Friday, August 7, 2009


Switzkill Valley settlement in 1787>

About 1785 Stephen Van Rensselaer III hired William Cockburn to survey his Helderberg wilderness in preparation for leasing the vacant land in the hills. The resulting 1787 survey map shows roads, churches, mills, and streams, gives the lot number and name of each leaseholder that were already there at the time of the survey.

The northern half of the map is of Berne and Knox. The southern half of the map is of Rensselaerville and Westerlo. The map is in the NYS Library Manuscripts and Special Collections Division in Albany. In the 1930s or 40s they made what they call "photostats" of the original map.

The photostat copies of the northern half of the map is on 14 sheets. Basically it is 3 sheets wide and 4 sheets high for the first two rows, and 5 sheets wide for the southern two rows. The southern half map is divided into two sets, SE and SW. The SE set of photostats includes all of Westerlo and eastern third of Rensselaerville. The SW set of photostats includes the rest of Rensselaerville. Each of these two sets consists of 12 sheets; 3 sheets wide and 4 sheets high.

When I (Hal Miller) was at the NYS Library the end of June, 2009, I made used my digital camera to make a digital image of each sheet for all three sets. I then cropped the images and enhanced them to the best of my limited ability.

I have just uploaded the images to

1787 survey map gives and interpretation of the overall 1787 map (history and interpretation needs to be revised).
1787 map of Berne and Knox has images of the northern half of the map
1787 map of Westerlo has images of Westerlo and eastern third of Rensselaerville
1787 map of Rensselaerville has images of the western two thirds of Rensselaerville