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, August 22, 2014

Brief History of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor Published in 1963


The Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church is a magnificent cut field stone Gothic architectural complex that stands at Four Corners in Pelham Manor.  The complex is the successor to the famed "Little Red Church" that stood on the site from 1876 until early 1917 when the structure was sold and moved across Pelhamdale Avenue to a site on Boston Post Road just past the CVS Pharmacy that stands near Four Corners today (once called "Red Church Corner").  The cornerstone of the present sanctuary was laid on Children's Day, June 10, 1917.  

The history of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church is integrally intertwined with the history of the Village of Pelham Manor.  Accordingly, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a brief history of the church that was published in 1963.  The text is followed by a citation to its source, as well as a list of (and links to) previous postings regarding the history of the Church.


Post Card View of "Huguenot Memorial Church Pelham Manor, N.Y."
Postmarked August 10, 1951.  

"Westchester Today!

Huguenot Memorial Church:  Beauty in Pelham

Visitors and passersby admire the beauty of 'The Huguenot Memorial Church In The Town Of Pelham,' as the edifice at the corner of Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue in Pelham Manor is officially known.

The cut field stone and the Gothic architecture seem to symbolize the eternal values for which the church stands.  The spreading wings of the church house and the interestingly broken roof lines suggest the building was always there and just grew out of the ground.

This is an architectural illusion.  For many years the church which today numbers 1,650 members grew slowly.  Today the staff consists of a pastor, Rev. Dr. William C. Schram, 2 assistants, a full time secretary, two part-time secretaries, a full-time assistant treasurer, an organist and director of music, three full-time sextons and a part-time assistant to the pastor in Christian Education.  

There are four buildings, the Church or Sanctuary, the Church House or education and cultural center containing classrooms, a kitchen, library and nursery, and two manses.  

The Church's start was humble.  In 1689, Huguenot refugees assembled in New York and sought land on which to settle.  On their behalf Jacob Leisler, a businessman, bought 6,000 acres of Sir John Pell's land for 1,675 pounds sterling silver and one fat calf to be delivered each year.  The purchase price was the equivalent of about $1.40 an acre.  The Huguenots named this tract New Rochelle in memory of La Rochelle, France.

Lord Pell also gave acreage for a French church, which eventually became the First Presbyterian Church of New Rochelle.  

For nearly 200 years New Rochelle remained a small, quiet village, and what is now the Town of Pelham was still virgin forest, except for the tiny settlement of Pelhamville (North Pelham) and a few farms in the southerly portion (Pelham Manor) where Christ Church was built in 1843.

In 1873 a group including Silas H. Witherbee, formed the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association.  It planned to develop the Roosevelt Farm and adjacent properties as a residential suburb of New York City.  

At the center of the community it decided to erect a church.  The name was fixed as a commemoration of the Huguenot settlement.

On Oct. 30, 1874, the Association drew up Eight Articles relating to 'the character of this church enterprise, its estimated cost, and the services of the originator of the Huguenot Memorial Forest Church.  Rev. C. E. Lord, D.D.'

Although the articles stipulate that the new church should be Presbyterian, its charter members came from other denominations.  The present membership is drawn from more than a score of denominations.  

The new church seems to have been called 'The Centenary and Huguenot Memorial Forest First Presbyterian Church in the Town of Pelham, New York.'

The first service was held Sunday, July 9, 1876, the Sunday following the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Devotional exercises were led by the Rev. Mr. Roosevelt of Pelham Manor and the Rev. Prof. E. P. Thwing of Brooklyn.  Dr. Lord made an address on 'The Religious History of the Huguenots of the United States and Reasons for the erection of the Huguenot Memorial Church.'  

The following Sunday, July 16, the first session of the Sunday school was held, with Dr. Lord as superintendent.

On October 3, 1876, the Presbytery of Westchester approved a petition for the organization of the new church in accordance with Presbyterian usage.

Joseph Johnson was elected ruling elder, and his son, Joseph H. Johnson, deacon.  The later [sic] died in 1924 at the age of 82.  

The official minutes say the church was incorporated Sept. 29, 1877, R. M. Mitchill, E. E. Hitchcock and R. C. Black were the first trustees.

Dr. Lord remained with the church for about a year.  In 1877 the Rev. Henry Randall Waite was installed as the first regular pastor, and served until 1881, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Daniel N. Freeland.  

The Rev. Harris Ely Adriance was pastor from 1890 to 1895; the Rev. Joseph Haswell Robinson from 1896 to 1902.  During 1903 the pulpit was filled by the Rev. Charles E. Robinson.

From 1904 to 1907 the Rev. Dr. George William Knox, a professor in the Union Theological Seminary, served.  He and his family lived in the Manor.  The Rev. Dr. Lewis Gaston Leary was installed Oct. 24, 1907 and served until 1927.  In 1928 Rev. Dr. Willard P. Soper succeeded him.  He held the pastorate for a quarter of a century.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. George E. Sweazey.

The cornerstone of the building costing $101,363, was laid June 1917, by the Senior elder, A. L. Hammett, and the youngest scholar of the Sunday School, Bruce Currie.  In 1918 the corporate name of the church was changed to 'The Huguenot Memorial Church in the Town of Pelham, New York.'  

In 1920 the manse adjoining the church was purchased for $25,000.  

In 1929 the vestibule was added to the church at a cost of $26,250.  This enlarged the seating capacity to 450.  An acre of land south of the church property and fronting on Pelhamdale Avenue was purchased for $35,000 in 1929 and the manse was moved to its present position.

Despite the depression of 1931, it was decided to erect a building to house the expanded Sunday School.  The cost was $215,000 and it was dedicated in September 1931.

Huguenot Memorial Church is still growing.  A $35,000 rebuilding of the organ has been completed and plans for a $325,000 fund raising drive have been approved for the spring."

Source:  Westchester Today!  Huguenot Memorial Church:  Beauty in Pelham, The Herald Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Jan. 22, 1963, p. 25, cols. 2-5.  

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Periodically I have posted items to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the fascinating history of the church known today as Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor.  For a few of many such examples, see

Thu., Mar. 06, 2014:  An Account of the Dedication of the Little Red Church at Four Corners on July 9, 1876.

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

Tue., Sep. 18, 2007:  Installation of the First Full-Time Pastor ofHuguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor in 1877

Fri., Aug. 31, 2007:  Announcement of the First Services Held in the Little Red Church of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church on July 9, 1876

Thu., Aug. 16, 2007:  Biographical Data About Rev. Charles EliphaletLord Who Served as Acting Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church,1874-79

Tue., Jun. 19, 2007:  A Brazen Burglary at The Little Red Church in 1904

Mon., Jan. 1, 2007:  Dating an Undated Glass Lantern Slide Showing the Little Red Church (Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church)

Wed., Oct. 25, 2006:  A Biography of the Rev. Henry Randall Waite, Ph. D., a 19th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church

Thur., Jun. 29, 2006:  A Biography of Lewis Gaston Leary, Early 20th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham

Thu., Mar. 2, 2006:  A Lecture in 1877 to Raise Money for the New Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor

Fri., Jan. 27, 2006:  Lectures to Raise Money to Build the"Huguenot Memorial Forest Church" Building in Pelham Manor

Mon., Jul. 25, 2005: The Columbarium at Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Biographical Sketches of Two Members of the 1887-88 Westchester County Board of Supervisors With Pelham Connections



In 1887, The Eastern State Journal of White Plains, New York published on its front page brief biographical sketches of each of the newly-elected Supervisors of the various Towns of Westchester County who, together, made up the Board of Supervisors of Westchester County.  Two of the Town Supervisors had connections to Pelham.  The first was Charles Henry Roosevelt, Supervisor of New Rochelle, whose family owned a vast swath of the land that later formed much of the Village of Pelham Manor.  The second was Sherman T. Pell, Supervisor of Pelham.

The two men could not have been more different.  Charles Henry Roosevelt was an honorable man.  Sherman T. Pell was not.  Indeed, Sherman T. Pell was a dishonest scoundrel.

I have written about Sherman T. Pell before.  See Bell, Blake A., Take the Money and Run:  Pelham Town Supervisor Sherman T. Pell, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIV, Issue 19, May 13, 2005, p. 14, col. 2.  

Sherman T. Pell engaged in election fraud to extend his service as Town Supervisor of the Town of Pelham.  Then, in 1893, after completing seven years of service as Town Supervisor but recently defeated in his bid for re-election, Sherman T. Pell simply disappeared, never to be seen again.  Worried that there might be a fiscal reason for the disappearance, the Town Board audited the Town's accounts and discovered $1,700 missing.  That was bad enough.  Soon, however, the scandal grew darker.  Soon it was discovered that for years Sherman T. Pell had been forging notes on behalf of the Town of Pelham and forging the Clerk of the Town's signature on those notes.  Pell then sold the forged bonds on Wall Street for amounts totaling up to $100,000.  He absconded with the ill-gotten proceeds of his criminal enterprise.  His disappearance was a pathetic attempt to leave the Town of Pelham and its taxpayers holding the bag.  Sherman T. Pell reportedly fled to South America and was never brought to justice.  After years of litigation, the "investors" who purchased the forged bonds were left holding the bag and suffered the losses.

In contrast to Sherman T. Pell, Charles Henry Roosevelt was a diligent, honest and hard-working Town Supervisor who represented New Rochelle honorably and ably.  I have written about him and his family and their ties to Pelham on prior occasions.  See, e.g.:

Tue., May 13, 2014:  Elbert Roosevelt, An Early Settler of the Manor of Pelham, and Other Members of His Family.

Mon., Apr. 05, 2010:  Obituary of Noted Pelham Manor Resident C. H. Roosevelt Published in 1901

Thu., Jan. 01, 2009:  A Brief History of Pelham Bridge

Wed., Jan. 29, 2008:  Brief Obituary of Rev. Washington Roosevelt of Pelham Published February 13, 1884

Mon., Nov. 19, 2007:  1901 Obituary of Charles Henry Roosevelt, Grandson of Elbert Roosevelt, One of the Early Settlers of Pelham Manor

Mon., Dec. 18, 2006:  What May Be The Earliest Patent Awarded to a Resident of Pelham: Patent Issued to Elbert J. Roosevelt on May 29, 1866

Wed., Dec. 13, 2006:  More About Isaac Roosevelt of Pelham Who Carved His Name on a Glacial Boulder in 1833

Mon., Nov. 13, 2006: The Isaac Roosevelt Stone Carved in 1833

Wed., Sep. 20, 2006:  Brief Biographical Data About Elbert Roosevelt of the Manor of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 06, 2006: Pelham Loses its Right To Use the Town Dock in the Early 1900s.



Copy of Undated Daguerrotype Showing Samuel Pell, His Wife and Family.
Arrow Indicates Young Sherman T. Pell, a Son of Samuel Pell of City Island.
Source:  Digital Collection of the Author.

Transcribed below is the text of the relevant portions of the 1887 article containing the biographical sketches of Charles Henry Roosevelt and the cowardly criminal scoundrel Sherman T. Pell.  The text is followed by a citation to its source.  

"SKETCHES OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS FOR 1887-8.
-----

We give below a short biographical sketch of each of the newly elected supervisors.  They are by virtue of their selection representative men, and inasmuch as they will constitute the local legislature of the county for the current year, and their acts will affect each tax-payer, and each citizen as well, the people have a right to know of their history and qualifications. . . . 

*     *     *

CHARLES H. ROOSEVELT,
SUPERVISOR OF NEW ROCHELLE.
-----

Charles Henry Roosevelt, Esq., the new supervisor of New Rochelle, was born Nov. 4, 1832, at Sandy Hill, in the northern part of this state, and is the son of the Rev. Washington Roosevelt.  His grandfather bought a farm in the town of Pelham in 1798, near Hunter's Island, and for many years spent his summers there, residing in New York City in the winter.  Members of the Roosevelt family still reside on the old place.  The village of Pelham Manor occupies a part of this historical farm.

Mr. Roosevelt came to New Rochelle from New York city in 1858, and entered into partnership with the late Robert H. Coles, then surrogate of this county and under the name of Coles & Roosevelt, did a large business.  During the war he took very decided and active part in raising troops and in the political campaigns supported the administration with voice and pen, speaking every night in the week to his fellow-citizens for a long time, and was known as a 'War Democrat.'

Mr. Roosevelt has been elected supervisor of New Rochelle three times; the first time over Henry D. Phelps, who had held the office for a number of years, and who was justly regarded as one of the most popular republicans in the county.  At the second and third elections he was nominated by the democrats and endorsed by the citizens' association and the republican party.  In the Tilden and Cleveland campaigns, Mr. Roosevelt was very active, speaking night after night to large audiences, and in every way aiding his party.

Mr. Roosevelt is well-known as a gentleman of solid legal attainments and of pleasing address.  He has been active, earnest, and self-sacrificing as a democrat, and is deserving of consideration at the hands of his party.  The honorable position of County Judge, at the expiration of the present term, would be a fitting reward for fidelity and long service in the democratic ranks, and for which his qualifications eminently are apparent. . . . 

SHERMAN T. PELL,
SUPERVISOR OF PELHAM.
-----

The town of Pelham is represented in the board of supervisors by Sherman T. Pell, after whose ancestors his town was named.  He was born on City Island October 21, 1853, educated there and in New York city, and is a worthy representative of a noted family of that vicinity.  His occupation is that of an insurance broker and agent and dealer in real estate.  He was town clerk of Pelham from 1875 to 1880; was elected supervisor in 1886, and is re elected for 1887.  Mr. Pell was an attentive member last year, was efficient as a legislator, and accomplished more for his town than has been done before for many years.

Pelham is the smallest town in the county.  New York city has absorbed the best part of her territory for park purposes, and brought her down to an acreage uncomfortably small for a township.  If we are to judge of her value by the real estate experts who testified before the park commission, we shall conclude that she is a real diamond -- small in extent but immensely valuable.  Pelham has been the homestead of a great number of the old families who were noted in social circles a half century ago.  Most of the heads of the families have disappeared, and their estates are represented by new names and strangers to our people.  The old stock of the Hunters, the Morrises, Schuylers, Bartows, Secors, Jessups, Boltons, and Rapelyeas are gone by reason of age, and the dissolving view brings new Christian names or strange patronymics to the front; but the land is there, and time is fast drawing the monster metropolis up to cover up its water-washed meadows."

Source:  SKETCHES OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS FOR 1887-8, The Eastern State Journal [White Plains, NY], Apr. 9 ,1887, Vol. XLIII, No. 1, p. 1, cols. 3 & 5-6  .


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Town of Pelham Erected Historic Sign Posts in 1925


The Town of Pelham always has had an abiding respect for its ancient history.  The Town affirmed this respect in 1925 when it erected historic sign posts to commemorate historic roadways that cross Pelham.

The signs were designed by famed illustrator and graphic design artist Edward Penfield and were executed, after his death, by another important artist named Remington Schuyler.  The Town of Pelham worked with the Town Historian, the artists, the Village of Pelham Manor, the Village of Pelham Manor Streets Department, and the Village of Pelham Manor Fire Department (which hung the signs).  

Though no images of the signs have yet been located, Pelham residents loved the signs and soon treated them with near landmark status.  Nine years later, however, when the signs required replacement at the height of the Great Depression, they were quietly removed, never to be replaced.  

At about the same time that Pelham erected its historic signs, the City of New Rochelle did the same thing.  Unlike Pelham, however, New Rochelle has lovingly preserved the historic signs that it erected during the 1920's to mark the boundaries of New Rochelle where each major roadway enters.  I have written about New Rochelle's signs twice before.  See:

Mon., Nov. 14, 2005:  Historic Signs Mark Pelham's Border with New Rochelle.

Thu., Jun. 15, 2006:  Repainting of Historic Signs Marking New Rochelle's Borders, Including Those With Pelham, Temporarily Halted.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an article published shortly after the historic sign posts were erected.  The text is followed by a citation to the source.


Historic Sign Placed by City of New Rochelle at About the Same Time
the Town of Pelham Erected Five Signs Marking Historic Highways in the Town.
The New Rochelle Sign Reads "New Rochelle Rich in History" and Was
Designed by Famed American Artist Norman Rockwell.  Source:  Photograph
by the Author, Taken in 2005.  This Sign and Others Like It Were Restored
and Re-Hung by New Rochelle on New Signposts in 2006 and 2007.

"Five Sign Posts Marking Pelham's Historic Highways Erected During Past Week
-----
Painting and Erecting Of Posts Done Through Courtesy of Pelham Manor Trustees -- Designs Made By Late Edward Penfield.
-----

'Pelham Landmarks,' by Joan Elizabeth Secor, town historian, published by the town of Pelham on the occasion of the dedication of the Pelham Memorial Park, May 30, 1924 has borne its first fruit.  Five sign posts designed by Edward Penfield have been erected marking Historic Highways.  It is hoped that the work started by Mrs. Secor will be continued until all the old highways are marked and also other spots of historic importance.

The Boy Scouts Log Cabin in Hutchinson Parkway will be under the old dead chestnut tree where Lord Howe watched the Battle of Pelham Heights.  This old tree will be repaired and presented by the Westchester Parkway Commission.

The Boy Scouts will see that it is suitably marked.

Later in the spring the Boy Scouts will hold a pageant and demonstration at their log cabin where will be enacted the Signing of the Treaty between Lord Pell and the Seawanoy Indians -- and perhaps the Anne Hutchinson episode.

It is hoped the Drama Section of the Manor Club will cooperate, furnishing suitable elegant ladies and gentlemen of Lord Pell's household.

In this way a yearly Pageant of Pelham Town may be begun and grow into something, which in its way will have a far reaching influence towards developing an understanding and appreciation of the ground made historic in the early history of this town.

Five Sign Boards

Titles for the five sign boards marking Historical Highways in Pelham Township were planned by Mrs. Joan Elizabeth Secor, Town Historian, William R. Montgomery edited the titles.  The signs were designed by Edward Penfield and executed by Remington Schuyler.

The painting and erecting of the posts was done through the courtesy of the Board of Trustees of Pelham Manor, by the Village Street and Fire Departments.  The cost of the signs was appropriated by the Town Board of Pelham.  

Sign No. 1 is located on the Boston Post Road at the New York entrance to Pelham Manor and bears this legend:  'Boston Turnpike.  This Road was opened in 1800 as a Toll.  Pelham Township.'

Sign No. 2, located on Boston Post Road at New Rochelle - Pelham line, bears the same legend as No. 1.

Sign No. 3, at the corner of Split Rock Road and Boston Post Road bears the legend, 'Split Rock Road.  Originally an Indian Trail.  Formerly Ann Hoeck Road, Anne Hutchinson Lane, Pelham Township.'

Sign No. 4, at corner of Wolf's Lane and Boston Road bears the legend, "Wolf's Lane.  Originally an Indian Trail.  Formerly Pell's Lane, Pelham Township.'

Sign No. 5, located at the intersection of Colonial avenue and Pelhamdale avenue, bears the legend, 'Colonial avenue, Kings Highway.  Old Boston Post Road.  Formerly Westchester Park.  Oldest Road in Westchester County.  'Sakerah' the 'Shore Path' of the Seawanoy Indians.  Pelham Township.'

The next historic incident which should be commemorated is the Battle of Pelham, which occurs October 18th next."

Source:  Five Sign Posts Marking Pelham's Historic Highways Erected During Past Week, The Pelham Sun, May 1, 1925, Vol. 16, No. 9, p. 6, cols. 1-2.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Is Boulevard in the Village of Pelham Closed Each Night?


As Historian of the Town of Pelham, I have been asked on many occasions and in many different ways variations of the following.  Why is Boulevard closed each night?  Is Boulevard in the Village of Pelham a public road or a private parkway?  How long has Boulevard been closed with chains each night?  Does such a closing mean that the roadway is not public?   

The history behind the nightly closings of Boulevard is fascinating.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog details a little of that history.

According to early reports, the origins of the practice seem to have arisen when the area known as Pelham Heights was being developed during the mid-1890's.  Certain roadways including Boulevard were deeded as private parkways rather than being dedicated as public streets.  With the incorporation of Pelham Heights as the "Village of Pelham," the area began to grow and development continued.  For decades, there seemed to be no effort by Pelham Heights to treat roadways deeded as private parkways as anything other than public roadways.

During the first two decades of the Twentieth Century, however, the use of the roadways in Pelham Heights and elsewhere in Pelham was changing.  The horse was being displaced.  Automobile, bus, truck and trolley transportation was growing and, by the 1920's, ruled the streets of Pelham including Pelham Heights.  

Such progress, of course, came with a price. . . . .

With the rise of automobiles and trucks, those who lived in Pelham Heights were growing increasingly unhappy.  There were two principal routes near The Heights through Pelham between the City of New Rochelle and the City of Mount Vernon:  the ancient and winding roadway known today as Colonial Avenue (Kings Highway or the original Boston Post Road) or the more direct and comparatively straight roadway known as Boulevard.  Most motorists chose Boulevard to cut through Pelham Heights between the two cities.

Moreover, nightly truck deliveries and truck transports were becoming a particular problem due to the long hill extending along Boulevard between Pelhamdale Avenue and Corona Avenue.  The inefficient, heavy and lumbering trucks of the day had difficulty negotiating the long hill.  According to one account, the "clattering of transmissions and discordant rumble of racing engines made sleep almost impossible" for residents along Boulevard.  

By 1923, Boulevard residents were mad as Hell and were not going to take it any longer.  They petitioned local Village leaders to solve the problem.

During the fall of 1923, signs unexpectedly popped up on the Boulevard at Pelhamdale Avenue indicating that the road was under construction and mandating detours to prevent traffic from entering the roadway.  Boulevard residents, it seemed, might get a little sleep. . . . 

The response from the adjacent Village of Pelham Manor was swift.  Officials and residents of the Village of Pelham Manor felt that motorists attempting to cut through Pelham to move between the cities of Mount Vernon and New Rochelle were being diverted to Pelham Manor streets.  They were unhappy that Pelham Manor streets were being forced to bear an unnecessary additional traffic volume with all the concomitant noise and annoyance.  

The President of the Village of Pelham Manor at the time, Newton M. Argabrite, protested the closing.  The Village of Pelham Manor Engineer, Edward Campbell, likewise complained that the detour signs were less than honest.  He howled that "The signs are not right. . . . They state that the road is under construction.  No road is under construction at Pelhamdale Avenue and the Boulevard and the sign is a subterfuge to divert traffic from going to New Rochelle over the Boulevard. . . .  I doubt whether Pelham is acting within its rights in placing a notice directing a detour on account of road construction when there is no road construction going on at Pelhamdale Avenue and the Boulevard."  

Village Engineer Campbell also fired the first salvo of what would become a "battle royale."  He argued that the closing was improper because, regardless of whether the thoroughfare had been deeded as a private parkway, it had been used as a public roadway open to all for more than thirty years, thereby converting its status from a private parkway to a public road.   

A few months later, in 1924, Pelham Heights undertook a bolder move.  The little village suddenly began closing the entirety of Boulevard by hanging red lanterns across the roadway at Wolf's Lane and at Ancon Avenue from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. each night.  Village of Pelham Police officers closed the roadway and hung the lanterns each night.  They opened the roadway and removed the lanterns each morning.  Many in Pelham were unhappy with the move.

According to one account, "Pelham Heights village trustees determined that the Boulevard had not yet been fully dedicated to the village, and could therefore be closed at will."  Objectors argued, like the Pelham Manor Village Engineer, that the roadway had been open and in use for the previous thirty years and, thus, was a public roadway.

Officials of the Village of Pelham (today's Pelham Heights) had an Ace up their sleeve.  They argued that investigation had revealed that the Village had indeed closed the roadway at least once a year for each of the previous thirty years to permit "coasting" on the roadway after significant snowfalls.  ("Coasting" was a term used at the time for snow sledding.)  Thus, according to the Village, the roadway had not been open and in constant public use for the previous thirty years but, rather, had been closed each year by the Village as was its right since it was deeded as a private parkway rather than a public road.

Pelham resident Charles A. Hollister didn't buy it.  He took legal action.  Represented by Mount Vernon attorney, Elmer S. Davis, Hollister filed a lawsuit against the Village of Pelham and successfully obtained injunctive relief against the Village to prevent it from closing Boulevard each night.  

Pelham Heights and its attorneys reportedly came up with an ingenious solution to the inconvenient lawsuit brought by Hollister.  They granted Mr. Hollister the right of access through the Boulevard at night.  According to one account:  "with this personal redress, the injunction order was cancelled by court order on October 1, 1924.  By this token, the village authorities granted the same right to all residents of Pelham."  Each night, Village of Pelham authorities continued to close the Boulevard.

In early 1927, the Village of Pelham President, George Lahey, heard again from Mount Vernon attorney Elmer S. Davis.  President Lahey received a letter in which Davis claimed to represent a non-resident of Pelham named J. Edward Quinn (of Mt. Vernon) who had been inconvenienced by the closing of the public roadway in Pelham known as "Boulevard."  On behalf of Quinn (who was also an attorney in Mount Vernon), the letter from Elmer S. Davis threatened "if in the future I am deprived of that right (going through the Boulevard) I shall take such proper action as will insure me that right to lawful usage of the street at any time I may desire."

The Trustees of the Village of Pelham were quick to take up the matter at their next meeting.  They disposed of the complaint dismissively.  They decided to take no action.  Village President George Lahey sniffed that the "writer was evidently unfamiliar with the status of the Boulevard as a private parkway and not a public highway."  No evidence yet has been located to suggest that any lawsuit ever was filed by J. Edward Quinn.  Although it is not free from doubt, for now, it appears that the threat reflected in the letter never materialized after the Village Trustees chose to ignore it.

Tensions, however, continued to run high.  One letter to the editor of The Pelham Sun published in 1927 read, in part:  "Undoubtedly it is pleasant for the Boulevardiers to be free of automotive night noises, but then we must consider the unpleasant fact that each car diverted from the natural artery must traverse other streets of the village on which other residents would also like to slumber undisturbed."

Although the debate over the propriety of the nightly closing of Boulevard slowly seemed to subside, there occasionally were what appeared to be outbursts of dissatisfaction.  On one occasion in 1939, for example, all the red lanterns used to close the roadway were stolen one night and later turned up smashed along the Hutchinson River Parkway where they were found by Parkway Police.  Despite what may have been a silent protest to the nightly closings (or, perhaps, a simple act of vandalism), the roadway continued to be closed nightly.

Today, few motorists give any thought to the chains used to close Boulevard nightly, simply avoiding the closed roadway.  Indeed, Boulevard has been closed nightly for so long that most have forgotten the history behind the closing. . . . . . . .



Detail from 1914 Map Showing Boulevard in Pelham Heights
From Wolf's Lane to Ancon Avenue.  Source:  "Pelham, New
Rochelle" in Bromley, G. W., Atlas of Westchester County, N.Y.
Pocket, Desk and Automobile Edition, Vol. I, p. 124 (NY, NY:
G. W. Bromley & Co., 1914).

*          *         *         *          *

Below are transcriptions of the text of a number of news articles about the events surrounding the nightly closing of Boulevard.  Each is followed by a citation to its source.   

"DETOUR SIGNS AROUSE PROTEST FROM MANORITES
-----
Village Engineer Campbell Believes Pelham Has No Right to Divert Traffic
-----
Pelham Manor Streets Forced to Bear Unnecessary Addition to Traffic Volume
-----

The posting of detour signs on the Boulevard at Pelhamdale Avenue has aroused a protest from Village President Newton M. Argabrite and Engineer Edward Campbell of Pelham Manor, the claim being made that the signs should not be erected at that point, as traffic headed for New Rochelle is being sent a long way out of its journey unnecessarily.

Village Engineer Edward Campbell expressed himself emphatically on the matter during the week.  'The signs are not right,' he said.  'They state that the road is under construction.  No road is under construction at Pelhamdale Avenue and the Boulevard and the sign is a subterfuge to divert traffic from going to New Rochelle over the Boulevard.  The result is that a large volume of traffic comes down Pelhamdale Avenue to Pelham Manor streets and motorists are sent a long way out of their way in an unnecessary manner, with Pelham Manor having to bear the brunt of the increased traffic on the Boston Road already having burdened.  Wolf's Lane is impassable by reason of the construction work going on there and trucks have to proceed over the Boulevard parkway to Pelhamdale Avenue where they are detoured, and get sent on to Pelham Manor streets.  This traffic belongs to Pelham.  I doubt whether Pelham is acting within its rights in placing a notice directing a detour on account of road construction when there is no road construction going on at Pelhamdale Avenue and the Boulevard.'

Engineer Campbell further expressed his belief that the Boulevard is a public highway by reason of its existence in public use for a period of over thirty years.  An official protest may be made to the village authorities of Pelham."

Source:  DETOUR SIGNS AROUSE PROTEST FROM MANORITES, The Pelham Sun, Oct. 26, 1923, p. 1, cols. 1-2.

"Hills Are Closed To Traffic When Santa's Sled Is Tested Out
-----
Youngsters Enjoy Coasting Soon After Christmas.  Police Detailed For Safety of Skaters
-----

Jack Frost did not wait long after Christmas to allow youthful Pelhamites to test out Christmas sleds.  The snow of Sunday saw the coasting hills in the town dotted with juvenile speed kings whose fleet sleds ruled the road.  The village officials made haste to aid the fun and ensure the safety by blocking off the hills for coasters use.  In Pelham Manor, Carol Place was turned over to the coasters.  In Pelham Heights the Boulevard was blocked off from Monterey avenue to Highbrook avenue a distance of nearly a half mile.  In Pelhamwood the Washington avenue hill was closed off.  Police were detailed for the protection of the coasters.  

In many instances motorists were put to little difficulty in making detours around the coasting hills, but they soon realized the element of safety desired, and commended the plan."

Source:  Hills Are Closed To Traffic When Santa's Sled Is Tested Out, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 31, 1926, Vol. 17, No. 44, p. 2, col. 4.  

"Seeks Removal Of Chain Barriers On Boulevard At Night
-----
Attorney Davis Acting For Mount Vernon Resident Who Was Forced to Detour Several Blocks
-----

Village President George Lahey of Pelham, has received a communication from Elmer Davis, attorney representing J. Edward Quinn of Mt. Vernon, requesting that erection of the chain barriers which are nightly used to prevent traffic through the Boulevard after 11 o'clock, be discontinued.  Mr. Quinn was forced to detour several blocks one night last week when his automobile was barred by the chains.  

Attorney Davis contends that the Boulevard is a public highway and cannot legally be closed to traffic at any time.

The chain barricades were first erected in 1924 after residents had complained of the noisy traffic of joy-riding parties along the Boulevard at night.  The trustees' action was based on the belief that the streets of Pelham Heights are private parkways, made so by special legislation."

Source:  Seeks Removal Of Chain Barriers On Boulevard At Night, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 14, 1927, p. 8, col. 5.  

"PELHAM FACES COURT ACTION
-----
Attorney J. Edward Quinn Threatens Proceedings On Closing of Boulevard
-----
FILES FORMAL NOTICE
-----
Street Is Closed at 11 P. M. Each Night and Remains Until 7 A. M. Next Day
-----

Pelham, Jan. 14.--As the result of action taken by a Mount Vernon lawyer, the village authorities of Pelham today faced the possibility of being taken to court, for the practice in Pelham of turning the Boulevard, a public highway which forms the connecting link between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, into a private thoroughfare between the hours of 11 o'clock at night and 7 in the morning.  Each night, a string of red lanterns is hung across the two entrances to the Boulevard, and during the hours above stated, traffic is closed on that street, except to such residents of Pelham as are allowed by the police to pass through.

The Mount Vernonite making the complaint is J. Edward Quinn, well known attorney, who through attorney Elmer S. Davis, also of Mount Vernon, has notified the officials of Pelham that 'if in the future I am deprived of that right (going through the Boulevard) I shall take such proper action as will insure me that right to lawful usage of the street at any time I may desire.'

Although this is not the first time that Pelham officials have faced court action because of their closing of the boulevard to outside traffic at night, it is the first time that a non-resident of Pelham has threatened  such action.

Personal Redress

In 1924, similar action was brought by Charles A. Hollister, a resident of Pelham and well known in Mount Vernon.  Mr. Hollister also through Attorney Elmer Davis, brought injunction proceedings against the village.  The village authorities then granted Mr. Hollister the right of access through the Boulevard at night, and with this personal redress, the injunction order was cancelled by court order on October 1, 1924.  By this token, the village authorities granted the same right to all residents of Pelham.

The chains with their string of lanterns were nevertheless still raised across the boulevard entrances at Wolf's Lane [and] Ancon avenue.  Each night it has been the task of the Pelham police to close the street, and each morning to take down the barriers again.

The complaint made by Mr. Quinn is regarded as of more importance, because it is made by a non-resident of Pelham, and may result in the opening of the boulevard to all motorists, whether residents of Pelham or non.  The boulevard is the main artery between New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, and is not lawfully a private street.  It is believed that the action of the village authorities in closing this street followed the request of residents on that street, who complained of motorists parking on or driving through the Boulevard at late hours.  It is probable that the Pelham officials will settle Mr. Quinn's demand amicably, on the claim of the Mount Vernonite that the Boulevard is a public highway.

Mr. Quinn's communication has been forwarded to the village trustees of Pelham by Attorney Davis, who asks that attention be given to the matter to the satisfaction of Mr. Quinn.  The board of trustees of Pelham will hold their regular monthly meeting next Tuesday evening, when full consideration will probably be given to Mr. Quinn's communication, which is as follows:

'During the last few days I have had occasion to drive through the village of Pelham, at about or shortly after 11 p.m., and have used or attempted to use the public street or thoroughfare known as 'Boulevard,' Pelham.

'One evening after entering the street at its easterly end and proceeding westerly to Wolf's lane, I was stopped at Wolf's lane by a police official and a string of red lanterns on the ground and compelled to retrack by way around several streets before getting back to the road to Mount Vernon.  

'This action on the part of some person seems to me to be an unlawful and illegal act in shutting off the use of a public highway to a citizen and taxpayer of this state and county.  As a taxpayer, I am writing to you that if I desire to use the street known as Boulevard for a lawful purpose at any time of the day or night, I desire your community to recognize the right.  If in the future I am deprived of that right, I shall take such proper action as will insure me the right to lawful usage of the street at any time I may desire.'"

Source:  PELHAM FACES COURT ACTION, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 14, 1927, p. 3, col. 3.  

"No Action Taken On Protest Against Boulevard Closing
-----
Village President Says Boulevard is Not Public Highway and Closing Is Within Law
-----

No action was taken Tuesday night by the Board of Trustees of the village of Pelham, on the protest of J. Edward Quinn, Mt. Vernon attorney against the barricading of the Boulevard after 11 o'clock at night.  In a communication to the Board, addressed through Elmer Davis, North Pelham attorney, Mr. Quinn demanded that the barricade be removed and traffic be allowed unimpeded access and egress to the highway which connects Third street, Mt. Vernon, with Kings Highway, New Rochelle.  If the Board would not take such action, Mr. Quinn stated that he would at once take the matter into court to force the removal of the nightly barricade.  

After reading the communication President George Lahey stated that the writer was evidently unfamiliar with the status of the Boulevard as a private parkway and not a public highway.  The communication was laid on the table.

The barriers which are erected nightly at Wolf's Lane and the Boulevard and at Ancon avenue and the Boulevard first made their appearance in the fall of 1924, after petition of residents of the Boulevard requesting that night traffic on the Boulevard be stopped.  As the Boulevard has never been dedicated to the village as a public highway the State law provides for its being closed off."

Source:  No Action Taken On Protest Against Boulevard Closing, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 21, 1927, p. 1, col. 5.  

"Letters To The Editor
-----
INDIGNANT HUH?

To the Editor 'Pelham Sun' -- 

Closing the Boulevard to automobile traffic after eleven at night is rather convenient for the residents of that thoroughfare, but in my opinion it is also extremely impolite.  Undoubtedly it is pleasant for the Boulevardiers to be free of automotive night noises, but then we must consider the unpleasant fact that each car diverted from the natural artery must traverse other streets of the village on which other residents would also like to slumber undisturbed.  Colonial avenue cars, we believe, are every whit as sensitive as the auditory nerves of the Boulevard.

And then there are the motorists of New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and other communities (with whom we are apparently at peace) that must be considered.  It does not seem quite the courteous thing to force even a fleeting visitor to grope his way through unfamiliar lanes and byways with consequent loss of time and temper.

It is very legal, of course, to close the Boulevard.  But it is too haughty to be nice.  

A TERRIBLY, TERRIBLY INDIGNANT CITIZEN.

Pelham, N. Y. Sept. 15th, 1927."

Source:  Letters To The Editor -- INDIGNANT HUH?, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 16, 1927, p. 2, col. 5.

"Lanterns Stolen From Boulevard Barricade

Eighteen red lanterns, stolen from the barricades on the Boulevard, Pelham Heights, early this morning, were found a short time later strewn along the Hutchinson River Parkway between Pelham Heights and North Pelham.  Chief George Duff of the Pelham Heights Police Department said that the lanterns were smashed beyond repair.  

Patrolmen James Mullins and Frank McHugh noticed the lanterns stolen shortly before 1:00 a.m. as they cruised along Wolf's Lane in the patrol car.  An alarm was sent out from headquarters and a short time later, Parkway Police reported finding the lanterns."

Source:  Lanterns Stolen From Boulevard Barricade, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 21, 1939, p. 5, col. 4.  

"PELHAM 'INSTITUTIONS' ARE DEAR TO THE HEARTS OF THE OLD TIMERS
-----
'Street They Take in at Night,' . . . 

Residential communities such as the Pelhams are seldom without their 'institutions,' the novel features which contribute greatly to the homeliness of the villages.  Perhaps they mark us as 'small towners' but they are the items that make the Pelhams distinctive suburban communities, countryside of gentlefolk, one of our enterprising sloganeers once deftly termed the three villages, and it is the residential features to which the villages cling that certainly establish this fact.  

'Where else in this part of the world will you find them taking the streets in at night?' one of our critics was heard to ask not so long ago.  He was a disgruntled motorist seeking a short route from Mount Vernon to New Rochelle after midnight.  Of course, he chose the Boulevard, only to find that the thoroughfare had been barricaded at Wolf's Lane to prevent the passage of noisy trucks through the residential district while the citizens of the villages were sleeping.

This unique procedure was instituted in 1924 when the Pelham Heights village trustees determined that the Boulevard had not yet been fully dedicated to the village, and could therefore be closed at will.  The passage of trucks through this avenue was extremely bothersome late at night.  The long hill from Pelhamdale to Corona avenues was too steep for heavy lumbering vehicles to negotiate in high speed and the clattering of transmissions and discordant rumble of racing engines made sleep almost impossible.

Proponents of the street closing were met with objections on the ground that the highway had been a public thoroughfare for a period of years.

'It had never been closed,' said the objectors, 'and therefore could not be barricaded at night.'

Investigation, however, showed that the street had been closed at least once every year, to permit coasting on winter days, so the village fathers took advantage of this and consequently Pelham Heights sleeps peacefully at night. . . . . "

Source:  PELHAM "INSTITUTIONS" ARE DEAR TO THE HEARTS OF THE OLD TIMERS, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 24, 1931, p. 5, cols. 1-2.  

"Street No Longer 'Taken In' At Night.

Motorists who frequently pass through the Pelhams at night driving between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle have expressed surprise that the Boulevard is open to traffic after eleven p.m.  Since 1926 the thoroughfare has been 'taken in at night' to quote a phrase common to local motorists, and traffic detoured through Wolf's Lane and Colonial avenue.  The action was taken at the insistence of Pelham Heights residents who objected to the noise of trucks passing through the residential district during the night.  The action was possible because the Boulevard was deeded as a private parkway and not a public street.  

However, with paving work on Colonial avenue from Pelhamdale to Highbrook avenue, the Board of Trustees has temporarily discontinued the practice of closing the Boulevard at night."

Source:  Street No Longer "Taken In" At Night, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 21, 1936, p. 2, cols. 3-4.   


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Plane Crash in Pelham in 1931



Pelham was enjoying the first day of summer in 1931.  Indeed, it was a lovely day and a fine start to the summer.  Pelham Manor police officer Bryan Smith was on duty and was near Red Church Corner (today's Four Corners).  A large group of golfers including many notable personages were gathered at the Pelham Country Club for the annual club golf competition finals.  Frederick Lewis Jr., a resident of the Witherbee Court Apartments of Pelham Manor, had just begun a round of golf at the Pelham Country Club and was walking the first fairway on the course.  


Pelhamites were out enjoying the day.  As many as fifty of them were in the area of Red Church Corner when they first noticed a monoplane -- a Stinson Junior Monoplane -- appear low in the sky flying above Boston Post Road and approaching from New Rochelle.  Something clearly was wrong.  There was no sound.  The plane's motor was dead.  The "whistling of wind through the struts" was all that could be heard.  The propeller was revolving slowly, turning in the wind as the plane glided.  Clearly the pilot was maneuvering for a landing, but the airplane was traveling slowly.

The airplane passed over the spire of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church and circled slightly to head back into the wind.  It wobbled unsteadily.  Officer Bryan Smith had a sickening feeling as he realized what was about to occur.  He "guessed the imminence of the tragedy" and telephoned Police Headquarters which summoned ambulances from Mount Vernon and New Rochelle before the plane had passed from view.  

As the monplane descended toward the Pelham Country Club golf course, it appeared to be attempting to land on the fairway of the twelfth hole, a relatively level stretch of land at the time.  There was, however, a foursome in the midst of the fairway.  The pilot, apparently afraid of smashing into the foursome, changed the direction of his glide and banked over the clubhouse to swing the plane into the wind and head for the first fairway which had been cleared  to permit the finals of the Pelham Country Club's annual golf championship to begin about ten minutes later at 2:00 p.m.  Nearly 100 golfers and spectators were gathered at the first tee to watch the club championship between William Austin, Jr. and George Pettee begin.  

The pilot's new path required the plane to pass over a grove of tall trees at the right side of the fairway.  Iit seemed as though everyone on the course held their collective breathe as the aircraft approached the clump of tall trees that it had to clear to make it to the makeshift first fairway runway.  Clearly it was going to be close as the plane was losing altitude quickly.  

As the plane passed over the clump of trees, it failed to clear the tallest upper branch of the tallest tree in the group.  The left wing of the plane brushed the branch, slowing the plane further and interfering with its path.  The plane twisted and the right wing struck a limb of the tree.  

The plane veered sharply to the right.  The undercarriage of the plane became entangled with limbs of the tree further and plummeted toward the ground.  The right wing was cut nearly in two and branches of the tree shredded the left wing.

A spectator near the first tee shouted to Pelham Manor Golfer Frederic Lewis, Jr. who was in the middle of the fairway, about one hundred yards from the first tee.  He turned and had an instinctive reaction to flee.  He was in the path of the impending crash.  He sprinted about ten yards -- just enough to avoid the monoplane as it plunged, nose-down, out of the sky, smashed into the fairway, bounced back upward and flopped upside down with its wheels pointing skyward.  Lewis, ironically, was a pilot and former radio-engineer for an airline.  He was "not more than ten paces" away from the crash and leaped into action.  

Lewis and others wrenched a door open.  The pilot, 28-year-old Myron S. Hutchinson, the eastern sales representative for Stinson Aircraft Corporation, the manufacturer of the plane, was still strapped in his safety harness, dead with a skull fracture and massive injuries.  Hutchinson's wife, 21-year-old Grace Elizabeth Jordan Hutchinson, was badly injured and unconscious, but still breathing.  Myron's body was removed to the shade of nearby trees and first aid was delivered to his wife who was promptly removed by ambulance to New Rochelle Hospital where she died an hour or two later without regaining consciousness.

What followed was a rather sad, morbid and shameful event.  Crowds of golfers, spectators and others who had rushed to the scene ignored the police line and began stripping the aircraft in a morbid attempt to collect "souvenirs" of the event.  According to one account, "the bodies were hardly taken from the plane before the souvenir hunters had begun their morbid habit of stripping the ship.  Cushions from the cabin, maps, numerals on the wings were taken despite police lines."  A special guard had to be stationed to keep the morbid crowd from "stripping the ship entirely."  

Accounts differed as to whether the plane ran out of gas or the gas line had become clogged.  A clogged gas line certainly seems to have been the cause.  Investigators found that one of the wing tanks still contained ten gallons of fuel after the crash.  Moreover, only one week before the crash, Myron Hutchinson had been forced to glide to a crash landing in the same airplane in a Long Island potato farmer's field.  Newspaper clippings about the event were found in the dead pilot's pockets after the crash at the Pelham Country Club.  The clippings indicated that a clogged gas line had forced the plane down on Long Island the previous week and that the farmer had refused to allow Hutchinson to remove his plane from the field until he paid the farmer $50 for damage to the potato crop.  

Below is an article from The Daily Argus about the plane crash.  Included with the article are three images that appeared as part of the article, followed by the caption that appeared with the photographs (and a citation to their source).  Additionally, there is an article from The Pelham Sun published the week after the plane crash with additional details.





"THE WRECKAGE AND OCCUPANTS. -- Motor smashed, wings
broken, Stinson Junior plane is here shown after it crashed on the
golf links of the Pelham Manor Country Club.  The machine upset
after crashing with the wheels in the air.  The smashed motor is 
shown as is the wrecked cabin.  Other pictures are of the pilot and
his wife and were made from snapshots found in the wreckage.  He
is shown seated at the 'stick' of his airplane while Mrs. Hutchinson
is shown seated in a canoe, the picture having been taken before
her recent wedding."  Source:  TWO DIE AS AIRPLANE CRASHES
IN PELHAM, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 22, 1931,
p. 1, cols. 1-8 & p. 7, cols. 1-2.

"TWO DIE AS AIRPLANE CRASHES IN PELHAM
-----
PILOT PERISHES INSTANTLY, HIS WIFE LIVES TWO HOURS . . . 
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Golfers Imperiled as Ship Strikes Fairway of Club
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COUPLE ON WAY TO LONG ISLAND
-----
Policeman Calls Help Before Small Plane Hits Ground
-----

A young pilot and his twenty-one-year-old wife were killed in an airplane crash in Pelham Manor yesterday.

More than 50 persons watched the aviator fight to guide the falling plane to the first fairway of the Pelham Country Club -- and lose when it failed to clear a clump of trees bordering the course.

He lost by a narrow margin.  The right wing of the plane crashed against the tip of one of the tallest trees.  The plane veered crazily, hung for a moment, then dropped nose first to the ground.  The occupants were crushed beneath a twisted mass of wood and metal as the plane turned turtle.

The pilot, Myron S. Hutchinson, twenty-eight, of 520 Gray Street, Elmira, N. Y., was instantly killed.  Grace, his young wife, lived barely two hours.  She died without regaining consciousness.  

Hutchinson, Eastern sales director for the Stinson Aircraft Corporation and son of Harry O. Hutchinson, superintendent of Schools in Elmira, was enroute with his wife from Boston to Roosevelt Field.  His gas supply failed and he was forced to seek a landing.

Barely Escapes

Frederick Lewis, Jr., of Pelham Manor escaped being crushed to death by sprinting ten yards to safety.  He was the only golfer in the immediate vicinity.

He returned at once to the wreckage and had opened the door of the cabin monoplane before other golfers and witnesses of the accident came to his assistance.

A dozen volunteer workers tore frantically at the twisted wreckage in a valiant attempt to reach the victims.  Within two minutes Lewis managed to wriggle into the cockpit and release the safety belts which held Hutchinson and wife.

Mrs. Hutchinson was dragged from the demolished plane  first.  Her clothing was torn and blood spattered.  Blood ran from a deep gash in her skull and both legs were twisted grotesquel, but she was still breathing as rescue workers carried her to the shade of the trees which had snagged the plane.  

Newton M. Argabrite, president of the Pelham Country Club, directed the efforts to release Hutchinson.  The young aviator was crumpled head downward in the overturned plane.  His shoulders and head  were jammed between the engine and control board wreckage.  One of the rescuers 

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(Continued On Page Seven)

Two Die As Plane Crashes On Pelham Golf Links
-----
(Continued From Page One)
-----

knowing that the youthful pilot was dead, spread a wrap over the victim's face.  The body was carried to within a few feet of where Mrs. Hutchinson lay.

Calls Ambulances

Work became organized when Patrolman Bryan Smith of the Manor police, notified of the distressed plane as it wabbled [sic] unsteadily over Red Church Corner where he was stationed, guessed the imminence of tragedy and phoned Police Headquarters.  Patrolman Michael Murphy, on desk duty, summoned ambulances from Mount Vernon and New Rochelle Hospitals almost while the black monoplane was still in its fatal plunge.  

Patrolman Smith rushed to the scene of the crash and assisted in removing the mangled victims.  He established picket lines against the rapidly growing crowd until Sergeant James McCaffrey arrived.  Shortly afterward Chief Philip Gargan took complete charge.  

First aid was being given Mrs. Hutchinson by several volunteers when an ambulance from New Rochelle Hospital roared up with siren shrieking.  Dr. Lewis Chapman pronounced Hutchinson dead.  After a brief examination of Mrs. Hutchinson he supervised her removal to the ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital.

Mrs. Hutchinson was found to have suffered a fractured skull, fractures of three ribs, compound fracture of the left leg, and internal injuries, the extent of which were not ascertained.  she died two hours later.

Soon Identified

Hutchinson's identity was established shortly after his body was removed from the plane by means of an identification tag chained to his right wrist.  The identity of Mrs. Hutchinson was not ascertained definitely until Police Chief Philip Gargan examined luggage and other equipment nearly three hours later.

The plane, a Stinson junior monoplane, first attracted attention as it appeared from the direction of New Rochelle, flying low over the Boston Post Road.  The propeller was revolving slowly and it was apparent that the motor was dead.  It created a strange appearance as Hutchinson, maneuvering for a landing on the golf course, put the plane into a side slip to check its speed.

Spectators watched the plane for the intended landing.  With the speed slackened, Hutchinson, known as an expert pilot, circled over the spire of the Huguenot Church and headed into the wind.  

He evidently misjudged his bank and as the plane turned it lacked sufficient altitude and speed to clear the trees.  A small upper branch brushed the left wing.  A second later the right wing crashed against a limb and the plane veered sharply to the right.  The under-carriage became entangled and the plane plummetted [sic] down.

Branches of the tree impaled the framework of the left wing.  The right wing was cut nearly in two where it had struck the limb.  The limb, snapped like a match, was more than six inches in diameter.

Motor Failed Before

The Sunday previous Hutchinson was flying the same plane and accompanied by his brother, Alton Hutchinson.  He was forced to land in a Long Island potato patch.  The plane was undamaged and neither pilot nor passenger was injured.  Hutchinson was forced to pay $50 to irate farmers.  A clogged gasoline pipe caused the motor to stall.

Alton Hutchinson told the Daily Argus last night that the circumstances of the forced landing of a week -- almost to the hour -- ago were identical to those surrounding yesterday's crash.  In both cases Hutchinson was forced to maneuver over trees.  He was successful the first time.  

The young couple was flying to join Hutchinson's brother Alton in Jamaica.  Mrs. Hutchinson had been visiting relatives, Dr. and Mrs. Gordon H. McSwain of 6 Autumn Street, Boston.  Hutchinson had flown to Boston from Roosevelt Field on Thursday.  The couple had left Boston Airport about two hours before the accident.

The two were married 18 months ago and were known to be devoted.  Mrs. Hutchinson's parents live in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Wrote Wife Wednesday

A special delivery letter sent by Hutchinson to his wife from Jamaica Wednesday contained the following:  

'Although I am very happy to be so successful in selling two ships I have been very lonely without you and was sure disappointed today when I found it would be impossible for me to return as planned.  It is a wonderful thing to know that the sweetest and finest girl in the world is awaiting my return.  It won't be long now, Precious.--Your Myron.'

Hutchinson was a World War veteran, having enlisted at the age of fifteen.  He rose to the rank of sergeant in the infantry and was probably the youngest American officer to serve overseas.

He had flown for about four years and had received his transport pilot's license in August of last year.  The plane which he was flying was nearly new having come out of the Stinson factory in Michigan only three weeks ago.  

The couple had been on a fishing trip in Maine earlier this month.  Among Hutchinson's effects was a fishing license issued in Bangor on June 3.  Clippings and pictures describing fatal and near fatal air crashes were found in his brief case.

The young couple was to have attended the graduation of Hutchinson's younger brother, Robert, from the Elmira Free School on Wednesday.

Relatives Notified

Chief Gargan sent telegrams to Elmira police, the Stimson [sic] Company, and to Dr. McSwain in Boston in attempts to procure information about the luckless pair.  Relatives of Mrs. Hutchinson in Chattanooga were notified as soon as their address was learned.

Hutchinson's brother Alton of 145 16-89th Street, Jamaica, was at Pelham Manor Police Headquarters last night.  He said that Myron was considered a pilot of exceptional ability.  The brothers had flown to Schenectady in the ill-fated plane Wednesday.

Mrs. Hutchinson was evidently a cultured and fastidious person.  A scrap book containing excerpts from famous poems was found in her traveling bag.  

The wreckage was to be removed from the golf course today.  A member of the Stinson Corporation left late yesterday afternoon from Detroit in a plane to take charge of the wrecked plane.  

The crash occurred ten minutes before the finals in the annual Country Club golf competition were scheduled to begin.  On the golf course at the time were nationally known personages including James J. Montague, the poet, and W. W. Hawkins, general manager of the Scripps-Howard newspapers.  They were among those who rushed to the scene of the accident.  Howard W. Davis, vice-president of the Herald-Tribune, was also nearby.

Pilot Sees Crash

Frederick W. Lewis, Jr. of the Witherbee Court Apartments in Pelham Manor, narrowly escaped being struck by the falling plane told his version of the crash to The Daily Argus.  Lewis was at one time a radio engineer with the New York, Rio and Buenos Aires Air Line and has had considerable experience as a pilot and as a passenger.

'I was in the middle of the fairway when I saw the plane descending.  I had to run for it to escape being struck.  I was first on the scene as I had not more than ten paces to get to reach the wreck.  I was able to open a door in the plane by the time other golfers arrived.  

'Both switches had been evidently cut by the pilot although the left magneto switch was turned on.  It looked as though it had been knocked over in the crash.  I unloosened the safety belts and assisted in removing the bodies from the wreckage.

'He (Hutchinson) was evidently out of gas as there was only a trickle from the tanks in the wings.  He was starting his bank over the clubhouse when I first saw him.  He came into a first glide in my direction and I began to sprint when I saw that he couldn't make it.'

Other Witnesses.

At least 30 persons seated on the rear veranda of the Pelham Biltmore Apartment building and in the gardens of neighboring apartment buildings bordering the golf course were witnesses of the crash.  

Jack W. Leftwich, manager of the Pelham Biltmore, with two guests, L. G. Lang, president of the Standard Insulation Company of East Rutherford, N. J., and V. W. Woodman, prominent Larchmont realtor, saw the plane flounder in the air, strike the tree-top and fall.  Raphael Avellar, a Daily Argus reporter, was also a witness.  They were among the first who hastened to the wrecked plane.  

Leon Bernard, special officer and watchman employed at the Country Club, described the crash as he witnessed it.

'I could see that the plane was in trouble,' he said, 'as it neared the tops of the trees, and I started over the course to where it appeared it would land.  It all happened very quickly.  The jar caused by the wing striking the tree seemed to turn the nose of the plane more toward the ground and in a moment it had plunged and tipped over.'

Jerome C. Annis, an airplane inspector of the Department of Commerce, who was visiting with friends in Mount Vernon yesterday, arrived at the scene shortly after the plane crashed.

He indicated that he believed the cause of the accident was an attempted landing after the plane had run out of gas although he would not commit himself by a definite statement.  He is stationed at Roosevelt Field and lives in Garden City, Long Island.  His investigation, he said, has not been completed.

The bodies of the young couple are to be sent from the mortuary of George T. Davis in New Rochelle to Elmira today."

Source:  TWO DIE AS AIRPLANE CRASHES IN PELHAM, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 22, 1931, p. 1, cols. 1-8 & p. 7, cols. 1-2.   



Recent Photograph of Restored Stinson SM-2 Junior Manufactured
in 1928 and Similar to the Stinson Junior Monoplane that Crashed
on the Pelham Country Club Golf Course on June 21, 1931.
Source:  Wikimedia Commons.

"AIRPLANE CRASH ON GOLF COURSE; TWO ARE KILLED
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Mr. and Mrs. Myron S. Hutchinson, of Elmira, Victims of Tragedy at Country Club Sunday.
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CLOGGED GAS LINES FORCED PLANE DOWN
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Brave Pilot Changed Direction To Save Golfers; Loses Altitude, Plane Hits Tree.
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Tragedy swooped down out of the sky onto the golf course of the Pelham Country Club Sunday afternoon, when a cabin monoplane, carrying Myron S. Hutchinson, of Elmira, and his young wife to their death, crashed to earth on the first fairway about 100 yards off the tee.  

Hutchinson, who was 28 years old, and his wife, 21, were enroute to Roosevelt Field, Long Island, from Boston, where they had been visiting friends.  As they were flying over Pelham, the gasoline lines became clogged and the motor began to sputter and finally stalled.  Hutchinson sighted the golf course and began to circle about to make a dead-stick landing.  

The pilot made for the 12th fairway which would present a level landing place, but as he glided toward the ground he evidently became afraid of running into a foursome which was playing on this section of the course.  He quickly changed his direction and banked over the clubhouse, heading for the first fairway, which had been cleared to permit the championship match to be played without hinderance [sic].

As he banked over the clubhouse to swing his ship into the wind, Hutchinson had to pass over a grove of tall trees at the right side of the fairway.  Just as it seemed to witnesses that he would make it, the right wing dipped and crashed into a tall tree, severing the top.  The plane was swung around and crashed to the turf nose down.  It bounded up again and then came down on its back about ten feet from the spot where it first struck.

Leon Bernard, special [illegible] at the country club, was near the first tee and saw the plane as it began its bank over the clubhouse and shouted a warning to a golfer on the fairway, Frederick Lewis, Jr. of Pelham Manor, Witherbee Court Apartments [illegible] sprinted to safety.  Patrolman Bernard was the first policeman to reach the wreck.  The officer wrenched open the doors and, helped by others, began the task of extricating the bodies.  The motor had been driven through the windshield onto the front seats in the cabin pinning the unfortunate passengers beneath.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson had suffered fractures at the base 

(Continued on page 3)

TWO DIE IN PLANE CRASH ON LINKS
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(Continued from Page 1)

of the skull, broken legs and Hutchinson's stomach and chest were gashed deeply where the control stick had been jammed into his body.

A hundred golfers waiting to witness a championship match rushed to the crumpled plane to extricate the bodies of the passengers, found Mrs. Hutchinson still alive although unconscious, but her husban, who was at the controls of the ship had been killed instantly.  The young woman died in New Rochelle hospital an hour later without regaining consciousness.

The couple were married last August.  Hutchinson was the son of the superintendent of schools of Elmira, N. Y., and was a veteran of the World War.  He enlisted in the 120th Field Artillery at the age of 15.  He was at one time a pilot and salesman for Air Associates, Inc., and at the time of his death was eastern sales representative for the Stinson Aircraft Corporation of Detroit.  The plane in which he crashed was a Stinson Junior.

His wife was the former Miss Grace Elizabeth Jordan of Chattanooga, Tenn.  The bodies were sent to Elmira on Monday for interment.

In Hutchinson's pocket were found three newspaper clippings relating a story of a forced landing a week previous in the same plane in a potato field on Long Island, due to a clogged gas line.  A farmer collected 450 for damages to the crop before permitting the plane to be removed.

At the time of the crash members of the country club were gathering at the first tee, preparatory to the start of the final round of the club championship between William Austin, Jr., and George Pettee, scheduled to begin at 2 o'clock.  Suddenly the plane, silent except for the whistling of wind through the struts, appeared, heading over the trees for the fairway.

Bernard, Lewis, George Scott, superintendent of the Fairways Apartments, Gustav Ieringhaus, and employee at the apartment, and others aided in the rescue work.

Almost immediately crowds began to arrive at the club and the bodies were hardly taken from the plane before the souvenir hunters had begun their morbid habit of stripping the ship.  Cushions from the cabin, maps, numerals on the wings, and even the canvas of the wings were taken despite police lines which were immediately placed about the ship.  Far into the night the crowds continued to arrive so that a special guard was placed to keep them from stripping the ship entirely.  

Hutchinson's brother, Alton, of Jamaica, L. I., arrived in Pelham Sunday night to make arrangements for the removal of the bodies to Elmira and to claim the effects of the ill-fated couple.  He had waited at Roosevelt Field until early evening awaiting the arrival of his brother's plane.  

Pilot Threw Safety Switch

According to Arthur T. Bolton of Harmon avenue, who with his wife, was standing at the first tee at the club, awaiting the start of the championship match:

'I'm pretty sure his engine had stalled,' Mr. Bolton told a Pelham Sun reporter, "and he appeared to be gliding down to make a landing on the first fairway.  Suddenly his right wing struck the tree top and the plane was swung around.  It went into a tailspin and then straightened out to crash on the nose.  The ship bounded into the air again and then flattened out to land on its back.'

'The pilot had cut the switch,' Mr. Bolton said, 'and when we got to the plane, one of the men who had seen the crash also threw another switch, thereby eliminating the danger of fire.  Hutchinson's body was thrown slightly across that of his wife, as if he had fallen in front of her in an attempt to shield her from the motor as it crashed through the windshield.  He was dead when he was taken out but she was still breathing.'

Saw Crash from Apartment

The first call for an ambulance was sent to New Rochelle Hospital by the Misses Marion and Virginia Chesney, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Chesney of the Fairways Apartments, directly opposite the first fairway of the Pelham Country Club where the plane cracked up.

The Chesney family was seated at the dinner table, when Marion happened to look out of the window and saw the plane gliding towards the trees.  As she watched, its right wing struck the top of one tree, cutting it off and the ship seemed to settle slowly towards the ground, she said.  It struck on its nose, making a hole nearly two feet deep and then bounded about ten feet awa to finally come to rest upside down.

Chief of Police Philip Gargan, of Pelham Manor, undertook the identification of the pilot and his passenger.  An identification tag worn by the airman, and letters from friends and relatives afforded sufficient information to make quick identification and within a few hours after the crash of the plane, parents of the unfortunate fliers were notified of the tragedy.

Gasoline in Wing Tank

Chief Gargan summoned Jerome C. Annis, inspector of aircraft of the Department of Commerce, and after an investigation the expert reported that the crash was due to clogged gas lines.  In the left wing tank there was ten gallons of gasoline.  The engine itself was in perfect order before the crash, Annis determined in his investigation.  The attempt of the pilot to protect the golfers on the 12th fairway was responsible for the crash.  On changing his direction, he was unable to resume an altitude sufficient to clear the trees.

The plane was removed by the Barrett Airways Co. on Monday."

Source:  AIRPLANE CRASH ON GOLF COURSE; TWO ARE KILLED, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 26, 1931, Section One, p. 1, col. 1 & p. 3, cols. 2-6.  


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