Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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miller and selected his location with a view to establishing saw and
grist mills, which he did as soon as practicable. Weidman's Mills
were known as early as 1787, and were a great convenience to the
pioneers. The mill property consisted of thirty acres of land and was
leased to Mr. Weidman, in 1790, for sixteen years at a rental of £^ ; at
the end of that term it was again leased for ten years at a rental of i;'30.
Mr. Weidman was a prominent citizen and one of the founders of the
Reformed church.

Frederick Bassler, the pioneer, was from Basle, Switzerland, and was
one of the Palatinates who left his country to escape religious intoler-
ance. The family in this country continued to represent the high char-
acter and influence that distinguished them across the ocean.

Of the other pioneers, the Deitz family settled for the most part in
the valley of the Switzkill and they and their descendants were reputa-
ble in the community. Hendrick Ball, the head of the family of that
name, settled on the farm occupied in recent years by Stephen Ball.
Hendrick Knieskern settled where Jacob Knieskern lived. The Zeh
family located mostly along the Foxenkill from what is known as the
Boarding House to the village of East Berne.

Matthias Shultes, the head of that line in this region, took up over
400 acres of land along the northeast side of the West Mountain on the
road passing the John and Allen Shultes farm.

Jacob Hochstrasser was a man of superior intellect and energy and
exercised a strong influence on the community in early days. He was
the first supervisor and the first justice of the peace of his town, and
owned a large tract of land where the White Sulphur Springs House

Following these pioneers, whose coming heralded civilization and
the peace and prosperity of later days, came other elements of citizen-
ship. In 1 790 three Sooth- Irish families named Hay,^ Young and Curran

Kov- -


settled a large tract of land on Irish Hill, the beginning of a useful part
of the community. The Filkins and Conger families came a little later,
the latter occupying land in and near Reidsville.

After the close of the Revolutionary war the New England element
came into the town with the advent of the Gallup, Whipple, Crary,
Brown, and Williams families. Samuel Gallup came from Groton,
Conn., in 1786 and purchased a large farm near the Whipple Cemetery
in what is now the town of Knox. His son Nathaniel became one of
the most conspicuous citizens of the town ; was town clerk fourteen
years, a justice nineteen years, and the ancestor of numerous descend-
ants who have been prominent in the community.

Malachi Whipple came from Stonington, Conn., about 1793, and
passed a useful life on what was long known as the Whipple farm.
This was long considered the model farm of Albany county and took
several premiums at fairs. In 1825 Mr. Whipple removed to Berne
village, where he purchased the grist mill property and other real
estate, and together with William H. Ball and Lyman Dwight built a
carding and fulling mill. Mr. Whipple held many positions of trust.

Miner Walden came from Vermont in 1797 and became a useful citi-
zen of Berne. He established what was probably the first carding
machine, and also carried on a mercantile business. He was many
years a justice of the peace and was universally respected.

Moses Patten was from Londonderry, N. H., and came to this town
in 1820. He was a graduate of Union College and had studied law.
He served as town clerk, justice of the peace, supervisor, school com-
missioner, and vv^as for many years a merchant at Berne village. Being
elected surrogate of the county Mr. Patten moved to Albany, where he
died in 1867, after a busy life. James Patten, brother of Moses, was a
graduate of Bowdoin College, studied law, and settled in Berne in
1829. He held various town offices, and with his brother formed the
mercantile firm that was so long successful. Later in life he gave his
attention to the management of a fine farm. He died at his home in
Berne in 1886.

Col. Jesse Wood was the first of this family to settle near Berne vil-
lage. He was from Long Island and very early in the century settled
in the eastern part of this town, where he afterwards became a prom-


inent citizen. He rose to the ranl< of colonel in the war of 1812, and
lield the offices of supervisor and member of assembly. In 1S37 he
sold his homestead and moved to a farm near the village of Berne.
John M. Wood was his nephew and was adopted by him. The latter was
father of Thomas J. Wood, one of the leading citizens of the town.

Jacob Settle was engaged in mercantile business in Berne from 18 12
to 1864, in which he was uncommonly successful. He was prominent
in public affairs, held the offices of justice, supervisor, member of as-
sembly, and was for thirty five years postmaster. It was largely through
his influence that the plank road was constructed through this town
from Schoharie, and connected with the Albany road. He was in
every way a public spirited and valuable citizen.

These pioneers and their associates laid well the foundations of the
later prosperity of the town, established its industries and founded its
simple government. Of the dwellings built in the early years, succeed-
ing the first log houses, there are some still remaining that are worthy
of mention. The house in which Thomas J. Wood now resides bears
the date of 1795, with initials, P. F. The dwelling once occupied by
Frederick Zeh was erected about the same time, and so was that of
Nathaniel Gallup. The house formerly owned by the Widow Fairlee
and now owned by the Mattice brothers, in the village of Berne, was
built as a tavern in 1809, and was used as a recruiting station in the
war of 18 1 2. The largest and finest of the early residences stood on
the site of the Jacob P. Warner dwelling, and was built about 1800 by
Petrus Weidman ; it contained ten fire places, five rooms in the cellar
and large halls.

Of the business industries of the town tlie store of Johannes Fischer
was probably the first, and was conducted in the building occupied in
recent years by Thomas J. Wood. Stephen Willes, one of the Connec-
ticut pioneers, established a store in town as early as 1800; he is re-
membered as a shrewd and successful merchant, and his place of busi-
ness was on the site of the Hiram Warner residence, a mile from the
village of East Berne, where he built a large dwelling in the New Eng-
land style ; his business increased rapidly and he soon erected a store
across the road. Near by was an ashery and a tannery. On the north
side of the creek he established a whisky distillery, a very necessary


institution in those times, and saddle, harness and shoe shops. In 1825
he opened a second store in the village of East Berne, to compete
with Albert and Benjamin Gallup. Major Willes held several town
offices and was member of the assembly.

In 1803 Dr. Almeric Hubbell, who was son in law of Petrus Weid-
man, began conducting a store on the site of the Edward Settle resi-
dence. Miner Walden, who has been mentioned, began his mercantile
life in the basement of a house tiiat is now a part of the E. V. Filkins
estate, johan Deitz kept a store on the site of the Peter Bassler resi-
dence in 1812, andin 1 3 16 took Jacob Settle into partnership ; they did
a large business, and it is said that fourteen barrels of potash sold by
them that year in New York netted over $600.

The first mill in town, that of Jacob VVeidman, was situated near the
site of the later grist mill of Francis Becker. Mr. VVeidman also had
a saw mill near by. Another mill was built soon after the first by Johannes
and Christopher Warner, near the site of the East Berne school house,
being built probably as early as 1765. About 1790 Jacob Post, one of
the pioneers, erected a mill near the site of West Berne village, and Asa
Culver (or Culvard) had a cloth mill at about the same time at what is
now South Berne. Other factories for the carding of wool and manu-
facture of cloth in early days were those of Miner Walden and William
H. Ball. Around these various early industries sprang up the hamlets
and villages which became the centers of such trade as was required by
the people.

Francis Becker's mill, before mentioned, is still in operation in Berne
village, having been built by Malachi Whipple in 1832, and does a large
grinding business. The mill of Moses A. Gallup, at East Berne, is the
largest in the county outside of Albany. It was planned and built by
Clark, Decker & Gardner in 1858, for Truman Lobdell ; it is five stories
high, has four run of stones, an immense overshot wheel and all the
appurtenances of a modern grist mill. Mr. Gallup has also a saw mill
and a shingle mill.

The mill of Jacob Miner Hochstrasser is on the site originally occu-
pied by a building erected previous to the beginning of the century, in
which was first a carding machine, then a shoe peg factory, and later a
plant for grinding and finishing axes; still later it was a furniture


factory and at last about fifteen years ago was transformed into a grist
mill, which was operated by both steam and horse power. It was
burned down but soon rebuilt and passed from the ownership of Truman
Lawton to Leslie Allen, and from him to Mr. Hochstrasser.

A mill was built at South Berne in 1855 and rebuilt by Elias Zeh in
1884; it was burned in 1895. The foundry conducted in former years
by Henry Engle was afterwards used for a tannery in which John
Rossiter, Jacob D. Settle and Oscar Tyler carried on business. It was
next used as a furniture factory and finally as a saw mill, and is now
owned by Watson Chesebro. It is located at Heme village.

In the history of the town of Watervliet and Cohoes is found an ac-
count of the axe facory of Daniel Simmons after it was removed from
Berne. Mr. Simmons settled in Berne as a blacksmith in 1831, com-
ing from Bethlehem. He began business in the shop of Henry Engle,
but soon turned his attention to the making of axes on his anvil, ham-
mering them out by hand. He made them so superior to others then
obtainable that he soon acquired an extended reputation. He gained
the confidence of responsible men, among whom were Jacob Settle,
Malachi Whipple, Jacob Weidman, Moses Patten, Johan Jost Deitz and
William Schnell, who supplied him with capital to establish a large concern.
A large building was erected in 1825 on the north side of the creek, a
trip hammer put in and a prosperous business started. A second build-
ing for a tempering shop extended across the stream, and a third, which
ultimately became the lower grist mill, was the place where the grinding
and polishing was done. A fourth structure, one hundred feet long was
erected in 1830, which contained a triphammer, forges, etc. Twenty-
one forges were at one time in operation, and two hundred men were
employed. Large quantities of charcoal were used, giving employment
and a source of income to many of the inhabitants. In the height of
his business here Mr. Simmons purchased the Fischer farm and occu-
pied it, with his brothers, Baltus and Jonas. He also erected the build-
ing once used by E. M. Shultes as a tavern. The Simmons axes found
ready sale over a wide extent of territory, some of them being shipped
as far away as Africa and Asia. But the transportation problem was
a serious one, and the larger the business grew, the more onerou.s was
the burden ; the firm became heavily involved and in 1833 made an

assignment to Moses Patten, and Simmons soon moved to Colioes, where
he died in 1881. Many of the best men of the village were left almost
penniless by the failure. The firm of Coates & Smith, merchants,
abandoned their store after the failure.

The character of agriculture in this town has not materially changed
from early times. Mi.xed farming is the rule. About twenty years ago
there was some effort made to establish dairying and especially cheese-
making, on a more extensive basis. A cheese factory was built in
1878 on the farm of Thomas J. Wood, near Berne village. The busi-
ness was promoted by James W. Hart, who had followed it in Madison
county. This factory was successful and is still in operation. A
second factory was built at East Berne in 1884, for the manufacture of
both cheese and butter and was for some time in charge of Mr. Hart ;
but it was abandoned.

The village of Berne is situated on the old Weidman mill property,
which consisted of thirty acres in the northern part of the town, and
was known as Beaverdam for some years after the first settlement. In
18 17 Henry Engle opened a tavern here west of tlie site of the Walter
Whipple residence. This house was called Corporation Inn and was
long a popular resort. The village was also known for a time as Cor-
poration. The name Berne was given when the post-office was estab-
lished in 1825 Jacob Settle established a store here in 18 17, and the
business descended to Theodore Settle, who still conducts it. Charles
E. Deitz's store was started by Moses Patten in 1828, and for many
years was conducted by Moses and James Patten and came into the
hands of the present owner in 1859. The store of Shultes & Adams
was built for a hotel by Daniel Simmons in 1824, and was kept in
recent years by E. M. Shultes, who took it in 1859; the property is
owned by Mrs. Ira Fairlee. The store now occupied by J. W. Hart &
Son was built for a grocery by Oscar Tyler in 1840. He was succeed
ed by Samuel H. Davis, who continued in trade until his death in 1874.
The property was soon leased to Rhinehart & Hochstrasser, who were
followed by the present proprietors On the site occupied by a fur
hat factory in early years, conducted by Conrad Truax, a tailor shop
was later established with which a mercantile business was afterwards
connected. William Ball carried on the business in recent years, but it

was finally closed up. Rhinehart & Shultes's store was erected in
1872 by Joseph Wilsey, who had a saloon there and was succeeded by
N. H. Dayton and Edwin Wilsey in the grocery trade. The present
proprietors bought the property and in 1878 began trade in boots and
shoes, clothing, and watches and jewelry. The store of George Hallen-
beck was built by Daniel Wright in 1838, who had a furniture store and
did undertaking. Isaac Hallenbeck continued the business from 1852 to
1872; the building was burned down but rebuilt by the present pro-
prietor. Ira Witter is the sole hotel keeper of Berne. There is another
hotel, which is now empty, that was built by Z. A. Dyer, whose son,
James B , was its last proprietor, running it down to 1895.

Other business men of this village were : blacksmiths, Uriah G. Davis,
1865-85; Sylvanus Weidman, 1S82-85 ; and Anthony Carey from
1885. John Hochstrasser, stoves and tin ware, 1865-85 ; saddlery and
harness, Esli Whipple and his son, Walter, from 1840; ¥..V. P'ilkins
attorney, 1851-55; John D. White, from 1881 ; physicians, Isaac S.
Becker, 1857; Wallace E. Deitz, from 1883.

The hamlet of West Berne is situated on the Lower Beaverdam in
the northwestern part of the town and near the site of Post's mill It was
formerly called Mechanicsville, about 1830-35, from the numerous me-
chanics residing there. It then took the name of Peoria, given it by
Paul Settle, the miller, who owned property in Peoria, 111. When the
post office was established it was given the name of West Berne. The
oldest residence in the place is that of John D. Haverly, which was built
by William Shultes about 1800. Levi Ewings manufactured hats here in
1850, on the site of the present harness shop. The grocery of William
Posson was established in 1824 by Peter Settle, and that of the Wool-
ford Brothers by Paul I. Cannaday in 1854. Charles Blade kept a
store here for some years. Taverns are kept by Joseph Lee and G. W.
Steiner. Albert Becker keeps a grocery and is postmaster.

The village of East Berne is situated on the F"oxenkill, a little
northeast of the center of the town. It first bore the name of Warner's
Mills and took its present name when the post office was opened
in 1825. Locally it has been called Philley, a name given it by
Elnathan Stafford who kept a tavern in 1820 and sent to Philadel-
phia for his liquors. Nathaniel, Albert and Benjamin Gallup began a


mercantile business here in 1825, and in opposition Stephen Willes be-
gan trading on the opposite side of the street. Albert Gallup bought
out Willes soon afterward and formed the firm of Seabury & Gallup,
who continued trade until 1842, when they were succeeded by Adam J.
Warner, who kept a store and hotel together. This business is still fol-
lowed and has been for many years in the Willsey hotel, kept by E. B.
Willsey. The business of Nathaniel and Benjamin Gallup passed
through several changes in ownership and finally to Z. A. Dyer in 1857;
from him it passed to his son-in-law, Frank Strevell, in 1871. The lat-
ter still keeps a store, as also does Justin Dyer, who is postmaster. Z. A.
Dyer was in the practice of law here many years from 1854.

South Berne is a small hamlet in the southern part of the town on the
site of the old mill property of Asa Culver. These mill buildings were
burned a few years ago. This place was called Centreville previous to
1825, and also has the local name of Mud Hollow, from the swampy
nature of the soil in that vicinity. John P. Snyder began a grocery
business here in 1817, and Daniel Lounsberry carried on a tannery. In
1882 Alexander McKinley, previously a wagon maker, opened a tavern.
A little later Zebulon Holdridge opened a blacksmith shop and Ebene-
zer Denison had a grocery and an ashery. Henry H. Lawson began
trade here in 1828 and James ISabcock in the next year. Moses Barber
built a carding mill in company with James Parish, in 1830, and manu-
factured satinet cloth. The store conducted in recent }'ears by North-
rop & Ball was built in 1866 by Joseph Deitz for a wheelwright shop.
The store conducted by J. Swarthout was built in 1835. There is very
little present business here ; George Sellick and Elias Zeli have small

The hamlet of Reidsville is situated in the extreme southeastern part
of the town, and took its name from Alexander Reid, who settled there
in 1828, and opened the first tavern. About the same time Frederick
Ward and James Anderson established a store, the firm afterwards be-
coming Ward & Conger. Alfred Hungerford kept a store in later

In common with other towns in this county the records of early
schools are of the most meagre description. It is known, of course, that
there were early schools of primitive character taught in various parts


of the town, generally in log buildings for a number of years, when the
first frame school buildings took their place. One of the old log school
houses stood near the site of the old Lutheran church. Another was
remembered by old residents as being built of unpeeled hemlock logs
with a roof slanting only one way and made of bark. The changes
in the character of school ofificers in early years has been described in an
earlier chapter. In i8i2 a resolution was adopted in this town that
" there shall be five hundred dollars raised in the town of Berne for the
use of common schools in said town, to be appropriated to regular men's
schools that will bear the inspection of a school committee." This was
very liberal and progressive action for that early period. Changes
were made as needed in the number of school districts ; but for many
years it has remained practically stationary. There were twenty one
districts in 1813 and the number was the same in i860; at the pres-
ent time there are twenty with school houses. In 18 13 only $300 were
appropriated for the town schools, and in 18 16, when there were thirty
districts, only $494 were appropriated. This amount has gradually
increased to about $2,000. The record embraces, of course, Berne
and Knox until the latter was erected as a town.

The establishment of the great Simmons axe factory led the inhabit-
ants to look for a bright future for their town, one of the results of which
was the founding of an academy in 1833 ; but the failure of the factory
led to the abandonment of the plans after the timber for the building
was on the ground. A select school was organized in 1882 which was
placed under control of the following trustees: E. V. Filkins, president ;
Thomas J. Wood, George H. Reinhart, Charles E. Deitz, Peter S. Ball,
and Edwin M. Shultes. A room for the school was fitted up over the
store of Theodore Settle an J it was placed in successful operation undtr
Elmer G. Story, principal.

The first religious organization in this town was the Reformed church
of Beaverdam, which was formed in 1763, under the ministry of Rev.
Johannes Schuyler, who was then in charge of the Schoharie church.
The first consistory were : Adam Deitz, Jacob Ball, Jacob Weidman,
and Caspar Stiner, elders; Johannes Deitz, Caspar Stiner, Hendrick
Ball, and Roedolph Gasman, deacons. A small log church was built
in 1765, on the site of Pine Grove cemetery, which stood until 1786,


when it was superseded by a frame structure. This was used until 1 830,
when it was taken down and the material divided between the two con-
gregationsat Berne and Beaverdam. This was wholly missionary ground
until 1821. Rev. Mr. Schuyler occupied it forthirteen years until 1779,
after whom came Rev. George W. Schneyder, who continued until 1790.
Other missionaries followed until 1 82 1, when Rev, Cornelius Bogardus,
the first regular pastor, was called. During his ministry the church
farm was greatly improved. During the pastorate of Rev. J. H. Van
Wagenen, 1 826-1 831, two churches were erected, and not long after-
ward the two congregations, Beaverdam and Berne village, were sep-
arated and with two consistories held the farm in common. Pastors fol-
lowing Rev. Mr. Van Wagenen were Abram H. Myers, R. D. Van
Kleek, William Demarest, Edwin Vedder, John C. Van Liew, Edward
Miller, during the pastorate of the latter of whom the Beaverdam church
was repaired at a cost of over $1,000. On January i, 1857, the parson-
age in Berne was purchased, the church there paying $1,200, and that
at Beaverdam, $300. The membership of the united churches is 250.

The Lutheran church was organized about ^790, and a house of
worship was soon afterward built on a farm midway between East
Berne and Berne villages ; this farm was deeded to the congregation by
the Patroon in 1797. The original trustees of the church property
were Christian Zeh, Frederick Wormer, and Christian Zandt. The
services and the records were in German until 1802, when English was
adopted. The first missionary pastor was Rev. August Frederick
Meier. Other missionaries succeeded until 1828, when this church and
one in Guilderland were united and a call was given to Rev. Adam
Crounse ; he accepted and served the congregation for nineteen years.
Under his ministry the present brick church was built. During the
pastorate of Rev. S. Curtis, 1836-1850, the parsonage was purchased.
During the ministry of Rev. James Lefler, 1868-1876, a separate house
of worship was erected in East Berne and dedicated in 1872. Two
other churches have grown from this one — St. John's at P^ast Berne,
and the Lutheran church at Gallupville in Schoharie county.

The Second Reformed church at Berne was organized March 15,
1826, by a committee appointed by the Albany Classis. Twenty- three
members were then received by certificate from the church at New


Salem, and the following officers were ordained : Elders, Jacobus Van
Deusen and John Shafer ; deacons, Cornelius Secor and Peter B. Winne.
Until 1838 the church was served wholly by missionaries; in that year
Rev. Hart E. Waring was called, and under him forty- one were re-
ceived into fellowship. At a meeting held about this time a resolution
was adopted uniting the two churches, the Second Berne and the Onis-
quethau, and the combined congregations called Rev. Staats Van Sant-
voord. The connection between the two societies was broken in 1841,
and a union formed between the Berne church and the Presbyterian so-
ciety at Knox. A joint call was then made upon Rev. Joseph Knies-
kern, who served four years. This society is locally called the Secor
church from its having been organized in the dwelling of Daniel Secor,
and from the number of families of that name in the vicinity.

The Methodist Episcopal church of South Berne was organized about
1812, as the result of camp meeting revivals. Rev. Mr. Stead was the
first pastor and supplied this church and one at Rensselaerville. The

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 51 of 138)