A Brief History
Dutch farm tenants first came to the land called the Town of Greenbush (Groenen Bosh) in about 1628. They were the recruits of Patroon Killian Van Rensselaer. It took them sixty-four days to cross the Atlantic Ocean in sailing ships. Some of the new settlers who built Fort Orange and Beverwyck (now Albany) came across the Hudson River to farm. The Mahicans already occupied the land and accepted the newcomers. In 1630 the natives began to sign title deeds offered by the agents of the Patroon. The Mahicans did not leave immediately, however, but did eventually retreat to the forests.
Before long, boats between Columbia Street in Greenbush and Beverwyck (Albany) began to transport people, animals and wagons across the Hudson River. When the river froze, crossings continued, but occasionally wagons and horses went through thin ice.
Edmund Charles Genet was a prominent resident of the town during the early 1800’s. He came to this country as a minister plenipotentiary and counsel general of the French Republic. He later became an American citizen. Genet’s wife, Cornelia, was a daughter of Governor George Clinton. He built a mansion at “Prospect Hill” on Hays Road and is buried behind the Greenbush Reformed Church.
During the War of 1812, extensive barracks were erected on the hills of Greenbush Village. Sometime after the war, the army camp was abandoned. In 1831 the buildings and 300 acres were sold to a private investor. One of the buildings of “the Cantonment” still stands today.
The town was incorporated in 1855, and was first called Clinton. Three years later, because there already was a Clinton in New York, the town’s name was changed to East Greenbush.
A Brief History
There are records that trace the earliest Dutch residents of the town back to about 1640. Family names from the period of time include Van Alstyne, DeForrest / DeFreest, Sharpe, Van Eiveren and Van Duesen.
John E. Van Alen, early United States Congressman and local surveyor, laid out most of the property lines in the western portion of Rensselaer County during the 1790s. He owned a large tract of land and sizable farmstead in Defreestville.
The Town of North Greenbush was also formed from the Town of Greenbush in 1855 by an act of the New York State Legislature. One of the villages in the town, called Bath-on-Hudson, was annexed to the city of Rensselaer in 1901.
In addition to Bath, Blooming Grove (now Defreestville) and Wynantskill grew into flourishing settlements in the early 1800’s. In the 1920’s the Snyder’s Lake area became a popular place for summer homes and recreation.
For more information about East and North Greenbush go to Resources and Links