Black Dome Press

Fort Crailo and the Van Rensselaers


Fort Crailo and the Van Rensselaers

The Dutch Colonial Origins of Greenbush & the City of Rensselaer

by Shirley W. Dunn

Trade paperback, 208 pages, 6′ x 9′, 40 B&W illustrations

ISBN: 9781883789824, Retail: $17.95

1663. As the first Dutch farms take root east of the Hudson River across from Fort Orange (Albany), a fortified farmhouse is built by the Van Rensselaers to protect their interests and provide a haven for settlers. Originally surrounded by a tall wooden palisade, Fort Crailo survived King Philip’s War, the French and Indian wars, and the Revolution. For over a century, armies camped on its grounds as they made their way to and from the battles, and it was here that a British Army surgeon penned the lyrics to “Yankee Doodle.”

         When peace finally came, generations of Van Rensselaers enlarged the little fort into a mansion overlooking their 1,500-acre farm that sprawled along the east bank, sowing the seeds for the future Village of Greenbush and the City of Rensselaer. Derelict and shuttered by the late 1800s, Crailo State Historic Site—today a museum of Dutch colonial life in New York—stands as a rare victory of historic preservation.

Shirley Wiltse Dunn is the author of three books about the Mohican Indians: The Mohicans and Their Land, The Mohican World, and The River Indians—Mohicans Making History. She also edited three books of conference papers on Native Americans for the New York State Museum. Today’s Mohican Nation, now headquartered in Wisconsin, recently honored her with a proclamation of appreciation. With coauthor Allison Bennett she published a book of unique photos titled Dutch Architecture near Albany. She earlier edited a book of family stories titled Pioneer Days in the Catskill High Peaks. She received recognition from The New Netherland Project in Albany for initiating the Dutch Barn Preservation Society, and she has been honored as a Fellow by the Holland Society of New York for Dutch studies. Mrs. Dunn has worked as a teacher, museum interpreter, editor, and historic preservation consultant, and worked at Fort Crailo for three years as the assistant manager.

I have read the book by Shirley Dunn on Ft. Crailo with anticipation and found that it is well researched, beautifully written and extremely interesting. It gives information in a clear and readable manner. It is a significant addition to our understanding about this important house as well as the history of the City of Rensselaer and our state. The book must be considered a monument in itself. Dr. Charles Semowich, Historian Emeritus for the City of Rensselaer

Having grown up in the lower end of Rensselaer, several blocks from Fort Crailo, I read with great interest the history of this local landmark, including the story of the efforts that went into saving it for future generations. Shirley Dunn was instrumental in my becoming active in the “Friends of Fort Crailo” organization. Her inclusion in the book of the various generations who lived at Crailo and made the many improvements across over 350 years is important not only in presenting the Van Rensselaer family, but in modeling the Dutch influence in the Hudson Valley. We are very much in debt to Mrs. Dunn for her painstaking research. James J. Finke, former President of the Friends of Fort Crailo

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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 04 April, 2016.

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