Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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and has been in existence since 1838 ; Calvary Cemetery of St. John's
Catholic church of Albany is situated at Bethlehem Center, containing
seventeen acres ; the German Catholic Cemetery of the Church of the
Holy Cross of Albany is near Bethlehem Center, and the Evangelical
Protestant Cemetery of the church of that name at Albany, is at
Hurstville, and was incorporated in 1853.

There are no large villages in this town, although there are ten post-
offices, as follows : Bethlehem Center, South Bethlehem, Slingerland's,
Selkirk, Cedar Hill, Decker's Corners, Delmar (formerly Adam's Sta-
tion), Normansville, Glenmont, and Hurstville. Most of these are
mere hamlets which have gathered about the post-office, or an early
mill, or a store and a few shops. Besides these post-offices there is a
small village of Kenwood (formerly known as Lower Hollow), which is
practically a suburb of Albany and is connected with it by trolley cars.
So thickly placed throughout the town are these numerous hamlets
that their description substantially constitutes the modern history of the

Bethlehem Center is situated four miles south of Albany on the old
Albany and Betiilehem Turnpike. Some of the first settlers here were
Joshua Babcock, from whom the locality was early known as Babcock's


Corners, James Gibbons, Job Gardner, and the Davis family. Minor
business interests and institutions have existed here many years and at
the present time consist of a hotel kept by Charles Seeley ; the post-
office, school house, blacksmith shop, and a Bellingerite church now
seldom used.

South Bethlehem (formerly Janes's Corners) is ten miles from Albany
on the Bethlehem turnpike before mentioned, and now a station on the
West Shore Railroad. Early settlers here were William Janes, John
and Henry Callanan, Ambrose Wiltsie, and the Kimmey, Mosher and
Coffin families. A tavern was opened here in early years by Elishama
Janes. The well known Callanan, saw, grist and cider mills were sit-
uated here, but just over the town line in Coeymans ; they originally
belonged to Philip Kimmey and were an important industry, but are
no longer operated. In early times a tannery was in operation here
which was built about 1825 on the farm of John and Isaac Coffin ; it
was operated many years by Robert Carhart, afterwards by Cornelius
Waggoner, and still later by Frederick Schaupp; it was burned in
1883. The post-office was opened in 1874, and William McGee is the
present postmaster. The late Henry and Peter Callanan owned here,
just over the Coeymans line, a large quarry and sione-crushing plant,
from which a large product is now taken out by the Callanan Road Im-
provement Company. Two stores here are kept by E. C. Palmerand Peter
Ginder respectively. A few shops complete the industries of the place.
The old Methodist church, one of the oldest in the county, was recently
remodeled into a more modern structure.

Slingerlands is a prettj' village, which in recent years has been chosen
as a place of residence in the summer seasons by a considerable num-
ber of families from the city, from which it is distant seven miles on the
Albany and Susquehanna Railroad. The Albany and New Scotland
road passes tiirough the village. The name of the post-office here was
formerly Normanskill, was established in 1852 by W. H. Slingerland,
who was postmaster many years, and the name changed in 1870 in
honor of the Slingerland family, which was the most prominent in this
section of the town. John I. Slingerland was long a leading citizen ;
he was actively engaged in business and held several local offices. He
had a son John, who was also prominently identified with the interests



of this section, and was father of C. H. Siingerland, who now carries
on a large printing business in the place. W. H. Siingerland, ex- mem-
ber of assembly and a prominent civil engineer, is also a resident.
The name applied t^^ the railroad station was in recognition of his
valuable services for the company. Albert I. Siingerland, another
member of the family, who died in the summer of 1896, owned a large
amount of real estate, built the Methodist church and a large part
of the dwellings in the village. There is a pleasant hotel in the
village, with the name Home Lawn Hotel, which was formerly the resi-
dence of J. VV. Mattice ; it is now kept by Rufus Zeeley A store is
kept by S. Dickson, who began business here in 1885. B. F. Allen &
Co. were merchants and succeeded in 1895 by Archer La Grange, who
has been postmaster twelve years. Jacob Brate formerly kept a store
in the village. Charles P". Dietz operates a saw mill and cider mill
three-fourths of a mile from the village, towards Delmar. There are
the usual small shops here, and a Methodist church.

Four miles from Albany, on the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad,
is Delmar, formerly Adamsville, or Adams Station. The nucleus of
the village was a large hotel built in 1836 by Nathaniel Adams, from
whom the place received its early name. He also made other perma-
nent improvements. The Flagler, Waters, Erwin and Bussing families
were early settlers here. A post-office was opened in 1840, and Mr.
Adams was appointed the first postmaster. A small mercantile inter-
est has existed since that time and is now represented by two stores,
one kept by M. J. Blanchard, and the other by Paddock & Patterson.
There are two churches in the place. Within a few recent years this
pretty suburban village has become the place of residence of numerous
families from Albany and elsewhere. This feature of its growth prom-
ises further advancement. Through the influence of these new-comers
the name of the place was changed a few years ago to Delmar.

Normansville is a hamlet where a post-office of that name has been
established in recent years, which was formerly called Upper Hollow,
in distinction from Lower Hollow, or Kenwood. The hamlet is situ-
ated on both sides of the Normanskill, and through the water power
supplied by that stream considerable manufacturing came into existence
here in early years, some of which survived to later times. The Nor-

manskill at this point has cut a deep ravine through the soil and down
to the rock, over which it flows with a gradual descent. At the time
of the construction of the Albany and Delaware turnpike it passed
across this ravine on a wooden bridge ; this was carried away by a
freshet in 1868, and the town erected an iron one in the next year, the
turnpike company having given up the toll road. The construction of
that road and the opening of a toll house at the west end of the bridge
led Isaac Stiles to open a tavern for the accommodation of travelers on
the turnpike. Soon afterward and about 1820 he erected a saw mill,
into a portion of which was placed machinery for carding wool and
dressing cloth, and for cutting dye-woods. S. Congdon and A. B.
Sweet were later owners of these mills, which were nearly destroyed by
a freshet while in possession of the latter. He rebuilt and engaged in
manufacturing straw paper. At a later date the property passed to F.
Hinckle, who began manufacturing potato starch. This business was
finally abandoned.

On the west side of the creek, below the bridge, James McCormick
built a grist mill about 1 820. Nathaniel Sawyer was a later owner,
and put in carding and dye-wood machinery. The property subse-
quently passed to Henry Arnold, and was ultimately burned. Mr.
Arnold rebuilt and sold to other persons, the mill finally becoming the
property of Heman Hardy, who put in wrapping paper machinery and
has since carried on that business, excepting at intervals. A hotel is
conducted at Ncrmansville by Charles Smith.

Kenwood, or Lower Hollow, is a suburban village built up below the
falls of the Normanskill and near where it enters the Hudson. Settle-
ment at this point was coincident with that of Albany, beginning with
that of Andriesen Bradt, who built a mill here in 1630 which remained
in possession of members of the faniil)- until 1678. After the close of
the Revolution the Van Rensselaers built mills here for grinding, saw-
ing lumber, wool carding, cloth dressing, etc. These mills passed under
ownership of many persons and eventually were abandoned or burned.
A large knitting mill was operated for a time in more recent years, which
was burned and a factory for the manufacture of felt cloth and blankets
established, which was also destroyed by fire a few years ago. The fac-
tory has not been rebuilt. A large flouring mill was erected about 1884


south of the bridge, which is now a part 6f the estate of Mrs. Sarah R.
Townsend and is operated by Frank Chamberlain who took possession
in 1892. A store is kept here by Thomas and John Cook, and a hotel
by P. J. McManus.

What is known as the old Cherry Hill mansion was formerlj' the res-
idence of Gen. Solomon Van Rensselaer. That family owned most of
the lands in this immediate vicinity in early years. Mount Hope, a
commanding elevation rising to the west of the Hudson, was long the
property of Ezra P. Prentiss, who made many improvements on his
farm and its appurtenances. Joel Rathbone was long a resident of Ken-
wood, and gave it its romantic name. The village is connected with
Albany by electric cars.

Hurstville, formerly called Log Tavern, is a mere hamlet two miles
northwest of Albany on the Albany and New Scotland road. It was
given its former name from the fact that a log tavern was kept by one
of the first settlers, named Hagadorn. Later it took the name of Hurst-
ville from William Hurst, who settled here in 1861. Urban Van Hart
and William Gilbert were early settlers here. A hotel is kept by Will-
iam Hurst; there is no other business.

Selkirk is a post-office and hamlet, and a station on the West Shore
Railroad in the southeastern part of the town, and takes its name from
two or three Selkirk families who settled there The post-office was
opened in 1883. and a store is kept by M. E. Skinner. Many Albanians
have summer residences here.

Becker's Corners is a post-office seven and a half miles from Albany
on the Albany and South Bethlehem road, and takes its name from the
Becker family, of which Albertus W. Becker, long the postmaster, is a
member. A hotel, blacksmith shop, and toll gate with a dozen resi-
dences make up the hamlet.

Cedar Hill is a post office and hamlet eight miles below Albany on
the river road and three fourths of a mile from the landing. The NicoU,
Winne, Van Wie, Sill and Cooper families settled here early. The place
takes its name from the cedar trees that once grew in the vicinity.
Quite extensive docks have been constructed at the river, where ice is
shipped in large quantities, and produce is bought and shipped. Barent
Winne is engaged in this business Winne & Riker and the Kimmeys
followed the same business earlier.


Glenmont is a station and post-office on the West Shore Railroad
about a mile below Albany. Considerable moulding sand is shipped
from here. There are no stores or other business interests in the place.

The early school houses in this town, like those in neighboring com-
munities, were built in almost every instance of logs, and the teaching,
as well as the accommodations, was primitive and unsatisfactory. One
of the first of the log school houses in Bethlehem was situated on the
Nicolls farm, at Cedar Hill. It was in existence almost or quite at the
beginning of the century, and it is a tradition that the scholars were
permitted to go out of doors to witness the first passing of Fulton's
steamboat up the Hudson in 1807. That was then the only school
house between the Coeymans line and Albany, and the district was so
large that five have since been organized from it. Among the names
of early teachers of Bethlehem are found those of Wallace, McCracken,
Van Huysen, Goodhue, Talmage, Davis, Bennett, Smith, Nelson, Jacob
K. Marshall, Hezekiah Burhans, Daniel Haynes, and others. Bethle-
hem, with Coeymans and New Scotland, now constitute the first school
commissioner district of the county and contains, as it has for many
years past, fourteen districts, with a school house in each. In recent
years the school buildings have been greatly improved, some being
built of brick, and all are comfortable and convenient.

The church organizations of Bethlehem date frem the last century,
the earliest one being the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church,
which later became the First Reformed Church, which was organized in
1793. In the next year Solomon Van Rensselaer gave this society 100
acres of land, which has been known as the parsonage farm. Christian
Bork was the first pastor of whom there is record. It is not known just
when the first church building was erected, and the present one has
been in use many years. In 1841 a Reformed church was erected at
Adamsville (or Adams Station) At that time many members of the
Union Reformed Church, at Unionville, who lived at considerable dis-
tance from their church, proposed the erection of a chapel at Adams-
ville. Nathaniel Adams generously donated an acre of land for a
church site and the chapel was erected. Preaching was maintained as
a branch of the Unionville society. In 1847, forty four members of
the Unionville society petitioned for the organization of a church at


Adams Station. On January lo, 1848, the Consistory of the Union-
vilie society resolved to grant the request of the petitioners, to deed to
the Adamsville people the church property there, and also to appoint
two commissioners to report their proceedings to the Classis. The or-
ganization of the new society was then perfected. Elders Leonard G.
Ten Eyck, and Peter Hilton, and Deacons William H. Slingerland and
Joel Van Allen, of Union church, were constituted a distinct consistory
for the new church, and on February 3, 1848, they certified to the title
of the organization as The Second Reformed Dutch Church in the town
of Bethlehem. In March, 1848, a call was extended to Rev. John A.
Lansing, who came and served the society twelve years. During his
pastorate and in 1851 the parsonage was built on land adjoining the
church edifice. The church itself was enlarged and improved in 1859,
and again in 1879. In 1884 an addition was built for the use of the
Sabbath school and social purposes.

In the year 1822 a number of churches seceeded from the Reformed
Dutch Church through differences in doctrine, and organized them-
selves into the Classis of Union, with the title of True Reformed Dutch
Church. About 1827 a society of this organization was formed in
Bethlehem. The church edifice was erected near Bethlehem Center in
1854. The first pastor was Henry Bellinger and he remained with the
church fifty years. The first church officers were Peter Kimmey, Storm
Vanderzee, and David Kimmey. The Classis of Union is composed of
six churches, one in each of the counties of Albany, Fulton, Mont-
gomery, Rensselaer, Rockland, and Schoharie.

The First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem was organized Novem-
ber 3,183s, by Rev. John H.Campbell, D D.,^nd Rev. William P. Davis,
with fifty- three members. The first pastor was Rev. William P. Davis,
who was ordained in December, 1835. The first house of worship was
erected in the same year; it was enlarged and refitted in 1869 at a cost
of $4,000. A parsonage belongs to the church. The property is situ-
ated about one and a half miles west of Hurstville. The first elders of
the society were Jonathan E. Walley, John R. Bullock, Volkert V.

The Methodist Episcopal church at Adams Station was organized
about 1830, and a house of worship was erected in 1833. Rev. Henry


Williams was the first pastor. Among the early members were Helmes
Hotaling, Daniel Clark, John Oliver and his wife, Benjamin Holmes
and his wife, William Coughtry and his wife, James Sigsbee and a Miss
Patterson. In 1850 a second church was built east of the school house ;
it was taken down in 1871 by a portion of the congregation causing a
division in the church. This resulted in the building of another Metho-
dist church at Adamsville in 1873. The first pastor of the new organ-
ization was Rev. Peter B. Harrower. When the division just referred
to was made, or soon afterward, the part of the congregation that did
not leave the old society erected a church at Slingerlands. The edifice
is of brick, with Sabbath school and lecture room, and cost $9,000
The first officers of this society were David Couse, John Wademan,
Robert Frasier, Hezekiah Van Buren, David Winne, John Ostrander,
and William Simmons. Rev. D. B. McKenzie was the first pastor.

The Methodist Episcopal church at South Bethlehem, is the out-
growth of the first society of this faith organized in the town. In No-
vember, 1823, was dedicated the first church edifice, which stood a
short distance east of Becker's Corners. In 1824 the following trustees
were chosen : Robert D. Carhart, president ; Isaac S. Wright, treas-
urer; Joel Squires, secretary; John Ten Eyck, Hugh Jolly, William
Cooper, Joshua Poor. Bradley H. Glick was the first preacher. In
1845 this building was taken down and the materials in part used in
the erection of another church at South Bethlehem, which was dedi-
cated in 1846. The first trustees of this society were Hugh Jolly, Jehoi-
chim Spawn, Hercules Baddo, Charles Chapman. Cornelius Waggo-
ner was secretary and treasurer, and the first pastor was Reuben H.

A Free chapel was erected in 1877 near Cedar Hill, which was used
by Christians of any denomination.



The town of Berne lies upon the Helderberg Mountains on the west-
ern border of the county, and is the central one of the three western
towns. Along the northern part is a ridge that rises abruptly from the
Foxenkill in three spurs which bear the local names of Grippy, Irish
Hill, and Uhai ; the first of these names has an unknown origin ; the
second is from the number of Scotch-Irish settlers in that vicinity, and
the third signifies high garden, from the Indian language. The south-
ern and western parts of the town are hilly, with rocky ravines among
the highlands, in the beds of which flow small streams. The principal
streams are the P'oxenkill and the Switzkill ; the first rises in the
eastern part of the town and flows westerly, partly underground, to-
wards Warner's Lake, and thence into Schoharie Creek. The Switzkill
rises in Westerlo, flows northward and empties into the Foxenkill. On
these streams have been built extensive saw mills and grist mills neces-
sary for the community. Along the banks of the creeks the soil is very
fertile; on the hillsides is found excellent grain land, while among the
mountains it is in many places light and suitable only for meagre

The Beaverdam, so called, divided into the upper and lower, extends
from the East Berne to the West Berne hamlet. The dam itself was
on the Foxenkill, at a point near the residence of George Schell, and
early gave its name to the Dutch church in that vicinity and to the
villages along the valley.

Warner's Lake covers about one hundred acres and is situated a mile
north of the hamlet of East Berne; it took its name from Johannes and
Christopher Warner, who early settled on its banks and the descendants
of whom still live in the vicinity. Thompson's Lake, which received its
name from John and William Thompson, is about one hundred acres

in extent and lies in the extreme northeast part of the town, extending
over into the town of Knox. This lake has in recent years become
quite a popular resort.

Mineral springs of considerable importance exist in Berne, two of
which are mentioned in an early geological report. These are on land
owned in recent years by Jacob Hochstrasser. The water is strongly
sulphurous. Other springs of similar character are in the valley of the
Switzkill and there is also one on the farm of Thomas J. Wood. At
Riedsville is a spring.impregnated with carbonate of iron and sulphureted

The town of Berne was apportioned from Rensselaerville March 17,
1795, and included the territory of the town of Knox, which was set off
from Berne February 28, 1822. The territory of Berne was a part of
the Van Rensselaer Manor and now contains 38,942 acres of land.

In the strife between the Tories and Indians and the patriotic colo-
nists, at least two stockades were built within the limits of what is now
Berne; one of these was near the Petrus Weidman house in Berne vil-
lage, and another on the Adam I. Deitz farm in the Switzkill valley.
This town was the scene of a bloody deed during the Revolutionary
war that distinguishes it in that respect from all the other towns of
Albany county. Johannes Deitz, the pioneer, was an ardent patriot
in the cause of independence ; his family were his wife, his son and his
son's wife, with four young children, and with them was a man servant
and a boy named John Brice. This family were massacred by Indians
and tories in 1780. The grist mill of Jacob Weidman was then the only
one at all near and was about five miles from the scene of the massacre.
The Brice family, then living at Rensselaerville, sent their young son Robert
to this mill with a grist; with him were several other lads on a similar
errand. Evening approached before the grinding was finished and all
the boys excepting young Brice decided to remain with the miller all
night. The farm of Johannes Deitz was situated midway between the
mill and the Brice home, and when the lad reached that point he con-
cluded to remain all night and enjoy the company of his brother John.
As the boy reached the gate of the lane leading to the Deitz house an
Indian sprang out of his concealment, seized the horse's bridle and led
the animal directly towards the house. As they passed the barn the


lad began to realize wliat had taken place, for he saw the dead body of
Mr. Deitz prostrate and covered with blood, while between the barn
and the house lay the bodies of Mrs Deitz. the son's wife, four children
and a servant girl. About fifteen Indians were busy in their work of
plundering the house. Capt. William Deitz, son of Johannes, and the
boy John Brice, were tied to a near-by apple tree.

Finishing their terrible work, the Indians set fire to the building and
then started with their prisoners and horses along the path towards
Rensselaerville. The first night they camped within a mile of the Brice
residence, and on the morning of the second day continued on to
Potter's Hollow, Oak Hill, Middleburgh, Breakabeen, Harpersfield,
through the Susquehanna valley, and eventually reached Canada.
When news of the massacre reached the Schoharie garrison, scouting
parties were at once sent out and in the pursuit, when near Middle-
burgh, the Indians were so closely pressed that several were wounded
by the scouts and their horses and plunder were abandoned. The
sufferings of the prisoners on their long journey were almost indescriba-
ble. To his physical torture was added the mental horror to Captain
Deitz of seeing the scalps of his family dangling before his eyes. The
trials of this journey and his losses and sorrow so broke him down that
he died at Niagara while in confinement. The two Brice boys returned
home after an absence of three years. The bodies of the massacred
family were buried in one grave by Lieut. Johan Jost Deitz, a relative,
sent from the lower fort for the purpose, on the eastern side of the line
wall of the Pine Grove cemetery.

Settlement was begun in this town by eight families named Weidman,
Zeh, Ball, Deitz, Knieskern, Shultes, Bassler, and Hochstrasser. Jacob
Weidman is believed to have been the pioneer of party ; he came from
Berne, Switzerland (from which fact the town received its name), with
his wife and four sons and settled here as early as 1750. The party
were guided to their destination along the trail leading towards Scho-
harie by an Indian. They finally reached the site of Knox village,
where a difference of opinion arose as to who should be recognized as
the leader; from this incident came the name " Fechtberg," or fighting
hill, applied to that locality. There is good authority for believing that
this dispute led to a division of the party, some going on to Schoharie and


the remainder settling in Berne. This presumption does not conflict
with the common belief "that this town was settled from Schoharie, as
it is known that some of the families who located in that county returned
to Berne.

Jacob Weidman took up lands on the banks of the Foxenkill, on the
site of Berne village, a tract of several hundred acres. He was a practical

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 50 of 138)