The surname “Yund” was a much respected one in Amsterdam, NY for close to a century and it was today’s Birthday Celebrant who originally brought it to this Mohawk Valley community and first established the family’s heritage of business acumen. Joseph Theodore Yund was born in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France on July 18, 1823. France and Germany have fought over the ownership of this region for hundreds of years, which explains why its population includes people of both French and like Yund, German descent.
He started his professional life as an apprentice spinner but soon joined the French army, serving under Napoleon III for eight years, including two years as a member of a regiment based in Paris. After being discharged from service in 1850, he returned to Alsace-Lorraine, married his wife Louise and started his family, which would eventually consist of three sons. In 1854, he made the decision to move to America and came directly to Amsterdam, which at the time was a budding center of textile manufacturing and always in need of experienced spinners.
Then in 1864, Yund decided to go into business for himself, manufacturing brooms out of a shop he opened on what is now Guy Park Avenue, near St. Luke’s Church. A few decades later, his son Thoedore would build the Yund Mansion near that property. The home still stands and serves as the office of Amsterdam accountant, Michael Zumbolo.
Two years later, Yund made another career switch, opening a retail furniture and cabinet making business at 87 East Main Street. It would be as a merchant, at this location that Joseph Yund would become best known and very wealthy. He ran the store for seventeen years and then handed over the reigns to his son Theodore and retired.
Yund was one of this city’s earliest, most devout and most generous Catholics. He took an active role in the establishment of St. Joseph’s Church, the first congregation for Amsterdam’s German Catholics. In addition to raising and donating significant funds toward the construction of the parish’s church on lower Guy Park Avenue, Yund personally supervised its construction.
During his long retirement Yund became famous locally for his long daily walks around the city, accompanied by several conversations with friends and passers by along the way. He died in the early morning of May 23, 1903 at his home at 240 East Main Street, a bit more than two months short of his eightieth birthday.
(Two of Yund’s sons would become partners in one of Amsterdam’s most successful knitting mills. This other Amsterdam knitting magnate shares their father’sJuly 18 birthday.)