History of Our Town
Since its pioneer days in the 1700s and its formal beginning in 1803, the Town of Guilderland has been a unique, historic locale.
Mohican and Mohawk Indians used the clear waters of the Normanskill to fish and barter downstream at the Dutch Trading post near Fort Orange (Albany).
By 1740, early Palatine and Dutch pioneers traveled the Schoharie Plank Road by stage-coach and wagons on their westward journey to find a new home. Many settled at the foot of the magnificent Hellebergh escarpment. There they built their homes because of the rich soil, abundance of timber, and water power from the numerous streams.
One of the oldest settlements and the site of Guilderland's earliest industries was at French's Hollow. In 1795, Peter Broeck had already established a clothing factory. By 1800, a knitting mill, a button factory, and a grist mill employed the early pioneers in the settlement nearby.
In the Village of Hamilton (now Guilderland on Rte. 20), in 1785, Dutchman Leonard DeNeufville started a glass factory called the Hamilton Glass Works. It was subsequently owned by Patroon Jeremiah VanRensselaer and the Schoolcraft family.
The Town of Guilderland became incorporated by an act of legislation on February 26, 1803. The first town meeting was held at the Appel Inn in Guilderland Center on April 5, 1803. Agriculture replaced Guilderland's forests, the Great Western Turnpike was completed and railroads cut through the countryside bringing growth in small hamlets with post offices, stores, churches, and schools. The town flourished.
In the early 1900s, the western end of Guilderland remained mostly rural. The eastern end of town began to develop into a residential and commercial suburb. By the end of the 1900s, shopping malls, apartment complexes, business centers, and a State University had changed the landscape.
Each century has brought changes in the character of the Guilderland township, a great change from the days of stagecoach and wagon. With the rapid development in the last half of the 20th Century, residents of the community have risen to identify the transformation in their town and have proceeded with a vision for the future.