Listen to songs of the Anti-Rent Rebellion

RENSSELAERVILLE — The Rensselaerville Historical Society announces a new release of a compact disc containing 14 songs and ballads from the Anti-Rent Rebellion (1839-1889). The rebellion was a protest against the feudal system of land ownership under the Van Rensselaers and what happened here influenced the wording of the federal Homestead Act, which opened up the west to settlement. 

Bruce Kennedy of Asheville, N.C., has made a documentary of the conflict and the historical society thought that new interest among area citizens and history enthusiasts would lead to interest in the songs that the protestors sang at rallies. Kennedy is descended from Dr. Smith Azor Boughton, one of the major leaders of the Anti-Rent Rebellion. 

The songs have just been digitized for CD from a live recording made 16 years ago when Richard Creamer of Rensselaerville wrote and directed an original historical musical about the rebellion. Well-known musician George Ward arranged the traditional tunes and composed two of the ballads that were performed. 

The musical, …of the People, was performed in Rensselaerville’s historic Conkling Hall with a cast of 21 local young people and adults. The original recording was made by Greg Speck of Rensselaerville and produced on audio tapes by the Rensselaerville Historical Society.

Charles Burgess of Rensselaerville has digitized the music and the society has produced CDs.

The CDs are available, for $20, from Rensselaerville Historical Society, Post Office Box 8, Rensselaerville, NY 12147. Included in the price is a six-page leaflet with all the words to all the songs, and postage.

Editor’s note: Janet Haseley is a member of the Rensselaerville Historical Society.

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