Wednesday, August 19, 2009


We have a few very active volunteers adding old photos and articles to I have just done an extensive update of our main page to highlight some of our new projects, one of which in "Then and Now" photos of buildings in the Hilltowns. Thanks to Marty Duel for posting the first set of photos.

We also have completed the inventory of the hundreds of men from the four Hilltowns: Berne, Knox, Westerlo and Rensselaerville, that served in the Union Army during the Civil War. While we have begun biographies for each of them, much remains to be done if we are to meet our deadline of 2011 for a book on the Hilltown men in the CW and their families. Help is needed and appreciated. If any of you have Hilltown ancestors, we would invite you to visit our site and contribute to it.
Three weeks ago on I posted images of Wm. Cockburn's 1787 survey map of the Western Manor of Stephen Van Rensselaer III. Since then I did an extensive rearrangement of the images and updated the key to the images so they were more readable. I also rearranged the order of the images so they are in the same order as the key. And I made separate maps for Knox and Berne. I have started to annotate the map of Berne to make it easier to understand. See images 3, 7 and 11 to see where I am headed. I have also started an index for Berne and Knox. The index was already done for Rensselarville, and hardly anyone lived in Westerlo. (must be the same is true today, at least I am not aware of anyone there who is interested in the history of the town.)

  • 1787 survey map gives and interpretation of the overall 1787 map (needs to be revised).
  • 1787 map of Knox has images of the Knox section of the northern half of the map
  • 1787 map of Berne has images of the Berne section 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

From Nancy J Curran:

--32nd Annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar Oct 2 and 3 in Albany New York


Russell Shorto, noted author, will speak on “Oh, Henry: What Has the Hudson Year Wrought?” at the opening reception of the 32nd Annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar, Thursday, Oct. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at the NYS Museum, Albany. Admission is free.

Oct. 2 and 3 the Rensselaerswijck Seminar, “Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s Colonie: The Beginning of European Settlement of the Upper Hudson,” will be in the New York State Museum’s Carole Huxley Theatre. Registration is at 9 a.m. both days.

Genealogy and history will be twin themes in the analysis of the history of the Van Rensselaers, both from the aspect of their place in history and the succeeding generations of the family.

Click here for more information about the seminar.

Early morning mist on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Photos courtesy of my High School classmate Charles Sloger, who still hangs around Berne. Yes, that is Berne, by the dawn's early light. I never get up that early myself, but am glad he did.

Here are more of his photos:


The year 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Several hundred Hilltown men served in the Union Army with a casualty rate of maybe 25% killed or injured. It had an big impact on the Towns and their families. We are writing biographies on each soldier. Information from the biographies will be used to produce a book on the lives and families of Civil War veterans. Publication is targeted for 2011.

The book will be in three parts:
  • The events leading up to the war with emphasis on why the men in upstate NY seemed compelled to join the army of Father Abraham.
  • The history of the units and their battles.
  • Biographies of the Hilltown men. Individual biographies could be authored by family researchers.
Thanks to many people, especially Betty Fink and Pam Molle, a list of Hilltown men in the Civil War is complete, and biographies have been started for each of them. Right now some of the biographies consist of just the basic facts gleaned from Civil War Records.

Help Needed

We need one or more volunteers for each of the towns to flesh out the biographies. If you see something below you think you might be interested in, contact me before beginning so I can coordinate who is doing what and prevent duplication.

  • One of the sources would be the Hilltowns Genealogy posted on the Berne Historical Project web site. This can be done by anyone familiar with how to update biographies in this project. It is not difficult and I can help you learn.
  • If the men lived until the latter part of the 19th C. or longer, I would like on line newspaper archives, such as the Altamont Enterprise, or Albany papers posted on the Fulton History] site, searched for additional information, such as obituaries.
  • We also need someone with access to census data, such as that posted on and other sites, to add census information for the Civil War men.
  • Family researchers are asked to write or contribute information on their ancestors who served. We need copies of photos, letters written home from the soldiers, death notices, pension requests, military papers, medals, pictures of tombstones, family stories, etc.
  • An article needs to be written about each of the units in which Hilltown men served including the history of the unit and the major battles in which the unit fought.
  • A list of Hilltown men by unit is needed for the appendix. It should also have a summary of each one's fate (KIA, wounded, captured, died in prison, died as a result of wounds, life-time disability, unrelated death, unknown). All of the information for this assignment is in the biographies as currently written.
  • We need someone to take photos of the headstones of Civil War veterans to add to their biographies so we will have them available for our book. This should be done by cemetery. Volunteer to do a cemetery and I will try to get you a list of the CW men buried there.
The book editor will be Michael Grant Hait Jr.. Michael lives in the Washington DC area and has access to the National Archives; he is currently writing a book on Civil War soldiers and is experienced with an on-demand publishing.
Go to our Civil War pages to see what information we have collected so far.