Tompkins County, named in honor of the Hon. Daniel D. Tompkins, formerly Vice-president of the United States, was taken from Cayuga and Seneca counties in 1817; limits since changed. Greatest length E. and W. 34, greatest breadth N. and S. 8 miles; centrally distant from New York 212, and from Albany 163 miles.
This county forms part of the high land in the southwestern portion of the state. Its summit generally is eleyated from 1,200 to 1,400 feet, but the singular and deep basins in which lie the Cayuga and Seneca lakes, have given a peculiar formation to its surface, and to the course and character of its streams. The Cayuga lake indents it on the N. about 18 miles; the Seneca lake extends southerly on its western border 12 miles. The greater portion of the country declines from all sides towards the Cayuga lake. The ascent from the shores of the lake is gradual and ~mriooth to the eye, yet it is rapid, and attains within 2 miles the height of at least 500 feet. This gives to the streams a precipitous character. The towns of Newfield, Danby, and Caroline, were purchased from the state by Messrs. Watkins and Flint. The towns north of these, excepting a small portion in the northeastern part of Dryden, belong to the military tract. That portion was in the cession to Massachusetts. The county is chiefly settled by New England emigrants. The New York and Erie railroad passes through the county. Tompkins county is divided into 10 towns.
(Historical Collections of the State of New York, Past and Present, John Barber, Clark Albien & Co., 1851)