Berlin, New York 12022

 

Town Historian

 

 

Did You Know?

 

Several generations of folks living in Berlin have called the hill behind Berlin Elementary School "The Crow's Nest."


Why was this name given to the hill? Is it because birds by that name congregate there, or is there another story?


Jesse David Roberts tells a story in his book Bears, Bibles, and a Boy (available at the Berlin Free Town Library) that may suggest another name. Jesse Roberts was a pastor at the Methodist Church in Berlin in 1911. He was aware of a house across the valley called "The Crow's Nest" where liquor was illegally sold. Attempts had been made to secure evidence of the sale of liquor there, but it had proved impossible to get the necessary proof. There was a rumor around town that any stranger who might be caught spying around would meet with an unfriendly shotgun!


The minister learned that there was a woman in charge, and that her husband was ill. So, believing he might turn someone from their evil ways, the minister decided to include this house among his sick calls.


One early afternoon, he walked to the hill to "The Crow's Nest" and bravely knocked on the door. Almost immediately the door opened, revealing a woman with dirty, stringy hair. (An "old crow?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing himself as the new minister, he explained that he had heard of her husband's illness and had come to ask if there was any way he could help.


Suddenly the hard, scowling face became wet with tears. "You are the first decent person to come to my house in years," she said.


Upon speaking with the husband, it was learned that sickness and unemployment had been the reason why these two were selling liquor. The man remained an invalid and couldn't work, but his wife secured a job in one of the shirt factories, and began to attend church. They stopped the illegal activity, but at least three generations have heard how poor the people were who lived at "The Crow's Nest." Today, all that is left is the cellar hole and the name of the hill!