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The Basics

The Town of Berne is at the west border of Albany County.

The Town of Berne was created in 1795 from part of the Town of Rensselaerville and original settlement began around 1750.  The earliest settlers were Palatine German refugees were actually squatters. At that time it was called Beaver Dam. Berne at ,one time, was part of the Rensselaerwyck estate. The head of the Van Rensselear family was the patroon who owned all the land  used feudal leases to maintain control of the entire region. Before the Revolutionary War, the patroons acted as feudal lords, with the right to make regulations, codes, rules, and laws.

The massacre of the Dietz family in 1781 was the only Iroquois incursion in Beaver Dam during the American Revolution. During the War inhabitants fought on both sides of the conflict. Loyalists who supported the British left and went to Canada. Those who stayed and fought the British expected that if they won, they would either be released from their tenancy or at least be allowed to purchase the land at fair value. But what really happened was that the new government of New York decided to honor the lease contracts of the patroons, who contributed a lot of money to the politicians. So many were left feeling betrayed and defeated. The first meeting of tenant farmers which would eventually lead to the Anti-Rent War was held in Berne on July 4th, 1839.

Good to Know
West Berne was once called “Mechanicsville” and “Peoria.” Warner’s Lake is a surrounding community in the north central part of the town near East Berne.

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