From Berne, NY - a Helderberg Hilltown
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Visit Churches for a listing of all schools in the Hilltowns.

Schools in Berne

Helderberg Lutheran Church, Berne (formerly St. Paul's Lutheran Church
photo ca. 2003 by Barbara Husek

Since there are no records of telling us when the earliest settlers arrived at the Beaver Dam, we have to look to the early church baptism and marriage records and decide how to interpret them.

In addition to their scant belongings, settlers brought with them their religious faiths; in the case of the Palatine settlers at the Beaver Dam, this was either Lutheran or Reformed. To attend religious services, the earliest Beaver Dam settlers traveled to Schoharie where there was both a Lutheran and a Dutch Reformed Church, or below the hill to Schenectady or Albany. It is reported that the worshipers went “twenty in a line” to Schoharie, on horseback or foot, along the ten-mile trail that followed an Indian footpath along the banks of the Foxenkill.

Since most baptisms and marriages of the Beaver Dam settlers were recorded in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Schoharie, or the Dutch Reformed Church in Schoharie, many researchers of these families assume that the participants actually lived there. In fact, many of the families seldom went to church even though their vital records are recorded there. Since communicants in the Schoharie churches lived quite distant in a wide circle around Schoharie, including Beaver Dam, they would frequently have had their religious sacraments performed by itinerant or circuit preachers who would later record them in Schoharie, or elsewhere.

Family researchers also note that baptisms for the same couple may go back and forth between two or more churches of either different denominations or different locations. The explanation again is that it was probably circuit preachers doing the baptisms. The parents did not care whether - or ask whether - the preacher was Lutheran or Reformed; they just wanted the sacrament performed. It also did not matter where it was recorded - the deed was done. Many researchers think the couple moved around a lot; NOT! Up until about 1800 or so it was very common for the baptisms of some children of a Berne family to be recorded in Schoharie and other to be recorded in Berne.

Past Churches

Click on Churches of the past for the history of early churches of Berne which are gone but not forgotten, and those that were recently closed in 2009.

Current Churches and Religious Institutions