Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, October 20, 2014

American Diary Account of Events Before, During, and After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776


Saturday was the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Pelham fought during the American Revolution on October 18, 1776.  To commemorate the Battle, last Friday I published an excerpt of the diary of a British officer who participated in the Battle, Archibald Robertson.  See Fri., Oct. 17, 2014:  First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

In further commemoration of the Battle, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an excerpt from the diary of an American soldier named Benjamin Trumbull for roughly the same span of days (October 12, 1776 - October 19, 1776).  

Benjamin Trumbull was born in Hebron, Connecticut on December 19, 1735 and died in North Haven, Connecticut on February 2, 1820.  He graduated from Yale College in 1759, studied theology under Rev. Eleazor Wheelock and became a preacher who served North Haven for sixty years.  (He received the degree of D. D. from Yale in 1796.)  Trumbull volunteered and served as a Chaplain during the American Revolution.  

The excerpt taken from Trumbull's Journal covers the period from October 12, 1776 as the British and German troops leave New York for a landing on Throggs Neck adjacent to Pell's Point (today's Rodman's Neck) through the Battle of Pelham on October 18, the encampment of the British and German troops along today's Colonial Avenue from the Hutchinson River to the New Rochelle border on October 19, and Trumbull's delivery of a sermon to American troops on Sunday, October 20, 1776.  

Trumbull's Journal does not make clear where he was in the days leading up to the Battle of Pelham, although his descriptions suggest he was not involved in the events he describes in his Journal entries.  His Journal makes clear, however, that he was not present during the Battle of Pelham because it indicates that on October 18, 1776, he marched with American troops to Philipsburg Manor.  Nevertheless, Trumbull's Journal provides interesting insight into the events of that period and the flow of information as Trumbull tried to follow the progress of the War.

"Saturday 12th.  This morning we had an alarm:  The regulars we hear are landing in a large Body near Frogs Point.  The Army at the South Lines were ordered to their Posts and drawn up at the Advanced, and South Lines.  A great Part of the Army on the other Side of Kings Bridge marched for West Chester, to attact [sic] the Enemy.  The Enemy landed about 2,000 [Page 199 / Page 200] men on the Point which is a Peninsula; but did not come off from the Point.  Our Troops Pulled up the Bridge to prevent their coming off, and the Riflemen fired at them over the Marsh and killed some few men.  About 30 Sail of Transports, principally, went up the Sound the Same Day as far as Frogs Point.

Sabbath Day 13th.  There is some firing of Field Pieces at Frogs Point but no movement of Importance.  A Number of Transports this Day come down the Sound.  The Day is Pleasant and the Camp at the Lines quiet.

Monday 14.  A Pleasant Day a Brisk wind to the north or rather North east entirely unfavourable for the Enemy.  Accounts are that the Enemy are almost all moved off from Straten Island, and that they are thined much at the Lines.  The Generals were together yesterday in counsel and are of Opinion that the Enemy are about to make a bold and decisive push, and that a great Part of their Army are on the Move to the Eastward off us to Land above us, and dispositions are making in the Army Accordingly.  General MacDougals Brigade were ordered over Kings Bridge Yesterday, & Some Regiments are ordered over from the Jersy Side; It is said that the Enemy have abandoned Bergen and Powlis Hook.

Tuesday 15th.  Nothing Special happens; it appears that the Enemy are moving their main Body up to Frogs Point and East & West Chester.  Our Generals understand that General Howe is there himself.  General MacDougals Brigade are ordered over Kings Bridge or Congress Bridge, and a Brigade or two from the Jersey Side are ordered over on this Side and march towards the Enemy.  About the Same Time two Regements of [Page 200 / Page 201] Militia were ordered over the Bridge to take Post about the 17 Mile Stone.  

Wednesday 16th.  Generals are all together in Counsel.  Scarce any Fatige men out, and the Waggons Generally  employed in moving the Baggage Tents &c. of the Brigades ordered to match.

Some preparations are begun at the Lines for Barracks.

Thursday 17th.  General Spencers Division have orders to march and form on the left of General Lincoln's Brigade.

General Wadsworth's and General Fellows Brigades march between one and two o'Clock, and encamp in the Evening near the 16 Miles Stone.

Friday 18th.  March to Philip's Burg the Place of Destination.  General Lord Stirling & his Brigade march this Day early from the Lines and towards Night pass us and Encamp on our Left, at Some distance to the North West, between us and the North River.  The Enemy this Day land men East of Frogs Point on another Point of Land [i.e., Pell's Point], and advance a mile or two from the Water, and the light Horse and large Bodies of them move on towards New Rochel.  There was a considerable firing of Field Pieces and Small Arms between Scattering Parties but no geral [general] Engagements of any large Bodies but the Enemy falling into a sort of Ambush sustained much loss.

Saturday 19th.  The Enemy this Day we find by Scouting Parties, have advanced as far as New Rochel and have Spread out Some little Distance from the Water to the Westward; but it does not Seem that they are advancing towards our main Army or are making any disposition for a general attack.  [Page 201 / Page 202]

Sabbath Day the 20 is peaceable and Quiet; General Wadsworths Brigade attended public Service about midday.  I preached to General W's Brigade from Exclesiastees 11.9.  Rejoice O young man &c.  Nothing material happened in our Army; but General Washington this Day received the Meloncholly News of the Destruction of the Continental Fleet on the Lake Champlain, by the Enemy on the [blank space] general Waterbury was taken Prisoner."

Source:  Benjamin Trumbull's Journal of the Campaign Around New York, 1776-77 in Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Vol. VII:  Orderly Book and Journals Kept By Connecticut Men While Taking Part In The American Revolution 1775-1778, pp. 199-202 (Hartford, CT:  The Case, Lockwood and Brainard Company, Printers, 1899).



Bicentennial Seal of the Battle of Pelham, 1976.

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I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776.  See, for example, the following 35 articles:  


Bell, Blake A., The Battle of Pelham:  October 18, 1776, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 41, Oct. 15, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.  

Bell, Blake, History of the Village of Pelham:  Revolutionary War, HistoricPelham.com Archive (visited May 9, 2014).  


Mon., Feb. 28, 2005:  Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road Does Not Mark the Site of the Battle of Pelham.  

Mon., Apr. 18, 2005:  Restored Battle of Pelham Memorial Plaque Is Unveiled at Glover Field.  

Fri., May 27, 2005:  1776, A New Book By Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, Touches on the Battle of Pelham.  

Thu., Jul. 14, 2005:  Pelham's 1926 Pageant Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pelham.  

Wed., Oct. 26, 2005:  Remnants of the Battlefield on Which the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  
Fri., May 19, 2006:  Possible Remains of a Soldier Killed in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Found in 1921.  

Fri., Aug. 11, 2006:  Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910.  

Thu., Sep. 21, 2006:  A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903.  

Mon., Oct. 30, 2006:  Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Nov. 1, 2006:  Two British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Tue., Jan. 16, 2007:  Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Feb. 09, 2007:  Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Mon., Feb. 12, 2007:  Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition:  "Overlooked Hero:  John Glover and the American Revolution."  

Thu., Jan. 18, 2007:  Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jul. 16, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How.  

Tue., Jul. 17, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Writings of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Aide-de-Camp to British General Clinton.  

Wed., Jul. 18, 2007:  Another British Military Unit History that Notes Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Tue., Aug. 7, 2007:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Contained in the McDonald Papers Published in 1926.  

Wed., Aug. 8, 2007:  A Description of an Eyewitness Account of the Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.  

Thu., Sep. 6, 2007:  Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.  

Mon., Oct. 8, 2007:  American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October 1776.  

Fri., Oct. 12, 2007:  Images of The Lord Howe Chestnut that Once Stood in the Manor of Pelham.  

Fri., Oct. 27, 2006:  Orders Issued by British Major General The Honourable William Howe While Encamped in Pelham After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009:  Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18 1776.  

Wed., Feb. 17, 2010:  British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  

Fri., Apr. 23, 2010:  Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham.  


Thu., Feb. 06, 2014:  A Description of the Revolutionary War Battle of Pelham Published in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Mon., May 19, 2014:  Biography of British Officer Who Fought in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Jun. 04, 2014:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Presented and Published in 1894.  

Fri., Jun. 27, 2014:  Newly-Published Account Concludes Colonel William Shepard Was Wounded During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jun. 30, 2014:  A British Lieutenant in the Twelfth Foot Who Fought at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Sep. 19, 2014:  Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 17, 2014:  References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.

Fri., Oct. 17, 2014:  First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776


Tomorrow will be the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Pelham fought during the American Revolution on October 18, 1776.  To commemorate that historic event, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes entries from the personal diary of a British soldier who rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General named Archibald Robertson.  A portrait of Robertson appears immediately below.



Lieutenant-General Archibald Robertson From Image
of a Miniature Portrait on Ivory by John Smart.  Source:
Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution:  Archibald
Robertson His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780,
p. Frontispiece (Reprint Edition 1971 by The New York
Public Library and Arno Press Inc.).

Robertson was in active service in the King's Army for 27 years from 1759 to 1786.  He joined the service in 1759 as a "practitioner engineer and ensign" in the Royal Engineers.  After peace was declared between Britain and America in 1783, he left the army, married and settled as a "country gentleman" as an estate called "Lawers" in Perthshire, where he died in 1813.  

In 1776, at the time of the Battle of Pelham, Robertson's rank was:  "engineer extraordinary and captain-lieutenant," a rank he achieved on February 2, 1775. 

The diary excerpt transcribed below from a portion of Robertson's diary begins on October 12, 1776 as the British and German troops leave New York for a landing on Throggs Neck adjacent to Pell's Point (today's Rodman's Neck).  The account describes events on Throggs Neck as Americans held off the British and German troops, preventing them from crossing Westchester Creek and marching across the mainland to attack George Washington's Continental Army. The account includes the movement of the British and German troops via barges from Throggs Neck to Pell's Point on October 18.  There follows a fascinating and detailed account of the events during the Battle of Pelham including estimates of British casualties, movements of various units and descriptions of what Robertson saw during the Battle.  The excerpt ends with accounts of the three days following the battle as the British and German troops camped along today's Colonial Avenue between the Hutchinson River and the New Rochelle border.

"1776 . . . [October] 12th This morning before day break our Troops from New York Island embark'd on board flat Boats and other Craft in the East River opposite the South End of Blackwell's Island and lay at an Anchor till daybreak went.  We went with a very strong tide and thick fog thro'' Hell gates towards the Sound (An Artillery Boat with Guns and men overset some D. [distance?], a very horrid place to pass)  we continued to row Eastward and Landed on Frog's Neck in West Chester about 10 o'clock without any Opposition (One Frigate covered the Landing).  We march'd immediately forward for about 3 miles untill we came to a small Bridge and Mill dam over West Chester Creek where a small party of Rebels appeared to oppose us and we halted.  The 2d Embarkation from Long Island landed the Guns were taken forward to the Bridge, 16 pieces, but we were ordered to encamp.  The Rebels came in greater Numbers opposite to us.  All our Force consisted of 11,000 Men.  Popping Shots across the Water.

13th  perceived two Breast Works thrown up by the Rebels across the Road leading to the Bridge with a piece of Cannon on the left of the 2d line.

14th  They continued to Extend these Works, also began a new line about 1 mile to their left opposite to a place where the Creek and Marsh were, sometimes fordable.  They fired several Cannon Shot and wounded some of our men.  [Page 102 / Page 103] 

15th  100 men employ'd raising two mock Batterys of 4 and 3 guns opposite the Bridge and Mill dam, and a Line opposite theirs on our Right at Wilson's house of 140 Yds in length where I employ'd another 100 men.

16th  A Line was run between the two mock Batterys at the Bridge and I made two mock Batterys of 3 guns each on our line to the Right.

17th  The Grenadiers and Light Infantry and Reserve were under Arms, the two former march'd at 1 o'clock the latter at 3 in the morning but the Weather so bad they could not proceed, but ordered to be ready next day same hour.

18th  at Day Break the Grenadiers and Light Infantry moved to Stevens's point where they embark'd in the Flat Boats.  The rest of the Army and Cannon went to Hunt's Point.  About 8 o'clock the Flat Boats came up and Landed under Cover of the Guns on Rodman's Neck opposite hunt's Point without any Opposition.  I was ordered to join the Light Infantry and Grenadiers under Lieutenant General Clinton.  After moving on about a mile towards East Chester I was ordered by the General to the top of a Rising ground in front with the Advance Guard of the Light Infantry to reconnoitre, but we were immediately fired upon from behind Trees and heaps of Stones where the Rebels lay concealed, and from which they were very soon forced to retire.  On the Batns [Batteries or Battalions?] coming up we had 10 men Killed and Wounded.  Here we halted untill General Howe came up.  The Rebels appeared drawn up in our Front behind all the Fences and high stone walls.  The Grenadiers were ordered to march in a Column on our Right.  About 10 we advanced a little and halted till 12 when the 1st Battalion Light Infantry [Page 103 / Page 104] advanced on our left Flank.  Here they received a very smart fire from the Rebels from behind Trees and Walls, but they soon forced them to retire.  (We lost here about 12 Men Killed and Wounded and 3 Officers Wounded.)  Our Grenadiers kept advancing on our Right the Hessian Grenadiers in the Centre, and after some Cannonading the Rebels entirely quited the heights.  Few of them were left on the field, but a good many were taken off wounded.  We took our Position on the heights of Pelham's Manner our left to East Chester Creek and Right to New Rochelle, our Front extending about 2 miles facing North or NNE.

[October] 19th  Provisions ordered forwards, Tents Pitched.  Said [that] General Lee commanded the Rebel Army and that they were 20,000 Strong.

20th  remaind.

21st  Tents struck at 7 this morning.  At 12 the Army marchd by the Right towards New Rochelle and Advanced about two miles in the Country towards the White Plains.  Met with no Opposition.  Left a Brigade of British and one of Hessians on our old Ground to keep up the Communications.  This day the two Brigades left on Frogs Neck came over, all but one Regiment.  This Night Rogers' Rangers on our Right at Mamaroneck had a little skirmish with some of the Rebels."

Source:  Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution:  Archibald Robertson His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780, pp. 102-04 (Reprint Edition 1971 by The New York Public Library and Arno Press Inc.).

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I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776.  See, for example, the following 34 articles:  


Bell, Blake A., The Battle of Pelham:  October 18, 1776, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 41, Oct. 15, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.  

Bell, Blake, History of the Village of Pelham:  Revolutionary War, HistoricPelham.com Archive (visited May 9, 2014).  


Mon., Feb. 28, 2005:  Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road Does Not Mark the Site of the Battle of Pelham.  

Mon., Apr. 18, 2005:  Restored Battle of Pelham Memorial Plaque Is Unveiled at Glover Field.  

Fri., May 27, 2005:  1776, A New Book By Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, Touches on the Battle of Pelham.  

Thu., Jul. 14, 2005:  Pelham's 1926 Pageant Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pelham.  

Wed., Oct. 26, 2005:  Remnants of the Battlefield on Which the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  
Fri., May 19, 2006:  Possible Remains of a Soldier Killed in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Found in 1921.  

Fri., Aug. 11, 2006:  Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910.  

Thu., Sep. 21, 2006:  A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903.  

Mon., Oct. 30, 2006:  Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Nov. 1, 2006:  Two British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Tue., Jan. 16, 2007:  Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Feb. 09, 2007:  Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Mon., Feb. 12, 2007:  Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition:  "Overlooked Hero:  John Glover and the American Revolution."  

Thu., Jan. 18, 2007:  Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jul. 16, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How.  

Tue., Jul. 17, 2007:  Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Writings of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Aide-de-Camp to British General Clinton.  

Wed., Jul. 18, 2007:  Another British Military Unit History that Notes Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Tue., Aug. 7, 2007:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Contained in the McDonald Papers Published in 1926.  

Wed., Aug. 8, 2007:  A Description of an Eyewitness Account of the Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.  

Thu., Sep. 6, 2007:  Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.  

Mon., Oct. 8, 2007:  American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October 1776.  

Fri., Oct. 12, 2007:  Images of The Lord Howe Chestnut that Once Stood in the Manor of Pelham.  

Fri., Oct. 27, 2006:  Orders Issued by British Major General The Honourable William Howe While Encamped in Pelham After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009:  Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18 1776.  

Wed., Feb. 17, 2010:  British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.  

Fri., Apr. 23, 2010:  Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham.  


Thu., Feb. 06, 2014:  A Description of the Revolutionary War Battle of Pelham Published in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Mon., May 19, 2014:  Biography of British Officer Who Fought in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Wed., Jun. 04, 2014:  An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Presented and Published in 1894.  

Fri., Jun. 27, 2014:  Newly-Published Account Concludes Colonel William Shepard Was Wounded During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Mon., Jun. 30, 2014:  A British Lieutenant in the Twelfth Foot Who Fought at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Fri., Sep. 19, 2014:  Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 17, 2014:  References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Genealogical Information Regarding Samuel Rodman of Rodman's Neck in the Town of Pelham


Samuel Rodman was an illustrious eighteenth century settler in the Town of Pelham who owned much of the mainland adjacent to City Island.  The neck on which he lived is known today as Rodman's Neck.  It has been known by many names including Ann Hoeck's Neck (many spellings), Pell's Point, Rodman's Neck, and other names.  The area was part of the Manor of Pelham from 1654 until 1788.  In 1788, New York State established the Town of Pelham and included Rodman's Neck within the Town.  Rodman's Neck remained part of the Town of Pelham until the area was annexed by New York City in the mid-1890's.  

I have written about Samuel Rodman, members of the Rodman Family, and Rodman's Neck on numerous occasions.  At the end of today's Historic Pelham Blog posting I have included a list of links to many such articles.  (I have excluded many, many others that simply reference Rodman's Neck -- i.e., Pell's Point -- as the landing point of the British and German troops before the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.)

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of genealogical information about Samuel Rodman and his family.  As always, the transcription is followed by a citation to its source.  In this instances, which is likely to be important for Rodman family genealogists to know, I have omitted all footnotes, so interested parties should click on the link to the original source and explore further.  

"80.  SAMUEL RODMAN (Joseph, John, John), b. Feb. 6, 1715; d. 1780; m. Oct. 13, 1737, Mary Hicks, dau. of William Hicks.  She died Dec. 20, 1751.  He m. 2d, Mary, dau. of Caleb Pell.  He lived at Pelham, Westchester county, N. Y.

By his first wife he had seven children.

192.  SARAH RODMAN, b. Feb. 20, 1739; m. ------ Bleeker.
193.  JOSEPH RODMAN, b. April 29, 1740; m. Jan. 27, 1769, Alida Guion.
194.  WILLIAM RODMAN, b. Sept. 15, 1742; m. Eleanor Myers.
195.  SAMUEL RODMAN, b. Nov. 28, 1744; m. Anne Hicks.
196.  MARY RODMAN, b. Oct. 28, 1746; m. John Bertine.
197.  CHARLES RODMAN, b. Nov. 4, 1748; d. Sept. 18, 1751.
198.  ELIZABETH RODMAN, m. Philip Riche."

Source:   Jones, Charles Henry, Genealogy of the Rodman Family 1620 to 1886, p. 32 (Philadelphia, PA:  Allen, Lane & Scott, 1886).



Detail of Map Prepared in 1853 Showing Rodman's Neck (Designated
as "Pelham Neck") in Center.  Source: Dripps, Matthew &
Conner, R.F.O., Southern Part of West-Chester County N. Y. (1853)
(Museum of the City of New York, No. 29.100.2628).

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For a list of prior postings about Samuel Rodman, members of the Rodman Family, and Rodman's Neck, see:

Tue., Oct. 07, 2014:  Legislative History of the 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Fri., Oct. 03, 2014:  1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Fri., Sep. 19, 2014:  Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 17, 2014:  References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.

Tue., Feb. 09, 2010:  1755 Census of Slaves Older than Fourteen in the "Mannour of Pelham"

Thu., Dec. 13, 2007:  Abstract of Will of William Rodman Dated Oct. 28, 1782.

Mon., Sep. 10, 2007:  Abstract of 1799 Will of Samuel Rodman, Jr. of Pelham.

Tue., Apr. 17, 2007:  Executor's Notice Regarding the Estate of Samuel Rodman, Published in 1784.

Fri., Mar. 23, 2007:  Abstract of Will of Samuel Rodman of the Manor of Pelham Prepared in 1779 and Proved May 8, 1780

Tue., Mar. 13, 2007:  Abstract of 1752 Will of Joseph Pell of the Manor of Pelham, Proved September 28, 1752.

Tue., Dec. 26, 2006: 1775 Statute Authorizing Samuel Rodman and Benjamin Palmer to Build City Island Drawbridge.  

Wed., Sep. 27, 2006:  Abstract of 1779 Will of Samuel Rodman of the Manor of Pelham in Westchester County.

Mon., Aug. 21, 2006:  Efforts to Sell Rodman's Neck in 1774 and 1775, Apparently Due to Financial Difficulties of Joseph Rodman, Jr.

Tue., Mar. 22, 2005:  The 1790 U.S. Census Information for the Township of Pelham.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Benjamin Palmer's 1789 Petition to President George Washington Seeking Redress for Damages Sustained During the American Revolution


The Manor of Pelham, including today's City Island, suffered grievously as part of the Neutral Ground during the American Revolution.  The Neutral Ground was an extensive area that included southern Westchester County.  It sat between the warring armies and was prowled by American Patriots and British Loyalists throughout the War. 

The plight of Benjamin Palmer of City Island perhaps best illustrates the sufferings of the local population during the American Revolution. Records indicate that on August 27, 1776, British troops raided City Island, killing some of Palmer's livestock and plundering Palmer's farm on the island.  Within months, Palmer bravely (though perhaps injudiciously) sent to the Commander-in-Chief of the invading British forces, General William Howe, a letter in which Palmer set forth “the just Case of the people of this Country had to oppose the King’s orders."

Palmer subsequently claimed that Howe vengefully retailiated for the cheekish letter.  Palmer and his entire family were taken prisoner by the British.  According to Palmer, after he and his family were captured and imprisoned, they were released, but were ordered to abandon their "plantation" on City Island and to move to New York, which they did.  After the War, Palmer submitted a petition addressed to George Washington in September, 1789.  Washingtonwas then serving the first months of his first term as first President of the United States.   Palmer claimed in the petition that he and his family had been unduly persecuted and imprisoned by the British at the outset of the War in retaliation for the letter that he wrote to Howe.  One author has described the events of that time as follows:

"On August 27, 1776, as British ground forces swarmed across Brooklyn, three Royal Navy vessels with one hundred armed men raided City Island.  The British troops killed Palmer's livestock and 'plundered many things, all of which they carried off and never paid for,' Palmer later wrote.  Two months later, Palmer sent a letter to British general William Howe, justifying the Revolution.  This letter, Palmer would later claim, prompted Howe to seek revenge:  In 1779, the British warship Scorpion captured Palmer, taking him and his family to New York against their will.  Although he found a neighbor to farm his land, Palmer never again lived on City Island."

Source:  Seitz, Sharon & Miller, Stuart, The Other Islands of New York City:  A History and Guide, p. 108 (3rd Edition, Woodstock, VT:  The Countryman Press, 2011).

Palmer's petition to President Washington seeking redress for the injuries he suffered at the hands of the British was part of a larger effort by Palmer during which he also later wrote to New York Governor John Jay seeking reimbursement for his losses during the War.  After losing his land in a "war-related lawsuit," Palmer was left destitute.  Aaron Burr, who had many family and real estate connections to the Manor of Pelham, eventually "raised enough money to support Palmer through his old age."  See id.

Benjamin Palmer’s brief petition to President Washington seeking unspecified redress for the damages he suffered at the hands of the British during the American Revolution is worthy of being reproduced here in its entirety because it sheds important light on the sufferings of local residents during the War:

“[29 September 1789] 

The Petition of Benjamin Palmer Most humbly Sheweth. 

That your Petitioner lived on Minefords Island commonly called City Island in the State of new York in the beginning of the War between Great Brotain and those States and your Petitioner with all his Family were taken Prisoners by the British who used us very Ill. And then ordered us off my plantation which I then had on said Island down to New York where I have continued with my Family ever since – The case of their using me so ill was on Account of sending a Letter to General How the Commander of the British Army in Vindication of and setting forth the just Case of the people of this Country had to oppose the King’s orders – A copy of said Letter I wish to lay before your Excellency with the proceedings our people made to take away my Lands from me after they had got quiet possession of those States with several other copies of Letters of consequence, which your Petitioner has a great desire that your Excellency will take some suitable time to peruse them. And your Petitioner as in duty Bound will ever pray &c. 

Benjn Palmer” 

Source:  Letter from Benjamin Palmer to George Washington, Sep. 29, 1789 in Benjamin Palmer Papers, 1669-1817, New-York Historical Society Library, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024.  Neither the original letter to British Commander-In-Chief Howe from Palmer, nor the copy of the letter submitted by Palmer to President Washington in 1789 has ever been located.  The text of Palmer's petition to President Washington is also available online.  See National Archives and Records Administration and University of Virginia Press, Founders Online:  To George Washington From Benjamin Palmer, 29 September 1789 (visited Oct. 12, 2014).





Map of Town of Pelham with Inset of City Island, 1868.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity,
p. 35 (NY, NY: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868).

*          *           *           *          *


Below are examples of many prior postings that touch on Benjamin Palmer, Members of the Palmer Family and the early history of City Island.

Tue., Oct. 07, 2014:  Legislative History of the 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Fri., Oct. 03, 2014:  1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.

Tue., Dec. 01, 2009:  Brief History of City Island Published in 1901.

Tue., Dec. 26, 2006:  1775 Statute Authorizing Samuel Rodman and Benjamin Palmer to Build City Island Drawbridge.  









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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"There Is Endless Bitterness of Heart" -- Pelham Manor Women Pull a Fast One in 1882


One of the most infamous elections in the history of the Town of Pelham was the School Board election held during the School District's annual meeting on Tuesday, October 10, 1882.  For years such meetings had been quiet and staid affairs where, typically, the men of Pelhamville and Pelham Manor met to conduct school district business and to conduct the elections to fill vacant school board Trustee seats.  

Things were different in 1882.  Pelham Manor and Pelhamville were jockeying for control of the School Board in an effort to ensure funding and fair treatment for their respective students and school houses.  Pelham Manor had a "fine brick" school house, while Pelhamville had a tiny, crowded wooden school house.  Pelham Manor believed, rightly or wrongly, that its residents were far more willing to pay the taxes necessary to ensure schools and instructors of the highest quality.  Pelham Manor felt Pelhamville was unwilling to support the expenditure of the necessary sums.  Pelhamville, on the other hand, felt that school expenditures previously had been used unfairly to benefit the school in Pelham Manor at the expense of the school in Pelhamville.  Both settlements wanted control of the school board.  At the time, Pelham Manor was perceived as controlling the board because Pelham Manor resident George H. Reynolds was president of the school board.  In 1882, he was up for re-election.

Although accounts differ (and are somewhat vague in critically-important respects), it appears that there was one board vacancy to be filled (not two as one account claimed).  Pelham Manor voters supported Pelham Manor resident George H. Reynolds who was running for re-election to the board.  Pelhamville voters supported Pelhamville resident W. Scott Bertine who was seeking to unseat Reynolds.  

As the appointed time approached, men filed into the tiny little school house in Pelhamville as they had for numerous years.  In prior years, some women attended and voted.  However, their numbers were small -- only nine women had voted in the school board election the year before.  The year 1882 was different, however.  Women -- LOTS of Women -- filed in with the men.  Those women supported Pelham Manor resident George H. Reynolds.  Reynolds was not only an incumbent school board member, but also the President of the Board.  Pelham Manor women were not going to permit Pelhamville to reduce Pelham Manor's influence over the local school board.  

Pelhamville voters were furious.  Their leaders had canvassed carefully and previously believed that the ticket led by Bertine would win by a majority of about seventeen votes.  Pelhamville had hoped to use the ballot box to overthrow the President of the school board from Pelham Manor.  Pelham Manor women, however, would have none of it.  

As the voting began, about thirty women were present along with about one hundred men.  The women voted in a block for the re-election of Pelham Manor resident George H. Reynolds.  When the ballots were counted, Pelham Manor resident George H. Reynolds was re-elected by a vote of 73 to 52.

Pelhamville residents were incensed.  They cried "fraud!"  Some alleged that various of the women who voted were not actual residents of Pelham Manor but were, instead, either long term visitors or family servants.  One Pelhamville resident claimed that he saw a young girl vote three times.  One newspaper account claimed that there were rumors that a "subscription" was being used to hire a lawyer to contest the election and suggested that the school board might refuse to re-seat George H. Reynolds.

The disputed election received attention far and wide.  Newspapers as far away as Tennessee reported on the "voting women" who had carried the day for Pelham Manor in its epic battle for control of the school board with Pelhamville.  Most reports focused on the bitterness between the Pelham Manor and Pelhamville.  As one report noted, after the election "there is endless bitterness of heart."

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes yet another account of the 1882 Pelham school board election, albeit a brief one, published in the November 4, 1882 issue of the Memphis Daily Appeal published in Memphis, Tennessee.  The text of the account is followed by a citation to its source.

"Voting women have already made a political row -- of limited dimensions though it be.  Aristocratic Pelham manor [sic] and democratic Pelhamville, near New York City, together form a school district; the two sections had each a candidate for school director; the manor carried the day by having a lot of women vote; now the ville charges that some of those women were non-residents and not entitled to the ballot in that bailiwick, and there is endless bitterness of heart."

Source:  [Untitled] Voting Women, Memphis Daily Appeal [TN], Nov. 4, 1882, Vol. XLII, No. 304, p. 2, col. 7.  

I have written before of the infamous 1882 Pelham school board election.  See:  Tue., Feb. 26, 2008:  Disputed Pelham School Board Election of 1882 Led to Charges of Fraud.






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