Friday, July 16, 2010


  • Colony of Rensselaerwyck - In 1629 most all of the land in Albany and Rensselaer Counties were part of the Dutch Colony of Rensselaerwhyck which had been granted in that year to Kiliean Van Rensselaer, a wealthy Dutch Merchant.
  • Rensselaerwyck Manor - When in 1664 the English wrested control of the Dutch Colonies in the New World they continued to honor the Van Rensselaer land grant, which now became known as the Rensselaerwyck Manor.
  • Beaverdam - About 1740 the first settlers in the what is now the western half of the Town of Berne said they were from the Beaverdam. (These homesteaders were actually squatters since they did not lease the land from the Van Rensselaer owners.) Marriage records in both Schoharie churches and churches below the hill say the bride or the groom was from Beaverdam or Beaver Dam. And, of course, about 1765 when the first church was formed in the area, it took the name "The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the Beaverdam." ("Dutch" signified that the congregation was "Deutch", i.e. German.)
  • Town of Watervliet - In 1788 the Town of Watervliet was created; it consisted of all of what is now Albany County except the city of Albany, and part of Schenectady County. For the next two years folks who a few years later would live in Berne were from Watervliet.
  • Town of Rensselaerville - In 1790 the Town of Rensselaerville was created from the western half of Watervliet. The result was that in the 1790 federal census everyone who lived in what are now the Towns of Berne, Knox and Renssselaerville were listed as being from Rensselaerville. In 1791, in a Van Rensselaer deed for the Reformed Church farm, the church was called, "The Reformed German Church of Beaverdam in the town of Rensselaerville," thus acknowledging the change in the name of the town.
  • Town of Bern - In 1795 the Town of Bern was created from the northern two thirds of the Town of Rensselaerville. Rensselaer town officials selected in 1790, lived in what is now Berne; and when Berne was created they became the town officials of Bern and kept Rensselaerville's official journal. For them it was a merely a change of name and a reduction in size. The first use of the name Bern for the area is when the Town was created. Records for churches below the hill continued to say people from Bern were from Beaverdam for the next decade before they finally got use to using the name of Bern. In 1797 the Reformed Church officially became "The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Bever Dam." They gave up changing the name of the church every time the name of the Town was changed.
  • Town of Berne - Our Heritge, the 1977 Bicentennial history of the Town of Berne, says the spelling of the town name was changed from Bern to Berne sometime in the late 19th century. The middle of the 19th century would have been more correct, since it was spelled Bern in the 1850 federal census and Berne in the 1860 census.