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Canajoharie in Montgomery County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Van Alstyne Homestead
 
Van Alstyne Homestead - Canajoharie, NY Photo, Click for full size
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 22, 2006
1. Van Alstyne Homestead - Canajoharie, NY
 
Inscription.
Built 1749 By Martin J. Van Alstyne
16 of 31 Meetings of Tryon County
Safety Committee Held Here 1774-75
General Nicholas Herkimer Received
Commission As Brig. Gen Here 1775

 
Erected 1940 by New York State Education Department.
 
Location. 42° 54.269′ N, 74° 34.27′ W. Marker is in Canajoharie, New York, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Moyer Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. The marker is not roadside, but rather mounted right in front of the Van Alstyne building. Marker is in this post office area: Canajoharie NY 13317, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Canajoharie Academy (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wagner Home (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort Plain (approx. 3.9 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Plain (approx. 3.9 miles away); Clinton March (approx. 3.9 miles away); Revolution in the Mohawk Valley (approx. 3.9 miles away); Sand Hill School (approx. 4 miles away); Sand Hill (approx. 4.1 miles away).
 
Regarding Van Alstyne Homestead. The Van Alstyne Homestead at 4 Moyer Street is the oldest building in
 
Fort Rensselaer Photo, Click for full size
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 22, 2006
2. Fort Rensselaer
 
Canajoharie, N.Y.

Goshen Van Alstyne built the original smaller section of this house around 1738. It was demolished in the late 19th century when the building was being refurbished. The much larger gambrel roof section was constructed in the 1760ís with a southernmost addition being added in the 1770ís. There is no evidence that the house was ever palisaded during either the French & Indian or Revolutionary Wars.

Philip Van Alstyne owned the house during the American Revolution. At this time the house functioned as a tavern and became a frequent meeting place for the Tryon County Committee of Safety. General Nicholas Herkimer received his commission here to command the Tryon County Militia in 1775. Later Colonel Clyde, who commanded at Fort Plain/Fort Rensselaer, is known to have moved his family there after the Cherry Valley Massacre. This may have contributed to the building erroneously being called Fort Rensselaer in some historical texts.

Owned by the Van Alstyne Society, it plays host to the Rensselaer Club. Concerts, meetings and receptions are held here.

Artist & Historian, Rufus Grider, was instrumental in saving the abandoned Van Alstyne house. Later Grider's own research along with historians Jeptha Simms and Benson Lossing showed that the home had been mistakening idendified as Fort Rensselaer. There is no evidence that the house was
 
Van Alstyne Homestead Photo, Click for full size
Historic American Building Survey
3. Van Alstyne Homestead
Historic American Buildings Survey, COPY OF OLD PHOTOGRAPH
 
ever stockaded.

Rufus Grider transformed the house into the area's first museum. In the early 1900s, it became the home of the historic Fort Rensselaer Club. There is no evidence that General Washington ever visited the site.
 
Also see . . .
1. Van Alstyne Home & Tavern. More information on the Van Alstyne Home is available at this web site, hosted by the Fort Plain Museum & Historical Park. (Submitted on October 2, 2009, by Norm Bollen of Amsterdam, New York.) 

2. Fort Rensselaer Club. The Fort Rensselaer Club makes its home in the historic Van Alstyne Homestead.
† † †"...(T)he Van Alstyne house (was) originally constructed in the 1730s. A private home for more than 100 years, it survived the ravages of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. In the 1880s it was transformed into an early museum, and in the early 1900s, it became the home of the historic Fort Rensselaer Club.
† † †(G)eneral George Washington was entertained at the homestead after the Revolution in 1783 during his trip through the Mohawk valley."
-exerpts from The Van Alstyne Homestead Society
(Submitted on April 20, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.) 

3. Additional Information from the Historic American Building Survey. The Historic American Building Survey, based on a letter from W. Scott Van Alstyne Jr. of Madison, Wisconsin dated July 16, 1953, identifies this building as having been Fort Rensselaer, aka the Van Alstyne House. The letter states:

 
Fort Rennselear / Van Alstyne Homestead Photo, Click for full size
Historic American Building Survey, 1936
4. Fort Rennselear / Van Alstyne Homestead
Historic American Buildings Survey, N. E. Baldwin, Photographer 1936, GENERAL VIEW.
 
† † †My great-great-great-great-great (5) grandfather Martin J. Van Alstyne built the stone house in Canajoharie. Most books and the marker in front of the house state that it was constructed in 1749. This is probably not true. My ancestor (with another man, Henry Scrmbling) purchased a large tract at Canajoharie of about 700 to 1000 acres in the winter of 1729-30. They bought this land from Cadwallader Coldern sometime lieutenant governor of colonial New York. Colden was the original patentee from the crown. Colden recorded the transaction in question in his diary which, in turn, has been published by the New York Historical Society. My ancestor procede to the site of Canajoharie immediately and from family data we have strong reason to believe the house was completed no later than 1739 and possibly as early as 1735. Scrembling, incidentally, did not stay in the picture for long since he sold out to Van Alstyne a very short time after hey had arrived at the site of modern Canajoharie. (Submitted on October 2, 2009.) 
 
Additional keywords. Canajoharie Van Alstyne Homestead Tryon County Nicholas Herkimer George Washington
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on April 20, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. This page has been viewed 3,987 times since then. Last updated on September 17, 2009, by Norm Bollen of Amsterdam, New York. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 20, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
 
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