Westchester County Colonial History Tour
European settlement in Westchester County began about the middle of the 17th century, at first along the easily accessible shores of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, and then further inland. Most of the county belonged to just two families, the Philipses and the Van Cortlandts, who managed their enormous properties as manors. South and east of the two great manors, Westchester was divided into smaller pieces. Most of them were either manors or patents; lands chartered to groups of proprietors rather than individual lords. Portions of these holdings were sold to settlers who formed freehold communities. By the middle of the 18th century, most of the native forests had been cleared to make way for farms. This historic trail contains churches, meeting houses and residences; the rare survivals of our Colonial heritage.