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History of the Township of Princetown

(Reproduced from Princetown's 1998 Community Information Guide with permission of Irma Mastrean, Town Historian)

[Photo of Kelly's Station trestle]

[CONSTRUCTION OF THE TRESTLE AT KELLY'S STATION: The trestles were built in 1895 by the D&H Railway. The tunnels are made of cut limestone with a Roman arch.]

[Photo of Kelly's Station tunnel]

[KELLY'S STATION TUNNEL: As it looks now, 1997.]

A portion of the land comprising what is now known as the Township of Princetown was originally ceded to the Reformed Dutch Church of Schenectady, and the remainder belonged by right of patent to George Ingoldsby (in the north of town) and Arendt Bradt (in the south of town). This was in 1737.

Ingoldsby sold out to a man with a more enduring name, William Corry, and the settlement became known as Corry's Bush, later called Currybush. In 1755, Corry sold his interest to John Duncan, a Scotsman, residing in Schenectady. Many title searches still reveal the name of John Duncan as original owner of the properties in town. The town was formed March 20, 1798, and was named in honor of John Prince, a member of the Assembly from Albany County and a merchant residing in Schenectady.

[Photo of the Gifford House]

[THE GIFFORD HOUSE (CHEESEMAN'S TAVERN): This large tavern of stage coach days was located in the hamlet of Giffords on Route 20. Probably built around 1784, it was a stop for drovers on their way to Albany with their livestock. Calvin Cheeseman was known as the shinplaster banker because he issued paper money to his neighbors and travelers. Bricks for its construction were made behind the building. There was a large ballroom on the third floor.]

The first settlers of Princetown were Scots and Scots-Irish. They were devout Presbyterians and a leading influence in the development of the town. Most of these Scots-Irish did not come to Corry's Bush directly from Europe. Princetown was an unsettled frontier. They went to galway in Saratoga County where an established Scots-Irish community already existed. They then pioneered out into the territory west of Schenectady. Many of these Scots landed in New York City and sent agents up the Hudson with instructions to find a place that looked something like the hills of their homeland.

John and Jennet Ferguson came from Perthshire, Scotland around the time of the Revolutionary War. They built their log cabin on the spot where the family cemetery now stands. Other early Scot families were Kelly, Elder, Donnan, Gifford, Dougal, Smeallie, Liddle, Wingate, Maben and Turnbull. The Bradshaw family came over from England in 1775. The Rynex family, from Holland, settled near the Rotterdam town line and the hamlet became known as Rynex Corners.

[Photo of the railroad station]

[RAILROAD STATION, KELLY'S STATION: The station was built around 1900. Otis Tulloch was a telegrapher here from that time until its close during the Depression. The building was torn down by Hiram Quay and the boards used in the Tulloch home.]

The history of the Princetown Presbyterian Church goes back to 1770, and the Princetown Reformed Church history goes back to 1818. There were six one-room schools in the town. The large Princetown Academy and female seminary was located on what is now Skyline Drive on the Tulloch property. It only lasted from 1853 to 1856.

Historically, Princetown has been a quiet, rural community. Farming was the chief occupation from the mid-1700s until the 1940s. Hay and grain were raised in large quantities with attention also given to dairy farming.

Today, the leaders of Princetown try to maintain this same rural atmosphere, not an easy task as the suburbs push farther into the country. Most people who move into town do so to enjoy its rural character.

Irma Mastrean, Town Historian

Town of Princetown
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Updated 11/28/98
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