The Township of Berne was established in 1795 through an act of the State Legislature. Originally part of the Town of Rensselaerville, "Bern" (the final "e" was added later) was the fourth township to be separated from the then Town of Watervliet. Sources to consult for public records of this town include the Index to the Public Records of the County of Albany (see page 3) in which Deeds and Mortgages can be located, and the Farm Surveys Collection (see page 8). Since the Farm Surveys were done at the request of landowners,the collection covers random areas of the County. With some searching, surveys pertaining to the area of Berne may be found.
Town of Bethlehem Minutes. 1794-1813. One volume (16' x 10') Location: Bethlehem Town Clerk's Office
The minutes of the Town of Bethlehem begin with a town meeting held at the house of Henry Burhans, "Innholder". on Tuesday, April 1, 1794. These minutes record the passage of several resolutions. It was resolved that the sum of 100 pounds be raised to support the poor during the ensuing year. A resolution for the more orderly control of cattle was approved; "no stallions, swine, or unruly cattle shall be allowed to run at large in the public Highways". The minutes state that these resolutions were passed by a majority vote of the freeholders and inhabitants present. In addition to a record of resolutions, the minutes provide a record of officers chosen each year. The volume's first entry provides the names of the first officers chosen, including Supervisor (Phillip Van Rensselaer); Town Clerk (John Van Derheyden); Commissioner of the Highways (3 persons named); Overseers of the Poor (2); Assessors (5); Collectors (2); Constables (7); Overseers of the Highways (20);Pound Masters (2); Fence Viewers (2). At an April 15, 1794 meeting of the Commissioners of Highways, it was ordered that the Overseers of the Highways of the Town of Bethlehem be directed to make out lists of the names of persons working under their directions. A description of an overseer's assigned area or road is given, followed by a list of men under the direction of that overseer; several such entries occurred after the 1794 order. One,dated 1797, contained a list twelve pages long, including 33 overseers and all of their workers. Throughout this volume appear lists of persons granted licenses and permits by the Commissioners of Excise. Names are listed along with the amount paid and how paid, i.e. "grantice" (sic), etc. Petitions for the building of roads are recorded along with proposed locations and descriptions of those roads.
Book of Strays. 1794-1831. One volume. (13' x 8). Location: Bethlehem Historical Society
The Book of Strays records descriptions of wandering cows, horses, and pigs along with their marks. Also described are the cattle marks or brands of several landholders.
Manumission Records. 1799- . Photocopies only. Location: Bethlehem Historical Society These records are labeled with the title, "Records of Bethlehem For the Purpose of Interring Negro Children Born Slaves From this First Day of July 1799 "(sic). The entries contain assessment by Overseers of the Poor of the health of a slave to be freed and the slaves' ability to subsist. Also recorded are requests by owners to allow their slaves to be manumitted upon the death of said owner.
The Town of Coeymans was established in 1791 following its partition from the Township of Watervliet. Records of the Town exist mainly as property records collected by the Albany County Clerk. The Albany County Hall of Records holds a "Coeyman's Patent Field Book" dated 1788 and a field book entitled, "Division of Coeyman's Patent," dated 1766-1791 (see "Property Records" page 7). An additional source available for locating existing records is The Index to the Public Records of the County of Albany (see page 3) in which Deeds and Mortgages can be found.
Town of Guilderland Minutes. 1803-1834. 1 volume. (I 7' x II). Location: Guilderland Town Clerk's Office
The Town of Guilderland holds a complete collection of town records from its first town meeting until the present. Although the collection provides only one volume dating from the Constitutional Era, the information contained in this source is abundant and, from it, a valid image of the lifestyle of the town's residents during the first decade of the nineteenth century can be developed. The first volume, The Records of the Town of Guilderland (1803-1834) begins with a copy of the special act of the State Legislature which partitions from the Town of Watervliet a separate town by the name of "Guilderlandtandt". Along with this act are the minutes of the first town meeting held at the house of Henry Apple. The meetings were held at the Apple residence (and tavern) for several years, even after Henry Apple's death, when the minutes of 1812 record the meeting as held at the Widow Apple's house. The results of the town election are listed, providing the names of the Town's first elected officials. Minutes of this first meeting contain a record of the first resolutions passed. Included in these resolutions is a law prohibiting hogs from running at large and a resolution promising that a bounty of thirty dollars would be paid by the town to any person killing a wolf. The volume includes a long list of those citizens that were qualified and of sufficient ability and understanding to serve as jurors. The names and occupations of these persons are listed; in some cases there is also a listing of disqualified citizens and the reason, such as old age, that they were disqualified. Manumission of slaves is also recorded. Slave owners were required to report births among their slaves and renounced ownership of these newborn children. One such entry is a certificate by Fredrick Crounce dated April 28, 1803, which gave notice of the birth of a black male child named Simon to Crounce's "negro wench slave named Dianna". Included in the minutes is a record of licenses and permits granted for retailing "strong and spiritous liquors". The licenses' names appear along with the number of licenses and permits they received, the cost, their "places of abode", and whether or not the fee was paid. Other meetings provided descriptions of domestic animals which broke into neighbor's enclosures, as well as descriptions of brands farmers used on livestock (cattle, sheep, and hogs). Several of the minutes contain records of the divisions of the road districts by the Commissioners of Highways. A petition for the laying of a public highway and the tract of land proposed is described. The volume includes a record of payments by the town for repair of bridges and roads in the town. Also recorded is the first division of the town into school districts.
The minutes of the Town of Rensselaerville contain records of resolutions passed,. officials elected and appointed, election results, minutes of road commissioners, and excise commissioner's minutes. The book's first entry begins, "At a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the Town of Rensselaerville held at the house of David Crooker Esq. on the first Tuesday and Wednesday in April 1795"; the minutes continue on to record a vote on "petitions of freeholders" to lay a road. At this first April meeting appointments of persons to take the census were made and several resolutions were passed. One resolution reads, "Resolved by said freeholders and inhabitants that the fences in said town which are made four and a half feet high and well erected shall be adjudged to be lawful for the ensuing year".
The minutes of the Town Board of Watervliet begin with the events of a town meeting held April 2, 1793 at the house of Isaac Truax Junior, Innholder. Minutes from nearly every meeting included election results providing the positions and names of those elected. The list for this meeting included: Supervisor, (Stephen Van Rensselaer Esq.), Town Clerk, (Luther Trowbridge), Commissioners of Highways, Assessors, Overseers of the Poor, Collectors, Pound Masters, Street Masters, Fence Viewers, Overseers of Highways, and Constables. Common in town meetings was the passage of resolutions which indicate what community life was like and how it was changing. A particular resolution passed at the April meeting provided that one hundred and eighty pounds, nineteen shillings and six pence be raised for the support of the poor of the town. Support of the poor was an issue common to each town meeting. At the April 3, 1799 meeting the town resolved to set aside one hundred pounds for the poor; at the 1802 meeting sixty-one pounds was to be raised and at the 1809 meeting it was agreed that four hundred dollars would be raised for the support of the poor. Throughout the volume appear lists of persons granted licenses and permits by the commissioners of excise. Names and residences were recorded, including some in Colonie and along the Old Schenectady Road. Slave manumissions were also recorded in the Town minutes. It appears that the slave owner had to certify with the town any slaves to whom he granted freedom, with approval by the town justice of the peace. Those manumissions recorded include a statement and agreement by the slave owner that the former slave is granted freedom. Following this statement is an official acknowledgement by the overseers of the poor and justices of the peace. Many of the manumissions are of newborns. In these cases the owner of slave parents certified an abandonment of any claim to the child. Resolutions for the control of roaming animals were frequent. Specific resolutions forbade the free running of stallions, swine, and rams. Fines varied with each meeting. At the April 1793 meeting it was resolved that all rams be kept enclosed from the first day of May to the first day of August under penalty of gelding. Many of the town meetings held during this period were occupied with the upkeep and development of roads and bridges. The April I 1, 1793 meeting of the Commissioners of Highways recorded those present:Bastian Visscher and Gernt Witbak. Also recorded is the resolution of an act for the better laying-out, regulation and repair of all common public highways. At the May 18, 1793, meeting it was resolved that improvements on the public roads and bridges within the Town of Watervliet were absolutely necessary and the Commissioners agreed upon the sum of one hundred pounds to be raised for the ensuing year. The minutes of the August 7, 1793 meeting record a petition for the necessity of laying out of a Public Highway through a pasture of Stephen Van Rensselaer. As evidenced by recorded complaints, the regulation of the highways was a persistent issue. One such complaint involved the actions of John B. Brandt and John Baker who were "making obstructions in the public highway at the Southwest corner of the Cross Street opposed to the House of Henry Quackenboss on the east side of Watervliet Street". It is recorded that the laying of timber and the preparations for erecting a building were the cause of the obstruction.
Since the town of Westerlo was created in 1815 from pieces of the neighboring Townships of Coeymans and Rensselaerville, records of the Township for the year 1815 are sparse. Records of the area and its residents prior to 1815 are dispersed among records of Coeymans and Rensselaerville. The types of public records that may be uncovered include farm surveys, deeds and maps. References to Westerlo may also be found in the Town Minutes of Rensselaerville.