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Berne is a town in Albany County, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 2,846 at the 2000 census. The town is at the west border of Albany County.


The town of Berne (originally spelled "Bern") was created in 1795 from part of the town of Rensselaervillemarker. In 1822 the north half of Berne was spun off to form the new town of Knoxmarker.

The earliest settlers were Palatine German refugees. Settlement began before 1750. At that time it was called Beaver Dam (also spelled Beaverdam). The settlers were actually squatters, since in the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, Berne was part of the Rensselaerswyckmarker estate. The head of the Van Rensselaer family was the patroon who owned all the land on which the tenants in the Hudson Valley lived, and used feudal leases to maintain control of the region. Before the Revolutionary War, the patroons acted as feudal lords, with the right to make 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 the least, be allowed to purchase the land at fair market value. Instead, the new government of New York decided to honor the lease contracts of the patroons, who contributed heavily to the politicians.

The first mass meeting of tenant farmers leading to the Anti-Rent War was held in Berne on July 4, 1839. In January, 1845 one hundred and fifty delegates from eleven counties assembled in St. Paul's Lutheran Church to call for political action to redress their grievances.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 64.8 square miles (167.7 km²), of which, 64.1 square miles (166.1 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.7 km²) of it (0.99%) is water.

Here is a map of Berne. The west town line is the border of Schoharie Countymarker, New York.


As of the census of 2000, there were 2,846 people, 1,099 households, and 805 families residing in the town. The population density was 44.4 people per square mile (17.1/km²). There were 1,385 housing units at an average density of 21.6/sq mi (8.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.89% White, 0.39% African American, 0.39% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.25% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.77% of the population.

There were 1,099 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.0% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 21.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 27.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $47,174, and the median income for a family was $55,685. Males had a median income of $37,324 versus $29,125 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,095. About 3.7% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 2.9% of those age 65 or over.

Natural History

  • Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area, on West Mountain, consists of of former abandoned upland farms. It has been improved with hiking trails, and parking lots and is available for birdwatching, cross-county skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing and trapping. Partridge Run and Cole Hill State Forest are units in the Helderbergs Management Area of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • Cole Hill State Forest, accessed from County Routes 2 and 3, has been improved with hiking trails, and parking lots and is available for birdwatching, cross-county skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing and trapping.
  • Thacher State Parkmarker is on the eastern town line partly in Berne but mainly in New Scotlandmarker, New Yorkmarker. It has campgrounds.
  • The Long Path, runs from George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey to Altamont, Albany Countymarker, New Yorkmarker. It crosses the Town of Berne, going from Cotton Hill and Cannady State Forests in Schoharie Countymarker, New Yorkmarker to the west, across the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area, through Cole Hill State Forest where it has 270-degree views of both the Catskills and Adirondacks from Roemer's High Point along the Helderberg Escarpment, and continues north to Thacher State Parkmarker, the Indian Ladder and finally its current end at NY 146.
  • Thompson's Lake State Parkmarker is a state park at the north end of Thompson's Lake.

Prominent Residents

  • John Warren Butterfield (see also John Warren Butterfield) (Nov. 18, 1801 - Nov. 14, 1869), born in Berne, went on to found the Butterfield Overland Mail, the stage that was an early operation of American Express and Wells Fargo.
  • Justice Joseph Philo Bradley (Mar. 14, 1813 - Jan. 22, 1892), born on a farm on the top of Cole Hill, served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1870-1892. Bradley is best remembered as being the 15th and final member of the Electoral Commission that decided the disputed 1876 presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden.
  • Corporal Harold C. Mattice (Apr. 9, 1890 - Apr. 22, 1923), born in the hamlet of Berne the son of a blacksmith, was the first NYS trooper to be shot while making an arrest.
  • Capt. Adam Bogardus (Sep. 17, 1834 - Mar. 23, 1913), born on a farm on Ravine Road on West Mountain, became the World Champion and United States Champion trap shootist. He is credited with popularizing trap shooting. He invented the first practical glass ball trap in 1877. He and his sons were renowned crack shots who toured with the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He is in the National Trapshooting Hall of Fame. (For a more complete biograph see Capt. Adam Henry Bogardus.)
  • Jeff "The Drunk" Curro (May 13, 1967 - Present), a resident of Berne, Curro is known for being a loud drunk on the Howard Stern Show. He has a dead arm in a sling and lives in a trailer.
  • Bugler Seth M. Flint (Oct. 7, 1846 - Mar. 18, 1941), born in a two room cabin on Church Road in South Berne, ran away from home at 16 to join the Union Army. Flint became General Ulysses S. Grant's personal bugler and was a witness to Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender where he blew the final cease fire at the official ceremony that ended the Civil War on April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Court Housemarker. Seth M. Flint and William Rose Lee wrote about his Civil War experiences and they were published in the April 6th 1940 edition of the Saturday Evening Post in an article titled "I Saw Lee Surrender".
  • Albert Gallup (January 30, 1796 - November 5, 1851), born in Berne, was a U.S. Representative from New York from 1837 - 1839.
  • M. E. Grenander (Mary Elizabeth Grenander) (21 November 1918 – 28 May 1998), born in Rewey, Wisconsin, was a professor of English and philanthropist, for whom the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives of the University Libraries of the University at Albany, the State University of New York is named. She and her second husband, James Corbett (a professor of physics at SUNY), prospered through the stock market. She donated $1 million to SUNY in his memory after his death in 1994. Grenander died in East Berne, New York, at 79 years of age.
  • Hiram Walden (August 21, 1800 - July 21, 1880), born in Pawlet, Vermont, lived in Berne from 1818-1821 and manufactured axes. He then moved his axe factory to the Town of Wright to what became known as Waldensville. From 1849 - 1851 he was a United States Representative from New York 21st District.


Communities and locations in Berne

  • Berne – The largest hamlet in the Town, it is located at the intersection of New York State Route 443 and New York State Route 156. Before the Post Office was located here in the latter half of the 19th century it was called "Bernville." In the 19th and first half of the 20th century it had a number of stores, up to three hotels, several blacksmith shops, a funeral home, cabinet makers, harness makers, etc.; now it almost entirely residential. The Town Hall is located here in a former hotel. The same building houses the Berne Public Library. Upstairs is the Berne Museum with "ten rooms of history" operated by the Berne Historical Society. The Post Office is next door. The Berne Knox Westerlo Central School is at the west end of the hamlet. Here is a "report card" on the elementary and Junior-Senior High Schools.
  • East Berne – A hamlet east of Berne village on New York State Route 443. It has a gas station, a couple of restaurants, and a hardware store.
  • Reidsville – A hamlet in the southeast part of the town.
  • South Berne – A hamlet near the south town line.
  • Thompsons Lake – A small community in the northeast part of the town, south of Thompsons Lake. In the late 19th and early 20th century it was a popular summer resort. Now the big hotels are gone and most of the cottages around the lake now are lived in year around.
  • Warner's Lake – A lake and surrounding community in the north central part of the town near East Berne. In the late 19th and early 20th century it was a popular summer resort. Now the public beaches are closed and the boarding houses are private residences. Many of the cottages around the lake now are lived in year around. There is one restaurant at the northeast side of the lake.
  • West Berne – A hamlet near the west town line and west of Berne village on New York State Route 443. The community was once called "Mechanicsville" and "Peoria." In the 19th and first half of the 20th century it had a number of stores and a couple of blacksmith shops; now it is strictly residential.


  1. Christman, Henry, Tin Horns and Calico, Hope Farm Press, 1978, pp. 128-130

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