Niverville, NY: From Wilderness to Thriving Community
Both by Mindy Potts May 2001
Webpage and Notes by Cliff Lamere 2 Jun 2003
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This historical article about Niverville, Columbia Co., NY is part of series written by Mindy Potts for publication in the monthly newspaper "OK Times & The Hudson River Sampler", Northern Columbia County Edition. Published in Stuyvesant, Columbia Co., NY, the newspaper also distributes a Southern Columbia County and Northern Dutchess County edition. The text and title of the original article may have been slightly revised for this webpage so that they would be more meaningful to a geographically diverse audience.
Mindy constructed a Niverville Timeline which was not published. It can be found below the article.
Original publication: May 2001, pg 1
Original title: Niverville From Wilderness to Thriving Community
(Introduction by Cliff Lamere)
Niverville From Wilderness to Thriving Community
Ask non-residents of Columbia County if they know where Niverville is, and the majority of the time the answer will be no. Sure, when coupled with Valatie and Kinderhook, this then might draw a response, but few may know of this small place and its rich history. The village has been known as both Kinderhook Station and Niverville, and has gone from wilderness, to farms and industry, to the rural residential area of today.
As descendants of immigrants, our history of Niverville begins in 1609 when Henry Hudson sailed up what is now known as the Hudson River to where the Native American Tribe, the Mahicans, had a Council Fire on Castle Hill - Castleton. Hudson and his crew saw many Mahican children on the shore and named the spot Kinderhoeck, Children's Corner. Twenty years later Dutch settlers arrived and Jan Hendrickse DeBruyn obtained a Land Patent Grant later known as the Kinderhoeck Patent. DeBruyn sold the land patent to Louren Lourenson Van Alen who built the first house in Niverville in 1707. Van Alen also noted the need for lumber for the houses being built in the area and in 1710 built a saw mill at a waterfall at the outlet of Kinderhook Lake on the Valatie Kill.
The settlement grew as the people made use of the area's natural resources. Kinderhook Creek powered various mills over the years. Kinderhook Lake's ice was stored in an ice house for cooling in warmer weather. Peat was harvested from bogs near the Rapp Road area. The rich, fertile land supported many different crops and orchards.
There were many businesses that have come and gone through the decades. They were important to Niverville and its residents. There are also some agencies and organizations that are essential to any community. The post office was established in 1846. At that time, the village had 1 grist mill, 1 store and 12 dwellings. In 1877, the Niverville Methodist Church was formed. A decade before, Sunday School had been held in the school house located at the intersection of County Routes 28 and 28B. Before the community had an organized fire department in 1916 , they used bucket brigades, then hand-pulled fire engines and horse-drawn fire engines, and the entire community helped put out fires.
At the time the railroad came to this area in 1841, it was known as Kinderhook Station. A turntable was located in Niverville for the Kinderhook and Hudson Railway. Later, in 1899, the Electric Railway came, and with it came two important things: electricity into homes and Electric Park.
Electric Park was widely known. Very often from Albany, Hudson and beyond, people would come on the Electric Railway, the trolley, and spend the day fishing, boating, bowling, dancing, and enjoying live performances and rides - Ferris wheels, the chute to chute and a roller coaster. Electric Park opened in 1901 and for 15 - 20 years people visited the park and Niverville. But Electric Park was not the only park in Niverville. Thirty years before Electric Park, in 1870, Kinderhook Lake Park, often called the Old Park, was a place for people to meet, picnic, play games and fish.
Niverville gets its name from the Nivers, John and his cousin John M., who came to this area in the early 1800s from Germany. They built a grist mill and earned a trade milling rye flour. John Niver also built the Niver Mansion in 1848. It is still standing today on the left side of County Route 28 as you cross over the bridge leaving Niverville.
With all we do know about our local history, there are still some unanswered questions - things that aren't documented or written down. For example: why did the village have a name change from Kinderhook Station to Niverville? Or why was the post office discontinued on August 29,1882 only to be reestablished the very next day? What about recent history? Why is the small park in front of the post office called Peggy's Park? For that matter, who knew that WAS the name of that park? The people who do know about this park are the long time residents of Niverville, especially those on the Niverville Community Committee. Margaret Reinhart was the one who told me this story.
In 1960, Ray Van Hoesen owned the Van Hoesen House, now known as the Niverville Pub, and the surrounding land. The youth groups in Niverville had been given a flag that had been flown over Washington D.C., but no place to fly it. A negotiation by the Niverville Community Committee resulted in the donation of a small piece of land by Mr. Van Hoesen to the youth groups on the condition that as long as the park was in existence, it would be called Peggy's park in honor of his wife. The promise was made. Even as the land changed hands over the years, other people and organizations have honored this promise and kept the name. Many individuals and local businesses have contributed various items over the years, and in 1977 the town took over the maintenance. In 1993, Peggy's Park, a true community park, made by and for the community, was deeded over to the Town of Kinderhook.
Why do we care about the past? Sure, its fun to think about how things used to be, the improvements that have been made, the changes that have taken place. Ultimately, its about remembering. We remember the hard work and sacrifices. We remember people and their promises. We remember the people who worked together to create a place we now enjoy as home.
1609 - Henry Hudson sailed up what is now known as the Hudson River to where the
Mahicans had a Council Fire on Castle Hill (at Castleton). Hudson and his crew saw
many Mahican children on the shore and named the spot Kinderhoeck, children's
1629 - Dutch settlers came and Jan Hendrickse DeBruyn obtained a Land Patent Grant -
the Kinderhoeck Patent
1697 - DeBruyn sold the land to Louren Lourenson Van Alen who built the first house in
what is now Niverville
1707 - Van Alen house is the first house in Niverville
1710 - Van Alen built a sawmill at the outlet of Kinderhook Lake where there was a
Early 1800s - John Niver and his cousin John M. Niver came to this area from Germany.
They built a grist mill, and in 1848, also the Niver Mansion which is still standing today
on the left hand side heading west on County Route 28 just over the bridge over the
1841 - railroad came to Niverville then known as Kinderhook Station
1846 - first post office - Niverville at that time had 1 grist mill, 1 store and 12 dwellings.
Before the post office, there were haphazard messages delivered by sailors and
1870 - there was an early amusement park with a small roller coaster, not as well known
as the later Electric Park
1877 - the Niverville Methodist-Episcopal Church was established. A decade before,
Sunday school had been held in the school house at the corner of routes 28 and 28b
where the Berkshire Telephone building stands today
1901 - Electric Park opened, and the Electric Railway connected vacationers to Niverville
from Albany and Hudson and beyond
1916 - Fire Department formed - Before the organized fire department, they used bucket
brigades, then hand-pulled fire engines and horse-drawn fire engines, and the entire
community helped put out fires
Visitors since 3 Jun 2003