SLINGERLANDS — The home of former U.S. Representative John I. Slingerland has been a focal point in the hamlet’s effort to retain its history, and it’s for sale.
George and Kathleen Bragle had been only the third family to live in the Slingerland home since it was first built in 1790. To local residents, the Bragle family name has been tied to the home on 1575 New Scotland Road nearly as much as the founding family’s.
The significance of the home’s story was never lost on them. It was their home for 40 years. The couple raised three of their children from there after moving into the home in 1977. George died in 2017. Kathleen placed the 3,320-square-foot home on the market last week with an asking price of $399,900. According to the listing agent’s website, an offer is already pending.
Kathleen grew up with a deep appreciation for history. Her father was a social studies teacher who taught American history.
“I always said if I weren’t a music teacher, I would have been a history teacher,” she said in a 2016 interview with The Spotlight. “I love history and I just find this place. I just love it so much.”
She and her husband helped maintain the period look the previous two homeowners had restored since it left the Slingerland family in 1953. The interior showcases framed documents on wallpapered plaster walls. Other artifacts are scattered throughout the decor. The front of the home looks pristine when compared to the earliest of photos.
An image of the Slingerlands Village Wonders semi-pro baseball team was captured from in front of the home in 1918. One can see the black window shutters against the white, painted exterior, along with the columns. The baseball team that traveled the region representing the hamlet paid homage to the family that shared its name.
The home was originally built by John Albert Slingerland in 1790. The back of the home known today is what remains of the original structure. John Albert married Leah Britt in 1799 and raised seven children there. According to the town records, Slingerland leased the land from the Van Rensselaer Patroon, paying his annual rent with 17 bushels and 46 pounds of wheat. Maps would soon identify the area Slingerlands Corners, and later cut to Slingerlands for short. Their bodies lay to rest within the family burial vault across the street.
John I. Slingerland was born in Feura Bush to John and Leah in 1804. He was a pioneer of social reform. He took sides against the Patroon system during the Anti-Rent War. He maintained that stance, serving the New York State Assembly in 1843 and 1844 as a member of the Whig Party. He later served as a U.S. Representative during Abraham Lincoln’s administration. He helped fight to end slavery.
Slingerland moved to the area and incorporated the Albany, Rensselaerville and Schoharie Plank Road Company, the toll road now known as New Scotland Road. The vacant restaurant presently two doors down the road still bares the name Toll Gate. The Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail runs a few hundred feet behind the home. It’s what remains of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad line he helped secure.
Kathleen called it “a fluke” that she and her husband found the home. She recalled a conversation with a friend in which she said she wished to live in Bethlehem. That friend was close to the family living at 1575 New Scotland Road, and they were preparing to move. “it was meant to be, I guess.”
In the following years, the couple opened their doors to tours and field trips from the nearby elementary school. The Bragles were involved with establishing the Slingerlands Historic District and the effort to restore the Slingerlands Family Vault.
Bob Mullens, who helped with the preservation cause, has ties to the land, too. He’s been a friend for years and helped the Bragles by working on repairs to the home. The street across the tracks shares his name. His grandmother was a Slingerland. That’s where they lived.
“My ancestors lived here way back,” he said. “It’s great to be in the house and walk around here. To think that all kinds of old ancestors walked through here.”