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Major Peter Vanalstine of Adolphustown Tp.

1743 - 1800

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Pioneers of the Bay of Quinte
1800 Will of Peter Vanalstine

Peter VanAlstine is a well known figure in the settlement of Adolphustown and much has been written about him. Being a descendant, I have collected some data from both primary and secondary sources.

Major Peter VanAlstine, U.E.  (Sander (Alexander)4 Van Alstyne, Abraham Janse3, Janse Martense2, Martin Janse1)  was born Bef. June 05, 1743, and died between 10 May and 15 Nov of 1800.  He married Alida Van Alen, Date of Import: Jan 25, 1999.) September 24, 1769, daughter of Cornelius Van Alen and Alida Pruyn.  She was born Bef. February 03, 1747/48, and died Abt. August 03, 1784 in Sorrel, Quebec, Canada.

Their children are:
i.      Alexander6 VanAlstine, born Abt. November 11, 1770 in PLBQ p. 827; date WFT; died Abt. 1870.  He married Ursula Allen June 26, 1798.
ii.    Alaida VanAlstine, born Abt. March 02, 1772 in Kinderhook, NY: PLBQ p. 827; date & place  WFT; died Abt. 1872.  She married George W. Meyers, U.E. May 05, 1789; born September 24, 1765 in Wurtenburg, Rhinebeck, Dutchess Co., NY.
iii.    Cornelius VanAlstine (Source: corn8.FTW, Date of Import: Jan 26, 1999.), born Abt. June 12, 1774 in PLBQ p. 828; died 1862.  He married Rachel Dunham, December 29, 1801.
iv.    Elbertje VanAlstine, born Abt. February 02, 1777 in Kinderhook, NY; Not mentioned in PLBQ.
v.    Abram VanAlstine, born Abt. 1779; died in Died young, PLBQ, p. 828.

See my World Connect Family File for lineages.


The best book on Major Peter Vanalstine is Larry Turner's, Voyage of a Different Kind, Mika Pub, 1979. Copies are hard to find as it is a desirable work on Peter Vanalstine, Michael Grass and Capt John Meyers. Turner made an effort to write only what is supported by the early record and has great notes.

Montreal, 27th February 1788
393.   Evidence on the Claim of Peter Van Alstine, late of Kinderhook, Albany County, N. York Province.
Claimant Sworn :
Says he was born in Kinderhook and lived there in 1775. Says That from the earliest period he had determined to support the British Government.   Early in 1776 he was chosen by the friends of Gt. Britain to be a Member of the Committee of Albany.

He found himself of a Minority in the Committee and by order of the Majority he and 16 more were made Prisoners as friends of the King of Great Britain, and kept in Gaol (Jail) for 17 days, and other persons chose in the room of those confined. He never belonged to any other meeting.

After this he was considered a marked friend to Great Britain, And early in 1777 he was obliged to live (away) from home & in September 1777 he joined Gen. Burgoyne.  After the Convention he came to Canada. He brought 30 men to the King’s Army.  In 1778 he went to New York  and served as Captain of Batteaux men. He afterwards did duty as Major of Associated Loyalist and did duty at Smith Town, Long Island.

He now enjoys half pay of Captain.

Produces Certificate from Peter Van Schaack to Claimant ‘s early and Uniform Loyalty, & his being obliged to remain concealed until he joined Gen. Burgoyne in 1777. Dated London, 16th February 1784.

600 acres of Land in Kinderhook.

Produces Deed dated 13th April, 1771 whereby Andries Kettler conveys to Peter and John Van Alstine in consideration of 432 pounds N.Y. currency, one third of an undivided tract in common with Isaac and Martin Van Alstine, containing in all 665 acres.

Says there was a mistake in the quantity for the whole. Was about 1900 acres. He imagines that the quantity in the deed Was the quantity purchased by himself and brother. Soon after there was a verbal agreement and a share given to his brother and Him, equal to one third part. He thinks that they cleared 70 acres of this. He thinks that The cleared land was worth 4 pounds N.Y. currency per acre. Of this he claims One half.

His brother John Van Alstine is dead.  His Uncles were in Possession last Summer.  But he was informed by the Commissioner of forfeitures that they meant to sell it this year .

Produces Deed dated March, 1768, whereby John Van Alstine, of Kinderhook Conveyed to Peter, John and Alexander Van Alstine in consideration of 500 pounds N.Y. Currency, a farm formerly belonging to Christ.Brosie and Amie Lagransie. It contained about 200 acres. He purchased one third which he now claims. It was a gift from their Uncle. These lands were cultivated, but the Property was disputed. It was in the possession of Innis Van Slaak who remains in possession. 50 acres are cleared and are well worth 5 pounds currency per acre.

Produces Deed dated 6th June 1767, whereby John Borgaert Conveys to claimant in consideration of 23 pounds currency a certain quantity of land, but the quantity is not mentioned. Claimant says 4 acres, and four morgans or 8 acres meadow. Says that it was much increased in value by improvements.  Thinks The 4 acres were worth 5 pounds per acre, and the Meadows at 4 pounds Per acre. This remains unsold.

Produces the last Will of his Father Alexander Van Alstine , dated in 1752. Whereby he bequeaths unto his three sons, Abraham, Peter, and John Van Alstine, to each of  them an equal share of his right in the Patent of Kinderhook. Says this Property remains undivided, but the proprietors took possession of what part they had occasion. Says that he and his brother, John occupied part, about  30 or 40 acres Were improved and fenced by them, and his brother’s children are now in Possession.  Says that no part of the above is in his possession, or for his interests.

Produces Copy of Judgment passed against Peter S. Van Alstine for joining the enemies of the State. Signed 14th July, 1783. He indicted November 1779, and Certificate from Hy. Oathardt & Jas. V. Rensselar, Commissioner of Forfeitures, that the estate or P. Van Alstine is forfeited. And that they have received information of 4 acres Low Land , 8 acres of Meadow near Kinderhook, and undivided half of 600 acres & 1-3 of a proprietary share of  the Patent  of Kinderhook, 11th June 1787. Certificate of sale required. He had built a Brick House on the part he possessed under his Father’s Will, i.e., on the undivided Lands of Kinderhook. He built this in 1776.  Thinks it cost him what he has charged 400 pounds currency. His brothers children are in possession. His Brother was at half expense. All his stock was seized and sold. He left 20 Head Horned Cattle, 6 Horses, 20 Sheep, a Sled, 3 Negroes, farming Utensils, at 65 pounds each (the Negroes), Grain in Stack and Barn, 10 Hogs. Claimant says that there is no mortgage or incumbrance due from His estate.

Witness Guysbert Sharp, Sworn: Says he knew Claimant at Kinderhook.  He was always friendly to Great Britain from the first of his troubles. Remembers his being chosen a member Of the Committee on account of his Loyal Principals, He accepted to serve The friends of Great Britain. He joined the British Army at Saratoga. Remembers his purchase number 1. Cannot speak to the value.  Number 3 was good Land. Number 4 was a joint property with his brother, John.  When he joined the Army he left a considerable stock on his Lands. He was a Blacksmith by trade and made money by his Trade.
Source: email Bill Van Cleave, Newington, Connecticut, USA
United Empire Loyalist, Second Report of the Bureau of Archives For the Province of Ontario, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Part I, Page 445-447
United Empire loyalists enquiry into the losses and services in consequence of their loyalty : evidence in the Canadian claims, L. K. Cameron, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1905.

Major Van Alstine's party of Loyalists settled on Tp. No. 4, Cataraqui; 92 men, 46 women, 103 children, 17 servants, 253 total.
Source: Haldimand Papers, British Library, Disbanded Troops and Loyalists, No 4 Cataraqui [Adolphustown], 5 Oct 1784, Add Mss 21828, H-1655, on line Heritage Canadiana image 142
ent Majesty, 1905.

1784 at Cataraqui
Loyalist, Major Vanalstine, 1 man, 0 woman, children 2 male above 10, 1 male under 10, 1 female above 10, 3 servants, 7.5 rations per day, 5 acres cleared, woman dead since last muster, servant negro slaves
Source: Haldimand Papers, British Library, Disbanded Troops and Loyalists, No 4 Cataraqui [Adolphustown], 5 Oct 1784, Add Mss 21828, H-1655, on line Heritage Canadiana image 179


Major Vanalstine, Loyalist, granted 400 acres, Lots 7 and 8, North West of West Lake, dated 21 Sept 1785 at Cataraqui.
Source: Township Papers, Hallowell, AO MS658, reel178, #289, copy Meyers file

Peter Vanalstine granted 400 acres in Lots 7 and 8, 2nd Conc North West of West Lake, Hallowell.dated 23 Oct 1787, at Kingston.
Source: Township Papers, Hallowell, AO MS658, reel178, #370, copy Meyers file

Feb 24, [1789], Peter Van Alstine, John Huyck, Paul Huff, Philip Dorland & Paul Trumpour of Adolphus Town & Barret Dyre of Sophiasburgh petition for a quantity of lands equal to what has been granted to Officers of the late 84th Regiment - It appears that Peter Van Alstine was commissioned & acted as Major, Barret Dyre as Captain, and John Huyck, Paul Huff & Philip Dorland as Lieutenants in the Corps of associated Loyalists commanded by Colonel Abraham Cuyler, and Paul Trumpour as Ensign in one of the Corps belonging to General Delancys Brigade, in which capacity he actually receives a Pension of 25 ?cy p Ann. Peter Van Alstine also receives half pay as Captain; and the whole of them under the instructions of 1783 have been cosnidered entitled to have received Lands in the same proportion as other Officers.
  • Peter Van Alstine has received 1000 acres as a Field Officer, 250 as family Lands & 200 as the additional bounty in all 1450 acres
  • Barret Dyre has received as a Captian 700 acres & 150 as family Lands
  • John Huyck has received as a Lieut 500 ares & 300 as Family Lands
  • Paul Huff has received 500 acres as a Subaltern & 200 acres as Family Lands
  • Philip Dorland has received 500 acres as a subaltern & 100 as Family Lands
  • Paul Trumpour has received 500 acres as a subaltern & 150 acres as Family Lands.
The whole of these except Mr Van Alstine will at all Events be further entitled to the additional Bounty, should the rest of their Pretenious? appear inadmissible.
Source: Upper Canada Land Board Minutes and Records, 1765-1804, RG1 L4, LAC, Vol 7, Mecklenburg District, 81-82 and information repeated on 188, C-14027 (copy of film at AO), index is on line here at LAC.


Peter Vanalstine obtained 200 acres from the Crown, 4 mar 1796, Lots 26 and 27, Con 1, Adolphustown, and also 200 acres on 4 Jun 1796 at Lot 16, Con 3 and at the same date, 200 acres, Lot 15, Con 4, Adolphustown.
Source: Adolphustown Abstract Land Books, Lennox and Addington, AO, GS 4614.

Major Van Alstine's party of Loyalists settled on Tp. No. 4, Cataraqui; 92 men, 46 women, 103 children, 17 servants, 253 total.
Source: Haldimand Papers, British Library, Disbanded Troops and Loyalists, No 4 Cataraqui [Adolphustown], 5 Oct 1784, Add Mss 21828, H-1655, on line Heritage Canadiana image 142

HAY BAY June 17, 1784
A number of family histories in PLBQ state that their founding ancestor came with Van Alstine to Hay Bay on June 16, 1784. They are: Van Dusen (57 & 806), Farley (88), Allison (109), Bongard (141), Barker (150), Clapp (192), Fraleigh (304), Garrison (362), Huyck (275), Hagerman (431), Roblin (698), Ruttan (716), Spafford (763), Valleau (822), Dorland (967).
Source: Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, 1904 

Source of marriage date: Van Alstine Family History, Vol. 1, Lester Van Alstine, 1974, p. 43.

These Loyalists included many Freemasons who had fought on the British side. Thomas Merritt (1759-1842),"comet of cavalry" in the Queen's Rangers, and eventually Sheriff of Lincoln County, was first Master of St George's, No 27, St Catharines, in 1816. Colonel John Butler (1725-1796), who organized Butler's Rangers during the Revolution, was Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1795. Major James Rogers (1726?-1792), of Rogers' Rangers, is on record as Master of St James', No 14, at Cataraqui (Kingston) in 1781. Major Edward Jessup Jr (1735-1816), commander of the Loyal Rangers or Jessup's Corps, was first Senior Warden of Lodge No 13, Elizabethtown (near Brockville), in 1799. Major Peter Van Alstine ( 17471811), of Cuyler's Corps, led the refugees who settled at Adolphustown in 1784; he was Master of St James', No 7, Fredericksburg, in 1797
Source: email Bill Van Cleave, Newington, Connecticut, USA

Major Peter Van Alstine, the famous United Empire Loyalist leader of the Fourth Town (Adolphustown) company of settlers to the Bay of Quinte in 1784, was the first owner of the Glenora ferry and builder of the mills comprising the community of Van Alstine's Mills, now Glenora. Major Van Alstine petitioned for land, water and mill rights around Lake on the Mountain in 1793 and the subsequent development of a grist mill made it an important enterprise in the local pioneer economy as one of the earliest flour mills on the Bay of Quinte.
Source: May 20,1793, the Petition was read before the Executive Council, June 6, 1793, Upper Canada Land Petitions 'U-V', Bundle 1, 1792-1796, RG1E3, Vol. 514, No. 22, Microfilm C2842, Public Archives of Canada. Lot 4 and 5 containing 400 acres were granted to Van Alstine on June 22, 1793, Marysburgh Township Papers, Public Archives of Ontario (PAO). A number of sources estimate the mills being built around 1796, Canniff, op. cit., p.209.

VAN ALSTINE, PETER: of New York. Born at Kinderhook, Van Alstine was still living there in 1775. A blacksmith by trade, in 1776 he was chosen by some loyalists to serve as a member of a committee at Albany; however, he found his opinions to be in the minority, and ultimately he and sixteen others were made prisoners and he was held for 16 days. Van Alstine left home in 1777 and joined General Burgoyne in September of that year, bringing in 30 men. He went to Canada at the convention of Saratoga, and later acted as Captain of bateaux and Major of the Loyalists in New York. Van Alstine received half pay as a captain . He asked compensation for 600 acres at Kinderhook (200 cleared). He estimated his loss at 892 pounds sterling and was awarded 466 pounds sterling.
Source: Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Sabine; revised Gregory Palmer, 1984, Meckler Pub.; page 881

Peter Vanalstine - "Capt. Associated Loyalists, 1777 - 84 (Half Pay 1784); Justice of the Peace, Montreal District, 18 Apr. 1785; Mecklenburg Dist., 24 July 1788; Midland Dist., 1 Jan. 1800; Lieutenant, Prince Edwrad County, 2 Nov. 1792, Member House of Assembly, Prince Edward and Aldolphustown, 1793 -96."
Sources: PAC, RG 1, L3, Vol. 513, U - V Misc./24; Vol. 514, U - V 1/22; RG 68, General Index to Commissions; MG 14, AO 12, vol. 54; AO 13, bundle 16; T.W. Casey, "The Casey Scrapbboks, Part II," Lennox and Addington Historical Society, Papers and Records 4 (1912); W.D. Reid, The Loyalists of Ontario (Lambertville, NJ, 1973), 322"
Becoming Prominent, J.K. Johnson, McGill Queens Univ. Press, 1989, p. 232

p. 206: from the New York Port ... seven ships under Peter Van Alstine, all escorted by the British brigantine "Hope", have sailed north from New York City towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence where they are expected to arrive at Sorel (Quebec) in October 1783.

p. 217: On June 16, 1784, has taken place the historic landing of the initial official Loyalist party led by Major Peter Van Alstine. A small fleet of boats containing sixty five persons has arrived on the north shore at Adolphustown.

p. 232: Major Peter Van Alstine has been made Quarter Master for the whole Kentie (Quinte) area, in charge of governmental stores and provisions to the settlers since this past year (1785). He will be described by those who will remember him in future years  - a short, rotund, jolly man, a typical Dutchman who loves company and is a father to his people.

p. 292: He is a Dutchman, originally from Albany.

p. 308: (paraphrased) For the first Parliament of Upper Canada, a Quaker, Philip Dorland, refuses to take the oath of office, so as a result, Major Peter Van Alstine is the next to hold the seat (1792).

p. 346: Major Peter Van Alstine ... received a grant of 437 acres of land in the region of the Lake on the Mountain (June 4, 1796).

p. 346/7: (paraphrased) On the sight he builds the Stone Mills which uses water from the Lake on the Mountain that is channeled to drop 200 feet to the bay below.

p. 347: Major Van Alstine has installed two run of stone with three bolts of different degrees of fineness. The grist mill has many immediate customers. Soon Van Alstine will add a carding mill here, also, for wool processing. He also plans to manufacture plaster on this site.

p. 408: (paraphrase)  Peter Van Alstine's daughter Alida and her husband George Meyers assume the ownership of the Stone Mill site in 1811 after no one purchases the mill from the estate.

p. 508: (paraphrased) He operated the first ferry across the bay from Adolphustown to the Stone Mills. This was a link in the Danforth Road route.

p.967: (paraphrased) Philip Dorland, Nicholas Hagerman and Major Van Alstine are among the first magistrates appointed in Upper Canada.
Source: Hans Waltimeyer, Jane B. Goddard, privately published, 1980.

Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, 1793-6.

Many references have already been made in these pages to Major Peter Vanalstine. He was of Dutch descent and declared it in his build, complexion, and speech, for he was in every respect a typical Dutchman. He was the leader of the first company of Loyalists who landed in Adolphustown, and might properly be denominated the pioneer of the pioneers. He brought with him a number of negro slaves; and, so far as life in the wilderness offered the opportunity, he lived in grand style, and was never happier than when entertaining his friends to a sumptuous dinner. He was a rollicking good-natured companion, a striking contrast to his sedate neighbour, Phillip Dorland, who declined to take the oath of office as a member of the Legislative Assembly.

When the new election was held the major was returned as the first member to sit in the Assembly for Adolphustown and Prince Edward. He was a justice of the peace, and his name frequently appears in the records of the sessions as one of the members of that administrative and judicial body. He lived on the peninsula west of Adolphustown village and built on the opposite shore at Glenora the first grist-mill in Prince Edward county. He died in 1811 [Note: This is an error as he died in 1800, see his will ] and was buried in the U. E. L. burying-ground at Adolphustown.
Source: History of the County of Lennox and Addington, 1913, W.S. Herrington, K.C.

    Prince Edward and Adolphustown.-The county of Prince Edward was of the same extent as it is to-day. It was divided into three townships-Marysburgh (No. 5), Sophiasburgh (No. 6) and Ameliasburgh (No. 7). These townships contained the overflow from across the bay of Sir John Johnson's soldiers. Here also (in Marysburgh) were located the little band of Hessians, and in these townships some of the officers drew large areas of land. Among others may be mentioned Major James Bogers, Major Peter Vanalstine and Captain Archibald McDonell. To make the . representation fair, Adolphustown was detached from Lennox and added to Prince Edward. Though separated by the Bay, it should be remembered that the main road to York passed through Adolphustown and crossed at the point by ferry to Prince Edward County shore, whence it ran on to the carrying place.
    Adolphustown was one of the most important townships of the Bay district. Though small and divided into two parts by Hay Bay, it possessed an importance beyond its size or population. It was here that the Loyalists landed and from it the settlement spread to adjoining townships. In it was a band of Quakers or Friends from Dutchess County, New York, many of whom had been fighters on the British side. Major Peter Vanalstine was the leader of the soldier settlers, and Philip Borland was the leading Quaker. The selection of Philip Borland as member took place, and in September he started for the meeting in Newark. But there was a difficulty in the way. To take his seat he must first take the prescribed oath. This he could not do as a Quaker. This matter came up for consideration immediately after Colonel Macdonell had been elected speaker. A statement of the case, signed by Borland, was presented, and the House at once decided that the seat be declared vacant, and a new election held. When the people met once more to consider the situation they selected Major Peter Vanalstine as their representative, and he appeared and took his seat at the second session.
    In Br. Canniff's settlement of Upper Canada, it is stated that Peter Vanalstine was major only by courtesy and that he came as a non-combatant at the head of a party of non-combatant farmer Loyalists to settle this beautiful little township. This statement has been repeated again and again, but it is incorrect. Through the courtesy of Rev. W. 0. Raymond of St. John,,N.B., I have been permitted to examine a muster roll of batteau men organized and directed by Captain Peter Yanalstine, and in his evidence before the Claims Commission, Vanalstme refers to his military service. Major Vanalstine was of Dutch ancestry, he came from near Albany, New York, and spoke English with quite a foreign accent. After living for some years in Adolphustown he moved across the bay to Prince Edward,, where he had large holdings of land and started the mill at the most picturesque spot of the Bay district, the lake on the mountain. He returned to Adolphustown and died at his old home in 1811. He was succeeded in 1796, by David McGregor Rogers, the son of Major James Rogers, and the nephew of the celebrated ranger, Robert Rogers. David McGregor Rogers was at the time living on a large military land grant at West Lake. David McGregor Rogers sat in the Legislature' of Upper Canada from this time until his death in 1824, with the. exception of one Parliament. His record, therefore, was for 24 years, the longest of any member of the Upper Canada House of Assembly. Reference to the Rogers family may be found in a paper printed in the transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 1900. "Rogers, Ranger and Loyalist," by Walter Rogers.
Source: The First legislators of Upper Canada, C.C. James, Royal Society of Canada, Proceedings and Transactions, 1902, sec 2, 106/7, Robarts Libray, UEL computer file

Major Vanalstine - Peter Vanalstine was the Captain of the Fourth Town company and the Commissary for years. He does not appear to have had any military experience or position. He was a knickerbocker and native of New York. His title of Major appears to have been honorary. He lived on the bay Shore on the Front, next east of Philip and Thomas Dorland. He was elected to represent Lennox and Prince Edward in the first Parliament, after Philip Dorland's seat was declared vacant because of his refusal to take an oath. He is said to have built the first grist mill at Glenora - then Lake on-the-Mountain, and probably it was the first in Prince Edward County. That was as early as 1791. He had a son Allan who lived for years at the Stone Mills, - Glenora - and died there. Allan married a daughter of Jonathan Allen and there are a number of his descendants yet living in Prince Edward County. Major Vanalstine had no daughters. He had a brother, Cornelius Vanalstine, who was probably the first magistrate appointed in the township. Peter was born in 1747 and was therefore 37 years of age when he landed in Adolphustown. He died in 1811, aged 64 years, and was buried in the U.E.L. ground, but there is nothing now to distinguish his grave.
Source: Mr. T.W. Casey of Napanee, 61 Victoria Sessional Papers (No. 32) A.1898, Personal Notes (pgs 55-69), Bill Martin's web site, Dec 2004

It is widely written that Major Peter Vanalstine died in 1811 however his will and Power of Attorney papers below clearly identify that he died between 10 May 1800 and 15 November 1800. His will is dated 10 May 1800 when he is still obviously alive and a power of attorney dated 15 Nov 1800 states that he "is since dead". See this separate web page on his will.