Olden Time - Chapter Three
Local History dating from 1770
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin. From the book entitled, "Ye Olden Time, as compiled from the Coxsackie News of 1889" written by Robert Henry Van Bergen, together with notations by Rev. Delber W. Clark, and edited by Francis A. Hallenbeck, 1935
Local History Dating From 1770—When Game Was Plenty—How They Paid the Rent.
In continuation of an article in your last issue, which gave a short description of the Van Den Berg Patent and in which it was stated that although the Van Den Bergs received their land grant from the Colonial Governor about the year 1770 they did not, possibly could not, make any use of it for a long term of years, covered as it was with the original forest growth for which at that early period there was no market.
The queries naturally arise: What were their means of subsistence? How did they live for the space of 40 or 50 years? What lands did they cultivate? Where did they grow their wheat, their corn and their provision? Well, the woods at that time abounded in game. The bear and the deer roamed everywhere; and , besides here and there, along the streams, were traces of grass affording pasturage of stock. The creeks and small lakes gave unlimited supplies of fish and many varieties, now almost extinct in our waters. Indeed, the early settlers were hunters and trappers partly by necessity, and by choice as well. Many hazardous adventures or hair-breath escapes from the wild animals, might be chronicled, if it were worth while in this connection.
They did, to be sure, cut some of the wood and bring under cultivation small pieces of land in the immediate vicinity of their homestead places. This was about all that was done in the way of reclaiming the original forest. But at that time there was, here and there in this section, as there is now throughout the great unsettled west, oases, as they might be called which were free of all tree growth, and apparently always had been. The first white man who trod the soil probably utilized such lands for the purpose of cultivation, and the Van Den Bergs accordingly leased from Petrus Van Bergen who, in connection with the Bronks, had already covered all Coxsackie flats with their Patents, in the year 1740 such a tract of land. The indenture for the same was made and concluded on the 1st of October in the 18th year of the reign of our Sovereign, Lord George the 2nd, by the peace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland and King Defender of the faith * * * and in the year of our Lord 1744 between Petrus Van Bergen, of Koxhagkie, in the county of Albany, yeoman of the one part and Richard Van Den Berg of the same place, yeoman of the other part. On account of the length of this paper its whole recital perhaps would not be interesting or appropriate to the columns of your paper.
We will, however, recapitulate its main provisions:
Petrus Van Bergen in consideration of the sum of five pounds current money of the Province of New York to him paid, and of the further consideration of the payment yearly to him or his heirs or assignors forever of 25 sipples of wheat—granted to Richard Van Den Berg, his heirs and assignors forever. All that certain tract of land lying and being at Koxhagkie, on the west side of the Koxhagkie Kill, and described as follows: beginning at a certain kill or creek, called the Moordeners kill, (that point of intersection is on the farm formerly owned and occupied by Abram Hallenbeck now in possession of L. Hulbert) and so up and along said Moordeners kill to the old Catskill path, (Indian trail under the bluffs west of Coxsackie flats) thence along the Catskill path to a point near the old stone house formerly owned and occupied by Stephen Truesdell, thence easterly along the line of the old district road running by the house now occupied by Jno. M. Truesdell and intersecting the Coxsackie and Greenville turnpike road near and opposite the blacksmith shop of Jno. Rea, of Koxhagkie Kill; thence southerly along said kill to place of beginning.
This conveyance was duly executed by Petrus Van Bergen and witnessed by Hendrick Koster and Pieter Bronck.
The cultivation and use otherwise then of this broad area, containing upwards of 400 acres of land, afforded to first settlers abundant means for the supply of their wants.
The payment of this annual stipend by those who had land in possession was regularly made to the heirs and assignors of Martin G. Van Bergen up to the year 1831. From that date, and up to the year 1849 there was a default, and for some reason, no payments were made. The Van Bergens at that time, about 1850, commenced an action for the collection of the arrearage of rent then due and remaining unpaid, against Robert I. Van Den Berg, Jo. M. Truesdell and Robert H. Van Bergen, defendants. They, the defendants, being in the possession of the land covered by the lease, either as heirs, executors, devisees, purchasers or assignors of Richard Van Den Berg. There was no legal contest for a settlement of the Van Den Berg claim, but the parties met by mutual arrangement and without the intervention of a lawyer, and considered the matter and settled amicably, all parties being abundantly well satisfied with the outcome of the business.
The defendants paid up the arrearage of rent due, of some 20 years standing, with interest amounting to some $600, and besides, finally extinguished the lease by payment of a certain sum in addition to the Van Bergen’s. That original lease, on parchment, is now in the possession of Walter L. Van Den Berg, of Montgomery Co., N. Y.
A lady, of this village, has in her possession the original parchment handed down from the Hotaling family, which contains a map of the tract of land described by R. H. Van Bergen in the paper last week, as the "Hotaling and Van Den Berg" patent, who stated that said patent was granted to Rykert Van Berg and Matthias Hotaling, but as will be seen by the following, which is an exact copy of the writing found on the parchment, the patent was granted to Matthias Hotaling alone, although for years it has been known as the Van Den Berg patent:
"A Map of the Tract of Land Lying in the County of Albany on the Westside of the Hudson River. Granted by Letters Patent on the Eighth Day of July, 1697, to Matthius Hogeteling, Bounded as it is here Laid Down, which said Tract is Divided in two Equal Tracts Between the present owners, Hendrick Hogeteling and Hendrick and Robert Van Den Berck, which Division were Performed on the Twentyeth Day of October 1779, By Jno. R. Blecker."