Church Family Homestead
"Church Hollow" is marked on the Topozone
topographical map, as a narrow valley carved out of the eastern slope
of the Rensselaer Plateau escarpment by an unnamed brook that tumbles
down the hill to the Little Hoosic's flood plain, to empty into the river
about a mile north of Petersburgh village. It appears that the Church
Family leases from the Van Rensselaer Manor were a mile west of the flats,
up a steep road that parallels the brook and rises approximately 500 ft.
in that mile to the 1000 ft. elevation.
On the Rogerson "Map of Rensselaer County, 1854,"*(1) farms
of "P. Church" and "S. Church" are shown adjacent
to each other, "P. Church" being the homestead of Peter Church
(1787-1878) and later his son Eliphalet (1815-1899) and Elipahlet's wife
Patience Ann Stewart (1816-1919). The "P. Church" annotation
is duplicated on the 1876
map of N.W. Petersburgh, his death not ocurring until two years later.
Esther Church Bierwirth (1905-1996) remembered attending Patience Ann's
100th birthday celebration in 1916 at this location, where Eliphalet and
Patience's daughter Eunice also lived.
No. 1: The Pioneer in Winter
We have taken the liberty to quote from Philip Lord's lengthy and exacting
research in "War over Walloomscoick: Land Use and Settlement on the
Bennington Battlefield - 1777,"*(2). The following section in no
doubt describes the first Church and Stewart homesteads to a tee:
One commonly held stereotype of late eighteenth century rural farms,
lying outside the major river basins and beyond centers of population
and cultural development, suggests a situation of a few scattered cabins,
each surrounded by a minuscule clearing; a few acres of crop scratched
in among the stumps. Orsamus Turner writing in the 1850s about this
period, institutionalized the stages of pioneer development in a set
of four annotated scenes representing the typical rural New York farm.
Turners classic description of the primordial homestead seems
to conjure up the popular image of such early frontier settlement:
The engraved view, No. 1, introduces the pioneer. It is winter. He has,
the fall preceding, obtained his "article," or had his land
"booked" to him, and built a rude log house; cold weather
came upon him before his completion, and froze the ground, so that he
could not mix straw mortar for his stick chimney, and that is dispensed
with. He has taken possession of his new home.
The oxen are browsing, with the cow and three sheep; the two pigs and
three fowls that his young wife is feeding from her folded apron; these,
with a bed, two chairs, a pot and kettle, and a few other indispensable
articles for house keeping, few and scanty altogether, as may be supposed,
for all were brought in upon that ox sled, through an underbrushed woods
road; these constitute his worldly wealth. The opening in the woods
is that only, which has been made to get logs for his house, and browse
his cattle for the few days he has been the occupant of his new home.
He has a rousing fire; logs are piled up against his rude chimney back;
his fire wood is convenient and plenty, as will be observed. There is
a little hay piled on a hovel off to the right; the cattle and sheep
well understand that to be a luxury only to be dealt out to them occasionally.
The roof of his house is of peeled elm bark; his scanty window is of
oiled paper; glass is a luxury that has not reached the settlement of
which he forms a part. The floor of his house is of halves of split
logs; the door is made of three hewed planks - no boards to be had -
a saw mill has been talked of in the neighborhood, but it has not been
put in operation.
Miles and miles off, through dense forest, is his nearest neighbor.
Those trees are to be felled and cleared away, fences are to be made;
here, in this rugged spot, he is to carve out his fortunes...
(1) "Map of Rensselaer
County, 1854," by J.E. Rogerson, New York State Library, Manuscripts
and Special Collections
(2) "War over
Walloomscoick: Land Use and Settlement on the Bennington Battlefield -
1777" by Philip Lord, New York State Museum Bulletin No. 473 ISBN
1-55557-186-7 "Thresholds of Settlement," p155
Church Home || Genealogy
|| Frank and Myrtle || History
of Church Family in Petersburgh || Background
of Settlement || The Journey
Church Family of Petersburgh, NY featuring descendants of Frank and Myrtle
©2002 by Daniel J. Bornt,
e-mail to: email@example.com