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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fort Crailo(Rensselaer)

Went for a little history lesson to a couple of local sites today with my sister, brother, nephew and niece.  For a nominal fee, you can get a guided tour of these sites and access to the grounds as well. Our first stop was Fort Crailo in Rensselaer.  The site for this historic, fortified brick manor house was originally part of a large patroonship held by Kiliaen Van Renssealer in the mid 17th century. The house itself was built in 1707 by Kilaen's grandson, Hendrick.  There is a lot of history in this house.  This site is reputed to be the very place that the famous ditty "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was written in 1755 by a British Army Surgeon, mocking colonial troops.  In 1961 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.  Today it is part museum, part living history among the city streets of Rensselaer, NY.

There is strong evidence that suggests the building was fortified with eleven gunports and surrounded by stockade following an attack by a party in the French and Indian War.  Two of the gunports can be seen by today's visitor.
 There are many artifacts found in the house, many authentic.  All extremely interesting.
Actual land deed from 1664.
As you walk through the house you get a feel for what it may have felt like to live in such a time.  The clothing that young children would wear.  Interesting to note that young boys would wear dresses until about age ten.
 Bedtime was a much different experience than what we are accustomed to today.  The adults would sleep in a relatively small cubby, as pictured below, in a somewhat seated position.  The children would sleep on the cold floor.
A common room for the family.
Not a member of the van Rensselaer family, but a fine example of an affluent young woman from the 18th century.
My beautiful young niece, Taylor.
 The well in the flower garden where "Yankee Doodle" was reputed to have been written
 Fort Crailo's grounds extend all the way down to the river, where there is a large stone wall and picnic area.  Here is a view from the wall, looking back up at the building.
 The east bank of the river, affording views of downtown Albany.
 The Albany skyline.
 Looking southwest towards the Port of Albany.
We then headed across the river to Albany and visited the Schuyler Mansion. There is much history in this elegant building as well, the home of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler.
We had an extremely informative tour, but unfortunately didn't get any photos taken.
Many notable people passed through these doors, such as George Washington and British General John Burgoyne.  The mansion was actually the site of Alexander Hamilton's wedding with Philip's daughter, Elizabeth.  Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, spent much of his time here.  The Schuyler family lived here from 1763 until Philip's death in 1804.  It was auctioned off after his death and was almost forgotten in later years.  Thankfully, in 1917 it was restored and became a National Historic monument.

To end the day, I decided to do a short walk at Papscanee Nature Preserve along the banks of the Hudson River in Schodack.  Formerly an island, it is now part of the river's shoreline, offering a couple of miles of trails and interpretive signs along the way.  This floodplain was once home to the Mohican Indians, who thrived on this land for centuries thanks to the ease of access to the river.
Here is a view north towards the power plant on the west side of the river in Bethlehem.
 Views along the trial.
 Looking south on the shoreline.
 Berries growing near the railroad tracks.

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