Lewis County is a county located in the U.S. State of New York. As of 2000, the population is 26,944. It is named after Morgan Lewis, Governor of New York when the county was established. Its county seat is Lowville.
When counties were established in New York State in 1683, the present Lewis 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. The first one of these, in 1794, produced Onondaga County. This county was larger than the current Onondaga County, including the present Cayuga, Cortland, and part of Oswego Counties.
Lewis County was split off from Oneida County in 1805.
As of 2000, there are 26,944 people, 10,040 households, and 7,309 families residing in the county. The population density is 8/km² (21/mi²). There are 15,134 housing units at an average density of 5 persons/km² (12 persons/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 98.17% White, 0.39% African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 0.64% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 10,040 households out of which 35.30% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.40% are married couples living together, 8.40% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 27.20% are non-families. 22.60% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.80% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.66 and the average family size is 3.12.
In the county the population is spread out with 27.80% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 28.20% from 25 to 44, 22.50% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $34,361, and the median income for a family is $39,287. Males have a median income of $30,479 versus $21,115 for females. The per capita income for the county is $14,971. 13.20% of the population and 10.10% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 16.40% are under the age of 18 and 14.00% are 65 or older.