Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The Huntersland Christian Cemetery is a long established and well-maintained cemetery. As does the Huntersland community, the cemetery also straddles the line between the Town of Berne, Albany County, and the Town of Middleburgh, Schoharie County. Earliest burial 1844. Per a meeting on September 25, 1893 the official name is The Union Cemetery Association of Huntersland. Transcriptions of the tombstones posted on the Berne Historical Project site are courtesy of Steve and Anne LaMont, keepers of the history of Huntersland.

photograph by Barbara Bolster-Barrett

  • Many months ago I started editing the Berne, New York site on Wikipida to make it more meaningful. One of the sections I added is labled Prominent Residents. Today I added Daniel Simmons who had an axe factory in Berne.
Recently I went to Cornell University's ¨Making of America,¨ a digital online archive of journals and books on American social history. Searching on "Berne, Albany" I found a mention in the book History of Cohoes, Arthur H. Masten, 1877 of Daniel Simmons, a prominent former resident that I had not yet added to Wikipida.

"Daniel Simmons began life as a blacksmith and had a forge in the lower part of the city of Albany. Here he commenced making axes by hand for an occasional customer, using for the cutting edges German or blister steel, which was then supposed to be the only kind that could be successfully welded to iron. About 1825 it was found that by the use of refined borax as a flux, cast steel could be made to answer the purpose, and Mr. Simmons promptly took advantage of the discovery, being one of the first to put it to practical use. His axes soon became favorably known, and the demand for them was so increased that greater facilities for production became necessary. Accordingly in 1826, he removed to Berne, Albany County, where he secured a small water power, erected rude buildings, and put up trip hammers and other machinery. In time these accommodations proved insufficient, and Mr. Simmons went to Cohoes, where he founded an establishment, which under years of successful management, made the Simmons Axe familiar in all parts of the globe. This became the foundation of the establishment of the Cohoes Manufacturing Company." [from THE HISTORY OF COHOES]
  • I recently had an email from Rick Plue so I ran an ancestor report for him that had 560 people. Then I did a few hours of research and ran an update that had 35 pages with 836 peope. We are 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th cousins 1, 2 or 3 times removed through at least 9 sets of shared great-grandparents. But then I am cousins with most everyone who has Berne ancestors.
  • Got an email from my good friend and fellow researcher Russ Tallman who researches his Tallman ancestors and related Helderberg area families. With the inspiration of this site he has started a Tallman blog.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Today's featured cemetery is the

Dearstyne Family Burying Ground

This abandoned burying ground of the Lawrence Dearstyne family, who leased this lot in 1837, is in very bad condition. There are about 10 unmarked field stones. It is a sad little place. I wish I could post a photo but we have none. The Berne Historical Project would like to add GPS coordinates and photographic records of the stones to their site. If anyone can help us, it would be much appreciated. To find the cemetery follow the directions given on this link.


  • Yesterday I was searching the Fulton History site for items with the word "Berne" in them and found this article in the Albany Evening Journal on the August 27, 1916 dedication of St. Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church at East Berne.
  • I have added a permanent link in the left hand column for the Fulton History site.
  • Tom Tryniski, the Fulton History site owner, has generously offered to scan microfilmed archived copies of the Altamont Enterprise to post on his site so they will be available free of charge to anyone using the Internet. Once posted, archived newspapers are fully "searchable," and when an article of interest is found, such as an obituary or article on Berne, individual pages can be downloaded. I put the editor of the Altamont Enterprise in contact with Tom, and they have agreed that the Enterprise will have microfilmed copies of their archives sent to Tom for scanning. Having the archives of the Altamont Enterprise on line will be a wonderful service for all of the Hilltowns, and for descendants of Hilltown families living all over the country. Currently archived copies of the Enterprise are available on microfilm at the New York State Library, the Guilderland Public Library, and the Altamont Village Museum. Your local library may be able to get them on loan form the Guilderland library.
  • The same "Berne" search on the Fulton History site also turned up an article on the family of Sylvanus Walden Settle, born 1818 son of Jacob Settle, Jr. and Cornelia Rose Walden. About that same year, Jacob Sr. built a store with a meeting hall upstairs. He sold groceries, dry goods, crockery, hardware, paints and medicines. Source: Our Heritage. The former Settle store is the only store still operating in the hamlet of Berne.
Continuing the family line of work, Sylvanus Settle was a succesful Albany merchant when he died in 1899. In May 1901 his wife Caroline died leaving an estate of $30,000 dollars, some of which was left to various individuals in Berne and to the local churches. A front page article in the June 11, 1901 Albany Evening Journal gives the terms of her will and tells why her only living descendant, a granddaughter, was left just one dollar and was therefore contesting the will.
  • "Our Heritage," edited by Euretha Wolford Stapleton, former Historian, Town of Berne, and produced by the Town of Berne Bicentennial Commission, 1977, is a 144 page paperback on the history of the Town of Berne, including many early photographs, plus biographical sketches on the some of the families of the early settlers. Although much new information has been discovered in recent years on these families, there is still much of value in this very interesting book. Unfortunately it has been out of print for many years. A few years ago the Historical Society discussed the possibility of having it reprinted but for some reason nothing came of it.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I am not sure who should get credit for the above photo.

West Mountain Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery

The earliest stone in the West Mountain Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery is dated 1816. The M. E. Church florished during the second half of the 19th century. Apparently not used after 1900. Now the abandoned cemetery is owned and annually maintained by the Town of Berne. Records in the Berne Town Hall.


William Hooker, 1827

  • Now that I already know the answer, that Union Street south of Berne on many mid 19th C. maps of New York State is an error and was really Knoxville (hamlet of Knox) to the north of Berne, I was able to do a better Google search to confirm that answer. I found four references:

A History and New Gazetteer: Or Geographical Dictionary, of North America ... - Page 374

by Bishop Davenport - United States - 1843 - 592 pages

The Annals of Albany - Page 269

by Joel Munsell - Albany County (N.Y.) - 1854

Historical Collections of the State of New York: Containing a General ... - Page 51

by John Warner Barber, Henry Howe - New York (State) - 1842 - 608 pages

Gazetteer of the State of New York: Embracing a Comprehensive View of the ... - Page 164

by Frank Place - New York (State) - 1860 - 739 pages

  • Here is a 1917 post card of East Berne that I have not seen before. It is available on eBay.

The second building from the right is what is now Maple Inn. Originally built as Overlook House, it later became Dyer Inn. There are more early post cards showing the inn on the Warners Lake Association site. One of them even shows this same scene but in a different year.
  • Roberta (Overbaugh) Mattimore contacted me the other day offering to exchange information on her Overbaugh ancestors. I replied in part:
    I am an Overbaugh descendant, but I do not study all Overbaughs - only ancestors and descendants of folks who settled in Berne. That said, there are a lot them that I am interested in. That includes you and your ancestors.

    I have just produced a report of your Berne area ancestors on your father's side. It has 54 pages with 1322 people. I don't always all all siblings in each generation as it is just too many people.

    You are descended from Johann Peter Oberbach through his son George. (Was George's wife Catrina Spawn or Catrina Schmidt or both?) I am descended from Peter [brother of Johann Peter] via his daughter Anna Maria who md. Johannes Dietz who both massacred by the Indians in 1781.
  • Had an email from:
    Susan Ward Merk
    Ward-Spittler-Metz-Lyon Family Heritage Center
    I am descended from William Ransier who fled to Canada from NY and had a daughter Catherine who married my g-g-grandfather Seth Lyon. See my family website at"
  • Had a very nice exchange of emails with Judy North and Linda Borst Hogan who are researching Linda's Fetterly / Fetterle family. Linda is descended from John Fetterly b. 1751 who md. (Anna) Maria Paabst. I had not known that they were Loyalists and after the Revolution had moved to Ontario, Canada, as had Anna Maria's parents and siblings. (Along with a great many other families from the Berne / Knox area.) In doing further research on this family I found that a number of early records misspelled the family name as Vedder.
It is my opinion that Fetter and Vedder were pronounced very similarly in German. Featherly, Fetterly, and Fetterle are Americanized forms of the German name Federle. (Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.) Federle is a diminutive of the name Feder, which means Feather. (There is also the Dutch family Vedder in the area, but that is a different family entirely.)

Continuing my research I found that Johan Adam Papst, father of Maria Papst, served in Butler's Rangers and was awarded land in the eastern part of Upper Canada according to George Cloakey. John Papst, b. 1777, youngest brother of Maria Papst, died in 1869 in Osnabruck, Ontario. Maria's sister Elisabeth, married Gotlieb Otto, a distant cousin of mine, and they too moved to Osnabrouck (spelling?). Another brother, Rudoph Papst moved to Upper Canada.

  • My brother, Ralph, Town Historian, wrote me that he believes the article in the Berne Historical Project site on Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley may have been written by our distant cousin Marty Milner for something the they were doing in the late 90's or early 00's.


    ... is on Hunters Land Road (County Rte. 10), 1/10 mile east of the junction with Rapp Road (County Rte. 12). 105 yards on trail behind large sugar maple just beyond steep hill sign (next 1 1/2 miles). The small, abandoned, Clyne Family Burying Ground, the family of Peter Clyne (1804-1860) has a handful of graves surrounded by a stone wall perched above a shale pit. There are two children´s unmarked graves, each encircled by a ring of field stones, probably dating from the 1820's or 30's. We need someone to give us GPS coordinates.


    • For some time now I have been wondering why many maps of New York State dating from 1828 to 1850 show a hamlet called Union Street between the hamlet of Berne and Rensselaerville to the the south.

    portion of map by Young, James Hamilton, 1830

    Thinking that Union Street might be an alternative name for Union Church in New Salem, I Googled "Union Street" "New Salem" Albany"as a search. The second result was page 51 of Historical Collections of the State of New York; containing a general collection of the most interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to its History and Antiquities, with geographical descriptions of every township in the state, by John W. Barber and Henry Howe, published 1842. It says that Union Street was another name for Knoxville (present day hamlet of Knox).

    In taking another look at the maps I see that William Hooker, in 1827, made an error on his map (perhaps he copied an earlier map) and for the next few years other map makers just copied his error. Hooker's map had Berne where Knoxville / Union Street was located, and Union Street where Berne was located.

    Mystery solved!

    • Tom Tryniski, who is the webmaster of the Old Fulton NY Postcards site, has volunteered to scan and post early editions of the Altamont Enterprise if we can lend him microfilms. He will even make a CD of the newspapers and give it to the library that loans him the microfilm. I know that some library's have them available, but unfortunately Berne is not one of them. What can I do?


    • I am trying to identify the Tillie Zimmer b. 1856 who md. David Cook b. 1850 Town of Wright. In various census' she is called Tinna and Tina L. but according in the obituary of her son she Neil J. Cook she was identified as Tillie Zimmer.

    • A DAR Registrar from Cedar Rapids has contacted me on behalf of a woman who has asked for her help in joining the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) through her Patriot ancestor Andrew Secor b. 1758 in Rockland County. He was was a Private in the Revolution and about 1791 settled near Thompsons Lake. The woman is descended from Francis Secor b. ca. 1826 who died during the Civil War in 1864 in the Battle of the Wilderness. He married 1855 in Camden, Oneida County, NY. In the Berne Families Genealogy I have Francis as the son of Simon Secor b. 1788 of Berne, but have no evidence to support this. In fact, Francis may well have been the son of Simon's brother Andrew Jr. b. 1776 who was living in Knox in 1830 but by 1840 was in Camden. Who knows?

    • From Mark Brown:
      the Genealogical History of the Gallup Family in America" notes Almerin Gallup [1810-1888]- s/o Nathan - and a daughter ( not named but her first name is Minnie or Mary) Mrs. Henry Brown of Schoharie. As you see by my name - I'm a Brown and Henry Brown is related to my Brown's. I'm trying to find out where Henry's wife - son and daughter went to after his death. I have Henry's will - but I can't put my hands on it right now - BUT - he died about - between 1894 and 1900 I think. Henry is buried in St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery in Schoharie.
    Unfortunately, I was unable to help him.

    • This week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it has made available for the first time online more than 5.2 million records of some passengers who arrived during the last half of the 19th century at the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. The records can be accessed through NARA's online Access to Archival Databases (AAD).

    • Terry Wagner, a Warner descendant, wrote me about her interest in joining the DAR. I replied:
      I don't think you will be able to join the DAR using your Warner ancestors, although your fifth great-grandfather, Christopher Warner, was a private in the 15th NY Regiment. Unfortunately, according to the New York Commission for detecting Conspiracies, in 1780 Christopher Warner with thirteen other were apprehended "on the way to the enemy." He was sent to Albany by the Schenectady Committee. Examined July 23 and released Aug 4 on bail of 100 lbs. furnished by Henry Warner of Beaver Dam [his father-in-law].

    The good news is that Terry should be able to join the DAR through anther fifth great-grandfather, Daniel Secor. Daniel was b. 1756 in Haverstraw, Orange Co. and served in the Revolution. He moved to Thompsons Lake about the same time as Andrew Secor. They were undoubtedly related, perhaps cousins. Although some Secor descendants say they were brothers, I have not seen evidence to support this.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008


    Photograph by Terrell W. Shoultes
    Eddie Shultes and Terry Shoultes, July 2005

    The small (two stones) Mathias and Peter Shultes Family Burying Ground is on land that is part of the Partridge Ridge State Wildlife Management Area. Terry Shoultes, on the right in the photo, is an avid researcher of the descendants of his ancestor Mathias Shultes (1740 - 1812), an early Berne settler. Mathias was the son of Elizabeth Dietz and her first husband. In 1743 in Greene County Elizabeth married her second husband Jacob Weidman. Young Mathias came to Beaver Dam (as Berne was then called) about 1751 with his mother and step-father. Weidman has long been credited with leading the first settlers to Berne in 1750. NOT! A study of the baptism records in Schoharie show that his brother's-in-laws already had homesteaded the area more than a decade earlier.

    It wouldn't take much effort to restore this cemetery, but who will do it?

    The genealogy and history of the Shultes / Sholtes / Shoultes family, by Terry Shoultes, is in the Berne Public Library is located in the Town Hall.

    And now to the results of my historical research and genealogy of the past week or so:
    • In recent posts I discussed what was possibly the earliest tavern in the Town, in what is now the home of Ellen Yarmchuk in the hamlet of Berne. The photo of the house published in this 1936 newspaper article on the history of Berne shows a NYS Historic Marker in front. Nancy Yarmchuk Becker tells me the broken sign is in the basement of her mother's house. Perhaps the sign says the tavern was established in 1809 and was used as a recruiting center during the War of 1812. The public will not know until the sign is repaired and reset.
    • In the last post I mentioned Corporation Inn that was in the house now lived in by Andrew Wright across from St. Paul's Lutheran Church. At one time there was also a NYS Historic Marker in front that said.
    OPENED 1817 BY

    This sign is also gone but not forgotten. It had been broken, but a few years ago my brother, Ralph, Berne Town Historian, had it repaired. It is now leaning up against the garage of the Wright home, waiting to be reset.
    • The New York State Historic Marker Program, which was managed by the Education Department’s State History office as an active field program from 1926 to 1966, has now become largely an advisory and database management program. It is now up to the Town, the Historic Society, or individuals to maintain the markers. These markers were meant to remind us of our history, but now even the reminders themselves have been forgotten. Who will step up and be the guardians of our heritage?
    • Here is a list of some of the Historic Markers that were at one time in Berne. The 1809 Tavern sign is not listed. How many signs are missing?

    Monday, March 3, 2008


    photo by Barbara Bolster-Barrett

    Cook Family Burying Ground

    Today's featured cemetery is that of the family of Bennet Cook (1749-1801). The Cook Family Burying Ground is one of four on West Mountain on land that is now part of the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area. This small, pretty cemetery in a wooded glade of Red Pines is surrounded by a stone fence that is falling down in places. There are 14 stones, 7 of which are in fair condition and 7 in poor condition. Most are leaning, 2 fallen, and 3 illegible in 1984. The grounds receive annual maintenance.
      This is the start of an Oct. 2, 1937 article in the World-Telegraph. The Resettlement Administration had recently bought over 3,300 acres of scrubbed-out farm land to make it a forest and wildlife preserve (see previous post). This article tells of the lives of four families left in the area, including that of Ellery Shufelt, age 41. He and his wife, age 23, and their three kids aged 6 weeks, 1 1/2, and 4, were squatting in an old, abandoned farmhouse. Ellery, the middle of thirteen children, never got as far as the fourth reader and could not read nor write. They used kerosene lamps at night as the electric and gas companies never bothered to push up to West Mountain. During his stint in the Army during the World War he caught bronchial pneumonia and lost the use of one of his lungs. There was no government compensation for that kind of veteran. In 1936 he made a meager living by sharecropping, using an old drop-reaper -- the windmill type with arms sweeping the buckwheat back. He figured his share would be twenty-five bushels of buckwheat that would sell for about fifty-five cents a bushel, just about the cost of production. He would be using it as feed for his thirty or so chicks. He also had a cash job as a night watchman for the Resettlement Administration.
    • FIRST TAVERN IN BERNE? A couple of posts ago there was an item on this 1936 newspaper article on the history of Berne. It has the picture of a house with the caption:
      This neat dwelling in the heart of Berne hamlet was erected more than a century and a quarter ago and used as a tavern. Recruiting for the war of 1812 was conducted in the building.
      In reply to my question as to which house that was, Allen Deitz replied that he believes it is the house of Ellen Yarmchuk. Her daughter, Nancy Yarmchuk Becker, agrees:
      "I had remembered the date of 1807 or 1809--it's probably the date the house was built. I do remember it was utilized in the War of 1812.¨
      This recent photo of the Yarmchuk house was taken by Allen Deitz. It is my opinion that the original house was the part on the right and that it has been extensively remodeled to remove the original door and to raise the roof. The front room, which is now the living room, would have been the site of the early tavern and been where recruiting was done for the War of 1812. The two story wing on the left was probably constructed in the latter half of the 19th. century.
    • OTHER EARLY TAVERNS IN BERNE - Allen wrote again to say:
      While looking for info on old local taverns, I came across a web site on a book called,"Early American Inns and Taverns,¨ by Elise Lathrop(1926). There is a chapter on "Inns of New York State" that includes a few lines about three Berne taverns--Berne, East Berne, and South Berne. Al D.
      "at Berne [not given this name until 1825, (AD)], Henry Engle opened in 1817 his Corporation Inn, which had been Eli Whipple's residence [Berne was then called Corporation (HM)]: and three years later, Elnathan Stafford was keeping a tavern at East Berne, or Werner's Mills [as it was called at the time (HM)], and buying his liquors in Philadelphia [which for a time led to the hamlet being called ¨Philadelphia¨ (HM)]. At South Berne, [Called Centerville (HM)] in 1822, Alexander Mckinley, a wagon-maker, opened a tavern, keeping a trained bear, a moose, and life figures of noted criminals to attract customers."