McKownville Improvement Association
- McKownville land forming the Gore; the Betty line and the Corporation line

The Gore and McKownville
A substantial part of McKownville is located in an area called "the Gore". Western Avenue from the Albany City line to the Schoolhouse Road intersection lies entirely within it, along with areas adjacent on both sides of the highway. A large piece of this land was obtained by William McKown, and he built his hotel and tavern, and associated stables, barns, and stockyards there, ready for the opening in 1800 of the Great Western Turnpike, the road that became Route 20 and Western Avenue.

Origin of the Gore

boundaries and roads near
        Albany c.1805
The City of Albany southern boundary was defined by the "old" survey of John Betty (or Beaty) in 1712, but was shifted in 1800 based on the "new" survey published by Evert Van Allen and Simeon DeWitt. These boundaries, called respectively the Betty line, and the (new) Corporation line, both originated at a point on the Hudson River west shore, about at the projection to it of present-day Gansevoort Street. Because they are on slightly different headings, they diverge progressively to the northwest, the old Betty line being southwest of the new Corporation line. The map on the left (click on it to see larger image) shows these boundaries, and the narrow triangular area, called "The Gore", enclosed by them.
Some sources refer to the new boundary as the Bleeker line, named after a surveyor who was active locally in the mid 1700's, and for whom there is a record of being paid to survey the City boundaries in 1761; it is possible that the apparent "inaccuracy" of the Betty line boundary was identified then by Bleeker, but the position not revised until after Van Allen's later survey.

Why were the lines in different orientations, when the original definition of the southern boundary of the City of Albany in the 1686 Charter of Governor Dongan is simply that it runs northwest for sixteen English miles from a point defined on the west shore of the Hudson River? The lines must have been surveyed using an instrument containing a magnetic compass, and it appears that no correction for the magnetic variation (declination) was made. Both of the lines deviate significantly from geographic northwest, and by amounts that are not very different from the local magnetic declination inferred at Albany (42.65°N, 73.75°W) in the year of each survey.
For the Betty line, its geographic bearing is 305.82°;
in 1712 the magnetic declination at Albany (~8.7°W) would produce a NW bearing actually running 306.3°.
For the Corporation line, its geographic bearing is 308.48°;
in 1799 the magnetic declination at Albany (~6.0°W) would produce a NW bearing actually running 309.0°.

Extent of the Gore; allocation of lots by partition in 1807
map showing the area
        of the gore subdivided in 1807
Some of the land between the two lines, including that in what is now McKownville, falls within the larger 5¼ mile square in which property was granted to the proprietors of the Van Bael patent by a deed of 1789 from Stephen Van Rensselaer 3rd, and this land within the Gore was allocated by partition (according to a statement in William McKown's will), apparently to the Van Bael patent owners in proportion to their existing shares of that conveyance. William McKown obtained a large piece of the first parcel of the Gore, about 135 acres encompassing a substantial proportion of what is now McKownville. Other persons received smaller lots in the first parcel of the Gore. The Gore extended farther northwest of parcel 1, and some parts of these other parcels were also acquired by William McKown; those identified are listed at the end of this page.
The map to the left shows both the small Van Bael patent and the larger Van Bael patent grant, and the area of the gore partitioned in 1807 (click on the map to see a larger image).

  A description of allocation of the lots in 1807 can be found in deeds for two of the lots (9 and 10) in the first parcel, in a conveyance in 1860 (and repeated in another in 1908), which specifies a decision of three named Commissioners of the (NY) Supreme Court: "All that certain lot of land distinguished as lot number nine being part of [a] large tract of land conveyed by Stephen Van Rensselaer of the County of Albany to the proprietors of Van Balens Patent situate in the Town of Guilderland on both sides of the Great Western Turnpike and in the first parcel of a certain tract of land commonly called the Gore which said Gore was subdivided and set apart by Benjamin Gilbert, John D. P. Dow, Charles R. Webster, Commissioners appointed by the Supreme Court for that purpose in the year 1807 and the lot hereby intended to be conveyed was distinguished by said Commissioners as lot number nine as aforesaid which by reference to the Records of said Supreme Court will fully appear..." and "Also one other lot piece or parcel of land situate lying and being in the Town of Guilderland, County of Albany on the south side of the Great Western Turnpike Road and which is known and distinguished on a certain map of partition made on the seventeenth day of October in the year one thousand eight hundred and seven by Benjamin Gilbert and others as the west half of lot number ten..."

Stone markers of the Gore parcel corners
sandstone marker NW corner of
        the GoreThis photo shows the marker stone placed at the far northwest corner of the Gore (now on the grounds of the Pinehaven golf club), which until sale in 1851 also defined the corner of one of William McKown's parcels. The inscription reads "N.W. Cor  Gore" (click on the picture to enlarge).

There used to be stones like this one at other locations on the Gore boundaries, which are now missing. William Mohr took photos in 1952 of markers which used to be at the boundary intersections of parcels 1 and 2, at the western side of McKownville.
Two of those photos are shown below (click on a photo to view larger image), and pdf scan files of the pages in William Mohr's archive (at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve) are linked here: gore marker photos; gore markers scale drawing.
Thanks to Steve Rider for finding that archive, and making these images available.
photo NE corner marker
        Gore lot 2SE corner Gore lot 2

  We list below early property transactions related to the gore lots, documenting those owned by William McKown (or his son John McKown, and his grandsons William J McKown and James French McKown). The Gore lots fall into the area of grants in 1789 to the proprietors of the Van Bael (or Baal) patent, which is why these are included.
McKown's hotel and tavern was located in the Gore, so it is of interest that deeds showing William McKown's purchases of ownership shares in this land date no earlier than December 1800. If the hotel was built before this date, as is claimed in 20th century secondary sources, McKown must have made a rent-to-buy or less formal agreement with the first owners (Veeders and LaGranges) that was not legally recorded.
a links to deed book and page numbers are to text transcripts or abstracts;
scanned images of the microfilm documents are linked to the
          logo ; because of this source, image quality is variable.
Note that Albany County deeds before 1874 were transcribed sometime in the earlier part of the 20th century to typescript; the original handwritten versions are apparently not available. Transcription errors from this process are clearly present in a number of these pre-1874 documents.

deeds by which shares of Van Bael's patent came to William McKown

Deed book, pagesa property Grantors grantee date date recorded
17; 376-81  pdf logo Van Baals patent Stephen Van Rensselaer J Glen; Veeders; LaGranges§ 1789-02-08 1800-03-13
16; 80-2  pdf logo all of share in Van Baals Pat Volkert S & Hannah Veeder William McKown & John Humphrey 1797-04-26 1797-04-29
17; 383-4  pdf logo all of share in Van Baals Pat John & Judith LaGrange William McKown 1798-12-05 1800-03-24
§ The grantees were: John & Catherine Glen, Luykas Veeder, Volkert S. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Abraham Veeder, John M. Veeder, Jacob Veeder, John LaGrange, Christian LaGrange, John LaGrange the Younger, Omie LaGrange the Younger, Jacobus LaGrange, Omie LaGrange (son of Isaac LaGrange), Isaac LaGrange, Coenradt LaGrange, and Arie LaGrange 

deeds conveying a share of ownership in the Gore to William McKown
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
17; 504-5a pdf logo 5* miles btw Betty & Corp ln James M. LaGrange William McKown 1800-12-02 1800-12-02
18; 232-5   pdf logo 5* miles btw Betty & Corp ln Lucas Veeder William McKown 1800-12-25 1803-07-02
27; 238-9  pdf logo share of Gore parcel 1 Jacob Veeder William McKown 1804-01-05 1824-06-10
19; 327-9  pdf logo share of 2 Gore parcels Omie LaGrange William McKown 1806-08-03 1806-09-06
27; 290-1 pdf logo share of Gore parcel 1 Jacob & Catherine Veeder William McKown 1823-11-28 1824-07-24
* The original conveyance by Stephen Van Rensselaer (1789) defines the larger square of the Van Bael patent as 5¼ miles on a side; the western boundary of the gore partition of 1807 appears to be located on the western boundary of this square, but the 5 mile dimension in these two deeds, and specification in deeds for the southeast corner of lot 11 of the first parcel of a stone marker for the southeastern corner of the Gore (e.g. sale to William Amsdell in 1834), a marker also mentioned in a deed (1848) for the adjacent farm of Martin J Blessing, shows that the gore property partitioned in 1807 did not extend the full width of the patent grant award.

Gore properties in McKownville; first parcel of the Gore
lots 1 to 6 - "McKown's Tavern Stand" and "McKown's 10 acre lot" and "McKown's 12 acre lot"
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
will of W McKown all of the gore property owned
William McKown John McKown 1815-08-25 1843-10-24
166; 179-80b pdf logo Gore pcS; 12ac John & Catherine McKown James F. McKown 1860-04-23 1861-01-07
228; 513-4pdf logo Gore lot 1; 113.32ac John McKown William J. McKown 1864-08-19 1870-01-15
228; 513-4b pdf logo Gore pcN; 10ac John McKown William J. McKown 1864-08-19 1870-01-15
lot 7 - "Peter Hilton (Jr.) lot" 
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
23; 421-2 pdf logo 6.25 acres gore Christian C LaGrange
Francis Van Valkenburgh 1811-03-26
124; 39-42  pdf logo 6.25 acres gore
Francis Van Valkenburgh Peter Hilton (Jr.) 1818-08-10 1835-07-07
will of Peter Hilton
all real property*
Peter Hilton (Jr.) James French McKown
*after decease of his wife Rebecca (d.1860)

Gore properties northwest of McKownville; second (and/or perhaps other) parcel(s) of the Gore
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
109; 258-9  pdf logo 136.1ac gore NW from Willow St
John & Catherine McKown
C Miller et al
140; 208-9  pdf logo 158.3ac gore Westmere N of Tpk
John & Catherine McKown J Craven, S Kelly

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