Hope Farm Press 252 Main Street Saugerties NY 12477
To return to the Table of Contents or the New York State County Map. Your comments?
Early Rensselaer County History
- On February 7, I79I, a subdivision of the original Albany County was made and given the name of one of the famous families of the State, Rensselaer. Located where the Adirondacks and the Berkshires meet, combining the beauty of both, without the ruggedness of either, at the great cross routes of the State, nature combined to make the region the seat of a great center of commerce and trade. It is the central county along the eastern border of the State. The western boundary rests on the Hudson River for a distance of nearly thirty-five miles. Back from the fertile valley of the river extends a much broken plateau with masses of verdure clad hills, numerous lakes, with the finest of agricultural area interspersed. Its area is about 663 square miles and its population, according to the census of 1920, was 113,129. It was the seventh most populous civil division of the State, while the value of its agricultural and industrial products ranks it even higher.
The Hudson was the route by which the explorer arrived, and a constantly used highway since. Man made another of these waterways to and from the west in the Barge Canal; its outlet being in this county. The Indian had his trails from the north and east through Rensselaer; their place is taken by the best of modern railroads and highways.
There is nothing surprising in the fact that possibly in no part of the United States did settlement begin so promptly after discovery. Some of Hudson's crew, won by the natural advantages of this region, persuaded Hollanders to send a vessel to trade the Dutch products for the Indians' possessions and furs. In 1610 a vessel came; in 1614 a license was granted to fur traders to make four trips in three years; and in that same year Hendrick Christiaensen removed the debris from the ruins of a French fort on Castle Island, erected in 1540, and established there a trading post. In five years from its discovery, and six years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, there was a settlement where grew the future Albany. In 1623, French Protestants in Amsterdam, known as Walloons, were ready to set sail for Virginia, but persuaded by the Dutch West India Company, they came to New York and eighteen families made their way up the Hudson and located in part on the land opposite Castle Island, forming the first settlement in Rensselaer County.
The greater part of the county was included in the patent of Killian Van Rensselaer, given November 19, 1629. The first purchase of the land from the Indians was completed on July 27, 1630. Van Rensselaer was a wealthy diamond and pearl dealer, and used his wealth in the endeavor to build for himself in the new country an almost feudal estate over which he would be the Lord Proprietor. The lands were settled only under lease, upon the same rules of tenure in force at Albany and other parts of the Hudson territory, and led to the same difficulties in the collection of rents.
The settlement of the county did not proceed without the hardships and dangers which troubled all the outlying districts of the State. In the French and Indian wars the northern part of the county was repeatedly ravaged and the pioneers driven from their homes. The Battle of Bennington, or Walloomsac, as it should be named, was fought in Rensselaer, and led to the defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga. In the Civil War the first troops from the North to tread the soil of Virginia were from this county, and it is said that no community, in proportion to its population, sent so many of its youth in the World War as did Troy, the principal city of Rensselaer.
- Read more about it! . . .
Each of these sections has different books on the same region:
- Town & County
- Native American
For ordering information, or to email your comments. . .
Copyright © 1996 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.