Frank VanAlstyne

Biographies | Frank VanAlstyne

Frank VanAlstyne was born in Charlotte, Monroe County [NY] on March 17, 1844, the son of Joshua VanAlstyne and Jane Ann Ferguson . The family moved to Webster when he was a small baby and lived there the rest of his life.

On November 2, 1863 he enlisted in Company N, Second New York Cavalry, which was organized in Rochester. Among the battles in which he participated were Wilderness, Long Bridge, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Dinwiddie Court House, Ream’s Station, Black and White Station, Roanoke Station, Winchester, Smith Field, Charleston, Front Royal, Nilierd, Berry Ford, Snicker’s Gap, Waynesboro, Taylor Creek, Appomattox and Gettysburg. At Front Royal, on September 22, 1864, he was captured by the Second Regulars. About an hour later, he was recaptured by the Second Regulars. After the close of the war, he continued in the services of the government for about two years in Washington, D.C.

In 1864 Mr VanAlstyne cast his first vote for a president of the United States at Winchester, Virginia, for General McClellan and never missed an election day at the polls after that time.

Early in 1940 the Sons of Union Veterans were organized in Webster, and their camp was given the name “Frank VanAlstyne Camp Number 29” in his honor. He was extended a life-long honorary membership in the Cottreall-Warner Post on March 17, 1941. pgs 236, 237

Of the 214 Webster men who served their country in the Civil War, Mr Frank VanAlstyne was one of the last surviving G.A.R. veterans in Monroe County. He was a member of Company N of the 2nd New York Cavalry which was organized in Rochester on November 2, 1963. The unit left Washington on May 2, 1864 with over 1,200 men and just 70 days later returned with fewer than 300 men. Mr VanAlstyne died on August 14, 1941 at the age of 97. pg 338

Dunn, Esther, Webster Through the Years, Webster Town Board, Webster, NY, 1970, pgs 236, 237, 338.

The following obituary for Frank VanAlstyne appeared in the Greece Post.

Webster Funeral Rites Held For Frank L. VanAlstyne,
Native of Greece, One of County’s Five GAR Men

Funeral rites were held last Saturday for Frank L. VanAlstyne, 97, of Webster, one of the county’s five Civil War veterans.

Death occurred on Thursday, August 14, 1941, at his home. He had been in failing health for six months. Funeral services were held at Webster Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. VanAlstyne was a native of Greece. His last public appearance was on May 30 this year when he attended Memorial Day services at Webster Rural Cemetery.

His death leaves only four veterans in Monroe County who fought in the Civil War. They are: John A. Roe, 95, of Greece; Henry A. Lilly, 100, of 1402 Chili Avenue, Gates; James A. Hard, 100, of 31 Rosalind Street, Rochester; and Frank Bissell, 94, of Scottsville.

Mr. VanAlstyne carried memories of the time he saw President Lincoln under fire, when during the war the President stood on a Union embankment and calmly viewed the lines of the Confederate Army through field glasses.

“I can see President Lincoln now as he rode up on horseback with his stovepipe hat on his head,” VanAlstyne used to relate to friends. The President dismounted and climbed upon the breastworks to view the opposition lines. Bullets zipped past his scraggy head but the President didn’t move. General Wright approached him:

“Mr. President, you are in danger. I wish you would get down from there.” Lincoln paid no heed to the warning of the general and Wright pressed the point:

“Mr. President, unless you get down from there, I will have to place you under arrest.” With a chuckle, VanAlstyne recalled, Lincoln removed himself from danger.

The incident was one of many which the Webster veteran, the last member of Thomas Farr Post, GAR, described for his Webster friends and relatives, tales gathered during the 18 Civil War battles and skirmishes in which he participated.

VanAlstyne was born in Greece, March 17, 1844, but was reared from childhood in Webster. It was from that town that he enlisted in the Army in February, 1862, with Battery M, Second United States Light Artillery. He was discharged in 1863 but a year later re-enlisted in Company M, Second New York Calvary, from which he was transferred to his first outfit. He received his final discharge papers in December, 1865, after declining an Army invitation to re-enlist for five years and travel to a California post. The veteran participated in the fierce fighting at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Appomatax and a number of smaller engagements. He was captured at Front Royal, September 22, 1864, by Mosby’s Guerillas but an hour later was recaptured by the Second Regiment.

The Greece Press, Greece, New York, August 22, 1941, Page 9

According to enlistment records, Frank VanAlstyne enlisted in the Army on January 29,1864 at the age of 18 in Rochester, NY, although he may have been closer to 20 years old at that time. He was a member of Captain Robert E. Ellerbeck’s Company, in the 22d Regiment of New York State Cavalry Volunteers. Frank was honorably discharged from the Army on August 1, 1865 in Winchester, VA.

Frank married Emily Crippen on April 10, 1873. He worked as a carpenter and a painter. They had one son, Louis Jarvis VanAlstyne born in 1874. After his wife died in 1921, Frank lived with his son Louis, daughter-in-law and grandchildren on Main Street in Webster.

Frank died on August 14, 1941 at the age of 97. He was buried in Webster Rural Cemetery with his wife, son and daughter-in-law.


  • “Webster’s Last Civil War Veteran Passes Away Thursday Morning; Military Funeral by American Legion Post”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 15, 1941 p1,8.
  • New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts 1861-1900, Ancestry,, accessed June,2020.
  • A Record of the Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates, of the Regiments Which Were Organized in the State of New York and Called Into the Service of the United States to Assist in Suppressing the Rebellion,Vol VII [1st Regiment Cavalry Independent Co of Calvary, p 506, Fold 3,, accessed June, 2020
  • New York State Military Museum, 22nd NY Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, Unit Roster, Accessed June, 2020
  • Find a Grave Frank VanAlstyne, accessed 2020.