The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record is a great resource for finding the history of early settlers there. The first volume was published in 1870 and contained an assortment of information from family genealogies and biographies to marriage licenses issued and church records.
Each volume is available with free access for online reading. Most are searchable but for best results, check the "Contents" of each volume to see what you can find, in addition to using the search feature.
Note: If you have a subscription to FindMyPast or are a member of the NY Genealogical and Biographical Society, you can search and browse these volumes and more . Click here.