Martin Van Buren was born Dec. 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York, to Dutch parents. His father fought with the colonists during the American Revolution. In 1828, Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson co-founded the Democratic Party. Van Buren's political career included ninth governor of New York, 10th U.S. Secretary of State, eighth vice president of the United States and, finally, eighth president of the United States. He has the distinction of being the first president not born a British subject and the only president who spoke English as a second language.
But what, you may ask, does that have to do with Missouri?
Cass County, Missouri, was organized March 3, 1835, as Van Buren County in honor of Vice President Van Buren. In 1849, Van Buren County was renamed Cass County after Michigan's U.S. Sen. Lewis Cass. Cass had been the Democratic presidential nominee the previous year.
The county seat of Cass is Harrisonville. The town's site was fixed under an act of the Missouri General Assembly in 1835, but its name was more difficult to establish. Many wanted to name the town Democrat because Van Buren had co-founded the Democratic Party. In the end, the county seat was named after Missouri's U.S. Rep. Albert G. Harrison.
Camden County, Missouri, was organized Jan. 29, 1841, as Kinderhook County in honor of President Van Buren's birth place. The name only lasted two years. On Feb. 23, 1843, Kinderhook was renamed Camden County, after Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom. Camden was also the leader of the Whig Party which leaned toward constitutional monarchism rather than absolute monarchy.
The first county seat of Camden was Linn Creek. On Aug. 8, 1929, construction began on the Lake of the Ozarks. The original Linn Creek is now under the lake, and a new Linn Creek is located elsewhere. Camdenton was established as the new county seat in 1930.
Although Missouri has no Van Buren County, four other states do: Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan and Tennessee.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County and has written Historically Yours for the Boonville Daily News for more than 10 years. In celebration of Missouri's Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show-Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to [email protected]