Sometimes finding little tucked away places where history took place is like uncovering a secret hideaway. One such place is the New York State Memorial Site for Baron Frederick Wilhelm Von Steuben.
The state has partnered with the National Parks Commission to open a beautiful interpretive history site of General (Baron) von Steuben’s cabin near Remsen, New York.
The site, which has been open for many years as a public area used for picnics and outings by locals, has in a replica of the cabin Steuben lived in during his last years. On that site is also is the grave of the famous General who helped America win its independence from Great Britain.
Born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1730, Baron von Steuben had served in a number of conflicts including the Seven Years War; was convinced by the Comte Claude Louis de Saint-Germani, then the French Minister of War, to volunteer his military assistance to the fledgling American army.
On his arrival at Valley Forge, General Washington set Steuben on the task of training the poorly trained and clothed American forces. With the help of Colonel Alexander Hamilton and General Nathaniel Greene, Steuben drafted a complete training program for the Army. The idea behind the training was to create a model company that after training would train other men. This became the basis for the Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. See also: Washington DC, steeped in History.
Another contribution of Steuben was his knowledge of proper sanitation methods for the camps. His plan included a layout for kitchens, latrines, and villages like rows denoting officers and enlisted men. His other major contribution was training men in the use of the bayonet. The bayonet at that time was seldom used in combat by the American troops. This bayonet instruction proved especially important at the Battle of Stony Point. In 1778 he was named the Inspector General of the Army on the recommendation of General Washington.
In his later years, General von Steuben settled on a piece of property in the Town of Remsen with his pension from the United States ($2,500 per year) where he built a log cabin and where he is buried. Tributes to General von Steuben include the naming of the Hamilton College Stadium in his honor since it is the General who laid the cornerstone of the school, acting on behalf of Alexander Hamilton.
Today the public can tour the grounds, visit a reproduction of his cabin, and stroll through the woods to see his grave. A sleepy hideaway that pays tribute to a man called the “Drillmaster of Valley Forge”! Where Cape Cod is known as the birthplace of modern communication, is Von Steuben known for bringing discipline and better sanitation to the American Forces.
James Dean: Interpreter during the Revolutionary War
If Fort Stanwix could talk it would be able to tell us about so much history and so many famous people that we could fill volumes. The pre-Revolutionary War and Post Revolutionary War alone saw the story of America and New York State unfold within its walls. Many artifacts dating back to that time are also discovered on the site of Flowerdew Hundred in Virginia.
One of the most notable Indian interpreters to come out of this period in American history was James Dean. Dean’s name and signature are grace many documents of land development in New York State, especially in Oneida and Madison Counties.
Dean started his career through the auspices of the infamous Rev. Wheelock, an early educator who eventually founded Dartmouth College. Young Dean being sent to the Oneidas at Oquaga to live. This custom gave the Indians a white child as a means to convince them to send their child to the white school since Wheelock’s goal in life was to change the Indians to white ways through educating their young. Check out also this post about Great Falls, Montana, a great place that’s full of history.
The family that took him in had lost a son and eagerly adopted him into their hearts to replace a need. Dean was quick to learn their language and ways, a knowledge that would take him far in life during these times. He was quick to master not only many of the different Iroquois tongues, but also became a master of their style of speech that included gestures and tone of voice, and he was so good at it that he was recommended not only by Wheelock as an interpreter for the Patriots (Rebels) during the Revolutionary times, but also by the Indians eventually serving to negotiate land treaties.
Dean started his career interpreting for various ministers at Oquaga and Oneida Castle, eventually learning many different languages and becoming an invaluable aid to the Continental Congress he is credited by Kirkland himself as a major player in keeping the Oneida and Tuscarora on the side of the colonies.
James Dean was successful as a land agent for the Continental Congress and he was requested (paid) to help with many land deals (Livingston Lease) that would eventually gain for the whites land, and for him a vast grant of 15,000 acres for his efforts (Dean’s Patent). Some historians say that, archaeologically, this plot of land has some striking similarities with the Flowerdew Hundred site in Virginia.
It is interesting to note that he had shares in one land company (Genesee Lease) and receive land from the Oneida’s as well. The first land granted to him by the Oneidas was said to have flooded and so he requested and got a different parcel. That parcel, in a large part, is today’s Town of Westmoreland, and Dean’s once impressive driveway became part of today’s Route 5 (Seneca Turnpike).