Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This was the basis for the Article on the history of Berne from the Knowersville Enterprise, 1884

Bern entry in the Gazeteer of the State of New York, By John Homer French, 1860

Bern[1] - was formed from Rensselaerville, March 17, 1795. Knox was taken off in 1822. It lies near the center of the western border of the county. The Helderbergh Mts., 1200 feet above tide, form the eastern border. Grippy and Irish Hills, two broad mountains, with steep declivities and rolling summits, 900 to 1000 feet above tide, occupy the center. The s. and w. arts are hilly, and the N. rolling. The principal streams are the Foxen Kil and the Switz Kil. These streams flow N. W. through narrow valleys bordered by step hill sides. Werners and Thompsons Lakes, in the N. E., are small sheets of water. In the lime rock, in the N. E. part, are numerous small caves and sink holes.[2] There are several sulphur springs in town. The soil is a sandy and gravelly loam interspersed with clay. Bernville (Bern p.o.) contains 50 houses;[3] E. Bern[4] (p.v.) 15; S. Bern (p.v.) 15; and Reidsville (p.v.) 12. Peoria is a small village on the line of Knox. Settlement was begun about 1750 by a few German families. In 1777, a company of 85 militia were raised in this town, of which the captain and 63 men joined the British, and the remainder the Americans at Saratoga. Bernville, then called “Beaver Dam,” was fortified during the war, and sentinels were posted at night to prevent surprise by the Indians.[5] The place at one time became a rendezvous for tories.[6] The Ref. Prot. D. Church of Beaver Dam was formed in Jan. 1763. The first settled pastor was Johannes Schuyler, in 1767.[7]

Footnotes (from original)

  1. 1. Named from the native place of Jacob Weidman, first settler and mill owner.
  2. 2. In one of these caves, during the [Revolutionary] war , a notorious tory and spy named Salisbury was concealed for some time, but was at last arrested. The place is still known as ‘’Tory’s Hole.’’ Simm’s Schoharie, p. 525.
  3. 3. In 1825 an extensive axe factory was erected here; but it was soon after removed to Cohoes.
  4. 4. Formerly called ¨Philadelphia, and still locally known as “Philla.”
  5. 5. The family of Johannes Deitz, consisting of 8 persons, were murdered by the Indians. – Simm’s Schoharie, p. 499
  6. 6. Cornelius Schermerhorn kept a tory rendezvous, and at one time an abscounding paymaster from Burgoyne’s army is said to have been murdered at his house.
  7. 7. A parsonage farm was given to this church by S. Van Rensselaer, midway between Bernville and Peoria and a church was erected upon it. In 1835 the society was divided, and a new edifice was erected at each of the villages, the farm being held in common by both societies. The census reports 13 churches in town: 4 M. E., 3 Ref. Prot. D., and one, each, Bap., Evang. Luth., and Friends.

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