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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Debates Over Consolidating Pelham's Three Villages in 1923




"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

An ancient proverb suggesting that opposing
parties can work together against a common
enemy.


"The consolidation of the Pelhams into a city to avoid
the loss of authority [due to annexation by New York
City or Westchester County] would be a good move if
the desire originated from the residents themselves but
to most of us the 'City of Pelham' would be repugnant.
As a refuge it might be tolerated."

Editor of The Pelham Sun in 1923 commenting on a
plan to merge the three villages of Pelham and designate
Pelham as a City to enable it to avoid annexation.


"[I]t was the general belief of the members of the committee 
[of Pelhamites] that a consolidation could be effected with a saving
to the taxpayers and a definite plan which would show these
advantages would receive the approval of s sufficient number
of the taxpayers to make it feasible."

Sep. 14, 1923 Pelham Sun Report on the work of an
influential town committee studying the feasibility of
the consolidation of the three villages of The Pelhams.

Pelham was under siege In 1923.  The behemoth known as New York City that bordered the Town of Pelham on one side was looking to expand yet again, placing Pelham within the cross-hairs of another annexation, this one a full-blown annexation of the entire town.  The County of Westchester, at the same time, seemed fearful of the same fate.  Thus, the county was contemplating the creation of a "City of Westchester" that would include the entire Town of Pelham (and other Westchester towns) with a commission form of government to block annexation of parts of the County such as the Town of Pelham by the City of New York.  The three villages of Pelham, in short, feared loss of self-government.  Suddenly, for the first time, Pelhamites were at least open to the idea of consolidation of the three villages as a defensive measure. The three villages explored merging and then converting to a city form of government to make annexation more difficult.

I have written about these developments before.  In fact, I once wrote regarding the 1923 consolidation initiative:  "Learning of this, one might be tempted to glance at the calendar. Might today be April Fools Day? Have we slipped into an alternate universe where our consciousness and memories remain the same but our collective history is different than what we previously thought? No. . . . ."  It really happened.  The initiative died, of course, when New York City rumblings of annexation died and Westchester County's own defensive annexation measures were abandoned.  See Wed., Jul. 29, 2015:  The Three Villages of Pelham Embraced the Notion of Consolidation in 1923 as a Defensive Measure

Today's Historic Pelham article explores more about the serious initiative to merge the three villages of The Pelhams in 1923.  It also transcribes a series of articles not transcribed in the July 29, 2015 article on the same topic.

Pelham residents were so fearful of losing home rule that they seriously considered consolidation of all three villages in 1923.  The Men's Club of the Pelhams constituted a "Committee of Fifteen" to hold public hearings in Pelham and to perform two tasks:  (1) monitor and report on the status of Westchester County's proposal to create a county-wide form of government that would usurp those of towns and villages throughout the county; and (2) analyze the feasibility of consolidating the three villages of the Pelhams as part of a defensive measure to block annexation by either Westchester County or New York City.  

Almost immediately the Committee of Fifteen (five notable residents from each of the three villages) discerned a common thread of thought among Pelham residents.  Most felt that consolidating the three villages and converting the Town to a City was not an optimal solution -- not because of consolidation, but because Pelham residents did not feel their little town felt like a city and, frankly, did not want it labeled as a city.

The Committee of Fifteen struggled to find some form of solution to the problem as they worked to come up with a proposal likely to pass a vote of taxpayers in the Pelhams.  In April, the committee released a report that said in part:

"It is averse to the feelings of many of us to think of the Pelhams as a city.  As an alternative, we might adopt the city charter and operate under the title of a district council, embracing all three villages and having representation according to assessed valuation.  Thus none of the component parts of the district would lose their individuality -- it would still be Pelham Manor, Pelham and North Pelham, although the governing body might be termed the Pelham district council.  By some plan of this nature we can prevent our village government being taken from us, we can retain our own powers of taxation and expend our town moneys raised by such taxation, if there is a deep sentiment for such consolidation."  (See below.)

The suggestion that representation in such a district council would be based on assessed valuation did not sit well with the Village of North Pelham.  It understood such a mechanism would give the Village of Pelham Manor much more powerful representation than the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham.  The Board of Trustees of the Village of North Pelham passed a lengthy resolution condemning representation based on assessed valuation and asserting that it would be unconstitutional.  The resolution, quoted within an article transcribed in full below, conveniently summarized the entire history of the events that led to the movement to consolidate the three villages and is required reading for students of the history of efforts to merge the villages.

With failure of the so-called Wallin plan to create a City of Westchester and annex Pelham, the consolidation movement in Pelham collapsed until its resurrection in the 1970s when the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham successfully merged.



1950 Map of the Town of Pelham Showing the Town
Bounded by the City of New York, the City of Mount
Vernon and the City of New Rochelle. NOTE: Click
on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          * 

Below is the text of a number of consolidation articles that were not transcribed as part of the July 29, 2015 article on the same topic.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"Letters to the Editor
-----
Twenty Days And Fifteen Days
-----

To the Editor Pelham Sun: --

Dear Sir -- As a seeker after information regarding methods in our village elections I naturally write to the local paper.  Can you tell me how and when the village elections are held?  I believe it is sometime in the spring but would like authoritative information on the matter.  Also what is necessary in order to file independent nominations?

I notice that Scarsdale is planning to have special legislation to make it a town in order to avoid the loss of its governmental authority which will ensue if this County Commission goes into effect.  Would not that be good for Pelham too to do so?

Why is it that Pelham Heights does not relegate the duties of tax collector to the tax receiver as the other villages in Pelham have done?  Is there any reason, and if there is anyone interested in blocking such consolidation what is the reason, who is the person and why are they doing it?

I could ask a great many more questions regarding local conditions here but if you can answer these for me in your next issue you will get the thanks of, 

Yours truly, 

QUERULOUS

(Editor's Note -- Village elections are held each year on the second Tuesday in March.  Village officials are elected for one-year terms with the exception of the trustees who serve for two years.  Regular party nominations must be filed with the village clerk not more than thirty nor less than twenty days before election.  Independent nominations can be filed up to within 15 days of election day.  Candidates for office are selected by village committees of the respective parties, which then hold a primary election about three weeks before the regular election.  There has been but one party in Pelham Manor and Pelham Heights for several years.  North Pelham usually has candidates for village offices from both parties.

The consolidation of the Pelhams into a city to avoid the loss of authority would be a good move if the desire originated from the residents themselves but to most of us the 'City of Pelham' would be repugnant.  As a refuge it might be tolerated.

In answer to your third series of questions, the power to delegate the duties of village tax-collector to the town tax receiver rests solely in the judgment of the Board of Trustees.  Centralization along these lines should result in a lesser amount of unpaid taxes on the books, and a cheaper method of collection apparently.  We know of no person 'blocking' such a consolidation.  We suggest you apply direct to the village board of Pelham Heights for a reason for not consolidating these offices.)"

Source:  Letters to the Editor -- Twenty Days And Fifteen Days, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 19, 1923, Vol. 13, No. 47, p. 2, col. 2.  

"The New Letters of Frank Lee Pickenolla
-----

To Hon. Ex-Mayor Wallin,
Yonkers, N. Y.

My Dear Bill -- 

The general opinion seems to be that the suggested County Commission is dead, but I don't believe it.  I believe that any time you get into your head something that ought to be done you're going to stick until it is done or killed by the vote of the people.  And your old side kick, Harry Barrett, is another one of the bulldog type, too.

Bill, the Commission plan is fundamentally good, but there's a lot of opposition coming from the rural sections and it's determined opposition, too.  What is the reason for it?  Chiefly the fear of loss of close-to-home government.  That's right, isn't it?  Well, now, the aim of the Commission is to improve county government.  You can't perhaps point to where the present system has fallen down, but you can see where it has failed to progress, and it is in the move for progress that you want to lead.  Very laudable, Bill; very laudable.

Now, about the opposition.  Methinks you could remove a lot of it by a statement that local government is going to continue.  Scarsdale is organizing itself to adopt a city charter.  That's a movement of defense which has set a lot of Pelham minds considering its advisability.  Not that we want a city of Pelham.  Heavens, no!  But Bill, if the charter provided for a consolidation of some of these rural sections into districts, with a self-governing district council which would take over the functions of town and village boards combined I believe much of the opposition would fade away.  Take the Pelhams, for instance.  Suppose the three were consolidated, not so that their names are changed but so that they are governed by a district council with representatives enough to adequately represent the people, his board to control the local streets, the fire department, local sewers, and to maintain its own road-making and mending equipment.

The County Commission to establish a main sewer system, with disposal plants in various parts of the county.  All sewers could then be run by gravity system, and where it is necessary for one community to send its sewerage through another community by reason of topographical conditions it would be through the main county sewer system, the volume metered and charged up to the various localities from whence it was derived, who will pay for it in a county tax.  All local connections to be under local district council supervision, and be a district-wide charge.

Water supply should be a county matter on a main line system, the county to maintain sources of supply and filtration and delivery to the borders of districts and cities, the supply there to be metered.  All the distributing system within the municipality to be under ownership and control of that local district council I spoke about.

[Illegible] headquarters [illegible] in every district, a pension for efficient service, with a big chance of promotion for a good cop -- a little army as it were, charged with the defeat of evil.

I believe, too, Bill, in a county fire department, where we can get men skilled in the mechanics of the expensive equipment which we taxpayers pay for, as the backbone of our volunteer system, but I wouldn't destroy our volunteer system for anything.  Only give it a backbone of skilled fire mechanics, if I can use that term, controlled locally by the fire committee of the district council with a representative on a county board.

Wouldn't it be a fine thing, Bill, if each district could maintain its own roadmaking and mending department under supervision of the district engineer.  It would do away with contracts and there would be enough work to keep it going the year around -- in winter using scrapers and equipment for snow removal.  Garbage removal on a town basis with an incinerator to burn the refuse should be profitable, especially if they had a market for empty bottles.

Bill, I don't believe your County Commission can get by unless some feeling of surety is given to localities that their local government will not be interfered with.  Show them that and I think fifty per cent of the opposition will disappear.  But hurry up, Bill, or New York will gobble you for sure and your City of Yonkers will get its orders from Tammany Hall.  Well, Yonkers is a carpet town and every carpet has a beating coming to it.  So here's to the City of Scarsdale where the houses are far apart, but the people are close together.

Yours truly,
-----"

Source:  The New Letters of Frank Lee Pickenolla, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 16, 1923, Vol. 14, No. 3, p. 2, cols. 4-5.  

"The Consolidation of the Pelhams

-----

Members of the Men's Club are on Tuesday to have a free discussion of the advisability of consolidating the three villages comprising the Town of Pelham and adopting a form of charter which will enable it to resist the threatened encroachment on home rule rights which a County Government Commission will have.  

As the matter now stands, the City of Westchester is a ghost its life has been officially killed, but its specter is seen guiding the hands of those who are developing the County Commission plan which proposes to take over the powers of government in the county, and its ephemeral body may suddenly assume a solidity which will result in legislation looking toward a charter for the creation of a city out of considerable portion of Westchester County.

And we are given to understand on no less an authority than William L. Ward, chairman of the Republican County Committee of Westchester, and political boss, that such an application for a city charter can be made effective without a referendum to the people.  

The county commission anticipates a charter 'elastic enough' to use the words of William Wallin, to take over the duties of village government if the commission deems it necessary.  So if the commission consummates its plans the 'close-to-home' government of the Pelhams may be suddenly taken from us and centered in White Plains.

There is a danger, plain, and it is up to every member of the Men's Cub of the Town of Pelham to give to the matter earnest thought.  We want to retain for the Pelhams its own local government, spending the money collected by taxes levied by our own government in our own locality.  This would not be possible if our governing powers here are removed.

The Pelhams are an entity developing along splendid lines by men imbued with civic pride, who give their services gratis.  It is the highest type of democratic government and must be preserved if at all possible.

What plans can be taken will be stated at Tuesday's meeting."

Source:  The Consolidation of the Pelhams, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 6, 1923, Vol. 14, No. 6, p. 2, col. 1.

"Pelham
-----
MERGING 3 VILLAGES TO BE CONSIDERED AT MEETING TONIGHT
-----

The monthly meeting of the Men's club of the Pelhams will take place at the Memorial high school this evening and the subject which will be under consideration is one that concerns every resident of the town viz consolidation of the three villages.  When the consolidation of the three villages was first suggested there was protests from the villages and each based objection on the theory that fractional struggles would destroy self-government.  Since then, however, an educational campaign has been carried on with the result that more people are of the opinion that the one municipality can be operated at far less expense than at present, it is said.  The Men's club has already placed itself upon record as opposing the Westchester county government plan unless small municipalities are guaranteed self government.  They also see danger of a further expansion of Greater New York which will include much of Westchester county.  At tonight's meeting the question will be discussed from every angle and the result given to the public, it is declared."

Source:  Pelham -- MERGING 3 VILLAGES TO BE CONSIDERED AT MEETING TONIGHT, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 10, 1923, p. 12, col. 2.  

"To Sound People's Views As to Consolidating Three Pelham Villages

North Pelham, April 17 -- The Men's Club of the Pelhams has passed a resolution appointing a committee of fifteen to hold public hearings on the question of the consolidation of the villages of North Pelham, Pelham, and Pelham Manor, as a protective measure against the Westchester County government commission, which, it fears, will deprive the villages of much of their local governing powers if passed.  The committee consists of David Lyon, John T. Brook, Thomas Kennett, Roy P. Brainard, F. C. Henderschott and Dr. Russell K. Bryer of North Pelham; Judge William L. Ransom, Robert A. Holmes, Howard Davis, Benjamin L. Fairchild, and Merton C. Robbins of Pelham, and Harry T. Grant, Lawrence F. Sherman, Richard H. Lee and R. Clifford Black of Pelham Manor.

The committee in the report submitted said in part:

'It is averse to the feelings of many of us to think of the Pelhams as a city.  As an alternative, we might adopt the city charter and operate under the title of a district council, embracing all three villages and having representation according to assessed valuation.  Thus none of the component parts of the district would lose their individuality -- it would still be Pelham Manor, Pelham and North Pelham, although the governing body might be termed the Pelham district council.  By some plan of this nature we can prevent our village government being taken from us, we can retain our own powers of taxation and expend our town moneys raised by such taxation, if there is a deep sentiment for such consolidation.  In closing this report, your committee begs further to state that the vigor with which the Wallin commission plan is being pushed makes it a matter to be deeply considered, and we recommend that a committee of representative citizens of the Pelhams be formed now to ascertain the sentiment of the people toward a consolidation or what other protective steps be taken.'"

Source:  To Sound People's Views As to Consolidating Three Pelham Villages, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 17, 1923, p. 12, cols. 3-4.  

"North Pelham Officials Oppose Merger Plan
-----

North Pelham, April 24 -- Resolved, that the board of trustees of North Pelham is opposed to any consolidation wherein representation is based on assessed valuation.  It is the opinion of this board that representation of this character is contrary to the spirit of the constitution of the United States.  This motion made by Trustee Johnson of Chester Park, was unanimously carried by the village board.  The action came in answer to the report of the committee appointed by the Men's Club of the Pelhams appointed to investigate the Westchester county government of the Pelhams; and if the home rule of the Pelhams is jeopardized, to suggest a remedy.  Portions of the findings of the committee were published in these columns last week, but to get a proper focus of the situation it is herewith given in its entirety:

'Your committee to which was referred the work of investigating and making a report on the plan for creating a city of Westchester out of the present county of Westchester hereby begs to report as follows:  Early in 1922, Surrogate Judge George A. Slater, in addressing a gathering of school teachers in Port Chester declared his opinion in effect that before two years had passed Westchester county would adopt a form of government which would virtually make a city out of Westchester county.  This followed the approval by the voters at the fall election in 1921 of a proposition to change the form of government in Westchester and Nassau counties.  Judge Slater's speech was given a great deal more publicity than its casual utterance would seem to warrant and coincident with it came a renewed activity on the part of the county commission, a body which originally intended to formulate some plan for the improvement of Westchester county government, but had not accomplished anything definite since its organization in 1914.  Its membership at that time numbered seven.

'The city of Westchester plan as it was called, at once became a vital topic of discussion.  Its dangers to the Pelhams were realized as the plan then was stated to consider the abolition of the board of supervisors and its replacement as governing authority by a commission of five or a cabinet form of government, such as is in successful operation today in many second class cities.

'In an effort to defeat the plan the board of supervisors to abolish the county commission, and intense political activity was directed against this action so that it was lost, and soon afterward an act of the legislature on February 6, 1922, empowered the board of supervisors to enlarge the membership of the commission to thirty-two and gave to the commission powers to expend such amounts of money as was deemed necessary to pursue investigation toward improving the county form of government.

'From out of their deliberations of almost a year has arisen one plan, definite, and with strong political backing, which will place the government of Westchester county in the hands of a county president, with almost despotic powers over the destinies of Westchester county.  At first this plan called for the creation of a commission of five, three of the members to be elected and two appointed by the county commissioner, thus giving the chief commissioner control of the board by his appointive power of two members.  Lately, in the face of opposition, this plan has been altered, and the tentative charter which is already in printed form, embraces a board of seven members.

'At the head of the board is the county president, an elective office.  With him are also elected a county vice-president and a county commissioner of finance.  The other four members of the board , a county commissioner of public welfare, a county engineer, a county attorney and a county sealer of weights and measures, are appointed by the county president, thus again centralizing the control in the hands of the president by virtue of his appointive power.  This has not yet been officially approved.  The charter is only tentative.

'The text of the charter is virtually the same as that under which cities of the second class operate, such as Yonkers, for instance.  Its first intent was to make of the board of supervisors purely a legislative body, and subject all its acts to the veto of the county commissioner, but the late plan now makes it possible for the supervisors to pass an ordinance over the president's veto by a three-fourths majority of all the members of the board of supervisors.

'In this plan, known as the Wallin plan, by reason of its sponsor being ex-Mayor William Wallin of Yonkers, a board of estimate consisting of the president and commissioner of finance, county attorney and county engineer, has control over all financial matters of the county.

'An alternative plan has been submitted by Commissioner Morse which retains the board of supervisors as the executive control of the county.  In this plan the county president is elected by a county wide vote, the number of supervisors is reduced from 41 to 17, this reduction being accomplished by grouping all townships of less than 10,000 population, and naming them districts for the election of a single supervisor.  Under this plan Pelham would be grouped with Eastchester in one district.  The representation of the cities to be based on assessed valuation.  There would be no board of estimate and apportionment.

'In connection with the Wallin plan, it must be remembered that Mr. Wallin has gone on record publicly as stating that the plan is elastic enough to take over the administration of village government if such a course is deemed necessary.  Wherein does the proposed county commission plan of government hold anything at all of benefit to the Pelhams?  We are told in a large way that the centralization of authority also means a centralization of responsibility, but what assurance have we that we can find the right man to assume all this responsibility which will go with the office of county president, especially as the office is a political one and politics is today more a matter of popularity than of merit.  The centralization of so much authority in one man may be good in business but politics is not business and generally speaking, political authority is used as a means of handing out patronage to a favored crowd who are looking for soft jobs at the taxpayers' expense.

'We would perhaps favor consolidation of government in Westchester county if various cities, towns and villages which lie within its boundaries had grown to such an extent that the population was congested, the various districts overlapped each other and conditions prevailed such as are generally found today in real cities.  In that case the many units of government in Westchester would conflict with the other.  That however, is not the case.  The smaller units of government deal with clearly defined territories each an entity in itself and each enjoying the advantages of a 'close-to-home' government, the fundamental idea of democracy.

'We cannot see where the centralization of executive and financial of the county at White Plains can hold out any advantages to the Pelhams, and we wish to go on record as strongly opposed to it.  The opposition to the county commission plan has caused Scarsdale to prepare as a protective measure, legislature which if carried out will give to it a city charter and thus retain for it its home rule.  This may be considered a panicky move having regard to the population and position of Scarsdale, but it is evidence that the inhabitants of Scarsdale are alive to their interests and do not intend to be caught napping.

'We might ask:  Wherein is the county commission plan inimical to the interests of the Pelhams?  In the tentative charter as printed and now under consideration by the county commission the powers of the board are started in part with a blank left for the insertion of specific grants of power.  This brings the mind back to the statement of the sponsor of the plan, William Wallin, that the powers of the commission would be elastic enough to take over the control of the villages. We believe that such a statement would not have been made unless there was a clear thought that at some future time such a course would be taken.  And if the commission is to be imbued with that power then residents and taxpayers in the villages will have no voice in the matter regardless of how much they might desire to protest against such a course of action.

'So we are faced with a plan which may take away our village government and we shall be governed from White Plains.  We wish to state emphatically that we consider this course inimical to the interests of the Pelhams.  We have a community here which has governed itself, raised and expended its own money in developing a beautiful, homelike community in which we delight to live, and we should be prepared to make a vigorous fight to retain our individuality.  With a commission of seven governing the county and a board of estimate of but five, what would be the probable expenditure of money in the Pelhams as compared to the amount raised here.  The demands of the cities with their larger voting power, always a consideration in a politically created body, would be the first to be met and the rest can be easily imagined.  At the present time may of the little complaints which are always cropping up, are remedied quickly by our village boards; under the county plan we may be compelled to go to White Plains where we should probably find that the man who had so much responsibility centered on him would be too busy to listen to us.

'Another menace to our villages can be seen in the action taken recently by the city of New York which instructed a committee of experts to investigate and report on the desirablility of annexing all territory within 25 miles of the city hall, Westchester county is being looked upon with covetous eyes, and one of our villages may be the first to be sacrificed, as the annexing of villages does not present insurmountable obstacles, especially villages such as ours with low bonded indebtedness.  In a short time subways will branch out to Mount Vernon's business section, Yonkers and New Rochelle.  It is a logical happening.

'Is there any protective measure which might retain for us our home rule?  Scarsdale, as previously mentioned, has prepared legislation toward the creation of a city and by this method protecting itself.  Pelham is more favorably situated to accomplish the same thing.  We have three villages which have so grown together that the border lines have become indistinct -- we already have community institutions embracing the whole township of which the Men's club is one of the foremost, and one which could wield a vast influence in the matter.  We are today thinking in terms of Pelham as a whole rather than of any of the three villages.  Yet there continues a triplication and duplication of offices which we believe could be more economically administered under one head.  As a consolidated government more effective administration would result.

'It is averse to the feelings of many of us to think of the Pelhams as a city.  As an alternative, we might adopt the city charter and operate under the the title of a district council embracing all three villages and having representation according to assessed valuation.  Thus none of the component parts of the district would lose their individuality, it would still be Pelham Manor.  Pelham and North Pelham, although the governing body might be termed the Pelham District Council.

'By some plan of this nature we can prevent our village government being taken from us, we can retain our own powers of taxation and expend in our own town moneys raised by such taxation, if there is a deep sentiment for such consolidation.  In closing this report, your committee begs further to state that the vigor with which the Wallin commission plan is being pushed makes it a matter to be deeply considered, and we recommend that a committee of representative citizens of the Pelhams be formed now to ascertain the sentiment of the people toward a consolidation or what other protective steps be taken.'

It was the suggestion made above 'having representation according to assessed valuation' which caused trustee DeFreest to introduce his resolution.  There is a general opinion, however, that the resolution passed by the village board was unnecessary as the plan was only tentatively  suggested by the committee of the Men's club and the committee of fifteen which has been appointed with former village president Harry W. Nuckols of Pelham Manor at the head, will hold a series of meetings in the three villages and sound public opinion."

Source:  North Pelham Officials Oppose Merger Plan, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 24, 1923, p. 14, cols. 3-5.  

"COUNTY COMMISSION TO DISCUSS ALTERNATIVE PLAN OF MORSE'S
-----
New Proposal Seeks to Establish a County Board of Supervisors Superior to Present Town Board -- Will Be Discussed At Meeting At Commodore Hotel On Wednesday.
------

Members of the County Commission which is formulating a new plan for government of Westchester county will meet at the Commodore Hotel on Wednesday night at 6.30 o'clock.

Commissioner Morse will present an alternative plan for changing the present method of government.  The new scheme embraces a consolidation of some of the towns of the county and electing from such consolidated towns a county supervisor who would be a member of a board of county supervisors.

This plan contemplates the retention of the present town supervisors, and makes the county supervisor the representative of the consolidated districts.

Consolidation of the various towns would be made on a two-fold basis of population and assessed valuation.  By this means county government would be carried on by an elected county board of supervisors of 17.

At Friday's meeting of the Commission at White Plains, many sections of the Wallin plan were approved.  Judge Slater impressing on the members present that the new charter should be as simple as possible in preference to a lengthy document detailing all powers and duties of the various sub-boards which are proposed under the plan."

Source:  COUNTY COMMISSION TO DISCUSS ALTERNATIVE PLAN OF MORSE'S -- New Proposal Seeks to Establish a County Board of Supervisors Superior to Present Town Board -- Will Be Discussed At Meeting At Commodore Hotel On Wednesday, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 27, 1923, p. 1, cols. 1-2.  

"REPORT CHANGE IN WESTCHESTER CO. GOVERNMENT
-----
Committee of Fifteen Receive Comprehensive Statement on Activities of Commission
-----
Believe Also That Taxpayers Would Approve Right Plans for Consolidation of Pelhams
-----

The Committee of fifteen of the Town of Pelham which is keeping itself informed on the doings of the County Commission which is soon to present a new charter for government in Westchester County met at Memorial High School last night, Harry W. Nuckols of Pelham Manor presiding.

The sub-committee on the history of Westchester's government presented a voluminous report through its chairman, Lawrence F. Sherman.  It outlined the inception of government in Westchester and reported very fully the activities of the present county commission.  Mr. Sherman stated that he believed the government of Westchester could be improved but until the definite plan for the new form of government was presented to the Board of Supervisors by the Commission and was made public there was little that could be done.

Asked as to whether it was possible to place the charter before the people at this fall's election, Mr. Sherman said it was his opinion that it could not be brought before the voters until 1925.  He cited the attempt of Nassau County to get a new charter approved by the Legislature and its failure after many months of effort, and said he did not believe that even should a special session of the Legislature be convened to consider the matter of change of government the bill could not go through the various phases of government in time to be placed before the people this year.

The report was accepted and turned over to The Pelham Sun office for inspection of anyone interested.  The Committee will report to the Men's Cub at its first fall session in October.

The second phase of the activities of the Committee of fifteen deals with the consolidation of the Pelhams.  This was discussed informally and it was the general belief of the members of the committee that a consolidation could be effected with a saving to the taxpayers and a definite plan which would show these advantages would receive the approval of s sufficient number of the taxpayers to make it feasible."

Source:  REPORT CHANGE IN WESTCHESTER CO. GOVERNMENT -- Committee of Fifteen Receive Comprehensive Statement on Activities of Commission -Believe Also That Taxpayers Would Approve Right Plans for Consolidation of Pelhams, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 14, 1923, p. 1, col. 5.  


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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Significance of the Wreck of the Steamer Plymouth Rock in Pelham in 1855


"[I]t may form quite an important epoch in the history of City Island,
as no vessel of any class or description was ever before launched
from that place.  It is not improbable that the increase of population
and trade may 'ere long give rise to extensive and flourishing ship
yards there, or in that vicinity, where the building and launching of
the largest vessels may yet become matters of ordinary and almost
every day occurrence."

January 19, 1856 Issue of The New York Herald Regarding the Need
to Re-float the Wrecked Steamship Plymouth Rock at City Island.  

Introduction

The massive Stonington Line steamship Plymouth Rock left New York City promptly at 4:00 p.m., its regularly-scheduled departure time, on Saturday, December 29, 1855.  Already a nasty nor'easter was blowing.  It was snowing heavily.  The hundreds of passengers on board remained inside amidst the "regal splendor" of the 335-foot long steamship, sheltered from the storm among the finest beds, bedding, chandeliers, china, cut glass, and furniture money could buy.  

Slowly the massive steamer chugged along the East River, through Hell Gate, fighting winds and waters to make its way past Throgg's Neck towards City Island and adjacent Hart Island.  As it chugged along, the nor'easter worsened and a terrible snow squall swirled in the region.  After about an hour after the ship's departure, the gale intensified to such a point that the steamer no longer was able to make headway against the storm and needed to seek shelter.

A large number of Long Island Sound steamers and other vessels were gathered at anchor between City Island and Hart Island sheltering from the terrible winds of the gale.  At about 5:00 p.m., the Plymouth Rock, captained by Joel Stone, joined these vessels.  The steamer dropped its anchor to shelter with the other steamers, schooners, and vessels seeking refuge between City Island and Hart Island.  

Over the next few hours, the terrible storm continued to intensify with winds and waves lashing the vessels in the darkness.  The massive Plymouth Rock "bravely" rode out the storm for the next eight or nine hours.

Between about 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 30, 1855, many on the Plymouth Rock heard a distinct "crack" or "snap" at the bow of the ship.  Crew members raced to the bow just in time to see a schooner that had snapped her cable chain drifting quickly down the Sound "at a very fast rate" -- so fast, in fact, that no one was able to identify the vessel as it receded into the dark distance.  The crack that they heard had been the runaway schooner running into the Plymouth Rock's cable chain and tripping the steamer's anchor, leaving the steamship "at the mercy of the winds."  

Captain Stone ordered a second anchor thrown overboard and even tried to have the boilers fired up to permit him to maneuver the ship.  It was too late.  In what seemed like an instant, the Plymouth Rock struck the shores and rocks of City Island -- some reports say near City Island Point -- and was wrecked.  The massive storm left the gigantic behemoth "high and dry" on its side on the shores of City Island.  

The Plymouth Rock went ashore during a very high tide with winds whipping waves well onto shore.  Consequently, the ship was carried quite a distance inland and settled ashore "very lightly."  Indeed, according to one account, "so slight was the shock that many of the passengers did not awake from their slumbers, and none of them, we are informed, manifested any trepidation or alarm."  The ship lay broadside on City Island Point with its bow facing to the north and shallow water lapping at its hull.

Significantly, at the time of this wreck, City Island did not have a shipyard capable of dealing with such a ship.  Ship construction and repair on City Island before this time had involved only small vessels.

The Immediate Aftermath of the Wreck

Word immediately was sent to New York City that the Plymouth Rock had wrecked on the shores of City Island.  In the meantime, one of the nearby steamers sheltering from the storm offered assistance.  Beginning by about 2:00 a.m., the Fall River Line steamship Bay State and its crew offered a towing hawser that was secured to the stricken steamship.  Despite "unceasing effort" for the next two hours, the Bay State was unable to re-float the Plymouth Rock.   

At about 5:00 a.m., the crews of the Plymouth Rock and the Bay State began to transfer the passengers of the stricken steamer to the Bay State.  No one was hurt in the shipwreck or in the process of transferring the passengers.  After the storm the passengers were taken to Falls River from which they were transferred to Boston.  

Later that morning word reached the Stonington Line in New York City of the plight of the Plymouth Rock.  The Line dispatched two "steamtugs" (steam-powered tugboats), the Hector and the Jacob Bell, to City Island to try to free the wrecked ship.  The steamtugs worked for hours to free the steamer and re-float it.  The steamship, however, was simply too big.  It would not budge.  Thus, the passengers' baggage, freight, and mails were offloaded to the steamtugs that then returned to New York City.  

In the meantime, as soon as word was received by representatives of the Stonington Line in New York City of the wreck, the representatives also began engaging a "full complement of men" and worked to fire up another of the Stonington Line steamers, the Commodore, to depart for City Island with "necessary tackle" to pick up the passengers and their baggage.  Just as the Commodore readied to depart, the steamtugs arrived with news that they carried the passengers' baggage, freight, and mails from the Plymouth Rock and that the Bay State had taken the passengers to Fall River.  Thus, the Commodore was not dispatched to City Island.  

Once the storm cleared, the Plymouth Rock lay easily on its side like a massive beached whale.  The gargantuan steamer towered over the sleepy little island and fishing village of several hundred residents.

A Little About the Stonington Line and its Steamship Plymouth Rock

By the late 1840s, Cornelius Vanderbilt had virtually monopolized steamship transportation on Long Island Sound.  Consequently, he changed his focus to developing transportation lines to California and left his famed Stonington Line under the supervision of his associate, Daniel Drew.  By the mid-1850s, Drew operated three recently-built steamships:  the C. Vanderbilt, the Commodore, and the Plymouth Rock between New York City and Stonington, Connecticut.  See Brouwer, Norman J., Images of America:  Steamboats on Long Island Sound, p. 45 (Charleston, SC:  Arcadia Publishing, 2014).  

The Plymouth Rock was a "mammoth steamer" for its day.  It was 1,850 tons with a length of keel of 325 feet and a length of deck of 335 feet -- longer than a modern football field.  The massive steamship was capable of carrying five hundred passengers.  Its beds and bedding, chandeliers, china, cut glass, and table furniture, were "the best that could be procured in this country or in Europe."  

An extensive description of the steamship published in 1855 (shortly before it was wrecked on City Island) stated:

"The Plymouth Rock made her first trip to Stonington October 19, 1854.  The hull was built by J. Simonson, and is of unusual heavy timber, with a variety of extra fastenings.  The length of keel, 325 feet; length on deck, 335 feet; breadth of hull, 40 feet; whole breadth, including guards, 72 feet; depth of hold, 13 feet; register 1,850 tons, custom-house measurement.  The model has been much admired by amateurs in marine architecture for its grace and symmetry.  She is certainly a very fine-looking steamer, and reflects great credit on her builder, whose success has before been remarked.  

The machinery was furnished by the Allaire Works of this city.  The engine is a beam, with a cylinder 76 inches in diameter and 12 feet stroke of piston; the shafts and cranks are of wrought-iron, heavily fastened and braced.  There are two low-pressure boilers, of very great size and capacity, placed on the guards.  The steamer has also an extra engine and pumps to supply the boilers, and so arranged in case of fire, that a hose may be attached at a moment's notice, and reach any part of the boat.  Then engine of the Plymouth Rock is of the first class -- massive in strength and complete in finish.  It contains all desirable improvements, and is believed to be as perfect a specimen of machinery as yet produced in this country.

In the construction of this mammoth steamer, it was deemed of paramount importance to provide a strong and substantial vessel of great power, with the highest speed, and particularly equipped for the security and safety of life and property.  But the comfort and enjoyment of the passengers has not been by any means neglected.

The accommodations throughout are spacious, convenient, and elegant; the furniture and appointments of the costliest description, and in taste and beauty.  The beds and bedding, chandeliers, china, cut glass, and table furniture, are the best that could be procured in this country or in Europe.

The Plymouth Rock has one hundred well-ventilated state rooms, including numerous bridal, family, and single-bedded rooms, and berths (wide and roomy) for five hundred passengers, and a dining cabin remarkably spacious.  The ladies' cabin, with its almost regal splendor, and the state room hall, with its immense proportions and beautiful arched roof, must be seen to be fully appreciated.

The Plymouth Rock is supplied with several metallic life-boats, with patent cans, seats, and buoys fitted as life-preservers, with fire-engine, force-pumps, hose, and other apparatus and contrivances to protect and preserve from accident, danger, or harm.

The Plymouth Rock is under the command of Captain Joel Stone, who has been from early boyhood on the Sound, and is most favorably known as a competent and courteous master."

Source:  "RAILROAD, CANAL, AND STEAMBOAT STATISTICS -- OCEAN AND INLAND STEAMERS OUT OF THE PORT OF NEW YORK NUMBER 11 'THE PLYMOUTH ROCK'" in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review Conducted by Freeman Hunt, A.M., Vol. 33 (From July to December, 1855), pp. 129 & 130 (NY, NY:  1855).



Nineteenth Century Connecticut $3 Bank Note Issued by
Stonington Bank, Depicting the Steamer Plymouth Rock.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.



Detail from Connecticut $3 Bank Note Issued by
Stonington Bank with Detail Depicting the Steamer
Plymouth Rock.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.



Initial Efforts to Re-Float the Plymouth Rock

According to one account published on New Year's Day, 1856, after the storm the wrecked steamer lay:

"on a rocky but nearly even bottom, excepting two small projecting rocks, one about 20 feet forward and the other 20 feet aft of the engine.  The forward rock has broken two of her starboard bilge kelsons [i.e., keelson], and through this fracture the tide ebbs and flows.  At high tide yesterday the water reached her cabin floor forward.  There is no other leak than the one mentioned, and that will soon be stopped."  (See article transcribed below.)

Almost immediately more sophisticated efforts to re-float the ship began.  The insurance underwriters for the ship sent an experienced captain (Captain Bowne) to the scene with two powerful steam pumps rigged for service.  Additionally, the ship's builder, Jeremiah Simonson of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, joined the efforts to save the ship.  One of the owners of the Plymouth Rock, Captain Haywood, arrived on the scene and was placed in charge of the efforts to re-float the ship.

There were a host of problems with the way the ship lay.  She went onto the island broadside and lay in shallow waters.  In addition, the ship's bow was "considerably lower than her stern."  This meant that the ship most likely would have to be removed "broadside as she went on" rather than by her bow or stern.  This presented extreme difficulties for the process.  A steamtug immediately was sent to New York City to bring back ways, canal boats and casks "to sink under and buoy her up in readiness for the next high tide." 

Finally, on January 5, 1856, preparations were complete and an effort to float the stricken steamer began.  Another major storm, however, interrupted the operations and the effort failed.  To make matters worse, the massive storm drove the Plymouth Rock thirty feet further onto the shore.

Clearly it was going to be difficult to re-float the mammoth ship.  The effort might even take months. . . . . . 

Plymouth Rock Owners Contract with Simonson to Re-Float the Ship

Recognizing the serious plight faced by the steamship, on January 8, 1856, its owners completed a contract with Simonson & Lugar of Greenpoint to raise the ship sufficiently to allow ways to be placed under her keel so she could be "relaunched."  (Ways are inclined tracks on which the keel of a ship can slide during launching into the water.)  

This contract may very well have played a significant role in the later growth of City Island as a shipyard and shipbuilding center.  It may well have planted the seed in the minds of many regarding the concept that a massive steamship such as the Plymouth Rock could be launched into the waters of Long Island Sound from ways laid on City Island.  Indeed, this seed would have been a powerful notion to some given the number of shipwrecks and ship repairs needed in the region around City Island and Hart Island in the 1850s and 1860s.  Indeed, this "seed" was not lost on average observers.  One newspaper in the region wrote of the use of ways to relaunch the stricken ship with particular foresight as follows:  

"it may form quite an important epoch in the history of City Island, as no vessel of any class or description was ever before launched from that place.  It is not improbable that the increase of population and trade may 'ere long give rise to extensive and flourishing ship yards there, or in that vicinity, where the building and launching of the largest vessels may yet become matters of ordinary and almost every day occurrence."

In short, efforts to relaunch the mammoth steamship Plymouth Rock into the waters of Long Island Sound from the shore of City Island likely played some role in the eventual growth of shipyards on the little island.

Indeed, by the second week in January a massive effort was underway to repair and re-float the ship.  According to one account, the Stonington Line had agreed to pay $30,000 (nearly $900,000 in today's dollars) to have the ship re-floated.  Fifty men were removing the earth in which the bottom of the ship was embedded to prepare the structure for being placed on ways.  By about January 8th, the damage to the side of the ship stove in when striking the shore had been repaired.  It looked as though the ship could be re-floated within a matter of days.

Then, disaster struck yet again.  Over the weekend of January 12-13, the region experienced yet another major storm.  The storm was so violent that, according to one report, a "full rigged brig was driven ashore on Hart Island, five schooners were left high and dry on City Island, and two schooners were cast upon Huckleberry Island."  (See below.)  During the storm, a wrecking schooner working at the Plymouth Rock site dragged three anchors and was blown ashore, creating a second mess to be addressed.    

Efforts to Re-Float the Plymouth Rock Seemed to Be Cursed

By January 25, 1856, the wrecking schooner mess had been resolved and a canal had been constructed into which the Plymouth Rock could be launched and then floated into the Long Island Sound.  The weather, however, simply would not cooperate.  This time, the problem was ice.

The region was in the midst of one of the coldest winters in many years.  Ice floes were dangerous and numerous in the waters around City Island and Hart Island.  A decision was made to delay any relaunch of the ship until the ice cleared.  The ice, however, did not clear.  Things only got worse until, by February 7, the entire Long Island Sound was frozen over with ice nearly a foot thick for a distance of at least eighteen miles.  According to one account published in a New York City newspaper on February 7:

"According to accounts which were yesterday given by pilots and captains of vessels, who had just come in from City Island and vicinity, the ice in the river above Hell Gate is more abundant and solid than it has been for many years past.  The whole river, they say, is frozen over between Lent's Point, above the Gate, to Sands' Point, a distance of about eighteen miles.  Near Throggs' Point the ice is over a foot thick, and much of it covered with snow of an equal depth.  Teams can pass over from Morrisport, on the west side, to Sands' Point on the Long Island shore.  No water can be seen by a person looking in the direction of the Sound, from a vessel's mast head at Hart Island.  About thirty vessels, brigs, schooners, sloops, etc., are ice bound between Sands' Point and Riker's Island.  The crew of the steamer Plymouth Rock, at City Island, having despaired of getting her away at present, have abandoned her, leaving her in charge of but one or two, as boat keepers."  (See below.)

The crew of the Plymouth Rock were not the only ones who despaired.  It began to look to the owners and insurance underwriters as though the steamship would not be relaunched for months.

Re-Floating the Stricken Steamship

Weeks passed before the ice began to clear.  In early March, it appeared as though the time was ripe to attempt a relaunch.  The Stonington Line was so optimistic that on Sunday, March 2nd it had another of its steamships, the C. Vanderbilt, carry a load of coal to City Island so that Plymouth Rock would have enough fuel to make it back to New York City once it was relaunched during a high tide under favorable winds.  

On Friday, March 7, 1856, everything was ready.  The Plymouth Rock had been propped on ways.  A canal had been dug to allow it to float into Long Island Sound.  The tide was high.  The winds were favorable.  Sometime that day, the ship was relaunched successfully down the ways into the canal and floated into Long Island Sound.  According to at least one source, this was the first launch of a ship on ways ever on City Island.

The ship immediately proceeded to the Balance Dock at the foot of Market Street in New York City for additional repairs.  According to one report, a good deal of additional work was needed.  "Both sides of her hull forward under the water lines and near the bends are badly stove; and her fore foot is slightly damaged.  --  But she does not appear to be strained, nor in the smallest degree out of line."

Final Repairs and Return of the Ship to Service on the Stonington Line

For the next three weeks, shipwrights and carpenters at the Balance Dock in New York City labored to repair and reappoint the splendid steamship.  According to one account, at the Balance Dock:

"every part of the hull in the least injured having been removed and entirely renewed, while additional fastenings and new kelsons and braces give increased strength to the massive and substantial frame.  The engine and boilers were found to be in perfect order, and not in the least affected by the accident.  The steamer has been repainted and regilded [sic], and the furniture and equipments renewed and refitted, so that the Plymouth Rock to all intents and purposes is now a new steamer, just ready for service."  (See below.)

On Tuesday, April 8, 1856, the Plymouth Rock resumed its trips on the Stonington Line for the season.  Captain Joel Stone, once again, was at the helm.  

Now that the world knew that a steamship longer than a modern football field could be launched on ways into Long Island Sound from the shores of City Island, neither the little island nor the Town of Pelham would ever be the same.  Soon, shipyards began sprouting along the shores of the island as City Island grew into a major shipbuilding and ship repair center for the entire northeast.

*          *          *          *          *

I have written before about the wreck of the steamship Plymouth Rock at City Island Point during the early morning hours of Sunday, December 30, 1855.  See:

Thu., Aug. 23, 2007:  The Wreck of the Steamer Plymouth Rock in Pelham Waters in 1855.

Fri., Aug. 24, 2007:  More About the Wreck of the Steamer Plymouth Rock in Pelham Waters in 1855.

*          *          *          *          *

Below is the text of a large number of articles dealing with the wreck of the steamship Plymouth Rock on the shores of City Island in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 30, 1855.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK ASHORE AT CITY ISLAND.
-----
PASSENGERS ALL SAFE.

The steamer Plymouth Rock, Capt. Stone, went ashore on City Island, some eighteen miles above the city, about 2 o'clock, in the storm yesterday (Sunday) morning.  The facts are as follows:  The steamer left the city for Stonington at 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, from Pier No. 2 North River, and about 5 1/2 or 6 o'clock, as she neared City Island, the wind blowing very hard, Captain Stone gave orders to throw over one of her anchors, it being his intention to let her lay to until the storm passed over.

The storm continued to increase, but nothing transpired until about 2 o'clock, at which time a crack was heard on the bow, which on examination proved to be caused by a schooner running into and tripping the steamer's anchor, thus leaving us at the mercy of the winds.  Capt. Stone, as soon as he learned the true state of things, ordered a second anchor to be thrown over, but it was two late -- in an instant the steamer struck the island and went ashore, where at last accounts she lay high and dry.  Her passengers were taken off by the steamer Bay State, for Fall River, and word sent to this city of the condition of the disabled steamer.

As soon as the news was received here orders were given to fire up the steamer Commodore, Capt. Pendleton, that she should be sent to the relief of the P. R., a full complement of men were engaged, and the necessary tackle brought out and made ready for action.  

The schooner, it appears, was drifted down the stream at a very fast rate, she having snapped her cable chain.  No one appears to know her name nor anything about her, as she continued to drift, as far as the eye could see, down the stream.

The Commodore did not leave for City Island, as the steamtugs which had been sent to the assistance of the Plymouth Rock brought all her freight to the City.  The Plymouth Rock went ashore on a very high tide, and now lies on the rocks in six feet of water.  As her draught [sic] is 7 1/2 or 8 feet, it will require a very high tide to float her.  Meantime the water ebbs and flows through her, and as she lies on the rocks in a very exposed position, her fate is very critical."

Source:  THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK ASHORE AT CITY ISLAND -- PASSENGERS ALL SAFE, New-York Daily Tribune, Dec. 31, 1855, p. 6, col. 4 (additional copies of the same article may be found here and here).

"Disaster to the Steamer Plymouth Rock.

NEW YORK, Dec. 31.

The steamer Plymouth Rock which left here on Saturday afternoon for Stonington, came to anchor, in company with other Sound steamers near Hart Island, owing to the severe snow squall.  A schooner lying at anchor near by, got loose, and by drifting into the Plymouth Rock, tripped her chain, and anchor, and set her at the mercy of the winds and waves, so that she drifted ashore about one o'clock yesterday morning on City Island, where she still remained at the latest date -- 6 o'clock this morning.  --  The steamer Bay State took off the mails and passengers.  The freight has been brought to this city and will be sent on to-day by the steamer Commodore.  --  Assistance was sent to the Plymouth Rock this morning.  Her place in the Stonington line is to be promptly filled by another boat."

Source:  Disaster to the Steamer Plymouth Rock, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 31, 1855, p. 3, col. 4 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK ASHORE ON CITY ISLAND.
-----

From Our Special Reporter.

On Saturday afternoon last the steamer Plymouth Rock, of the Stonington Line, left this city at 4 p.m., her usual hour, for Stonington, but on reaching Sendies Point [sic; Sands Point], the snow-storm which had begun before her departure had become so violent as to render it impossible for her to make further headway against it, and an anchor was let go to hold her until its violence had abated.  The anchor was cast overboard about 5 o'clock p. m., and she rode out the storm bravely until 1 o'clock on Sunday morning, when unperceived by any one on board, she slowly dragged her anchors and went ashore, broadside on City Island Point, the wind blowing a perfect gale at the time.  She went ashore on a very high tide, and was carried far upon the beach, striking very lightly; indeed, so slight was the shock that many of the passengers did not awake from their slumbers, and none of them, we are informed, manifested any trepidation or alarm.

About 2 o'clock a.m. the steamer Bay State, Capt. Jewett, of the Fall River line, took a hawser from the Plymouth Rock, and endeavored to get her afloat again, but after two hours of unceasing effort, Capt. Jewett was obliged to give up the attempt.  About 5 a.m. on Sunday the Bay State took off the passengers of the Plymouth Rock and carried them to Fall River, whence they were forwarded to Boston.

The news of the disaster to the Plymouth Rock reached this city about Sunday noon, and a couple of steamtugs, the Hector and Jacob Bell, were at once chartered to go to her assistance.  All attempts to haul her off were found unavailing, and the passengers, baggage and freight crates, were transferred to the steamtugs, and they arrived here just in time to prevent the steamer Commodore, which had been made ready for that purpose, from going to City Island to the assistance of the stranded steamer.  Last evening the freight was all sent to Boston on the steamer Commodore of this line.

The Plymouth Rock is lying with her broadside to City Island and heading north.  She lies on a rocky but nearly even bottom, excepting two small projecting rocks, one about 20 feet forward and the other 20 feet aft of the engine.  The forward rock has broken two of her starboard bilge kelsons, and through this fracture the tide ebbs and flows.  At high tide yesterday the water reached her cabin floor forward.  There is not other leak than the one mentioned, and that will soon be stopped; the shipwrights have already begun to build a well around it, and when we left the steamer last night Capt. Bowne, the Underwriters' agent, had his two powerful steam-pumps nearly rigged for service; so that the probability is that in the course of to-day she will be freed of water, and then the pumps will keep her dry.  So far as we could judge from a cursory observation last evening, the steamer lies quite easy, and is very little strained.  Her builder, Mr. Jeremiah Simonson of Greenpoint, is assisting in getting her off.  The steamer draws seven feet of water; yesterday, at high tide, the depth of water around her averaged five feet.  Her bows, are, however, considerably lower than her stern, and when she does come off, as the water is shallow before and behind her, she must come off broadside as she went on.  When she went ashore the tide was full, and it will need a high tide and easterly wind to get her off again.  Yesterday a steam-tug was dispatched to the city for ways, canal boats and casks to sink under and buoy her up in readiness for the next high tide, when it is expected she will be got off.  Capt. Haywood, one of the owners of the Plymouth Rock, who is on board in charge, entertains strong hopes of getting her afloat again.  

Capt. Stone, the commander of the Plymouth Rock, was on a visit to his friends in Connecticut when the accident occurred, and the steamer was in charge of the pilot.

None of the furniture of the steamer is damaged, all of it having been removed before the water got into the cabin."

Source:  THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK ASHORE ON CITY ISLAND, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 1, 1856, p. 5, col. 5 (additional copies of the same article may be found here and here).    

"Disaster to the Steamer Plymouth Rock.

The steamer Plymouth Rock, which left here on Saturday afternoon, for Stonington, came to anchor in company with the other Sound steamers, near Hart Island, owing to the severe snow squall.  A schooner, lying at anchor near by, got loose, and by drifting into the Plymouth Rock, tripped her chain and anchor, and set her at the mercy of the wind and waves, so that she drifted ashore about 1 o'clock A. M., on Sunday, on City Island, where she still remained at the latest date, 6 o'clock Monday morning.

The steamer Bay State took off the mails and passengers.  The freight has been brought to this City.  Assistance was sent to the Plymouth Rock yesterday morning.  Her place in the Stonington Line is to be promptly filled by another boat."

Source:  Disaster to the Steamer Plymouth Rock, N.Y. Times, Jan. 1, 1856.  

"The steamer Plymouth Rock, of the Stonington line, went ashore on City Island in the snow storm on Sunday morning last, and lies in a very precarious position."

Source:  [Untitled], New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 1, 1856, p. 4, col. 2.  

"TELEGRAPHIC.
-----

NEW YORK, Dec. 31.  --  The steamer Plymouth Rock for Stonington, went ashore on Hart's Island at two o'clock on Sunday morning.  Her passengers and mails were taken off by the steamer Bay State.  The Plymouth Rock remained aground this morning.  Steamers have been sent to her assistance."

Source:  TELEGRAPHIC, The Pittsburgh Gazette, Jan. 1, 1856, p. 3, col. 2.  

"Steamer Plymouth Rock Aground.

NEW YORK, Dec. 31, P. M. -- The steamer Plymouth Rock, for Stonington, went ashore on Hart's Island [sic] at two o'clock Sunday morning.  The passengers and mail were taken off by the steamer Bay State.  The Plymouth Rock remained aground, and this morning steamers were sent to her aid."

Source:  Steamer Plymouth Rock Aground, The Louisville Daily Courier [Louisville, KY], Jan. 1, 1856, p. 3, col. 3.  

"MARINE AFFAIRS.
-----

THE PLYMOUTH ROCK. -- This fine steamer is still ashore on City Island, and the wind yesterday having shifted to the westward she will not be got off for some days yet."

Source:  MARINE AFFAIRS -- THE PLYMOUTH ROCK, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 5, 1856, p. 6, col. 2.

"THINGS IN NEW YORK.

NEW YORK, Jan. 5. . . .

A further effort was made to float off the steamer Plymouth Rock to-day, but without success.  The storm interrupts operations. . . ."

Source:  THINGS IN NEW YORK, Public Ledger [Philadelphia, PA], Jan. 7, 1856, p. 3, col. 6.  

"MARINE AFFAIRS.
-----

THE STEAMSHIP PLYMOUTH ROCK.  --  The owners of the Plymouth Rock yesterday completed a contract with Messrs. Simonson & Lugar to get her afloat again.  She lies in a favorable position, and will be raised sufficiently to allow ways to be placed under her keel, when she will be relaunched.  She came out of the severe gale on Saturday night last tight and uninjured, and when once afloat will soon resumed her place on the Stonington route.  The well-known skill of the contractors is a guarantee that she will not long remain on City Island beach."

Source:  MARINE AFFAIRS -- THE STEAMSHIP PLYMOUTH ROCK, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 9, 1856, p. 7, col. 3.  

"The Plymouth Rock.

NEW YORK, Jan. 8.

A contract has been made to-day with Messrs. Simonsons [sic]; Sugar [sic] to put the steamer Plymouth Rock afloat.  She lies in a more favorable position."

Source:  The Plymouth Rock, Detroit Free Press, Jan. 9, 1856, p. 1, col. 4.  

"The Plymouth Rock Still Aground.

The Plymouth Rock, which went ashore some days since at City Island, has not yet been removed from her position since the storm last Sunday night, by which it will doubtless be recollected she was driven thirty feet further on shore.  Active preparations are, however, being made to effect her speedy removal.  Some fifty men are engaged removing the earth in which her bottom is imbedded [sic], preparatory to placing her on guys, when she will, it is thought, be launched without difficulty.  The damage to one of her sides, sustained by the collision upon the rocks previous to her having been driven on shore, has been repaired, and all that remains is her necessary elevation prior to being launched.  It is stated that the Stonington Company to whom the steamer belongs, have agreed to pay $30,000 for her removal."

Source:  The Plymouth Rock Still Aground, The New York Herald, Jan. 13, 1856, p. 1, col. 4.

"STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK

It is expected that the steamer Plymouth Rock, ashore on City Island, will be got off in the course of a few days, a contract having been made with her builders, Messrs. Simonson & Lugar to dig a canal or trench around her, when, it is thought she can be easily launched.  They have already sent up laborers to commence operations."

Source:  STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 15, 1856, p. 6, col. 4.

"SPECIAL DESPATCH [sic] TO THE HERALD.

CITY ISLAND, Jan. 14, 1856.

The wrecking schooner attending on the steamer Plymouth Rock, dragged three anchors and went ashore on City Island high and dry.

At Sand Point and about Cow Bay the effects of the storm on Saturday night and Sunday morning were very severely felt.  A full rigged brig was driven ashore on Hart Island, five schooners were left high and dry on City Island, and two schooners were cast upon Huckleberry Island."

Source:  SPECIAL DESPATCH TO THE HERALD, The New York Herald, Jan. 15, 1856, p. 1, col. 4.  

"STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK

It is expected that the steamer Plymouth Rock, ashore on City Island, will be got off in the course of a few days, a contract having been made with her builders, Messrs. Simonson & Lugar to dig a canal or trench around her, when, it is thought, she can be easily launched.  They have already sent up laborers to commence operations."

Source:  STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK, New-York Tribune, Jan. 15, 1856, p. 6, col. 4 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

"City Intelligence. . . .

THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK, ashore at City Island, is expected to leave there to-day, or Monday.  A canal or dock has been formed by excavating underneath and between her and the water of sufficient depth below high water to float her, and warp her out.  This plan was devised as the easiest and most expeditious one for removing her.  Should it not prove successful, the contractors (Messrs. Simonson & Lugar) will place her on ways and launch her.  In either event it may form quite an important epoch in the history of City Island, as no vessel of any class or description was ever before launched from that place.  It is not improbable that the increase of population and trade may 'ere long give rise to extensive and flourishing ship yards there, or in that vicinity, where the building and launching of the largest vessels may yet become matters of ordinary and almost every day occurrence."

Source:  City Intelligence . . . THE STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK, The New York Herald, Jan. 19, 1856, p. 4, col. 6.  

"THINGS IN NEW YORK.

NEW YORK, Jan. 19. . . .

The steamer Plymouth Rock, ashore at City Island for the past month, will probably be afloat on Monday.  A canal has been formed by excavating underneath of a sufficient depth to float her off at high water."

Source:  THINGS IN NEW YORK, Public Ledger [Philadelphia, PA] Jan. 21, 1856, p. 1, col. 7 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"NEW YORK, Jan. 15. . . .

The wrecking schooner appended to the steamer Plymouth Rock, dragged three anchors and went ashore on City Island, high and dry."

Source:  NEW YORK, Jan. 15, Weekly Indiana State Sentinel [Indianapolis, IN], Jan. 24, 1856, p. 1, col. 8.  

"STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK.  --  All the necessary preparations for removing the steamer Plymouth Rock from City Island, where she has been ashore for some time past, are now complete.  She has been placed in an upright and perfectly easy position, and is only waiting for the breaking away of the ice, when she will be taken out from her bed and brought to the city."

Source:  STEAMER PLYMOUTH ROCK, The New York Herald, Jan. 25, 1856, p. 5, col. 1

 "ICE IN THE HARBOR.
-----

The quantity of drift ice in our rivers and bay is so great as to completely cover the surface of the water, and it has become so compact that many attempts to work through have failed within a day or two.  Vessels lying in slips are frozen in, and can only be released by being cut out.  The only exception to the general condition, was when a very large field completely blocked up the mouth of the East River, from Governor's Island to Castle Garden, and remained stationary, preventing other ice from getting in the river, and leaving it comparatively clear above, so that the ferry boats found but little difficulty in crossing.  

According to accounts which were yesterday given by pilots and captains of vessels, who had just come in from City Island and vicinity, the ice in the river above Hell Gate is more abundant and solid than it has been for many years past.  The whole river, they say, is frozen over between Lent's Point, above the Gate, to Sands' Point, a distance of about eighteen miles.  Near Throggs' Point the ice is over a foot thick, and much of it covered with snow of an equal depth.  Teams can pass over from Morrisport, on the west side, to Sands' Point on the Long Island shore.  No water can be seen by a person looking in the direction of the Sound, from a vessel's mast head at Hart Island.  About thirty vessels, brigs, schooners, sloops, etc., are ice bound between Sands' Point and Riker's Island.  The crew of the steamer Plymouth Rock, at City Island, having despaired of getting her away at present, have abandoned her, leaving her in charge of but one or two, as boat keepers.

All but the Hamilton Avenue Ferry boats make their trips, but without any pretence [sic] to regularity, and they are often in imminent danger from heavy fields of ice, which force them far out of their course.  Buttermilk Channel is again frozen over, and persons crossed on ice from Brooklyn to Governor's Island yesterday."

Source:  ICE IN THE HARBOR, Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, Feb. 7, 1856,  Vol. LIII, No. 9830, p. 3, col. 2.  

"Miscellaneous and Disasters. . . . 

On account of the storm of Saturday night, the boats of the Boston line did not leave at 4 P.M., their regular hour.  The C. Vanderbilt, for Stonington, and State of Maine, for Fall River, went out yesterday, Sunday, at 5 A.M.  The Connecticut, for Norwich, went on the same day at 8 A.M.  The C V took with her, for the Plymouth Rock, which has been for a long time at City Island, a sufficiency of fuel to enable her to come to the city.  She is alive at high water, as she lays, and will leave when the wind proves favorable for a good tide."

Source:  Miscellaneous and Disasters, The New York Herald, Mar. 3, 1856, p. 8, col. 4

"New York, March 7. . . . 

The steamer Plymouth Rock, of the New York and Stonington line, which has been ashore at Hart Island [sic] for two or three months, was floated off to-day and steaming up to the city but little damaged."

Source:  [Untitled], Chicago Tribune, Mar. 8, 1856, p. 2, col. 6 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  See also [Untitled], The Buffalo Commercial [Buffalo, NY], Mar. 8 1856, p. 3, col. 4 (same text; paid subscription required).  

"The Stonington steamer, Plymouth Rock, which was ashore last Winter on City Island, was on Friday morning, taken up by the Balance Dock for repairs.  Both sides of her hull forward under the water lines and near the bends are badly stove; and her fore foot is slightly damaged.  --  But she does not appear to be strained, nor in the smallest degree out of line."

Source:  [Untitled], The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar. 15, 1856, p. 2, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link). 

"Miscellaneous and Disasters. . . . 

 The Stonington steamer Plymouth Rock, which was ashore last winter on City Island, was on Friday morning taken up by the balance dock for repairs.  Both sides of her hull forward under the water lines and near the heads are badly stove, and her fore foot is slightly damaged.  But she does not appear to be strained nor in the smallest degree out of line."

Source:  Miscellaneous and Disasters, The New York Herald, Mar. 16, 1856, p. 8, col. 5.  

"THE PLYMOUTH ROCK.  --  This splendid steamer has been put in the most complete order, and resumes her place in the Stonington Line, under the command of Capt. Joel Stone.  The Commodore is the alternate boat.

The steamer Plymouth Rock, since being relieved from the protracted detention at City Island, has been placed on the large balance dock at the foot of Market-street, and there received a most thorough overhauling -- every part of the hull in the least injured having been removed and entirely renewed, while additional fastenings and new kelsons and braces give increased strength to the massive and substantial frame.  The engine and boilers were found to be in perfect order, and not in the least affected by the accident.  The steamer has been repainted and regilded [sic], and the furniture and equipments renewed and refitted, so that the Plymouth Rock to all intents and purposes is now a new steamer, just ready for service."

Source:  THE PLYMOUTH ROCK, New-York Daily Tribune, Apr. 8, 1856, p. 4, col. 1.

"Miscellaneous and Disasters. . . .

The steamer Plymouth Rock, Capt. Joel Stone, resumed her trips on the Stonington Line, for the season yesterday (Tuesday).  The steamer, since being relieved from the protracted detention at City Island, has been placed on the large Balance Dock, foot of Market street, and there received a most thorough overhauling.  Every part of the hull in the least injured having been entirely renewed, while additional fastenings, new keelsons and braces gives increased strength to this massive and substantial frame.  The engine and boilers were found to be in perfect order and not in the least affected by the accident.  The steamer has been repainted and regilded [sic], the furniture and compartments renewed and refitted so that the Plymouth Rock to all intents and purposes, is now a new steamer just ready for service."

Source:  Miscellaneous and Disasters, The New York Herald, Apr. 9, 1856, p. 8, col. 5.  

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