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Fort Crailo

Fort Crailo

The Crailo State Historic Site (Ft. Crailo) is the home of the Hendrick Van Rensselaer family. By the early 18th century it was the seat of Hendrick's manor which included a 1500 acre estate in what is now the city of Rensselaer called Crailo in the 17th century and Greenbush in the 18th century. As early as 1663, the estate had a little fort for the protection of the local inhabitants from maurauding Indians and in 1675 during King Philip's War the local militia captain was instructed to install a palisades around this fort.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the existing building was fortified with eleven gunports and surrounded with a stockade after an attack by a French and Indian war party in May of 1746. Two of the original gunports can be seen by today's visitor to the site.
Also,the fields and farm buildings at Crailo were used to quarter colonial troops as early as 1694 and at intervals during each of the French and Indian wars. During the Revolution, militia troops were encamped on the grounds of the estate in 1775 and 1776. Any time an expedition to attack Canada was organized in the Albany area, these Van Rensselaer lands were used as encampments for the troops involved including British regulars. On numerous occasions, John Van Rensselaer, Hendrick's son, entertained the various officers at meals and it was said by the family that British Army surgeon Richard Shuckburgh in 1758 composed "Yankee Doodle" on the well at Crailo to make fun of the colonial troops.
During the American Revolution, several of the male members of this family served as officers of the militia and continental forces fighting the British. Also, Major General Philip Schuyler's wife, Catherine, the daughter of John Van Rensselaer was born and raised at Crailo.
Today the Crailo State Historic Site is located at 9 1/2 Riverside Avenue in Rensselaer, New York and is operated by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as a museum of colonial Dutch Culture of the upper Hudson Valley.Displays include artifacts from the archeological excavations at Fort Orange(later Albany). Please call 518-463-8738 for information on hours, admission, directions and accessibility."
Contributed by Paul Stambach and Heidi Hill, Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation [link opens new window]

See also Honored Through the Ordeal: Crailo and the Colonial Wars by Paul Stambach

For more information see [link opens new window]


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: July 19, 2006

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