Valatie, New York is located along the Valatie Kill in Columbia County at 42°24' North and 73°40' West. The name of the town is pronounced "va-LAY-sha", and is derived from the Dutch word "vaaltje", meaning "little falls" or "little valley". The village has a current population of about 1700.
The land in and around the village was originally the home of the Mohican
tribe. They called the area "Packaquak", or "Meeting Place", in reference to the confluence
of the Valatie Kill and the Kinderhook Creek just south of Kinderhook
Lake. Just east of the current village, the Mohicans had a small trading village called "Pompoonick", named after a local chief.
In the 17th century, Dutch settlers made their way up the Hudson River. Some fur trappers purchases the land around Valatie and settled by the Valatie Kill permanently around 1665. The kill had a small waterfall, which soon became a fixture of the village's economy. Small mills were built on the shores of the kill. The mills proved very successful, processing lumber and cotton, and shipping it down the river to market. Local residents started to refer to the village as "Millville."
A population boom occurred just after the American Revolution, and ever more mills were built to take advantage of the growing work force. An English settler named Nathan Wild settled in Valatie in the 1820's, building his mill just south of the waterfall. This mill would quickly become the largest employer in Valatie, and the buildings are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The United States Postal Service opened a branch in the village in 1832, with Dr. John Vanderpoel appointed as postmaster. Several churches were built around this time as well: the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1822, St. Luke's Lutheran Church in 1826; and a Presbyterian Church in 1833.
The decline of cotton processing in the north brought hard economic times to the village. Many mills closed, and the population dropped, eventually stabilizing around 1500 residents. The Irish Potato Famine brought a small Irish population to Valatie. Among them were the Glynn family, who opened a small and modestly successful shop on Main Street. Their son, Martin H. Glynn, moved to Albany and became editor-in-chief of the Albany Times-Union. He eventually became governor of New York State. The elementary school and village square in Valatie are named after him.
Valatie is still a small village with a strong connection to its blue collar roots. Most of the residents of the village still work in manufacturing, though the importance of the mills and the kill have diminished. With the construction of several highway projects in the late 1970's, Valatie has become more connected to Albany and the rest of the Capitol District, and the village has become a fringe suburb of the area.
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