Kinderhook is a town in the northern part of Columbia County, New York, United States. The population was 8,498 at the 2010 census. The name of the town means "Children's Corner" in the language of the original Dutch settlers (Kinderhoek). The town of Kinderhook contains two villages, one of which is also named Kinderhook, where the eighth President of the USA, Martin Van Buren was born; the other is the village of Valatie. In addition, the Town contains the hamlet of Niverville, including Kinderhook Lake. President Martin Van Buren's retirement home, Lindenwald, is in the town of Kinderhook.
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 up stream. 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.
The Van Alen House, a National Historic Landmark (c.1737), is thought to be author Washington Irving's inspiration for the "Van Tassel family" farm in his classic story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as Irving—a friend of Martin Van Buren—was a frequent visitor and sometime resident to the area.
Kinderhook was settled before 1651. The town of Kinderhook was founded 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.
Patrick Grattan is the Town Supervisor. He was elected in November 2009. He defeated incumbent Supervisor Douglas McGivney by a 2-1 margin.