Local Legend: The Pondshiner’s of Columbia County
Looking for spooky Hudson Valley history? Boy do we have a local legend for you!
For years, we've heard stories of haunting across the Mid-Hudson Region from Sleepy Hollow to Bannerman Castle and The Beekman Inn. But have you ever heard of The Pondshiners?
Talented Basket Weavers is Taghkanic
According to Columbia County, the Pondshiners also known as the Taghkanic basketmakers were made up of "a small group of families, this tight-knit community crafted some of the most skillfully made and attractive baskets from the early 1800s through the early 1900s."
The baskets made by the Pondshiners are sought out today by antique lovers and it's been reported that the baskets can go from anywhere between $500 and $1,000 for genuine Pondshiner products.
Nothing too scary about that right?
Local Legends: The Pondshiners/Bushwhackers/Basketmakers of Columbia County
However, an outsider found the small Pondshiner community in the early 1900s and spread the news like wildfire. One newspaper headline read "The Bushwhackers of Columbia County! Strange People Populate Taghkanic Hills!” And with that headline came the legends of what the Pondshiners were up to in the Taghkanic hills.
Stories of witches, strange superstitious rituals, and "intense fear of strangers" started to spread through the state.
Tobias Seamon of TheMorningNews.org did a piece on the Pondshiners and reported that the community lived in "the hills between Poughkeepsie and Albany." The Columbia County Historical Society says there's no exact location of the basketmakers, but you can explore the area they were rumored to live around Lake Taghkanic State Park.
The Last of the Pondshiners
Elizabeth Proper was the last true Pondshiner to live in the area and was weaving baskets until the 1980s according to Seamon.
It sounds to me like folklore and legends got misconstrued and ran this small and talented Pondshiner community out of town.
Have you heard stories of the mysterious Pondshiners/Taghkanic Basketmakers?