Manuscript Account Book for a Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, General Store, possibly Van Vleck’s “Old Yellow Store,” includes account for Martin Van Buren, 1814-1815

Folio, 155 pp., plus blanks, entries dated 27 May 1814 to 19 May 1815, bound in contemporary reverse calf, red leather label on spine with “Leger,” stamped in gilt, letter “B” in ink below the label, wear to the corners and edges of boards, tips of spine worn, lacks inside front and rear marbled endpaper, includes five pages of index (letters C, D, G, H, & U), others pages torn out, missing.

Description of Account Ledger Book

During the year 1814, the population of the village of Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, increased and the congregation of the Reformed Dutch Church (then the only religious denomination in the area), concluded to tear down their old church under the hill and commenced the erection of a new church nearby. The businesses of the town soon followed and the stores and dwellings clustered around it and formed what became the central part of the village. Mr. Abraham I. Van Vleck (father of H. and A. Van Vleck) moved up the street and built what became known as the “old yellow store,” where he carried on the mercantile business till about the year 1816, when he retired and established his sons in the business.1 This ledger, dating from this time period (1814-1815) in Kinderhook history, is possibly the ledger of Van Vleck’s “Old Yellow Store.” Of the 155 accounts in this volume offered here, none are for Van Vleck or his sons, yet another piece of evidence that may lead to this being the Old Yellow Store’s ledger.

According to “A History of Kinderhook…” by Collier, in 1825 the leading general stores were those of the Messers Van Vleck, Bain & Birge, Peter Van Buren, Whiting & Clark, and two or three general grocery stores.2 While 1825 is ten years after this ledger was kept, it would appear that Van Vleck’s Old Yellow Store would be the mostly likely candidate, since the original shop that the father open started in 1814 when this ledger begins, and ended about 1816. This ledger ends in May of 1815, but the first year of business for the sons would have possibly been concluded in 1816. However, further research would have to be conducted.

The volume includes 155 pp., each page carries a different account, thus the volume holds the accounts of 155 individuals with the earliest date being 27 May 1814 and the latest is 19 May 1815, thus about an entire year’s worth of entries. The accounts include records of some well-known men in American history:

Page 26, 78, 132, and 131: Abraham van Buren, Martin Van Buren’s father, married Maria Hoes Van Allen, the widow of Johannes Van Allen (also seen as van Alen). There are four accounts in this ledger for members of the Van Allen family: James S. Van Allen, Page 26; Abram J. Van Allen, Page 78; Isaac Van Allen, Page 132; & Cornelius van Allen, Page 141. It is the Van Allen homestead that was used by Washington Irving in his “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Page 32: Henry Van Schaack (1733-1823), brother of Peter Van Schaack (1747-1832), a well-known American lawyer from Kinderhook, who was a Loyalist, went to England for a time and came back to America to practice law.

Page 34 and Page 100: John L. Goes, a likely member of Martin Van Buren’s wife’s (Hannah Goes) family. Van Buren married the daughter of his cousin. John L. Goes (page 34), Jeremiah Siemon/Simmons, John Pruyn, Bartholomew J. Van Valkenburgh (page 100), were the first to go on record as “manumitting, giving freedom to and setting at liberty” some of their slaves at Kinderhook.3

Page 36: On page 36 of the account book is found an account for the most illustrious resident of Kinderhook, Martin van Buren, dated 20 June 1814 to 26 Nov 1814, for twenty different entries for various purchases of butter, rum, wine, nails, & other “sundries”. Payment appears to have been made with a “saddle” and some “sundries” of his own. During the time of these entries, van Buren was serving as a New York State Senator. He would go on to become the President of the United States from 4 Mar 1837 to 4 Mar 1841. Before becoming President, he served as Vice President of the United States (1833-1837), United States Minister to the United Kingdom (1831-1832), United States Secretary of State (1829-1831), Governor of New York (1 Jan 1829 – 12 Mar 1829), United States Senator from New York (1821-1828), Attorney General of New York (1815-1819), a member of the New York State Senate (1812-1820), and Surrogate of Columbia County, NY (1808-1813. He was born (5 Dec. 1782) and died (24 July 1862) at Kinderhook, New York. Kinderhook is located about 20 miles south of Albany on the Hudson River.

Page 71: Francis Sylvester (1767-1845), son of Peter Sylvester (1734-1808), who Martin Van Buren read law under in Kinderhook.


Notes:

1. A History of Old Kinderhook from Aboriginal Days to the Present Time [etc] By Edward Augustus Collier. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Son, The Kinckerbocker Press, 1914, p. 234.

2. A History of Old Kinderhook, p. 482.

3. A History of Old Kinderhook, p. 210.