The Van Schaick Mansion was the home of Anthony Van Schaick, built between 1735 and1755, on a section of the “Half Moon” patent. There is evidence that the family of Goosen Gerritse Van Schaick had an earlier, wooden house on the property, just to the south of the present mansion.
The “Half Moon” patent was granted jointly to Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick and Philip Pieterse Schuyler on September 11, 1665. The original patent, confirming an Indian grant, included all the land lying between the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. It embraced the several islands at this point, which divide the “sprouts” or mouths of the Mohawk River. The site of the Van Schaick mansion is on one of these islands. The patent also included the site of the present town of Waterford.
Philip Pieterse Schuyler transferred his interest in the Half Moon Patent to Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick in 1674. It is assumed that Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick, the original Hollander, never resided on Van Schaick Island, however there was a wooden house south of the mansion that his family used. He died in 1676 and willed the land to his wife from whom it passed to their son, Anthony G. Van Schaick (1655 – 1737).
Anthony made a reservation in his will for a cemetery on his property. At least 50 Van Schaicks and their relatives are buried in the cemetery a short distance north of the house. Other relatives of the Van Schaick family including “our” General Peter Gansevoort, are buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, NY.
John G. Van Schaick and his wife Anna (both cousins to our Catherine) were hosts at the house during the battle revolutionary period. John and Anna were both descendents of Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick. However, it was Anna that was the heiress of the mansion, which had been built by her great grandfather, Anthony. John’s sister, Catherine Van Schaick, and Colonel Peter Gansevoort were later married in this house January 12, 1778 shortly after the Revolutionary War battle at Fort Stanwix from which Peter was rescued, and the battle at Saratoga was won. The mansion remained in the Van Schaick family into the early 20th century. The last Van Schaick resident was Mrs. William L. Adams whose first husband was Gerald Van Schaick.
Revolutionary War Events
In this house, John G. Van Schaick (the third generation in America) loaned $10,000.00 in gold to General Gates, with the influence of General Schuyler, on August 19, 1777 for the purchase of military supplies. In return, Van Schaick was given Continental script. This script was never redeemed as Congress took the position that General Gates had no authority to borrow the money. We have an original script note on display in the mansion.
The location of the Revolutionary camp was at the top of the hill, just behind the house, and it was from this place that Learned’s brigade, under the command of Benedict Arnold, went to the aid of Colonel Peter Gansevoort at Fort Schuyler (Stanwick) at what is now Rome, NY. Catherine Van Schaick must have been intensely concerned with the ultimate success or failure of this expedition for it was going to the relief of her lover. She and Colonel Peter Gansevoort were later married in this house.
General Schuyler turned over his command to General Gates who complained about accepting the command of such an ill-fed, poorly-clad army (see Gates letter below). Governor Clinton came to Camp Van Schaick for a war council to plan for battle. This was from August 22nd to 25th, 1777. On September 8, the Continental Army moved from Van Schaick Island and Peebles Island to Stillwater and Bemis Heights where the battle of Saratoga was fought.