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Hanna Hoes Van Buren

(1783 - 1819)

Died before her husband's presidency

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The wife of President Van Buren was born at Kinderhook, on the Hudson, in the year 1782, a few months after the birth of her future husband, whose schoolmate and companion she was during their early years. She was of Dutch descent, and the original name Goes, but pronounced by her ancestors Hoes, and since so called l«y all the members of the family in this country, is familiar to those who are acquainted with the history of ihe Netherlands.
If the charms of nature—grand scenery, magnificent i iews, and the ever-varying harmony of beautiful skies . -could add to the growth and development of childhood, Hannah Hoes was incomparably blest. The years t>f her life were spent in a happy home circle in the most beautiful section of her native State—a State remarkable /or the grandeur of its mountain scenery, and the number of its romantic rivers. Chief among these, and surpassed by none in the world, is the Hudson, in sight of whose classic waters she lived and died.

Her ancestors were sturdy, enterprising Dutch, whose homes for many generations had been along the banks of the stream discovered by their renowned countryman, and not one of the rosy urchins of their households but knew of the adventures of Hendrick Hudson, and reverenced him not only as the hero of their race and the discoverer of their river, but the founder of their prosperity. Nor could the tales of the old dames who resided nearest the lofty Catskills—that he and his followers still haunted the mountains and were the direct cause of calamities— divest their minds of his wondrous exploits. In each ripple of the dancing waves, in the denseness of the gray fog, or perchance in the quiet stillness of eventide, they recognized some similarity, and recalled a parallel of his experiences.Mid such scenes and under such influences passed all the years of Mrs. Van Buren's life.

In February, 1807, at the age of twenty-five, she was married to Mr. Van Buren. The intimacy which resulted in this union was formed in early childhood, and the marriage took place as soon as his position at the bar would justify such a step. The steadfastness of his attachment to his young relative was a remarkable trait in the character of Mr. Van Buren, and adds a lustre to his honored name.

Some time after their marriage they removed to Hudson City, where eight years of wedded life passed fleetly away, they losing, in the meantime, the youngest of their four sons, an infant only a few weeks old. In 1816, Mr. Van Buren removed his family to Albany, drawn thither, doubtless, by his increased and increasing professional standing and political leadership.

From this time forth, the highest wishes of his early life were crowned with complete success. Wealth, fame and influence were the fruits of his unremitted industry for nearly twenty years. " His natural talejits had reached their full expansion; his laborious industry exhibited its proper results; and amid a constellation of great minds, whose brilliant efforts erected and adorned the fabric of New York jurisprudence, the vigor of his intellect and tlie richness of his learning won for him a conspicuous and acknowledged eminence."

But the voice of adulation fell upon unheeding ears when sickness invaded the household and hastened the cherished wife and mother from her loved ones. Not even the ardent devotion, the deathless affection of the husband whose efforts in life had all been made for her, could stay the destroyer in his cruel work. For months she lay an invalid, tended by those who loved her more than life, and then sank into the grave a victim of consumption.
A gentleman of high distinction, who knew her intimately from her earliest years, said, " There never was a woman of a purer and kinder heart." Gentle and winning in life, her memory is redolent with the perfume of her saintly sweetness and purity. Miss Cantine, the niece of Mrs. Van Buren, who was but sixteen years of age at the time of her aunt's death, gives this picture of her last days: "Aunt Hannah lived but a short time after their removal to Albany, dying at the early age of thirty-five, when her youngest child was still an infant. I can recall but little about her till her last sickness and death, except the general impression I have of her modest, even timid manner—her shrinking from observation, and her loving, gentle disposition. The last, long sickness (she was confined to the house for six months) and her death are deeply engraved on my memory. When told by her physicians that she could live, in all probability, but a few days longer, she called her children to her and gave them her dying counsel and blessing, and with the utmost composure bade them farewell and committed them to the care of the Saviour she loved, and in whom she trusted.

"This scene was the more remarkable to those who witnessed it, as, through the most of her sickness, she had been extremely nervous, being only able to see her children for a few moments on those days on which she was most comfortable. They could only go to her bedside to kiss her, and then be taken away. As an evidence of her perfect composure in view of death, I will mention this fact. It was customary in that day, at least it was the custom in the city of Albany, for the bearers to wear scarfs which were provided by the family of the deceased. Aunt requested that this might be omitted at her burial, and that the amount of the cost of such a custom should be given to the poor. Her wishes were entirely carried out."

The following obituary notice is in itself a sketch of the character of Mrs. Van Buren, and was written by one who knew her better than any one out of her own family.From the Albany Argus, Feb. 8t 1819.

" Died in this city, on the evening of Rriday, the 5th inst., after a lingering illness, Mrs. Hannah Van Buren, wife of the Hon. Martin Van Buren, in the thirty-sixth year of her age. The death of this amiable and excellent woman is severely felt by a numerous circle of relatives and friends. As a daughter and a sister, wife and mother, her loss is deeply deplored, for in all these various relations she was affectionate, tender, and truly estimable. But the tear of sorrow is almost dried by the reflection that she lived the life and died the death of the righteous. Modest and unassuming, possessing the most engaging simplicity of manners, her heart was the residence of every kind affection, and glowed with sympathy for the wants and sufferings of others. Her temper was uncommonly mild and sweet, her bosom was filled with benevolence and content—no love of show, no ambitious desires, no pride of ostentation ever disturbed its peace. When her attention was directed, some years before her death, to the important concerns of religion and salvation, she presented to the gospel she embraced a rich soil for the growth and cultivation of every Christian principle. Humility was her crowning grace, she possessed it in a rare degree; it took deep root and flourished full and fair, shedding over every action of her life its genial influence. She was an ornament of the Christian faith, exemplifying in her life the duty it enjoins, and experiencing, in a good degree, its heavenly joys, its cheering hopes. In her last illness she was patient and resigned. In the midst pf life, with all that could make it worth possessing—esteemed and loved, happy in her family and friends—she was forced away. But she left all without a sigh. She waited the approach of death with calmness—her Redeemer had robbed it of its sting and made it a welcome messenger. Doubtless, ' 'twas gain for her to die.' Doubtless, she is now enjoying that rest ' which remaineth for the people of God.' Precious shall be the memory of her virtues,
" Sweet the savor of her name,
And soft her sleeping bed."

Hannah Van Buren, born in Kinderhook, New York, in 1782; died in Albany, New York, 5 February, 1819, was of Dutch descent, and her maiden name was Hoes. She was educated in the schools of her native village, and was the classmate of Mr. Van Buren, whom she married in 1807.

 

 

She was devoted to her domestic cares and duties, and took little interest in social affairs, but was greatly beloved by the poor. When she learned that she could live but a few days, she expressed a desire that her funeral be conducted with the utmost simplicity, and the money that would otherwise have been devoted to mourning emblems be given to the needy.


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