Welcome to the Berne Historical Project

This site is dedicated to our ancestors and a gift to our descendants.

Join us as we explore our Berne Heritage. We'll follow the scenic Helderberg Trail, now State Route 443, as it wanders through the Helderberg hills in western Albany County, along the same route taken by our forefathers.

The Berne Historical Project began in 2001 as a means of sharing the history and genealogy of the people of Berne, NY. It has been a volunteer effort started by Ralph Miller, Berne Town Historian and continued by his brother Harold Miller <>. Our webmasters were originally Gordon and Joan Wright. The webmaster is now Gordon's son Jay Wright. Obituaries are added by Marilyn Miller Nardillo.

Kathleen Putzig is now Hilltown Genealogist for this site. She is the daughter of Ralph Miller, formerly Town of Berne Historian. Kathleen´s addess is on the genealogy page. The current Town Historian is Sandra Stempel Kisselback historian@berneny,org

At the end of 2008 I started a new web site for researchers with ancestors from all four Albany Hilltowns. That site was later for a number yeaes maintined by John Elberfeld. Then for a few years by Will Osterhoudt. It is now maintained by the Altamont Enterreprise. It can be found at

I've now created a new Facebook site Berne NY History. It has hundreds of followers and proving to be very popular.

In 1977 The Town of Berne Bicentennial Commission, with the extensive help of the Berne Historical Society, published Our Heritage, a detailed history of the Town of Berne through 1977. In the Foreward, by Euretha Wolford Stapleton, then Historian, Town of Berne, wrote in part, "The editors and authors of this volume recognize that history such as this is never complete or perfectly accurate. It is our hope that in time other sources and document will be discovered and the material added to our archives so that future generations will benefit."

 The early history of Knox, "Knox, New York Sesquicentennial", published in 1973, contains a similar caveat, "It is the hope that the community will continue to become more conscious of its past heritage and many more pertinent facts of our history will be disclosed."

Thanks to almost 20 years of research on the Internet plus an email from hundreds of family researchers, and the books written by professional genealogists William V. H. Barker and Henry Z Jones Jr., Harold Miller found considerably more about the early settlement of the towns of Berne and Knox. Both towns have the same early history because until 1822 Knox was part of Berne. Our Heritage is an excellent history except for the first chapter on the early settlement of Berne and the genealogy of the early families. The same with the Knox history.

 To share these new facts a few years ago Harold wrote Berne and Knox, Our Geman Heritage. The history of the settlement of these two towns covers the period from the first settlers to 1787. Even though during this period the terms Berne and Knox and did not exist. Still, he used the town names to make it clearer to the readers where certain events took place. German was the common language they spoke and modern Germany is the area most of them came from. The book tells when the earliest settlers arrived, where they came from, why they came to Berne and Knox, and where they first settled.

In Our Heritage the early history of the first families is also wrong. For this reason, a second book has since been written and published by Harold, Berne and Knox, Some Early Families to 1787. Both books are available  from Ralph Miller, 1136 Helderberg Trail, Berne, NY, 12023. Tel. 518-366-2034. The cost is $20 each if picked up at the house, or plus $5 if mailed. Both books can be shipped for $45. Payment should  be made either by check to Rslph Miller or by Paypal to

A reprint of Our Heritage is also now available from the Berne Town Clerk at $15 if picked up at the Town Hall office, or $20 if mailed. Checks should be made out to Town of Berne and mailed to Berne Town Clerk, PO Box 57, Berne, NY 12023. The first chapter on the founding of Berne is out of date and wrong as are the early history of the first families. The rest of the history of Berne is well done and interesting.

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The current day Town of Berne is located southwest of Albany, New York in the western section of Albany County. Originally settled in the 1750s, many descendants of the original founding families still live here.

Town Seal

The TIN HORN represents the Anti-Rent movement. It sounds the spirit of courage and freedom displayed at the risk of life and property, a community action to rid the land of tyrannical and unjust powers.

The SIMMONS AX depicts the efforts of early industrialization, a spirit of industry deep in the past and the present; it is the sharp edge of a people honest and persevering.

The OUTLINE OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL TOWN OF BERNE shows the place we are proud to live, through heritage and hope.

The SUNBURST radiates from behind these symbols, expressing the glory of our heritage and the hope of our future.


(from "Our Heritage" copyright 1977, Town of Berne, published by Hope Farm Press, Cornwallville, New York, 1977)