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