Saturday, February 7, 2009


Our Heritage, published in 1977, is a 144 page book on the history of the Town of Berne. It was edited byEuretha Wolford Stapleton, Historian, Town of Berne.

The second page of the book says it was copyrighted by the Berne Historical Society. That is an error; an errata inserted inside the front cover says that there was a publication error and that the book was produced by the Town of Berne Bicentennial Commission, and: ''The copyright should read The Town of Berne not the Berne Historical Society.''

The book includes many early photographs and biographical sketches on the some of the families of the early settlers. It was printed both in paperback and in hardback.

The first chapter, ''The Coming,'' starts:
"As nearly as can be determined from records of births, deaths, and deeds it was 1750 when Jacob Weidman led a small band of settlers along an old Indian trail through the Helderbergs. Weidman, Ball, Bassler, Deitz, Hochstrasser, Knieskern, and Zeh - where or how did they meet? Probably we shall never know."

In fact a study of baptism records of these "first" settlers show that the story of Weidman leading a group in 1850 is not true. The Dietz and Ball families had already lived in Beaver Dam for ten years. The Bassler family was in Philadelphia in 1765. The Hochstrasser's were still in Knox in 1787, The Knieskern and Zeh families had settled first in Schoharie Valley in 1712. Only the Jacob Weidman family arrived about 1750, and that was because the brothers of his wife, Elisabetha Dietz, were already in Beaver Dam. This article, originally published in the Altamont Enterprise, has more information on the early settlers of Berne.

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 is now out of print.

  • Berne Civil War page at the site has a transcription of a page from Our Heritage with links biographies of the men from Berne who were in the Civil War.

  • Re-printing of ''Our Heritage''?
Perhaps if enough interest is shown in the reprinting of ''Our Heritage'' The Town of Berne could be persuaded to print a second edition. If this is done, it should have a forward or afterword with a brief summary of current thinking about the history of Berne. This might be done by a "Print-on-Demand" publisher using digital copies of the current book.

If you support this idea, please go to the edit tab of Our Heritage page at and add your name to this petition asking for a re-print.

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