Friday, September 24, 2010

October Fundraising Dinners in Berne

October 2nd:  Annual Roast Pork Supper - Served family style from 3:30-6:30pm at the Berne Reformed Church: roast pork, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, gravy. green beans, homemade applesauce, rolls, homemade pie and beverage.

October 17th: Annual Roast Beef Dinner - Berne Volunteer Fire Company will have their annual Roast Beef Dinner serving at noon at the fire house. Cost is $10 at the door and $11 for for take out (prices may change closer to the day of the event. The menu will include: roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, cabbage salad, homemade pickles, vegetables, homemade applesauce, rolls, coffee, tea, milk and homemade pies!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Letter from Senica Snyder Ball in Delano, Minn. to his brother Charles E. Ball in Knox, NY --written May 1, 1899
Delano May 1 99
Brother Charley How are you? Anyway, i was Just thinking it is 23 years ago today that I was married. How time goes by here. I am giting to be a old man and I do hate to git old and rinkley. But we have to take our medicine as it comes to us. I have not had very good health for some time. But I am to blame myself. I lived little too fast when I was younger and I am now reaping Evil Doings. My Ray is in ND. He has been gone over a year. He is 17 years old. So you See I am Back Whare I was 25 years ago only Better fixed. I have a nice House of furnished in good Shape. But it is no Home for me Since my wife died. A young man can stand those things Whare a old man can't.
Well Charley Who gites the old farm whare we was all Raised? I hope you will git it. Have you made a Settlement yet? What will you give me for my interest in cash?
I must close. Give my Love to your wife. Tell her to write me and I will answer. It is awful hard work for me to write. I am so nervous i can't read this after I write.
Senica Snyder Ball

Saturday, September 11, 2010

West Mountain

Thanks to Katie Jean Bensen the history of West Mountain has been substantially updated.
West Mountain was first settled starting about 1790.
By the 1930s many farms had already been abandoned due to repeated cropping with buckwheat, barley and rye. Soil erosion was commonplace. Most of the farms on West Mountain were bought by the Resettlement Administration in the 1930s. 
Lewis Sherman House, Lot 400; taken say 1937. No longer standing.
From collection of Nicole Pelepzuck Cross
Much of the land, up to 80% had been deforested for farming. Federal money was used to purchase the unproductive farmland for just 2 to 4 dollars per acre. The government helped to move many of the farm families to other areas. However, several farms remained in the possession of the farmers. A few of these included the William D. Wood farm, the Crosby farm, Peasley farm, and the Sherbin farm. Katie Wood, wife of William D. was approached by the Resettlement Administration during the 1930's and asked to sell her farm, to which as history tells, she answered with a solid 'No".
In the early 1940's, the Federal government granted the NYS Conservation Department a 99 year lease for what is now much of the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area. The sum of $1.00 was the price for the lease, with three purposes stated for the land, forestry, wildlife and recreation. Over the next 20 years the total land accumulation through the Dept. of the Interior and the Division of Lands and Forests brought the total acreage to 5,478.



Berne School No. 3 was a half mile north of the Rensselaerville town line on Lot 401 on West Mountain.
Interior of the Berne schoolhouse 3 along with the teacher, John Pelepzuck, Jr. and Josie.
Picture from the collection of Nichole Pelepzuck Cross


Due to the location of this school so close to the Renssesselaerville - Berne town line, this school was jointly operated by the Towns of Rensselaerville and Berne.
It would be a careful but educated guess to say that the school started sometime between 1795 and the very early 1800's. Being situated on lot 401a it is safe to say the land was donated by John Crosby and John Crosby Jr. who occupied lot 401 in the year 1795 to the mid 1850's. Even though the Town of Berne was set off from Rensselaerville in 1795 it seems this school continued to be referred to as a Berne and Rensselaerville District even into the last years of its operation. Students from both townships attended this school well into the 1930's.
This school had many district numbers and names over many decades it was in operation. In addition to being the Berne school No. 3, it was also the Rensselaerville District School No. 23. (In 1816 this school was known as # 12 Berne.)
The school also bore other names such as Peasley School for the Peasley family living nearby. Blanche H. Peasley was the Enumerator in the early 30's and Wallace A. Peasley the Trustee in 1936. It was also called the Baptist Church School due to it's proximity to the early Baptist Church, and West Mountain Schoolon it's insurance policy.[1]. The label "West Mountain School" as referred to in the History of the Town of Rensselaerville, People made it Happen Here, by way of an insurance policy is believed to be inaccurate and referencing not this school but another that existed close to the town line, District #19.
Mis-numbered on the 1866 Beers map of Berne.
In 1933 this school was District #3 Town of Berne and Rensselaerville, Supervisory District #2. with Blanche Peasley as the Enumerator. This information was taken from the original school census of 1933.
The school was disolved on July 15, 1944. Falling down in 1976, the building is now gone.
From School Census August 30, 1933:
District no. Three Town of Berne and Rensselaerville. Supervisory district no. Two Albany County, J. Edward Smith District Superintendent. Trustee Herman Malin of Rensselaerville. Enumerator Blanche H. Peasley. Rensselaerville. According to this school Census / register all students in the district, from birth to 18 were enumerated. They are as follows: Theodore Apanasowich, Henry Malin, Richard Malin, John Pelepzuck Jr. Josephine Stephanawitz, Elizabeth Salzer, Joseph Salzer, Richard Weidman, George Pelikan Jr.

West Mountain School
Unknown West Mountain School
Can anyone identify this West Mountain School near Rensselaerville? According to the note on the back, at the time it was taken it was abandoned and soon to be torn down for as part of the land project that eventually became Partridge Run State Wildlife Management Area.

Notice to Choose Fence Viewer
Letter concerning a fence dispute. Contributed by Nichole Pelepzuk Cross.
Letter concerning a fence dispute. Contributed by Nichole Pelepzuk Cross.
Notice to Choose Fence Viewer.Town Law section 363 ante P 639To John Pelepzuck Persuant to section 363 of the Town Law you are hereby required to choose within eight days after service of this notice a fence viewer to act with Avery Zimmer a fence viewer I have chosen in determining the dispute which has arisen between us concerning the division fence between our lands; and if you fail to do I shall choose both of said fence viewers as authorized by law.
Dated this 18th day of May 1937
Wallace A Peasley
  1.  People Made It Happen Here, History of the Town of Rensselaerville ca. 1788-1950, Published 1977

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Recent items added to Helderberg Hilltowns site

Barbecue and yard sale
Berne-Knox-Westerlo Sports Boosters will hold a fund-raising barbecue and yard sale Saturday Sept. 18, from 10am to 5pm. at Berne Town Park. The chicken barbecue will begin at 1pm. Each dinner will cost $9, and will include a half chicken, baked potato, coleslaw, and dessert. Members of all 21 teams are participating, from the fall, spring, and winter sports seasons.


Sept. 2006, Allen Miller
A page has just been created for the two stone Eli Miller Family Burying Ground at the foot of Cole Hill in the Town of Berne.

Wife of Ellery Shufelt and his children
Ellery Shufelt, of West Mountain, was born 1895 one of nine children. He never got beyond the fourth grade and could not read nor write. Ellery was called to service in October of 1918. Ellery married his wife Beatrice in May of 1933. They had four children. The family was one of the last families to live on West Mountain in the 1930s when they were squatters during the time the federal Land Recovery Program were buying up abandoned and marginal farms. (Read the article on Partridge Run State Wildlife Management Area for more information about this period in the history of the Berne.) Both Ellery and his wife were stricken with TB. In the biography of Ellery Shufelt is a very interesting Altamont Enterprise article on his family and their hard scrabble life.
Ellery Shufelt and family
These photos were taken by Arthur Rothstein, the well known photographer for the Farm Security Administration.
TURNER BURIAL GROUND The Turner Burial Ground is located on West Mountain within the boundaries of the Partridge Run NYS Wildlife Management Area on Bradt Hill Rd; in the southwest corner of Lot 468. It is named after George Turner (1783-1833) who emigrated from England and settled on West Mountain in 1832. The earliest known burial was 1812; last was 1937. It seems to have been a community burying ground from the beginning, as there are many different names of early farming families who lived in the immediate vicinity. 100 by 140 feet. This cemetery was restored in 2003 as part of Berne Heritage Days. It is mowed regularly by the Town of Berne. It is surrounded by a stone wall in fair condition. The stone wall was repaired in the summer of 2009 by the Town. The front stone wall was rebuilt in the summer of 2010.
Rebuilt stonewall, 2010