For Livingston was a proud Patroon, the Laird of Ancramdale,
And William Race a settler was, on lands beyond the pale.
How come ye there, upon my land, to build and there abide?
I've patent claim to all that lies from the hills to Hudsonside.
And will you be a tenant there, and adhere to my decree,
Or will I send my overseers to take what is due to me?
I will not be your tenant there, nor adhere to thy decree,
You may be a lord in the bottom land, but the mountainside is free.
Ride up, ride up, my agents true, take musket, powder and ball,
And shoot this rebel William Race, this night when shadows fall.
O William stood by his cabin door as they came with torches in hand,
And flames lit up the mountainside that were seen throughout the land.
Stand up, stand up, you freemen all, on Taghconic stake your claim,
Well heed the words of William Race, nor yet forget his name.
Farewell, Farewell, you proud Patroon, thy manor is no more
And William's name the mountain has, and shall forever more."
It makes a grand ballad and was fun to write. A tip 'o the tam o shanter to Richard Thompson for the original ballad. The truth of the matter is a bit more complex.
The Livingston Manor was a vast landholding of over 175,000 acres in much of what is today Columbia County, NY. Robert Livingston the 1st Lord extended his holdings with the Patent of Westenhook in 1705 which laid claim to lands over and beyond the Taconic Range. There were as many as six Dutch families living as tenants of the Livingstons in what is now Mt. Washington, MA by the end of the 17th century, well before Massachusetts started awarding patents to freely settle towns in the southern Berkshires.
Willem Rees was of Dutch ancestry and part of a family which settled on the mountain in the 1730s in accordance with the customs of free settlement in Massachusetts. The 3rd Lord Robert Livingston aggressively defended his rights as patent holder, rights along the fluid frontier of two colonies with very different populations and histories of land tenure. At dawn on April 15, 1755, Willem Rees was at the home of his brother Andries on the mountain and was killed by Livingston's overseers while resisting their efforts to evict the family.
This event sparked what amounted to a low intensity shooting war between Livingston and those he considered rebellious tenants. Andries Rees and a large body of men descended on the Livingston Manor's Iron works on Roeliff Jansen Kill and held the workers hostage, removing some for imprisonment in Springfield MA in retaliation for the death of Willem Rees. In 1756 Andries Rees and other rival claimants secured their own patent from the Stockbridge Indians in Massachusetts to form the Township of Taughkinnuk in present day Mt. Washington. He signed the document "Andrew Race", an Anglicization that shows where his loyalties lay. Livingston's overseers evicted him and burned several houses on the Mountain late in 1756. The dispute lingered on until the Revolution, when in 1779 Mt. Washington was formerly incorporated as a Massachusetts Town.
Mt. Race is one of the loveliest and wildest mountains on the Taconic Plateau. Descendants of the original Dutch settlers (Spoors, Van Deusens, and Whitbecks) still live on Mt. Washington and in surrounding towns. The Race Cemetery in Egremont MA contains many old family graves.
As for the Livingstons, they remained prominent in New York and in the formation of the early United States. Phillip Livingston was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and his brother Robert was actively involved in the small group that drafted the document with Jefferson's leadership. My grandmother was Clara Leanor Livingston, a forward facing woman of great determination who only shared detailed stories of her past in her final years. Her branch of the family had come far down in the world when she was born and didn't put much stock in its pedigree. Phillip Livingston is supposed to be our direct ancestor, a link someday I may be able to prove.