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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

John E. Price of City Island, One of Pelham's Earliest Commercial Oystermen


Not much is known of the earliest oystermen in the Town of Pelham.  Not much, of course, was done to document their lives during the early to mid-19th century.  By piecing together snippets from a wide variety of sources, however, it is possible to assemble a rough portrait of some of those pioneer oystermen.  One such pioneer oystermen was John E. Price, among the earliest oystermen to operate from City Island in the Town of Pelham.

According to a host of sources including several Federal census records, John E. Price was born in New York in about 1826.  As a young man in the 1850s he began oystering from City Island in the Town of Pelham.  At the time, the natural oyster beds off the shores of Pelham were rich with the bivalves.  Additionally, oystermen in the region were just developing the practice of "planting" oyster beds in the waters of Long Island Sound.  Thus, Price began oystering at the best possible time.

According to an obituary, Price soon "started a string of boats, and made a comfortable fortune" by oystering off the shores of Pelham.  

As one might expect, John E. Price planted and maintained oyster beds in Long Island Sound.  This is known because in 1879, famed City Island oysterman Joshua Leviness became the first person in the State of New York charged with illegally dredging oysters using steam power.  At trial, the attorney for Leviness argued that Leviness was hired by the owner of an artificial oyster bed that was adjacent to a bed planted by John E. Price to harvest the owner's oysters from his bed.  The attorney contended that the statute did not bar steam-powered equipment when dredging one's own oysters from one's own artificial bed -- only when dredging natural beds or unlawfully dredging the artificial beds of others.  The argument failed and Leviness was convicted.

The Federal Censuses for the Town of Pelham in 1850, 1860, and 1870 suggest that oysterman John Price married a woman named Caroline who was born in New York and was three years younger than he and that the couple had several children including:  (1) Stephen, born in about 1847; (2) John E., born in about 1850; (3) Robert H., born in about 1856; (4) Charlie S., born in about 1858; (5) Annie, born in about 1861; (6) Sarah, born in about 1863; (7) Maura, born in about 1866; (8) Mable E, born in about 1868; (9) Jennie, born in about 1869; and (10) William, birth date unknown.   A brief obituary in a local newspaper indicates that Jennie died at the age of 16 in 1885 of "lingering consumption."

Brief newspaper clippings from the 1880s and 1890s shed a little light on the life of John E. Price.  For example, he was hailed as a hero in December, 1881 for saving the life of City Island oysterman Joseph Horton.  Horton was operating a skiff with a sail while oystering off the shores of City Island.  The sail snagged on a stake marking the boundary of an oyster bed, capsizing Horton's boat.  Horton scrambled out of the cold water and climbed onto the bottom of the skiff bobbing upside down in the waters of Long Island Sound.  He began to shout.  

John Price and one of his sons were out oystering as well.  They heard Horton's shouts and rescued him from his imperiled condition.

Several different accounts emphasized John Price's love for sailing and rowing in the waters of Long Island Sound for fun.  Indeed, an obituary noted that he rowed all around in the waters off the shores of City Island only days before his death in 1910 at the age of 85.  Another example was a sailing race Price ran against Samuel Pell of City Island in September, 1885.  Pell raced his large oyster sloop Louise H.  Price raced a smaller oyster sloop, the Wm. H. Lockwood.  Because Pell's boat was so much larger, Pell had to give a "time allowance" (i.e., spot Price some time).  Although the race was highly anticipated, there was no wind that day.  The race began at 1:00 p.m. from City Island Bridge and only involved a ten-mile course, but with no wind it took the sloops until dark to complete the race.  Pell's sloop, the Louise H., finished 3 minutes and 20 seconds ahead, but when the time allowance was considered, Price's sloop, the Wm. H. Lockwood, was declared the winner by 47 seconds.  

As one of the earliest oystermen on City Island, John E. Price became one of the most respected mariners in the Town.  His counsel and guidance were sought by oystermen throughout the island.  

Members of John E. Price's family also gained similar respect.  For example, one of his sons, John E. Price, Jr., was a leader of City Island oystermen during the infamous 1895 Oyster War about which I have written before.  See:

Wed., Jun. 24, 2015:  The 1895 Oyster War Involving City Island Oystermen - Part I

Thu., Jun. 25, 2015:  The 1895 Oyster War Involving City Island Oystermen - Part II.

In 1899 John E Price had the sad duty of searching for and discovering the body of his friend, Thomas Collins.  Collins was 80 years old at the time of his death and was said to have been, at the time, "the oldest fisherman of City Island."  Since the 1840s Collins had been engaged in the oystering trade and fished the waters around City Island.  Indeed, he and John Price had virtually grown old together oystering in Long Island Sound near City Island.  Yet, on April 8, 1899, Collins headed to the oyster beds near City Island for the last time.

No one knew what happened.  In the evening, two of his sons returned home and were surprised not to see their father.  They searched for him, but found only his rowboat overturned on a nearby beach where it had been washed ashore.  All of City Island was called out to search for old Thomas Collins in the waters around City Island.  According to the New York Times:

"It was almost 9 o'clock, however, before John Fordham, John Price, and Henry Glazier, grappling from the sides of their boat, came upon something heavy.  It was the body of their old friend Collins.  They towed the body to shore and stretched it on the beach.  A doctor sad the body had been in the water for at least four hours.  It was taken to the Collins home at 31 Carroll Street."

John E. Price died in his home at 146 King Avenue on November 24, 1910.  He was found dead "of paralysis" (likely a stroke) by William Price, one of his sons.  According to his obituary, "until a few days ago was able to row around the island as easily as any boatman of the younger generation.  He owned some property near his home."





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Below is the text of a number of newspaper articles that touch on the life of City Island oysterman John E. Price.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"STEAM DREDGING FOR OYSTERS.

Yesterday in the Court of Sessions, at White Plains, the first case under chapter 302 of the Laws of 1878, providing that in none of the waters of the State of New York shall dredging for oysters be done by steam power, was tried before Judge Silas D. Giffor and Associate Justices Howe and Lawrence.  The District Attorney was assisted by ex-Judge J. M. Peters, and Martin J. Keogh was counsel for the defendant.  The indictment in the action charges that Joshua Leviness, an oysterman, dredged on John Price's oyster-bed with his steam dredge in violation of the statute.  It appeared that Charles McClellan owns, or is reputed to own, an adjoining oyster bed, and that Leviness had been engaged to take up some of the oysters for him.  When he got to the boundaries of the bed he had to go upon Price's bed but did not dredge thereon or raise any of the oysters.  These beds are in Long Island Sound, off the Town of Pelham, near City Island.  The defense claimed that they had the right to dredge for their property by whatever means they chose.  Inasmuch as it was not a natural bed of oysters.  The prosecution, and the Judge in charging the jury, said that the letter of the law 'dredging for oysters in the waters of the State by steam power,' had been violated, and the jury found Leviness guilty of dredging upon private grounds."

Source:  STEAM DREDGING FOR OYSTERS, N.Y. Times, Dec. 9, 1879, p. 5, cols. 1-2.  

"City Island. . . .

Just before sunrise on Saturday morning last, Mr. Joseph Horton, with a sail in his skiff, started out to work.  The sail caught in an oyster stake off House Rock, capsizing his boat.  Mr. Horton climbed up on the bottom of the boat and set his vocal powers to work, and was heard by some oystermen and was rescued by Capt. John Price and Son.  Mr. Horton was very numb with the cold when picked up and is now confined to his bed. . . ."

Source:  City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 16, 1881, Vol. XIII, No. 639, p. 2, col. 4.  

"PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND. . . .

Miss Jennie, daughter of Mr. John Price, died of lingering consumption on Monday afternoon last, and was buried from the M. E. Church, Wednesday.  The young lady was 16 years of age. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 15, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 817, p. 3, col. 3.  

"PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND. . . .

The match race between the oyster sloops, Louise H. owned by Mr. Samuel Pell, and Wm. H. Lockwood, owned by Mr. John Price came off last Saturday, as announced, but it was rather a tame affair as there was little or no wind, the boats being nearly six hours going over the course of ten miles.  The boats started about one o'clock from City Island bridge and it was nearly dark when they returned to the starting point.  The Louise got in 3 minutes and 20 seconds ahead, but as she is a larger boat than the Lockwood, and had to give time allowance, the later won the race by 47 seconds.  The friends of the respective boats each think their favorite is the smarter and the late contest will, in all probability, result in another, when it is hoped the conditions of the weather will be more favorable to a more exciting race."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 4, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 833, p. 2, col. 4.  

"OLD FISHERMAN DROWNED.
----
Thomas Collins's Boat Comes Ashore Alone at City Island -- Body Found.

The body of Thomas Collins, known as the oldest fisherman of City Island, was found last night in the oyster beds near Rodman's Neck, from which he had gained a livelihood for the last fifty years.  He was 80 years old.

Collins was in the habit of going alone on the Sound to catch fish and gather oysters.  He had three sons, and for many years they helped him, but recently all got jobs as clerks and left their father to ply the old trade by himself.  

Yesterday afternoon, the sky being clear, he ventured to the foot of Carroll Street, where he had his boathouse, with the intention of rowing out to the oyster beds.  He was not expected home until suppertime, and his daughter set the table in anticipation of his return.

At about 6 o'clock his two sons, Frank and Stephen came home for their supper and inquired for their father.  They waited until 7 o'clock and then started a search.  They found their father's rowboat overturned on the beach north of the boathouse, the tide having washed it ashore.  Immediately the little colony of fishermen on the island was informed and about fifty of them went with lanterns and grappling hooks in rowboats and launches to the oyster beds, about 600 feet from shore.

It was almost 9 o'clock, however, before John Fordham, John Price, and Henry Glazier, grappling from the sides of their boat, came upon something heavy.  It was the body of their old friend Collins.  They towed the body to shore and stretched it on the beach.  A doctor sad the body had been in the water for at least four hours.  It was taken to the Collins home at 31 Carroll Street."

Source:  OLD FISHERMAN DROWNED -- Thomas Collins's Boat Comes Ashore Alone at City Island -- Body Found, N.Y. Times, Apr. 9, 1899.

"STORM AT CITY ISLAND.
-----
Wind and Lightning Combine to do Considerable Damage.
-----

During the thunderstorm which passed over City Island yesterday lightning struck the flagstaff on the large yacht shed in the shipyard of Robert Jacob.  This is the second pole struck by lightning in this shipyard within two weeks.

Another bolt struck the chimney of Dr. Seifert's residence, completely demolishing it and tearing away a portion of the roof of his house.  The occupants were badly frightened, but no one was injured.

A tree in the Pelham Cemetery was struck, and at the residence of John Price, an oysterman, the chimney was carried away by the wind."

Source:  STORM AT CITY ISLAND -- Wind and Lightning Combine to do Considerable Damage, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1900, p. 5, col. 4.

"Old City Island Oysterman Dead.

John E. Price, one of the first oyster men on City Island, was found dead of paralysis at his home, 146 King Avenue, last night, by his son, William.  He was 84 years old.  He was known to every one on City Island, and until a few days ago was able to row around the island as easily as any boatman of the younger generation.  He owned some property near his home."

Source:  Old City Island Oysterman Dead, N.Y. Times, Nov. 25, 1910, p. 11, col. 6 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"Pioneer Oysterman Dead.

John E. Price, the pioneer oysterman of City Island, died suddenly at his home, No. 146 King Street, City Island, last night in his eighty-fifth year.  He went to City Island sixty years ago, when oysters were plentiful in the neighboring waters, started a string of boats, and made a comfortable fortune.  When the supply gave out he retired, but was very active up to a month ago, spending most of his time rowing about City Island."

Source:  Pioneer Oysterman Dead, The Evening Post [NY, NY], Nov. 25, 1910, p. 14, col. 4.  

"PIONEER OYSTERMAN DEAD.
-----

John E. Price, the pioneer oysterman of City Island, died suddenly at his home, 146 King street, City Island, on Thursday night of last week, in his 85th year.

He went to City Island 60 years ago, when oysters were plentiful in the neighboring waters, started a string of boats, and made a comfortable fortune.  When the supply gave out, he retired, but was very active up to a month ago, spending most of his time rowing about City Island."

Source:  PIONEER OYSTERMAN DEAD, New Rochelle Pioneer, Dec. 3, 1910, p. 2, col. 5

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The oystering industry was, for decades, a critically-important economic activity in the Town of Pelham.  Many residents of City Island made their living from the industry or ran businesses that catered to the oystermen.  Accordingly, I have written about Pelham oystering on many, many occasions.  Seee.g.:

Thu., May 11, 2017:  Nineteenth Century Fake News: Announced Discovery of Another Great Oyster Bed in 1871 Led to a Near "Oyster Riot".

Wed., Mar. 29, 2017:  Important Description of the Oyster Industry in Pelham in 1853.

Thu., Feb. 11, 2016:  Was a City Island Hotel Keeper Among the First to Learn of the Great Oyster Bed Discovered in 1859?

Wed., Jun. 24, 2015:  The 1895 Oyster War Involving City Island Oystermen - Part I.

Thu., Jun. 25, 2015:  The 1895 Oyster War Involving City Island Oystermen - Part II.

Mon., Dec. 01, 2014:  Jury Finds City Island Oystermen Guilty of Stealing Oysters from Planted Bed in 1878.

















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Monday, June 26, 2017

More on How Pelham Women Swung the Vote to Build a New Town Hall in 1909


The history of the Town Hall of the Town of Pelham located at 34 Fifth Avenue is rich and fascinating.  I have written about that interesting history before.  See, e.g., Tue., Apr. 21, 2015:  The Early History of Pelham's Town Hall, Built in 1909.  Designed by architect Frederick Roosevelt Loney of Pelham Manor and built in 1909 to replace the previous wooden Town Hall building that burned down on the evening of October 23, 1908, Pelham Town Hall likely would be very different today were it not for the efforts and involvement of Pelham women in the special election in 1909 that authorized construction of the building. 



Recent Photograph of Pelham Town Hall. Note the Brick
Facade at the Front Entrance and the Slate Roof that Now
Adorns the Building.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

I have written about the involvement of Pelham women in authorizing the new Town Hall before (in addition to the article referenced above).  See Thu., Jan. 29, 2009:  Suffrage for Pelham Women.  Today's Historic Pelham article provides a little more background on the involvement of Pelham women in the important special election.

The Town of Pelham scheduled the special election on February 16, 1909 to authorize construction of a new Town Hall.  There were, however, two propositions on the ballot:  (1) a proposal to authorize the Town to issue $25,000 worth of bonds to fund construction of the new Town Hall to stand where the old one stood before it burned; and (2) a proposal to authorize the Town to issue an additional $5,000 worth of bonds to fund the acquisition of a large parcel adjacent to the location of the burned courthouse to enable the Town to build a larger structure and to create a fitting "park-like" approach to the new building. 

In the weeks prior to the special election, it seemed that both propositions would pass easily with low voter turnout expected.  Shortly before the special election, however, two groups opposed to the propositions gained momentum in their efforts to defeat the proposals.  Residents of the Village of Pelham Manor and the Village of Pelham (today's Pelham Heights), wanted the new Town Hall located in their respective villages and, thus, opposed any effort to fund any building to be located on the same site as the structure that burned (located in the Village of North Pelham).  A second group of Town residents opposed the propositions on the simple ground that they did not want any increase in their taxes, even though it was pointed out that "the interest annually on $25,000 at four per cent, would be only $1,000, which, spread over a a total assessed valuation of over four millions of dollars, would amount to less than one-quarter of a mill on each dollar of assessed valuation." 

On the day of the election, Town residents watched as voters streamed in and tallied the changing results as the day wore on.  By mid-morning it was apparent that the opposition groups had been more successful than thought.  The propositions looked like they might fail. 

The women of Pelham sprang into action.  Word spread throughout Pelham that all eligible voters who supported construction of the new Town Hall had better get to the voting booths to vote for the proposals.  Within a short time, as noted in many newspapers throughout the nation, automobiles, carriages, and other forms of transportation were dispatched throughout the Town to pick up women who favored construction of a new Town Hall and bring them back to the firehouse to vote.  One account claimed colorfully that women "clad in expensive gowns and furs rubbed elbows with those who had left their washtubs and household duties to cast their ballot."  As the day wore on the running vote tally suggested an exciting race.  It turned out that the race was one of the closest special elections ever, up to the time.  The proposition to build the new courthouse passed by only four votes, 86 to 82.  The second proposition to acquire a lot adjoining the Town Hall lot failed, resoundingly, by a vote of 66 in favor and 92 against.

Newspapers throughout the nation recounted the involvement of Pelham women in the decision to build a new Town Hall.  Headlines (such as those that can be seen below) included "WOMEN'S VOTES WIN PELHAM TOWN HALL" and "WOMEN AT POLLS -- Some Come in Autos, Others Desert Tubs, to Cast Ballots" appeared on the front pages of newspapers throughout the nation.  (See below.)

Pelham would have a new Town Hall.  Pelham women were among the most important players principally responsible for that decision.  



Undated Post Card View of the Town Hall Showing It Shortly
After It Was Built. Note the Stucco Surface and the Spanish Tile
Roof of the Original Structure.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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"WOMEN'S VOTES WIN PELHAM TOWN HALL
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PELHAM, Feb. 16. -- There was a lively time here to-day when the women of this place, Pelham Heights, Pelham Manor and North Pelham voted on a proposition to erect a new town hall.  Women in automobiles and wearing expensive gowns and furs rubbed elbows with those who had left their washtubs and household duties to cast their ballots for or against the proposition, as they saw fit.

When the votes were counted, it was found that the first proposition to build a new town hall to cost $25,000, had been carried by a vote of 86 for as against 82 in opposition.  The second proposition, to purchase an additional piece of ground for $5,000, was lost, however, by a vote of 92 to 66, some of the women not voting on this at all."

Source:  WOMEN'S VOTES WIN PELHAM TOWN HALL, The Evening World [NY, NY], Feb. 16, 1909, Final Results Edition, p. 1, col. 4.  

"WOMEN AT POLLS
-----
Some Come in Autos, Others Desert Tubs, to Cast Ballots.

NEW YORK, February 17. -- There was the liveliest kind of a time to-day when the women of Pelham, Pelham Heights, Pelham Manor and North Pelham voted on a proposition to erect a new town hall.  

Women in automobiles and clad in expensive gowns and furs rubbed elbows with those who had left their washtubs and household duties to cast their ballot for or against the proposition as they saw fit.  

When the votes were counted it was found that the first proposition, to build a new town hall, to cost $125,000, had been carried by a vote of 86 to 83 [sic].  The second proposition to purchase an additional piece of ground for $5,000, was lost by a vote of 92 to 66.

Now the selection of a proper site for this new building will occupy the attention of the local authorities, and it is expected much opposition will be developed unless the new town hall is built on the site of the old one, burned by an incendiary last October."

Source:   WOMEN AT POLLS -- Some Come in Autos, Others Desert Tubs, to Cast Ballots, The Times Dispatch [Richmond, VA], Feb. 18, 1909, p. 1, col. 5.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

A Little of the Early History of Hose Company No. 2, the Pelham Heights Volunteer Fire Fighting Unit


Little study seems to have been made of the history of firefighting in Pelham Heights.  Today's Historic Pelham article attempts to shed some light on the early history of the development of organized firefighting in Pelham Heights.

Incorporated as the "Village of Pelham" in 1896, Pelham Heights had no organized firefighting unit of its own until about 1912.  It relied, instead, on the firefighters of the First Fire District of Pelham whose headquarters stood in the adjacent Village of North Pelham.  

In 1912, or perhaps shortly before, Pelham Heights residents formed an auxiliary company of volunteer firefighters associated with the First Fire District of Pelham.  The company was named Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham.  (Although some accounts indicate the company was formed in 1913, the company existed at the time of, and its members participated in, the 1912 Firemen's Inspection held on September 25, 1912.)  Dr. Augustine C. McGuire, a Cliff Avenue resident, was an important organizer of Hose Company No. 2.

As an "auxiliary company," Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham was limited to a total membership of twenty two volunteers.  At the time of its formation, the company secured a hand-drawn hose cart, its principal piece of equipment for the next few years.  The company's first "fire house" was a tiny shed located near the site of today's Colonial Elementary School on Highbrook Avenue.  The Hose Company stored its hand-drawn hose cart and other firefighting equipment in that tiny shed. 



Hand-Drawn Hose Cart of the Type Acquired by
Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham in About 1912.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

In its early years as an auxiliary company, Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham answered all fire alarms in Pelham Heights.  It answered second alarms in North Pelham.  

Within a short time of arranging the Company's first "firehouse," members of the Company realized they had made a mistake.  In order to reach much of Pelham Heights with the hand-drawn hose cart, they had to pull the cart uphill on Highbrook Avenue.  Within six months, after mass exhaustion from dragging the cart uphill during drills and otherwise, Hose Company No. 2 moved the firehouse to a tiny shed that stood near the intersection of Monterey Avenue and East 2nd Street.  From there, according to one account, "they could have the benefit of gravity."

Within a few short years, through hard work and training, the volunteer members of Hose Company No. 2 had become so experienced and professional that a decision was made to upgrade their firefighting equipment.  In 1917, Hose Company No. 2 took possession of its first fire truck.  A description of the apparatus appeared in a local newspaper.  It stated:

"the machine is equipped with a 35-gallon chemical tank and auxiliary by which a hose can be attached to a hydrant and the water forced into the tank and then through the chemical hose.  The auto carries a thousand feet of Chemical hose and a thousand feet of regulation hose, also one extension ladder, axes and hand extinguishers.  The auto is a bright, fire-red color with gold letters on the side of the body reading, 'Pelham Fire Department, First District.'"  

Upon taking possession of the new fire truck, the Company was faced with a problem.  The property on which stood the shed that housed its equipment contained a deed restriction that did not permit a garage of any sort.  Thus, the fire truck could not be stored in the shed.  The Company was forced to move its fire house for the third time in five years, although research has not yet revealed the location to which the fire house was moved.

From its first formation, Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham had two handicaps.  First, it was a small auxiliary company limited to only twenty members.  Second, it covered a very affluent section of the Town of Pelham where most of the male residents worked in New York City during the day, returning only in the evening.  Thus, the Company was capable of fighting fires during evenings and nights.  Pelham Heights, however, had to rely principally on firefighters from the adjacent Village of North Pelham for daytime fires.

As one might expect, because of the comparative affluence of Pelham Heights, the ranks of Hose Company No. 2 were filled with "Doctors, Lawyers, Merchants, [and] Millionaires" as one newspaper noted.  Among its many, many notable members were such luminaries as:  (1) Roy Howard, chairman of the board of directors of the Scripps-Howard newspapers; (2) multi-millionaire Albert C. Field, one-time president of the Produce Exchange; (3) Arthur Koppel, a member of the firm of Shroder and Koppel, builders of the Sherry-Netherlands and of "other skyscrapers"; and (4) notable physician Walter Brundage, among many others.

By mid-1922, members of Hose Company No. 2 of Pelham felt the company needed more firefighters (and younger men).  Thus, on Tuesday, June 6, 1922, members of the Company appeared at a meeting of the Fire Commissioners of the First Fire District of Pelham and petitioned the Commissioners to permit the Company to expand to thirty men.  The Fire Commissioners granted the petition, vaulting the small Company forward into the realm of modern firefighting with a focus on saving the lives and property of those who lived in Pelham Heights.

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Below is the text of a number of newspaper articles that touch on the subject of today's Historic Pelham article.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"NORTH PELHAM.
-----
FIREMEN'S INSPECTION.
-----
Annual Affair Held Last Night Was a Great Success.
-----

The annual inspection of the Pelham fire department took place last evening at the fire headquarters on Fifth avenue.

One hundred and six members of the department which comprises Relief Hook and Ladder, Liberty Engine and Hose companies and Hose company No. 2, of Pelham, assembled in Fireman's hall where the fire commissioners and the chiefs conducted the inspection.  After the inspection the members of the department formed on Fifth avenue and marched through the different streets of the village led by the Bugle, Fife and Drum Corps of the Order of Moose, of Mount Vernon.  Of the companies, the hook and ladder was first in line followed by the Liberty Engine and Hose company which preceded Hose company No. 2.

Every man in line was in uniform and carried a lantern.  The parade was through all of the streets excepting Fifth avenue which is being torn up.  After the parade, the companies returned to headquarters where refreshments were served.  The inspection was the best that has taken place in many years.  The new search light which was recently installed upon the hook and ladder was one of the features of the parade.  The line of march was marked with red lights.  Previous to leaving headquarters, box 23 was sounded on the new signal system."

Source:  NORTH PELHAM -- FIREMEN'S INSPECTION -- Annual Affair Held Last Night Was a Great Success, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 26, 1912, p. 6, col. 2.  

"New Fire Apparatus Here.

The new automobile fire apparatus to be used by Hose Company No. 2 of the first fire district of the town of Pelham arrived Wednesday.  The machine is equipped with a 35-gallon chemical tank and auxiliary by which a hose can be attached to a hydrant and the water forced into the tank and then through the chemical hose.  The auto carries a thousand feet of Chemical hose and a thousand feet of regulation hose, also one extension ladder, axes and hand extinguishers.  The auto is a bright, fire-red color with gold letters on the side of the body reading, 'Pelham Fire Department, First District.'  The new apparatus will not be placed in the house now used by Hose Company No. 2 owing to the restrictions that forbid garages.  Owing to this condition the board of fire commissioners will arrange for a location on unrestricted property.  Fire Commissioner Charles W. Foster, accompanied the demonstrator from New York city to North Pelham when the machine arrived."

Source:  New Fire Apparatus Here, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Mar. 2, 1917, p. 7, col. 4.  

"To Increase Membership Of Hose Company No. 2
-----

Hose Company No. 2 will endeavor to interest the younger men of Pelham Heights in the Fire Department, and in that end requested the Board of Fire Commissioners to allow the membership of the company to be increased from twenty members to thirty.  Gardner Hazen, secretary of the Pelham Heights company, appeared before the Board of Fire Commissioners Tuesday night and made the request.  The commissioners granted it.

Originally the Pelham Heights Company was formed as an auxiliary company, answering to all alarms in Pelham Heights and second alarms in North Pelham.  The interest of the members of this company has become such that the company answers all alarms.  Being an auxiliary company the membership was limited to twenty, but since the company has established itself as a regular company it was thought advisable to enlist the interest of the younger men of Pelham Heights."

Source:  To Increase Membership Of Hose Company No. 2, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 9, 1922, p. 6, col. 2.  

"ROSTER OF FANCY PELHAM FIRE UNIT IS WHO'S WHO
-----
Doctors, Lawyers, Merchants, Millionaires Proud to March With Boys of Company No. 2 -- Volunteer Organization Numbers Many Real Notables
-----
(Specital To The Daily Argus)

PELHAM, Sept. 24. -- While you don't have to be a banker, broker, lawyer, doctor or millionaire to belong to Hose Company No. 2, the Pelham Heights volunteer fire fighting unit, it 'so happens this is the type of man membership the company has been built on.

Roy Howard, chairman of the board of directors of the Scripps-Howard newspapers was a member of the company until he moved out of the Village recently.

The late Albert C. Field, one-time president of the Produce Exchange, and a multi-millionaire, was a member.

The roster of the company at any time since its formation would be significantly similar to the heavy part of the assessment roll.

Community Spirit

In other words, well-heeled residents of the Village, finding themselves in a volunteer fire district, are willing, glad in fact, to have a part in saving their own or their neighbors' home from fire.

Take the membership of the company today -- you'll find professional men, heads of corporations, stock brokers, lawyers, an importer, a banker, a builder of skyscrapers -- men who are writing NRA codes Monday and grabbing the early plane for the west coast Tuesday.

They are imbued with the community spirit, never loathe to hop out of bed at 2 A.M. when the fire whistle blows and properly appreciative of the fact that the non-commuting volunteers of the two North Pelham companies are alone giving the entire district dependable protection.  

Volunteers of the Heights company, many away from the Village during the day, are sure to be on the job for night fires.

Serious at Drill

The hand that wields the fountain pen has become adept in holding the squirming fire hose.  The well-to-do Heights Vamps [slang for volunteer firefighters] are serious and regular attendants at department drills, quick to learn and anxious to serve.  They meet regularly and impose fines for non-attendance at fires uncompromisingly.

Taking it for granted members can't very well aid in fighting daytime fires, the company has a rule which reads:  $10 fine for inexcusable absence from a fire' -- and in the words of one of the members, Fire Commissioner Arthur Koppel, 'we mean inexcusable.'

On Friday night of this week they will proudly don their smart blue uniforms and march up Fifth Avenue in the annual inspection parade.

Prominent Members

Members in the company today include the commissioner, Mr. Koppel, who is a member of the firm of Shroder and Koppel, builders of the Sherry-Netherlands and of other skyscrapers.  

There are Roy Passmore, vice-president of the Guarantee Trust Company; Joseph Leffson, president of one insurance company and vice-president of another; Channing Jacques, an owner of a large printing business; former Judge J. Dudley Eggleston.

Others are Harold Garton, an executive vice-president for Lord and Taylor; Robert Armstrong, a leading New York City real estate broker; Harry Kreuter, importer; D. Merrill Van Cott, captain of the Hose Company, a stock broker.

Dr. A. C. McGuire, Cliff Avenue, was an organizer of the company.  Dr. Walter Brundage was an active member for many years, as were W. W. Warner, Walter E Bunnell, Clyde Gray, School Trustee, and many others prominent in the Village.

Early History

The company formed and acquired a building to house a hand-drawn hose in 1913 [sic; company formed at least as early as 1912].  As the organization got practical fire-fighting experience it grew in wisdom.

For instance, the first fire-house was a little shed near the present site of the Colonial School on Highbrook Avenue.

But that meant that when there was a fire on the hill, the boys had to drag the hose wagon up hill.

So six months after they had established themselves near the school site, they pulled stakes and took another shed up on Monterey Avenue near Second Street, where they could have the benefit of gravity.

Along about 1915 [sic; should be 1917] they decided they were good enough for serious fire-fighting, so they bought the automobile apparatus that is still in use and in good working order."

Source:  ROSTER OF FANCY PELHAM FIRE UNIT IS WHO'S WHO -- Doctors, Lawyers, Merchants, Millionaires Proud to March With Boys of Company No. 2 -- Volunteer Organization Numbers Many Real Notables, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 24, 1934, p. 7, cols. 2-3.  


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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., 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.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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