History repeats itself in rescue

In a rescue eerily similar to one that took place on the same property more than 230 years ago, two

Categories: Schenectady County

In a rescue eerily similar to one that took place on the same property more than 230 years ago, two contractors pulled a wheelchair-bound man to safety Friday afternoon after fire broke out in an historic home built by a Revolutionary War-era colonel.

The three-story home at 662 Mohawk Drive sustained damage to an addition, but the remainder of the 216-year-old home, known as Danascara Place, survived.

Firefighters were called about 2:38 p.m. after a crew from the Johnstown-based Colonial Overhead Doors saw flames pouring out of the home and called 911, Mohawk Fire Chief Adam Schwabrow said. The crew went to the house and found an occupant in a wheelchair and pulled him to safety as dozens of firefighters began to arrive.

“It was a pretty good save,” said Schwabrow, who said teams were able to keep the fire confined to a two-story wooden addition to the rear of the historic home built by Frederick Visscher, a farmer and colonel in the Tryon County Militia.

Visscher built the home in 1795, 15 years after marauding Indians scalped him and left him for dead after killing his two brothers in the raids of 1780.

Roughly 40 firefighters were on the scene Friday, trucking water from a cistern in the basement of the Tribes Hill firehouse.

Schwabrow said it appeared the man pulled out of the home was the only one in the house when the fire broke out, and there were no injuries.

Fire companies at the scene included Mohawk, Tribes Hill, Fort Hunter, Glen and Fultonville, while the Berkshire and Florida fire companies were on standby. An ambulance crew from GAVAC evaluated firefighters as they retired from interior firefighting.

A team of investigators was still on the scene late this afternoon, and the cause was not yet known, but Schwabrow said it did not appear suspicious.

The rescue bears some similarity to a scene that took place on the property 231 years ago. Historians have said Danascara Place was a primary target of loyalists and Indians when they tore through the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys back in 1780.

As the story goes, a band of Indians went to Visscher’s first home on the same property, tied his mother to a chair, set fire to the home and fought with Visscher’s brothers as other family members escaped.

One of Visscher’s brothers, John, was killed in the fighting, and his other brother, Harmon, jumped out a window and died.

Frederick Visscher was knocked out by a tomahawk before an Indian removed his scalp and slit his throat, but neither injury proved fatal. Visscher came to and dragged his mother, chair and all, out of the burning home. That chair is now on display at Old Fort Johnson, just west of Amsterdam.

Visscher built another home – the one that caught fire Friday – and lived until 1809 before dying and being buried in a family cemetery there. His headstone is at the Old Caughnawaga Cemetery in Fonda.

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