The State Board of Geographic Names was established in 1913 as an attempt to standardize and codify the names of cities, towns, village, rivers, creeks in New York State. At some point in the 1920’s, the organization was reshuffled, eliminating the Governor and his appointments, and folding the whole thing into the Education Department. It was renamed the State Committee on Geographic Names, which exists to this day.
Here the text of a 1914 Albany Argus article explaining all the place names in Albany and Rensselaer counties. You’ll come across “cognominal,” a word that has fallen out of use; in these instances, it means either self-explanatory name, or one that came about through common use. Over the years, many of the places named here have been renamed, dissolved, or absorbed into other places.
Evidence of the activity of the State Board of Geographic Names, which was appointed by Governor Sulzer under authority of the Legislature of 1913, is at hand in a glossary of the place names of Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties. By act of the Legislature the board, which consists of A. J. F. Van Laer, of Albany; Hugh P. Baker, of Syracuse; Herman L. Fairchild, of Rochester, and the commissioner of education and the State geologist as ex officio members, is empowered to “determine and establish the correct historical and etymological form of the place names in this State and to recommend the adoption of such correct forms for public use; to determine the form and propriety of new place names proposed for general use, and no corporation, individual or community shall introduce such new place names without the consent and approval of this board; to co-operate with the United States Board of Geographic Names and with the United States post office department in establishing a proper, correct and historically accurate form for all place names proposed as designations of new post offices.”
No appropriation whatever was made for the work of the board, neither salaries, clerical help or even stationery. There have been many and very excellent reasons for the creation of such a board and these were fully appreciated, both by the late commissioner of education and the committees of the Legislature before whom the proposition was brought, and expressed in the enactment. Local place names in the State have often gone astray from their original significance; very frequently names which nave no property within the State of Now York have been of late years, added to its already somewhat incongruous assemblage: meaningless names, names which are combinations of euphonious, perhaps, but jejune syllables have been imposed upon the State, often at the instigation or by the connivance of public service corporations. New York has had its own troubles in its place names and there probably is not another equal area in America which is so bespangled with classical names without the remotest relationship to this country, as the Old Military Tract of central New York. This board has been called upon to exercise its functions on several occasions in regard to the institution of new or proposed names, and this has been without solicitation or warning on its own part.
Place Names of Albany County.
The place names of Albany county are:
Adams Station. Hamlet. Named for Nathaniel Adams, early settler. Also known as Adamsville. (Now Delmar, absurd misappropriation of well known town name on border of Delaware and Maryland.)
Albany. County and city. Named in honor of James, Duke of York and Albany (1664), afterwards James II.
Alcove. Hamlet. Formerly Stephenville.
Altamont. Hamlet (formerly Knowersville). Fancy name of no historical significance. High mountain; lies at base of Helderbergs.
Aqueduct. Hamlet. The Erie canal here crosses the Mohawk river.
Aquetuck. Hamlet. Ach-que-tuck, Iroquois. Ach-que-tuck or Aquetuck was an early name for Coeymans Hollow. It is usually applied to the flats there but appears to be the Hagguato of the map of the New Hampshire Grants and the stream mentioned by Schoolcraft as Hakitak, below Coeymans. It may be derived from ahque, he leaves off, and tuk, a river; i.e., a river at a boundary (Beauchamp).
Aurania or Eurania. An early alternative name of Fort Orange.
Babcock Corners. Cognominal. Now Bethlehem Center.
Basic creek. Thought to be Mahican; “may be a corruption of quassik, a stone” (Beauchamp).
Beacon island. Descriptive.
Bear island. Descriptive.
Beckers Corrers. Hamlet. The Becker family were early settlers.
Beeren island. The island, of bears (Dutch). The Mahican name has a similar meaning (Beauchamp).
Berne; Berneville; South Berne. From Berne, Switzerland. native place of Jacob Weidman, one of the early settlers.
Bethlehem: Bethlehem Center. Suggesting the religious proclivities of the settlers.
Beverwyck. Original Dutch name of Albany.
Black creek. Flows over exposures of black shale.
Blockhouse creek. Early settlers built a blockhouse here.
Boght Hamlet. Dutch – bend of the Mohawk river.
Cabbage island. Descriptive.
Callanan Corners. Named for Henry Callanan, an early settler.
Where Fort Nassau Stood.
Castle island. same as Van Rensselaer island. Fort Nassau was built on this island.
Cedar Hill. Hamlet. Red Cedar formerly covered the hills.
Chesterville. Hamlet. Named for Rev. John Chester of Albany. Now known as Westerlo.
Clarksville. Village. Named for Adam A. Clark, 1822.
Coeymans. Town, village. Named for Barent Pieterse Coeymans, patentee.
Coeymans Hollow. Hamlet on Hannacrois creek.
Cohoes. Town, city. Mohawk – Ga-ha-oos, canoe shooting over the falls. “Cah-hoos or Ca-hoos, a canoe falling, as explained by the late Indian sachem, Brant.” (Spafford).
Colonie. Town. The Colony (Rensselaerwyck).
Cooksburg. Hamlet. Thomas B. Cook of Catskill, 1840, leading man in the Catskill and Canajoharie Railroad enterprise.
Crescent Station. Hamlet. In the great bend of the Mohawk.
Delmar. See Adams Station.
Disbrows. Hamlet in town of Westerlo. Name no longer in use.
Dormansville. Hamlet. Named for Daniel Dorman, first postmaster, 1832.
Dunnsville., Hamlet. Named for Christopher Dunn, original owner.
Dunsback Ferry. Hamlet. Dunsback, early settler. Ferry over Mohawk.
East Township. Hamlet.
Eight-Mile creek. Descriptive.
Elder creek. Descriptive.
Elsmere. Modern name without appropriateness.
Fechtberg. Hill in town of Berne. The name is said to have come from a dispute as to leadership among settlers, 1750.
Feurabush. Hamlet. Dutch: vurenbosch (pronounced wurebosch), firbush, or woods. (A. J. F. van Laer). Now known as Jerusalem, the name Feurabush being attached to the railroad station.
Fly creek. Dutch: Vlaie, meaning a meadow. Same as Vly.
“This word vly, in the records also written vley and vleye, is a puzzling word in the Dutch language. It is obsolete at present and its real meaning is unknown to me. The word seems to apply in nearly all cases to low, marshy land, or to salt meadows, and I suspect that it is nothing but a contraction of valey, valley, or low land. At all events I should say that the meaning was low land, rather than meadow. Vlaie is probably a later corruption, which, as far as I remember, does not occur in the Dutch records.” (A. J. F. van Laer).
Font Grove. Modern name.
Foxenkill – Foxes stream.
French’s Mills. Hamlet. Named for Abel French, miller.
Fuller. Hamlet. Named for Major John Fuller.
Gibbonsville. Old village incorporated into West Troy, 1836. Now a part of Watervliet.
Glenmont. Hamlet. Fancy name.
Green Island. Village. Descriptive.
Groesbeck, Formerly a suburb of Albany, in the town of Bethlehem. Named for the Groesbeck family. Now obsolete and included in the southern part of the city.
Guilderland. Township and village. Named from Gelderland, in the Netherlands.
Guilderland Center and Guilderland Station.
Hamilton or Hamiltonville. “A town or settlement lately laid out in Albany county, New York, in the extensive township of Water Vliet, formerly called the Glass Factory; and has its present name in honor of that great patron of American manufactures, the late secretary of the treasury of the United States of America. It lies 10 miles west of Albany. two miles from the Schenectady road: and is one of the most decisive efforts of private enterprise in the manufacturing line as yet exhibited in the United States. The glass manufactory is now so well established and so happily situated for the supply of the northern and western people of the State of New York as well as Vermont and Canada, that it is to be expected that the proprietors will be amply rewarded for their great and expensive exertions. The glass is in good reputation. Here are two glass houses and various other buildings, curious hydraulic works to save manual labor by the help of machinery. A copious stream runs through the heart of the settlement, which lies high; and being surrounded by pine plains, the air is highly salubrious. The great Schoharie road traverses the settlement. A spacious schoolhouse and a church of octagon form are soon to be erected.
“The enterprising proprietors of the Glass and other works in this thriving settlement were incorporated by the Legislature of New York in the spring of 1797, by the name of ‘The Hamilton Manufacturing Society,’ which act has given spring to the works here, and authorizes a hope that American manufactures may not only subserve the interests of our county, but that also of the proprietors.” (Jedediah Morse’s Gazetteer. 1798.)
The settlement and enterprise became effaced by 1840 and the only local trace of it now remaining is to be found in the name “Hamilton Church” in Guilderland township.
Hannacrois creek. Supposed to be from Dutch signifying a crowing cock. It is said that during a freshet a barn was carried down stream and perched upon an open door stood a cock crowing.
Havers island. In the Mohawk. From the Dutch: haver, oats. Same as Van Schaick’s island.
Helderberg mountains. Variant derivations have been suggested for this Dutch word: helder-bright, bergen, mountains. Helder, a fort in Holland.
Hillhouse island. Cognominal.
Hunger Kill. The local story says that wagon trains from Albany to Buffalo stopped here for refreshment.
Hurstville. Hamlet. Named for William Hurst, 1861.
Indian Fields. Hamlet. Indians had planted fields and orchards.
Ireland Corners. Hamlet. Named for Elias H. Ireland, 1832.
Irish Hill (Berne). The first settlers were Scotch-Irish.
James Corners. Same as South Bethlehem. Elisha James kept tavern here.
Jerusalem. Formerly Feurabush. This later application of an old name which has appeared only on recent maps is objectionable, in view of the well-established application of the word to a township in Yates county and to a village in Queens county.
Kaikout kill. Stream. Dutch: kijkuit-look-out. See Kykout (Rensselaer county.)
Karner. Hamlet. Cognominal.
Keefer Corners. Hamlet. Named for Balthus Keefer, 1791.
Kenwood. Suburb of Albany. Named by Mayor Jared Rathbone, Albany, after a Scotch place of his acquaintance.
Kimmey’s Corners. Cognominal.
Knowersville. Now Altamont.
Knox. Township and village. Named for John Knox by the Scotch settlers.
Krum kill. Stream. Would seem to be from the Dutch Krom or Kromme, crooked.
Lambs Corners. Hamlet. Named for Jehial Lamb, early settler.
Lisha Kill. Hamlet and stream. Name of Indian buried here.
Loudonville. Hamlet; on Loudon road, three miles from Albany. Named in memory of Lord Loudon, general of the English forces in barracks at Albany, 1756.
McKownsville. Hamlet. Named for the McKown family, early settlers.
Marsh island. Descriptive.
Meadowdale. Hamlet. Fancy name, modern.
Medusa. Hamlet. Modern intrusion. Originally Halls Mills, named for Uriah Hall, 1783.
Menands (properly Menand). Hamlet. Named for Louis Menand, a Frenchman and first settler.
New Salem. Hamlet. Named in 1830. An expression of the piety of the early settlers.
New Scotland. Township, village. There were many Scotch families among the early settlers.
Newtonville. Hamlet. Named for John M. Newton.
Normans kill. Stream. A Hollander, Albert Andriessen, from Frederikstad, Norway, surnamed the Norman, settled at mouth of creek about 1630.
Normansville. See Normans Kill. Early name Upper Hollow.
Oniskethau. Hamlet. See Oniskethau creek.
Oniskethau creek. The old Indian name of the region O-nits-quat-haa, deeded in 1685 to Teunis Slingerland and Johannes Appel. “It is said to have been an early name for Coeymans, meaning cornfields.” (Beauchamp).
Patroon creek. Named after the patroon of Rensselaerswyck.
Patroon island. The same.
Peoria. Hamlet. Borrowed name.
Port Schuyler. Old hamlet incorporated into West Troy 1836. Now part of the city of Watervliet.
Potter Hollow. Hamlet. The Potter family were early settlers.
Preston Hollow. Named for Dr. Samuel Preston, 1798.
Ravena. Modern name. It has no local significance.
Reidville. Village. Named for George Reid, Scotch immigrant.
Rensselaerville. Township, village. Named for Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer, patroon of Rensselaerswyck.
Rensselaer lake. The same.
Selkirk. Hamlet. The first settlers were the Selkirk families of Scotch descent.
Early Shaker Settlement.
Shakers. Hamlet. The Shakers settled here in 1776.
Slingerlands. Village. Named for descendants of John A. Slingerland.
South Bethlehem. See Bethlehem and Janes Corners.
Spencerville. Cognominal. Same as West Albany.
Stephensville. Hamlet. Named for Archibald Stephens, miller.
Stony Hill. Hamlet. Descriptive.
Switzkill. Stream. There were many Swiss settlers in the town of Berne.
Ten-Mile creek. Descriptive.
Thompson lake. Named for John and William Thompson.
Tivoli Hollow. Early hamlet now included in the northern part of the city of Albany.
Townhouse Corners. Hamlet. Descriptive.
Unionville. Hamlet. A “Union” church is located here. Originally Union church.
Upper Hollow. Early name for Normansville.
Van Leuven’s Corners. Hamlet. Named for Isaac Van Leuven, early settler
Van Schaicks island. In the Mohawk. Cognominal.
Van Wie’s Point. On Hudson river. Named for Jan Van Wie.
Vlaumans kill. Stream. Cognominal.
Voorheesville. Hamlet. Named for Alonzo B. Voorhees, 1862.
Warner lake. Named for Johannes and Christopher Warner.
Watervliet. City. Dutch: water, vliet, stream, course. Former name West Troy, which in 1836 was
incorporated of the villages or hamlets of Gibbonsville, Watervliet and Port Schuyler.
Wemple. Hamlet From a pioneer family.
Westerlo. Township and village. Named for Rev. Eliardus Westerlo, a Dutch clergyman in Albany. 1760. Formerly known as Chesterville.
West Township. Hamlet.
West Troy. Now a part of Watervliet.
Willemstadt. The name given to Albany in 1673 in honor of Willem (William) III, of Orange, later king of England.
Wiliamsburgh. Hamlet. Now Connersville.
Wolf creek. Descriptive.
Wolf Hill. Hamlet.
Place Names of Rensselaer County.
Albia. Suburb of Troy.
Alps. Hamlet. In the hilly eastern part of the county.
Averill Park. Hamlet. Named from old and prominent family in the town of Sand Lake.
Babcock pond. Named for John Babcock.
Bald mountain. Descriptive.
Barberville. Hamlet. Cognominal.
Bath. Named from supposed medicinal qualities of a spring near it. Now included in city of Rensselaer and name abandoned.
Berlin. Township, hamlet.
Berlin Center. See Berlin.
Black brook. Takes its name from the black shales over which it flows.
Black river. Same as above.
Boyntonville. Village. Cognominal.
Brainard Station. Hamlet. Named for David Brainard, missionary to the Indians here.
Brookview. Hamlet. Modern name: formerly Schodack Center.
Brunswick. Township; hamlet. Said to have been settled by a colony of Germans. Among early settlers was family by the name of Braunschweiger.
Burden lake. Cognominal.
Buskirk’s Bridge. Village, on Hoosick river. Named for Van Buskirk family, early settlers.
Campbell island. Cognominal.
Castleton. Village. Named from Castle hill on which stood an Indian fortification.
Center Brunswick. See Brunswick.
Church Hollow. Named from the Church family, early settlers.
Clum’s Corners. Hamlet. Named for O. Clum, blacksmith.
Cooper pond. Cognominal.
Cranberry pond. Descriptive.
Cropseyville. Hamlet. Named for Valentine Cropsey, early settler.
Deep kill. Descriptive.
De Freestville. Hamlet. Named for the early settlers De Foreest; also spelled DeForest and DeFriest.
Dill creek. This may have been a family name, or perhaps derived from the presence of dill along its banks.
Dunham Hollow. Named for Isaac Dunham, settler. 1800.
The “Foolish” Stream.
Dwaas kill. Stream connecting the Hoosick and Hudson rivers, its current varying with freshet. “This is probably a corruption of Dwars kill, or cross creek, a stream connecting two others, just as a dwars straat means a cross street. Dwaas—foolish; hence, I suppose, the attempt to explain the name as “of two minds,” a stream flowing both ways.” (A. J. F. van Laer.)
Eagle Bridge. Village at the bridge over Hoosick river. Patriotic.
Eagle Mills (Millville). Village. Valuable water power on Poestenkill.
East Grafton. See Grafton.
East Poestenkill. Hamlet. See Poestenkill.
Fonda hill. Named for John Fonda, 1750.
Fox Hollow. Name may be derived from Levit Fox, early settler, or may be descriptive.
Garfield. Hamlet. Modern and patriotic; originally South Stephentown.
Glasshouse. Extensive glass works.
Grafton. Township and hamlet. Named from Grafton, Vt.
Grant Hollow. Hamlet. Grant-Ferris Co. operated an agricultural implements factory here.
Gravel pond. Descriptive.
Greenbush. Township and village. Greene bosch, from the pine woods adjoining. Now part of the city of Rensselaer.
Hanford pond. Cognominal.
Haynerville. Hamlet. Named for the Hayner families. early settlers.
Hayners pond. Cognominal.
Hicks pond. Given as Hacks pond on old map.
Hoag Corners. Named for W. B. Hoag. early settler.
Hoag’s pond. Named for Jonathan Hoag who constructed dam and formed pond.
Hoosick. Township, village. river. Mohawk: stony place (Ruttenber). Algonquin: along the kettle (Beauchamp). Hoosick Falls. Hoosick Junction, West Hoosick and North Hoosick all take name from the river.
Ives Corners. Hamlet. Named for Ives family, early settlers.
Johnsonville. Hamlet. Named for William Johnson. early proprietor, 1900.
Kendall pond. Named for David Kendall. early settler.
Kinderhook creek. A Dutch name signifying “Children’s Point.” Name belongs properly to Columbia county.
Kykout hill. From Dutch Kykuyt or Kijkuit (modern spelling): lookout.
“New City’ in 1771.
Lansingburgh. Town, village (part of Troy). Named for and laid out in 1771 by Abraham Jacob Lansingh as the City of Lansingburgh. In its early history commonly known as New City, in contrast to Albany, the “Old City.”
Little Schodack island., see Schodack.
Long pond. Descriptive.
Lower Schodack island See Schodack.
Lyons pond. Cognominal,
Mastens Corners. Hamlet. Named for the Masten family, storekeepers.
Melrose. Hamlet. Probably Scotch.
Meshodac Peak. Indian – mishadehu: great mountain. (Beauchamp)
Miller Corners. Hamlet. Named for George Miller, storekeeper, 1840.
Millville. Alternative name for Eagle Mills.
Molls island. Named for the Molls family.
Molls plaat. Named for the Molls family.
Moon hill. Named for the family of J.S. Moon.
Moordener kill. Stream. Refers to an early battle on its banks between settlers and robbers. Moordener is a corruption of Moordenaer or Moordenaar: murderer. (A.J. F. Van Laer)
Muitzes kill. Stream. The story is that of a Dutch female with high hat lost in the stream and cried out “De muitz is in de Kill.” Muitzes may be a corruption of Mutzen (pl. of Muts – woman’s lace cap or man’s woolen or fur cap), but the story sounds foolish. More likely, Muitzes is a corruption of Muizon: mice. (A.J.F van Laer)
Nassau. Township, village. Named from old Nassau: originally Philipstown.
North Nassau, East Nassau, Nassau pond.
Newcomb pond. Named for Daniel Newcomb, 1730.
North Greenbush. See Greenbush.
Odell hill. Named for Simeon Odell, 1790.
Papscanie island. Abbreviated from the name of the original owner, Pap-sickenckas or Paep-Sikenekomatas.
Pattersons Corners. Hamlet. Named from early settlers.
Peckham pond. Named for early pioneer who lived near it.
Petersburg. Township, village. Named for Peter Simmons, 1791.
Pike hill. A companion name to Pike pond.
Pike pond. Descriptive.
Pittstown. Township, hamlet.
Plattstown. Hamlet. Originally Platstown from Peter Plate, innkeeper. Better known as Tamarac.
Poestenkill. Township and hamlet. Named for Jan Barentsen Wemp, nicknamed Poest. “‘Poest means a cow-herd.” (A. J. van Laer).
Poplar hill and Poplar island.
Potter hill. Hamlet. A man named Potter was killed here by accident.
Prosser Hollow. Stream. Named for Ichabod Prosser, early settler.
Quacken Kill. “Probably from Quack, or Kwak (pl. Quacken, Kwakhen), a heron (Ardea nycticorax). Kwahken also means ‘to croak,’ but if the kill was full of frogs, it would more likely be called Kikoorschen kill than Quacken kill.” (A. J. F. van Laer).
Raymertown. Hamlet. Named for Raymer family, early settlers.
Red pond. Descriptive; colored by soil.
Reichard pond. From Reichard family, early settlers.
Rensselaer. City, county. Taken from Albany county in 1791 and named for the Patroon of Rensselaerwyck.
Reynolds. Hamlet. Cognominal.
Rock Hollow. Hamlet. One of the gorges of Quacken Kill.
Round pond. Descriptive.
Sand Lake. Township, hamlet, lake. Descriptive.
Schaghticoke. Township, village. Named for the Schaghticoke or Skaachikook tribe of Indians.
Schermerhorn island. Named for Cornelius Schermerhorn.
“Fireplace of the Nation.”
Schodack Township. Indian Skootag, fire, ack, place; ‘‘fireplace of the nation.” Council seat of the Mahicans in this town.
Schodack Center. Hamlet – Brookview; Schodack Landing; South Schodack: Hamlets.
East Schodack. Hamlet.
Shad island. Descriptive.
Shingle Hollow. Stream. Recalls a shingle mill.
Sliters. Village. Named for Calvin Sliter.
Snake hill. Descriptive.
South Berlin. Hamlet. See Berlin.
Speigletown. Hamlet. Named for the Vanderspeigle families, early settlers. “Vanderspeigle is probably a corruption of the well-known Dutch family name of van de Spiegel. Cf. Lawrens Pieter van de Spiegel, a famous Dutch statesman, about the time of the French revolution, for whom a street in Amsterdam is named.” (A. J. F. van Laer).
Staats island. Named for Barent Staats.
Stephentown. Township, hamlet. Named for Stephen Van Rensselaer, Patroon, 1784.
Stephentown Center. Hamlet (formerly Mechanicville).
West Stephentown, South Stephentown and North Stephentown. Hamlets.
Stillman Village. Hamlet. Cognominal.
Sunkauissia creek. Sank-an-is-sick, a branch of the Tomhannock. Root may be sonkin, to grow up like a plant. (Beauchamp).
Sweet Milk creek.
Taconic mountains. Indian name. Beauchamp gives Tagh-ka-nick, water enough. Zeisberger has Tach-an-ni-ke, full of timber.
Tackawasick pond and creek. (- Tsat-sa-was-sa and Sas-sa-was-sa). The name may refer to a stone mortar (Beauchamp).
Tiashoke. Hamlet. (Ty-o-shoke). Iroquois, “meeting of waters.” (Beauchamp).
Tierken kill. Dutch – noisy creek. “The derivation from the verb tieren, to make a noise, does not account for the k and seems impossible, as tieren is used only in connection with people. A more likely derivation is from Tierk, or Tjerk, the Frisian form for Dirck, the given name of some early settler.” (A. J. F. van Laer).
Tomhannock. Hamlet and creek. Mohawk – a flooded river (Beauchamp).
Troy. City. Originally Van Der Leydern, and Van Der Leyden’s Ferry. “Changed in 1789 into the more classic name of Troy.” It contains two hills, Mt. Olympus and Mt. Ida.
Upper Schodack island. See Schodack.
Valley Falls. Village, on Hoosick river.
Vosburgh pond. Cognominal.
Walloomsac. River and hamlet. Variously written, of Indian derivation.
West Sand Lake. See Sand Lake.
White Lily pond. Descriptive.
White Rock mountain.
Wynantskill. Village and stream. Named for Wynant Gerritse Vanderpoel, 1674.