Friday, April 6, 2012

Prince John Van Buren

This worn, but detailed cross on the east slope of the Middle Ridge marks the grave of John Van Buren.

Reported to have "a remarkable memory," the second son of President Martin Van Buren, John Van Buren was a successful lawyer in Albany before pursuing a political career. He served as the New York State Attorney General and, in 1845, led the prosecution of some of the participants in the Anti-Rent Wars. Later, in private practice, he represented the actor Edwin Forrest in a highly publicized divorce case.

He is said to have earned the nickname "Prince John" after attending the coronation of Queen Victoria and later dancing with the young monarch at a ball in 1838.

He was also known for his involvement is scandals, including allegedly losing $5,000, his father's home in Kinderhook, and his beautiful Italian mistress in a single card game.

In 1866, while returning from a European trip with his daughter (his wife had died years earlier), Prince John took ill and died at sea. His body was returned to the United States. Following funerals at both New York City's Grace Church and St. Peter's Episcopal in Albany, he was buried at the Rural Cemetery.

The cross is white marble, but has weathered to gray and the surprisingly realistic vines are eroding. From the edge of this lot, which is just uphill from the Chapel, can look down into the ravine and catch a glimpse of the waterfall.

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