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, October 24, 2014

October 21, 1776 Report to the New-York Convention Regarding the Battle of Pelham


The New-York Convention was assembled to devise means for the most effective resistance to Great Britain in the American Revolution.  Representatives from counties throughout the State met frequently to receive reports, give instructions, arrange funding and communicate with other States.  

Only three days after the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776, the New-York Convention received a brief report regarding the battle.  The report included estimates of the losses of both armies.  This is particularly interesting because the losses of the British and German troops during the battle have been a raging controversy for a hundred and fifty years or longer.  According to the report, the British and German troops lost about 100 men killed.  That number is far below many reports of the total number of British and German troops killed during the battle.  This author is particularly intrigued by the report because the high estimates of British and German battle casualties reported by British deserters after the battle (and by others) have never seemed consistent with reality.  That said, no definitive record of the German troop losses has ever been discovered.  

Immediately below is the report to the New-York Convention, followed by a citation to its source.  

"INFORMATION RELATING TO THE ENEMY, COMMUNICATED TO THE NEW-YORK CONVENTION.

October 21, 1776.

On Friday last the main body of the enemy's army decamped from Frog's Point, and landed on Pell's or Rodman's Neck, east of the East-chester creek, commonly called the Manor of Pelham.  Soon after their landing, three regiment's of my brother's brigade, commanded at present by Colonel Glover, attacked their advanced party, and repulsed them, killing it is supposed about one hundred; but they being sustained by their main body, our detachment was ordered off, and they accordingly retreated with the utmost good order, losing in the whole action only twenty-three killed and wounded.  The enemy have since moved slowly eastward, and now lay from where they first landed extended about one mile east of New-Rochelle.  Our army lays in their front, about two and a half miles distant; the left wing at White-Plains, the right at this place, where my brigade now is; but I think it probable in a day or two I shall be ordered to the left, in which case I shall be nearer to you, the only reason I can have to wish it.

A few days ago General Mercer went to Staten-Island, with about two thousand men, and took twenty-seven prisoners, Hessians and Highlanders, and killed three or four.  He lost about three men, and indeed was very near surrounding and defeating the whole of the enemy.  They have since ordered a brigade to reinforce that island, and I daily expect to hear some good news from Long-Island.  The enemy has had a small reinforcement arrived of Light-Horse, &c., within a few days.

I don't recollect any thing else worth mentioning, nor have I time for recollection."

Source:  Force, Peter, ed., American Archives:  Consisting Of A Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Public Affairs, The Whole Forming a Documentary History of the Origin and Progress of the North American Colonies; of the Causes and Accomplishment of the American Revolution; and of the Constitution of Government for the United States, to the Final Ratification Thereof.  In Six Series, pp. 1167-68 (Washington, D.C.:  1837-53).




*          *          *           *          *

I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776.  See, for example, the following 37 articles:  


Bell, Blake A., The Battle of Pelham:  October 18, 1776, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 41, Oct. 15, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.  

Bell, Blake, History of the Village of Pelham:  Revolutionary War, HistoricPelham.com Archive (visited May 9, 2014).  


Mon., Feb. 28, 2005:  Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road Does Not Mark the Site of the Battle of Pelham.  

Mon., Apr. 18, 2005:  Restored Battle of Pelham Memorial Plaque Is Unveiled at Glover Field.  

Fri., May 27, 2005:  1776, A New Book By Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, Touches on the Battle of Pelham.  

Thu., Jul. 14, 2005:  Pelham's 1926 Pageant Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pelham.  

Wed., Oct. 26, 2005:  Remnants of the Battlefield on Which the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  
Fri., May 19, 2006:  Possible Remains of a Soldier Killed in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Found in 1921.  

Fri., Aug. 11, 2006:  Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910.  

Thu., Sep. 21, 2006:  A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903.  

Mon., Oct. 30, 2006:  Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Nov. 1, 2006:  Two British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Tue., Jan. 16, 2007:  Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Feb. 09, 2007:  Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Mon., Feb. 12, 2007:  Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition:  "Overlooked Hero:  John Glover and the American Revolution."  

Thu., Jan. 18, 2007:  Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jul. 16, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How.  

Tue., Jul. 17, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Writings of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Aide-de-Camp to British General Clinton.  

Wed., Jul. 18, 2007:  Another British Military Unit History that Notes Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Tue., Aug. 7, 2007:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Contained in the McDonald Papers Published in 1926.  

Wed., Aug. 8, 2007:  A Description of an Eyewitness Account of the Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.  

Thu., Sep. 6, 2007:  Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.  

Mon., Oct. 8, 2007:  American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October 1776.  

Fri., Oct. 12, 2007:  Images of The Lord Howe Chestnut that Once Stood in the Manor of Pelham.  

Fri., Oct. 27, 2006:  Orders Issued by British Major General The Honourable William Howe While Encamped in Pelham After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009:  Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18 1776.  

Wed., Feb. 17, 2010:  British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  

Fri., Apr. 23, 2010:  Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham.  


Thu., Feb. 06, 2014:  A Description of the Revolutionary War Battle of Pelham Published in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Mon., May 19, 2014:  Biography of British Officer Who Fought in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Jun. 04, 2014:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Presented and Published in 1894.  

Fri., Jun. 27, 2014:  Newly-Published Account Concludes Colonel William Shepard Was Wounded During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jun. 30, 2014:  A British Lieutenant in the Twelfth Foot Who Fought at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Sep. 19, 2014:  Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 17, 2014:  References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.

Fri., Oct. 17, 2014:  First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Oct. 20, 2014:  American Diary Account of Events Before, During, and After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Tue., Oct. 21, 2014:  November 1, 1776 Letter Describing the Battle of Pelham and Events Before and After the Battle.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Mystery: The Club House Built by the Pelham Shore Improvement Company


Yet another Pelham "history mystery" has arisen. In 1900, a group of prominent Pelham Manor residents incorporated a company named the “Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor.” It seems that the company’s existence was brief and involved the construction of a wooden frame club house on the Long Island Sound side of Shore Road at the boundary between Pelham Bay Park and the Village of Pelham Manor. The purpose of the Club is not yet known.

I have a very vague recollection from some time in the distant past of reading a brief, humorous reference to the creation of a social Club in the early 20th century to allow members to enjoy water activities and boating on Long Island Sound along Pelham’s tiny shoreline. Neither the Club nor its organizers were, to my recollection, named in the brief account that I read, but the account claimed that the Club was entirely unsuccessful and folded quickly because the location was particularly poor for such a club. I have not been able to locate that account again, but as best as I can recall it, twice a day as the tide rolled out, the Club was faced with extensive, unappealing, and smelly mud flats that precluded launching boats or returning launches to the Club house until the tide rose again. 

Admittedly, the account that I vaguely recall may not relate to the Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor but, then again, it may.  The purpose of today’s posting to the Historic Pelham Blog, however, is to document the brief history of the Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor as it can now be pieced together in the hope of later solving this Pelham history mystery.

For those who are interested, I have faced (and subsequently solved) such mysteries before. For an example, see:

Mon., Apr. 10, 2006:  A Mystery Yet To Be Solved: The Pelham Trading Company Incorporated in 1901.

Wed., Feb. 21, 2007:  A Pelham Mystery Solved: The Pelham Trading Company Incorporated in 1901.

Incorporation of “Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor”

In or about August, 1900, the “Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor” was incorporated with capital of $2,500.  The initial directors of the corporation were three prominent residents of the Village of Pelham Manor:  Henry Beidlman Bascom Stapler, William Bradley Randall, and Dr. Edward Payson Fowler (after whom today’s Fowler Avenue is named).  See New Corporations, N.Y. Times, Aug. 8, 1900, p. 9, col. 7; Recent New Corporations, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 8, 1900, p. 5, col. 1; [Untitled], New Rochelle [NY] Press, Aug. 11, 1900, Vol. XXVI, No. 10, p. 1, col. 1.

The Three Original Directors

The three original directors of the corporation were prominent men who were active in the affairs of the Town of Pelham and the Village of Pelham Manor. Henry B. B. Stapler was an active member of the Pelham Manor Protective Club, a predecessor organization to the Village of Pelham Manor, in the last few years of the existence of that Club before it was disbanded at the time the Village of Pelham Manor was incorporated in 1891. Stapler was born on February 24, 1853 in Mobile, Alabama. He grew up and attended school in Wilmington, Delaware. On November 10, 1880, he married Helen Louisa Gause of Wilmington, Delaware. The couple had four children. Stapler graduated from Yale University and became a “classical instructor” in the Hartford, Connecticut Public High School while he completed a law degree from Yale which he received in 1876. He clerked with the law firm Fowler & Taylor in New York City and was admitted to practice in May, 1878. Soon he formed a partnership with a classmate, John L. Wood, which continued for ten years. Thereafter, Stapler practiced on his own and served as an assistant district attorney for the City and County of New York from 1891 until 1893. After serving as an ADA, Stapler entered partnership with George P. Breckenridge and the pair practiced in the law firm of Stapler & Breckenridge. Stapler died of pneumonia at his home in Pelham Manor on December 1, 1906, at the age of 54. See Biographical Record of the Class of 1874 in Yale College – Part Fourth 1874-1909, pp. 196-97 (New Haven, CT: The Tuttle Morehouse & Taylor Co., 1912).

William B. Randall lived in a magnificent home that no longer stands called The Hermitage located at 1385 Park Lane on a large plot of land that extended from Park Lane through to today’s Beech Tree Lane in the estate section of the Village of Pelham Manor. William B. Randall was born in South Lee, Massachusetts in 1859. He was a son of Abel Bradley Randall (an executive of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company), and Ann Eliza Ormsby Randall. He was educated at Prospect School in Bridgeport, Connecticut and, according to one biographer, "began his financial career as trust officer of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, 1894-1908". French, Alvah P., ed., History of Westchester County New York, Vol. III, p. 119a (NY, NY & Chicago, IL: Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1925). In 1888, William Randall married Evelyn Smith. Evelyn Smith Randall was a daughter of Addison P. Smith and Phoebe Smith. The couple had two children including Bradley Randall, born in 1890 and Phoebe Randall born in 1895. Phoebe later married Mr. Vernon Radcliffe. Id. William B. Randall eventually became President of the Security Transfer and Registrar Company and was a notable businessman with a wide variety of interests. According to his biography published in Alvah P. French's History of Westchester County New York published in 1925: "Mr. Randall's career has brought him into intimate contact with a number of large business concerns of every kind, in which he holds leading positions. He is a director of the Coal and Iron National Bank; the Mount Vernon Trust Company; Winyah Park Realty Company; vice-president and director of the Southern States Lumber Company; the Fairfax Realty Company; the Suburban Land Improvement Company; director of the Puritan Mortgage Corporation, Metropolitan Realty Corporation; Pelham Leasing Corporation; Electro Coach Corporation; Electro Bus Corporation, and the Pioche & Pacific Railroad." Id. William B. Randall was involved in public service. From 1882 until 1888 he served as a private in the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard. He also served as President (i.e., Mayor) of the Village of Pelham Manor, 1902-1903. He also was a member and director of the Chamber of Commerce of Westchester County and held memberships in the following clubs: National Arts, St. Maurice, Pelham Country Club, Wykagyl Country Club, New York Athletic Club and the Railroad Club. Id. Randall died in 1940.

Dr. Edward P. Fowler. He resided for many years in New York City but had a summer estate with a home once known as the Grenzebach Home that once stood on the hill where the chapel of today’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help now stands. The address of the home was 4743 Boston Post Road. While Dr. Fowler owned the estate, he allowed the first Pelham Country Club (the predecessor to today’s Wykagyl Country Club) to lease large parts of the estate for use as a golf course. Though Fowler began as a summer resident of Pelham Manor, Fowler became active in Village affairs and moved to Pelham Manor to become a permanent resident late in his life. After some time, Dr. Fowler decided to divide his property into building lots, and forced the first Pelham Country Club to look for a new home. For more than fifty years, Dr. Fowler was a well-known physician in general practice in New York City. He was born in 1833 in Coshocton, New York. He graduated from the New York Medical College in 1855 and served as a visiting physician at Ward’s Island and the Hahnemann Hospital. His son, Edward Mumford Fowler, also was active for many years in the affairs of the Village of Pelham Manor. Fowler authored a number of medical works and was a member of the New York Academy of Medicine, the New York Neurological Society, and the Medical Society of the County of New York. Dr. Fowler died of pneumonia at his home in Pelham Manor on January 29, 1914. See Dr. Edward P. Fowler Dead – Old New York Physician and Author of Several Medical Works, N.Y. Times, Jan. 30, 1914.



Detail from 1901 Map Showing Location of the One-Story
Frame Clubhouse Just South of the New York City
Boundary on Shore Road by the Pelham Shore
Improvement Company.  Source:  Fairchild, John F.,
STREET MAP OF THE City of Mount Vernon
AND THE Town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N. Y.,
COMPILED AND PUBLISHED BY John F. Fairchild,
ASSOC. M AM SOC C. E. CITY OF MOUNT VERNON,
N. Y. (T.S. STRANGE, DEL.: Oct. 1901) (copy in collections
of Museum of the City of New York, No. 53.191.4).

"RECENT NEW CORPORATIONS
-----

Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor:  capital, $2,500  Directors -- H. B. B. Stapler, New York City; W. B. Randall and E. P. Fowler, Pelham Manor."

Source:  RECENT NEW CORPORATIONS, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 8, 1900, p. 5, col. 1.  


"The Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor was incorporated at Albany this week; capital, $2,500.  Directors -- H. B. B. Stapler, New York City; W. B. Randall and E. P. Fowler, Pelham Manor."

Source:  [Untitled], New Rochelle [NY] Press, Aug. 11, 1900, Vol. XXVI, No. 10, p. 1, col. 1. 

"Pelham Shore Improvement Company of Pelham Manor; capital, $2,500.  Directors -- H. B. B. Stapler, New York City; W. B. Randall and E. P. Fowler, Pelham Manor."

Source:  NEW CORPORATIONS, N.Y. Times, Aug. 8, 1900, p. 9, col. 7.


"REAL ESTATE STATISTICS.
-----
Tables Showing the Transfers, Mortgages and Plans for New Buildings Filed in Manhattan and the Bronx in Corresponding Weeks of 1900 and 1899. . . . 

RECORDED TRANSFERS. . . . 

Pelham Bay Park, at Long Island Sound, runs w 290.6 to Pelham road x n e 150x e 273.3 to Sound x s -- to beg; William B. Randall to the Pelham Shore Improvement Co. (r s $10, mtge $7,000)...............................10,000"

Source:  REAL ESTATE STATISTICS . . . RECORDED TRANSFERS, New York Herald, Dec. 23, 1900, Second and Third Editions, p. 9, col. 5.  


"GENERAL FUND.
-----
RECEIPTS. . . . 

Tax on Organization of Corporations -- Chapter 908, Laws of 1896. . . . 

Pelham Shore Improvement Co. . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13

Source:  Annual Report of the State Treasurer for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 1900 Transmitted to the Legislature January 2, 1901, p. 65 (Albany, NY:  James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1901).  

"MANHATTAN AND THE BRONX.
CONVEYANCES . . . 

REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS. . . . 

Pelham Bay Park, at Long Island Sound, runs w 290.6 to Pelham Road x ne 150x e 273.3 to Sound x s -- to beginning; William B. Randall to the Pelham Shore Improvement Company, R S, $10; mortgage, $7,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,000"

Source:  MANHATTAN AND THE BRONX CONVEYANCES . . . REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS, New-York Tribune, Dec. 23, 1900, Vol. LX, No. 19,761, p. 12, col. 3.  

"IN THE REAL ESTATE FIELD
-----
Sales of Flats and Dwellings -- Records of Auctions and Building -- Important Transfers. . . . 

THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT.
-----
List of Plans Filed for New Buildings and Alterations. . . .  

Pelham Road, east side, at the intersection of Pelham Bay Park, for a one-story frame club-house.  48 by 36; Pelham Shore Improvement Company, Pelham Manor, owner; W. Lensining, 55 Broadway, architect; cost, 2,000."

BUILDING DEPARTMENT, N.Y. Times, Jul. 3, 1901, p. 11, col. 1.

"REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS. . . . 

Recorded Mortgages. 
Interest is at 5 per cent., unless otherwise specified. . . . 

THE PELHAM SHORE IMPROVEMENT Company to Sidney D. Ripley and anothers [sic], as trustees; Pelham Bay Park, n s, at intersection of line of Long Island Sound, with riparian rights, &c., 5 years, gold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,000"

Source:  REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS . . . Recorded Mortgages, N. Y. Times, Jul. 31, 1901.


"Editorial Notices. 
-----
*     *     *

Notice Is Hereby Given

That a meeting of the stockholders of the Pelham Shore Improvement Company will be held at the office of the Company, at the residence of William B. Randall, in the village of Pelham Manor, on the fourth day of June, 1901, at 8:30 o'clock p.m. for the purpose of electing 12 Directors and two Inspectors of Election, pursuant to the provision of the By-Laws of said Company, and for the transaction of such other business as may properly come before said meeting.  Polls will remain open from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Transfer books will be closed from May 23, 1901, to June 5, 1901.

THEODORE M. HILL, Secretary."

Source:  Editorial Notices, The Statesman [Yonkers, NY], May 21, 1901, p. 2, col. 4.


"CORPORATION TAXES. . . . 

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE STATE TREASURER.

Tax on Organization of Corporations. . . .

Pelham Shore Improvement Co.....................9.38

*     *     *

CLASS IV -- Gas, Mining and Miscellaneous. . . . 

P. . . . 

Pelham Shore Improvement...........................4.80

Documents of the Senate of the State of New York One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Session, 1902, Vol. I, Nos. 1 to 9, pp. 88263 (Albany, NY:  J. B. Lyon Company, 1902).

"Pelham Shore Improvement Company

The certificate of incorporation of the Pelham Shore Improvement Company has been filed in the County Clerk's office at White Plains.  The purposes for which it is formed are to acquire by purchase, lease, or otherwise, lands to erect and construct houses, pavilions, piers, and buildings of every kind and to furnish the same, and to make general improvements in that line.  The capital stock is $2,500."

Source:  Pelham Shore Improvement Company, New Rochelle Pioneer, Aug. 18, 1900, Vol. Vol. 42, No. 22, p. 1, col. 6.  


"ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMPTROLLER.

CORPORATION TAXES.

SCHEDULE OF MONEYS RECEIVED IN THE TREASURY DURING THE YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 1903, FROM CORPORATIONS, ETC., FOR TAXES IMPOSED IN PURSUANCE OF CHAPTER 908, LAWS OF 1896, AND ACTS AMENDATORY THEREOF.

IV.  MISCELLANEOUS COMPANIES.
(Tax based on dividend and capital only.)

Pelham Shore Improvement................................7.50"

Source:  Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Session, 1904, Vol. I, Nos. 1 to 9, Inclusive, p. 453 (Albany, NY:  Oliver A. Quayle, State Legislative Printer, 1904).

"Real Estate Transfers. . . . 

BRONX.
(Borough of The Bronx.) . . . 

Pelham Bay Park, n.a. at westerly line Long Island Sound, runs w 200.6x n e 150x e 273.3 s to beg; the Pelham Shore Improvement Co to Evelyn Randall, mtges $11,000....................11,750"

Source:  Real Estate Transfers . . . BRONX . . . (Borough of The Bronx.), The Sun [NY, NY}, Feb. 19, 1904, p. 11, col. 2.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Genealogical Information Regarding Benjamin Palmer, an 18th Century Owner of City Island in the Town of Pelham


Benjamin Palmer was a son-in-law of Thomas Pell (referenced by members of the Pell Family as Third Lord of the Manor of Pelham).  In 1761, Palmer purchased from his brother, Joseph, the island then known as Minneford's Island (today's City Island).  Benjamin Palmer had grand plans to build a large port City on the Island (hence, "City Island") to rival the port of New York City as an international shipping hub.  In 1763, Palmer announced that City Island lots had been laid out and were being offered for sale.  On May 10, 1763, the first ferry was established between City Island and Rodman’s Neck.  Throughout the 1760's many of those lots were bought and resold by land speculators. 

Shortly before the onset of the Revolutionary War, Samuel Rodman Sr. and Benjamin Palmer successfully lobbied the New York Lieutenant Governor, the Council and the General Assembly to enact a statute authorizing them to build a free draw bridge between Rodman's Neck on the mainland and Minneford's Island (known today as City Island).  The plans were part of Palmer's grand scheme to develop Minneford's Island into a major city seaport. 

The onset of the Revolutionary War dashed these plans.  The statute required that the bridge be built within seven years of its date of passage on April 3, 1775.  The War raged for the next eight years.  Thus, the bridge was never built and Palmer's grand plans for City Island were relegated to the trash bin of history.

I have written about Benjamin Palmer of City Island and the early history of City Island on many occasions. At the end of this posting are links to numerous such postings.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of a brief genealogy of the Palmer family with information about the ancestry and descendants of Benjamin Palmer of City Island.

"ADDRESS

TO THE PALMERS OF WESTCHESTER CO., N. Y., BY PROFESSOR JOSEPH H. PALMER, OF YONKERS, N. Y.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Palmer Re-Union:

Westchester County is a small part of the great territory of the Palmer family.  It was so closely allied to the State of Connecticut that for many years it was impossible to determine a boundary line of separation; but now Westchester County contents herself, lying between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound,, and having for its southern boundary the great city of New York.

In population Westchester ranks as the ninth county in the State of New York.  It contains the city of Yonkers and numerous villages, among them White Plains, Peekskill, Tarrytown and New Rochelle.  From its proximity to New England and New York, and its beauty of situation, it is not surprising that the Palmers were among its first settlers.

The first settlement was made at the present village of Westchester in 1642, by John Throckmorton with thirty-five English families from New England, with the consent of the Dutch who had acquired title from the Indians.  These, and others immediately following them, were refugees from New England persecution, and among them was William Palmer, who died in Westchester about 1670.

The Palmers were not only among the early settlers, but they were among the most active participants in the affairs both of Church and of State.  As early as 1673 Joseph Palmer and Edward Waters were appointed the first magistrates of Westchester; and in 1692 John, Joseph and Samuel Palmer were appointed as commissioners for the repurchase of the land from the Indians.  John Palmer was a vestryman of St. Peter's Church, Westchester; other Palmers were Baptists, Methodists, Independents and Quakers.  Some shared the independent spirit of Ann Hutchinson, and deeply lamented her untimely [Page 105 / Page 106] and cruel death, which occurred near the creek which bears her name.  

As the population increased and the settlements extended, we find the Palmers in the adjoining towns -- Pelham, New Rochelle and Mamaroneck, and in other parts of the county, and finally in other counties and other States.

City Island, originally called New City Island, in the town of Pelham, takes its name from an organized effort to make it a great trading port -- a great commercial city.  The waters are deep and the tides from both extremities of the sound meet there.  

Benjamin Palmer owned the island, consisting of 230 acres, and with his consent and co-operation it was granted to a company or corporation consisting of thirty persons, and laid out and mapped into city lots.  The plans of the company were interrupted by the Revolutionary War.  Benjamin Palmer, in the beginning of the war, at once took an active part in favor of independence.  He was driven from the island, where he had retained an interest, and was a great sufferer during the entire war, losing almost everything for his attachment to the American cause.

In 1789 he set forth his grievances in a petition to Gen. Washington for redress, Aaron Burr being his advisor.  The petition, among other things, stated 'That himself and his family were taken prisoners by the British who used us very ill, and then ordered us off my plantation, which I then had on said island, to New York, where I have continued with my family ever since.'

In order to give the original lines of the Palmers of Westchester, we must go still farther back, and begin with:  

William Palmer, accompanied by his son William, a lad of nine years, came from Nottinghamshire, England, in the ship Fortune, in 1621 -- the second ship after the Mayflower -- landed at Plymouth, Mass., and settled at Duxbury, Mass., and thence to Scituate.  It is supposed he died in 1637.  His will was probated March 5, 1638.  His wife, Frances, followed her husband to America in the vessel Anne, in 1623.*  [Footnote * reads:  '*  See Palmer Records, Vol. I, p. 114.']  His son William it [Page 106 / Page 107] is supposed migrated into Westchester Country [sic], and died there in 1670.  Children,, William, Joseph, Benjamin, Samuel, Obadiah and Thomas.  Samuel settled in Mamaroneck, and became the propritor [sic] of Mangopson Neck.  Children, Obadiah, Nehemiah, Sylvanus and Solomon.  Obadiah died in 1747.  Children, William, Samuel, Benjamin, David, Obadiah, Caleb and Mary Anne.  Nehemiah died in 1760, leaving a son and a daughter.  The son died, leaving Harrison, Drake, Aaron, Nathan, Benjamin, Nehemiah and Elihue.  Sylvanus died in 1741.  Children, Robert, Sylvanus, John, Marmaduke, Edward, Anne, Susannah, Charity and Mary.

John, son of Sylvanus, grandson of Samuel and great grandson of William, of Westchester, married Rebecca.  Children, Joseph, Philip, Marcus, Lewis, Benjamin.  The brothers Joseph and Benjamin became proprietors of City Island.  

John Palmer of Rockland Coounty, N. Y., was probably a son of Josepoh and nephew of Benjamin, of City Island.  He lived in Rockland County as early as 1750, and called his little settlement New City, from New City Island where his father had lived.  The Palmer homestead is about one mile north of New City, which has long been the county-seat of Rockland County.  I have been unable to trace with certainty the relation between Benjamin Palmer, of City Island, and John Palmer, of New City, but there are old deeds and other papers in possession of John Palmer's descendants which establish a connection between him and the City Island property; and the dates indicate that he was the son of Joseph.  He married Martha Brown.  Children, John, Joseph and Jonathan.  Joseph never married.  The descendants of John and Jonathan, with dates, are more fully given in 'Family Sketches,' by Rev. David Cole, D. D., Yonkers, N. Yl  In these remarks I can only trace the Westchester branch from Rockland County back to Westchester.

Jonathan Palmer, born at New City, date unknown; married Elizabeth Wood, daughter of Sheriff Ebenezer Wood, born at Tappan, July 4, 1762, and died at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y., December 10, 1832.  Children, Elizabeth, Jonathan [Page 107 / Page 108] Mary, John, Sarah, Benjamin, Jacob, Hannah, Ebenezer, Joseph and Daniel.

Benjamin Palmer, born at New City, April 1, 1793; married, December 8, 1814.  Clarinda Frink, daughter of Isaac Frink and Phebe Pendleton; born at Cherry Valley, Otsego county, N. Y., July 28, 1795.  The husband died July 20, 1857, and his wife, December 12, 1872.  There were seven children, all born at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y., Phebe, Hannah Etta, Jane, Joseph H., George W., Warren W., and A. Judson.

Joseph Howard Palmer (myself), born at Camillus, Onondaga County, N. Y.,, September 16, 1824; married first, December 25, 1851, Hannah maria Van Cott, daughter of John G. Van Cott and Sarah Wyckoff; born at Bushwick, L. I., April 18, 1830, died at Yonkers,, N. Y., March 17, 1859.  Married second, July 19, 1866, Frances A. Bingham, daughter of Horace B. Bingham and Emeline Jones; born at Coventay, Conn., March 31, 1835.  Children of the first marriage:

Sarah Clarinda Palmer has the professorship of mathematics since September, 1876, in Wells' College, Aurora, Cayuga Lake, N. Y.

John Garrison Palmer is a partner in the Pure Gold Manufacturing Company, Fairport, Monroe County, N. Y.

Anna Maria Palmer has charge of a kindergarten in Allegheny, Pa.

Phebe Etta Palmer is a teacher in the Park Heights Seminary, Ocean Grove, N. J.

Children of the second marriage, Horace Bingham Palmer, Frank Howard Palmer, and Maria Whitney Palmer.  

But few of this numerous race remained in Westchester.  The enterprises of New York City and the surrounding country became inviting; and as westward the star of empire takes her course, thitherward from every eastern county and State went many of the Palmers to act their part among the first in peaceable possession, among the first in places of honor and trust, among the first in war, in peace, and in the hearts of their countrymen.  In the wide stretch across the continent their dwell- [Page 108 / Page 109] ings ere found in almost every county, from Plymouth Rock to the Golden Gate.  From every point of the compass on land and sea the Palmers rejoice over this Palmer Re-Union -- this reuniting of heart and home.  The home in all ages has been the center of love and affection.  Its surroundings and associations engage our earliest attention, and the words father and mother are the last of all things forgotten.  The pictures of our old homes awaken commingled emotions of joy and sorrow, reminding us of the sunshine and shadows of the past.

The remembrances of kindred and friends are precious endearments.  Art has been taxed to its uttermost to present in photography, in painting and in sculpture the forms so dear to us.  These remembrances are sacred -- our penates, our household gods.  And when these, like all earthly things, shall perish from the earth, the memory they faintly embodied, the story of virtue or valor and of useful lives, will be told to children's children.  Yes, when all who now live, and their children's children, have been carried to their last resting-place, their successors throughout all time will read the story of Plymouth Rock and Stonington, Bunker Hill and Saratoga, Valley Forge and Yorktown.  

If memory is so enduring, and the story of one's life so indestructible, then let our lives be lives of virtue and honor; let us be exemplary parents and citizens, known and blessed by doing good amoung our fellow-men."

Source:  Palmer, Joseph H., Address to the Palmers of Westchester Co., N. Y., by Professor Joseph H. Palmer, of Yonkers, N. Y. in Supplement to Volume No. 1 of Palmer Records.  Addresses + Poems + Proceedings of the Second Palmer Family Re-Union, Held at Stonington, Conn., August 10, 11 & 12, 1882, The Ancestral Home of Walter Palmer, the Pilgrim of 1629, Under the Auspices of the Palmer Re-Union Association, pp. 105-09 (Edited by Noyes F. Palmer, Recording Secretary, Jamaica, Long Island, NY:  Privately Printed, 1882).



Map of Town of Pelham with Inset of City Island, 1868.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity,
p. 35 (NY, NY: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868).

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Below are examples of many prior postings that touch on Benjamin Palmer, Members of the Palmer Family and the early history of City Island.

Tue., Oct. 07, 2014:  Legislative History of the 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Fri., Oct. 03, 2014:  1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Tue., Dec. 01, 2009:  Brief History of City Island Published in 1901.

Tue., Dec. 26, 2006:  1775 Statute Authorizing Samuel Rodman and Benjamin Palmer to Build City Island Drawbridge.  








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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

November 1, 1776 Letter Describing the Battle of Pelham and Events Before and After the Battle


In keeping with the last two postings to the Historic Pelham Blog addressing aspects of the Battle of Pelham, the 238th anniversary of which was last Saturday, today's posting transcribes an extract of a letter written by an American soldier on November 1, 1776 describing not only the Battle of Pelham, but also events before and after the Battle.  The lengthy letter is quoted only in part to cover only those events described in the letter during the period from about October 12, 1776 until October 22, 1776.  



Portrait of Colonel John Glover.

"EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN IN THE ARMY, DATED CAMP NEAR THE MILLS, ABOUT THREE MILES NORTH OF WHITE-PLAINS, NOVEMBER 1, 1776.

About the 15th of October the great movements of the enemy up the Sound, their landing in large bodies at Frog's Point, and the intelligence which the Generals obtained, that the enemy with their whole force were off against Eastchester and New Rochel, and that both Lord and General Howe were there in person, gave the Generals full satisfaction that General Howe's plan was to make a bold stroke, and hem in and cut off our Army at once.  General Lee, I have understood, thought that the situation of the Army of the States of America was much too confined and cramped, and that it could not be good policy to lie still in such a situation, or to hazard the great cause in which we were embarked in one general action, in which, if we should not succeed, the Army might be lost, as a retreat would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  It was determined by the Generals therefore to counteract the enemy by a general movement.  General McDougall's brigade from the lines at Harlem, several regiments of Militia at Fort Washington, and five or six regiments from the Jersey side were ordered over King's Bridge, and marched on towards the enemy, to counteract them in their operations.  Generals Heath, Parsons, &c., with more than half the Army, were there before; General Lee also now took his post on that side, not far from the enemy.  On the 16th the Generals were all in council, and I suppose determined to leave Harlem, Fort Washington, and King's Bridge, only with a garrison, and march into the country to prevent the enemy from ravaging the coast and surrounding us, and by our movements to lead them into the country.  In the mean time the stores, baggage, &c., were moved to places of safety with the greatest expedition.  General Lincoln had orders to post himself on Voluntine [Valentine] Hill near Mile Square, and to cast up some works for defence; and redoubts were cast up on the hills and on all difficult passes on the road from King's Bridge to Mile Square, to secure our march.  On the 17th General Spencer's whole division had orders to march to Mile Square, which we reached next day.  Two brigades of that division encamped at Mile Square, on the left of General Lincoln, and Lord Stirling marched on further and formed still on the left of them towards the White-Plains, making a front towards the enemy from East-Chester almost to White-Plains, on the east side of the highway, so as to secure the march of the troops behind us on our right, and to defend the teams and wagons that brought on our sick, cannon, stores &c.  In this manner one division of the Army passed another, till we extended from the Sound up to White-Plains, and over to King's Street, not far from Connecticut line, where General Parsons took his post, and until the last division on the right wing, which was General Lee's, reached the Plains, and marched out westward between the main body of the Army and the river.  This was on the 25th and 26th of October.  This left all the road from East-Chester to King's Bridge open to the enemy, excepting a few guards, and a regiment at or near Fort Independence.  This I have understood was Colonel Wyllys's, and that his orders were, that if the enemy came on too powerfully to retreat to Fort Washington.  

General Greene,  I have understood, is at Fort Washington, with about sixteen hundred or two thousand men, and that the garrison is well supplied with provisions and warlike stores, so as to stand a long siege.  They have a communication with the forts on the high rocks on the opposite shore.  All the barracks and preparations for winter we have been obliged to leave for the present.  Our stores of every kind, as far as I can learn, have been brought off, and sent to places of safety.  Our field artillery, with two double-fortified twelve pounders and one brass twenty-four pounder, we have brought on with us.

While we were making this grand movement into the country, the enemy were not idle; having collected their troops from all quarters at Frog's Point, and on board their ships, which were ranged along shore, off against the Point and opposite to East-Chester.  On the 18th they began a cannonade from their shipping early in the day, and landed some men on a point or neck of land near East-Chester meeting-house, and their main body advanced from Pell's Neck out towards the great post road from Connecticut to New-York.  General Lee, who had been watching their motions, had posted a regiment or two of men, with one of the Rifle battalions, in a very advantageous manner, to annoy them and bring them into an ambush; which partly succeeded.  A large advanced guard came forward, with two parties on the right and left of them, to flank and get round our people wherever small parties should appear to oppose them.  A small party of our troops were sent forward to fire on the large advanced body of the enemy, and to divert and lead them on to a wall behind which the regiments mentioned were principally secreted.  The enemy came very near the wall, and received a general fire from our troops which, which broke their advanced party entirely, so that they ran back to the main body, formed, and came on again in large numbers, keeping up a heavy fire with field-pieces on the walls and men.  They advanced now very near, and received a second fire, which entirely routed them again, and they retreated in a narrow lane by a wall, in a confused, huddled manner, near which were posted a large body of Riflemen and some companies of Musketmen, who at this favourite moment poured in upon them a most heavy fire once or twice before they could get out of the way; and they were seen to fall in great numbers.  The whole body of the enemy then advanced different ways to surround our men; they however kept the wall till the enemy advanced a third time, and after giving them several fires they retreated by order from their officers.  General Lee greatly commended the conduct of the men.  The enemy were thought at the lowest computation to have lost five hundred men; some think not less than a thousand.  We had but very few killed, and as far as I can learn, not more than fifty or sixty wounded.  The enemy advanced on to a high point or neck of land not far from East-Chester meeting-house, from whence they were able to command the road with their field-pieces, but they kept very much in a body, so that our people on Saturday and Sunday nights, the 19th and 20th of October, brought off more than one hundred barrels of pork that had been left in the store at East-Chester, without any molestation.  About the same time the enemy sent fight parties along the shore, as far as New-Rochel and Moroneck, but their main body did not move but very little.

On the evening of the 22d thirty-six of the enemy were taken, and next morning brought to Head-Quarters.  They were Tory Rangers, who had listed under the infamous Major Rogers.  One of them had been an officer in the New-York service, and deserted from us not long since.  Two or three of them I have been told were from Newtown, in Connecticut. . . . . . 

Source:  Force, Peter, American Archives:  Fifth Series, Containing A Documentary History of the United States of America, From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, to the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, September 3, 1783, Vol. III, pp. 471-73 (Washington, D.C.:  1853).  

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I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776.  See, for example, the following 36 articles:  


Bell, Blake A., The Battle of Pelham:  October 18, 1776, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 41, Oct. 15, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.  

Bell, Blake, History of the Village of Pelham:  Revolutionary War, HistoricPelham.com Archive (visited May 9, 2014).  


Mon., Feb. 28, 2005:  Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road Does Not Mark the Site of the Battle of Pelham.  

Mon., Apr. 18, 2005:  Restored Battle of Pelham Memorial Plaque Is Unveiled at Glover Field.  

Fri., May 27, 2005:  1776, A New Book By Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, Touches on the Battle of Pelham.  

Thu., Jul. 14, 2005:  Pelham's 1926 Pageant Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pelham.  

Wed., Oct. 26, 2005:  Remnants of the Battlefield on Which the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  
Fri., May 19, 2006:  Possible Remains of a Soldier Killed in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Found in 1921.  

Fri., Aug. 11, 2006:  Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910.  

Thu., Sep. 21, 2006:  A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903.  

Mon., Oct. 30, 2006:  Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Nov. 1, 2006:  Two British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Tue., Jan. 16, 2007:  Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Feb. 09, 2007:  Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Mon., Feb. 12, 2007:  Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition:  "Overlooked Hero:  John Glover and the American Revolution."  

Thu., Jan. 18, 2007:  Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jul. 16, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How.  

Tue., Jul. 17, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Writings of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Aide-de-Camp to British General Clinton.  

Wed., Jul. 18, 2007:  Another British Military Unit History that Notes Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Tue., Aug. 7, 2007:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Contained in the McDonald Papers Published in 1926.  

Wed., Aug. 8, 2007:  A Description of an Eyewitness Account of the Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.  

Thu., Sep. 6, 2007:  Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.  

Mon., Oct. 8, 2007:  American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October 1776.  

Fri., Oct. 12, 2007:  Images of The Lord Howe Chestnut that Once Stood in the Manor of Pelham.  

Fri., Oct. 27, 2006:  Orders Issued by British Major General The Honourable William Howe While Encamped in Pelham After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009:  Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18 1776.  

Wed., Feb. 17, 2010:  British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  

Fri., Apr. 23, 2010:  Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham.  


Thu., Feb. 06, 2014:  A Description of the Revolutionary War Battle of Pelham Published in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Mon., May 19, 2014:  Biography of British Officer Who Fought in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Jun. 04, 2014:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Presented and Published in 1894.  

Fri., Jun. 27, 2014:  Newly-Published Account Concludes Colonel William Shepard Was Wounded During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jun. 30, 2014:  A British Lieutenant in the Twelfth Foot Who Fought at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Sep. 19, 2014:  Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 17, 2014:  References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.

Fri., Oct. 17, 2014:  First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Oct. 20, 2014:  American Diary Account of Events Before, During, and After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

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