New documentary about Anti-Rent War to be shown in Knox

KNOX — A rough-cut screening of a new documentary about the Anti-Rent Rebellion will be shown at the Octagon Barn in Knox on Wednesday evening, Oct. 30, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free and families with school-aged children are being encouraged to attend.

The film was created by Bruce Kennedy of Asheville, N.C. after he visited the Hilltown area near Albany and other locations where the Anti-Rent Rebellion happened in the mid-1800s. Kennedy interviewed a number of history enthusiasts and visited area historical societies.

He said that little is known outside this area about the Anti-Rent Rebellion and it is a dramatic story because what happened here made a huge impact on the opening up of the western part of America. What many, even locals, do not know is that the wording of the federal Homestead Act, which opened up the west for settlement, was a direct result of reaction to the “Perpetual Rents” and “Incomplete Sales” of land under the Van Rensselaer patroons.

Kennedy is descended from Dr. Smith Azor Boughton (“Big Thunder”), a major leader of the rebellion in the mid-1800s when Van Rensselaer heirs tried to collect back rent from farmers in the Hilltown area of Albany and Delaware counties. Kennedy is also descended from Samuel Adams, a ringleader of the Boston Tea Party before the American Revolution.

A meet-and-greet session will be from 6 to 7 p.m. where visitors can meet the filmmaker. The film will be shown beginning at 7 p.m. After the film, visitors may participate in a question-and-answer session.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Berne Historical Society, Helderberg Hilltowns Association, and the Knox Historical Society.

The Octagon Barn is located on Middle Road (Route 262) just west of its intersection with Beebe Road (route 259) in the town of Knox. Mapquest and some GPS systems prefer the address 88 Middle Road, Delanson, NY 12053. For more information, contact John Eberfeld at 872-2082 or

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