The Town of Berne - 1888

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The Town of Berne - Altamont Enterprise — December 8, 1888

The Town of Berne

Its Beginning and Elements of Strength

The town of Berne has a history which lie many years behind the present generation. This history, for the most part, is preserved in a number of written documents which have been handed down through the several town clerks, who have been successfully chosen to this office, within the limits of well nigh century of active work. These documents are enclosed in a large, old-fashioned wooden chest, which has but seldom allowed the light of day to penetrate its hidden mysteries.

It is in itself a curiosity shop which might even rival the famous ones of Charles Dickens. Here papers of all kinds are to be found which in a greater or less degree relate to the interests of the town. Some concern the public school, others the assessors, while there is a great mass of medical certificates excusing drafted men from the performance of duty, and these last would open the eyes of many with wonder, should they be made a matter of public record. Many of these documents have seen their best days, and are, as to present or future reference, entirely absolute, while others have become altogether illegible, or have been made worthless by moth "and mice and the ravages of time. They are the oddest pile of old lumber that a mortal has ever seen, and it would be an honor to the town to consecrate them to the flames and thus give some poor soul a chance to feel their warmth. They are and always will be, a dead letter to the people at large. No careful observer, however, can lay aside these papers without seeing the moving force which at first laid the foundations and then built the house in which the present generation are living and which they are attempting to beautify and adorn. Nearly a century of life has poured itself out since the first of these documents was penned, and the men who made the early history have long ago been laid to rest.

The 1st town meeting was held at the house of Johannes Fisher, Innkeeper, (on the site of the residence of Supervisor Thos. J. Wood) April 7th 1795. And yet all we know of this meeting is the election of the men who were to fill important positions in the gift of the people. Who can tell anything about Jacob Hochstrasser, the first supervisor, whether he has had a counterpart in another of his name and was quaint, odd and peculiar or whether the luster of his deeds has been dimmed in the line of his descendants Who has any idea of Israel B. Spencer, the first town clerk, in whose clear, strong hand the first records took shape and lite? Who of those now living can call to mind the 1st assessors of the town, John Jost Deitz, Wm. Campbell Jonathan Henry, Stephen Brown Jr., and Mathias McIntosh. Even at so early a period the town had its poof and overseers were appointed in the persons of Jacob Hochstrasser and Petins Weidman. We find also commissioners of highways; as Asa Abbott, Nicholas Merselis, and David Devoe.

And here also we find an office which has long ceased to exist, namely, that of "fence viewers." To this post the following persons were assigned: James Partridge, Jonathan Wright, Stephen Eaton, George Snider, Robert Denison, Johannes Ecker, Jr., Johannes Reinhart, Roger Jones, Francis Schaeffer, Christian Zeh, Johannes Werner, Mathias Shultes and Isaac Laraway. The territory at this time contained not only the present area of the town, but also the whole of Knox, and no doubt there are those living to-day who will recall the first Overseer of Roads, viz., William Casper, Hendrick Kniskern, Jabesh Frink, Jacob Hoeffnlich, Henry Willsey, Henry Werner Jr., William Campbell, Daniel Joslin, Paul Todd, Daniel Smith, Ebenezer Williams, Jacob Post, John Yaeger, Lawrentz Gleichman, Adam Amtham, Samuel Gallup, Andrew Brown, George White, Jacob Weidman Jr., Conrad Miller, Adam Dietz Jr., Nathaniel Owens, Ezra Gallup, John Devoe, Roger Nelson, Obadiah Benedict, John McComb, John Williamson; Jesse Swan, Peter Whiey, David Babcock, Park Witter, Henry Easier and John Conklin The collectors Were Solomon Goodwin and Amos Jones and these, together with John Cook also served as constables. Samuel and Asa Abbott, John Devoe and Obadiah Benedict were the first pound-masters. Their names are all interwoven in the early history and are an important part of records which though written are unread. In other papers we propose to give the elements of strength in the lines of men, whose memory is fresher to the people.

Altamont Enterprise - December 8, 1888