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.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Little Town of Pelham Did Not Let the Great Depression Ruin Valentine's Day in 1934


The Great Depression continued to ravage the Nation, the State of New York, and the little Town of Pelham in 1934.  Federal authorities were trying to ease the pain.  In late January, the President signed into law the Gold Reserve Act prohibiting private ownership of gold (and doubling the set price of gold).  In mid-April the worst dust bowl dust storm ever to befall the nation hammered mid-America.  The Federal Government enacted the Soil Conservation Act in a partial effort to reduce such disasters in the future.  To make matters worse, the hottest temperatures on record were recorded that year.  According to one source "There were 29 consecutive days with temperatures at or above 100 degrees.  By the end of the year, droughts covered 75 percent of the country and 27 states.  Nearly 80 percent of the country recorded extremely dry conditions."  See The Balance, Great Depression Timeline:  1929 - 1941 (visited Feb. 9, 2019).  

Pelham lovers did not, however, allow the ravages, trials, and tribulations of the Great Depression deter them from expressing St. Valentine's Day sentiments that dark year.  Indeed, by Wednesday, February 14, 1934, the Valentine greetings shelves had been emptied throughout the little town.  According to an account in The Pelham Sun, Valentine card sales were so brisk that some Pelham merchants snuck old Valentine greetings cards from a prior year onto their shelves.  These also sold.  

Despite the Nation's, the State's, and the Town's travails, Pelhamites opted for both sentimental "gushy" Valentine's Day cards as well as some comic cards.  Meaner Pelhamites opted for insult cards.  According to the local newspaper, "In some cases, even a number of those cruel, cruel valentines of yesteryear that hold one up to ridicule, were sold."

Most interestingly, the Pelham Western Union Telegraph office was busy for St. Valentine's Day in 1934.  To make it easy for "tongue-tied lovers without a flair for self-expression in rhyme," Western Union printed a check-box form for the local telegraph office.  The form allowed busy Pelhamites simply to check a box to select a St. Valentine's Day greeting to be sent via telegram to lovers, family, and friends.  The initiative was a success.  Many more such Valentine telegrams were sent by Pelhamites in 1934 than in the previous year.  Pelhamites could choose from sentimental statements for their Valentine telegrams, including:

"At miles between us we can laugh,
our hearts entwined by telegraph."

"To my Valentine:  
you've put my heart in such a flutter, 
I wire the love my lips would utter."

"Wire back, this address, 
send collect, one word, YES."

Who needs such St. Valentine's greeting cards and telegrams anymore?  Today we busy Pelhamites have texts, instant messaging, Facebook and . . . . . . the Historic Pelham Blog.  Consequently, happy St. Valentine's Day dear Pelham!


1934 Mickey Mouse Valentine.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

To read earlier Historic Pelham articles about St. Valentine's Day in Pelham, see:

Fri., Feb. 13, 2015:  A Magical Valentine's Day in Pelham Manor in 1895.

Wed., Feb. 14, 2018:  More on a Magical Long Distance Proposal Made to a Pelham Manor Belle in 1895.

Tue., Feb. 14, 2017:  A Sad Valentine: Lovers' Attempted Elopement Thwarted by Crafty Pelham Parents in 1885.

*          *          *          *          *

"St. Valentine Found No Depression in Sentiment
-----

That traditional custom of sending sentimental greetings to loved ones on St. Valentine's Day, did not seem affected by the depression, according to a number of Pelham merchants who deal in greeting cards.  Most of these shops reported their supply of cards, both sentimental and comic, were nearly exhausted by Wednesday.  In some cases, the merchants were forced to draw upon Valentines left over from last year and these were rapidly depleted.

Once again, those sentimental, gushy cards seemed to get the call over those of more comical natures.  In some cases, even a number of those cruel, cruel valentines of yesteryear that hold one up to ridicule, were sold.

Good old Western Union rose to the occasion and came through with a selection of canned sentiments.  To send these wires, described in a magazine sent to managers of telegraph offices as designed 'for the tongue-tied lovers without a flair for self-expression in rhyme,' all one had to do was to mark a cross in the box opposite the sentiment.  Among the choice specimens offered appeared the following:

'At miles between us we can laugh, our hearts entwined by telegraph.'

'To my Valentine:  you've put my heart in such a flutter, I wire the love my lips would utter.'

And then a good old business booster:

'Wire back, this address, send collect, one word, YES.'

But all joking aside, Western Union in Pelham made a better showing in Valentine Day missives than last year, and this same opinion was echoed by several local shopkeepers."

Source:  St. Valentine Found No Depression in Sentiment, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 24, No. 48, Feb. 16, 1934, p. 4, cols. 5-6.  

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Brief Biography of Pelhamite John Routh Ogden, Sr. Whose Family Used Oakshade as a Summer Residence


There once stood along Shore Road in the Town of Pelham a beautiful mansion known as "Oakshade."  Built in about 1846 by James Augustus Suydam, an architect, lawyer, and Hudson River School artist, on land that Suydam and his sister purchased from Robert Bartow and his wife, Maria R. Bartow, Oakshade was a grand mansion built in the "Italian villa style" that commanded a lovely view of Pelham Neck and Long Island Sound.  The mansion later became the home of Dr. Richard Lewis Morris, a grandson of General Lewis Morris of Morrisania, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  After the death of Dr. Morris, the home became the clubhouse of the Country Club of Pelham until the club departed for a new site on Throgg's Neck in 1889. During at least a portion of the 1890s, John Routh Ogden, Sr. and his family members including a son, John Routh Ogden, Jr., used Oakshade as their "country residence" principally during summers.  

Oakshade eventually was altered and leased by New York City (owner of the mansion after creation of Pelham Bay Park) to serve as a roadhouse known as the Pell Tree Inn then, later, Shanley's Pell Tree Inn and, even later, as the California Ramblers Inn. Near the end of its life, the mansion became the Hollywood Gardens until it was destroyed by fire on October 15, 1932.

Members of the Ogden family owned and leased a number of homes in the Town of Pelham very near the estate known as Hawkswood, built by Levin R. Marshall including one on the easterly island of the Twin Islands and another at Pelham Bridge on the easterly island of the Twin Islands and another at Pelham Bridge on the Pelham side of Pelham Bay.  One of Levin R. Marshall's daughters, Josephine E. Marshall (a daughter by his second wife), married John Routh Ogden, Sr. -- the father of John Routh Ogden, Jr.  It appears that the entire Ogden family including the families of John Routh Ogden, Sr. and John Routh Ogden, Jr. used Oakshade as a summer residence during at least the late 1890s.

To read more about the Ogden Family and the mansion known as Oakshade, see, e.g.:

Mon., Mar. 03, 2014:  The Suydam Estate known as “Oakshade” on Shore Road in the Town of Pelham, built by James Augustus Suydam.

Mon., Apr. 11, 2016:  A Hasty Wedding at the Oakshade Mansion Near Bartow-on-the-Sound in 1898 Sheds Light on the History of the Mansion.

Mon., Feb. 10, 2014:  Hawkswood, Also Known as the Marshall Mansion, Colonial Hotel and Colonial Inn, Once Stood in Pelham Near City Island.

John Routh Ogden, Sr. was born in Natchez, Mississippi on January 8, 1837.  He was a son of Elias Ogden, M.D. and Ann M. (Routh) Lane, a widow when she married Elias Ogden.  He married Josephine E. Marshall, a daughter of Levin R. Marshall and Sarah Elliot Marshall.  The couple had four daughters and a son:  John Routh Ogden, Jr., Charlotte Surget Ogden (b. Jan. 12, 1868; married Edward N. Dickerson); Sara Devereaux Ogden (b. Nov. 26, 1872); Mary Marshall Ogden (b. Sep. 2, 1874); and Josephine Ella Ogden (b. Oct. 28, 1880).  

John Routh Ogden, Sr. resided in Natchez, Mississippi until all but the youngest of his children were born, when he removed north and settled at Bartow-on-the-Sound in the Town of Pelham, New York.  He was a banker in New York City, being a member of the firm of Morehead & Ogden, 48 Exchange Place.

His son, John Routh Ogden, Jr., was born in Natchez, Mississippi on February 26, 1866.  The son married Adelaide (Wattson) Porter, a daughter of Thomas Brown Wattson and a widow of Horace Marshall Porter (who, in turn, was a son of General Horace Porter who was a one time Ambassador to France).  

Today's Historic Pelham article transcribes a brief biography of John Routh Ogden, Sr., a rather fascinating man and Confederate veteran of the American Civil War.  The biography, which appears immediately below (followed by a citation and link to its source) should be considered carefully as it includes quite a number of errors.  



1920s Postcard View of "Shanley's Pell Tree Inn," Once the
Mansion Known as Oakshade with Modifications to Serve as
a Roadhouse Inn, Restaurant, and Speakeasy.  NOTE:  Click
on Image to Enlarge. 

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"JOHN R. OGDEN.

John R. Ogden, one of Westchester county's honored and highly respected citizens, occupies the beautiful home on Pelham road [today's Shore Road], known as Oak Shade.  It is located in a most lovely and picturesque spot overlooking Long Island sound, and is surrounded by tall elms, their majestic branches affording a most pleasant and agreeable shade during the summer months.  The house was built in 1808 [sic; built about 1846] by a Mr. Lugdam [sic; built by James Augustus Suydam], and thus for almost a century [sic] it has looked forth upon the surrounding district and the wonderful changes which have occurred in that long period.

Its present owner [sic; likely leased], John R. Ogden, is a native of Mississippi, his birth having occurred in Natchez-on-the-Hill, January 8, 1837, his parents being Dr. Charles [sic; Elias] and Ann S. (Routh) Ogden.  The paternal grandfather, Nathan Ogden, was a native of New Jersey and belonged to an old and prominent English family.  The father was born in Morristown, New Jersey, where he was reared to manhood, and then went to Natchez, Mississippi, where he successfully engaged in the practice of medicine for several years, securing a large patronage which brought to him excellent financial returns.  As a citizen he was also held in high esteem and became widely and favorably known throughout his section of the state.  He married Miss Ann S. Routh, a daughter of John Routh, a prominent citizen and extensive cotton-planter.  Dr. Ogden died in Natchez, in 1848, but his wife, long surviving him, passed away in 1873.

John R. Ogden spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native city and acquired his preliminary education in a private school there, after which he went to Scotland and entered the University of Edinburg, in which institution he pursued his studies for six years.  Thus, by superior educational advantages, he was well fitted for the practical and responsible duties of life.  Returning to the sunny south, Mr. Ogden located upon his plantation and turned his attention to planting cotton, employing five hundred slaves in the care of his extensive crops.  He continued to successfully engage in that business until 1860, but at the outbreak of the civil war he entered the Confederate army, being true to his loved southland and the institution amid which he was reared.  He was commissioned a captain on General W. W. Loring's staff, and served in that capacity until hostilities ceased in 1865, being a most brave and fearless officer and manifesting marked loyalty to the cause he espoused.  He was always found at his post of duty, faithfully following the flag under which he enlisted, and was thus true to his honest convictions.  

At the close of the war Mr. Ogden returned to his southern home and resumed the management of his cotton plantation, his time being thus occupied until 1877, when with his family he came north and took up his abode in Westchester county, New York, at Oak Shade, which has since been his place of residence.  He still, however, conducts his large cotton plantation which is not far from the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and is now under the immediate supervision of his manager.  This yields to him an excellent income, and is a very valuable realty interest.

In 1863 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Ogden and Miss Josephine Marshall, of Natchez, a daughter of Colonel L. R. Marshall, who was a distant relative of Chief Justice John Marshall.  To Mr. and Mrs. Ogden have been born five children, one son and four daughters, namely:  John R., who is engaged in business in New York city; Charlotte S., wife of Edward N. Dickerson, a prominent attorney of New York city; Sarah D., Mary M. and Josephine E., all at home.  The family is one of prominence in the community, holding an enviable position in social circles.  Mr. Ogden's genial, pleasant manner has made him quite popular among his acquaintances in Westchester county, where he is also recognized as a valued and public-spirited citizen, who takes an active interest in the general progress and lends his support and cooperation to every movement for the public good."

Source:  Biographical History of Westchester County, New York -- Illustrated, Vol. I, pp. 68-69 (Chicago, IL:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1899).

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Friday, February 08, 2019

Green Goods Bunco Artists Terrorized Pelham in 1899


In the late 19th century, the White Hotel stood in the tiny Village of Pelham (today's Pelham Heights) near the southwest corner of the intersection of today's Wolfs Lane and Third Street.  The hotel structure still stands, although it has been split into two adjacent buildings located at 303 Wolfs Lane (Stiefvater Real Estate building) and 307 Wolfs Lane.

The White Hotel was notorious and hated by many Pelhamites.  Its manager was a shady character who maintained gambling apparatus in the hotel.  The hotel was frequented by thugs and criminals who, occasionally, preyed on the region while using the tiny hotel as a base of operations.  Such was the case in 1899 when a group of so-called "green goods" bunco artists and robbers operated out of the White Hotel and terrorized the region.  To make matters worse, at least in the eyes of some Pelhamites, there was a baseball field behind the hotel where raucous and rowdy spectators watched games including Sunday afternoon ball games!

The "green goods scam" was widespread in the late 19th century. Con men would claim to have high quality counterfeit U.S. currency that they were willing to sell for pennies on the dollar based on the face value. A victim would be shown a bag containing large sums of genuine currency and would be told that the money was counterfeit. Once distracted, the con men would switch the bag containing the currency with an identical bag containing green paper, sawdust or the like and would "sell" the worthless bag to the victim for a substantial sum. Victims reportedly would rarely go to authorities because purchasing counterfeit currency was a crime.

During the summer of 1899, a gang of bunco artists operated out of the White Hotel.  They used the green goods scam and other scams to separate victims from their money.  Things got so bad that an undercover agent for the Secret Service attempted to pose as a victim upon which the gang could prey.  When he met with the gang to "purchase" the supposed counterfeit money, he attempted to take them into custody but was set upon by gang members he did not know were present and was nearly beaten to death.  I have written about this encounter before.  See, e.g.:

Fri., May 01, 2015:  After Secret Service Detective Was Nearly Beaten to Death There, the White Hotel of Pelhamville Was Closed, Moved, and Split Into Two Buildings That Still Stand in Pelham.

Wed., Aug. 26, 2009:  Fed Up with the Notorious White Hotel, Pelham Authorities Took Action in 1899.

Tue., Aug. 25, 2009:  Crimes Committed at the Notorious White Hotel in Pelham in 1899.

Thu., Mar. 12, 2009:  The Reason the White Hotel was Shut Down and Split from One Building Into Two Cottages

Wed., Mar. 18, 2009:  A Little More Information About the Closure of the White Hotel.

Today's Historic Pelham article collects accounts of a number of such bunco scams operated out of the White Hotel during the summer of 1899.  Following such alarming events, authorities shut down the hotel which subsequently was split into two adjacent structures that were used as residences for many years.

Farmer White from Jackson, Michigan

During the summer of 1899, an "old farmer" named Edward White from Jackson, Michigan somehow began correspondence with men in New York who claimed to have a large sum of counterfeit U.S. currency that they needed to dispose of quickly.  The men offered to sell the counterfeit currency to the old farmer at a massive discount.  Farmer White agreed to meet the men in Yonkers, New York.

On Wednesday, August 23, 1899, White arrived in Yonkers from Michigan.  He carried $250 and a train ticket to Buffalo which he hoped to visit after buying some counterfeit cash.  Two men met Farmer White at the train station in Yonkers.  They escorted him onto a local trolley car.

The three men traveled by trolley through lower Westchester to a stop in Pelham near the White Hotel where they disembarked.  The two bunco men escorted White to the third floor of the hotel where he sat at a table in a room filled with gambling equipment.  As he waited to complete the transaction, each of the two bunco men whipped out revolvers and held them to his head.  One said:  "Give us your money or we will blow your brains out."  

The old farmer offered no resistance.  He sank into his chair as the men went through his pockets.  They took his $250, all the money he had with him.  One of the thieves then said:  "You can go now, and don't you try any fresh games on us.  If you make any trouble you will never get back to your home in Michigan alive."

White left, but was followed by the confidence men.  They stood at the door with their revolvers leveled at his head until he disappeared.  White made his way back to Yonkers where he reported the crime to the police.  The Yonkers police, however, told him they had no jurisdiction.  He then reported the crime to the Mount Vernon Police who began an investigation, but determined that the crime took place in Pelham.  

Farmer Edward White returned to Jackson, Michigan $250 poorer.  Authorities believed that the old farmer was not really named "Edward White" though. . . . 

Man Purporting to Act for Secret Service and Hot on the Trail of the Con Men is Badly Beaten

A man named John Whittaker, a midwest farmer, may have been the first man scammed by the green goods bunco artists in Pelham.  Some time during or before the summer of 1899 he reportedly agreed to pay the bunco artists $2,000 for $10,000 worth of counterfeit currency.  When he arrived home with his bundle, he discovered it was a bundle of blank white paper cut the size of five dollar bills with real bills on the outside.  Unlike most, he reported the scam to the Secret Service in Chicago.  The Secret Service showed him little sympathy. . . . 

Whittaker vowed to the agents that he would track the con men down.  The agents reportedly deputized him for the purpose, but cautioned him to seek their assistance if he actually found the bunco artists.  

Whittaker began corresponding with farmers throughout the country trying to find any who had received correspondence offering to sell them counterfeit currency.  Finally, one such farmer contacted him.  Whittaker instructed the farmer to reply that the farmer's "brother-in-law" would buy the counterfeit currency.  Whittaker then posed as the brother-in-law and traveled to the White Hotel in Pelham, New York where he arrived on Saturday, August 26, 1899.  

Local historian J. Gardner Minard documented the entire affair.  His entertaining account appears in full immediately below, followed by a citation and link to its source.

"Old White Hotel a Colorful Spot In The Early Days Of The Pelhams 
----- 
Confidence Game Exposed After Farmer Had Been Fleeced Of $2,000. Hostelry Which Formerly Stood at Wolf's Lane and Third Street of Questionable Character ----- By J. GARDINER MINARD 
----- 

Whenever old residents of Pelham get together for an extensive talk, there is sure to be some mention of the White Hotel; but it is doubtful if one-half of one per cent of the present residents of the town are familiar with the history of the rather infamous building. It was a three-story, frame square building painted white, situated on the southwest corner of Wolf's Lane and third street,, and was the headquarters of a rather unsavory group of men and women. Rooms could be engaged at any time of the day or night; there was no registering; no baggage requirements and no questions asked. The few residents of the little village of Pelham tried desperately to wipe out the blot but the proprietor seemed to be above the law. In the summer of 1900, however, he overstepped the bounds and was forced to close. Here is the story. 

There lived in the middle west a young properous farmer who one day received a letter from a man in Chicago requesting an appointment to discuss an attractive proposition. The appointment was made and the farmer, Whittaker by name, was warmly greeted by a very genial gentleman who took a roll of $5 bills from his pocket and handing him one, asked his opinion of it. Whittaker examined it and pronounced it genuine. The stranger laughed and said it was a counterfeit and, taking him to a secluded spot, told him how a trusted employee of the Government bureau of engraving and printing decided as an experiment to smuggle out the plates for a five dollar bill. He succeeded, and then secreted a bundle of the paper on which the bills wee printed and carried this out under his coat. He intended to bring them back, but the loss was discovered and he became frightened and gave them to him to be destroyed. Instead of doing this, he went to a friend who conducted a printing office and the latter agreed to run the risk for half the money turned out. This amounted to $100,000 and the printer took one-half and he had spent all the remainder except $10,000. He feared capture and would sell the whole business for $2,000. He then took from his pocket what purported to be a clipping from a newspaper telling of the theft and the great alarm felt by the government, as the counterfeits could not be uncovered until redeemed by the government and the duplicate numbers found. 

He told Whittaker to take it to his bank and change it as a test and if the bargain was agreeable, to get the $2,000 and meet him at a given spot. Whittaker did as told and the next day with his money in his pocket kept the appointment. The stranger hailed a carriage and they drove some distance, after which they got out and the stranger paid the driver with one of the $5 bills and received his change. He called Whittaker's attention to this and the latter was satisfied the bills could be easily passed. He insisted upon blindfolding Whittaker before leading him to his home, for 'protection.' Another long walk and they entered a house and once inside the room, the bandage was removed and Whittaker told to sit at a table opposite the stranger. The latter then opened a drawer and took from it a package which he opened and handed to Whittaker, telling him to count it. It contained 2,000 $5 bills. Whittaker produced his $2,000 and the stranger insisted upon wrapping up the bundle again, meanwhile ringing a bell for a waiter and ordering drinks. The package tied up, he handed it to Whittaker, who pocketed it and, after again being blindfolded and led some distance, he was cautioned to tell no one, not even his wife, about the transaction. 

Upon arriving home, he went to the barn and opened the package and discovered he had a bundle of plain sheets of paper with a good bill on each end. He notified the secret service and two operatives were sent to Chicago. They listened to his story and gave him scant sympathy, telling him that the department has been spending generations warning farmers against just this same trick. No plates or paper had been stolen from the government printing plant and none could as frequent checkings made it impossible and the newspaper clipping was a fake. He vowed to dedicate his life and money to running the crooks down and asked to be appointed a secret service man for that purpose. Chief Wilkie appointed him but warned him in the event of getting on their trail to notify the nearest branch and two experienced men would be sent to assist hiim. Whittaker traveled all over the states visiting farmers, telling the story and requesting them to send a telegram collect to his home where his wife would relay it to him, should they receive a similar offer. In July, 1900, he received word from a farmer in the central part of New York that he had received such a letter. Whittaker hurried there and instructed the farmer to reply saying he had no money to invest, but his brother-in-law had $2,000 to invest and would meet him. The appointment was made for the Mount Vernon station. 

Here is where Whittaker made a mistake. He disregarded the instructions to notify headquarters and obtain aid, instead deciding to go it alone. A dapper little man met him at the station and, after cordial greetings, hailed a strange hack and drove off. There was the same long drive and getting off and walking blindfolded to the house and finding himself in a room with a table and two chairs in a corner. The stranger remarked that Whittaker was carrying a gun and as evidence of his own sincerity, asked Whittaker to search him and see he was unarmed. He then waved him to a seat in the corner with the wall behind him and the stranger sat opposite as usual. He then opened the drawer and produced the bundle of good bills. At the sight of the money, Whittaker made a grab for it and at the same time reached for his gun, but just then a blackjack crashed down on his head. When he awoke he was in a large field. He called for help and a driver on a delivery wagon heard and came to his rescue, taking him on the wagon. Whittaker hurried to the New York office with his story and was again berated for trying to work alone. Two agents came with him to Mount Vernon and, getting into a hack, instructed Whittaker to take the front seat and follow the road over which he had traveled. He stopped at east Sixth street, near the Pelham boundary line and said he was where the driver was dismissed. The agent informed him that the driver was a confederate. He knew he must have crossed a small stream and passed through a cornfield close to the building into which they went. Crossing the water would bring them into Pelham and the next step was easy. There was but one cornfield in sight and that was in the rear of the White Hotel. The agents followed Wolf's Lane to midway between Sixth and Third streets and came to the old brook that flowed through. They followed this and found where the crossing had been made. The tell-tale tracks showed through the cornfield as well as the wide swath when the employees of the hotel carried the unconscious man away. Going to the hotel they were met by the proprietor, who denied anything had happened there or having seen Whittaker. The agents were insistent upon searching the building and, after awhile Whittaker identified the room. He was asked to point out the spot where he sat and the agent examined the wall and after tapping it, smiled and instructed Whittaker to take the same seat while he went out of the room. Whittaker did as told and in a few moments the second agent told him to look behind him. There framed in the moulding of the missing panel was the other agent holding a blackjack over his head. It was the old sliding panel game. The agents then gave the proprietor the choice of closing up or going to jail and he chose the former. This ended the infamous hostelry." 

Source:  Minard, J. Gardner, Old White Hotel a Colorful Spot In The Early Days Of The Pelhhams, The Pelham Sun, March 15, 1929, p. 16, cols. 3-5.

Edward Lewis, Prominent Texas Merchant, Scammed Out of $1,000

Edward Lewis was a wealthy and prominent merchant in Austin, Texas.  On Friday, August 31, 1899 he was on his way to New York City on a business trip.  He was traveling by train.  As the train neared Newark, New Jersey, he entered the smoking car to enjoy a cigar.  As he lit his cigar there was a light tap on his shoulder.  When he turned, he faced an expensively-dressed gentleman wearing a white waistcoat, a silk hat, and a diamond stud that glittered in his shirt bosom.  The gregarious gentleman said "Why hello, Lewis, old man.  How are you?"

Edward Lewis had no idea who the man was.  He remarked that the stranger had the advantage of him.  The gentleman responded that he had met Lewis during "the carnival" (likely Mardi Gras) in New Orleans.  The stranger recounted a number of incidents at the event that Edward Lewis remembered perfectly well.  According to one account, "the Texan began to consider himself lucky in meeting such an affable gentleman."  The con was on.

The gregarious stranger insisted that once the train arrived in New York City he would treat the Texan to a nice lunch at the stranger's hotel.  The stranger took Lewis to the Astor Hotel and paid for a lovely lunch.  During lunch, the pair was approached by another man whom the gregarious stranger introduced as a friend of his from New Orleans.  The man joined them.

Following an enjoyable luncheon, the two strangers prevailed on the Texas merchant to join them for a day's rest at their country outpost, a hotel in the suburbs.  Weary after the trip and open to the free hospitality of his obviously-wealthy new acquaintances, Lewis agreed.

The two men took Lewis on a confusing, "roundabout" route.  The three men arrived at about dark "at a quiet spot near Pelham, where a small hotel loomed up out of the shrubbery."  The two strangers arranged a room for the Texan and treated him to a hearty dinner and a smoke on the plaza.  The three then retired to a private room for a game of cards during which the two strangers let the Texan win a sizable sum of money.  Throughout the game the strangers plied the Texan with plenty of liquor.  Finally, about midnight, everyone retired to their rooms for sleep.

The next morning, with the Texan still sound asleep, the door to his room burst open and the stranger he had met the day before on the train rushed into the room screaming "Lewis, ther've been burglars in the house.  They went through my clothes last night and got my watch and pistol and $300."

Lewis leaped out of bed to check for his belongings.  As he did so, the stranger hurried downstairs.  Lewis went through his waistcoat and found that his watch was safe.  However, his money (about $1,000) was gone.  He hurriedly climbed into his clothes and ran downstairs only to discover that he was alone -- the two strangers were nowhere to be found.  When Lewis approached "the man he supposed" was the proprietor of the hotel and another man there he "got no satisfaction."  

Lewis found a woman in the hotel and asked her where he could find the police.  As soon as he asked the question of the woman, men in the hotel "set upon" him claiming he had insulted the woman and began clubbing him.  They chased him out into the streets of Pelham where he ran for his life.

The plundered Texan finally made his way back to New York City where he informed business colleagues of his plight.  He reported the incident to New York City police who dispatched two detectives to assist him.  The Texan and the two detectives returned to the White Hotel in Pelham that evening (Saturday, September 2, 1899), but the three men learned little and the robbers remained at large.



303 Wolfs Lane (Stiefvater Real Estate) on Top
and 307 Wolfs Lane on Bottom. Photographs by the Author.


Detail from 1899 Map by John F. Fairchild Showing Location
of White Hotel. Source: Fairchild, John F., Atlas of Mount Vernon
and Pelham, Plate 21 (John F. Fairchild, 1899) (Lionel Pincus
and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library).

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"ROBBED AND CHASED AWAY.
-----
A FARMER FROM JACKSON, MICH., RUNS AGAINST A WESTCHESTER COUNTY GREEN-GOODS GANG.

Another victim of the gang of bunco steerers which has been operating in Pelham was found yesterday.  The man, who is an old farmer, and had travelled [sic] all the way from Jackson, Mich., was not permitted even to see the greengoods, but was robbed and then chased away.  The man says his name is Edward White, but this is believed to be fictitious.  He began a correspondence with the confidence men several weeks ago, and arranged to meet them in Yonkers.

According to the arrangement, White arrived there on Wednesday, and was met at the railroad station by two men, who escorted him to a trolley car and took him to a place which Chief of Police Foley of Mount Vernon says answers the description of the White Hotel in Pelham.  The farmer was taken to the third floor of the hotel.  There he sat down at a table, and while waiting for his companions to produce the greengoods he began to inspect the room, which was filled with gambling apparatus, all of which was strange to him.

When White turned around again to close the transaction he looked into the muzzles of two revolvers, which were being pointed at his head by the bunco men.

'Give us your money,' demanded one of them, 'or we will blow your brains out.'  The old farmer was horrified, and, sinking back into his chair, made no resistance, while the men went through his pockets and took out $250, all the money he had in his possession.

After depositing the roll in his pocket, one of the greengoods men said:  'You can go now, and don't you try any fresh games on us.  If you make any trouble you will never get back to your home in Michigan alive.'

White left the place, and was followed by the confidence men, who stood at the door with their revolvers levelled at his head until he had disappeared.  He took a car to Yonkers, where he reported the affair to the police.  He was informed that the Yonkers police had no jurisdiction in the case, and thereupon informed Chief Foley of Mount Vernon.  He said that a ticket from New-York to Buffalo was all that he had left.  This is the third affair of the kind reported from Pelham within a week.  The Town Board of Pelham held a meeting on Friday night, and it is likely that its members will take some action toward finding the guilty parties and causing their punishment."

Source:  ROBBED AND CHASED AWAY -- A FARMER FROM JACKSON, MICH., RUNS AGAINST A WESTCHESTER COUNTY GREENGOODS GANG, New-York Tribune, Vol. LIX, No. 19278, Aug. 27, 1899, p. 2, col. 4 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link). 

"A TEXAN ROBBED.
-----
Confidence Men Sprang a New Game on Mr. Lewis.

A special from Mount Vernon, N.Y., in the St. Louis Republic says:  Edward Lewis, a prominent merchant of Austin, Texas, reported to Chief of Policy Foley of the city that he had been robbed yesterday by bunco men of $1000 in the White Hotel in Pelham.  This is the place where Whitaker, an agent of the secret service, was nearly killed last Saturday while trailing a gang of green goods men.

Mr. Lewis left home recently for New York and had an uneventful trip until the train reached Newark, N. J.  There as he was about to light a fresh cigar some one placed a hand familiarly on his shoulder and said:  'Why hello, Lewis, old man how are you?'

Mr. Lewis turned and saw a fine looking man about 40 years old standing over him.  The man wore a silk hat and a white waistcoat.  A diamond stud glittered in his shirt bosom.  Lewis remarked that the stranger had the advantage of him, whereupon the well-dressed person recalled that he had met the merchant at the carnival in New Orleans.  He mentioned incidents of that event which Mr. Lewis remembered perfectly and the Texan began to consider himself lucky in meeting such an affable gentleman.

Meanwhile, as they were [illegible], the train had reached Jersey City.  The agreeable stranger insisted on taking his friend to his hotel to luncheon.  So he called [illegible] on the New York side and drove to a fashionable hotel, where the stranger did the honors, incidentally introducing a friend.  During the progress of the meal the two New Yorkers proposed, as their Texas friend must be weary after his long journey, that they go up to their 'club house' in the suburbs and recuperate for a day or two.  Mr. Lewis acquiesced, and after a roundabout journey the party arrived about dark at a quiet spot near Pelham, where a small hotel loomed up out of the shrubbery.  The strangers told the Texan this was the 'club house.'  After a hearty dinner and a smoke on the plaza, they went to a private room and sat down to a game of cards.

They had several drinks, and at midnight Mr. Lewis, with his roll somewhat larger as a result of the card game, went to his room in a good humored and contented frame of mind.  The next morning before Lewis had awakened the friend he had met on the train rushed into his room and called out 'Lewis, ther've been burglars in the house.  They went through my clothes last night and got my watch and pistol and $300.'

Lewis jumped up, reached for his waistcoat and found that his watch was safe.  Before he had time to look for his money his friend had hurried down the stairs.

The merchant then discovered that every dollar he had brought with him -- about $1000 -- was gone.  For the first time [it] dawned on him that he had been victimized and robbed by bunco steerers.

Mr. Lewis soon got his clothes on and rushed down stairs and found that both his transient friends had disappeared.  He appealed to the man he supposed was proprietor and another man there, and got no satisfaction.  He asked a woman who stood by where he could find the police.  As soon as he had spoken, he says, he was set upon and clubbed, the men saying that he had insulted the woman.  They chased him out into the street, Mr. Lewis running for his life.

The plundered merchant finally got back to New York and told business friends of his experience.  He came back this evening accompanied by detectives, but as yet the robbers have not been caught."

Source:  A TEXAN ROBBED -- Confidence Men Sprang a New Game on Mr. Lewis, The Laredo Times [Laredo, TX], Vol. XIX, No. 70, Sep. 2, 1899, p. 1, cols. 3-4 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"Texas Merchant Robbed.

Since the disclosure made on Wednesday of the operations of a band of greengoods men at the White Hotel in Pelham another affair has come to light in that village.  The victim, although not assaulted and beaten, as was Detective John Whittaker, who made a futile attempt to arrest the swindlers, was buncoed out of nearly $800.

Edward Lewis, a prominent merchant of Austin, Texas, left his home several days ago for New York city.  At Newark, N. J., when Mr. Lewis was sitting in the smoking car and was about to light a fresh cigar, some one tapped him on the shoulder in a familiar manner and struck up an acquaintance, on the ground of having met Lewis in New Orleans, recalling incidents of the carnival which Lewis remembered.

Lewis accepted the stranger's invitation to dine at the Astor House, and on reaching the hotel was introduced to another well-dressed man, who, the stranger said, was from New Orleans.

Then the first stranger suggested that they take a ride up to his country home in the suburbs.  They went, and after some drinks and a game of cards retired.  About 8 o'clock next morning one of the men knocked at Lewis' door and told him burglars had been in the house.  The stranger went for the police and did not return.  Lewis' money was gone.  He believes the drinks were drugged."

Source:  Texas Merchant Robbed, The Baltimore Sun, Vol. XXXV, No. 88, Aug. 26, 1899, p. 7, col. 6 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link). 

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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The Tenth Trapshooting Amateur National Championships Held in Pelham in 1915


Introduction

Anticipation was high!  Over the winter of 1914-1915, the New York Athletic Club spent more $50,000 (about $1,262,000 in today's dollars) to improve its already-famous shooting grounds on Travers Island in the little Town of Pelham.  The improvements made the shooting grounds "undoubtedly the best in the country."  The improvements were prompted by the highly-anticipated tenth annual Amateur Championship of America among trap shooters from throughout the United States held on Travers Island April 30 - May 1, 1915.

Among the 143 who stepped to the firing line during that competition was George Leonidas Lyon.  An avid sportsman and trap-shooting enthusiast, Lyon was among the best in the United States.  Indeed, he was tapped to serve as an Olympic Coach and adviser to the United States Men's Trap Team for the Summer Games of the V Olympiad held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1912.  He coached James Graham of the United States to the Gold Medal in the Men's Trap event at those games.  He led the entire team to a first place finish in those Summer Games.

In the spring of 1915, however, as Lyon stood on the firing line at the New York Athletic Club among his friends and competitors, only he knew that his health was failing him.  His beautiful wife, Annie Snowden Carr Lyon, had died of tuberculosis only months before in 1914.  George Lyon suffered from the same disease; it was taking its toll.  Indeed, as Lyon stood on the Travers Island firing line, his life was ebbing away.  He even admitted, at the time, that he was in "very poor health."  George Lyon would die of the terrible disease only nine months later on January 11, 1916 in a sanatorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he sought relief.

During the two-day championship competition April 30 - May 1, 1915 held on Travers Island, however, George Lyon used all energy he could muster to focus on the competition.  When the event ended, he had broken all records and finished as the Amateur Champion of America in men's trap.  He considered it his "greatest triumph."



Portrait of George Leonidas Lyon in About 1911.  Source:
Ashe, Samuel A'Court, et al., Sketches from the Biographical
History of North Carolinap. 316 (Greensboro, NC:  C. L.
Van Noppen, 1908 - 1925).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.


George Leonidas Lyon

George Leonidas Lyon was born on February 3, 1881 in Durham, North Carolina.  He was the second son of Robert E. and Mary Duke Lyon.  His paternal grandfather, Zachariah Inge Lyon, was a tobacco magnate, as was his maternal grandfather, noted philanthropist Washington Duke.  

As a young man, Lyon received a sterling education at Horner School (Oxford, North Carolina), Bingham Military School (founded in Mebane, North Carolina in 1865 and moved to Asheville in 1891.  This school is not to be confused with Bingham Military School founded in Williamsborough, North Carolina in 1826 and subsequently moved to Littleton and then Oxford, North Carolina).  Lyon matriculated for two years at Trinity College (now Duke University) in 1897.  

While visiting in Baltimore in 1901, Lyon attended a match at the Baltimore Shooting Association.  One of the members of the Association showed Lyon how to shoot clay targets and was shocked to learn that Lyon was a natural talent.  This sparked an interest in firearms that led Lyon to a career as a field representative and demonstrator for such companies as Remington Arms, Du Pont Powder, and Union Metallic Cartridge.  Within a remarkably-short time, Lyon "jumped into fame as an amateur and then as a professional trap-shooter."

In 1904, Lyon won the North Carolina - Virginia combined trapshooting championship (one of three such championships.  According to one account, he "progressed year by year for four state wins in North Carolina, the Grand American Preliminary in Chicago, the Southern at Birmingham, and the Great Eastern in Boston, all as an amateur."  Source:  Flannagan, Clara Hamlett Robertson, Lyon, George Leonidas, NCPedida (visited Feb. 2, 2019).

Shooting as an amateur, Lyon competed successfully in the Grand American Handicap held in Indianapolis in 1906.  This "brought him into national fame."  He continued to compete as an amateur until 1910 when he turned professional.  Between 1910 and 1912, he shot professionally representing a number of manufacturers.  (Hence his service as a coach during the 1912 Olympic Summer Games rather than a competitor.)

In 1913, Lyon gave up his professional status and returned to competing as an amateur -- perhaps with his eye on the 1916 Olympic games.  He won a national championship during the 1913 Grand American Handicap in Dayton, Ohio.  He followed that by winning the 1914 and 1915 annual championships of the Long Island Sound Clubs.  According to one biographer, these victories "brought him national recognition again and the popular title of 'Chief Bull Durham,' which had previously been given him in the trapshooting social organization, the Okoboji Indian Chiefs."  Id.

The 1915 Amateur Championship of America on Travers Island

In 1915, Lyon achieved what some believe is among his greatest accomplishments.  He set records in, and won, the tenth annual trapshooting Amateur Championship of America held on Travers Island April 30 - May 1, 1915.



Magic Lantern Slide Displayed to Silent Film Audiences in 1915
During News Displays Prior to Each Movie.  The Caption Reads:
"A team taking part in the national championship trap shooting
contest at Travers Island, N. Y. More than 100 gunners took part.
Shown Through Courtesy of The Haverhill Electric Co."  Source:
Recent eBay Auction.

Anticipation for the 1915 Trapshooting Amateur National Championship on Travers Island was high in the New York Athletic Club and in all of the Town of Pelham.  During the winter of 1914 - 1915, the New York Athletic Club spent more than $50,000 to improve the shooting grounds at the island to make it "undoubtedly the best in the country."  The club enlarged and improved the old shooting house overlooking the bay.  Indeed, according to one newspaper account, the improved shooting house was so nice that it was preferred by shooters over the main clubhouse.  According to the same account, quoted in full at the end of this article, "It has been handsomely furnished in a manner that appeals to the eye of gunners.  Heads of deer, moose and other large game are upon the walls, as also are pictures of hunting and shooting scenes.  Handsome skins are thrown over the floor and there is a big open fireplace in which blazing logs warm the gunners when they come from the firing line."

Even before shooters began registering for the competition, the New York Athletic Club expected the event to be the largest such championship competition to date.  To accommodate such a large event, the club member in charge of trapshooting, George J. Corbett, devised a new technique to move the competition along more quickly.  There were four traps available for shooting.  Previously, trapshooters were broken into multiple groups of four squads with even squads (squads 2 and 4) shooting on traps 1 and 2 and odd squads (squads 1 and 3) shooting on the other two traps -- traps 3 and 4 -- then moving along to the next trap.  Often, one of the squads would finish long before others.  That squad would have to wait to move to the next trap until all gunners had finished on all three other respective traps.

Corbett implemented a new process for the championship.  He described it as follows:

"This year I am going to divide the squads into companies of five squads each and shoot the companies together.  In this manner I should save several hours in handling a big field.  The first company will be made up of squads Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  In the second company will be squads Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.  The next five squads will make up the next company, and so on until all squads have been put into companies.  At the start of the shoot the first four companies will take to the trap and will interchange at the end of the first string of 'birds.'  In this manner we should facilitate matters and save considerable time.  I expect at least 200 gunners at Travers Island for the amateur championship.'"

Lyon won the preliminaries by breaking 191 out of 200 targets, a new record.  He then broke 192 out of 200 targets in the finals of the championship, another new record.  Of course, his competition total of breaking 383 out of 400 targets was yet another record.  According to a biography of George Lyon, he considered the victory "his greatest triumph."

During the finals, Lyon was pushed by A. L. Chamberlin of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The targets were shot in eight sets of 25 targets.  After the third set, Chamberlin was up by one target.  After the fourth, Lyon was up by one target.  Lyon was up by three targets at the end of the sixth.  He was up by two targets at the end of the seventh.  The two men each broke 23 out of 25 targets in the eighth and final round, leaving Lyon as the champion with 192 broken targets versus 190 broken by his principal opponent.  The two men shot as follows:

Lyon
23
25
24
25
24
24
24
23
192
Chamberlin
24
25
24
23
22
24
25
23
190

Conclusion

Only months later, George Leonidas Lyon died of tuberculosis on January 11, 1916.  He was buried in Maplewood Cemetery in the mausoleum of his maternal grandfather, Washington Duke.  The cemetery is near Lyon's Park in Durham, North Carolina.  The park is named after him.  He was inducted into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame posthumously in 1976.  See Trapshooting Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame Inductee George Lyon Inducted in 1976 (visited Feb. 2, 2019).  

Trapshooting Hall of Famer George Leonidas Lyon died at the age of 34 after achieving his "greatest triumph" in the tiny little town of Pelham, New York.  



Chateauesque Revival Home of George L. Lyon Designed by Charles W. Barrett
Once Located at 803 South Duke Street, Durham, North Carolina and Demolished
in 1975.  Source:  Barrett, Charles W., Colonial Southern Homes -- Illustrated by
Camera and Pen, pp. 20-21 (Raleigh, NC:  Presses of Edwards and Broughton,
1903) (NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge).


*          *          *          *          *

"INTER-YACHT CLUB TRAP-SHOOTING
-----
NEW ROCHELLE WINS FIRST TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MEET.
-----
Tenth Annual Amateur Tournament for the National Title on the New York Athletic Club Grounds at Travers Island. . . . 

The tenth annual championship of America will be shot for at the Travers Island traps of the New York Athletic Club on April 30 and May 1.  The preliminary match at 200 targets will be shot on the first day, for five prizes, and on the second day, in addition to the championship, at 200 targets, there will be a five-man team match for that championship, each member of the team receiving a gold medal.  In addition to this, there will be a gold medal for the highest score of the two days, and another for the longest continuous run in the two days.  A silver cup will be given for the top score in 100 targets over each set of traps.  Capt. Corbett, of the New York Athletic Club has made all the arrangements. . . ."

Source:  INTER-YACHT CLUB TRAP-SHOOTING -- NEW ROCHELLE WINS FIRST TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MEET -- Tenth Annual Amateur Tournament for the National Title on the New York Athletic Club Grounds at Travers Island, The Evening Post [NY, NY], Jan. 18, 1915, p. 10, col. 3.  

"GUNNERS TO SHOOT FOR NATIONAL TITLE
-----
Over 200 Will Assemble on April 30 at N. Y. A. C. Traps on Travers Island.
-----
NEW SYSTEM TO BE USED
-----

Out of town gunners who take part in the tenth annual amateur championship of America at clay birds on April 30 and on May 1 will be impressed by the improvement that the New York Athletic Club has made in its shooting grounds at Travers Island.  During the winter more than $50,000 has been spent in improvements and the grounds now are undoubtedly the best in the country.

The old shooting house by the waters of Pelham Bay has been enlarged and now is used by the nimrods in preference to the big clubhouse on the island.  It has been handsomely furnished in a manner that appeals to the eye of gunners.  Heads of deer, moose and other large game are upon the walls, as also are pictures of hunting and shooting scenes.  Handsome skins are thrown over the floor and there is a big open fireplace in which blazing logs warm the gunners when they come from the firing line.

Four sets of traps have been used throughout the winter at Travers Island.  As a result the New York Athletic Club has been able to handle an unusually large number of gunners each Saturday.  It has been no uncommon thing to have more than fifty on the firing line.  All this has helped the sport, and indications point to the shoot at the end of the month being the largest ever held for the title.

George J. Corbett, who has had full charge of the shooting at Travers Island this winter, will try an innovation at the big shoot which should facilitate matters.  'It has been the custom in former years,' said Mr. Corbett yesterday, 'to shoot all the even squads in traps No. 1 and No. 2, and all the odd squads on traps Nos. 3 and 4.  It quite often happened that one of the squads would finish long before the other.  It would hold them up for quite some little while as the squads could not swing from one trap to another until all the gunners had finished on their respective traps,

'This year I am going to divide the squads into companies of five squads each and shoot the companies together.  In this manner I should save several hours in handling a big field.  The first company will be made up of squads Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  In the second company will be squads Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.  The next five squads will make up the next company, and so on until all squads have been put into companies.  At the start of the shoot the first four companies will take to the trap and will interchange at the end of the first string of 'birds.'  In this manner we should facilitate matters and save considerable time.  I expect at least 200 gunners at Travers Island for the amateur championship.'"

Source:  GUNNERS TO SHOOT FOR NATIONAL TITLE -- Over 200 Will Assemble on April 30 at N. Y. A. C. Traps on Travers Island -- NEW SYSTEM TO BE USED, N.Y. Sun, Apr. 4, 1915, Vol. LXXXII, No. 216, p. 15, cols. 5-6.  

"TRAVERS ISLAND SHOOTERS' PARADISE
------

Out of town shooters who will take part in the tenth annual amateur championship of America at clay birds on April 30 and on May 1 will be struck with the improvement that the New York Athletic Club has made in its shooting grounds at Travers Island.  During the winter more than $50,000 has been spent in improvements, and the grounds now are among the best in the country.

the old shooting house by the waters of Pelham Bay has been enlarged and now is used in preference to the big clubhouse on the island.  It has been handsomely furnished in a manner that appeals to the eye of experts.  Heads of deer, moose and other large game are upon the walls, as also are pictures of hunting and shooting scenes.  Handsome skins are thrown over the floor, and there is a big open fireplace in which blazing logs warm the men when they come from the firing line.

Four sets of traps have been used throughout the winter at Travers Island.  As a result the New York Athletic Club has been able to handle an unusually large number of competitors each Saturday.  It has been no uncommon thing to have more than fifty on the firing line.  All this has helped the sport, and indications point to the shoot at the end of the month being the largest ever held for the title.

George J. Corbett, who has had full charge of the shooting at Travers Island this winter, will try an innovation at the big shoot which should facilitate matters.  'It has been the custom in former years,' said Mr. Corbett yesterday, 'to shoot all the even squads in Traps No. 1 and No. 2, and all the odd squads on Traps Nos. 3 and 4.  It quite often happened that one of the squads would finish long before the other.  It would hold them up for quite some little while, as the squads could not swing from one trap to another until all the gunners had finished on their respective traps.

'This year I am going to divide the squads into companies of five squads each and shoot the companies together.  In this manner I should have several hours in handling a big field.  The first company will be made up of Squads Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  In the second company will be Squads Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.  The next five squads will make up the next company, and so on until all squads have been put into companies.  At the start of the shoot the first four companies will take to the traps and will interchange at the end of the first string of 'birds.'  In this manner we should wonderfully facilitate matters and save considerable time.  I expect at least 200 competitors at Travers Island for the amateur championship.'"

Source:  TRAVERS ISLAND SHOOTERS' PARADISE, N. Y. Herald, Apr. 11, 1915, 1st Section, Part IV, p. 2, col. 6.

"CHAMPIONSHIP TRAP SHOOTING TOURNEY TODAY
-----

NEW YORK -- Record work is expected to take place today, when the amateur marksmen of the United States compete at Travers island in the championship trap shooting tournament of the Amateur Athletic Union.  A preliminary shoot was held Friday and a number of new marks were registered.  

The first record to fall was in the number that took part in the hoot, there being 115 gunners, principally from out of town, on the firing line.  It was the biggest field that ever has taken part in a preliminary shoot.

G. L. Lyon, New York Athletic Club, was the high man of the day.  He captured the feature event with a record score of 191 out of a possible 200 targets.  Last year the event was won by R. L. Spotts, the present amateur champion.  

Spotts finished third yesterday, the second prize going to A. B. Richardson, who comes from Dover, Del.  The fourth gunner was J. L. Snow of Boston.  All these gunners did better than the old record of 184 made by Spotts a year ago.

In addition to the individual shoot, the gunners of the New York Athletic Club and the Boston A. A. decided the second leg of their home and home series.  In the shoot in Boston, the Hub gunners won by 27 targets.  Friday, they were beaten by the Winged Foot experts, who won the second leg by 1783 to 1694 targets.  It gave them 89 targets on the day, enough to win the series by 62."

Source:  CHAMPIONSHIP TRAP SHOOTING TOURNEY TODAY, The Christian Science Monitor [Boston, MA], May 1, 1915, Vol. VII, No. 133, p. 30, col. 2.  

"Trap-Shooting Championship.

The national trap-shooting championship tournament was begun yesterday at Travers Island, and will be concluded today with the contest for the title at 200 targets.  In the preliminary shoot at 200 targets.  In the preliminary shoot at 200 targets yesterday G. L. Lyon of the New York Athletic Club won, with 191; A. B. Richardson was second, with 190; R. L. Spotts, third, with 186; J. L. Snow, fourth, with 185, and A. L. Burns, fifth, 19th 184.  New York Athletic Cub shots won the second leg of their contest with the Boston Athletic Association by 1,783 to 1,694, making their total advantage 62 targets, as they lost by 27 in the first shoot.  The New York Athletic Club second team also beat the Boston Athletic Club second team by 1,543 to 1,433."

Source:  Trap-Shooting Championship, The Evening Post [NY, NY], May 1, 1915, p. 11, col. 6.  

"LYON TAKES TITLE IN NATIONAL SHOOT
-----
Home Representative Leads at Trap with Record Score of 192 Out of 200.
-----
CHAMBERLIN IS SECOND
-----
Bridgeport Gunner Misses Only Ten Targets in Big Event  at Travers Island.
-----

George L. Lyon of Durham, N. C., representing the home club, won the tenth annual national trap shooting championship over the Travers Island traps of the New York Athletic Club yesterday.  He took the event with a score of 192 out of a possible 200 targets.  It was the highest score that has ever won the title.

Lyon had a great fight before he won the title.  Throughout the shoot A. L. Chamberlin of Bridgeport, A. E. Conley of Buffalo, C. H. Newcomb of Philadelphia, a former national champion, and E. A. Randall of Portland, Me., were always close up.  Conley led at the end of the sixth string by a single bird.

In the next 25, Lyon came back and was only seven down at the 175 mark.  The other three were ten down.  The champion finally won by two targets from Chamberlin.  The individual strings of the two leaders were:

Lyon -- 23, 25, 24, 25, 24, 24, 24, 23 -- 192.

Chamberlin -- 24, 25, 24, 23, 22, 24, 25, 23 -- 190

The prize for the longest run during the two days was won by A. B. Richardson, who finished sixth.  He had a straight run of 131 targets.  R. L. Spotts, who won the championship in 1914, fell down badly and finished fifteenth.  He had a total of 183.

Quaker Team Leads.

In the team race Philadelphia was the winner, her best five men scoring 927, with C. Newcomb leading with 189.  Other scores were:  A. B. Richardson, 187; A. Heil, 187; W. Foord, 186, and J. C. Griffith, 178.  The New York A. C. was five points behind, its score being 922.  The Mercury Foot team was made up of G. L. Lyon, 192; A. L. Burns, 186; R. L. Spotts, 183; J. H. Hendrickson, 181, and Dr. G. H. Martin, 80.

There were 143 gunners on the firing line, practically all finished well before dark.  This was due to the excellent work of George J. Corbett, chairman of the Shooting Committee of the New York A. C., who managed the affair.  Last night the New York A. C. gave the visiting gunners a beefsteak diner at Healy's.  

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP -- 200 TARGETS.


Name.
…………………
1st 100 T’gets,
2d 100 T’gets.
Total.
W. G. Allen
…………………
74
71
145
H. G. Galt
…………………
85
87
172
F. G. Hogan
…………………
88
81
169
C. E. Sheldon
…………………
87
82
169
B. F. Mallory
…………………
80
85
165
L. O. Graham
…………………
90
91
181
E. C. Gunther
…………………
90
90
180
N. B. Cook
…………………
84
81
165
W. C. Newton
…………………
79
89
168
J. C. Griffith
…………………
87
91
178
J. Fountain
…………………
74
77
151
E. B. Melrath
…………………
82
83
165
C. B. Platt
…………………
93
90
183
F. Plum
…………………
81
94
175
H. G. Allyn
…………………
92
83
175
W. S. Silkworth
…………………
82
90
172
T. Lenane, Jr.
…………………
80
90
170
E. N. Dickerman
…………………
85
93
173
M. McVey, Jr.
…………………
81
78
159
E. A. Wilson
…………………
84
80
164
E. A. Staples
…………………
93
91
184
H. C. Brooks
…………………
89
85
174
C. B. Tucker
…………………
71
78
149
W. B. Farmer
…………………
86
85
171
C. P. Blinn
…………………
80
79
159
D. C. Culver
…………………
90
88
178
R. R. Debacher
…………………
79
77
156
W. B. Ogden
…………………
87
89
176
W. H. Yule
…………………
87
85
172
J. H. Hendrickson
…………………
94
87
181
E. J. Monahan
…………………
66
63
129
E. L. Bartlett
…………………
86
85
171
G. J. Tuckett
…………………
74
86
160
W. A. Flinn
…………………
84
84
168
V. Oliver
…………………
85
88
173
L. B. Flint
…………………
81
81
162
J. E. Lynch
…………………
82
81
163
T. B. Heintz
…………………
88
80
168
W. F. Carlton
…………………
72
77
149
A. E. Conley
…………………
96
93
189
J. H. Vanderveer
…………………
87
72
159
A. Chandler
…………………
77
67
144
Frank Hall
…………………
89
87
176
J. I. Brandenburg
…………………
88
88
176
F. A. Baker
…………………
70
80
150
C. W. Billings
…………………
83
86
169
A. B. Richardsons
…………………
94
93
187
C. H. Newcomb
…………………
96
93
189
W. M. Foord
…………………
92
94
186
A. Heil
…………………
91
96
187
George L. Lyon
…………………
97
95
192
A. L. Burns
…………………
90
96
186
G. J. Corbett
…………………
88
90
178
D. F. McMahon
…………………
89
88
177
T. Lawrence
…………………
84
70
154
G. S. Moller
…………………
89
88
177
C. J. Stein
…………………
90
90
180
W. R Delehanty
…………………
68
76
144
B. F. Eldred
…………………
81
77
158
H. J. Thielman
…………………
78
88
166
E. A. Ranney
…………………
86
90
176
D. T. Leshy
…………………
87
87
174
R. L. Spotts
…………………
87
96
183
R. A. King
…………………
90
95
185
A. W. Church
…………………
88
81
169
S. W. Putnam
…………………
87
95
182
E. H. Kidder
…………………
90
85
175
J. Clark, Jr.
…………………
81
89
170
F. O. Williams
…………………
90
88
178
C. F. Marden
…………………
85
87
172
E. A. Randall
…………………
93
95
188
W. H. Stohle
…………………
83
88
171
O. P. Weymouth
…………………
92
84
176
C. S. Randall
…………………
85
92
177
W. D. Hinds
…………………
84
83
176
S. B. Adams
…………………
86
86
172
G. Gill
…………………
92
90
182
F. U. Rosebury
…………………
87
87
174
G. R. Steel
…………………
89
83
172
T. O’Donohue
…………………
83
86
169
G. F. Pelham
…………………
90
88
178
E. H. Locatelli
…………………
82
79
161
R. N. Burns
…………………
84
81
165
R. K. Spotts
…………………
80
82
162
C. W. Berner
…………………
74
73
147
C. C. Moore
…………………
86
81
167
C. B. Cotler
…………………
85
82
167
A. L. Chamberlin
…………………
96
84
190

FINAL STANDING OF LEADING GUNNERS.


G. L. Lyon, 192; A. L. Chamberlain, 190; G. H. Newcomb, 189; A. E. Conley, 189; E. A. Randall, 188; A. Heil, 187, A. B. Richardson, 187; J. L. Snow, 187; W. M. Foord, 186; A. L. Burns, 186; R. A. King, 185; E. A. Staples, 184; C. T. Dey, 184; J. E. Baldwin, 184; R. L. Spotts, 183; C. B. Platt, 183; L. C. Wilson, 183; S. P. Senlor, 183; C. W. Van Stone, 182; G. Gill, 182; S. W. Putnam, 182; J. H. Hendrickson, 181; L. O. S. Graham, 181; C. J. Stein, 180; E. C. Gunther, 180; G. L. Osborn, 180; G. H. Martin, 180.

Shoot-off for third and fourth place won by Newcomb, with Conley fourth; shoot-off for sixth place, won by Richardson; shoot-off for seventh place won by Snow, with Heil eighth; shoot-off for ninth place won by Foord, with A. L. Burns, tenth.

TEAM SHOOTS.

Philadelphia, 927; New York A. C., 922; Smith Gun Club, Jersey City, 887; Portland, Me., 884.  Also competed, Boston A. A., Baltimore and Bridgeport.

LONG-RUN PRIZE.

Won by A. B. Richardson with 131."

Source:  LYON TAKES TITLE IN NATIONAL SHOOT -- Home Representative Leads at Trap with Record Score of 192 Out of 200 -- CHAMBERLIN IS SECOND -- Bridgeport Gunner Misses Only Ten Targets in Big Event at Travers Island, The New York Press, May 2, 1915, Vol. XXVIII, No. 10,014, Part III, Sports Section, p. 8, col. 7 "NATIONAL TRAP SHOOTING TITLE GOES TO LYON
-----
N. Y. A. C. Gunner Takes Trophy with Highest Score on Record.
-----
PHILADELPHIA WINS TEAM COMPETITION
-----
Uniformly Good Work by Quaker Nimrods Offsets N. Y. A. C. Stars.

George L. Lyon won the tenth annual clay bird championship of America at the Travers Island traps of the New York Athletic Club yesterday.  He took the event with a score of 192 out of a possible 200 targets.  It was the highest score that has ever won the title.

Lyon had a great fight before he won.  Throughout the shoot A. L. Chamberlin, of Bridgeport; A. E. Conley, of Buffalo; C. H. Newcomb, of Philadelphia, a former national champion, and E. A. Randall, of Portland, Me., were always at his heels; in fact, Conley led the field at the end of the sixth string by a single bird.

In the next 25 Lyon came back, and was only seven down at the 175 mark.  The other three were ten down.  The champion finally won by two targets from Chamberlin.  The individual strings of the two leaders were:


Lyon
23
25
24
25
24
24
24
23
192
Chamberlin
24
25
24
23
22
24
25
23
190

The prize for the longest run during the two days was won by G. A. B. Richardson, who finished sixty.  He had a straight run of 131 targets.  R. L. Spotts, who won the championship in 1914, fell down badly and finished fifteenth.  He had a total of 183.

In the team race Philadelphia was the winner, its best five men scoring 927.  The New York A. C. was 5 points behind; its score being 922.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP -- 200 TARGETS.


Name.

First 100 Targets,
Second 100 Targets.


T’l.
W. G. Allen
…………………
74
71
145
H. A. Galt
…………………
85
87
172
F. G. Hogan
…………………
88
81
169
C. E. Sheldon
…………………
87
82
169
B. F. Mallory
…………………
80
85
165
L. O. Graham
…………………
90
91
181
E. C. Gunther
…………………
90
90
180
N. B. Cook
…………………
84
81
165
W. C. Newton
…………………
79
89
168
J. C. Griffith
…………………
87
91
178
J. Fountain
…………………
74
77
151
E. B. Melrath
…………………
82
83
165
C. B. Platt
…………………
93
90
183
F. Plum
…………………
81
94
175
H. G. Allyn
…………………
92
83
175
W. S. Silkworth
…………………
82
90
172
T. Lenane, Jr.
…………………
80
90
170
E. N. Dickerman
…………………
85
93
173
M. McVey, Jr.
…………………
81
78
159
E. A. Wilson
…………………
84
80
164
E. A. Staples
…………………
93
91
184
H. C. Brooks
…………………
89
85
174
C. B. Tucker
…………………
71
78
149
W. B. Farmer
…………………
86
85
171
C. P. Blinn
…………………
80
79
159
D. C. Culver
…………………
90
88
178
R. R. Debacher
…………………
79
77
156
W. B. Ogden
…………………
87
89
176
W. H. Yule
…………………
87
85
172
J. H. Hendrickson
…………………
94
87
181
E. J. Monahan
…………………
66
63
129
E. L. Bartlett
…………………
86
85
171
G. J. Tuckett
…………………
74
86
160
W. A. Flinn
…………………
84
84
168
V. Oliver
…………………
85
88
173
L. B. Flint
…………………
81
81
162
J. E. Lynch
…………………
82
81
163
T. B. Heintz
…………………
88
80
168
W. F. Carlton
…………………
72
77
149
A. E. Conley
…………………
96
93
189
J. H. Vanderveer
…………………
87
72
159
A. Chandler
…………………
77
67
144
Frank Hall
…………………
89
87
176
J. I. Brandenburg
…………………
88
88
176
F. A. Baker
…………………
70
80
150
C. W. Billings
…………………
83
86
169
A. B. Richardson
…………………
94
93
187
C. H. Newcomb                                                      
…………………
96
93
189
W. M. Foord
…………………
92
94
186
A. Heil
…………………
91
96
187
George L. Lyon
…………………
97
95
192
A. L. Burns
…………………
90
96
186
G. J. Corbett
…………………
88
90
178
D. F. McMahon
…………………
89
88
177
G. H. Martin
………………...
90
90
180
J. L. Snow
…………………
94
93
187
T. C. Adams
………………..
84
84
168
G. L. Osborn
………………..
91
89
180
S. A. Ellis
………………..
91
84
175
I. H. Davis
………………..
84
92
176
A. J. McManus
………………..
80
84
164
T. Lawrence
…………………
84
70
154
G. S. Medler
…………………
89
88
177
C. J. Stein
…………………
90
90
180
W. R Delehanty
…………………
68
76
144
B. E. Eldred
…………………
81
77
158
H. J. Thielman
…………………
78
88
166
E. A. Ranney
…………………
86
90
176
D. T. Leahy
…………………
87
87
174
R. L. Spotts
…………………
87
96
183
R. A. King
…………………
90
95
185
A. W. Church
…………………
88
81
169
S. W. Putnam
…………………
87
95
182
E. H. Kidder
…………………
90
85
175
J. Clark, Jr.
…………………
81
89
170
F. O. Williams
…………………
90
88
178
C. F. Marden
…………………
85
87
172
E. A. Randall
…………………
93
95
188
W. H. Stoble
…………………
83
88
171
O. P. Weymouth
…………………
92
84
176
C. S. Randall
…………………
85
92
177
W. D. Hinds
…………………
84
83
176
S. B. Adams
…………………
86
86
172
G. Gill
…………………
92
90
182
F. U. Rosebury
…………………
87
87
174
G. R. Steel
…………………
89
83
172
T. O’Donohue
…………………
83
86
169
G. F. Pelham
…………………
90
88
178
E. H. Locatelli
…………………
82
79
161
R. N. Burns
…………………
84
81
165
R. K. Spotts
…………………
80
82
162
C. W. Barner
…………………
74
73
147
C. C. Moore
…………………
86
81
167
C. B. Cutler
…………………
85
82
167
A. L. Chamberlin
…………………
96
94
190
J. J. Phelan
………………..
55
50
105
H. L. F. Funche
………………..
77
87
164
H. H. Shannon
………………..
86
85
171
T. J. Mooney
…………………
85
84
169
W. H. Luckett
………………..
77
80
157
F. Fowler
………………..
75
71
146
H. Lee
………………..
83
84
167
J. W. Mason
………………..
87
85
173
J. E. Baldwin
………………..
94
90
184
W. M. Collins
………………..
85
73
158
J. L. Griggs
………………..
84
83
167
T. Fleming
………………..
75
82
157
M. H. Ithner
………………..
73
70
143
G. Percy
………………..
89
90
179
E. Byram
………………..
87
82
169
H. N. Brigham
………………..
84
90
174
W. H. Mathews
………………..
67
72
139
H. D. Tracy
………………..
88
84
172
C. T. Day
………………..
92
92
184

Source:  NATIONAL TRAP SHOOTING TITLE GOES TO LYON -- N. Y. A. C. Gunner Takes Trophy with Highest Score on Record -- PHILADELPHIA WINS TEAM COMPETITION -- Uniformly Good Work by Quaker Nimrods Offsets N. Y. A. C. Stars, New York Tribune, May 2, 1915, Part II, p. 4, col. 5.  

"GEORGE LEONIDAS LYON

THE subject of this sketch, George Leonidas Lyon, was born in Durham, N. C., February 3, 1881.  He was the second don of Robert Elkana and Mary Duke Lyon, and the grandson of two captains of industry, Zachariah I. Lyon, manufacturer and originator of the 'Pride of Durham' smoking tobacco, and Washington Duke, manufacturer, patriot and philanthropist, sketches of whom will be found in the present work.

George Lyon received his academic training at Horner School (Oxford), at Guilford College and Trinity College. But neither his disposition nor his interests encouraged him to pursue any of the learned professions, and it was by the merest accident, it seems, that he found a career in which he could distinguish himself and a profession that could claim his time and energy.  While visiting in Baltimore in 1901, he was invited to attend a match at the Baltimore Shooting Association.  One of the members of this association took enough interest in young Lyon to show him how to hit inanimate targets, and the pupil became so apt that he at once attracted the attention of the members of the association, and in a remarkably short time jumped into fame as an amateur and then as a professional trap-shooter.

From 1906 till 1910 he shot as an amateur.  His shooting [Page 317 / Page 318] at Indianapolis in 1906, where he competed successfully in the Grand American Handicap, brought him into national fame which was sustained a year later at Chicago, and in 1908 he won the Great Eastern Handicap at Boston, making ninety-one successful shots out of a hundred at nineteen yards.  He continued piling up winnings as an amateur until 1910, when he joined the professionals.  A short time afterward America sent a team of amateurs to the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, and George Lyon accompanied the team as coach and adviser, and it was due in part to his work that the American team was successful.

He established his claim to national distinction by defeating Lester German in 1911 in a match game for the world championship at inanimate targets.  This title was won at Atlantic City, and later defended in a contest between Lyon and German at the Dupont Trap Shooting Club, Wilmington, Del., May 4, 1912.  It was in 1915 that he made a record-breaking record at the New York Athletic Club grounds, Travers Island, where against a field of one hundred and forty-three of the crack shots of the country he won out for the national championship honor with a total of one hundred and ninety-two breaks out of two hundred targets.  He also won the preliminary event with a score of one hundred and ninety-one out of two hundred targets.  These winnings, with his average of three hundred and eighty-three breaks out of four hundred, established a new record in this country.  This victory the young champion considered his greatest triumph.  At that time he was in very poor health, but he finished with the remarkable record given above.  The best previous score he had made was one hundred and eighty-eight out of two hundred.  His winning of the preliminary handicap at the same time and place was by a score that passed any ever before turned in.  Previous to this contest he won the annual championship of the Long Island Club, held at the Manhasset Yacht Club.  The last important shoot in which he took part was a southern handicap at Memphis, Tenn., held in May, 1915.  At that time he pushed Woodfolk Henderson to the limit for high average honors but [Page 318 / Page 319] his strength was now failing and his career was coming to a close.  His health did not permit him to enter into any other great contest.  

While still young this inclination for sport found for him an occupation that was congenial to his disposition and in harmony with his brilliant but short career.  The Remington Arms Company discovered in him a very worthy representative, and he remained in the employ of this company until his failing health made it possible only for him to serve one master -- the dreaded disease that had already claimed him for a victim.

Feeling that his life was ebbing away, he went to Albuquerque, N. M., in search of health, but his journey was in vain.  The summons had already come, and on January 11, 1916, he died at St. Joseph's Sanatorium, Albuquerque, N. M., in his thirty-fifth year.

He was regarded as one of the best all-around shots in this country and was respected as a clean-cut and congenial sportsman.  Sporting Life of Philadelphia paid him this tribute:  

'George L. Lyon was one of the greatest trap shooters that ever stepped to the firing line.'

The sporting fraternity has organizations called Indian bands or tribes, and this beautiful tribute by one of these tribes is paid to the subject of the sketch:

'THE SPIRIT OF THE CHIEF HAS PASSED

'George L. Lyon, of Durham, N. C., is dead, as announced by the signal fires built at Albuquerque, N. M., January 11, 1916.  The spirit of one of the very best of the Okoboji Indian chiefs has passed to the happy hunting grounds.  Yet Chief Bull Durham will live in the memory of the tribe until generations have come and gone, until a sufficient number of years have passed that the falling of the seared and withered leaves, dropped by the winter blasts, will make a comfortable covering to his grave and memory.  The Great Spirit will welcome Chief Bull Durham to the realms of the happy hunters.  His many acts of kindness on this mundane sphere have been placed to his credit, hence there is much due him in the happy hunting grounds.

'Popular here, popular there, hence the sunny smile, winning manners, and most pleasing personality of George L. Lyon will constitute him a star guest in the realms where men are weighed up for their true worth and their welcome extended accordingly.  We have lost a valued chief and a close friend.  The Great Father beckoned and he has gone to that land from which no warrior returns.  He has gone from our ranks and council, but never from our hearts.  Until the next regular meeting of the tribe, this tribute from the high chief will represent the sorrow and grief of the tribe as an entity.

'In witness hereof, in deep token of our respect, sympathy, regret and esteem we, the tribe of Okoboji Indians, inclusive of squaws and papooses, assure the family of Chief Bull Durham that in their hour of grief and trouble we sorrow with them.  Hereunto is fixed the official seal of the Okoboji Indians.

'TOM A. MARSHAL, High Chief.

'CHICAGO, January 12, 1916.'

The following tribute from the celebrated Mr. Sousa is but one of many similar expressions rendered to Mr. Lyon's memory by the large hosts of friends which he had in all the walks of life:

'The companionship of Mr. Lyon and myself was one of sunshine and happiness at all times.

'I admired him tremendously for his worth as a man and was very proud of his achievement as a wonderful shot.

'I question if there are many men who were so generally beloved as George Lyon.

'While his individuality and personality always commanded the respect of those who met him, there was something so cheery and happy about him that everybody felt at ease in his presence.

'I am sure his memory will remain in the hearts of all who knew him.

'Very sincerely yours,

'JOHN PHILIP SOUSA.'

Mr. Lyon was married November 6, 1900, to Miss Snowden Carr, daughter of the late L. A. Carr, of Durham, and a niece of George W. Watts, the Durham philanthropist.  His wife preceded him to the grave by two years.  Three children survive him:  Clara E., George L., Jr., and Mary Duke; and he leaves one brother, E. B. Lyon, and one sister, Mrs. J. E. Stagg.

Soon after his marriage he connected himself with the Presby- [Page 320 / Page 321] terian Church.  He served his city as police and fire commissioner until his failing health compelled him to resign.  At his death he was a member of the New York Athletic Club, the Quail Roost Gunning Club, of Durham, and seventy-two other sporting clubs and social orders.  He was a Mason, and just before his death he had the thirty-third degree conferred upon him in Albuquerque, N. M.  Moreover, he was a stockholder in a number of Durham enterprises.  His genial and sunny disposition won for him a host of friends, and the number of clubs in which he retained membership is an evidence of his popularity.  He lived and died a true sportsman.

E. C. Brooks."

Source:  Ashe, Samuel A'Court, et al., Sketches from the Biographical History of North Carolina, pp. 316 - 321 (Greensboro, NC: C. L. Van Noppen, 1908 - 1925).


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