Armed with a two man American camera crew Ben Wolf and Colin Bannon, Rob Rombout and Rogier van Eck of the Netherlands discovered the intricacies of Botetourt’s Amsterdam and its environs for their road movie of North America, ” Amsterdam Stories.” www.amsterdamstoriesusa.com
Old records in the Clerk of Courts were perused, Amsterdam proper across from Ashley Plantation and the golf course, a book club meeting in the White Oak Tea Tavern, Greenfield– the site of the Preston Plantation, Fincastle Winery, local historians Katherine Harris and Mary Ann Obenschain, Lisa Farmer owner of Cloyd House (White Oak Tea Tavern operates in the building) Amsterdam District Supervisor Steve Clinton, the Cloyd massacre, Santillane, Adrian Cronauer and yes, even the Botetourt View’s Cathy Benson were part of the three day production. Benson narrated several stories about William Clark, Lewis and Clark, Francis Asbury and the National Champion Honeylocust at Fincastle United Methodist Church and the Cloyd massacre.
Botetourt Tourism director Kevin Costello put in his hours as well escorting the crew to sites either in Amsterdam proper or associated with Amsterdam. van Eck said, “It is the flavor of the community we are looking for and not just the history of the site.” He and the film crew were enamored with the over grown Amsterdam Cemetery as well as the story of William Clark, the great explorer and Fincastle’s Julia Hancock. The Clark-Hancock association with the site of Santillane (now owned by Lissy and Dan Merenda) and the in-law status with the Preston family in Amsterdam are all featured in the film. Also included is the visit to Amsterdam and Fincastle by the originator of the circuit riding preacher in America, Bishop Francis Asbury.
Riding in a golf cart at Ashley Plantation, visiting Adrian Cronauer of “Good Morning Vietnam” fame– the film crew just hit all of the happening places in Botetourt including the national champion Honeylocust in Fincastle. They had plenty of fun at the Fincastle Winery musical event on Saturday, too!
How did the Dutch influence arrive to name the community? No one knows for sure, but the Great Road that brought settlers from Pennsylvania down the Valley of Virginia forked at Amsterdam going westward towards present day West Virginia and Ohio and southward through Virginia into Tennessee. According to Stoner’s, “Seed Bed of the Republic,” Amsterdam built up around George Robinson who was a frontier pioneer of the 18th century. 1746 is the date most bantered about for the Amsterdam community founding. Two revolutionary soldiers listed in Stoner’ s book about early Botetourt were Vansandt and Vanstrander, certainly Dutch names.
An old painting of Amsterdam (circa early 19th century) being brokered for a North Carolina owner, also played a role in the feature which will be broadcast on Dutch and European TV, said van Eck. The crew traveled around in a king cab truck. They have 10 more Amsterdams, Botetourt County was number 5 in their trek, through out the United States and one in Canada ending in Amsterdam, California. They expect to be in the United States and Canada for a couple of months covering the next 10 Amsterdam’s.