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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Henry Piepgras Made Improvements to His Pelham Shipyard in 1888 and 1889


Heinrich Carl Christian "Henry" Piepgras purchased the David Carll Shipyard at the eastern end of Pilot Avenue (today's "Pilot Street") on City Island in the Town of Pelham in about 1885.  (To read more about the origins and history of the David Carll Shipyard, see Mon., Nov. 16, 2015: David Carll's Shipyard in the Town of Pelham on City Island.)  Henry Piepgras was a talented and masterful shipbuilder and ship architect.  He brought the art of iron and steel ship construction to Pelham after having become an expert in crafting lead keels (and building hollow masts for such ships) while working as a shipbuilder in Germany and, later, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. 

Previous Historic Pelham articles have dealt with Henry Piepgras and his Pelham shipyard.  See, e.g.:

Mon., Nov. 27, 2006:  The 19th Century Ejectment of Henry Piepgras from Land Beneath the Waters Surrounding City Island.

Mon., Sep. 7, 2009:  More on the Ejectment of Henry Piepgras from Land Beneath the Waters Surrounding City Island.

Tue., Dec. 08, 2015:  Heinrich Carl Christian "Henry" Piepgras and His Shipyard in the Town of Pelham on City Island.

Thu., May 19, 2016:  Descriptions And Rare Drawings of Shipyards in 1892 on City Island in the Town of Pelham.

Wed., May 10, 2017:  More on 19th Century Efforts To Eject City Island Businesses from Land Beneath Waters Surrounding the Island.

Thu., Aug. 03, 2017:  Brief 1894 Account Shows Devastating Impact on City Island from Ejectment Action Pursued by Elizabeth De Lancey.

By 1889, Henry Piepgras had converted the old Carll Shipyard into a modern marvel.  That year it was described as "[o]ne of the principal features of City Island" with "better facilities than any other ship builder in the State of New York; in fact, with a few more improvements, would no doubt have the best of any on this continent."

When busy, as it was in 1889, the Piepgras Shipyard employed up to one hundred men -- the largest employer in Pelham.  The shipbuilding industry at the time likely was the second largest industry in Pelham, led only by the oystering industry that involved hundreds of small family-owned vessels.  

The economic impact of shipbuilders such as Henry Piepgras on such a small community as Pelham, of course, was substantial.  According to the same account quoted above, "[t]he benefits to be derived from this establishment to the store keepers and other men of business on this island can hardly be estimated."

By 1889, the Piepgras shipyard machinery alone was valued at $90,000 (about $3.1 million in today's dollars).  Piepgras had been engaged in extensive improvements to the yard calculated to expand the business.  For example, at about this time he used a steam dredger around the dock of the shipyard so that at low tide there still would be eleven feet of water allowing enough clearance for yachts of virtually any size of the day.  He also extended the shipyard one hundred feet further down the sloping "basin" that led to the water at that location to provide room for "more facilities for building purposes."  In addition, Piepgras had solidified all abutments at the water (and in the water) by building "crib work" around each abutment and filling that crib work with stone to secure the abutment.

At the very beginning of 1889, the Piepgras Shipyard was extremely busy.  A local newspaper reported on February 1 as follows:

"At present there are the keels of three yachts laid, one of which is all plated up.  The work is progressing as rapidly as workmen can be obtained.  There are now employed at this yard 82 men, and Mr. Piepgras expects shortly to have work enough for over 100 men.  Preparations are going on for the laying of two more keels, which will make five down at once.  All will be steel plated vessels and it is hoped that they will be all finished in time to take part in the coming spring races."  

Significantly, Piepgras clearly envisioned further expansion of the shipyard.  On November 1, 1889, Piepgras published notice that he intended, on December 24, 1889, to apply to the Commissioners of the Land Office of the State of New York in Albany "for a grant in perpetuity of certain lands under the waters of the Long Island Sound on the east shore of and adjacent to the upland now owned and occupied by said applicant."

Sadly, the application and the subsequent grant of such rights to Piepgras set into motion a series of events that virtually broke Piepgras and his shipyard.  Elizabeth De Lancey and other members of her family eventually sued Piepgras Shipyard and other City Island businesses, successfully obtaining court orders ejecting them from such land beneath the waters of Long Island Sound.  See the numerous articles cited and linked in the list above for more information about the extensive ejectment dispute that lasted throughout a large portion of the 1890s.

For a shining moment in the late 1880s, however, the Piepgras Shipyard on City Island in the Town of Pelham was a shining example of the best of the shipbuilding industry.


Henry Piepgras in an Undated Photograph (Detail from Advertising
Brochure for his Shipyard). Source: Ancestry.com Genealogical
Data for Heinrich Carl Christian Piepgras (Paid Subscription Required).
NOTE: Click Image to Enlarge.

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"City Island.

Scarlet fever is quite prevalent here at present.  Mr. Robert Newman lost two children with that dreaded disease inside of two weeks, and fears are entertained by the people that it will spread all over the island.  Diphtheria is also raging here.

The Ben Franklin, an oyster sloop, was wrecked on the Sound during Sunday's gale.  The crew are supposed to be lost.  This fact was reported by Mr. Horton, a City Island pilot.

Those wanting summer homes on the Sound will do well to call on Mr. Reynolds, at his pharmacy, City Island.

A sociable was held at Mr. S. D. Horton's last night and a good time was spent by all present.

One of the principal features of City Island is Mr. Piepgras's ship yard.  At present there are the keels of three yachts laid, one of which is all plated up.  The work is progressing as rapidly as workmen can be obtained.  There are now employed at this yard 82 men, and Mr. Piepgras expects shortly to have work enough for over 100 men.  Preparations are going on for the laying of two more keels, which will make five down at once.  All will be steel plated vessels and it is hoped that they will be all finished in time to take part in the coming spring races.  Mr. P. has been using the steam dredger around the dock so that at low water, there will be 11 feet, and yachts of any size can lay up.  The yard has been extended 100 feet down into the basin, giving more facilities for building purposes.  The yard has been made perfectly solid at abuttments [sic] by building crib work and filling in with stone to properly secure it, and the earth taken from the basin has been used to fill in the 100 foot extension above mentioned.

It is said by those well posted in ship building, that Mr. Piepgras has better facilities than any other ship builder in the State of New York; in fact, with a few more improvements, would no doubt have the best of any on this continent.  The machinery alone in this yard has cost in the neighborhood of $90,000, not speaking of many other improvements that have been made since Mr. Piepgras took possession, about three years ago.

The benefits to be derived from this establishment to the store keepers and other men of business on this island can hardly be estimated.  It is well worth the while of those who have never seen a place of this kind to pay it a visit, and from the genial disposition of Mr. Piepgras, plenty of useful information can be obtained.

Quite a little interest is being manifested on City Island and in the neighborhood, over a case that is going through the Court here.  It is a case of cruelty to children.  The victim is a child only seven months old.  The grandmother of the infant testified on oath that the mother had brought the child to her and shown her its body covered with black and blue marks and had said that the father, Jonathan Bean had given it a severe whipping.  At the trial, however, Mrs. Bean claims that she did not say anything of the kind, and that she had never seen the father whip the child.  She had told the grandmother previously that she was afraid to have the father arrested for fear of the people.  The case was to come on again yesterday, but too late for us to repost it in this issue.  We hope, however, to have full particulars by our next."

Source:   City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 1, 1889, Vol. XX, No. 1,164, p. 3, col. 4.  

"NOTICE is hereby given that the undersigned applicant will apply to the Commissioners of the Land Office of the State of New York, at their office in the City of Albany, in said State, on the twenty-fourth day of December, A. D., 1889, at ten o'clock in the forenoon or as soon thereafter as said Commissioners may meet, for a grant in perpetuity of certain lands under the waters of the Long Island Sound on the east shore of and adjacent to the upland now owned and occupied by said applicant, and described as follows, viz:  All that certain piece or parcel of land under the waters of Long Island Sound, in front of and adjacent to uplands owned by Henry Piepgras situated on the easterly shore of City Island, in the Town of Pelham, County of Westchester, State of New York, described as follows:  Beginning at the most easterly corner of a grant to David Carll of December 3rd, 1863; the said point being distant three hundred feet north eighty-six degrees and forty-five minutes, east (true) from high water mark where the same is intersected by the southerly line of the upland of the said Henry Piepgras, and running thence north three degrees and fifty minutes west, (true) four hundred and forty three feet along the most easterly line of the said grant of December 3rd, 1863, and a grant to David Carll dated October 21st, 1875; thence north eighty-six degrees and forty-five minutes east, (true) two hundred and twenty-five feet; thence south three degrees and fifty minutes, east, (true) four hundred and forty-three feet; thence south eighty six degrees and forty-five minutes west, (true) two hundred and twenty-five feet to the place of beginning; containing two acres and twenty-nine one hundredths of an acre of land under water.  The upland adjacent thereto is owned and occupied by said applicant and is bounded as follows:  North by lands of the Duryea Estate, east by the Long Island Sound; south by lands of Benjamin F. Wood, and west by lands of George Horton and lands now or late of David Carll.  The soundings taken once in every fifty feet on the whole exterior water line of the land under water above described commencing at the most easterly corner of grant to David Carll above mentioned, are as follows:  eight and a half feet, ten feet, twelve and a half feet, thirteen feet, thirteen and a half feet, fourteen and a half feet, fifteen feet, fourteen and a half feet, fourteen and a half feet, fourteen feet, thirteen and a half feet, twelve and a half feet, twelve and a half feet, eleven feet, nine and a half feet, eight and a half feet, eight and a half feet, eight feet.  The mean rise of the tide is seven and a half feet.

Dated November 1st, 1880.

HENRY PIEPGRAS, Applicant.

A. B. CHALMERS,
Attorney for Applicant, 117 Nassau street, New York City."

Source:  NOTICE [Legal Notice], The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 15, 1889, Vol. XXI, No. 1,246, p. 1, col. 4.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Construction of the First Clubhouse of the Manor Club in 1887 and 1888


Currently among the many, many eBay auction offerings related to the history of Pelham is a lovely postcard entitled "Manor Club, Pelham Manor, N. Y."  It depicts the original clubhouse of the Manor Club, known as the "Manor House," built in 1887-1888 (see image below).  The cornerstone of the structure was laid on Thanksgiving Day, 1887 (November 24, 1887).  Construction was completed and the Manor House opened in June, 1888.  The structure stood where today's clubhouse of the Manor Club stands.



Postcard View of the "Manor House," the Original Clubhouse of the
Manor Club Built on the Site of Today's Clubhouse in 1887-1888.
Postcard is Postmarked July 5, 1917.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.



Detail from 1899 Map Published by John F. Fairchild Showing
Location of the Original "Manor House" of the Manor Club.  Red
Arrow Shows View of Photographer Who Created the Image
of the Manor House on the Postcard Immediately Above.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

The precise origins of the Manor Club, unfortunately, are unknown. Some believe that in 1878, only five years after the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association formed to develop the area that came to be known as Pelham Manor, a few local residents began gathering socially in local homes. This group, with no organizational structure, is believed to have evolved into the Manor Club.

On January 10, 1882, “the greater part of the residents” of Pelham Manor gathered at the home of Mr. E.E. Hitchcock. See The Manor Club, THE HISTORY OF THE MANOR CLUB, p. 6 (Pelham Manor, NY: 1973). Their purpose was to “reorganize” the Manor Club which, for some unknown reason, “had formally been disbanded at a meeting held December 9, 1881” according to the minutes of the January 10 meeting.  Id.  A history of the club published in 1973 says that during the “reorganizational” meeting: “a constitution and by-laws were drawn up and unanimously adopted. Mr. John H. Dey, temporary chairman of the meeting, appointed a committee to nominate the officers of the new club and said officers were elected by acclamation.  This new constitution provided that the offices of vice president and treasurer must be filled by ladies.”  Id. 

Early meeting minutes suggest that the club held monthly meetings in various members’ homes.  Entertainment included recitations, singing and – even as early as 1882 – simple plays such as “a serio-comic representation of Oscar Wilde’s Dream”.  Id.

A previous Historic Pelham article detailed how the original clubhouse depicted in the postcard view set forth above came to be:

"There is a fascinating story about the origins of the Manor Club’s first clubhouse.  According to William Barnett, a member of the original Club and an early Club historian, it seems that Pelham Manor residents were unhappy with their lack of influence in local school affairs.  They decided to acquire lands, erect a clubhouse and give all members a "freehold interest" in order to qualify all members (including women) to vote as property owners during school elections. 

It appears that residents of Pelhamville (the area north of the New Haven line) dominated school affairs.  In the fall of 1882, residents of Pelham Manor supported one of their own, Mr. George H. Reynolds, as a candidate for the school board. At about this time, it was “suggested that lands be purchased under the auspices of the Club and freehold interest conveyed therein to each member, in this way qualifying all members (including the ladies) to vote at school elections.”  Id., p. 7. 

In effect, Pelham Manor residents had formed a plan to stuff the ballot box in school elections.  To implement that plan, however, they needed a large number of landowners. Common ownership of land set aside for a new clubhouse seemed to be the perfect solution.  According to a history of the Club prepared by Mrs. Earle E. Bradway: 

'In May 1883 the Club voted to purchase, for three hundred dollars, two lots of land on the Esplanade, numbers 161 and 162.  In order to effectuate the object of the purchase, it was desirable that an incorporate institution should first take title to the land from Mrs. [Robert C.] Black and then convey undivided interests therein to the voters.  Accordingly, Mr. Robert C. Black, Mr. John H. Dey, Mr. W.R. Lamberton, Mr. George H. Reynolds and Mr. G. Osmar Reynolds signed and filed articles of association under the provisions of an Act of the Legislature passed in 1875, and on the 28th day of May 1883 became incorporated under the name of the Manor Club.  This incorporated club in June 1883 took title to the land referred to and carried out the intention of the purchase by conveying life interests to the several members of the old Manor Club.'  Id.

At a meeting of the club held on June 7, 1883, members voted to build a permanent clubhouse. Mrs. Robert C. Black, whose family founded the settlement and owned large swaths of land in the area, donated a lot on the Esplanade as the site for the new clubhouse. 

During the summer of 1887, the Club raised $10,000 by subscription to fund construction of the new clubhouse. Club members selected Pelham resident F. Carles Merry as the architect. He designed a lovely shingle-style building with a large auditorium in the center and a deep “piazza” (porch) that surrounded nearly the entire building."

The day after the cornerstone laying ceremony on Thanksgiving that year, a local newspaper reported as follows:

 "The Manor Club of Pelham Manor, in Westchester County, is erecting a very picturesque and substantial club-house to be called the Manor House, from plans furnished by Mr. F. Carles Merry.  The material is the rough stone found upon the place, and it has been treated in a simple but very effective manner.  The Club subscribed $10,000 for building purposes during the summer, and broke ground this fall.  Yesterday the corner-stone was laid by Mrs. Robert C. Black with appropriate ceremonies."

The club completed construction of the "Manor House" over the next few months and opened it to members in June, 1888.  

Only a few weeks after the Manor House opened in June 1888, another local newspaper reported:

"An attractive, cozey [sic] and popular resort for Manorites and their friends is the Manor House, but quite recently opened by the Manor club.  It presents an appearance of ease and comfort well calculated to attract after a day spent in the busy metropolis over scorching pavements and within sizzling brick walls."

Little did anyone suspect that the Manor Club would still be going strong nearly 130 years later, in an even larger and more impressive clubhouse built to replace the first one.



Manor Club Advertisement From Local Newspaper Published Only
a Few Months After the Original "Manor House" of the Club Opened
[Advertisement], The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 2, 1888,
p. 2, col. 4.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

I have written about the original Manor Club clubhouse built in 1887-1888 on several previous occasions.  See:

Early History of the Manor Club, The Pelham Weekly, May 14, 2004, Vol. XIII, No. 20, p. 12, col. 2.

Tue., Dec. 13, 2005:  The Manor Club's First Clubhouse Built in 1887-1888

Wed., Dec. 28, 2005:  The Mystery of the "Manor Club Girl" That Set Pelham Tongues Wagging in 1913

Fri., Aug. 4, 2006:  Early Images of the Original and Current Clubhouse Structures of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor, New York

Mon., Feb. 15, 2010:  Early History of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor

Thu., Sep. 25, 2014:  The Manor Club's Celebration of its Golden Anniversary in 1932.

Mon., Feb. 08, 2016:  Laying of the Cornerstone of the First Manor Club Clubhouse on Thanksgiving Day in 1887.

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"New York.

A NEW CLUB-HOUSE AT PELHAM.

The Manor Club of Pelham Manor, in Westchester County, is erecting a very picturesque and substantial club-house to be called the Manor House, from plans furnished by Mr. F. Carles Merry.  The material is the rough stone found upon the place, and it has been treated in a simple but very effective manner.  The Club subscribed $10,000 for building purposes during the summer, and broke ground this fall.  Yesterday the corner-stone was laid by Mrs. Robert C. Black with appropriate ceremonies."

Source:  New York -- A NEW CLUB-HOUSE AT PELHAM, The Evening Post [NY, NY], Nov. 25, 1887, p. 3, col. 5.  

"PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND.

The Public School of Pelham Manor has lost the valuable services of Mr. E. B. Dumond who for the past six years has been its able principal.  Mr. Dumond's resignation takes effect September 1st.  He will be greatly missed as he has made a host of friends by his gentlemanly deportment and upright character.  He goes back to Fishkill where he taught for a period of twelve years previous to his coming to Pelham Manor.

The Trustees of School District No. 1, Pelham, have appointed a young lady Principal of the Pelham Manor School in place of Mr. Dumond.  The schools of this town will re-open September 4th.

Mr. W. E. Robinson of Pelham Manor has gone to Buffalo.  Mr. James M. Townsend, Jr., and family have left for New Haven.

A week from to-morrow the New York Athletic Club will have their annual swimming match from headquarters on 'Traver's' formerly 'Hunter's' Island.  September 23 they will have their annual regatta and games.  On Monday next, it is understood, the club will break ground for the new club house which is to cost sixty thousand dollars.  This will add another to the many fine club houses which already grace the north shore of Long Island Sound. 

Quite a lively school election is anticipated in the First District on the 28th.  Pelham Manor proposes to place a ticket in the field for Trustees.  There is some talk of dividing this district by setting either Pelhamville or Pelham Manor off by itself.  It is certainly a good suggestion; this having the entire main land of the town one school district should not be; it is too large a territory.

Mrs. A. S. Wilson of City Island died on Sunday last of pneumonia and was buried Tuesday.

Miss Annie Horton is putting up a handsome residence near Belden's.

Arrangements are making for Grace Church pic-nic which will be at Glen Island as heretofore.

An attractive, cozey [sic] and popular resort for Manorites and their friends is the Manor House, but quite recently opened by the Manor club.  It presents an appearance of ease and comfort well calculated to attract after a day spent in the busy metropolis over scorching pavements and within sizzling brick walls.

Miss Windsor, daughter of Rev. Windsor of Grace Church is going to give a lawn party to-morrow, Saturday evening, on the grounds of Mr. George W. Horton.  The revenue will be devoted to the church.

Fishermen are said to be having some fine sport these days taking blue-fish and weak-fish from LeRoy's Cove on the banks of which Mose Secord holds forth to fit one out with necessary tackle, bait, etc.  It is convenient to Barton [sic; should be Bartow], being but a short distance on the road to City Island.  Mose had a big clam bake on the Point, Wednesday, for the delectation of his patrons and friends.

An Electorama was given in Trinity M. E. Church, City Island, last night, by Mr. Elmer Poulson.  Some very fine views were exhibited.

Mr. E. W. Waterhouse has set an example that others would do well to emulate.  He has place in his grocery store what is known as the O. M. Whitman Patent Butter Cooler.  It is, without exception, the finest thing in the line of a refrigerator that we have seen.  Besides holding about 400 pounds of ice, this one is also calculated for three tubs or firkins of butter, besides a large quantity of small articles.  It is fitted with oval glass fronts for each firkin of butter which stand on revolving pedestals and when open there is no escape of cold air.  Should any of our enterprising Mount Vernon grocers read this, we advise them to take a look at the 'cooler.'

By the burning of the house occupied by Mr. Jacob Gruse on City Island, last week, that gentleman loses about $1,200.  His total loss was $1,700 and he had insurance for $600, but the Insurance Companies, we understand, claim about $75 salvage.  The report that two men called at Mr. Gruses' in the night for drink and were refused and that when he discovered his house on fire he saw two men running away, was untrue.  Mr. Gruse attributes the barking of his dog, which woke him, not to any noise made by persons outside, but to animal instinct, that there was danger.  The old German is very loud in praise of his dog to which he owes so much; a few minutes more and escape from the burning building might have been cut off unless, possibly, by hazarding a jump from windows.  The dog saved him and his family."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 17, 1888, Vol. XIX, No. 1,116, p. 3, col. 3.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

1910 Article on the History of Pelham's First District Fire Department


On April 23, 1910, the new local newspaper The Pelham Sun published its third issue in its first year of publication.  On the front page of that issue was a glowing article touting the success and professionalism of the volunteer firefighters of Pelham's First District Fire Department founded in the early 1890s before incorporation of the Villages of North Pelham and Pelham (today's Pelham Heights).  

Due to deteriorated tape placed long ago on the only extant copy of this issue of the newspaper, the text of the story is exceedingly difficult to discern in many places.  Today's Historic Pelham article attempts to decipher the article and presents it as part of efforts to document the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.  The text appears immediately below, with a citation and link to an image of the original.

 

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"FIRST DISTRICT 
Fire Dep't.
----- 
A FIRST-CLASS ORGANIZATION OF TRAINED FIRE FIGHTERS -- NEW APPARATUS AND TEAM OF HORSES PURCHASED -- FORMER JUDGE KNEELAND S. DURHAM NOW CHIEF
-----

The Pelham Fire Department of the First District of the Town of Pelham embraces the villages of North Pelham and Pelham [i.e., Pelham Heights].  The present commissioners are E. E. Huber (president), Frank Chaloux (secretary), Jacob Heiser (treasurer), M. J. Woods, Philip Godfrey and Georg Boldin.

The organization of the department was deemed necessary some nineteen years ago after the village of North Pelham had experienced a number of fires.  When a fire totally destroyed the old Case homstead on Fifth avenue, the residents at that time few in number, decided to act.  

Two companies were formed:  Relief Hose and Ladder, No. 1, and Liberty Hose No. 1.  A small truck and [illegible] were then purchased, besides a hose [illegible].

With this new equipment, the two companies comprised thirty-five men each and avoided vice and saved much property.  About two years ago the district found itself in need of obtaining [illegible] and fire fighting machines, and the department was furnished with a steamer, a large hook and ladder truck, a hose or supply wagon and all other appliances necessary for an up-to-date equipment, thereby greatly increasing the efficiency of the deparment.  

The companies were increased to fifty men each.  

A short time ago a pair of horses were purchased y the Fire Commissoners to be used for the men.  Henry Straehle supplies a horse for the hose wagon and Dominick Smith of Smith Brothers, always sends a team of horses for the propelling of the large truck.  The Smith Brothers were both members of the Truck Company for years, and they have not charged a cent for the use of their horses.  This is showing pubic spirit.

The department is at present in fine working order, and the compliments bestowed upon it for its good work at the Town Hall fire were well deserved.

Many members of the companies wear ten years' service emblems, some even fifteen years, hence experience is here combined with affection for the department.

Kneeland S. Durham is now the Chief; Louis Epple is Deputy Chief of Relief Hose and Ladder Company.  John Rohrs, Jr. is Foreman and Albert Munroe, Assistant Foreman.  Daniel O'Leary is Foreman of Liberty Hose Company, and John Myers is Assistant Foreman."

Source:   FIRST DISTRICT Fire Dep't. --  A FIRST-CLASS ORGANIZATION OF TRAINED FIRE FIGHTERS -- NEW APPARATUS AND TEAM OF HORSES PURCHASED -- FORMER JUDGE KNEELAND S. DURHAM NOW CHIEF, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 23, 1910, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 1, col. 6

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Below is a list of prior Historic Pelham Blog postings that touch on firefighting and the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Nov. 17, 2017 Pelham Voters Authorized the Purchase of a "Suitable Fire Engine and Apparatus" in Town in 1891.

Tue., Nov. 14, 2017:  The Town of Pelham Had to Save Pelham Firefighters From the Wrath of Taxpayers in the Early 20th Century.

Wed., Nov. 01, 2017:  Pelham Manor Firemen Helped Their San Francisco Brethren After the Great Earthquake in 1906.

Tue., Sep. 12, 2017:  Sale of Antiquated Fire Equipment in 1922 Reminded All of the History of North Pelham Fire Fighting.

Fri., Jul. 21, 2017:  Pelham Firemen Turned Their Hoses on Trolley Construction Crew in 1898.

Fri., Jun. 23, 2017:  A Little of the Early History of Hose Company No. 2, the Pelham Heights Volunteer Fire Fighting Unit.

Fri., Jan. 20, 2017:  A Proud Pelham Fire Department Took Possession of a New American La France Fire Engine in 1914.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2017:  Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold:  Don't Mess With a Pelham Fireman.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2017:  Six of Pelham's Earliest Firefighters Marched in the 36th Annual Fire Inspection Parade in 1930.

Tue., Dec. 06, 2016:  An Account of the Tragic Vaughan Livery Stable Fire in Pelhamville in 1907.

Wed., Nov. 16, 2016:  More on the 1889 Fire that Destroyed the Hunter House on Travers Island.

Tue., Oct. 04, 2016:  Harry R. King, Fire Chief of the First Fire District From 1911 to 1913.

Wed., Jun. 15, 2016:  Organized Volunteer Fire Fighting in Pelhamville Began as Early as 1885.

Tue., Jun. 14, 2016:  The First Annual Inspection of Pelhamville Fire Fighting Units in 1894.

Tue., Jun. 07, 2016:  When Did Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Acquire its First Fire-Fighting Steam Engine?

Mon., May 16, 2016:  Fatal Fire in 1902 at One Fifth Avenue Burned Down the Post Office and Pharmacy.

Fri., Apr. 29, 2016:  Famous Meyers Mansion in Pelham Manor Burned Down in 1897.

Thu., Apr. 28, 2016:  Pelham Manor Dutifully Extinguished a Fire That Nearly Burned Down its Hated Wooden Train Station in 1896.

Mon., Jan. 04, 2016:  Pelham Manor Voters Voted to Disband the Pelham Manor Fire Department in 1928.  

Mon., Dec. 14, 2015:  Early History of the Village of Pelham Manor Fire Department.

Fri., Dec. 11, 2015:  Evidence of An Early Independent Firefighting Unit in Pelham Named "Indians."

Thu., Dec. 10, 2015:  Grand Fire-Fighting Competition and Parade Held in the Town of Pelham in 1891.

Wed., Dec. 09, 2015:  Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Built a New Fire House on City Island in 1894.

Mon., Dec. 07, 2015:  The Code Used on the City Island Fire Bell in the Late 19th Century Used for Fire Alarms.

Mon., Nov. 30, 2015:  Another Detailed Account of the 1901 Fire that Destroyed the Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.

Fri., Nov. 20, 2015:  Account of 1894 Fire in One of Pelham's Earliest Newspapers.

Wed., Sep. 30, 2015:  Was it Arson that Destroyed the Prospect Hill School at Jackson and Plymouth Avenues in 1917?


Thu., Sep. 17, 2015:  An Account of the February 28, 1925 Fire at Pelhamdale, A Home on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fri., Jun. 12, 2015:  The Tumultuous Reign of Pelham Manor Fire Chief J. Louis Cunningham in the Early 1900s.

Tue., Jun. 09, 2015:  Reminiscences of Firemen Who Served From 1893 Until 1923 in North Pelham.

Wed., Jun. 03, 2015:  The Bell in Firemen's Memorial Park at First Street and Wolfs Lane.

Tue., Jun. 02, 2015:  Important Early Images of the Pelham Fire Department.

Fri., May 22, 2015:  History of Pelham's Beloved "Nott Steamer" Known as "Jim Reilly's Boiler."


Thu., Mar. 26, 2015:  Fire Destroyed the Old Pelham Manor Post Office in 1945.

Fri., Mar. 20, 2015:  Fire in 1932 Devastated the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor.

Tue., Feb. 17, 2015:  More on the Early History of Organized Firefighting in the Settlement of Pelhamville.

Mon., Feb. 16, 2015: The Great Furniture Fight of 1896: Company of Pelhamville Firemen Resigned En Masse.

Thu., Feb. 12, 2015: Rare 19th Century Image of Pelhamville Firemen Who Served in Relief Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.


Fri., Dec. 12, 2014: Parade and Housewarming Hosted by Pelhamville Fire Department in 1894.

Thu., Dec. 11, 2014:  Pelhamville's First Attempt to Create a Fire Department in 1893 Failed Due to a Legal Technicality.

Thu., Jul. 24, 2014: Dedication of the New Fire Headquarters in the Village of Pelham on December 29, 1927.

Wed., Jul. 02, 2014: Election Shenanigans Involving Fire Commissioner Election in 1898.


Thu., Apr. 24, 2014: Information About the History of Fire Departments in the Town of Pelham Published in 1927.

Thu., Jan. 30, 2014:  The Night Pelham's Town Hall Burned.

Fri., Jan. 24, 2014: Early Days of Organized Fire Fighting in Today's Village of Pelham.

Thu., Jan. 23, 2014:  Another Account of the Devastating Fire that Destroyed the Travers Island Clubhouse of New York Athletic Club in 1901.


Wed., May 12, 2010:  Fire Partly Destroyed Pelham Town Hall in 1908.

Fri., Jan. 15, 2010: Photograph of Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department in 1913.

Thu., Jan. 14, 2010: 1913 Report of the Firemen's Benevolent Association in Pelham.

Thu., Dec. 10, 2009: More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References.

Tue., Dec. 08, 2009: The Darling Triplets: Three Brothers Among Pelham's Earliest Firefighters.

Thu., Oct. 08, 2009: Firefighting Units on City Island in Pelham During the Early 1890's.

Fri., Sep. 04, 2009:  1901 Newspaper Article About Fire that Burned New York Athletic Club Clubhouse on Travers Island.


Mon., Aug. 31, 2009: Contest in 1891 To Determine Which Steam Fire Engine Company Could Throw a Stream the Greater Distance.

Fri., Aug. 28, 2009: Reorganization of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in February, 1891.

Thu., Aug. 06, 2009: Brief History of the Fire Department in the Village of North Pelham Published in 1913.

Wed., Aug. 05, 2009: Pelham Manor Fire Chief Pleads for Taxpayers to Authorize Purchase of Village's First Fire Engine.

Wed., July 15, 2009: Liberty Hose Company Election in 1898.


Thu., Feb. 19, 2009:  The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2006: Pelham Manor's Earliest Fire Fighting Equipment.


Wed., Jan. 18, 2006:  Newspaper Report of the Infamous Vaughan's Livery Stable Fire in North Pelham in 1907.

Mon., Oct. 17, 2005:  The Firemen's Memorial of the Pelham Fire Department.

Mon., Aug. 01, 2005: An 1896 Inspection and Drill of the Fire Department in Pelham.


Tue., May 31, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part I of II).

Wed., Jun. 01, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part II of II).

Fri., May 06, 2005:  The Great Furniture Battle at Pelhamville's Relief Hook and Ladder Company in 1896.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

St. Catharine's Rev. Father McNichol Was Honored in 1909


St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church stands at 25 Second Avenue in the Village of Pelham, New York.  In 1895, the Village of Pelham had not yet been incorporated within the Town of Pelham.   In the tiny little hamlet of Pelhamville there lived more than fifty Catholic families.  The area was within the parish of St. Gabriel's Church, New Rochelle that was led, at that time, by Rev. John Anthony Kellner, Rector.   

Families in Pelhamville asked Father Kellner to allow the construction of a church in Pelhamville.  Father Kellner, in turn, sought the sanction of then New York Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan.  Archbishop Corrigan granted the necessary permission.  According to an announcement published in The New York Times on Christmas day the same year, a beautiful edifice was planned.  The report said, in part: "The church will be Gothic in style. It will have a seating capacity of 350 persons. The dimensions will be 35 feet by 76 feet. It will be a frame structure, with a bell tower over the sacristy.  The basement will be of stone."  Catholic Church For Pelhamville, N.Y. Times, Dec. 25, 1895, p. 16.   

The 100 x 100 lot for the building was a gift of Patrick Farrell and was located near the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Blessed Redeemer.  Residents raised five hundred dollars toward construction of the building and obtained crosses and seven stained glass windows for inclusion in the new edifice.  Id.  Plans were made for a ground-breaking in January 1896 with an expectation that the building would be completed six months later in June.  On July 5, 1896, Archbishop Corrigan led the dedication of the new church building in Pelhamville.    

On December 8, 1897, Pelham was made a separate parish, the Rev. Francis P. McNichol being made the first pastor.  He completed the furnishing of the temporary church, which seated about 100.  At the time there was a mortgage of $3,500 on the church.   

Father McNichol purchased land and in 1899 built a rectory.  The present school building was erected in 1903.   

Father McNichol arranged to have the Sisters of St. Francis, with whom he had been associated at Mount Lorette, Staten Island, come to teach the children the Christian doctrine.  His next work was the building of the convent for the sisters.  They occupied it on December 8, 1906, and opened the parish school in February, 1907.

Rev. Father Francis McNichol clearly was an energetic young man with a vision and the ability to achieve it.  He attracted the attention of his superiors in the Catholic Church.  Consequently, he was selected for a robust and important honor in 1909, not long after opening the new parish school as well as a convent for the Sisters of St. Francis who oversaw administration of the new school.  

The Catholic Church was engaged in an initiative to support the Church in Cuba and to rebuild church infrastructure there after its damage and destruction by the United States during the Spanish-American War.  

Pope Pius X appointed Archbishop Aversa to rebuild the Catholic Church in Cuba.  He consecrated bishops in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

In February, 1909, Archbishop Aversa selected Rev. Father Francis McNichol of St. Catharine's Church in the Village of North Pelham to accompany him to Puerto Rico to oversee redevelopment of the church organization and infrastructure in those localities.  

On July 10, 1909, Rev. Father Francis McNichol sailed with Archbishop Aversa on the steamship Carolina.  They arrived on July 15 and were met by Bishop William Jones who succeeded the Spanish prelate after the Spanish-American War.  

The pair attended to church matters in Puerto Rico for nearly a month.  They returned to New York on the Steamer Coamo on August 16, 1909.  The pair reported that they "
found the church in excellent condition under the new bishop, William Jones, who, he stated, came from America."

The growing young Catholic Church in the Village of North Pelham and its Rector, the Rev. Father Francis McNichol, were on the map and had caught the eye of senior officials of the church, though the little church was barely a decade old. 
 
 

Saint Catherine's Church in April, 2011.

I have written regarding the history of Saint Catharine's on numerous occasions.  For a few examples, see:

Wed., Apr. 09, 2014:  Brief History of St. Catharine's Parish Published in 1927.

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

Thu., Sep. 13, 2007:  Dedication of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham in 1896.

Wed., Sep. 12, 2007:  Announcement of Planned Construction of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville in 1895.

Tue., Dec. 06, 2005:  The Origins of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham, New York.
 
*          *          *           *           *

"HONOR BESTOWED ON REV. FATHER McNICHOL OF NORTH PELHAM
-----

North Pelham, Feb. 11.  --  A great honor has been accorded the Rev. Francis McNichol, pastor of St. Catherine's [sic] Church of this village.  He will sail on either February 20, or March 6, for Porto Rico and Cuba as companion and secretary to Archbishop Aversa, papal delegate to Cuba and Porto Rico.  The Rev. Francis McNichol announced this fact at the masses in St. Catherine's church last Sunday.  

Rev. Father McNichol is the first pastor of the church and has made in a few years a model parish, having built a church, rectory, convent and school.  The school, under the regents of the state of New York, has taken honors in its examinations.  In the absence of Rev. Father McNichol, the Rev. John F. Morgan, professor in Cathedral College, New York, will officiate at the local church.

Archbishop Aversa was appointed by Pope Pius X, to reconstruct the church in Cuba and Porto Rico after the war between the United States and Spain.  He consecrated bishops in Cuba and Porto Rico, and has settled the temporal affairs of the church amicably with the United States government.  He now goes to these countries to make his official visit as the representative of Pope Pius X.

His Excellency, Archbishop Aversa, is a most distinguished embassador [sic], graduating in Europe's greatest universities with the triple doctorate of civil law, canon or church law and divinity.  He entered the papal diplomatic corps and rose to be assistant secretary of state under that great statesman Leo XIII and the famous secretary of state Cardinal Rampolla.

He was then sent by Pope Leo XIII and Pius X on important embassies, in all of which he has been successful.  He is a man of handsome presence and speaks fluently a half dozen languages.  He dedicated the new church in North Pelham last November."

Source:   HONOR BESTOWED ON REV. FATHER McNICHOL OF NORTH PELHAM, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY],  Feb. 11, 1909, p. 3, col. 2.

"HOME FROM HIS TRIP TO PORTO RICO
-----

North Pelham, August 17.  --  Rev. Francis McNichol, rector of St. Catherine's [sic] church this village, returned yesterday afternoon from Porto Rico, where he had been as secretary to Archbishop Aversa, papal delegate to Port Rico and Cuba.

Rev. Father McNichol sailed on July 10, with the archbishop, for Porto Rico, on the Carolina, and arrived at San Juan on the afternoon of July 15, where they were met by Bishop William Jones, who succeeded the Spanish prelate after the war.  On the steamer was Governor Post of Porto Rico.  

The local clergyman stated yesterday that the purpose of the archbishop's visit was to attend to matters of the church in Porto Rico.  The archbishop had concluded certain financial matters with the United States government, and was received with great acclaim in various parts of the island.  He found the church in excellent condition under the new bishop, William Jones, who, he stated, came from America.

Speaking of the chance from Spanish to American priests, Rev. Father McNichol said:  'We are having installed on this island up-to-date American priests who are organizing and establishing everything on a good American basis.  The priests are being educated in American ways and are instilling those ideas in Porto Rico.  The United States priest is the kind they want in Porto Rico and they are going there as fast as possible.'

Rev. Father McNichol and Archbishop Aversa arrived on the Coamo in New York yesterday morning and which docked at 10 o'clock.  They were met at the pier by Monsignor Hayes, chancellor of New York, representing Archbishop Farley, and were driven to the archbishop's residence in New York, where they had breakfast.  

The papers in Spain, Italy and the United States speak highly of Archbishop Aversa and refer to him in very complimentary terms to his appointment to the Austrian court.

The North Pelham rector has returned to this village considerably improved in health.  He has a fine brown color on his face, caused by the tropical sun.  He was sick for a few days upon his arrival there, but after he became acclimated, improved in strength and vigor."

Source:   HOME FROM HIS TRIP TO PORTO RICO, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 17, 1909, p. 5, col. 2

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