Saturday, August 31, 2013

More About the Pundersons

Still fascinated by the story of how this Henry Ary painting had been found, in the 1950s, in the attic of 259 Union Street, Gossips decided to learn more about the Pundersons, the family who had lived in the house at the turn of the century. 
A search on the Internet was instantly rewarded by the discovery of a biography of James M. Punderson, from Biographical Review: Columbia County, NY, published in 1894, which a modern-day Punderson had posted on in February 2002. 

James M. Punderson was born in Hudson in 1822 and educated here. When he was 15, he began a career as a "teller and cashier," which he pursued for 18 years in Rochester and Buffalo before returning to Hudson in 1855. At the time the biography was published, in 1894, Punderson was a prominent coal dealer in Hudson and lived at 259 Union Street with his wife, Mary, and two of their five children: an unmarried son, Russell, and a daughter, Louise, "still a a young lady at home." Eighteen years later, in 1912, Punderson it seems had passed on, but his wife, Mrs. James M. Punderson, still lived at 259 Union Street with her still unmarried children, Russell and Louise.

This comment about the Pundersons, from the biography written in 1894, when James would have been 72, suggests that they may have been the sort of couple who, in their younger years, had acquired a painting by a local artist: "Mrs. James M. Punderson is a very pleasant and amiable lady, who time has touched very gently, she and her husband being a very active and intelligent couple, in the fullest enjoyment of life's evening after the heat and burden of the day."

The 1894 biography of James M. Punderson contains a fair amount of genealogical information. What may be most interesting to Hudsonians is who their maternal grandparents were. James M. Punderson's mother was the daughter (one of four) of Dr. John Talman and Heroine Jenkins, who were married in 1785 and were among the first settlers of Hudson. Mary Mellen Punderson's mother, born in 1795, was the daughter of Robert Taylor, who "came from Newport, R.I., among the earliest settlers, and destined to become a prominent mfr. as well as a foremost citizen." Although the house of his granddaughter and her husband was demolished decades ago, Robert Taylor's house survives at the head of Tanners Lane.

Historic photo of the Robert Taylor House courtesy Historic Hudson

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