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, March 24, 2017

Sketch Published with Story of Gruesome Suicide in 1902 May Contain Only Known Depiction of the Original Pelham Manor Train Station


He was a well-liked, athletic, and young Harvard-educated lawyer who was quite popular in Newport, Rhode Island and in New York City.  He was 32 years old.  His name was George Griswold 2d, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John N. A. Griswold of Newport, Rhode Island.  His uncle was W. J. Emmett, a member of the family that owned the famed "Kemble House" located at 145 Shore Road in Pelham Manor.   The original portion of the Kemble House was built before the Revolutionary War, likely in about 1750.  It still stands, with the original section now forming the left (southern) wing of the home when viewing it from Shore Road.

In the autumn of 1902, something changed about George Griswold 2d.  Mrs. Griswold arrived in New York City with her son and rented a studio apartment for herself and another for her son in Carnegie Hall.  In November, Mrs. Griswold quietly sent her son to a "retreat" in Bay Ridge, then arranged for her and her son to board in the Kemble House at 145 Shore Road in Pelham.  By the time she and her son moved into the Kemble House, George was suffering from severe mental illness.  He constantly attempted to harm himself and spoke frequently of suicide.  His condition was so bad that in addition to servants, Mrs. Griswold hired two burly male nurses to stay with them in the Kemble House so that at least one male nurse was with George every minute of the day.  Their names were Charles Hill and A. A. Walters.

Young George Griswold 2d was no longer permitted to have a razor to shave.  Soon his hair was quite long and he had sprouted a beard.  The nurses "guarded him" constantly in the Kemble House to keep him from harming himself.  

Late in the evening on Monday, December 22, 1902, it was Charles Hill's turn to watch Griswold during the overnight shift.  Griswold seemed agitated most of that night and paced the floor of his room, smoking a pipe and muttering.  About 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 23, the whistle of a train traveling on the Branch Line that passed the Pelham Manor Train Station about a mile away blew its whistle.  Hill heard Griswold mutter "Oh, those trains, those trains.  How can I live with their rattle always in my ears?"  Griswold then became quiet.

Once Griswold grew quiet, Charles Hill stepped into his own room in the house for a moment.  When Hill returned, Griswold's room was empty.  An open window revealed how Griswold had made his escape.

Hill sounded the alarm.  He and A. A. Walters began a search of the neighborhood which, at the time contained only a handful of homes between Shore Road and the Branch Line railroad tracks.  They were still searching when word arrived that a man had just been killed on the Branch Line railroad tracks near the Pelham Manor Station. 

Hill and Walters raced to the scene.  What they found was gruesome.  George Griswold 2d, tormented by his own demons, had cast aside his hat, kneeled next to the train tracks, and laid his neck on one rail.  A passing train decapitated the young man.  

The nurses and the family tried to keep the matter private.  The body was taken to the distant Village of Westchester where the nurses informed the Coroner that they knew the deceased and his name was "G. G. Martin."  Although local police knew it was the body of George Griswold 2d, the Coroner issued a permit for removal of the body under the name of G. G. Martin to a funeral home even more distant on West Farms Road in preparation to have the body shipped to Newport, Rhode Island for burial.

Given the gruesome nature of the death, sensationalized newspaper accounts appeared in many newspapers throughout the region.  One such report appeared in the New York Herald on December 24, 1902.  Significantly, the newspaper report included not only photographs of Griswold, the Kemble House, and the two male nurses, but also a sketch of the area from a "bird's eye view" that included a depiction of the Pelham Manor Station near the spot where the body was found.

The published sketch appears below, with an additional detail of the station taken from the sketch.  The sketch may be significant because there do not appear to be any extant images of the Pelham Manor Train Station that was replaced with a station designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert that opened in 1908, six years after the suicide of George Griswold 2d.



Images Published with the News Article Published by the New York Herald
That is Quoted and Cited in Full Below.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.
Detail Showing the Pelham Manor Station as Depicted in the
Sketch Above Published by the New York Herald.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

The sketch must be taken with a grain of salt.  It does not appear to be a true-to-life depiction of a bird's-eye-view of the region at the time.  Clearly it is not intended to be to scale.  Additionally, there were more structures actually present in the neighborhood than depicted in the sketch.  For example, though the sketch includes a fairly accurate depiction of the Christ Church sanctuary building, it does not show associated church structures that existed at the time.  Likewise, the sketch only shows two residences located in the Manor Circle area, though several more existed (and the ones shown are generalized views of homes in that area).  Nevertheless, the sketch does purport to depict the train station.  Moreover, a comparison of the sketch of the station is at least consistent with a map published in 1899 that depicts the footprint of the same station.  

Moreover, there are elements of the sketch of the station that seem to ring true.  The structure is depicted as a long "shotgun style" station adjacent to the tracks.  A map of the area published by John Fairchild in 1899, only three years before Griswold's suicide, indicates that the Pelham Manor Station was a long "shotgun style" structure adjacent to the tracks, as the detail from the Fairchild Map shows immediately below.  



Detail of John Fairchild Map Published in 1899 Showing
the Pelham Manor Train Station and Surrounding Region.
Source:  Fairchild, John F., Atlas of the City of Mount Vernon
Plate 24 (Mount Vernon, NY:  John F. Fairchild, 1899).
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

As the detail of the station from the sketch suggests, there may have been an "eyebrow" style roof dormer facing the plaza side of the station.  There appears to be an entrance door flanked by a single row of windows on each side of the door on the plaza side as well.  On the side of the building facing the New York City boundary (the side depicted above the words "PELHAM MANOR STATION" in the sketch) there appears to have been a door flanked by a single window on each side.  It looks as though there is a wooden walkway outside that door and that the walkway extended around to the side of the station facing the railroad tracks as a wooden station platform.  It is very difficult to tell from the sketch, but there is at least a suggestion that a portion of the platform along the tracks was covered by an extension from the roof.  Interestingly, in 1902 there were three tracks adjacent to the station -- just as the sketch seems to depict.  

Although the station appears to have been a single story, the existence of the eyebrow-style dormer in the roof and a small window visible above the side door facing the New York City boundary both suggest that there was an attic above the ground floor of the station.  

Though the grisly death by suicide of George Griswold 2d in the early hours of December 22, 1902 was a terrible tragedy, it is possible that as a consequence of his tragic demise we have one of the only known images of the Pelham Manor Station that preceded the one designed by Cass Gilbert built in about 1908. 

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Below is the text of the New York Herald article that forms the basis of today's article.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"George Griswold 2d Ends His Life While Demented; Eludes His Nurses and Throws Himself Under a Train
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Had Been Cared For in a Cottage by His Mother and the Two Attendants.
-----
FLED BY AN OPEN WINDOW
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Body Found Later on Tracks and is Identified by Men Who Sought Him.
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KNOWN BY AN ASSUMED NAME
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Scion of Wealthy and Socially Prominent Family Lost Reason Just as Career Opened.
-----

In an undertaker's establishment in West Farms road lies the body of George Griswold 2d, scion of a prominent family.  Demented, he had escaped the nurses who had guarded him in a cottage, where his mother lived with him,  and after a wild scurry in the biting cold and over the frozen country, he had placed his head on a railroad track and had been decapitated by a train.  

But as far as is known officially he was in life G. G. Martin.  As such his death is recorded on the blotter in the police station in West Chester village.  This is the name by which he is known to the undertaker, and under this same name the Coroner granted a permit for the removal of the body.  Yet there are policemen who knew he was George Griswold 2d; the undertaker has heard this was his name, and the nurse who reported the death to Coroner Williams says he told that official the true name of the dead man and his family history.

MYSTERY IN HIS CASE.

That such mystery should be observed, it is admitted, was to conceal the fact that he was the only son of John N. A. Griswold, an octogenarian, who makes his home in Newport, R. I.; that his uncle is W. J. Emmett, of New Rochelle; that his cousin is George Griswold, of Tuxedo Park, and last that he had lived with his aged mother and two men nurses in a cottage in Pelham road for the last three weeks, the restraint of the nurses being necessary because in his mania he had developed suicidal tendencies.

Thirty-two years old, a graduate of Harvard and the University of Oxford and recently admitted to the Bar, young Mr. Griswold was as well and favorably known in this city, as he was in Newport.  When in that city he lived with his father in his handsome residence in Bellevue avenue, opposite Touro Park.  Every summer he was there, and, with an inclination to athletics, he took part in the lawn tennis tournaments in the Casino.  For some years his mother had resided in Colorado.

About three months ago Mrs. Griswold took a studio in Carnegie Hall and soon thereafter her son took a studio in the same building.  There was nothing in his manner there to show he was erratic, but about a month ago he went to a retreat in Bay Ridge.  A week later his mother closed her studio, and a few days afterward she and her son took possession of a cottage in Pelham road, Pelham Manor.  With them were several servants and two nurses -- Charles Hill and A. A. Walters.

PRECAUTIONS TAKEN.

These men soon saw the young man's mind was affected -- in fact, this was not hidden from them by Mrs. Griswold.  His one idea was to kill himself, and so one of the nurses was constantly by his side.  He was not permitted to shave, because it was feared he might use the razor to take his life, and his hair grew long and his beard sprouted.  A dull silver knife was given to him at meal time, and whenever he went out for a walk one of the nurses was by his side.  

It was Hill's turn to watch him between midnight on Monday and six o'clock yesterday morning, and as the family deemed it best for the nurses not to be in the same room, at times Hill was in an adjoining room.  He noticed Mr. Griswold did not sleep; he walked about his room constantly, talking to himself and smoking a pipe.  About five o'clock he heard a freight train on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad rattle along the tracks, almost half a mile distant, and he said: --

'Oh, those trains, those trains.  How can I live with their rattle always in my ears.'

Going to his room for a minute the nurse did not hurry back, as all was quiet in Mr. Griswold's room.  But when he did re-enter, it was to find it empty.  An open window showed how the young man had made his exit.

JUMPED UNDER TRAIN.

Alarming his fellow nurse, Hill ran from the house without delay.  But the country is wild there; the ground was frozen; no one is abroad at that time of the morning and there are few watchmen to guard the half dozen houses between the home of the Griswolds and the railroad station.

They were still searching when it was learned that a man who had been killed on the railroad track had been found where the tracks pass over Prospect Hill road, just above Bartow, and almost three miles from Mrs. Griswold's cottage.  When the nurses went there they saw the body was that of their patient.  It was taken to the police station in West Chester village, where Hill said he recognized it as that of G. G. Martin.  The Coroner O'Gorman was called and he made out a permit for the removal of the body, as that of Martin, to the establishment of Bernard J. Lavan, in West Farms road.

No attempt was made to deny the young man had been irrational.  That he must have deliberately placed his head on the rail and awaited the approach of a train was shown by the fact that his only other injury was a broken arm.  He had even thrown aside his hat before he threw himself on the track.

It was decided to keep the body in the undertaker's until Friday, when it will be taken to Newport for burial.  Young Griswold's other sister is the wife of Colonel H. R. O. Cross, of the British army, and she lives in England."

Source:  George Griswold 2d Ends His Life While Demented; Eludes His Nurses and Throws Himself Under a Train, New York Herald, Dec. 24, 1902, p. 5, col. 1.  



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Thursday, March 23, 2017

More on the Unsolved Murder of Pelham Manor Policeman John McGuire in 1918


In the early morning darkness on Tuesday, May 7, 1918, members of the Pelham Manor Police Department were still abuzz over an attempted burglary and brutal assault earlier in the night at the home of wealthy cigar manufacturer Herman Rokohl who lived at 255 Corona Avenue.  At 4:00 a.m. that morning, there was a shift change.  

Pelham Manor Patrolman John McGuire, one of the oldest members of the department and a large and powerful man, had just finished the shift.  He waited at Four Corners for the Pelham trolley.  He could hear it clattering along Pelhamdale Avenue headed toward Four Corners.  In the darkness ahead, Patrolman McGuire saw the trolley stop near Witherbee Avenue.  A shadowy figure climbed aboard.  

Given the attempted burglary earlier that night, McGuire decided to identify the person who had just climbed aboard the trolley.  As the trolley approached, the unarmed officer stopped it and climbed aboard.

"Which passenger got on last?" asked McGuire of the trolley motorman.  The motorman pointed to a passenger in a corner at the rear of the trolley.  

Patrolman McGuire approached the passenger and said:  "We want to ask you some questions. You'll have to get off here with me." Patrolman McGuire reportedly linked his arm with that of the passenger and the pair moved to the front of the car.

Patrolman McGuire reached the steps of the car first and started down them. As he did, the suspect pulled a pistol, shoved it into McGuire's back and emptied the revolver.  Patrolman McGuire died instantly. In the confusion, the despicable and cowardly murderer fled.  There were military men from Fort Slocum on the trolley who gave chase, but the murderer escaped.  Patrolman McGuire left behind a wife and two sons, one of whom was serving in the U.S. Navy at the time.

Within a few hours, New Rochelle police arrested John Brennan of Oak Street, New Rochelle as the suspected burglar who assaulted Herman Rokohl earlier in the day.  Brennan, it was thought, could not have been the murderer of Patrolman McGuire, however.  He was a white man.  The suspect who shot and killed Patrolman McGuire purportedly was a black man, although later evidence suggested otherwise.  Though Brennan was held without bail and hauled before a Westchester County Grand Jury for the burglary, the murder suspect apparently was still at large.  

One of the military men who witnessed the murder was Fred Mostert, a member of the Medical Corps stationed at Fort Slocum.  About two weeks after the murder, on Friday, May 17, 1918, Mostert was in New York City and saw a black man on the street whom he believed was the murderer.  He alerted New York City police who arrested the man, John Surgeon Barton, who was charged with murder.    

Barton was a chauffeur for a local judge, Hon. Mark M. Schlesinger.  The Judge hired a number of detectives and "set his office force in Wall Street to work" in an effort to investigate the matter and exonerate his chauffeur.  Even before the matter was presented to a grand jury, Judge Schlesinger was able to establish Barton's innocence.  The charges were dropped and Barton was released from jail.  One of the reasons Barton was released was that evidence had emerged that the murderer may not have been a black man as first believed but instead was "a man who had used a tanning process to color his face and hands for the purpose of operating in dark houses."

Patrolman McGuire was the first of Pelham Manor's Finest to die in the line of duty.  The dastardly murder was never solved.  Nearly one hundred years later, the identity of the murderer remains an enduring Pelham history mystery.



Pelham Manor Police Department in 1910.  Patrolman John McGuire
is Fourth From the Left, Standing.  Caption Reads: "R.H. Marks, Chief
of Police (sitting) Left to Right -- John J. Flanagan, George Booth,
Joseph Colgan, John McGuire, A.D. Savage, Phil. Gargan, James Butler."
Source:  Pelham Manor Police Dept., The Pelham Sun [Pelham, NY],
May 21, 1910, Vol. I, No. 7, cols. 4-6.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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I have written before about the murder of Patrolman John McGuire.  See Wed., Aug. 09, 2006:  The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley."  For the text of newspaper reports related to Patrolman McGuire's murder, see below.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.  

"BURGLARY SUSPECT KILLS OLD POLICEMAN
-----

John McGuire, one of the oldest members of the Pelham Manor Police Force, was shot and killed yesterday morning while trying to arrest a negro, whom he believed to be implicated in the recent burglaries at Pelham Manor and Pelham Heights.  Herman Rokohl, a wealthy cigar manufacturer, was badly beaten with the butt of a revolver by a burglar who had entered his home.

Several hours after Mr. Rokohl had reported the attack on him Lieutenant McGowan of the New Rochelle police force arrested a young white man, who gave his name as John Brennen of New Rochelle, and who was later identified by Mr. Rokohl as the burglar who had attacked him.  Brenna, the police think, was a member of the gang which invaded the Pelhams, which include at least four men, and divided their operations.

Mr. Rokohl, who is 74 years old, though badly battered by the other burglar, was able to tell a complete story of the visit of the intruder to his home.  His sister, Mrs. Fredericks Wedemeier, was asleep on the second floor, when she was suddenly awakened by a flashlight.  She screamed and the burglar ran out into the hall, where he ran into Mr. Rokohl put up a plucky fight, and wrestled about the hallway for some time, but the burglar drew his revolver and pounded his victim over the head.  Though badly hurt Mr. Rokohl kept up the battle until he was knocked down. Then the burglar ran downstairs and out the kitchen door."

Source:  BURGLARY SUSPECT KILLS OLD POLICEMAN, N.Y. Times, May 8 1918, p. 22, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"NEGRO BURGLAR KILLS POLICEMAN
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Empties Revolver Into Unarmed Captor and Escapes. . . .

From The Inquirer Bureau.

NEW YORK, May 7.  -- John McGuire, a policeman attached to the Pelham Manor Police Department was shot and killed early today by an escaping negro burglar at the corner of Pelhamdale avenue, near the high school.

The negro had attempted to rob the home of Herman Roaohl [sic] at 255 Corona avenue, Pelham Heights.  Roaohl was awakened by a noise and encountered the negro in the act of rifling a bureau.  In the ensuing struggle the burglar hit him on the head with a blackjack and rushed from the house.

Policeman McGuire was attracted by the screams and chased the negro, who jumped on a passing trolley car.  McGuire, though unarmed leaped after him and dragged him to the street.

The negro suddenly pulled a revolver and fired five shots, one of which lodged in the policeman's abdomen.  He was rushed to the New Rochelle Hospital, where he died half an hour later.  The negro escaped."

Source:  NEGRO BURGLAR KILLS POLICEMAN -- Empties Revolver Into Unarmed Captor and Escapes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 8, 1918, p. 9, col. 1 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"NEGRO KILLS POLICEMAN.
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Pelham Manor Burglar Suspect Escapes Pursuers.

No trace has been found of the negro who shot and killed Policeman John McGuire of the Pelham Manor police force early yesterday at Pelhamdale and Willard avenues [sic].  

McGuire picked up the negro as a suspicious character, who might have knowledge of recent burglaries in the Pelham Manor district.  The policeman, unarmed, left a trolley car to take the negro to the police station.  The negro fired five shots at the policeman and made his escape into the woods nearby, eluding a number of soldiers, who pursued him.  

A few hours before, Herman Rokohl, a wealthy cigar manufacturer, living in Pelham Manor, was viciously attacked by a burglar, who had broken into his home.

McGuire is survived by his wife and two sons.  One of the sons is in the United States Navy."  

Source:  NEGRO KILLS POLICEMAN -- Pelham Manor Burglar Suspect Escapes Pursuers, New York Herald, May 8, 1918, p. 14, col. 6 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  See also NEGRO KILLS POLICEMAN -- Pelham Manor Burglar Suspect Escapes Pursuers, The Sun [NY, NY], May 8, 1918, p. 14, col. 6 (same text).  

"HAPPENINGS IN NORTH PELHAM . . . 

Held For Grand Jury.

John Brennan, of Oak street, New Rochelle, who was arrested in New Rochelle early on Tuesday morning, May 7, following an attempted robbery at 255 Corona avenue, Pelham Heights, in which Herman Rokohl, age 74 years, the occupant of the house was assaulted, was arraigned for examination before Justice of the Peace George Lambert Monday evening at the town hall on this village.  The state presented its side of the cast through Assistant District Attorney Ferris.  Brennan was represented by Attorney Moran.  Coroner Stella was present, to gain information and he later stated that he was convinced that Brennan in no way was involved in the murder of John McGuire, the Pelham Manor policeman who was shot several hours after the burglary.  The defense waived examination and Justice Lambert held him without bail for the action of the Westchester county grand jury."

Source:  HAPPENINGS IN NORTH PELHAM . . . Held for Grand Jury, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 17, 1918, p. 9, col. 1.  

"North Pelham . . . 

Holding Suspect.

Spurgeon [sic] P. Barton, the colored chauffeur suspect who was arrested in New York last Friday evening by detectives from the fourth branch office after he had been identified in the street by Fred Mostert, of the medical corps stationed at Fort Slocum as the man who shot Patrolman John McGuire of this village, a member of the Pelham Manor police department, is being held at the county jail to await the action of Coroner Stella who will hold an inquest soon.  District Attorney Davis and the coroner have been in conference on this case but no announcement of their plans has been made public."

Source:  North Pelham . . . Holding Suspect, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 22, 1918, p. 7, col. 4.  

"North Pelham
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NEGRO IS EXONERATE [sic]
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Charged With Murder, His Innocence Is Established.
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John Surgeon Barton, the negro charged with murder on May 7, of Patrolman John McGuire, of the Pelham Manor police department, has been released from the county jail, where he was being detained to await action of the grand jury.

Barton was arrested in New York city, after he is said to have been identified as the murderer by a soldier from Fort Slocum, who was a passenger on a trolley car going to New Rochelle on the morning of the shooting.  Barton had been employed as a chauffeur by Judge Mark M. Schlesinger, who to Barton's defense, employed a number of detectives and set his office force in Wall street at work on the matter.  He succeeded in being able to establish the innocence of Barton, and consequently the negro was free within fewer than 60 days, and even before his case reached the grand jury.  When arrested, Barton was without money and almost friendless and too poor to employ counsel to aid him in the matter of an immediate investigation of the police testimony.  It was reported prior to Barton's arrest that the real murderer was not a negro, but a man who had used a tanning process to color his face and hands for the purpose of operating in dark houses."

Source:  North Pelham -- NEGRO IS EXONERATE -- Charged With Murder, His Innocence Is Established, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 9, 1918, p. 3, col. 3.  

"Westchester Today!
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Pelham Manor Police:  Slaying on Trolley

Pelham Manor Police cover an area of 1.3 square miles and protect a population of 6,114.

The job is a bit tougher than one might gather from those small statistics because of the community's proximity to the more populated New York City and New Rochelle and because three main highways -- the Hutchinson River Parkway, Boston Post Road and the New England Thruway-- not only make Pelham Manor a convenient place to live but also make it a target for marauders and other trouble makers.

Police Chief Joseph Lyon points to two recent bank crimes and the quick apprehension of suspects to illustrate the work of his department.  A man was arrested for the holdup of the Boston Post Road branch of the People's Savings Bank of New Rochelle in Pelham Manor last fall.  There was also a seizure of a 'disturbed' man who threatened personnel of the Manor branch of the First National Bank of Mount Vernon with what later proved to be a water pistol.  

In addition to the chief, Pelham Manor has a lieutenant, five sergeants, 17 patrolmen and six crossing guards.  The department has four radio-equipped police cars with oxygen units, first aid kits, flares, and blankets.  A 15-state teletype alarm system keeps the men abreast of the latest happenings of interest to police.  Bank alarms link directly to headquarters.

There is a pistol range off Shore Road where the police teams practice.  

The department was not always so well-manned and equipped.  In the early days, one man was the force and he had to be content with riding a 'fast' bicycle or hopping a ride on Pelham Manor's 'Toonerville Trolley' to overtake a thief or to apprehend one making his getaway on the trolley.

Pelham Manor's first policemen were James O'Brien and Joseph Colgan, appointed in 1903.  The salary was $30 a month, unlike the salary of the town constables who served on a fee basis.  In 1904 the village fathers appointed Town Constable Raphael H. Marks as chief of police.  Colgan continued to serve under him as sergeant.

Chief Marks had the distinction of being the first 'moonlighter,' being appointed in 1903 as chief of Pelham Village's force and serving both departments simultaneously.  The Pelham Manor department began to grow.  He continued as head of Pelham Manor force until 1919, having resigned in 1910 as chief of Pelham Village.

Philip Gargan, the next chief rose from the ranks.  He fought with the Fighting 69th during World War I and returned from the Army and became chief.

Sgt. Michael Grady succeed Gargan and he was succeeded in turn by James McCaffrey, who was appointed Nov. 8, 1937 and who retired Aug. 31, 1959.  Provisional Chief Charles Baisley next directed the affairs of the department until his retirement Dec. 31, 1961.  Chief Lyon then succeeded him.

The village's worst crime, one which is still unsolved, is recalled by Retired Chief McCaffrey.  About 4 a.m. one day in 1917 [sic; should be 1918], several men were going off duty.  As they were waiting for the trolley, they saw it stop at Witherbee Avenue and pick up a passenger.  Recalling that there had been an earlier report from a resident on Witherbee Avenue [sic] reporting a burglar in the house, police got on the trolley and Patrolman John McGuire stopped it, asking the motorman:  'Which passenger got on last?'  The motorman pointed toward a passenger in the rear corner.

'We want to ask you some questions,' Patrolman McGuire said to the passenger.  'You'll have to get off here with me.'  He linked his arm in the passenger's and they made their way to the front door.  Patrolman McGuire was a big, powerful man and it may have led to overconfidence on his part.  As McGuire preceded the suspect down the trolley steps, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot McGuire in the back, killing him instantly.  The suspect fled."

Source:   Westchester Today!  -- Pelham Manor Police:  Slaying on Trolley, Herald Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Mar. 13, 1963, p. 52, cols. 1-4.  

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ogden Philip Pell, a Grandson of David Jones Pell of Pelham Manor


Ogden Philip Pell was a son of Stephen Sneden Pell and a grandson of Revolutionary War hero David Jones Pell who once owned the Pell farmhouse now incorporated into the home known today as Pelhamdale at 45 Iden Avenue and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  He spent his youth in Pelham, but left and became a very successful man.  Today he would be described as a venture capitalist and start up specialist.  He was involved in a fascinating array of successful ventures including partnering with George Chorpenning in one of the earliest Pony Express mail lines, constructing the eastern end of the Panama Canal, building railroads, establishing the first subway line in New York City, the creation of the first successful steamship line between New York and Galveston, Texas to run from the end of the Civil War blockade of Galveston, and much more.

Ogden Philip Pell was born in what was known as as the old Ogden House that once stood on what once was part of the Secor estate near Boston Post Road and Wolfs Lane.  The Ogdens sold their farm to to Francis Secor in 1836, a year after Ogden was born.  The family later lived in the old homestead of James Pell nearby.  

At the age of seventeen, Ogden Pell left Pelham abruptly.  According to one account, he left due to a personal "tragedy."  

It seems that as a teenager, Ogden Pell fell in love with young "Jennett Hay," a daughter of James Hay who had purchased, and lived in, Pelhamdale -- once owned by Ogden's grandfather, David Jones Pell.  Ogden Pell spent several years "in the company of Jennett Hay."  The pair, in fact, had a special place where they spent time together.  It was the lake that once stood on the Henry Iden, Jr. property on Wolfs Lane.  I have written before of that lovely lake.  See Wed., Jul. 15, 2015:  The Henry Iden, Jr. Property on Wolfs Lane -- An Ice Skating Paradise.  The pair loved the lake and strolled its grounds, where children sailed their model boats during warm months and skated on the pond ice in the winter.

Jennett Hay, it seems, fell in love with another.  According to an account told in the 1920s, she married a member of the Lord family of Lord & Taylor fame.  According to a story purportedly told by Ogden Pell himself, the day Jennett Hay married, Ogden left Pelham for the South.  Soon, according to one account, he:  "prospered, and developed cotton plantations in Louisiana, owning at the time of President Lincoln's famous "Proclamation of Emancipation' over one thousand slaves.  After which event the slaves refused to work and his plantations were ruined."  This account, however, may be apocryphal.  According to another account:

"At the age of 22, Mr. Pell began his business career with the old house of Treadwell & Co. who supplied all sorts of goods to southern planters during the early prosperous days of the South.  In 1862, Mr. Pell succeeded the firm of Treadwell & Pell, who conducted the business of machinery and other supplies of that character until the close of the war, the affairs of the firm being liquidated in 1867."

Even before the liquidation of Treadwell & Pell in 1867, Ogden Pell started the business of H. Blagg & Co. in 1865.  The business involved transportation of goods between Texas and New York.  According to a brief biography of Pell:  

"They loaded the first vessel that entered the port of Galveston when that port was still under blockade at the close of the war.  The business proving highly successful was followed up by establishing the Pioneer Merchant Steamship Company between New York and Galveston, now the Mallory line."

In about 1879, Ogden Pell joined with a group to organize the Mining Exchange, later known as "the Consolidated of New York."  He became Secretary of the New York Mining Exchange.  He also:

"promoted with the Slavens of San Francisco, Cal., the American Contracting & Dredging Company, which company built the eastern end of the Panama Canal between Colon and the mountains, and later, in the year 1889, he became and is still largely interested in promoting and building railroads and other public improvements  in the island of San Domingo."  

At the age of 84, Ogden Pell moved to the "Home for Old Men and Aged Couples," also known as the "Episcopal Home" located at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.  He lived there for nine years.  While living there on October 18, 1927, fewer than five months before his death, Ogden Pell was honored as the grandson of David Jones Pell when a historic marker for his grandfather's home known today as "Pelhamdale" was placed on the Hutchinson River Parkway near the home located at 45 Iden Avenue.  See:

Wed., Feb. 01, 2017:  Pelham Historic Marker Placed on Hutchinson River Parkway in 1927.  

Tue., Jun. 24, 2014:  Story of Pelhamdale, the Old Stone House by the Bridge, Once Owned by David J. Pell.

On March 1, 1928, Ogden Philip Pell suffered a devastating stroke.  Though he rallied briefly, he suffered a second stroke and died on Monday, March 12.  The Manor of Pelham had lost another native son. . . .

*          *          *          *          *

Below is the text of news stories, obituaries, and a brief biography of Ogden Philip Pell, as well as an image of him.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.



"OGDEN P. PELL.  Secretary N. Y. Mining Exchange."
Source:  Paton, Thomas B., ed., "The New York Mining Exchange"
in The Banking Law Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 2, pp. 117-18 (NY, NY:
February, 1896).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

"Ogden Philip Pell, secretary of the New York Mining Exchange, was born in the year 1835 in Pelham, Westchester county, New York.  The Pells were one of the first English families who settled in the state in the state of New York, locating, as early as 1864 [sic], in that portion of Westchester county which, at that time, comprised the towns of New Rochelle, Eastchester, and what is known now as Pelham Manor, 'Pelham being a Saxon word -- 'Pell,' family; 'Ham,' remote.  At the age of 22, Mr. Pell began his business career with the old house of Treadwell & Co. who supplied all sorts of goods to southern planters during the early prosperous days of the South.  In 1862, Mr. Pell succeeded the firm of Treadwell & Pell, who conducted the business of machinery and other supplies of that character until the close of the war, the affairs of the firm being liquidated in 1867.  In 1865, Mr. Pell started the house of H. Blagg & Co.  He was the special of the firm, and resident partner in New York.  Their business was the Texas market.  They loaded the first vessel that entered the port of Galveston when that port was still under blockade at the close of the war.  The business proving highly successful was followed up by establishing the Pioneer Merchant Steamship Company between New York and Galveston, now the Mallory line, and about the year 1879, Mr. Pell was instrumental, with others, in organizing the Mining Exchange, now the Consolidated of New York.  Following this, Mr. Pell promoted with the Slavens of San Francisco, Cal., the American Contracting & Dredging Company, which company built the eastern end of the Panama Canal between Colon and the mountains, and later, in the year 1889, he became and is still largely interested in promoting and building railroads and other public improvements  in the island of San Domingo.  As will be seen, a large part of Mr. Pell's business career has been devoted to the promoting of large enterprises, both in the form of business firms and incorporated companies, and most of his undertakings in that line have proved successful ventures to himself and associates, and his last undertaking in connection with the Mining Exchange will doubtless prove equally successful.  

In 1875 Mr. Pell advocated the Rapid Transit Underground system, known as the depressed movement, to connect the City Hall with the Grand Central Depot by a route through Fourth avenue, via Lafayette Place, paralleling Broadway, to City Hall.  This system is the one advocated and commended by ex-Mayor Hewitt as the most practical solution of the rapid transit problem."

Source:  Paton, Thomas B., ed., "The New York Mining Exchange" in The Banking Law Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 2, pp. 117-18 (NY, NY:  February, 1896).  

"HONEST!  THIS MILLIONAIRE LIVES ON 50 CENTS A DAY
-----
Wall Street Wonders How Ogden P. Pell Does It, but He Hasn't Lived 78 Years for Nothing -- System Simple; He Just Signs Checks.
-----

All the men of the Wall street district who have known Ogden P. Pell ever since they were kids are chuckling over the notoriety which has come to the seventy-eight-year-old youngster since he made the statement in supplementary proceedings Friday that all he needs to live on is 50 cents a day, and that borrowed money.

Mr. Pell is a well known man of affairs, a member of the prominent New York family of that name, a lineal descendant of Lord Pell, who married an Indian Princess [sic].  At the age of twenty two he began an eventful career by inheriting $1,500,000.  The pamphleteers of that period spoke of him as the richest young man in the United States.

For many years he and Roger Foster, the lawyer, have been close friends.  Some time ago Foster represented Pell in legal proceedings and the two men of wit couldn't agree on the value of services rendered.  They have been having a friendly controversy over it, and as both are vigorous fighters the claim finally reached the courts.  Foster himself put Pell through the usual questions and forced him to admit that he could live on 50 cents a day, and that he even had to borrow that.

How Does He Do It?

And then the word was passed around that Ogden P. Pell, one of the best-known brokers in New street, member of the Belle Harbor Club, honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati and leading citizen of Richmond Hill, was living on fifty cents per day.  Because of the present agitation over the high cost of living everybody wanted to know how Pell could do it.  In order to avoid inquiries Pell could do it.  In order to avoid inquiries Pell took to his private yacht, the Queen City, and remained out of town over Sunday.  

A World reporter called on him yesterday at his office to learn how to manage living expenses.  Mr. Pell laughed and said:

'If I didn't like Roger Foster and didn't need him in some pretty important litigation I'd get his goat for giving out this yarn.

'But,' he continued, 'If you want to see how I do it come with me.'

Mr. Pell then became the host in a prominent restaurant  of the 'street,' and with the vigor of a college student set the following menu before his guest:

Some Bronx Cocktails and then some.
Bismarck Herring.
Little Neck Clams. 
Green Turtle Soup.     Imperial Brut (plenty).
Broiled Bonefish with Butter Sauce.
Sliced Tomatoes.
Porterhouse Steak with Mushrooms.
Potatoes au Gratin.     Fresh Asparagus.
Fried Eggplant.
Escarole Salad.  Peaches with Ice Cream.
Yellow Chartreuse.
Cigars imported for private use.

Simply Signs Check.

'You see,' said Mr. Pell after he signed the check.  'I haven't spent a cent yet.'

Mr. Pell admitted during the conversation that he had accomplished a few things in his reckless career of seventy-eight years.  He has built a few railroads and signed a $35,000,000 contract with Dr. Lesseps over the luncheon table in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco which involved digging the section of the Panama Canal from Colon to Gatun.  Mr. Pell's company was going right ahead with the canal when the bottom fell out of the old French canal company.  It was a subsidiary company which changed the course of the Chagres River.

'I have never been sick a day in my life,' he said, 'and the only time I ever needed a doctor was when I had a boil on my neck two years ago.  After the doctor fixed it up he told me I was good for twenty-five years more.'"

Source:  HONEST!  THIS MILLIONAIRE LIVES ON 50 CENTS A DAY -- Wall Street Wonders How Ogden P. Pell Does It, but He Hasn't Lived 78 Years for Nothing -- System Simple; He Just Signs Checks, The New York World, Thrice-A-Week Edition, Jul. 12, 1911, Vol. LII, No. 6138, p. 3, cols. 6-7.

"Pioneer In Pony Express Dies at 93

New York, March 13 (AP).  --  Ogden Pell, 93, a partner in one of the earliest pony expresses to carry mail across the continent, and an organizer of the first steamship company to operate boats between New York and Galveston; died Monday in a home for the aged where he had lived for nine years.

He was born in Pelham where his grandfather had been one of the founders of the settlement, now one of the most exclusive in the metropolitan area, and left there as a young man to begin a varied and colorful career.

He was associated with a man named Chopenning [sic; George Chorpenning] in organizing a pony express, and was once connected with a New York banking firm which obtained land concessions from the government of Liberia.  These lands are now controlled by the Firestone Rubber company."

Source:  Pioneer In Pony Express Dies at 83, El Paso Herald, Mar. 13, 1928, p. 8, cols. 7-8 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).   

"Pony Express Pioneer Dies in New York City
-----

NEW YORK, March 12 (AP). -- Ogden Pell, 93, a partner in one of the earliest pony expresses to carry mail across the continent, and an organizer of the first steamship company to operate boats between New York and Galveston, died today in a home for the aged where he had lived for nine years.

He was born in Pelham, where his grandfather had been a founder of the settlement, now one of the most exclusive in the metropolitan area."

Source:  Pony Express Pioneer Dies in New York City, Schenectady Gazette, Mar. 13, 1928, p. 8, col. 4.  

"Died in Poverty

New York, Mar. 14 -- Ogden Pell, grandson of one of the first settlers of Pelham, organizer of the first steamship line to Galveston, partner in the first pony express, one of the promoters of the first subway, and winner of the first land concession from the government of Liberia, is dead without funds, as an inmate of the Home for Old Men and Aged Couples."

Source:  Died in Poverty, Rochester Times-Union, Mar. 14, 1928, p. 5, col. 5.  

"OGDEN PHILIP PELL
1835 -- 1928
By William R. Montgomery
-----

Pelham lost its oldest son, when Ogden P. Pell passed away in his ninety-fourth year on Monday, March 12, 1928, at the 'Home for Old Men and Aged Couples' in New York.  This institution though termed 'home' is in reality a club with all the comforts and conveniences of a rich man's residence.

Mr. Pell suffered a stroke on March 1st.  He rallied, but succumbed to a second attack on Monday.  Funeral services were held yesterday.

Mr. Pell was born February 20, 1835, in the old Ogden House, that once stood directly in front of the well on the lawn of Mr. Julius Manger's estate at Boston Post road and Wolf's Lane, formerly the property of the Secors.  Later he lived in the old homestead of James Pell nearby, when the Ogdens sold their farm to Francis Secor in 1836.

Mr. Pell left Pelham about 1852 and had not returned until October 17th of last year, when the D. A. R., Bronx Chapter, unveiled the New York State marker on the Hutchinson Parkway at Iden avenue.

This tablet marks the old homestead of Mr. Ogden P. Pell's grandfather, Colonel David J. Pell, and the birthplace of his father, Stephen S. Pell.

There is rather an interesting story, though a tragedy connected with Mr. Pell's sudden departure from Pelham.  When he approached 'Pelhamdale' last October he anxiously inquired about the brook and the pond.  The pond that he was interest in was, in those days, a beautiful lake, near Wolf's Lane and Colonial avenue, now covered by a dozen or more homes.  On this lake the children sailed their boats in the summer time, and skated in the winter.  It was here that he spent several years in the company of Jennett Hay, the daughter of James Hay, who had purchased Mr. Pell's grandfather's place, 'Pelhamdale' in 1827, now the property of Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Wagner.

He told the story himself, of his love for Jennett, and of her promise, and of the day he left Pelham, for it was on that day Jennett Hay married Mr. Lord, one of the founders of the firm of Lord & Taylor.

Ogden Pell went South, prospered, and developed cotton plantations in Louisiana, owning at the time of President Lincoln's famous "Proclamation of Emancipation' over one thousand slaves.  After which event the slaves refused to work and his plantations were ruined.

Later, he opened up various steamship lines for the transportation of cotton.  He developed a line of steamships that became known as the Mallory Line."

Source:  Montgomery, William R., OGDEN PHILIP PELL -- 1835 -- 1928, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 16, 1928, p. 3, cols. 4-5.  


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