Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville

In 1888, the Congregational Church of North Pelham, a church that no longer exists in Pelham, was organized by a group known as the Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville (the church, formed with the assistance of representatives of the American Congregational Union, was known early in its history as the "Church of the Covenant").  The church was disbanded "after a short life."  The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville, however, had a much longer history.  Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes two articles that she light on the early histories of the Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville and the Church of the Covenant.  The first is a brief article published in 1878 that detailed the first two years of the Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville.  The second is a brief article describing the establishment of the "Church of the Covenant," intended "to succeed the Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville."  

I have written about the Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville several times before.  See:  

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.  

Mon., Sep. 21, 2009:  January 1882 Account of the 1881 Christmas Festival Held at the Union Sabbath School in Pelhamville.

Mon., Aug. 24, 2009:  1878 Advertisement for Services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville.  

Map of Pelhamville Published in 1868.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity from
Actual Surveys By and Under the Direction of F.W.
Beers, Assisted By A.B. Prindle & Others, pg. 36 (NY, NY:
Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868) (Detail from Page 36 Map
Entitled "Town of New Rochelle, Westchester Co., N.Y. (With) Pelhamville).

Since the records of the Congregational Church of North Pelham and the Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville have not been located and may no longer exist, an article published in the April 26, 1878 issue of The Chronicle published in Mount Vernon, New York sheds important light on the earliest years of the Union Sabbath School Society.  

Records in the Westchester County Archives make clear that, although the origins of the Society date back to 1876, the organization formally known as "Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville" was incorporated as a religious organization on July 20, 1878.  The incorporation records are available at the Westchester County Archives (Archive No. A-0086(2)S(CB3), Page 392).  It seems that the organization existed until at least 1895 when it conveyed property that it owned in Pelhamville to The Church of the Covenant.  See:  

"Westchester County Conveyances

PELHAM. . . . 

Union Sabbath School Soc. to The Church of the Covenant, lot 154 w s 2d av, Pelhamville.  1,000"

Source:  Real Estate Record and Builders Guide, Aug. 10, 1895, Vol. LVI, No. 1,430, p. 199, cols. 1-2.

Transcribed below is the brief article published in 1878 addressing the origins of what became the Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville, established by the Union Sabbath School Society.   

"LOCAL NEWS. . . . 

About two years ago the Christian people of Pelhamville, earnestly desiring that their children should receive instruction in Christian education, requested Messrs. Eli Trott and Jared Macy, both connected with the Children's Aid Society in New York, to organize a Sunday school that would be Christian and at the same time non-sectarian, so as to assimulate [sic] the various views of the people as near as possible.  After deep thought on the subject, the Union Sabbath School, of Pelhamville, was organized, with Mr. Eli Trott, Superintendent; Mr. S. B. Carlisle, Assistant Superintendent; Mr. Alex. B. Macy, Secretary; Mr. Jared Macy, Treasurer.

Their means being exceedingly limited, they were compelled to meet in the parlor of the house of Mr. Richard Sherwood.  The school consisted, at its commencement, of about sixteen scholars and teachers.  Under the blessing of Providence they now number eighty; and the room that was large enough at first is now altogether too small for their accommodation, and it is rendered absolutely necessary that they procure larger quarters.  In fact, during the past year they have been compelled to hold the session of the Sunday school in the open fields at frequent intervals.  In the event of sickness in Mr. Sherwood's family it would be necessary to hold their Sabbath exercises in the open air.  Feeling deeply that God has called them to a duty that must be performed, they have commenced to look around for assistance from the Christian community surrounding them, to aid them in procuring a larger place to meet in; and in thankfulness to their many friends who have assisted them, they are almost ready to build a chapel.  But more means are still necessary; and one of their friends in New York, the Rev. Albert C. Arnold, of the Church of the Disciples, has kindly volunteered to lecture for their benefit on 'Travel in Europe,' he having returned from an extended European tour.  The lecture will be illustrated by stereopticon views of prominent places visited by him.  The lecture will be delivered in the Chapel of the Reformed Church, Mount Vernon, on Tuesday evening, April 30, 1878.  This lecture has been delivered in the Church of the Disciples, New York, repeatedly, to large audiences.  Tickets may be procured at the following places:  Mrs. D. Ferguson's, Mr. John Berry's, Mr. King's book store, Dr. Gill's drug store, and at the door on the evening of the lecture.  If this effort meets with the success it deserves, the proceeds will materially aid the Union Sabbath School, of Pelhamville, in their endeavor to procure suitable quarters, that are absolutely necessary for their success in this duty that God has called them to perform."

Source:  LOCAL NEWS, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 26, 1878, Vol. IX, No. 449, p. 2, cols. 4-5.  

Immediately below is the text of the second article describing establishment of the Church of the Covenant.


On Thursday of last week, our Pelhamville friends carried to a successful conclusion the organization of a new church society, to be known as the 'Church of the Covenant.'  

At the meeting for organization, Rev. L.H. Cobb, Secretary of American Congregational Union, was chosen Moderator, and Rev. D. Washington Choate, D. D., Second Congregational Church, Greenwich, Conn., Scribe.  The Right Hand of Fellowship was extended by Rev. Dr. J.M. Wheton, of Tremont.

The society numbers 22 members, 19 of whom were present on the above occasion.

This organization is intended to succeed the Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville.  The chosen officers are:  

Deacons - David Lyon, Thomas Scott

Trustees - Thos. Scott, W.S. Algie, Thos. Borthwick, E.A. Patterson, David Lyon.

Stated services will be held every Sunday at 3 p.m., and Sunday School at 4 o'clock p.m."

Source:  Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 27, 1888, Vol. XX, No. 1145, p. 3, col. 3.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

More on the Lutheran Congregation that Met in the Pelham Picture House During the 1920s

I recently have written about Pelham churches including the one that is the subject of today's Historic Blog Posting:  Our Savior Lutheran Church, which held its services for a time during the 1920s at the Pelham Picture House.  The church was organized in 1925 by the Rev. Carl O. Romoser of Concordia Collegiate.  See:  

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.

Pelham Picture House in an Undated Photograph Where
Our Savior Lutheran Church Held Services During the 1920s.
Courtesy of The Office of The Historian of the Town of Pelham.

Transcribed below is the text of a fascinating article that details the early history of Our Savior Lutheran Church, followed by a citation to its source.  

This Is of the Lutheran Denomination -- Began in 1925

The most recently established church in the Pelhams is Our Saviour Lutheran church.  In the spring of 1925, a number of families expressed their desire to have Lutheran services in the Pelhams.  The Rev. Carl A. Romoser of Concordia Institute, Bronxville, took this appeal as an indication of the desirability of bringing the Lutheran church to this vicinity.

He realized that the enormous increase in population and resources of the Pelhams warranted another church in the Pelhams.  Many Lutheran are moving to this part of Westchester from New York city, as well as many people of other Christian denominations, and all of these people it was felt must be served.  Then the large section of Mount Vernon, adjacent to the Pelhams, also indicated the need of church ministrations.  These factors it was decided, justified the establishment of a Lutheran church in the Pelhams that would lend its aid to the other religious and civic agencies of the communities, in keeping pace with the marvelous growth of the Pelhams.  

Rev. Mr. Romoser held the first services in the old town hall auditorium.  After the organization of societies in the young church, it was necessary to provide private quarters for those units.  A small store-room was rented on Fifth avenue, North Pelham.  Here the work was continued for some time.  From all indications it became apparent that the field demanded the attention of a resident pastor who could give his undivided attention to the work.  Rev. Mr. Romoser urged the church board of his synod to give the needed subsidy to the Pelham people, so that this might be realized.

In October, 1925, the Rev. H. Wittachen was called as the first resident pastor.  He was installed into his office by Rev. Mr. Romoser in October, 1925, in the presence of a large assemblage in the Picture House of the Pelhams.

Rev. Mr. Wittschen resigned his position in October 1926, and the Rev. A. Koerber, of New York city, was called to become pastor of the Pelhams and of Scarsdale.  Rev. Mr. Koerber was pastor in New York city for twenty-five years.  He built up a church of more than 500 communicants members.  This church's history was similar to that of the Lutheran church of the Pelhams, in that he opened his services in a store hall with only a few people present.  

The congregation of Scarsdale opened its church some four years ago in the picture [house] of Scarsdale.  It now owns five lots for a future church and has a small house of worship on these lots.  The work of the Lutheran church in Pelham is to be accomplished in this manner.  Property will soon be acquired and the work will proceed gradually [under] the guidance of the church boards of the synod that aids it in a financial way.  

Our Savior church appeals to all people interested in the work of the churches in the Pelhams and the civic life of their communities, and who have no church connections.

Services are held at the present time in the Pelhams Picture House every Sunday [at] 10:30 o'clock.  The pastor can be reached by phone in Scarsdale."

Source:  NEW CHURCH IN THE TOWN, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 5, cols. 1-5.  

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pelham's Train Station on the New Haven Line Was NOT Built in 1893 as Claimed

Conventional wisdom indicates that the Pelham Train Station located at 1 Pelhamwood Avenue in the Village of Pelham was built in 1893.  There is a plaque to that effect affixed to the exterior façade of the structure and a small plaque to that effect that hangs inside the station.  The plaques are wrong.  Planning and preliminary work for construction of the station may have begun as early as 1893, but construction did not begin until mid-1895.  

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting details a little of the history of the train stations that have stood in Pelhamville (today's Village of Pelham) and will outline the nature of the construction of the station that took place in 1895 -- not 1893.

Plaque on the Exterior Façade of the Pelham Train Station:  "BUILT 1893"
Photograph by the Author.

Plaque Hanging Inside the Pelham Train Station.  It States:
Photograph by the Author.

The Coming of the Railroad and the Earliest Known Pelhamville Station

Pelhamville Station was established on the New Haven Railroad line in 1848, according to The Encyclopedia of New York State.  See Eisenstadt, Peter R. & Moss, Laura-Eve, The Encyclopedia of New York State, 1190 (Syracuse, NY:  Syracuse University Press, 2005).  

Some form of station or depot seems to have been built in Pelhamville either in 1848 or within a few years after the stop was added to the New Haven Railroad Line in 1848.  Cf. FOR SALE . . . A GREAT BARGAIN FOR $250 -- EIGHT LOTS, Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, Mar. 15, 1855, Vol. LI, No. 9550, p. 7, col. 3 (advertisement notes that the eight lots for sale are "within sight of the Pelhamville Station, on the New York and New Haven Railroard").  A station of some sort seems to have still stood in Pelhamville in 1869.  Although the reference is ambiguous and certainly not dispositive, there is at least one source that suggests that the depot that stood in Pelhamville in 1869 was "new" at that time.  See SALES AT AUCTION - AT AUCTION Peremptory Sale.  Valluable Villa Plots of Westchester County Property, N.Y. Herald, Apr. 3, 1869, Triple Sheet, p. 9, col. 5 (Advertisement references "the new Pelham depot").  This may have been about the time that the station that once stood at today's One Wolfs Lane location was built.  (See only known image of the station below, showing it standing right next to the pair of tracks.)

I have written about the predecessor to today's Pelham Station on a number of occasions.  See:

Wed., Apr. 21, 2010:  Town Petition to Move the Pelhamville Depot in 1887.

Mon., Apr. 19, 2010:  Early Talk of Moving the Pelhamville Train Station from its Original Location.

Mon., Feb. 02, 2009:  Brother Shoots Brother in the Pelhamville Train Station in 1880.

Fri., Aug. 12, 2005:  The Little Pelhamville Depot: Forerunner to the Train Station Serving New Haven Line Passengers Today.  

Only Known Depiction of the Pelhamville Station Replaced by
The Pelham Train Station that Stands Today.
Source:  A Remarkable Railroad Accident, Scientific American
Jan. 16, 1886, Vol. LIV, No. 3, cover and pp. 31-32.

Detail from Image Above Showing a Closer 
View of the Pelhamville Station in 1885.

In any event, prior to 1873, there were no regularly-scheduled train stops in the tiny hamlet of Pelhamville.  Indeed, only four trains passed the area each day:  two in the morning at 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and two in the afternoon at 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  See THE OLD DAYS IN PELHAMVILLE, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 9, col. 4.

In recognition of the slow but steady growth of Pelhamville, in 1873 the railroad placed a ticket agent at the station.  The railroad tracks crossed Fifth Avenue at street level in those days.  The ticket agent or his paid designee became responsible for managing hand-operated safety gates that could be lowered and raised in connection with passing trains.  

A local Pelhamville resident, Charles H. Merritt, was appointed by the railroad to serve as the first Pelhamville station agent beginning in 1873.  Merritt served in that role for 22 years until his tragic death in a freak accident, described in detail below, that occurred while construction of the new Pelham Station was underway during the summer of 1895.

The Decision to Move the Pelhamville Depot to a New Site

By 1887, Pelhamville was a well-established population center.  Local residents wanted to replace the old Pelhamville Depot.  At that time, Colonel Richard Lathers, a New Rochelle land owner with large holdings in west New Rochelle that extended into the Town of Pelham in the area we know today as Pelhamwood , sensed an opportunity.  If he could convince local residents and the railroad to move the location of the Pelhamville Depot onto his land just north of Fifth Avenue and then cut a road from west New Rochelle to connect to a new train depot, he would position himself to develop, plot and sell the lands that became Pelhamwood as well as a portion of his holdings in west New Rochelle.  Col. Lathers offered to donate a plot of land on the eastern side of Fifth Avenue north of the railroad tracks.

Pelham residents understood the need for a larger station and a location with more room to accommodate an increasing number of passengers and the many carriages that dropped them off and picked them up daily at the station.  They wanted a new station.  As one might imagine given the longstanding tradition of avid public debate in Pelham, two camps emerged:  one that wanted the station moved to the land donated by Lathers and a second group of "traditionalists" that wanted the station to remain where it was.  

There was one twist.  Apparently at the instigation of Col. Lathers, who lived in a Tuscany-style mansion on a New Rochelle estate he named "Winyah Park," the supporters of the move wanted to rename the new station "Winyah Park."  

One newspaper article published on June 3, 1887 set forth the position of those who supported the station move.  An excerpt from that article provided:

"There is to be a new passenger and freight depot at Pelhamville, and the people there want the location changed, and with this end in view, are circulating a petition to the Superintendent of the railroad, praying that the depot be located on land generously donated by Col. Richard Lathers, in Winyah Park, on Fifth avenue, north of the track. The plot is 400 x 75 feet, and it is understood that Mr. Johnson, the owner of the property on the opposite side, will give a like portion. The conditions under which Mr. Lathers gives the land is that it be kept in good condition by the Railroad Company, and that the station be known as Winyah Park." 

Source: Pelham and City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], June 3, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 990, p. 3, col. 2.

In an anonymous letter to the editor published two weeks later, the writer set forth the position of opponents of the move.  The writer labeled himself as "ONE OF THE FOUNDERS" of Pelhamville:



Dear Sir:  -- Just now there is quite a flurry of excitement in the village of Pelhamville.  The N.Y. & N.H. Railroad Company contemplate building a new depot there.  Speculators who are always on the alert, are boring the company to move the depot out of Pelhamville, and put it opposite their land, and as an inducement have proffered a strip of land to be called Winyah Park Station.  Such an outrage we seldom hear; or brazen insult to a corporation like the N.Y. & N.H. Company; as if their honor could be bought by a strip of land.

The founders of Pelhamville built the present depot and with the land it stands on, was deeded to the Railroad Company to be a passenger and freight depot for Pelhamville, not for a day nor year, but for all time; and was accepted as such by the company; and the founders have full faith in the integrity of the officers of said company, that they will not attempt to violate their honor -- let that be inviolable.


Source:  PELHAMVILLE alias WINYAH, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], June 21, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 995, p. 2, col. 2.

The majority of local residents supported the move.  They circulated a petition in support of the move and submitted it to the Superintendent of the railroad.  The petition was signed by virtually every notable citizen who lived in Pelhamville.  Transcribed immediately below is a newspaper account of those developments published a week later on June 28, 1887.  

"The people of Pelhamville are working earnestly to have the railroad station moved, and its name change [sic] to Winyah Park.  The petition to the railroad company has also been forwarded to the Post master-General [sic].  The petition and signers are as follows:

To the President and Board of Directors of the N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R. Co.:  

GENTLEMEN:  We, the undersigned, residents of Pelhamville, N.Y. do humbly petition your honorable Board, to locate the new depot to be erected at this place east of and near Fifth avenue as the grade will permit, on grounds given by Mr. Richard Lathers, as a park, and to change the name of the station from Pelhamville to Winyah Park.  Depot not to be more than 100 feet from Fifth avenue:

E.H. Gurney, Geo. McGalliard, Vincent Barker, Loftus Brotherton, Augustus Godfrey, C.W. Bolton, I.C. Hill, John T. Logan, James Shoebottom, John Bos, E.A. Patterson, J.P. Jacob Heisser, Stephen J. Stilwell, Wm. H. Penfield, Geo. Wright, William Barry, Wm. H. Sparks, Chas Baker, Henry Montgomery, F.W. Case, John Case, S.E. Case, David Lyon, E. Lyon, H. Gurney, Chas. B. Oakley, C. H. Merritt, G.W. Jager, E. C. Merritt, P.H. Acras, Alfd. P. Delcambre, F.C. Buxton, Geo. Pearson, Alex. Anderson, E. Anderson, John Britten, Bridget Flanagan, Delia Flanagan, H.T. Stone, L.A. Stone, L. McGalliard, C.V.R. Bolton, D.J. Meade, Mrs. C. Barker, Miss Caroline Barker, Mrs. Geo. Wright, Mrs. Fred. Chase, Mrs. J. Bos, Mrs. S. Johnson, Mrs. M. Clark, Mrs. I.C. Hill, J.P. Marquand, T. Jackson Lambert, Wm. T. Standen, N.A. McGalliard."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 28, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 997, p. 1, col. 7.  

Colonel Lathers and his supporters won the debate.  A decision was made to move the station to the location where it stands today.  It seems, however, that the move to rename the station "Winyah Park" failed for reasons not now known.  

Construction on the New Pelham Train Station Begins on June 28, 1895

For years I have attempted to research the construction and opening of today's Pelham Train Station.  I could find nothing indicating that it was built in 1893 as has been claimed for decades.  As I slowly exhausted my resources, it became increasingly clear that the station was not constructed in 1893 as claimed.  By expanding slowly the time frame that I researched, I finally have been able to pinpoint when construction of the station actually began.  It was Friday, June 28, 1895.  

A brief announcement of the commencement of construction appeared in the July 1, 1895 issue of the Mount Vernon Daily Argus.  It read as follows:

"New Station for Pelhamville.

The New Haven Railroad Company have perfected plans for a handsome new station at Pelhamville and work was begun on Friday last [i.e., Friday, June 28, 1895].  It is to be situated on the north side of the track and will be 80x40 feet.  The material will be stone, brick and tile and the style of architecture, in keeping with stations at Rye, Harrison and Mount Vernon."

Source:  New Station for Pelhamville, Mount Vernon Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 1, 1895, Vol. XIII, No. 992, p. 1, col. 4.  

Another reference confirms this information that construction was underway in the summer of 1895.  Cf.  Pelham Heights, Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 30, 1895, Supplement, p. 6, cols. 3-4 & p. 7, col. 3 (noting that during the upcoming summer of 1895, "the new station at Pelham Heights will have been erected").  

Undated Post Card View of the Pelham Train Station.
Fences Are Visible Between the Tracks.  Fences Were
First Placed Between the Tracks in July, 1895.  See:
Westchester County News, Mount Vernon Argus, 
Jul. 30, 1895, p. 2, col. 4.
Source of Image:  Files of the Author.

Once construction of the new station began, Colonel Richard Lathers of New Rochelle wasted no time.  He immediately began the construction of Webster Avenue.  According to one account:  

"TO OPEN A ROAD.--We understand that it is the intention of Col. Richard Lathers to cut a roadway through Winyah Park to connect Washington avenue with Pelhamville.  The road will begin in front of the new Pelhamville depot and end at the beginning of Washington avenue, West New Rochelle.  If this is done the property will speedily be sold for residences, and that property so long lying dormant will be a thriving hamlet in a few years."

Source:  TO OPEN A ROAD, New Rochelle Pioneer [New Rochelle, NY], Aug. 24, 1895, Vol. XXXV, No. 22, p. 5, col. 2.  

By July 30, 1895, the foundation walls for the new station had been completed and construction paused while the construction crew awaited delivery of the bricks necessary to complete the building.  See Westchester County News, Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 30, 1895, Vol. XIII, No. 1015, p. 2, col. 4 ("PELHAMVILLE . . . Fences have been placed between the tracks.  Foundation walls for the new station have been completed.  As soon as the brick arrives the work will be prosecuted.").  By August 13, it seems, the bricks must have been delivered because a local newspaper reported that in Pelhamville "[w]ork on the new station is progressing rapidly."  Westchester County News, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 13, 1895, Vol. XIII, No. 1027, p. 1, col. 3.  

While the new Pelham Train Station was under construction in 1895, the New York & New Haven Railroad stationmaster at Pelhamville, Charles H. Merritt, suffered a freak and tragic accident that killed him.  He never saw the completed station.  The article transcribed in its entirety below described the circumstances of his terrible death.

While Construction is Underway, the Pelhamville Depot Station Agent Dies

Charles H. Merritt, the longtime station agent at the little Pelhamville Depot, must have been looking forward to completion of the new station where he would continue his work.  He was never to see the completed station, however.  While the new station was under construction, Merritt was involved in a freak accident and was crushed to death.  His widow was immediately appointed to serve as station agent and seems to have been the first station agent to work in the new Pelham Train Station once it was completed.  I have transcribed two articles below detailing these events with each followed by a citation to its source.

"Charles H. Merritt Dies
While Riding to His Home a Cider Press Falls on Him.

At 4:30 o'clock Saturday evening, a rumor spread through Pelhamville, that the well-known citizen, Postmaster and station agent Charles H. Merritt had been killed.  The report proved all too true.  Mr. Merritt had met his death and in a most peculiar manner.

The circumstances leading up to the fatal accident are as follows:

Mr. Merritt had been at the station releasing freight for the Wartburg Farm School, to Edward Flannigan, the teamster, having it in charge.  After a load had been made up, and the return to the Warburg Farm begun, the route being through Second avenue, on which Mr. Merritt lives, he decided to ride to a point near his home.  He did not get on the seat but took an easy position on the rear of the truck.  

On the truck were several pieces of machinery and a cider press weighing perhaps 1,000 to 1,400 pounds.  This great weight undoubtedly gave to the wagon an incline and it is thought the press was not resting securely for this reason.  Mr. Merritt, it is supposed took his seat near it.

When near Principal I.C. Hill's residence Mr. Flannigan stopped his team to permit Mr. Merritt to step out.  Before Mr. Merritt could balance himself to jump, the horses started up and it is supposed that he grabbed at the press to save himself, and instead pulled it out upon him.  He was thrown backward and the press fell on his chest crushing the bones and causing instant death.  

Mr. Flannigan brought his team to a standstill and called for assistance.  The press was removed from the prostrate man, and a messenger dispatched to this city for a physician.  Dr. Robert H. Dinegar was secured and hastened to the scene on a bicycle; but when he arrived could do nothing.  Coroner Banning was notified and will hold an inquest Wednesday evening, in the rooms of the Liberty Hose Company.

For a period of twenty-two years, Mr. Merritt had been in the employ of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, as its agent at Pelhamville.  He was also tax collector of the Board of Education.  At the time of his death, he was a member of Liberty Hose Company; also of Arcana Lodge, No. 256, F. & A.M., Pelham, Huguenot and Hiawatha Lodges.  He was for eight years, Postmaster of Pelhamville.  At the time of his death, he held the position and for years has been a prominent figure in local and town affairs.  He was 49 years of age, had acquired considerable property and leaves a wife and several children.  

Funeral Services were held at the Episcopal Church, Pelhamville, Tuesday August 6th at 2 o'clock.  The interment was at Woodlawn.--Daily Argus."

Source:  Charles H. Merritt Dies, New Rochelle Pioneer [New Rochelle, NY], Aug. 10, 1895, Vol. XXXV, No. 20, p. 8, col. 3.  

The railroad promptly appointed Mr. Merritt's widow to serve as station agent at Pelhamville, a position that she held as construction on the new station continued to completion.  An interesting article in the local press detailed the development as follows:

"APPOINTED.--It was Lord Coke who stated that corporations were soulless but happily there are ever exceptions, a case in point, Saturday, August 3d, Charles H. Merritt, station agent at Pelhamville, was killed in an accident leaving a wife and child.  Almost immediately the New Haven Company tendered to the wife so suddenly bereft of a husband, the position he held, and she has accepted the responsible place.  This very considerate action of the New Haven Company was followed by a similar overture from the Adams Express Company, which was also accepted, and Widow Merritt is now in full charge.  Mr. Merritt, the deceased, was also Postmaster at the time of his death and a petition is now in circulation asking President Cleveland to retain Mrs. Merritt as Uncle Sam's representative.  This is not the first instance where the N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R. has placed the widows of employees who have been killed in the road's service, beyond want.  Mr. G. H. Hughes, agent at New Rochelle, succeeded her husband, who met death in railroad accident there about ten years ago.--Argus."

Source:  APPOINTED, New Rochelle Pioneer [New Rochelle, NY], Aug. 17, 1895, Vol. XXXV, No. 21, p. 7, col. 2.  

Completion of the New Pelham Train Station

Despite Herculean research efforts, I have yet to identify the date that construction of the station was completed or that it first opened.  Although I strongly suspect construction finished in early 1896 and the station opened shortly afterward, I cannot yet support that hypothesis with any meaningful evidence.  I will continue my efforts, however.  

The Metro North train station we know today as "Pelham Station" located at 1 Pelhamwood Avenue in the Village of Pelham was built in 1895 by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.  Metro North claims that the station was built in 1893 and, thus, that it "is the oldest of all the stations in use along the current Metro-North Railroad lines."  

Like all New Haven Line stations located in Westchester County, Pelham Station became a Penn Central station upon acquisition by that railroad in 1969.  In 1983 it became part of the MTA's Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line.  

In 1986 the station was completely refurbished and rededicated to the citizens and commuters of Pelham.  In 2005, the real estate firm Houlihan/Lawrence reached agreement with Metro North and opened a new office in the Pelham Train Station.  In preparation for that move, there was a meticulous restoration of the station using historic photos and original plans for the building.

Today the Pelham Train Station is a lovely gem that serves Pelham's citizens and commuters.  Hopefully it will remain a Pelham gem for at least the next 120 years. 

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For research and future search purposes, I have transcribed the entirety of the June 28, 1887 article from which I quoted an excerpt above in its entirety immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.  


The inquest held by Coroner Sutton, of Sing Sing, as to the manner in which Charles S. Abbott, of City Island, came to his death and was placed in the Pocantico River at Whitson's Station, was concluded Friday at Sing Sing, and the jury rendered a verdict that he was murdered by some person, or persons to them unknown, and they recommended that the proper authorities use strenuous efforts to discover the offender or offenders and bring them to justice.

Pelhamville is to have a celebration on the Fourth, and the leading event will be a pole and flag raising.  A pole over 60 feet high, will be raised, and on it will be displayed a flag 25 feet long.  The Pelhamville Brass Band will play for the first time in public, and there will be addresses and, if possible, singing of national airs.  Messrs. Brotherton and the old Mexican hero, Justice Patterson, and John Godfrey, are raising subscriptions and preparing the program.  The flag and pole will be given to the proper authorities in Pelhamville.  The pole has been donated by Mr. S. Bernstein of Chester Hill, Mt. Vernon.

The people of Pelhamville are working earnestly to have the railroad station moved, and its name change [sic] to Winyah Park.  The petition to the railroad company has also been forwarded to the Post master-General [sic].  The petition and signers are as follows:

To the President and Board of Directors of the N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R. Co.:  

GENTLEMEN:  We, the undersigned, residents of Pelhamville, N.Y. do humbly petition your honorable Board, to locate the new depot to be erected at this place east of and near Fifth avenue as the grade will permit, on grounds given by Mr. Richard Lathers, as a park, and to change the name of the station from Pelhamville to Winyah Park.  Depot not to be more than 100 feet from Fifth avenue:

E.H. Gurney, Geo. McGalliard, Vincent Barker, Loftus Brotherton, Augustus Godfrey, C.W. Bolton, I.C. Hill, John T. Logan, James Shoebottom, John Bos, E.A. Patterson, J.P. Jacob Heisser, Stephen J. Stilwell, Wm. H. Penfield, Geo. Wright, William Barry, Wm. H. Sparks, Chas Baker, Henry Montgomery, F.W. Case, John Case, S.E. Case, David Lyon, E. Lyon, H. Gurney, Chas. B. Oakley, C. H. Merritt, G.W. Jager, E. C. Merritt, P.H. Acras, Alfd. P. Delcambre, F.C. Buxton, Geo. Pearson, Alex. Anderson, E. Anderson, John Britten, Bridget Flanagan, Delia Flanagan, H.T. Stone, L.A. Stone, L. McGalliard, C.V.R. Bolton, D.J. Meade, Mrs. C. Barker, Miss Caroline Barker, Mrs. Geo. Wright, Mrs. Fred. Chase, Mrs. J. Bos, Mrs. S. Johnson, Mrs. M. Clark, Mrs. I.C. Hill, J.P. Marquand, T. Jackson Lambert, Wm. T. Standen, N.A. McGalliard."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 28, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 997, p. 1, col. 7.  

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Notes on the Early History of Pelhamville by Jacob Heisser Published in 1927 After Heisser's Death

Jacob Heisser was an early settler in the tiny hamlet of Pelhamville.  He became the first President (i.e., Mayor) of the Village of North Pelham when that village was incorporated in 1896.  Following Heisser's death, a brief account that he wrote of the early days of Pelhamville were found among his personal papers.  That account was published in The Daily Argus, a Mount Vernon newspaper, in 1927.  

I previously have transcribed a similar account of Pelhamville's early history written by Jacob Heisser and published in 1913.  See:

Wed., Sep. 23, 2009:  Jacob Heisser's Summary of the Early History of Pelhamville Published in 1913

Heiser's account, published in 1927 after his death, is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.  

Jacob Heisser.
Source:  The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927,
Special Pelham Section, p. 9, col. 2.

Article Written By Late Jacob Heisser Contains Graphic Description
Found Among Personal Effects of Late Official -- Is of Value

An interesting account of the early days of old Pelhamville, now North Pelham, is given in an article written some years ago by the late Jacob Heisser, first village president of North Pelham.  The paper, telling of the early railroad history and of various improvements in North Pelham, and was found among the personal effects of the late Mr. Heisser by his daughter, Mrs. Elmer S. Davis.  Mr. Heisser died on August 29, 1926, exactly thirty years after the village of North Pelham was incorporated.  Mr. Heisser being made the first president on the same date.  Mr. Heisser's account of old Pelhamville follows:

'From 1862 to 1873, railroad accommodation was out of the question, as there were no regular stops; two trains in the morning, two in the afternoon, at 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 and 7 p.m.  These trains only stopped upon waving a red flag.  It this was not done, there were no stops.  In the year 1873, the company placed a ticket agent at the station who sold tickets from that time to date.  Train service has increased to date.  At that time, the wagon road went across the railroad track with lift bars for safety [i.e., hand-operated crossing gates that were managed by the ticket agent or his designee, often a local youngster paid by the ticket agent], the station being at Fifth avenue.  A fifty cent fare each way; Charles Merritt, first agent.

The first improvement in the old village of Pelhamville was done by an improvement association started by E. A. Gurney in 1886.  A plank sidewalk was laid from First street to Second street on Fifth avenue.  Lamps were put up at the different residences of such parties as would care for them.  If two families lived near each other, the one would keep the lamp clean and light it, the other furnished the oil.  In fact, there were no permanent improvements until the year 1908, when the village of North Pelham issued bonds to an amount of $39,000.  The improvements began in earnest and have kept pace since.

Up to the year 1877, there were 42 families in the village.  

The active members for the incorporation of the old village to North Pelham in 1896 were:  Otto E. Stroetzel, Charles A. Barker, Jacob Heisser, Alex. Kennedy, G. I. Karbach, James Penny, George Glover Pearson, Augustus Godfrey, Mrs. Broege, S. T. Lyman, John H. Young, Louis C. Young, William J. Evert, Michael J. Woods, William Edinger, Isaac C. Hill, John Case, S. Gregoor, James S. Greer, John M. Shinn, S.E. Field.

The cost of Incorporation was $210.50.

Village officers, first year:  Jacob Heisser, president; George A. McGalliard, Louis C. Young, Samuel E. Lyon, trustees; B.F. Crewell, treasurer; William Edinger, collector; John Case, clerk."

Source:  THE OLD DAYS IN PELHAMVILLE, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 9, col. 4. 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Early History of Pelham Heights Published in 1895

I have written before about the lovely area of Pelham known as The Heights (Pelham Heights) and its residents.  The area once was incorporated as the Village of Pelham before the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham were merged to form today's Village of Pelham.  For a few of many examples of prior articles about The Heights and some of its residents, see:

Tue., Jan. 21, 2014:  Early History of Pelham Heights: "Then Was Formed The Idea That Gave Pelham Heights Its Birth"

Thu., Jul. 16, 2009:  Village of Pelham Trustees Grant Franchise Necessary for the Pelham Manor Trolley that Inspired the Toonerville Trolley.  

Fri., Dec. 07, 2007:  Another Biography of Congressman Benjamin Fairchild of Pelham, a Founder of Pelham Heights.  

Thu., Dec. 06, 2007:  Biography of John F. Fairchild, Engineer of the Pelham Heights Company During the 1890s.  

Fri., Sep. 28, 2007:  When Incorporated, The Original Village of Pelham Needed More Elected Officials Than it Had Voters.  

Tue., Aug. 15, 2006:  Another Biography of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights.

Fri., Apr. 22, 2005:  Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights -- A Notable Pelham Personage.  

Bell, Blake A., Early History of Pelham Heights, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 32, Aug. 13, 2004, p. 9, col. 1.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides additional information about the early history of Pelham Heights.  It transcribes an article that described the earliest efforts to develop the lands that became The Heights.  The article appeared in the May 30, 1895 issue of The Mount Vernon Argus.  The transcribed text appears beneath the image below from the same article, followed by a citation to the source.  

Home of Hon. Benjamin L. Fairchild in 1895.
Source:  Pelham Heights, The Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], 
May 30, 1895, Supplement, p. 7, cols. 3-4.  


A place that is rapidly becoming famous is the second station from the Grand Central Depot, adjoining Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Pelham Manor, extending from the easterly boundary of Mount Vernon to the westerly boundary of New Rochelle, and from the New Haven Railroad tracks southerly to the Pelham Manor line.  For a number of years it remained entirely undeveloped, by reason of the manner in which a portion of it was tied up in estates.  Fortunately, the several pieces of property were finally acquired by parties who had the ability and inclination to combine in developing this section into high class property, rather than to subdivide the section in accordance with the usual method of flaring advertisements, cheap lots and quick sales.

More than a year was occupied after the several properties were acquired by this syndicate in the engineering work alone, which included plans for an elaborate sewerage system, a separate drainage system, gas mains, water mains, electric lights, macadamized roads and sidewalks -- in fact, every modern municipal improvement, designed with a solidity equal to the best municipal improvements in any city in the United States.  The engineering work was immediately followed by active construction, in accordance with such plans, and the thoroughness of the work accounts for the number of years occupied in placing the property in a condition to invite the class of home seekers who can afford to comply with the restrictions, that require, among other things, a minimum cost of $5,000 for each residence, to be built upon plots of a minimum footage of seventy-five feet.  Hardly a year has passed since a sufficient number of streets have been entirely completed to warrant the offering of lots to a select class of purchasers, and already there are more than a dozen families located in the place, in handsome residences, costing from $6,000 to $20,000 quickly giving to Pelham Heights the name of a fashionable residential section.

Among the residences already erected in Pelham Heights, special mention might be made of the handsome stone residence on Pelhamdale Avenue of Mr. P.P. De Arozarena, of the Haviland Wall Paper Manufacturing Company, and the Colonial home of Congressman Fairchild, on the Third Street Boulevard, each of which is said to have cost about $20,000.  A description of the interior of these two houses would deserve a special article.  None of the visitors to Pelham Heights have failed to notice the picturesque homes on Loring Avenue of Mr. Ralph K. Hubbard, Secretary of the Provident Life Insurance Company, and Mr. Howard Scribner, son of the former Secretary of State.

There has been already as much as $200,000 expended in street improvements.  The work already completed is considerable [sic] more than appears upon the surface, and includes all the cross sections of the pipe lines, and the trunk line and main outlet sewers and drains for the whole property, including the unopened avenues, as well as those streets and avenues which have been entirely opened and completed.  The main outlet surface drain through Highbrook Avenue is a large stone, brick arch culvert erected at a considerable expense for the drainage of the whole section, and is of sufficient size for workmen to pass through if necessary to make repairs, without disturbing the surface of the avenue.  The opening and completion of any additional avenues in the future will not require the prosecution of any work in any of the streets or avenues already completed, because of such completition of all the main connections.  

The natural advantages of Pelham Heights was favorable for such a development as we have here described.  The property is higher than any of the surrounding territory, and from almomst any point on the property a wide expanse of view can be obtained of Pelham Bay Park and over toward Long Island Sound.  Congressman Fairchild, from his house, has an extensive view of Long Island and Long Island Sound on the south and east, and of the Palisades, as far north as Piermont, on the west.

A special natural attraction of Pelham Heights are the trees of many varieties, which cover a large portion of the property, and make Loring Avenue one of the handsomest anywhere.  It is not a long walk from Pelham Heights, through Pelhamdale Avenue, to the Sound.  The rapidly nearing completion of the macadamizing of the Pelham Manor streets and avenues will make Pelhamdale Avenue a finely macadamized boulevard, with sidewalks from Pelham Heights to Travers Island.

During the summer the macadamizing and construction of sidewalks along Third Street in Mount Vernon to Pelham Heights will have been completed, the new station at Pelham Heights will have been erected, and the electric railroad, which is now operated to the Pelham line, will probably have been completed through to the Sound.  The railway people wanted to build their line through the Third Street Street Boulevard, but the Pelham Heights syndicate would allow no tracks to be placed in that avenue, and the route mapped out, therefore, required the road to be built to the Pelham Station, and thence through First Street of Pelham Heights, which lies along the railroad track, and Highbrook Avenue, which is planned to be the business street of Pelham Heights and thence direct to New Rochelle and the Sound.  The entrance to New Rochelle from Pelham Height [sic] will also be improved greatly this summer.  The Suburban Railway tracks are to be raised considerably, and the old Boston Post Road, which now enters New Rochelle along a bridge over the tracks, will be carried under the tracks which will do away with the steep embankment now existing.  This will result in the final completion by New Rochelle of a macadam road and sidewalks from the terminus of the Third Street Boulevard of Pelham Heights into Main Street.  With the completion of these improvements, we will have continuous sidewalks from the westerly boundary of Mount Vernon to the northerly line of New Rochelle, through Third Street, in Mount Vernon and Pelham Heights, and Main Street, in New Rochelle, which two streets will then become practically one thoroughfare.  This is only one small indication of how rapidly Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle are becoming one community; and what a delightful community it is, and how much more delightful it is becoming, located as it is at the northerly door of the greatest of the new city parks, Pelham Bay Park, which comprises the whole of the peninsula formed by East Chester Creek, Pelham Bay and Long Island Sound."

Source:  Pelham Heights, The Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 30, 1895, Supplement, p. 6, cols. 3-4 & p. 7, col. 3.  

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Pelhamville's Name Was Nearly Changed To "Huguenot" -- Efforts in 1870 to Develop and Market Today's Village of Pelham

Research has revealed an initiative in 1870 to rename the tiny little hamlet known as Pelhamville.  The proposal was to change its name to "Huguenot" and seems to have been part of a broader ploy to develop and market building lots for sale to prospective home builders.

At about that time, the trains of the New York & New Haven Railroad did not stop in Pelhamville.  Rather, a red flag had to be raised to signal trains to stop.  As part of the initiative to develop the area, four petitions were circulated among local residents to request that all regular trains be required to stop in Pelhamville.  Such an arrangement would improve the local business climate and would benefit local merchants whose freight was delivered to Mount Vernon, three miles away, and had to be picked up.  

One of the principal proponents of the initiative was Col. Richard Lathers of New Rochelle.  Col. Lathers stood to profit handsomely from any such development.  

Richard Lathers was a commission merchant in New York City who dealt in cotton and rice and later founded the Great Western Insurance Company, with which he continued for nineteen years until 1869.  Born in Ireland, Lathers grew up in South Carolina.  In 1849, Lathers married Abbie Pitman Thurston whose father was President of the Exchange Bank of Newport, Rhode Island.  Lathers purchased 250 acres of undeveloped land in West New Rochelle and Pelhamville and built a large Tuscany-style home north of the old Boston & Westchester Railroad tracks and east of Storer Avenue.  He named the estate "Winyah Park," naming it after the Parish Prince George Winyah in South Carolina.  See Death of Col. R. Lathers -- Orator and Statesman Passes Away in His City Home, N.Y. Times, Sep. 18, 1903.  Lathers and his wife had two sons and four daughters, one of whom was educated at the Priory School for Girls in Pelham Manor.  

Col. Richard Lathers in an Undated Photograph Published in 1902.
Source:  Lathers, Richard, This Discursive Biographical Sketch 1841-1902
of Colonel Richard Lathers Compiled as Required for Honorary
Membership in Post 509, Grand Army of the Republic Embracing a
Sixty Years' Residence in South Carolina, New York, 
and Massachusetts:  Devoted Actively to Commerce, Agriculture,
Insurance, Banking and Railroad Enterprise,
Photo Page Following Index to the Volume 
(Philadelphia, PA:  J.B. Lippincott Co., 1902).

Col. Lathers opened up today's Webster Avenue through his property and opened Washington Avenue as well as a means of access from West New Rochelle to Pelhamville.  Col. Lathers transferred a large portion of his land to the Winyah Development Company.  A company named Winyah Realty Company took over the development of a large portion of the property in 1901 and used Pelham's Smith Brothers Contracting to begin to lay out streets and sewers in the neighborhood known today as Pelhamwood.  Lathers died in New York City on September 17, 1903.  See Death of Col. R. Lathers -- Orator and Statesman Passes Away in His City Home, N.Y. Times, Sep. 18, 1903.  

Development of the area slowed to a crawl during the Panic of 1907 and the subsequent Depression of 1907-1908.  In 1908, Clifford B. Harmon, a son-in-law of Commodore E.C. Benedict of Greenwich, Connecticut and Edward C. Storer, a Boston banker, formed the Pelhamwood Company and took over the land and its development.  They named Benedict Place for Commodore Benedict, Harmon and Clifford Avenues for Clifford B. Harmon and Young Avenue after George C. Young, President of the U.S. Mortgage & Trust Co. who was the husband of the famous opera singer, Mme. Nordica.  Storer Avenue was named for Edward C. Storer.  In 1912, the Pelhamwood Company arranged for the Joseph B. Lambden Agency to sell lots for the construction of homes and development of Pelhamwood followed.  Source: New Members Join Pelhamwood Association As It Celebrates The Thirtieth Year Of Its Existence, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 32, No. 7, May 22, 1942, p. 3, col. 1.

Map of Pelhamville Published in 1868.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity from Actual 
Surveys By and Under the Direction of F.W. Beers, 
Assisted By A.B. Prindle & Others, pg. 36 
(NY, NY: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868) (Detail from Page 36 Map Entitled 
"Town of New Rochelle, Westchester Co., N.Y. (With) Pelhamville).

Although it took nearly forty years to develop the lands owned by Col. Lathers into Pelhamwood, in 1870 Lathers was beginning to formulate a grand design to name the area "Huguenot" and to cut a roadway from today's Shore Road near Bolton Priory all the way to the Pelhamville Depot.  He also planned to improve nearby roadways and to create "Huguenot Park" with a 20-acre lake for boating and fishing to attract prospective purchasers.

Thankfully, the name "Huguenot" never took hold.  Also thankfully, a New Rochelle resident named Richard Lathers had the foresight in 1870 to begin efforts to develop lands that included what is, today, the lovely neighborhood known as Pelhamwood.

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Below is a transcription of the text of the article published in 1870, followed by a citation to its source.


THE NEW NAME. -- The name of this 'hamlet' has been changed to Hugurnot [sic].  (It is jocosely reported that the name was understood to be Hug-me-not, to the extreme dissatisfaction of the fair sex.)  Four petitions are being circulated among the residents of the vicinity, to request that all regular trains upon the New York & New Haven Railroad shall stop at that point.  It is calculated that business will be greatly increased by this movement.  Immense advantages will certainly be afforded the trading community by leaving freight at their doors instead of Mount Vernon, three miles distant.  A new road is being opened from Pelham Priory to Huguenot depot, at an expense of $10,000, which will shorten the traveling distance from 3-1/2 to 2 miles.  An additional sum of $20,000 is being expended upon various roads in the vicinity with a view of affording perfect facilities to the traveling public.  Col. Lathers is the prime mover in this worthy enterprise, and has devoted one hundred acres of his valuable property to its service.  

'Huguenot Park,' now being laid out upon a portion of these grounds, will extend within a half mile of the railway depot, and will be rendered a delightful location.

A lake will be constructed covering a surface of twenty acres, in a valley peculiarly adapted by nature for the purpose, and watered by a number of small streams.  The lake will be stocked with choice varieties of fish, and supplied with boats for the use of the public.  A fine grove is also to be arranged for the use of pic-nic parties.  Once these improvements are completed, Huguenot will, to say the least, be equally desirable as a place of residence to any village upon the New York and New Haven Railroad.  The subsoil being of a sandy nature permanent dampness is unknown, and the vicinity is entirely free from miastra, as well as those summer pests, musquitoes [sic]."

Source:  PELHAMVILLE, The Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Apr. 14, 1870, Vol. XV, No. 739, p. 1, col. 3.  

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