About Wayne County, New York

Wayne County, originally included in lands of Ontario and Seneca Counties, became a separate county on April 11, 1823. The county’s history actually begins long before 1823. Little has been written about the early Indians who lived in and around Wayne County. When the first white pioneers arrived in 1789, it does not appear that there were any major Indian settlements in this area. Rather, the Indian made hunting and fishing trips into this region where bear, wolf, deer and a wide variety of fish could be found in large quantities. Sodus Bay was a favorite fishing spot and a well-worn trail extended from its shores to the head of Cayuga Lake, where the Indians had permanent homes.

Artifacts found throughout the county, and especially in the town of Savannah, indicate that Indians, at one time, did have permanent or seasonal camps in the area. In fact, as far back as 10,000 years ago, Indian hunters, following the retreating glacier, moved into the area to hunt such animals as mastodon and moose elk. Once agriculture was introduced into the Indian Society, permanent settlement moved to the south of Wayne County, into the area around the Finger Lakes.

The Indians had an appreciation of their natural surroundings, which has become part of our heritage in the names which they used: for example, Sodus, a shortened form of the Cayuga work meaning “silvery waters”

County Historian
Jane Milem
Wayne County Public Safety Building
7376 State Route 31, Lyons, NY 14489
(315) 946-5470