    [2] Thus township 1 range 1 is in the southeast corner, currently in Allegany County.  Township 1, range 15 is the southwest corner, bordering on Lake Erie and Pennsylvania.  Township 16, range 1 is the northeast corner of the Holland Purchase.

    [3] Western New York Land Transactions; Karen E. Livsey; Genealogical Publishing Co, Vol. I, 1804-1824, 1991; Vol. II, 1825-1835, 1996.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA
888-296-3447

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society