Kurt's Historic Sites

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren

Interment Location Visited Sequence in Graves I Have Visited
Kinderhook, NY April 2004 5th President visited; 2nd Vice President visited

Photographed July 19, 2009.

The most noted resident of the village of Kinderhook in the Hudson River Valley was the Little Magician, Martin Van Buren. The shrewd nineteenth century politician loaded his résumé with posts such as New York state senator, U.S. senator, governor, secretary of state, minister to the United Kingdom, vice president, and president. He was also one of the founders of the Democratic Party, which he helped coalesce in the 1820s. Van Buren and several of his family members are interred in the roadside Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery.

The Van Buren lot is among the least ostentatious of all the presidential gravesites. It is highlighted by a 15-foot monument made of light grey granite. It stands in contrast to the luxury and fanciness of Lindenwald, the home he resided in for his 21 years of retirement.

Photographed August 16, 2014.
Photographed April 2004.

My father took this photo of me next to the Van Buren monument when I was on April Vacation from school in the fourth grade. Van Buren’s plot was the fifth U.S. president grave I visited, and the first since I officially undertook my quest to journey to every presidential interment site, which I launched on the evening of December 21, 2003.

The inscription for the former chief executive on the western-facing front of the Van Buren monument is not very legible. That contributed to the low marks it received when I graded presidential gravesites with TJ Fallon on his YouTube channel, Dead History. Click here to watch the video, which was livestreamed on September 3, 2021. A sign with a clear transcription of the epitaph was placed in front of the monument in 2019, which was subsequent to my four visits to Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery in 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2016.

Photographed July 19, 2009.
Photographed August 16, 2014.

This marker with “M.VB.” carved atop it is the eighth president’s headstone. It is situated behind the obelisk. His wife, Hannah, has a corresponding tombstone that bears her initials. Mrs. Van Buren died at age 35 in 1819, nearly two decades before her husband headed up the Federal Government’s Executive Branch.

Fast Facts

Born: December 5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York

Spouse: Hannah Hoes Van Buren (m. 1807-1819)

Primary Political Affiliation: Democratic Party

Gubernatorial Tenure: 1829

Served in Cabinet of: Andrew Jackson

Cabinet Position: Secretary of State (1829-1831)

Vice Presidential Tenure: 1833-1837 under Andrew Jackson

Presidential Tenure: 1837-1841

Vice President: Richard M. Johnson

Died: July 24, 1862 in Kinderhook, New York

Cause of Death: Asthmatic Suffocation

Age: 79

Last Words: “There is but one reliance, and that is upon Christ, the free mediator for us all.”

Interment: Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery, Kinderhook, New York

"Half a century, teeming with extraordinary events, and elsewhere producing astonishing results, has passed along, but on our institutions it has left no injurious mark. From a small community we have risen to a people powerful in numbers and in strength; but with our increase has gone hand in hand the progress of just principles. The privileges, civil and religious, of the humblest individual are still sacredly protected at home, and while the valor and fortitude of our people have removed far from us the slightest apprehension of foreign power, they have not yet induced us in a single instance to forget what is right"
- Martin Van Buren

March 4, 1837 in his inaugural address

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Chervinsky, Lindsay M. “What the Protesters Tagging Historic Sites Get Right About the Past.” Smithsonian Magazine. June 26, 2020. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-protesters-tagging-historic-sites-get-right-about-past-180975188/.

“Hannah Hoes Van Buren (1783-1819).” Find a Grave. Accessed January 2, 2022. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19469/hannah-van_buren.

“Martin Van Buren’s Obsequies.” New York Herald, July 29, 1862. https://www.gastearsivi.com/en/gazete/new_york_herald/1862-07-29/1.

Picone, Louis L. The President is Dead! The Extraordinary Stories of the Presidential Deaths, Final Days, Burials, and Beyond. Rev. ed. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2020.

Van Buren, Martin. “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1837. Transcript. From University of Virginia, Miller Center. https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/march-4-1837-inaugural-address.

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