THE TOWN OF KINDERHOOK.
This town was formed as a district on March 22, 1772, and was the first civil organization in Columbia county.
On March 7, 1788, it was erected into a town. The records from the date of town organization to 1797 are lost,
as also are those from 1844 to 1872, thus causing a paucity in information of the early doings of the town government.
At the time of town organization the territory included in its jurisdiction comprised, apart from the present town,
the whole of Stuyvesant and parts of Chatham and Ghent. Its present area is 20,800 acres, and it is bounded on
the north by Rensselaer county, on the east by Chatham, on the south by Ghent, and on the west by Stuyvesant.
There are several traditions as to the derivation of the name, none of which is based upon trustworthy authority.
The etymology of the word may be safely set down as being derived from the Dutch words "kinder" - children,
and "hook" - corner or place, and this application of this name is ascribed not only to Henry Hudson,
but to various others, on account of the unusual number of children, either Indian or white, seen at one or more
points on the river bank by traders or adventurers.
The most important stream in the town is Kinderhook Creek, which enters the town from Chatham, about midway between
its northern and southern boundaries, and after receiving the waters of the Kline Kill, turns a little to the northwest,
and at Valatie is joined by Valatie Creek from the north with the overflow of Kinderhook Lake, and thence in a
southwestern course it reaches to near the southwestern corner of the town and enters the town of Stuyvesant. A
small stream flows from the east and discharges into the Kinderhook at Kinderhook village, which at one time was
utilized in a small way as a source of power. On Valatie Creek between Kinderhook Lake and its confluence with
Kinderhook Creek there are several considerable descents which form a valuable water power, particularly at the
village of Valatie.
Kinderhook Lake, which lies on the line between Chatham and Kinderhook, is a beautiful sheet of water, fed by Valatie
Kill and numerous never failing springs of pure water. It is very irregular in its outline, has a circumference
of about seven miles and varies in depth from five to forty feet. Several beautiful islands dot its surface, and
its shores are characterized by gentle slopes and abrupt cliffs, all taken together forming a delightful place
for recreation or residence. It has always been noted for its fine fishing, at one time having borne the name of
Fish Lake. West of this lake is another small body called Round Lake, in many ways as attractive as the larger
one, but less sought as a pleasure resort.
There are no hills of unusual altitude in the town, and excepting the spurs extending into the town from the eastward,
the greater portion of the surface is a comparatively level tableland. Along the water courses the soil is a fertile
alluvium, while the slopes and summits are composed of a loam or gravel intermixed with clay, susceptible of cultivation
and bearing good crops of the common cereals. The town is one of the best agricultural sections of the county.
The territory of the original town of Kinderhook is rich in historical interest and the story of its gradual development
forms one of the most important chapters of Columbia county history. The land patents under which the soil of Kinderhook
was first granted have been noticed in an earlier chapter. The tract of land lying to the north of and including
the site of Kinderhook village, which was once the property of a Mohican chief, was named in the Flodder and Baker
patent as being the south boundary of the lands of those proprietors. The Flodder and Baker patent was covered
by the grant subsequently made to Jan Hendrik De Bruyn, which caused extended litigation. De Bruyn's interest in
this and other patents was sold to Laurence Van Alen in 1707 and was divided among his children. After long litigation
the claims under the two patents became the subject of legislative action, and on June 8, 1812, a committee consisting
of John Radcliff, David B. Ogden, and Thomas Rudd was appointed to adjust the matter. Other patents in this town
were the Kinderhook, the Powell, the Wessels, the Gerrit Teunissen, and the Burger Huyck patents, to the patentees
of which were paid the usual small quit rents.
Emigrants from Holland and Sweden came to this immediate locality not much if any later than 1650. They brought
with them money, building materials, cattle, and simple farming implements, with which they were able to soon make
for themselves good homes upon the fertile Kinderbook soil. The first names of freeholders that can be definitely
located here shows in 1637 the names of Jan Hendrik De Bruyn, Peter Schuyler, Gerrit Teunissen, Laurence Van Alen,
Isaac Vosburgh, An. dries Gardner, Hendrick Coonrad, Adam Dingman, Lambert Jansen, Frans Pieterson, Peter Vosburgh,
Albert Gardenier, and Jan Jacobson Gardenier. Descendants of these and others of the pioneers in many instances
still dwell in the town.
The records of the old Dutch church, noticed a little further on, for the year 1729, contain the following additional
names of residents in the town as it was afterwards bounded: Adelbert Vanderpoel, Cornelius Schermerhorn, Tobias
Van Buren, Barent Van Buren, Gilbert Sharp, Martin Van Buren, Cornelius Van Schaack, Abram Staats, Jochum Collier,
Edward Wheeler, Mathew Culver, Laurence Sharp, Cornelius Sluyter, Peter Jochim, Hendrick Van Valkenburgh, John
Peters, Peter I. Vosburgh, Casper Rowe, Kass Van De Karr, Johannes Hogeboom, Lucas Whitbeck, Nicholas Kittle, John
Bukman, Arent Van Dyke, Isaac Van Deusen, Robert Decker, Peter Bower, Killian Muller, Andrew Van Der Bergh, William
Clark, Isaac Staats, John Van Ness, and John Gardenier.
There is an old map of Kinderhook in existence under date of 1767, which adds still further names to the list of
settlers and shows also the improvements that had been made at that time, Isaac Staats was then living at Chittenden's
Falls (which, it will be remembered, was then included in Kinderhook territory), and Samuel Staats at the mouth
of Stockport Creek, in what became Stockport territory; J.Van Hoesen is put down as west of and near Stuyvesant
Falls; Martin Van Alstyne as northwest of those falls, in what has always been known as the Van Alstyne neighborhood;
Martine Hoes lived northwest of Van Alstyne, and Francis Clow still farther west towards the old Kinderhook (now
Stuyvesant) Landing; Isaac Van Alstyne lived on Kinderhook Creek flats opposite Lindenwald, and John Burgaart near
by; Francis Pruyn lived south of the site of the village, and Cornelius Van Schaack in the neighborhood of the
site of the Reformed church.
At the time under consideration Kinderhook village contained fifteen houses scattered along the creek ridge. Lucas
and John Hoes were here, the former on what is now Albany avenue, and the latter at the site of Valatie; Robert
Van Deusen, also, lived at the site of Valatie, and Samuel Wheeler; Andries and John Huyck lived farther up the
Kinderhook, and William Clow, Derick Hoes, and Burger Hayck near the site of Valatie. Richard Huyck lived just
above Valatie and farther east; descendants of this name have ever since resided in this section. Still farther
up, and across the Chatham line, were Stephen Van Alen, Peter Vosburgh, and Abraham Van Alstyne. Tobias Van Slyke
lived at the junction of the Kline Kill with Kinderhook Creek, near the present town line, and farther northward
was the home of Peter Van Slyke. Jacob, Aaron, and Derick Gardenier lived along the Kline Kill, in what has been
always called the Gardener neighborhood, and on the same stream, over the line of Ghent, were Derick Vosburgh,
Barent Van Buren, and Jacob Mesick.
At a little later period, as found in the old church records, the following names appear as residents of this town:
John Leggett, Arent Medclaugh, Peter Snyder, Roeloff Ganz, Isaac De Lameter, Jonas Bronk, Christoffel Miller, Andrew
Garner, Johannes Spoor, John J. Van Ness, Abraham Van Vleck, Daniel Weidman, Aaron Ostrander, Hendrick Shever,
Sylvester Bayley, Jacob Leggett, Peter Ham, John Reynolds, Johannes Prune, Johannes Lath, and Johannes Moet.
It is probable that a few of these lived in what was then Claverack territory in 1784, with at least a part of
the following: John Mesick, Cornelius Miller, Matthew Pruyn, Jacob Springstein, Thomas Son, Peter Wynkoop, Philip
Diedrick, Nicholas Holsapple, Jacobus Sickles, Zachariah Sickles, Isaac Van Ness, John Schenkel, Peter L. Van Alen,
Barton Flagelar, John Conklin, Daniel Ludlow, and Joseph T. Green. Still later and about the close of that century
the records contain the names of Walter Carpenter, Johannes Hover, Daniel Paddock, Michael Shufelt, Samuel Buskirk,
John Pruyn, Nicholas Miller, John Salsberg, Adam Hoffman, Peter Snyder, jr., John Devoe, Peter Pulver, John Holland,
and John Bogardus. While it is known that a few of these resided in what are now other towns, their names are full
of interest to the student of early Columbia county history, for in very many families descendants have remained
prominent in the community and are still aiding in the development of the town. Many family histories of interest
in connection with present residents of the town will be found in Volume II of this work.
Apart from agricultural pursuits, which were successfully followed on Kinderhook soil at a date contemporary with
the work of the Palatines in the southern part of the county, other interests were established at the very beginning
of settlement in this vicinity. One of the first, if not the very first, mills in the county was built about two
miles north of the Landing on a small stream, as early as 1665; that stream became known as the Saw Kill, and was
so called long after the builder of the mill, Frans Pieter Clavers, had passed from earth. Without doubt this mill
was of the greatest importance in supplying rough lumber to the pioneers, which enabled them to build better homes
than could be constructed of logs. There were mills, also, on the site of Valatie as early as 1697 at which point
in 1763, Hans Hoes owned a saw mill and Derick Hoes a grist mill.
The village of Kinderhook is beautifully situated on the historic stream of the same name, and while at the present
time it is a quiet, rural place, there was a period in its earlier history when it was one of the most active communities
in the county. It has never been noted for manufacturing industries, the lack of water power preventing their early
establishment; but its situation on the old post road to Albany and a center towards which excellent highways led
from many directions, with its proximity to what is now Stuyvesant Landing when the river was the great commercial
highway, gave it early business supremacy in this region. Along the old post road in former times were located
at frequent intervals the taverns of that time, where the numerous travelers found rest and refreshment. One of
the earliest of these stood about four miles north of Kinderhook on the post road, which became noted as one of
the best inns on the highway; within its walls sat the commission appointed to divide the Kinderhook patent among
the various grantees, the session begining August 10, 1762, and continuing sixty eight days. The cost of the sitting
amounted to over nine hundred pounds, which was paid by selling 1,720 acres of land to Robert Livingston, who was
the only bidder for it.
In the village were erected many of the old mansions, some of which remain, seated in their broad grounds, giving
to the streets in many localities a spacious and beautiful aspect.
Lindenwald, which received its name from Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, was erected in
1797 by Judge William P. Van Ness, Aaron Burr's second in his duel with Hamilton. It faces the old post road, a
mile and a half south of the village of hinderhook, in the shade of clustering pines. There are no lindens on the
lawn now, and their absence is as conspicuous as that of the snakes of Ireland during St. Patrick's reign, or,
in the immediate neighborhood, that of living descendants of the Van Ness family, who were once proud owners of
the famous home.
At the rear of the house on grounds that extend in fertile meadow lands to the bank of the creek is a neglected
burial plot. On a fenced in monument of modest proportions, covered with moss and lichen, is a faded inscription
reciting that Peter Van Ness, who is buried there at the side of his wife, had served as an officer in the French
war, was in command of a regiment at the capture of Burgoyne in 1777, was a member of the State convention that
adopted the Federal Constitution, was elected State senator, and was the first judge of Columbia county. He had
three sons, all of whom became prominent in public life: John P. Van Ness, member of congress and mayor of Washington;
William P. Van Ness, who studied law with Aaron Burr and was appointed judge of the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York by President Madison; and Cornelius P. Van Ness, who became chief justice
of the Supreme Court of Vermont, governor of that State, collector of the port of New York, and minister to Spain.
Peter Van Ness died at Lindenwald in 1804, a year rendered memorable by the Burr-Hamilton duel. The second of his
distinguished sons, William P. Van Ness, who had read law in the office of Aaron Burr, with whom Martin Van Buren
finished his legal course, was the founder of Lindenwald. He was a scholar of fine attainments, a Nestor in politics,
and the anonymous author of "Aristides," a political pamphlet that created almost as great a stir in
the united colonies as the letters of "Junius" occasioned in Great Britain. His friendly relations with
Washington Irving resulted in the latter paying him an extended visit after the death of his (Irving's) fiancée,
Matilda Hoffman; and rumor says that Irving, who was just entering upon his career as an author, tutored two of
the judge's nieces at that time.
When Van Buren had framed his diploma and was decoying clients into the mazes of the law, Washington Irving achieved
at Lindenwald some of his most important literary work. Here he finished his "Knickerbocker's History,"
wrote his "Rip Van Winkle," and gathered personal data for his "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Jesse
Merwin, the prototype of Ichabod Crane, taught the district school in the neighborhood, and during Irving's visit
was boarding with Judge Van Ness. It was then the custom for the schoolmaster to change his habitat and "board
around" among the patrons of the school. In the legend we read that Ichabod Crane was, "according to
country custom in those parts, boarded and lodged at the houses of farmers whose children he instructed. With these
he lived successively a week at a time, thus going the rounds of the neighborhood, with all his worldly effects
tied up in a cotton handkerchief." Thus, in completing his circuit of the school district, Jesse Merwin, who
had come from Connecticut, a State which, to quote again from the legend, "supplies the Union with pioneers
for the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its legions of frontier woodsmen and country schoolmasters,"
came in turn to board at the judge's. Amid the pastoral scenes on the banks of the creek Irving and the whimsical
pedagogue whiled away many an idle hour, fishing in the stream that flowed through the verdant meadows, shooting
partridges and squirrels in the woods, gathering nuts and apples in the fall, and when the pumpkins were ripe making
raids on the farmers' corn fields, and during the long evenings cracking jokes and spinning yarns with Katrina
Van Tassel and Brom Bones in the quaint old Dutch kitchen of a neighboring farmhouse before a roaring log fire.
Proofs are not wanting, borne out in part by local traditions and the general scheme of the story, showing it was
Irving's original intention to locate the scene of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in Kinderhook. The story
was written in London and the scenario is closely associated with Tarrytown; but it is well known that Katrina
Van Tassel was one hatrina Van Alen who lived in a farmhouse near Lindenwold, built of brick imported from Holland
- "one of those spacious farmhouses with high ridged but slowly sloping roofs in the style handed down from
the first Dutch settlers" - and tbat Brom Bones, "the burly, roaring, roystering blade," was none
other than Abram, or "Brom" Van Alstyne, a rollicking wag and the terror of the whole neighborhood. Near
Lindenwold stood the old school house where Ichabod Crane flogged the alphabet and multiplication table into freckled
faced, tow headed Dutch boys, when not chalking figures on the blackboard or mending pens at his desk; and not
far off was an old bridge spanning the creek, almost identical with the one where the rattling hoofs of Gunpowder
startled the lizards and toads from their slumbers on the memorable night when the pedagogue was chased by the
headless horseman, Brom Bones, Among the writer's treasured archives is an autograph letter from Washington Irving
to Jesse Merwin, dated February 12, 1851. Ichabod Crane had then grown somewhat stout and portly, and having been
happily married had acquired the habits of a plethoric, easy going man of the world.
"Your letter was indeed most welcome," writes Irving "calling up as it did recollections of pleasant
scenes and pleasant days passed together long since at Judge Van Ness's in Kinderhook. . . . Your mention of the
death of good old Dominie Van Ness recalls the apostolic zeal with which he took our little sinful community in
hand when he put up for a day or two at the Judge's; and the wholesome castigation he gave us all on Sunday, beginning
with the two country belles who came fluttering into the schoolhouse during the sermon, decked out in their city
finery, and ending in the stronghold of his own mansion with the Judge himself, . . . You tell me that the old
schoolhouse is torn down and a new one built in its place. I should like to have seen the old schoolhouse once
more, where, after my morning's literary tasks were over, I used to come and wait for you occasionally until school
was dismissed; and you used to promise to keep back the punishment of some little tough, broad skirted Dutch boy
until I should come, for my amusement, but never kept your promise." The author of the "Sketch Book"
also refers in this letter to a mischievous prank of his youth, when he and Merwin, finding John Moore, the vagabond
Admiral of Kinderhook Lake, curled up in his canoe fast asleep, with his fishing poles stretched out in every direction,
like the legs of a gigantic spider, robbed the boat of the fish and set it adrift on the lake. John Moore was the
original Dirk Schuyler, a poaching character in "Knickerbockers History," as Irving then confessed.
After the "Sketch Book" was published it was feared that the caricature of Ichabod Crane would occasion
strained relations between the honest schoolmaster and his friend. It was in a spirit of playful humor, much as
that in which Butler burlesqued his host, Sir Samuel Luke, in the character of Hudibras, that Irving caricatured
Jesse Merwin, and the pedagogue seemed to have enjoyed the grotesque humor of the portraiture as much as the author
himself. The remains of Merwin repose in the village cemetery, not far from the burial plot of Martin Van Buren.
A few years ago the plain slab with its suitable inscription at the head of the grave was replaced by a neat monument
and residents of the village take pride in exhibiting to strangers the grave of Ichabod Crane.
That Irving also wrote "Rip Van Winkle" at Lindenwald admits of no reasonable doubt. I have been told
that he could not have written it there, for no better reason than because he must have written it somewhere else.
But in support of my claim it was with great satisfaction that I received the following personal communication
from his lifelong friend, the venerable Frederick Saunders, author of "Salad for the Solitary and Social,"
then living mens sana in corpore sano in his ninety third year in a quiet section of the best part of the "Hill"
region in Brooklyn:
"400 CLERMONT AVE., BROOKLYN, N. Y.,"
"March 24, 1398.
"MR. HAROLD VAN SANTVO0RD,
"My dear Sir:
. . . It was my good fortune to have known and visited Washington Irving for many years. . . . When I had a special
invitation to meet some of his literary friends at Sunnyside I had a chat with him after dinner, and I remember
that he told me, among other things, that he wrote his 'Rip Van Winkle' and other sketches at Kinderhook.
"Yours very truly,
When later in life Irving repeated his visit to Lindenwald, the guest of Martin Van Buren, he drove with him to
the Catskills to view the locale of "Rip Van Winkle." The scenes were new to him. The author of the immortal
legend was surprised at the accuracy of his descriptions as he surveyed in this romantic realm for the first time
the famous hunting grounds where Rip shot squirrels in the pines and hemlocks, and the sunny knoll where he fell
asleep and saw the old man of the glen. Although the Sleepy Hollow romance was elaborated in London, the germ of
the story and all that gives it vital charm can be easily traced to his early associations in Kinderhook.
The "Dutch Herodotus," Diedrich Knickerbocker, contends that the Van Messes, or Van Nests, of Kinderhook,
were valiant robbers of birds' nests, and invented the buckwheat cake. The buckwheat cake survives, but the Van
Nesses and their descendants emigrated years ago from the historic scenes where their name was a shibboleth in
the long ago. The neglected graves at Lindenwald are a pathetic commentary on its departed glory, and concerning
the whilom proud lord of the manor but few local traditions survive. We know that Aaron Burr, Chancellor Kent,
the Livingstons, the Van Rensselaers, and many other distinguished men of that period, were accustomed to stop
here in stage coaching days long before "the little magician" came into possession of the property and
stocked its cellars and sideboards for the entertainment of his political friends. It was in 1841 that Martin Van
Buren left the White House and came to Kinderhook, the place of his birth, to occupy the new home he had purchased
several years before of Judge Van Ness. Afterwards he enlarged and remodeled the dwelling, building a tower in
an angle of the walls and extending it in the rear. In his retirement here from the storm and stress of public
life he dispensed a generous hospitality and gave wise counsel to party leaders, while cultivating cabbages and
filling corn cribs on his sunny farm, in the calm enjoyment of an ideal country life. During the log cabin campaign
his enemies bitterly assailed him as "a mushroom aristocrat," who dined off gold plate and drank costly
wines, when hard cider was considered the vin du pays, and boiled pork and potatoes served hot from the pot a suitable
dish for Democrats and Whigs alike. He was even accused of being morbidly vain, and after he left the White House
it was whispered by truculent critics who hated him because of his successful rise in politics, from the son of
an innkeeper to the highest station within the gift of the commonwealth, that the carpet in front of a mirror in
his bed chamber had been worn threadbare. All who remember Mr. Van Buren, however, will recall a courtly and polished
gentlemen of distinguished bearing, whose engaging personality and charm of manner had evoked flattering approval
during his official life in Washington. In the sunset of his career they received grateful recognition from friends
and neighbors alike as he rounded out his life on his Lindenwald farm, The former mistress of the White House,
Mrs. Abraham Van Buren, knee Angelica Singleton, wife of the ex-President's secretary and eldest son, presided
over his table at Lindenwald; and when "Prince" John, his second son, an able advocate, a gifted orator,
an adroit politician, a born raconteur, and withal an affable man of the world, uncorked "the bottle of his
wit" at the dinner parties for which Lindenwald was celebrated, its fame was in its apogee.
Emerson says: "The ornament of the house is the friends who frequent it." Mr. Van Buren realized in
his declining years that the richest of human possessions is a happy home. The "Sage of Kinderhook" was
the soul and genius of hospitality, and ever delighted to welcome his friends. Among his guests were Henry Clay,
Thomas H. Benton, Silas Wright, William L. Marcy, Azarialt C. Flagg, Charles Sumner, Francis P. Blair and the Earl
of Carlyle. It was during Benton's visit that one day at dinner after dessert bad been served finger bowls were
introduced. Benton, who sat next the ex-President, had never seen a finger bowl, and viewed his with some curiosity
and suspicion, remarking sotto voted to his neighbor: "What an odd looking drinking glass!" A few hours
later he said with a chuckle to one of his friends: "I am rather chary of new customs; but after watching
Mr. Van Buren dip the tips of his fingers in the bowl and wipe them daintily on his napkin, I just raked back my
cuffs and took a good, plain Republican wash."
After returning from abroad Mr. Van Buren led a quiet and domestic life at Lindenwald. He was fond of horseback
riding, and could be seen almost every day in the saddle, his silvery locks flowing under a close fitting skull
cap, When an old man he jumped into the creek one day and rescued his grandson from drowning. Almost every Sunday
found him hymn book in hand in an old fashioned, square, high backed pew in the Reformed Dutch church. If the weather
was cold it was his custom to cover his bald head with a fur driving glove. After the ex-President's death in 1862
Lindenwald was sold, together with most of his personal effects, and the house was dismantled; but the old brass
knocker, bearing the date 1797, still clings to the front door.
The Van Schaack mansion was built in 1774 of brick baked in Holland kilns and imported to this country by David
Van Schaack. After his voluntary exile in England during the Revolutionary war, his brother, Peter Van Schaack,
the distinguished jurist and friend of John Jay, lived there for a while, and when totally blind taught an advanced
law class in his garden on the premises adjoining. General Montgomery on his way to Saratoga, and General Burgoyne
when a prisoner of war, were entertained there by the Van Schaacks, and also Aaron Burr, John Jay, and the famous
Chancellor Kent, author of that stupendous work in thirty volumes, "Commentaries on American Laws." In
later days many others prominent in social and political life received a cordial welcome in this historical home,
the list of invited guests including Henry Clay, Washington Irving, Thomas H. Benton, David Wilmot, Silas Wright,
Azariah C. Flagg, William L. Marcy, Francis P. Blair, Commodore Nicholson, and the Earl of Carlisle. On Henry Clay's
visit, the year previous to his death, he dined in the same room in which the captive British general had been
entertained three quarters of a century before. When Dr. John P. Beekman succeeded to the property it was a favorite
resort of Martin Van Buren and his Lindenwald guests. The Van Schaack house is now, and has been for many years,
the summer residence of Mrs. Aaron J. Vanderpoel, a granddaughter of Peter Van Schaack.
The old Van Alen house, now more than two hundred years in existence, is still standing near Lindenwald. Here was
born the gifted Peter L. Van Alen, who was destined to die in a duel at the hands of William H. Crawford, who later
was secretary of the treasury under President Monroe. The house now occupied by members of the family of General
Chrysler is said to have been built in 1771, and the brick house owned by Edward Van Buren was erected in 1766.
Mr. Van Buren (of whose life a sketch is given in Chapter XI) was born in a house in Kinderhook village which is
now owned by Mrs. Henry Smith and occupied by Alonzo Harbeck, and died at Lindenwald July 21, 1862.
The father of Martin Van Buren was Abraham Van Buren, who kept one of the earliest taverns in the village; it stood
on the south side of the post road, at the foot of the hill and not far from the creek. The house was divided by
a front hall into two parts, in one of which the family of the proprietor lived, while the other was devoted to
the uses of the public. The elder Van Buren, in common with many others of the early tavern keepers, carried on
farming in a small way. Soon after the beginning of the present century a part of the building that became known
as the Kinderhook Hotel was erected. Peter I. Lewis was one of the early landlords of the house, and later was
succeeded by David Skinner. In 1837 Daniel B. Stranahan was proprietor. Tryon & Grange, Asaph Wilder, William
Bradley, and others conducted the house at different periods; it was burned in the fire of 1880, and was rebuilt
and upon an enlarged and improved plan by Mr. Bradley, who gave it his name. William Ilickey has been proprietor
since 1895, succeeding John Freeland. In the old house Martin Van Buren was given a memorable reception in 1839,
about two years after his election to the presidency. He appeared on the balcony of the house and expressed his
gratitude to his townsmen for their efforts to do him honor.
Nearly opposite to this hotel is what is now known as the Hotel Central, kept by D. W. Herrick; this is a very
old building and in its original form, was once a school, and once occupied for a store. In its present form it
bears little resemblance to what it once was. The only other public house of much account in the village is the
Hotel Lindenwald, now kept by Philip J. Staats, who took it in May, 1899, succeed. ing Griffin Mandeville.
In the neighborhood of the Van Buren tavern, before mentioned, was one of the very early stores in town, which
was kept by the pioneer, Abram Van Vleck; it was opened not far from 1780; he subsequently took his son as a partner,
and still later it was kept by Henry and Aaron Van Vleck. In 1821 they had a store on the corner of Chatham street
and Albany avenue in a building that was afterwards occupied as a dwelling. John and Peter Bain succeeded the Van
Vlecks, and were many years prominent merchants. John Rogers, an Irishman, had another early store in a building
that was afterwards occupied by Whiting & Clark, corner Hudson and Broad streets, who had a large trade extending
over miles of territory. Peter Van Buren and Laurence Van Dyck were early and prominent merchants. Peter Hoes had
a store where the late National Bank was located. Van Dyck & Crocker carried on trade near the Reformed church
and Witbeck & Buffington where the Van Schaack law office was opened. Henry Heermance sold dry goods and Amos
Ackley and Asaph Wilder were former merchants. Charles Palmer began the hardware business about the middle of the
century and was succeeded by his son who is still in trade. John C. Sweet began book selling in 1844 and continued
about thirty years. These were followed by the present merchants of the village, of whom there are about a dozen,
many of whom are properly noticed in the second volume of this work.
The first regular postoffice was opened on July 31, 1792, with Ashbel Ely, postmaster. Laurence Van Dyck was another
incumbent of the office, and other later ones were David Van Schaack, Laurence Van Buren, James Lathrop, George
Reynolds. F. S. Hoag was appointed and took the office in January, 1886, and held it one year, when he resigned
and C. B. Van Aistyne was appointed. He was succeeded by Jacob Cook and he by Henry Snyder, from October, 1894.
George H. Brown took the office in October, 1898, and still holds it.
Manufacturing in the village, as before stated, has never been extensive. Wagon making was in early years the most
extensive industry, Gen. Charles Whiting conducting a large factory in a frame building north of the Reformed church.
In later years a part of the structure was occupied by a steam grist mill, and a saw mill was run by the same power
near by. After these were discontinued Eugene Hover established a hoop skirt factory in which he did a large business
while that article of woman's dress was in vogue. Truxton Birge also manufactured carriages on Albany avenue near
the corner of Hudson street many years ago. Lampson Smith took an interest in this business. The larger part of
the product of these industries was shipped south long before the war.
The manufacture of hats was once an important industry here, Rodolphus Graves having a factory near the Reformed
church. Jacob Cook, who is still living, was one of his employees. Dodge & Curtis also carried on this business
near the bridge. A morocco factory was in prosperous existence a number of years in the early part of the century,
which was operated at one period by a Mr. Covert, who later took in his son James; they tanned sheep skins for
use in making morocco. This building was subsequently transformed into a candle factory and wool depot, where Calvin
L. Herrick and John Bray were in business; it subsequently burned. The Lindenwald knitting mill, of which Curtis
F. Hoag was proprietor, was operated here several years, and then removed to Poughkeepsie.
Manufacturing in Kinderhook village is now confined to the Kinderhook Knitting Company, and the small beer and
soda water factory of Edward Riesdorph. The former was organized in 1882 with F. B.Van Alstyne, president; J. A.
Reynolds, secretary and treasurer; and F. S. Hoag, superintendent, who still hold their respective positions. It
has a capital of $10,000, owns its factory building, and manufactures annually $100,000 in value of woolen, worsted
and cotton goods. It is a highly successful institution, conservatively conducted and of considerable benefit to
the village. The manufactory and bottling works of Mr. Riesdorph is an example of what may be done by energy and
foresight. His business has grown from a very small beginning to the largest of its kind in the county, and his
products are sold throughout Columbia and the southern part of Rensselaer counties, and also across the Hudson.
The disastrous fire of May 9, 1880, was a sad blow to the village of Kinderhook. Nearly the whole of the south
side of the public square and around the corner to the south was swept by the flames. The following, taken from
the minutes of the village board, will give some idea of the effects of this conflagration:
"This village, having been the scene of the most serious conflagration ever witnessed in it, during which
the records of the village for the past twenty years were destroyed, together with the other books and blanks contained
in the chest with the records, also the seal of the village, it seems proper that a record be made of this upon
the opening of this book. The following property was destroyed, viz:
"Hotel of William Bradley.
"Store of Jacob Cook, used as a hat store and postoffice.
"Saloon of J. Tracy.
"Barber shop of G. Post.
"Saloon of Hugh Gardner.
"Building owned by Daniel Herrick.
"Harness shop of C. E. Covey.
"Tin shop of C, Palmer.
"Barber shop of A. Bauer.
"Law office of W. H. Atwood.
"The fire began at 12.15 a. m., May 9, 1880."
A large part of the district burned over on this occasion has been rebuilt and with a better class of structures
than were formerly in existence.
Kinderhook was incorporated April 18, 1838, the charter providing for the election of a president, six trustees,
a clerk, a treasurer, and a collector. The officers of the village were as follows: President, John P. Beekman;
trustees, Mordecai Myers, Tennis Harder, William B. Shaw, Willard Bradley, John V. Salmon, Peter Van Schaack; clerk,
David Van Schaack. The latter was a prominent lawyer and was appointed attorney for the corporation, in which capacity
he prepared the village ordinances. Two fire wardens were appointed, a fire engine was purchased and a fire company
organized in the fall of 1838. One of the early and rather quaint entries in the records is to the effect that
the president reported in September, 1838, the receipt of five dollars license fee for the exhibition of a giraffe
and other wild animals; also he received the same amount for the exhibition of a man without arms. From that time
forward the simple government of the village has been regularly placed in efficient hands and such proceedings
enacted as would best promote the welfare and prosperity of the place.
By an act of the Legislature, passed February 18, 1874, the corporation was empowered to borrow the sum of $8,000,
to be paid in annual installments of $1,000 each, for the purpose of erecting a public village building, to contain
a hall, fire engine room, etc. A two story brick structure was accordingly erected in a central location, which
has since been used for the public purposes of the corporation.
Upon the organization of the first fire company in 1838, as before mentioned, Lucas Hoes was appointed engineer
of the department; the company had a membership of twenty. This company went out of existence in 1856 and was succeeded
by another with thirty five members; and C. M. Van Valkenburgh, foreman, and George W. Hoxie, secretary. A new
engine was purchased and called No. 2, and other needed apparatus added. In August, 1864, a hook and ladder company
was organized with William H. Rainey, foreman, and Calvin Ackley, secretary. Both of these organizations have been
maintained to the present time.
The presidents of Kinderhook village from its incorporation to 1900 have been as follows: 1838, John P. Beekman;
1839, Mordecai Myers; 1840, Lucas Hoes; 1841, Julius Wilcoxson; 1842-43, Laurence Van Buren; 1844-49, William H.
Tobey; 1850-51, George Van Santvoord; 1852, Thomas Beekman; 1853-54, David Van Schaack; 1855-58, Thomas M. Burt;
1859, Chester Jarvis; 1860, John Frisbie; 1861, William H. Tobey; 1861-82, William R. Mesick; 1883-84, Augustus
W. Wynkoop; 1885-94, George W. Wilkins; 1895-97, F. B. Van Aistyne; 1898-99, C. F. Hoag; 1900, Edward Riesdorph.
The clerks of the village have been as follows: 1838-46, David Van Schaack; 1847-48, G. Van Santvoord; 1849, J.
C. Sweet; 1850 51, A. V. S. Witbeck; 1852-53, George W. Hoxsie; 1854-61, Peter Van Schaack; 1862-72, John A. Van
Bramer; 1873-78, William S. Hallenbeck; 1879.93, J. S. Witbeck; 1894-97, William A. Roraback; 1898-1900, Charles
(Part 2 of Kinderhook History)