Kinderhook is a town in the northern part of Columbia County, New York, United States. The population was 8,498 at the 2010 census. It is the most populous town in Columbia County. “Kinderhoek”, its name in Dutch, the language of its original settlers, means “Children’s Corner”.
The town of Kinderhook contains two villages, one of which is also named Kinderhook, where the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born; the other is the village of Valatie. In addition, the town also contains the hamlet of Niverville, next to Kinderhook Lake.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 32.4 square miles, of which 31.8 square miles is land and 0.62 square miles , or 1.87%, is water, including Kinderhook Lake, Kinderhook Creek, and the waterfalls of Valatie. The north town line is the border of Rensselaer County. Kinderhook Creek is an important stream in the town, flowing southwest toward tidal Stockport Creek, an arm of the Hudson River. U.S. Route 9 and New York State Route 9H pass through the town.
Kinderhook – Village located on U.S. Route 9 southwest of the center of the town
Niverville – Hamlet and census-designated place in the northeast part of the town, south of Kinderhook Lake on Routes 28B and 203
Valatie – Village located at the center of the town
Valatie Colony – Hamlet southwest of Niverville and north of Valatie village
In 1609 Henry Hudson sailed as far north as Kinderhook on his exploration of the Hudson River and named the location “Kinderhoek”. Kinderhook signifies in the Dutch tongue “the children’s corner”, and is supposed to have been applied to this locality, in 1609, on account of the many Indian children who had assembled on one of the bluffs along the river to see his strange vessel (the Half Moon) sailing upstream. Another version says that a Swede named Scherb, living in the forks of an Indian trail in the present town of Stuyvesant, had such a numerous family of children that the name of Kinderhook was used by the Dutch traders to designate that locality. Hudson had mixed dealing with the local Mohican natives, ranging from peaceful trade to minor skirmishes. As the Dutch attempted to colonize the area, further warfare broke out with the natives.
Kinderhook was settled before 1651 and established as a town in 1788 from a previously created district (1772), but lost substantial territory to form part of the town of Chatham in 1775. Kinderhook was one of the original towns of Columbia County. More of Kinderhook was lost to form the town of Ghent in 1818 and the town of Stuyvesant in 1823.
In 1899 Electric Park was founded at Kinderhook Lake. Lit by colored lights, the amusement park featured two Ferris wheels, a carousel, a rollercoaster, and other rides, as well as live vaudeville performances held at a dancing pavilion, an aquarium, and a bathing beach.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,296 people, 3,165 households, and 2,247 families residing in the town. The population density was 260.6 people per square mile . There were 3,434 housing units at an average density of 107.9 per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 97.31%White, 0.68% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.86% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.41% of the population.
There were 3,165 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $52,604, and the median income for a family was $61,074. Males had a median income of $41,386 versus $27,880 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,259. About 2.8% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.3% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.
Patrick Grattan (R) is the Town Supervisor. He was elected in November 2009. He defeated incumbent Supervisor Douglas McGivney (D) by a 2-1 margin.
Kinderhook Memorial Library – Public library serving the village of Kinderhook and parts of neighboring Stuyvesant.
Places of interest
A recent statue of President Martin Van Buren is located in the center of Kinderhook village.
Lindenwald, President Martin Van Buren’s retirement home
The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse (c.1840) is a 19th-century building that served as a local single-room public school into the 1940s. Named after the protagonist in Washington Irving’s story, Sleepy Hollow.
The Luykas Van Alen House (c.1737), a National Historic Landmark, is thought to be author Washington Irving’s inspiration for the “Van Tassel family” farm in his classic story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. The building is considered the most significant example of Dutch vernacular architecture on the American continent.
The James Vanderpoel House, known as “The House of History”, on Broad Street in Kinderhook village was built circa 1819 and is an important example of high-style Federal architecture that is owned and maintained by the Columbia County Historical Society.
The School is a 30,000-square-foot exhibition space that shows international artists with a focus on Africa, East Asia, and North America. The 1929 federal revival Martin Van Buren elementary school was bought by Jack Shainman Gallery of New York and redesigned by Spanish architect Antonio Jiménez Torecillas.
Shopping and dining
Pat Solitano played by Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook (2012), also starring Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, explains during a dinner scene the origin of the word “OK” and its Old Kinderhook roots.
Meskada (2009) starring Nick Stahl, Rachel Nichols, and Kellan Lutz was shot partially in Valatie.
The Cake Eaters (2006), a Mary Stuart Masterson film, was shot in Hudson, Stuyvesant, and Kinderhook.
Hero Hero (2000) film starring Alan Gelfant and Julianne Nicholson in Kinderhook
Part of the film The Age of Innocence (1993), starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer, was filmed at the Luykas Van Alen House.
Haldane of the Secret Service (1923), starring escape artist Harry Houdini and Gladys Leslie was filmed at Beaver Kill Falls in Valatie village.
TV: The Sopranos character Pat Blundetto owned a farm said (in “All Due Respect”) to be located in Kinderhook, which figures prominently in multiple episodes, culminating in the Season 5 finale. Tony Blundetto (Tony Soprano’s cousin) who was murdered at this location mentions being called Ichabod Crane by others while visiting the farm as a teen.
Rasputina’s album Sister Kinderhook is centered around the Dutch colonial heritage of the town as well as that of other New Netherland settlements of New York.
American actor Sidney Poitier’s children went to school in Kinderhook.
Aaron Burr, the 3rd US Vice President, concealed himself briefly in Kinderhook after fatally wounding Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
John Faso, former New York State Assembly Minority Leader and failed candidate for comptroller (2002) and governor (2006)
Chris Gibson, current U.S. representative from New York’s 20th congressional district
William S. Groesbeck, U.S. representative
Washington Irving, author, lived in the village for about eight weeks in 1809 after the death of his fiancée; wrote portions of A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty in Kinderhook
Jennie Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill, lived in Kinderhook after her father acquired Van Buren’s home
John Woodward Philip, naval officer during the Civil War and Spanish–American War
Donald L. Rutherford, 23rd Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army
Nicholas Sickles, U.S. representative
John Evert Van Alen, U.S. representative
Martin Van Buren, the 8th US president, was born and lived in Kinderhook. His nickname “Old Kinderhook” may have given rise to the expression “OK” and its attendant hand gesture.
Cornelius P. Van Ness, 10th governor of Vermont
Peter van Schaack, Kinderhook lawyer and notable British Loyalist during the American Revolution