Bustling Household

Fertile Political Ground

Lindenwald became a lively place when President Van Buren's sons and their families were here for a visit. Catherine Kelly was one of the domestic servants employed to keep the household running smoothly and take care of Van Buren's family and guests. 

Catherine’s family had taken a huge leap of faith, leaving their home in Ireland in the mid-1800’s prior to the Irish Potato Famine. Many young Irish immigrants lived in cities along the eastern seaboard where they had to deal with prejudice and religious persecution. It is not known what decisions or experiences led Catherine to Kinderhook, NY (pp. 121-122, A Return to his Native Town HRS 2006).

According to the 1860 census, Catherine was 24 years old. Catherine and the other domestic servants prepared and served meals for up to twenty people, cleaned the thirty-six room house, and did laundry, as well as making sure Van Buren's overnight guests were comfortable.