Saturday, January 23, 2016

Norman's Kill

Image result for len tantillo pen and ink bradt
Len Tantillo's pen and ink drawing of the old Bradt Sawmill on Norman's Kill
 A few weeks ago I was inspired by Long Lake Central School's fourth grade teacher Mary LeBlanc
 to create a meaningful lesson about the Hudson River for her students. Mary gave me the related Common Core vocabulary and simply said, "I want the lesson to be fun". I decided to create a game called "I have .... Who has?" and it took me all evening. I'd played this game with her class when they were in second and third grade with Nichole Meyette and they loved it. The game's content was the story of my family's history with the Hudson River. I am typing of the BRADT family history. BRADT is Norwegian for "steep". I climbed a steep incline staying awake well past my bedtime to discover my Norwegian roots. 

Before I married Nate and took the name Pelton, my name was Rebecca Bradt. I grew up in a suburb immediately south of Albany. Like many children, I was oblivious to the rich history around me. My Grandma and Grandpa raised my dad on the south-side of the bridge that travels over Norman's Kill and connects Albany to a suburb called Bethlehem. They lived within a short distance from the old yellow cobblestone path still exposed and winding toward the creek. That's about all I remember about this important area. That does not mean that's all I was told. I regret to type I must not have absorbed all I could have from Grandma.

When compiling content for the game "I have ... Who has?", I googled the name of the oldest BRADT ancestor I know, Albert Andriessen Bradt. Albert (1607-1686) was one of the earliest Norwegian settlers in New Netherland. In the early records he is often referred to as Albert "Norman". I was astounded to find so much written about him online. I surfed around to find out as much as I could about the man who brought my family to the banks of the Hudson in 1637. Come to find out they traveled on a ship called the Renssaelerwyck. Check out the ship's log I found at:

The BRADTS left New Netherland in September 1636. Albert's third child was born in a storm along the way and named Storm Van Der Zee, meaning "storm of the sea". They arrived at the mouth of the Hudson River in March of 1637. The ice in the river forced them to stay around Manhattan until the river thawed in April. On the 7th of April they made it to their final destination, Fort Orange, in present day Albany. Albert eventually moved to the banks of a creek to run a sawmill and attempt to grow tobacco. The creek was called "Tawasentha" (an Iroquois word for a place of the many dead) and came to be called "Norman's Kill". "Norman" is Dutch for Norwegian. "Kill" is Dutch for creek. I was surprised to discover the first tributary that pours into the Hudson River south of Albany was named after my Norwegian ancestor.

Last week I traveled to the sight of the old sawmill. My dad, mom, Nate and I meandered the grounds in the dry frigid winter air along the creek. There's an old foundation still standing. We walked around it. My dad didn't think it was the foundation of the sawmill. He flashed back to almost sixty years ago when he delivered newspapers to the house that stood where he believed the sawmill was. Now it's a parking lot surrounded by woods. We shivered as we read the plague about Normans Kill Farm. The farm is currently the largest cooperative garden plot within the city of Albany. Norman's Kill is 45 miles in length and empties into the Hudson River. It's the largest tributary to the Hudson in Albany County. The daydreaming began. I hope to traverse this kill or as much of it as I can on a warm spring day when the water is rushing and most thrilling.

 Read more about Norman's Kill at:

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