"The Halfmoon"

"Halfmoon" is a location in old Albany County. The Half Moon is the ship Henry Hudson sailed up the North River in 1609! Both have substantial histories in their own right. The purpose of this exposition is to place references to "Halfmoon" (the place) in their early Albany context.

Initially, the name referred to a cluster of small islands where the Mohawk met the Hudson River. It was called "Half Moon Point" and was a place where Albany people met Native Americans to trade for furs. Located north (beyond the jurisdiction) of the manor of Rensselaerswyck, much of it was encompassed in the Van Schaick Patent granted by the English in 1674. After some pioneering that was curtailed by the intermittant threat of war, substantial settlement occurred mostly after the coming of peace during the first decades of the eighteenth century.

During the 1690s, a traveler noted that settlement in the area known as "the halfmoon" was dormant.

Geurt Hendrickse (patriarch of the Van Schoonhoven family), a pioneer settler, parcelled out his lands there before his death in 1702. In 1715, Jacobus Van Schoonhoven's militia company was composed mostly of men from the Halfmoon area.

In 1720, a list of freeholders for Albany city and county included a separate listing for Halfmoon. Its initial resident settlers were primarily of New Netherland ancestry - also representing overflow members of a number of prominent early Albany families - in particular the Vandenberghs and Van Schoonhovens.

In 1788, the town of Halfmoon was erected within Albany County. In 1790, the first Federal census counted its population as 3,602 residents in 607 households including 128 slaves and seven free persons of color (all in a single household). By that time, New Englanders had outnumbered the descendants of New Netherland. In 1791, the town of Halfmoon became part of newly formed Saratoga County.

In 1794, Waterford tavernkeeper and future Albany resident Matthew Gregory was named one of the first trustees of "Half Moon Point." Waterford was split off as a separate town in 1816.

Located on fertile land above both the Mohawk and the Hudson and beyond the boundaries of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, Halfmoon represented a desirable destination for the children of Albany residents and for newcomers as well.



Sources: Town of Halfmoon website; Halfmoon Historical Society website; History of Halfmoon, NY. Wikipedia; engaging illustrated narrative by Paul R. Huey;

Follow this link to more information on the Halfmoon on this website.
Follow this link to more potentially mis-identified information on the Half Moon on this website.

SURVEY OF THE VAN SCHAICK PATENT: The boundaries of a certain parcel of land in the county of Albany, confirmed unto Anthony Van Schaick, by Governor Thomas Dongan, 31st May, 1687.

A certain parcel of tract of land, and being to the north and above the town of Albany, and is commonly called and known by the name of the Half-Moon, which stretches up alongst the North river, from a certain place where are several streams of water, to a creek or kill, where there is a fall of waters, which, running into the land, hath its course into the North river; the said creek, or kill, and fall being by the Indians called Tieuwenendahow; and from thence runs up the Maquas kill westward, to a place called Dowailsoiaex, and so strikes presently eastward up along by the said stream, and then to the North river aforementioned. {Land Papers, vol. vi. p. 17.} A true copy, taken from the original by Philip Livingston.

Freeholders in Half Moon in 1720
Jacobus Van Schoonhoven
Evert Van Ness
Daniell Fort
Corn'ls Vanburen
Cornelis Van Ness
Isaac Ouderkerk
Lavinus Harminse
Tunis Harminse
Winant Vanderbergh
Roolif Gerritse     [possibly a very old RGVDW]
Hendrick Roolifse
Jno. De Voe
Daniell Van Olinda
Eldert Ouderkerk
Cornelis Vandenbergh

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first posted: 2/5/09; revised 8/14/14