Start looking for Tompkins County place name histories in the Place Names of Tompkins County (2004) book, edited by County Historian Carol Kammen and written by the county municipal historians.
You can find many local history books at the Tompkins County Public Library. Check out its digitized local history books at the Tompkins County Public Library Local History page.
Don’t forget to use your computer’s search engine to find information. Many local records have been digitized and are searchable. In the Google search engine, for example, click on the “More” menu to access digitized books under the “Books” tab.
Keep track of your sources. Write down the book name, author, other relevant publication information, and page number of the book in which you find a name, date, or other key fact. (For more information about how to cite different types of research, consult the Purdue Online Writing Lab’s Research and Citation Resources guide.)
It’s always a good practice to verify a fact in more than one source. (Sometimes you’ll find that sources don’t agree!)