Compiled by Marie B McCutcheon
This was a project undertaken for the sole purpose of being an at-hand reference tool to make more convenient the work of delineating the local history of the Town of Ripley, Chautauqua County, New York. That it might also benefit researchers of family roots is bonus indeed.
Do not expect to find it without errors which could be those of the preparer or those of the original census taker. However, extreme care has been used in trying to produce faithful copy of sometime difficult to read and/or interpret original material or facsimile thereof, material which can be found in the County Courthouse at Mayville or Reed Library, SUNY at Fredonia.
Of the 1810 census, let it be said that this was part of the first Federal Census taken on what was frontier territory at the time -territory still part of Genesee County, New York, which included two towns named Chautauque [formed during 1804] and Pomfret [formed during 1808]. Chautauque County, formed during 1811, incorporated the area of these two towns.
Theoretically, therefore, the lists include the names of all men who were at that time in what became Chautauqua County. Not so. We know that some of the men were hiding or out hunting in the dense forest when the census taker pulled the latchstrings on the cabin doors! As time elapsed there was further break-down of the new county into other towns. Ripley was erected on March 1, 1816 and named in tribute to Gen. Eleazer Wheelock Ripley, under whom locals had fought during the War of 1812.
It is important to know that the census of 1820 includes the names of some who resided in the western portion of Westfield, New York, after that town was formed during 1829 from parts of the towns of Ripley and Portland.
Interesting to observe are the changing formats of the censuses with respect to what the government wanted to know about its population. Frustrating is that given names were not considered useful during the taking of the first few Federal Censuses, those decade years ending in 0.
Although there were earlier State Censuses for the decade years ending in 5, none has been located for Ripley until 1845. Because it is a cumbersome document, only the first page containing the most pertinent genealogical data is used in the printing of this reference tool with an accompanying legend for the headings of its many columns; and the additional pages for a selected name of interest to a researcher will be available by writing to the undersigned.
If members of your family left footprints in Ripley, it is sincerely hoped that you can trace them here.
Marie B McCutcheon Historian, Town of Ripley, New York