Herkimer County is a county located in the U.S. State of New York. As of 2000, the population is 64,427. It is named after General Nicholas Herkimer, who died from battle wounds in 1777 after taking part in the Battle of Oriskany. Its county seat is Herkimer.
When counties were established in New York State in 1683, the present Herkimer County was part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.
On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately five miles west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.
In the years prior to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County to honor the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.
In 1789, the size of Montgomery County was reduced by the splitting off of Ontario County from Montgomery. The actual area split off from Montgomery County was much larger than the present county, also including the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming, Yates, and part of Schuyler and Wayne Counties.
In 1791, Herkimer County was one of three counties split off from Montgomery (the other two being Otsego, and Tioga County). This was much larger than the present county, however, and was reduced by a number of subsequent splits.
In 1798, a portion of Herkimer County, together with a portion of Tioga County, was taken to form Chenango County. Another part of Herkimer was split off to form Oneida County. This county was larger than the current Oneida County, including the present Jefferson, Lewis, and part of Oswego Counties.
Herkimer County is known for producing extremely clear quartz crystals, shipped all over as Herkimer diamonds.
As of 2000, there are 64,427 people, 25,734 households, and 17,113 families residing in the county. The population density is 18/km² (46/mi²). There are 32,026 housing units at an average density of 9 persons/km² (23 persons/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 97.83% White, 0.51% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 0.90% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 25,734 households out of which 30.60% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.20% are married couples living together, 10.30% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 33.50% are non-families. 27.60% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.70% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.46 and the average family size is 2.99.
In the county the population is spread out with 24.40% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 26.60% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 16.80% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 94.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $32,924, and the median income for a family is $40,570. Males have a median income of $29,908 versus $21,518 for females. The per capita income for the county is $16,141. 12.50% of the population and 8.90% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.60% are under the age of 18 and 10.40% are 65 or older.