The Pondshiners

tobias seamon photoRecently over at The Morning News, Albany resident Tobias Seamon writes about the "lost Pondshiners" -- a reclusive clan of people who once lived in Columbia County:

New York's Hudson Valley abounds in spooks, from the wailing Maid of Kaaterskill Falls, to the dreaded Horseman of Leeds, to ongoing rumors of a poltergeist in the Education Building in Albany. These, along with more familiar specters like Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman, prompted historian Maud Wilder Goodwin to write in 1919 that the Hudson River was "endowed [with] more of the supernatural...than haunts any other waterway in America." ...
But when it comes to aboriginal mysteries, the Hudson Valley has almost as many flesh-and-blood frights as it does phantoms. Strange backwoods clans have been found in hollows throughout the region, from the ornery so-called Jackson Whites in the Ramapo Mountains, to the Eagle Nesters--supposedly descended from Indians and escaped slaves--perched above Kingston, to the exceptionally blond-haired Van Guilders around Glens Falls. But maybe the most peculiar of these communities was the wild Pondshiners of the Taconic Hills in southern Columbia County.

The backstory is wild (in a few different ways). And highlights what a radically different place this area -- and the nation -- not even a century ago. (Here's the chapter about "The Frightened People" referenced from Grey Riders.)

Tobias Seamon will be at St. Rose October 27 as part of the Frequency North series. His latest book is The Emperor's Toy Chest, which "explores history, mythology, fantasy, and the magical borderlands between."

photo: Leif Zurmuhlen

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