Hillsdale’s Historic Cemeteries, Part 2

Our first guest blogger is Jeanne Kiefer. Jeanne authored most of the content of the Hillsdale Cemetery Report and continues to dig up (no pun intended) rich histories buried in Hillsdale’s Historic Cemeteries. Jeanne lives in far West Hillsdale and takes a special interest in the Krum Church burial site at the intersection of Wolf Road and Harlemville Rd. It is surely one of the prettiest burial spots in Hillsdale but sadly has become a victim of neglect and the passage of time. Here is her detailed account of Krum Hollow’s early days, and its graveyard residents.


History of the Krum Church Cemetery, by Jeanne Kiefer

Jeanne and Zippy

At the corner of Harlemville Road and Wolf Hill Road in west Hillsdale, a small cemetery dozes in the sun behind a low stone wall. Many headstones are tilted or broken and most are so weather-beaten they can no longer tell their stories.

Luckily documentation allows us to fill in some of the blanks. We know the names of at least 103 men, women and children who lived and loved and were buried in what was then known as Krum Hollow, a farming community pioneered by a 17-year-old immigrant from Germany.

In 1745 Martin Krum purchased 800 acres at the rough frontier edge of the vast Van Rensselaer lands centered in Claverack. He and his wife Elizabeth had 10 children and their descendants remained in the area for three more generations, at the center of a thriving settlement of German and Dutch farm families. Krum Hollow seems to have been the earliest community in Hillsdale, although we know little about its first two decades.

In 1769, however, Martin made news. He forced a dramatic break with the long-established and predominant Dutch Reformed Church in Claverack and spirited away a cohort of fellow dissenters. This was so shattering to the Claverack community that they were left without a pastor for six years. Meanwhile, a vital congregation of Dutch Reformed worshipers and German Lutherans gathered in Krum Hollow and eventually built a small church. They must have been surprised when they learned that their July 3rd dedication event took place just one day before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776.

One historian describes Krum Hollow as “juxtaposed precariously, halfway between the Dutch and Yankee settlements.” It was a community of German and Dutch speakers struggling to stay out of the battle for possession of the no-man’s land between New York and Massachusetts. This area was claimed by both the great landlords along the Hudson (Livingston and Van Rensselaer) and the rowdy independent Yankees of Nobletown, now Hillsdale. And then the American Revolution came along!

But back to our little cemetery. Church records reveal that the community thrived for 25 years, with 536 baptisms between 1775 and 1800, averaging 31 babies annually over the last decade of the century. 1793 had the bumper crop – 49 baptisms! Then the numbers plummet. The gravestones pick up the story, with the most interments occurring between 1820-40. It looks like the young families were moving away, perhaps for the much better farmland becoming available as the frontier pushed into western New York, Pennsylvania and beyond. (Krum Hollow, among the hilliest places in Hillsdale, must have been hardscrabble farming for a growing family.)

Those left behind in the graveyard are a mixed lot. The earliest interment we know of (there were almost surely earlier ones, now lost) is from 1782 – Johann Gotfried Schumacher was a Revolutionary War soldier who died of exposure. The last is two-week-old nameless infant who passed away in 1851. These early settlers were tough and lived longer than one might think – 35% made it to 60 or beyond and Mary Rood lived to be 96. Then again, there were at least 10 deaths in 1838, including five infants and 12-year-old Reny Krum.

As you might expect, there are more Krums among the grave markers than any other name, 13 in all. But there are also 10 Beckers, seven Harders, five Bortles and five Rivenburghs – 43 surnames in all, including Van Tassell, Stopplebeen and Spickerman. Some first names are also memorable – Alba, Albertis, Barbary, Elnathan, Mahala, Merium, Petrus, Reny, Tunis.

We have documentation on at least 13 Revolutionary War veterans buried in the plot, three captains among them. They served in five different New York regiments, along with Robert Miller of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. The oldest volunteer was Captain Jonathon Bixby, born in 1730 and serving in 9th Regiment, 2nd Claverack Battalion, Albany County Militia. The youngest was Elnathan Strong, who was only 11 when the war broke out but received a pension for his service on the Connecticut Line. As far as we know, only one cemetery in Hillsdale has a greater number of Revolutionary War veteran interments. The town plots in all contain about 65 veterans of the war.

Yes, you can learn a lot from stones.

Note: The Krum Church plot is mowed by the town of Hillsdale but is otherwise in poor shape. It would benefit from headstone cleaning and restoration and stone wall repair, as well as signage that honors its history. A few dozen stones are standing, but many more are under the sod or stacked in pieces against the wall. Hopefully, funds will be found to restore this small plot, as well as the other historic cemeteries of Hillsdale.

Research on the Krum Church Cemetery was conducted in 2016 by Jeanne Kiefer. The two most useful resources were the Findagrave website (with photos of many old stones) and the collection of “cemetery books” at the Columbia County Historical Association in Kinderhook. These books, many compiled almost 100 years ago, provide details on the now-unreadable headstone inscriptions in the county’s old cemeteries.


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13 Responses to Hillsdale’s Historic Cemeteries, Part 2

  1. Sara Brennan says:

    I love this stuff! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating reading! Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay Rohrlich says:

    Lauren and Chris, You are doing a great job, inspiring people like Jeanne to do her
    research for all of us to see. Thanks. Jay

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rose Marie Francis says:

    Well do Jeanne. Great research. Hillsdale has quite a history

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Virginia Grimes says:

    I have a quick question, please. Martin Krum is a relative (5th great-grandfather on my mother’s side). According to immigration records, his family immigrated in 1750 so the land purchase in 1745 doesn’t match. Can you share the source of the purchase date? It’s not an earth-shattering issue but would be interesting to know. Thanks for your work as historians! And I love this story-telling style – much more engaging than dry history books.


    • Hi Virginia:

      Thanks for your kind comments! We’ve forwarded your question to Jeanne Kiefer, who authored the guest blog about the Krum Church Cemetery. She is in Albuquerque for the winter, but is usually prompt in responding. All best,


    • Virginia, here is the response to your question from Jeanne Kiefer. We hope this is helpful. We can put you in touch directly with Jeanne if you have further questions. All best, HH

      Martin Krum background
      1) Excerpted from Hillsdale, A History, H. Parmet: Peter H. Stott’s recent survey of the county, written for the Columbia County Historical Society, also reports that “The first settlement in the western part of town may have been about 1745, when the German Martin Krum, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in Claverack, is reported to have purchased 800 acres from the Van Rensselaer family. By 1769 there were evidently enough families in eastern Claverack and western Hillsdale to form a new church in the western part of Hillsdale, the ‘Reform Lutheran Unity Church,’ now referred to as the ’Krum Church.’”
      (Note: Herb Parmet was a local resident and Hillsdale’s official historian until relatively recently. According to his 2017 obituary, he was “Distinguished Professor at Queensborough. and the Graduate Center. In 1995 he retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus… After his biography of Burr, Herb authored ten additional books.”)
      2) Excerpted from Columbia County At The End of the Century, History of Hillsdale, NY. Published and edited under the auspices of the Hudson Gazette, The Record Printing and Publishing Co. Hudson, New York 1900
      Martin Krum, a native of Germany, came to Hillsdale about 1745, and purchased a large tract of the Van Rensselaer lands, some eight hundred acres. The homestead where he lived and reared his family is now occupied by Merwin Becker (son of Moses) and his mother. Martin Krum had seven sons and three daughters. The original farm was divided into several tracts and sold to different parties. The old residence, erected a number of years before the Revolution, remained in possession of the family until 1835, the last occupant of the name being Martin H. Krum, who removed to the western part of the State. It is not known that any of the name now reside in the town, although there are descendants of his through his daughters and those of his sons who remained in the county, the name having become extinct through marriages.

      3. Excerpted from THE REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH OF HILLSDALE, (Also known as the Krum Church)
      Transcribed by “The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society”
      Edited by: Royden Woodward Vosburgh
      New York, October 1912
      and submitted here with permission from the NYGBS by Susan Stalker Mulvey
      (Introduction to the Hillsdale Reformed Church Records which may be found at the NY State Library)

      “The name Krum or Crum so frequently applied to this church, appears to have come from the long continued connection of the Krum family with the church, which a study of this record will disclose. The church edifice was situated near the old Krum homestead, which was built before the Revolution. John Joost Krum of Claverack was probably the pioneer of the family. He settled upon the Van Rensselaer Patent, which extended south from Kinderhook along the east side of the Hudson, to the north bounds of Livingston Manor, and thence on an easterly course 24 miles to Westenhook. It was surveyed for Hendrik Van Rensselaer, 25 October 1721. Later, the son of John Joost, Johannes Martinus known as Martin, acquired the rights to the land his father settled upon. Martin Krum married Elisabeth Niar [Nehr] at Claverack, 12 October 1756. They had 10 or more children, the first three of which were baptised in the Reformed Dutch Church at Claverack, others appear in the records of St. Thomas’ Lutheran Church at Churchtown, as being baptised there; and the last two, Elisabeth and Jonas, were baptised at Hillsdale, by Rev. Johan Friederich Reiss.”

      …… “According to the Manual of the Reformed Church in America, Fourth Edition, the Hillsdale Church was established in 1769. This same date appears in the Historical Sketch of the Classis of Hudson. I am not not able to find any authority for this beyond what appears in Zabriskie’s Claverack Centennial, which was evidently taken from the minutes of the Consistory of Claverack and from the minutes of the General Synod. It appears that the Consistory of Claverack passed a resolution, dated April 9th, 1770, stating that those who “lived to the east” could have the services of the minister they were about to call, providing that those in the east raised enough money to pay for the services. At the time this resolution was passed, the Claverack Church was vacant. The minutes of the General Synod of October 1773 refer to the building of a new church at Claverack, and mention a disagreement that occurred concerning it. There is nothing in the original record of the Hillsdale Church to show that the church was organized before the year 1776. The facts as they appear there are clearly set forth on pages 1 and 2 of this volume. It is possible that services may have been contemplated for some years before, and the church may have been built or building in the year 1773, but there is nothing on record that was found, to show the organization, the dedication, or that regular services were held. The authorities cited above will be found, fully copied, at the end of this introduction, where they can be read and their contents weighed.”


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