Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
"The Helderberg Hilltowns" is a local term for the four towns, (Rensselaerville, Berne, Knox, and Westerlo,) in the hills of western Albany County, New York above the Helderberg Escarpment in the Helderberg Mountains, the northern most part of the Allegheny Plateau. We also have a page for Gallupville, a close neighbor.
"Below the hill" is a local term for the eastern half of Albany County below the Helderberg Escarpment where the "Flatlanders" live. This land is in the Hudson River Valley.
From 1790 - 1795 the four hill towns were one; all part of the newly formed Town of Rensselaerville which covered the western portion of Watervliet in the Western Manor of Rensselaerwyck.
NOTE: Blue words are links. Click on the name of your favorite Hilltown to go directly there. Other links may be to appropriate web sites
- Rensselaerville - formed in 1790 from part of the Town of Watervliet. At that time it included all of what are now the Towns of Berne, Knox, and Westerlo. In 1795 the northern part of the town became the new Town of Berne. Additional territory was taken from the eastern part of the town upon the formation of the Town of Westerlo in 1815.
- Berne - formed in 1795 from the northern part of Rensselaerville. In 1822 the northern half of the town became the new Town of Knox.
- Westerlo - formed in 1815 from the western part of the Town of Coeymans and eastern part of the Town of Rensselaerville.
- Knox - Knox was formed in 1822 from the northern half of Berne.
Although not officially a Helderberg Hilltown, nearby Gallupville in Schoharie County is included on the web site. Many families have branches in Gallupville
This Web Site
Biographies and Stories
Helderberg Hilltowns - an illustrated history is available now. Visit www.BeebeFarm.info to order signed copies with a dedication of your choice. See Pictures tell the stories of the four Helderberg Hilltowns from the July 12, 2012 Altamont Enterprise.
All the Hilltowns had volunteers for all the wars and are proud of their military histories. Some wars, like the Anti-rent Wars were local and common to all the Hilltowns. Click here for more information.
Family Histories and Genealogy
Hilltown Family Histories and Genealogy provide details beyond the usual genealogy chart. Visit www.BerneHistory.org for complete genealogies of most Hilltown residents. Click here for more information.
Farms and Lots
Hilltowns had numerous one-room schools scattered to be near population centers. In 1932 Berne and Knox joined the form the Berne-Knox Central School District. Westerlo joined later the make the Berne-Knox-Westerlo or BKW. Click here for more information.
Hamlets and Communities
Each of the four Hilltowns covers a large area. Early settlers joined together to create small hamlets, villages, communities, and just groups of houses. Click here for more information.