Nancy Van Alstine – Guardian of the Mohawk

The Mohawk Valley is a beautuful, fertile and quiet place today, 1876. However, 100 years ago the scene was quite different. Fierce indians waged incessant war on the frontier settlers, New Englanders, Dutch and Germans, mostly the latter, who were a brave, hardy and steadfast people. Woman’s tact, presence of mind, courage, firmness and valor were the mothers of the Mohawk Valley.

One in particular was Nancy Van Alstine, born near Canajoharie abt 1733.  At age 18 she married Martin VanAlstine. Here dwelling in the midst of alarms and danger, she raised 15 children. Nancy lived up into her 90’s. More than once she saved the lives of her husband and family.

In the month of August 1780, an army of indians and Tories attacked many of the settlements in this valley. When word came that there would be an attack on their own settlement, Nancy gathered her neighbors and relieving them of their fears, urged them to remove their effects to an island owned by her husband near the opposite side of the Mohawk River. Seven families quickly taking a store of provisions and other articles essential to their comfort, removed to their asylum on the island with Nancy being the last, hid the boat from any view of the indians. About an hour after their retreat, they watched in horror as their homes went up in flames. The voices and words of the indians could be distinctly heard from the island. To Nancy VanAlstine’s amazement, her home, being built of stone, was spared and Nancy, being a Christian woman, rejoiced that she would be able to give shelter to the homeless families by whom she was surrounded.

This is just an exerpt of the full story about Nancy. The source of the story is from William W. Fowler “Woman on the American Frontier”. You can read more at the following link: 

http://montgomery.nygenweb.net/history/nvanalstine.html

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