Founding Documents

Colonial-Era Settlement, 1760

A pivotal step leading up to the Town of Milan’s incorporation occurred on November 2, 1760.  That is when Robert Livingston, Third Lord of the Manor and his wife Mary conveyed to Johannes Row, Jr the 911 acres that comprise Lot 22 of the Little Nine Partners Patent.  Johannes Row, his father and other family members were part of  the planned relocation of Palatine immigrants to what is now Germantown.  More at Bard Archaeology.  This transaction was the first, formal legal settlement of what would become a central portion of Milan.  The deed has been extraordinarily cared for by generations of parishioners of the Rowe United Methodist Church, who have allowed us to feature the deed here, our many thanks.
RARE: link to Index of LNP Deeds and Mortgages 1741 to 1813 by Milan Town Historian Clara Losee.

Formal Incorporation as a Town, 1818

March 6 – law passed

March 31 – effective date of law, town formally created

April 7 – first town government meeting

Did we almost become the town of “West NorthEast?

In 1812, while the present towns of Milan, Pine Plains and NorthEast were all known as “NorthEast” it may not be surprising that the post office set up by Steven Thorn in its western portion, in what is Case’s Corner (formerly Milanville) ~ was officially called “West NorthEast.”  It is probably safe to assume, although no one knows for sure, that the town of Milan is named after the Italian city (although pronounced differently).

Not only were there a number of States clamoring for a city or town named Milan, even within New York State the race was on.  At lest four other counties, Onondaga, Jefferson, Cayuga and Yates, all had (failed) attempts to establish Milan as an official name of a town.

The map on the left shows DeWitt’s 1802 map of Jefferson County, where 11 towns were to be crafted out of land south of the Black River, including the Town of Milan confidently depicted.  The city we now call Syracuse, in Onondaga County, was known as “Milan” from 1809 to 1812.  The map on the right shows Burr map of 1839 with the “village” of Milan in Cayuga County.  Having lost out to Dutchess County for naming rights, they needed to rename their post office “Locke” instead of Milan in 1818, but have kept the informal reference to the village of “Milan.”  It is worth noting the village of Milan is just east of the towns of Genoa and Venice.  In 1818 Samuel Lawrence of Ontario County petitioned the state legislature to adopt the name of “Milan” for a newly created town, but when lost out to Dutchess County, he settled for the name of “Milo” instead (Yates County History, 1873).

It appears that Milan in Dutchess County was the first city or town to be incorporated in the United States with this name.  The following is a list of states with a “Milan” and incorporation date. Origin of name assumed to be for Italian city unless known and noted otherwise.  Sequentially after Milan, NY: New Hampshire (1824, named for Milan Harris), Michigan (1831), Ohio (1833), Indiana (1836), Tennessee (1858), Missouri (1859), Kansas (1880), Illinois (1893, Village), Minnesota (1893), New Mexico (1957, Village, for Salvador Milan), Georgia (1970).

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