Frederick Crounse

The Crounses were one of the first families to settle in the Altamont area.   An old family legend of the Crounses says that they were descended from a Polish nobleman named Krownsky who fled to Wurtemberg, Germany for political reasons.  Whether this is fact or fiction is unknown, but there is little reason to contradict it.  What is known is that Frederick Crounse (1714-1777) was a German shoemaker who originally settled in Rhinebeck, New York.  However, seeking better prospects, Crounse and his wife moved west intending to go to Scoharie.  However, according to the story, Crounse settled in the Rensselaerwyck area at his wife’s behest.  Upon getting to the area of West Guilderland, weary from the long trip, Crounse’s wife refused to move another step.  Crounse obliged his “better half” and built their home out of sod and hemlock bark on that very spot.  The house would be improved over time and the Crounse family would grow.  Six generations of Crounses would live on that land, many of them playing big parts in the community that would grow up around them.

Frederick’s son, Philip Crounse, would serve as a sergeant in the same company as Captain Jacob Van Aernam.  Frederick’s other son, Frederick Crounse Jr. would be one of a group of farmers that would provide food to Continental troops at Saratoga during the Revolutionary War.  In one anecdote, farmers like Frederick Jr. are reported to have “emptied their pork barrels, cattle stalls and pig styes, and delivered their effect to the commissary department at Saratoga, not expecting any usual reward for so doing.”  Frederick Jr. also served during the Revolution, being mentioned frequently in the minutes of the Albany Committee on Conspiracies.  At the first meeting of the Town of Guilderland at the home of Hendrick Apple, a “Frederick Crounce the 2nd” is listed as being elected the Highway Commissioner.  The family lines of Frederick Crounse Jr. and Philip Crounse are the ones from which all the Crounses in this country have come from.  In some occasions the lines have met where the distant branches of the family tree have intertwined.  One of the many Frederick Crounses, of John Crounse, served in the War of 1812.  Phillip and these two Frdericks are just a few examples of military service among the Crounse clan.  Another family member, Adam Crounse, served as pastor at the St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Jacob Crounse, grandson of Frederick Crounse, ran a popular inn in the area of West Guilderland.  The inn was built in the 1830s.  The inn was a popular stopping point for travelers along the Scoharie Turnpike.  Stage coaches would stop there regularly to change horses.  This made the inn a center of activity.  Jacob Crounse was also very active in the religious and political life of West Guilderland.  He served on a number of Lutheran Church Councils.  Crounse served for five years in Rowley’s Regiment in Scoharie, served as the Guilderland Commissioner of Schools in 1838 and as school superintendent from 1848-1845.  He was also Knowersville’s first postmaster, serving in the position for over twenty years.  He even beat his own son Christopher in an election for Justice of the Peace.  Jacob Crounse had fourteen children, three of whom went on to be physicians.  Upon retiring from innkeeping and public life, Jacob moved in with his son Dr. Frederick Crounse where he spent his free time building coffins that he sold for $15 a piece.

Jacob’s son Dr. Frederick Crounse was the first physician in the West Guilderland/Altamont area.  Dr. Crounse was the first born son of Jacob Crounse and fourth generation for the Crounse family in general.  He was born in the town of Sharon in Scoharie.  Early on, Frederick Crounse showed an aptitude for reading and was given the best education possible by his cousin Rev. Adam Crounse.  In 1830, Dr. Frederick Crounse graduated from FairfieldMedicalCollege in HerkimerCounty, the first medical college of its kind outside of New York City.  He studied early on with Dr. Delos White, a doctor well known at the time who would be called upon by people across the country to assist in difficult cases of surgery or consultation.  Crounse’s brothers Conrad and Hiram followed him into the medical profession.  Historical records describe Dr. Crounse as a dedicated doctor who would ride out from home daily to attend to the needs of an ailing village resident or, on occasion, to deliver a new one.  He must have had a lot of goodwill among the community because local farmers would plow the road open when the winter ice caused rhis horse to fall under him.  Dr. Crounse would also become a local leader in the anti-rent wars when local land holders rebelled against the patroons who held Helderberg area farmers bound up in a feudal style system of land renting.  Dr. Crounse practiced medicine for sixty years.

There are three historical markers that commemorate the legacy of the Crounses.  One marker, dedicated to the senior-most Frederick Crounse is in Guilderland on Altamont-Voorheesville Road (New York Route 156).  Markers signifying the locations of the Inn of Jacob Crounse and the home of Dr. Frederick Crounse are both in Guilderland along New York Route 146.

Begley, Alice C.  Historic Markers in the Town of Guilderland, Albany County, New York.  Guilderland, New York: Town of Guilderland, 1994.  Print.

Gregg, Arthur B. Old Hellebergh: Scenes from Early Guilderland.Albany, New York: Guilderland Historical Society, 1975.  Print.


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