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James Eugene Punches,  PFA # u Peter ca 1785


                Portraits of James E Punches in 1967 and 2004


I came into the world squalling and naked at 4:05 PM on 5 August 1940 being born to James Pirl Punches Jr. and Mildred Ternissia Slone Punches in Oakshade, Ohio. My parents were at that time just 22 and 17 years of age respectively. They had been married on 19 October 1939 after eloping from Michigan and Ohio to Angola, Indiana where they could be married without the consent of my mother's parents since my mother was but 16 at the time. I was therefore the first child born to them and the eldest son. The other children who followed me were Colin, born two years after me; Patricia, born 18 months after Colin; William, born 3  years after Patricia; Victoria, born in 1951; and Leslie Dwight, born in 1952. These were the children born to my parents during their marriage.

The family moved to California in 1948 where I spent about half of my life, completing the mandated 12 grades of education and graduating from Mira Costa High School in 1958. I went to college and university in California earning degrees in Mathematics and Engineering.


I married the first time at age 24, to Ann Lee Robinson with whom I had two children, both  daughters, Heather Alyson and Alicia Michelle. I was divorced in 1972 and remarried in 1984 to Debra Dianne Ralston with whom I fathered a son, Ian Jameson Punches. Debra and I were divorced in 1987 and I became a single father with custody of my son.


My working career has always been oriented toward the sciences. While I was attending college and university classes, I worked as a precision optician learning the trade of manufacturing scientific optical systems including cameras and spacecraft systems. I put my training to work in 1967 when I joined the Hughes Research Laboratories facility, the Santa Barbara Research Center in Goleta, California. I was part of a division chartered to work exclusively on spacecraft systems. For the next twenty years, virtually nothing un-manned flew in space that didnít have a system on which Iíd worked aboard.


After 1980, I worked for Honeywell Electro-Optics as an optical engineer, Eocom Electronic Systems as an optical engineer, Pyramid Optical Corporation as the Director of Engineering and finally for Martin-Marietta Orlando Aerospace as a senior manager and engineer where my tasks were related to military targeting and weapons control systems. I became retired 1994 when I developed heart failure and have been retired ever since then.


My fatherís sister, Velma Golda Punches-Fouty had begun a genealogical search into the familyís history when she died unexpectedly in 1969. Her notes were forwarded to me in 1988 and I picked up where she had left off. Fortunately for me, the Orange County Public Library in Orlando, Florida, contains a large Genealogical Library. I spent many hours there over the next two years, being able to trace the family lineage back my g-g-g grandfather, Peter Punches/Pontious. It also gave me the ability to contact various genealogical and historical societies for information and help. With this help, documentary evidence came to light proving the family connections from Peter to me, a span of six generations. Unfortunately, the reverse chronology document trail ends in Pickaway County, Ohio when Peter married Margaret Hager, daughter of John Hager, on June 22, 1811.


The lack of a trail before 1811 and of any clue as to Peterís parentage led myself and other Pontius genealogists to decide to begin a DNA project in an effort to find evidence which would suggest new directions for research. This project began in 2005 and is showing interesting results; not what was expected. My time and effort is now taken up as the General Administrator of the Pontius Family DNA Project.


My Forebearers


Though I canít place my family lines within those currently identified by the PFA, I can provide photographic and other evidence for the marriages of my forebearers.


The first identified of my forebearers are my great-great-great grandparents, Peter and Margaret Punches. Since they were married in 1811, well before photography, the written County record will have to stand in place of a photograph.




The interesting thing about this record to me, is that it records Peterís surname as Punchus. Iíve inserted a detail of the record showing it enlarged for clarity.




While this isnít proof that Peter used the form of Punches or Punchus, can anyone think of any reason why a clerk or scribe would independently use that spelling in an official document unless Peter used such a spelling himself? This record certainly predates the 1828 documents where Peter signs as Peter Punches.


The marriage of my great-great-grandparents George W. Punches and Elizabeth Beard, occurring in 1841 in Hancock County, Ohio, happened before photography was available to record such things. Therefore the county record of their marriage must suffice.




The first wedding photo therefore occurs with the marriage of my great-grandparents, Edson Goit Punches and Eliza Ann Golden, in the year 1869. Since George W. Had taken most of the family off to Allegan County, Michigan in the late 1860ís, it required my great-grandfatherís uncle, Peter Punches jr., to sign off on the consent to marry for Edson and Eliza, because both were under age; Edson being 20 and Eliza being 16, when the law required ages of 21 and 18 respectively without parental or familial consent.



One thing immediately noticable is that the clerk spelled the surname as Pontious, whereas Peter jr. signed it Punches, as weíve always known it spelled since 1828. Peter sr., is u Peter ca 1785.


The license was issued on September 9, 1869 and Edson and Eliza were married on September 11, 1869. It canít be established if the wedding photo was made before, on or after the marriage. All that has been established is that it is the first photograph of them together about the time of the marriage and that it was referred to as the wedding picture. The original is a tintype.


Theirís was a prolific marriage as far as children went, having a total of eleven born between 1870 and 1899. Amongst the children was my grandfather, James Pirl Punches, born in 1878 in Henry County, Ohio.




James Pirl married late. He was 30 before he found and married the lady of his life. Her name was Mary Blanche Butler. Her family owned a farm at Oakshade, Ohio, in Chesterfield Township, Fulton County. She was a farmerís daughter of 28 years.







James and Mary had a good life together and James earned his living as a farmer in Oakshade where he owned a small farm. He and Mary had six children all together, with four of them surviving infancy. My father, James Pirl Punches jr., was the sixth child born to them, in 1918.


James jr., was the first Punches child in his line to graduate from high school. He graduated in the class of 1936 from the high school in Wauseon, Ohio. He didnít really want to be a farmer and chose to work off the farm. He met a winsome young lass who was dating Kenneth Pontius of Morenci, Michigan in 1938. She was Mildred T. Slone, daughter of Fred C. Slone, who owned a nursery north of Adrian, Michigan. The chemistry must have been good between her and my father because they eloped to Angola, Indiana on October 19, 1939 and were married by a Justice of the Peace because Mildred was only 16 years old.





Mildred became pregnant with their first child, a son, James Eugene Punches, within two months of the marriage and he was born in August, 1940. They went on to have a total of six children, four boys and two girls.


James jr. took a job with the US government printing office in Washington DC after the birth of his first child, returning to Ohio with the US entry into WWII where he entered the war industry. James jr. had purchased the Punches farm from his ailing father, prior to the passing of James sr., in 1940. During the war he sold the family farm and his descendants have never returned to the occupation.


After the war, James jr. moved the family west to California in 1948 where some members of the family remain to this day.


Another marriage occurred in 1908 which was captured in pictures; the marriage of Edson and Elizaís youngest son, Peter R. Punches. Peter was born in 1889 and married Gertrude May Kinder in Oakshade, Ohio on November 14, 1908. These pictures are important to my family because one contains the last image taken of Edson Goit before his death in 1911.




The following photo is the entire wedding party at Peter R. and Gertrude May Punches' wedding in 1908.