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, September 22, 2014

New York City Sport Fishermen Travel the Horse Railroad in 1886 to Fish in Pelham


There is a quaint account of New York City sporting fishermen traveling the Branch Line and riding the "horse railroad" from Bartow Station in the Town of Pelham to City Island to fish in 1889.  City Island, Pelham Bay, Eastchester Bay and surrounding waters were fabulous fishing waters at the time.  Sporting fishermen from New York City flocked to the area to fish from Pelham Bridge, from City Island Bridge, from the mainland and from boats that they rented to prowl the waters of the area.  


In the early spring of 1889, the blackfish had begun biting at Pelham Bay.  Reports indicate that "eager fishermen" flocked to the area and that Pelham Bay's docks and boats were "crowded with eager fishermen."  

Many of those fishermen arrived by the Branch Line at Bartow Station where they were met by the horse-drawn railroad cars of the tiny little horse railroad that met all the trains and ran from Bartow Station to City Island.  On Sunday mornings when the fish were biting, a special "fishermen's train" left the Harlem River station in Mott Haven at 7:00 a.m., "packed to the doors" with New York City anglers trying to get to City Island.  When the fishermen's train stopped at Bartow Station, the anglers climbed over each other and raced to climb aboard the tiny horse railroad cars for the remainder of the trip.  Slow-footed anglers were left as pedestrians to walk from the station to City Island.  Those who were fleeter of foot stuffed the horse railroad cars with fishermen seated and standing inside, holding on to the outsides of the cars and clambering even on the tops of the cars.  Quite tellingly, often those who walked got quite a head start on those who rode the horse-drawn cars because the horses needed a "good deal of persuasion" to pull their heavy loads up a hill along the way.

A lovely account of one such day appeared in the May 20, 1889 issue of The New York Herald.  The account sheds interesting light on what it was like to ride inside the horse railroad cars on one such occasion.  The account is quoted in its entirety below, followed by a citation to its source.



Fisherman Carrying Pole and Fish Basket on Pelham Bridge in 1884.
Source:  Detail from Engraving - "PELHAM PARK, NEW YORK. --
DRAWN BY CHARLES GRAHAM.", Harper's Weekly, Vol. XXVIII,
No. 1442, 1884, pp. 514 & 521.  The Iron Arches of the Bridge Are
Visible in the Distance on the Right Edge of the Image.

"SOME LUCK AT BLACKFISH
-----
PELHAM BAY'S DOCKS AND BOATS CROWDED WITH EAGER FISHERMEN.

The special fishermen's train on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad that leaves Harlem River station up in Mott Haven every Sunday morning at seven o'clock was packed to the doors of its six passenger coaches  with city anglers yesterday.

A rumor had floated around the fishermen's resorts in town for nearly a week that the blackfish had begun biting at Pelham Bay, and thither the anglers were bound.  Every man of them carried a jointed rod and fish basket, and two young men in a party from the Eighth ward had banjos, on which they picked an accompaniment to 'Where Did You Get That Hat?' all the way to Bartow station.  At Bartow the entire rolling stock of the Bartow and City Island Railway -- five sea-green bobtail horse cars -- awaited the visitors.  Those of the fishermen who were fleetest of foot got seats and the rest stood inside, stood outside, clambered upon the roofs of the cars or walked.  The pedestrians got quite a start of the others, as it took a good deal of persuasion to urge the motive power of the rural railway's rolling stock up the little hill near the station.

TO THE BOATS.

At Secor's boathouse, half way to City Island, a few of the fishermen got boats and many dropped off at Phil Flynn's or Stringham's City Island Bridge, or at Pell & May's, Paul Sell's or Walther's.  The rest went on to the point of City Island which juts out into Long Island Sound and fished off the docks.

Along about nine o'clock the steamer Pennsylvania, from pier 27 East River, foot of Dover street, came up with another contingent of city fishermen, and by ten o'clock there was not a rowboat to be hired, so the anglers who arrived on the noon train from Harlem River station fished off the bridge.  

The lucky ones were those who pulled away out to the Chimney Sweep's rock, where the blackfish were caught almost as fast as hooks could be baited.  Another good place was the Hog's Back.  Rat Island and Hart's Island furnished fair sport, and some large ones were taken at the Twin Islands, the Four Rocks and Hight's Point.  The anglers who went to the grounds off Rodman's Point caught nothing but eels and frostfish [i.e., generally a deepwater fish that is long, slender and silver and resembles a longer and skinnier barracuda], and there were a few striped bass of small size taken in Eastchester Creek, near Pelham Bridge.  

Tom's Reef Rock, out pretty well into the Sound is generally a good spot, but yesterday the wind blew from the northeast and the old fishermen blamed the wind for their lack of luck at this place.  There was a strong set to the flood tide when the fishermen hoisted anchor and pulled for the boathouses, and there were many blistered palms and lame backs as well as bronzed faces among the tired men who again packed the little sea-green cars for Bartow.

PICTURESQUE DRIVERS.

It was notice that the methods of the car drivers on this little country railway differ materially from those of their city bretheren.  There was a bell indicator in each car for ringing up fares, but after the first dozen were rung up the driver got tired of pulling the strap.  The driver on my car said he 'couldn't bother with it.'  He also smoked a very large and very cheap cigar as he handled the ribbons and manipulated the brake, and from time to time he stopped the sea-green chariot to exchange gibes with with some of his acquaintances who happened to be passing.  Once he entertained the passengers in the inside, by a Greco-Roman wrestling match with a friend who boarded the front platform, while the horse ambled gently along with the reins tied around the brake handle.

On the 5:37 train from Bartow in the afternoon, which brought home most of the fishermen, baskets were opened and catches were compared.  There were more eels than any other kind of fish in the baskets, and they were little fellows, averaging less than half a pound each in weight.  After the eels the frostfish and bergalls [i.e., a cunner, conner or chogset, a small fish common along the northeast coast that reaches about 2 pounds in size] were most numerous (these were small, too), and then came the blackfish, most of them wighing over a pound and some running as high as two pounds or over.  The striped bass were and not one of them weighted much over a pound.  The flounders, which were so plenty a week or two ago in these waters, have entirely disappeared.

White and red sand worms and little, hard 'rock' clams were the baits used.  The largest catch of blackfish (fifteen) was made by a man who brought up from the city his own bait.  He wouldn't tell what it was, but the knowing ones said the secretive gentleman fished with fiddler crabs."

Source:  SOME LUCK AT BLACKFISH, N.Y. Herald, May 20, 1889, 2d Edition, p. 8, col. 6.



Detail of 1893 Map Showing Fishing Waters Near City Island.
Source: "Towns of Westchester and Pelham, (with) Villages of
Westchester and Unionport, (with) Village of Pelhamville" in Atlas
of Westchester County, New York. Prepared Under the Direction
of Joseph R. Bien, E.M., Civil and Topographical Engineer from
Original Surveys and Official Records, p. 3 (NY, NY: Julius Bien
& Company, 1893).


Pelham Bay and City Island Horse Railroad Car, Circa 1910.
Source:  Image Captured from eBay Auction.


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham


Early on the morning of October 18, 1776, Col. John Glover stood on a hill overlooking the Hutchinson River near today's Memorial Field in Mount Vernon, New York.  He looked across the rolling hills and what he saw caused a chill up his spine.  Thousands of British and German troops were landing on the western shore of Pell's Point (today's Rodman's Neck) from ships anchored in Eastchester Bay 

The story of Col. John Glover and the few hundred men that he led that day in a successful effort to slow the advance of the British and German troops in their effort to cut off the withdrawal of George Washington's army toward White Plains is well known.  Surprisingly little, however, is known about the details of the battle with only a couple of brief eyewitness accounts known to exist. 

As luck would have it, we now know a little about the American skirmishers who first met the British and German troops as they landed on Pell's Point.  A local resident named Abel Deveau was among the group of skirmishers located on Pell's Point charged with the task of slowing the British advance along Rodman's Neck and alerting the distant American troops that a battle likely was imminent.



Detail from Map by Charles Blaskowitz Depicting
the Landing Area of the British and German Troops
Before the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Source:  Blaskowitz, Charles, A Survey of Frog's Neck
and the Rout[e] of the British Army to the 24th of October
1776, Under the Command of His Excellency the Honorable
William Howe, General and Commander in Chief of His
Majesty's Forces, Manuscript (1776) (Library of Congress
Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C.; Library
of Congress Catalog No. gm71000648; Library of Congress
Digital ID g3802t ar115200 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3802t.ar115200

Typically, skirmishers are infantry or cavalry placed ahead of, or alongside, a larger body of friendly troops. They are usually placed in a skirmish line to harass and slow the advance of the enemy as the main body of friendly troops prepares to meet the enemy.  Often skirmishers will harass the enemy troops as they fall back to their own main line of troops to join the fight.

In the nineteenth century, a local resident named Abel Deveau often related stories of how he and others served as skirmishers who met the mass of 4,000 British and German troops as they landed on today's Rodman's Neck in advance of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  Robert Bolton included a brief reference to Deveau's account of his exploits in his two volume revised history of Westchester County published in 1881, shortly after Bolton's death.  The brief reference is quoted immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

“Deveau town is a small scattered hamlet in this vicinity, so named after Abel Deveau, an old whig of the Revolution, and proprietor of a small estate. This individual was proud of relating how he and others were deployed as skirmishes [sic] to way-lay the British near the causeway, after their landing on Pelham Neck, in 1776, firing behind the rock near Rapelye’s and retiring, as they advanced, towards Eastchester. The late Abel Deveau, of Pelham, was his son; and one of his grandsons is the present Richard Deveau, of New Rochelle.” 

Source: Bolton, Robert, History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, From Its First Settlement to the Present Time, Carefully Revised by Its Author, Vol. II, p. 100 (NY, NY: Chas. F. Roper, 1881) (Edited by Cornelius Winter Bolton).

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

A History of the Hutchinson School and its Predecessors in Today's Village of Pelham Published in 1926


Understanding the history of the Hutchinson School and its predecessors in the Village of Pelham can be maddeningly difficult particularly when dealing with old images of the various school buildings that have stood on the site of today's Hutchinson School.  Thankfully, in 1926 a former member of the Board of Education (and future Town Historian), William R. Montgomery, published a detailed history of the original one-room schoolhouse that stood on the site and each successive structure that stood there, together with images.  Montgomery's work has made it immensely easier for historians today to follow the evolution of the various school buildings that have been built on the site.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of Montgomery's article and includes a number of the images used in his article.  The text is followed by a citation to its source.

"The Old Schoolhouse On The Hill
Pelhamville
By Wm. R. Montgomery formerly a member of the Board of Education
Copyright

It might be of interest to state at the beginning of this article that a large part of North Pelham was originally owned by Colonel David I. Pell [sic, David J. Pell], who lived in the Old Stone House near Wolf's Lane, Pelham Manor.  The land adjacent to Hutchinson Creek was used as a stock farm and a race track.  On February 1, 1833, we find that the estate of Colonel David I. Pell [sic] sold part of this land to Anthony Wolf.  Mr. Wolf built a homestead where Fifth avenue and Third street intersect, and conducted a farm for many years until he sold it to the 'PELHAMVILLE VILLAGE ASSOCIATION' in 1851.  From that time a good part of what is now known as North Pelham was called Pelhamville.  Pelhamwood and Chester Park were not developed up to this time.  Pelhamville was owned by Col. Richard Lathers of New Rochelle, being part of the estate well known at that time as Winyah Park.

In 1896, a mass meeting was held in the Town Hall, North Pelham.  Mr. John H. Young acting as chairman and Mr. Isaac C. Hill as secretary, at which, after considerable discussion the proposition to incorporate the village was carried by a vote of 65 to 2 and the name PELHAMVILLE was changed to NORTH PELHAM.  Jacob Heisser was elected its first president.

In mapping out the original village of Pelhamville, a park was laid out, in size about 300 x 500 feet and named 'Pelham Square.'  This was located between Fourth and Fifth streets and Second and Third avenues.  For some years the children of this fast growing village had to go nearly two miles to the school on Split Rock Road in Pelham Manor, it being the only school house at that time in Union Free School District No. 1, the District No. 2 being City Island.

The inhabitants justly complained about the remoteness of the school and finally persuaded the trustees of the Pelhamville Village Association to deed part of the square previously mentioned to School District No. 1.  On November 19, 1860, a deed was duly executed for 250 x 150 feet of the 'Pelham Square' by the Hon. Lewis C. Platt of White Plains, and Mr. Henry Marsden of Brooklyn, as trustees, representing the Pelhamville Village Association to the Board of Education of Union Free School District No. 1 of the Town of Pelham, represented by the following trustees:

Rev. Wm. S. Coffey, Mr. Wm. S. McClellan, Mr. John M. Lockwood, Mr. James Hinman, Mr. Edward A. Campbell, Mr. J. W. Tavina.

We might add here the fact that in March, 1912, the title to this school site was pronounced perfect and was insured by the Lawyers Title Co., 160 Broadway, New York City.  This was necessary as the Board of Education intended issuing bonds to the extent of $25,000 covering the property.

In 1861 a school house was erected as pictured in Cut No 1.  This building was a typical school building of its period, one large room, poorly lighted and badly ventilated.  It was heated by a large round stove in the center, which nearly roasted those unfortunate enough to be near it, while giving no heat to those at a distance.




"PELHAM'S FIRST SCHOOLHOUSE"
Note:  This Is a Color Image Detail of the Painting of the
Pelhamville School House by Edward Penfield that
Appears as a Black and White Image at this Point
in Montgomery's Article.

We are greatly indebted to the late Mr. Edward Penfield, who after many months of research succeeded in drawing a picture of the old school house on the hill, as it probably looked at that time.  Cut No. 1 shows the porch which was added in 1873 and the room to the right added in 1875 for the primary department.

In 1874 a well was sunk at the foot of the stone steps leading up the hill to the school.  Previous to this time two boys were usually sent for a pail of water.  They would sometimes take this opportunity to waste a couple of hours of precious time.  Therefore the Board of Education decided to spend a few dollars of the taxpayers' money.  Even the emergency of the situation did not appeal to many of the taxpayers.  The estimate of the original cost of this school can be judged from the insurance policy taken out in 1867 for $1,200.

After the Civil War the Board of Education seems to have been a close family corporation judging from the names of the trustees:  

Mr. Peter Roosevelt, Mr. James W. Roosevelt, Mr. Fred Case, Sr., Mr. John Case, Mr. David Lyon, Sr., Mr. Joseph Lyon, Mr. Charles H. Roosevelt, Counselor; Mr. Elbert I. Roosevelt, Treasurer.

Many of the old records are missing and it is not possible to give the names of all the early teachers who taught in the old school house.  We are indebted to the late Mr. Wm. Allen Smith, President of the Board in 1888, and to Mr. Isaac C. Hill, for such as we have now.

The first teacher was Miss McClellan, 1861-1863; others were Mr. Watson E. Knox, Mr. Amos Towle, Mr. Gore, Mr. Orrin Baxxter, 1866; Mr. edward Gallagher, 1867-1869; Mr. Bartlett; Mr. Jared Barhete, 1869-1870.

Mr. Francis A. Lafferty was appointed in 1870 at a salary of $1,000 a year, and Mrs. Agnes Lafferty, Nov. 17, 1871, as an assistant at a salary of $200 a year.  The first night school was held for four weeks, from Nov. 21, 1870, also for the month of January, 1871.  Mr. Lafferty was appointed teacher at one dollar a night.  This night school was a success and the Board of Education on Nov. 6, 1871, directed Mr. Lafferty to open it again for a period of 100 nights, for which he would be paid $100 in addition to his salary.  The Board also ordered that a fee of two dollars be paid in advance for all persons of 21 years and over who attended the school.  Mr. Lafferty retired in 1872 and the following teachers came after him:  Mr. Charles J. Carlisle, 1872; Mr. D. H. Campbell, 1873; Mr. L. Reynolds, 1873; Mr. Thomas C. Clark, 1873.

On January 9, 1874, Mr. Clark made the first report that we have been able to locate.  'The number of pupils in Pelhamville school registered was 48 with an average attendance of 84 per cent.  Miss S. H. Sparkks was appointed assistant teacher.  Mr. Clark resigned Deember 31, 1877.  We come now to the period of our most successful teacher, Mr. Isaac C. Hill, who was transferred from the school in Pelham Manor on the Split Rock Road and assumed charge on January 7, 1878.  Mr. Hill was succeeded in the Pelham Manor School by our esteemed citizen, Mr. John M. Shinn.  The Pelhamville School had evidently declined in so far as the number of pupils were concerned, as we find in Mr. Hill's first report April, 1878, the average attendance was 39.  The December record, however, showed an improvement, the average being 53.  Miss Kate Donlon was appointed assistant teacher in 1878.  At the annual meeting which was held October 8, 1878, a large bell was voted for and the same was bought from Fairbanks & Co., for $71.  It is interesting to note here that the total budget in 1884 for the three schools, one at Pelhamville, one at Pelham Manor and one at Bartow in the old Town Hall, was $4,135.  [NOTE:  This is the first reasonably reliable secondary source reference I have seen confirming that the old Town Hall that once stood on today's Shore Road was used as a school house to serve the children of the tiny settlement of Bartow-on-the-Sound, at least during the year 1884.]  

The question of the education of the youth has been uppermost in the minds of the people since the original settlement of Pelham.  The span of 66 years, since the first house of Pelhamville was erected, has been a complete revolution in the education of the children; from the old Red School House of a single room and one teacher to the massive structure of Hutchinson School, containing 20 rooms or more, with its large corps of teachers.

The Old Red School House had some advantages as well as many handicaps.  One outstanding advantage was the fact that the school master had complete supervision over the child from the lowest class until he graduated.  He knew the pupil and he knew his weak points as well as his strong ones, which is not possible under the larger system.  It was under the above conditions that Mr. Hill made such a successful teacher, beloved by all his pupils.  Mr. Hill had full supervision over the course of studies until about 1905, when the State adopted a syllabus for all schools.

The school became so crowded, however, that even the window sills had to be used to seat the pupils.  It was not until Dec. 20, 1887, that the Board of Education decided that a new building was needed.  

A special meeting of the voters of the District was held in the Pelham Manor School on May 8, 1888.  Rev. C. Winter Bolton was elected chairman, and Mr. Henry E. Dey as clerk of the meeting.  

The district voted $6,000 for the erection of a new school building at Pelhamville.  On May 15, 1888, a building committee was appointed consisting of Mr. Robert C. Black, Mr. E. H. Gurney, and Mr. Henry N. Babcock.  The architect selected was Mr. F. C. Merry.  

The new school (see Cut. No. 2) was completed at a cost of about $6,500, the size of the building being 67.4 x 64 x 58.  It was finally dedicated with much ceremony.  The terra cotta tablet which was placed on the building to the right of the entrance, is now set in the south wall of the assembly room of the present Hutchinson building.  This tablet bears the following inscription:

Union Free School District No. 1
Town of Pelham, Erected 1888.
Trustees:
Wm. Allen Smith
E. H. Gurney
Frank Beattie
Robert C. Black
Wm. Barry
H. N. Babcock 
Architect, F. C. Merry
Masons, John New & Son
Carpenter, James Thompson



"HUTCHINSON SCHOOL, No. 2, 1889-1900"
Source:  Montgomery, William R., The Old Schoolhouse On
The Hill - Pelhamville, The Pelham Sun (Christmas Supplement),
Dec. 17, 1926, p. 15, cols. 1-7.

We reproduce here for future reference the program of this eventful occasion:

(1) Prayer, Rev. C. Winter Bolton.
(2) Hymn, 'Father in Heaven,' by the children of the district.
(3) Address, Wm. Allen Smith, president of the Board of Education.
(4) Chorus, 'The Mellow Horn,' by the pupils.
(5) Class Exercises, conducted by Principal I. C. Hill and Miss Julia L. Wilson, assistant teacher.
  (a) Algebra, Class A.
  (b) Grammar Analysis, Class B.  Chorus, 'Aim High,' by the pupils; Miss Rachael Heisser at the organ.
  (c) Reading, Primary Class C.
  (d) Arithmetic Fractions, Class B.
(6) Chorus, 'Sweet and Low,' by the pupils.  Miss Ida E. Hill at the organ.
(7) Address, Jared Sandford, School Commissioner.
(8) Chorus, 'Chiming Bells,' by the pupils.
(9) Address, Rev. D. N. Freeland.
(10) Benediction, Rev. Charles Higbie [sic].

President Smith in his address, spoke of how much the district needed the new building and brought out many interesting facts regarding the history of the school in the village of Pelhamville.

School Commissioner Jared Sandford was then introduced by President Smith.  It might be interesting to state here that this ceremony was the only dedication of a school building which Commissioner Sandford had the pleasure of attending in the seven years he was commissioner.  It is quite evident that building school houses was not a popular occupation in those days.  Mr. Sanford delivered a very interesting address on this occasion.  We quote from the Mount Vernon Chronicle, January 11, 1889, the following, relative to the town of Pelham:

'The material wealth and prosperity of the district warranted the inhabitants in indulging themselves with pleasant and commodious school surroundings.  Good school buildings, good teachers, and the best teaching add greatly to the prosperity, moral worth and greatness of communities, and contribute to the true glory of the State.'

Commissioner Sandford completing his address paid a glowing tribute to Principal I. C. Hill for his great work in building up a most efficient school.

After the exercises were completed a very welcome surprise was in store for the townspeople.  A reception committee consisting of Mrs. I. C. Hill, Mrs. E. H. Gurney, Mrs. J. Waugh, Mrs. Robert H. Scott, Mrs. R. C. Black, Mrs. Geo. Pearson, Mrs. Wm. Allen Smith, Mrs. A. Anderson, and Mrs. T. Scott were busy in the old school (Cut No. 1) which was only a few feet north of the new one, preparing a fine collation which was served for the benefit of the inner man.  This affair lasted until early in the morning, every one going home happy, and glad that he was a Pelhamite.

In September, 1889, there were 59 pupils enrolled with Mr. I. C. Hill as principal, and Miss Julia L. Willson, assistant teacher.

The new school house (Cut No. 2) was greatly admired, and many came from all parts of the State to see the arrangement of rooms.

Notwithstanding the appearance of great durability, many questioned the safety of the roof and the architect was finally ordered to add more uprights to support it.  The building had no lighting system and oil lamps were bought in 1891 at a cost of $12.  A new pump was installed in the building.  In 1891 the Board of Education insured this building for $5,000.  

Mr. and Mrs. I. C. Hill, in 1892, arranged an entertainment for the purpose of raising funds to buy a flag pole and flag.  The pole and flag were dedicated with patriotic ceremonies on July 4, 1892, and many of the leading citizens of the county were present.  This flag pole was placed directly in front of the entrance and was supposed to have been incentive for the Legislature of the State of New York passing a flag law:  Chapter 222 Laws of 1895.:  'Compelling school authorities to display the U.S. Flag on or near school hours on fair days and holidays, also specifying the standard sizes required as follows:  Garrison Flag, 36x20; Post Flag, 20x10; Storm Flag, 8x4 1/2.

The newly formed Fire Department of Pelhamville requested permission of the Board to use the school bell in case of fire, which was granted on March 7, 1893.

Still Pelhamville kept on growing and it was necessary in 1894 to make a new class room in the building and two more in 1897.  There were 147 pupils attending the Pelhamville school in 1899.

Nothwithstanding the continual increase of pupils and the lack of proper accommodations for them, their high scholarship was not in any way interfered with.  It is refreshing to read at times, what others outside of our own school system had to say especially one who was acknowledged as a leader among school men.  Mr. Joseph S. Wood, president of the Mount Vernon Board of Education, made a most extensive survey of the schools in the State, especially those of Mount Vernon.  He delivered a most interesting address on August 9, 1898, in which he said:  

'Recently four pupils have applied for admission to the High School (Mount Vernon) from the public school at North Pelham.  Every one of them passed the required examinations and was admitted.  They came from a school which has only four teachers and only 125 pupils on register.  They have been taught not only the studies taught in our Mount Vernon grammar schools, but algebra through quadratic equations and bookkeeping.  Their average age is thirteen years.  

'Why can't the pupils in our (Mount Vernon) schools be taught as much in the same time.  It would seem that the larger the school and greater the number of pupils, the longer it takes to complete the course of study.

'The average age of graduation from the North Pelham School is 13 years and from the Mount Vernon Schools 15 years.  This loss of two years in each child's life not only discourages the parents and the children, and prevents the latter from obtaining all the benefits our grammar schools and high schools afford, but it causes an immense loss of money as well as of time and energy.'

President Wood's address created quite a sensation in Mount Vernon at the time, as he was recognized as an authority on school matters.  Although no public report was given out concerning the High School entrance examinations in 198 [sic], rumors were freely circulated in Mount Vernon that North Pelham's four pupils were first, second, third and fourth out of a class of about 30.  This of course is only conjecture.  At that time Pelham, having no High School of its own, sent pupils to Mount Vernon and New Rochelle upon their graduation from its grammar schools and paid their tuition.  

The village of Pelhamville seemed to be determined to worry the Board of Education by outgrowing School No. 2, and it was necessary to call a special meeting on May 5, 1900, for the purpose of issuing four bonds of 41,000 each, to build an annex to the school.  We will not go into the details of this meeting, except to state that the proposition was lost by a vote of 31 to 4.

A resolution was passed at the meeting requesting the Board to prepare estimates and plans for an additional story with a new roof and submit the same at a special meeting to be held June 12, 1900.  

On June 12th the District meeting was duly held with Mr. H. G. K. Heath, president of the Board of Education in the chair, and Mr. Harry A. Anderson acting as clerk.

The Board of Education submitted a proposition to issue 10 bonds of $1,000 each for the purpose of adding a new story to the school from the plans made by Mr. A. G. C. Fletcher.  This proposition was likewise defeated and the Board of Education asked to call another meeting, for the purpose of voting $6,000 for the enlargement of the school.

In compliance, the Board called a special meeting on July 10, 1900, to be held in the North Pelham School.  Hon. Benjamin L. Fairchild was elected chairman, and Mr. S. Gregor, clerk; 75 votes were cast, 58 were in favor of the proposition and 17 opposed it.

It might be well to mention here that at the same time in 1900 the Board of Education was increased to 7 members, formerly being only 6; 3 from Pelham Manor and 3 from North Pelham, the new one representing the then growing village of Pelham (Heights).  Later at a special district meeting held in 1906 two additional trustees were added, so that the village of Pelham (Heights) would have the same representation as North Pelham and Pelham Manor.

No time was lost in building an addition to school (No. 2) and it was completed by September, 1900 (see Cut No. 3).  This building was insured for $12,000.



"HUTCHINSON SCHOOL, No. 3, 1900-1910"
Source:  Montgomery, William R., The Old Schoolhouse On
The Hill - Pelhamville, The Pelham Sun (Christmas Supplement),
Dec. 17, 1926, p. 15, cols. 1-7.

The following teachers were engaged for the school year of 1903, which will give an idea of the then prevailing salaries:

Mr. Isaac C. Hill. . . . . . . . . . $1,200
Miss Mina S. Ferman. . . . . .      700
Miss Flora Bass. . . . . . . . . .       600
Miss Etta M. Bornt. . . . . . . .       600
Miss Maria T. Raynes. . . . .        400

Again the question of additional room came up and in August, 1909, President R. A. Holmes Recommended an addition to the school (Cut No. 3) and the Board of Education voted to call a special meeting for May 13, 1910, for the purpose of voting a bond issue of $20,000.  Unfortunately there was an error in the publication of the legal notice.  

Another district meeting was called therefore, to be held June 10, 1910, for the purpose of voting the bond issue of $20,000.  The proposition was unanimously carried, the vote being 31 in favor.

The Building (Cut No. 3) was enlarged and opened in September, 1910, (see Cut No. 4), but was only used a short time, when for reasons unknown, it burned down on February 17, 1912.  In the meantime the pupils were taught in the Highbrook Avenue School, which then was unoccupied, also at the Town Hall in North Pelham.



"Hutchinson School, No. 4, 1910-1912"
Source:  Montgomery, William R., The Old Schoolhouse On
The Hill - Pelhamville, The Pelham Sun (Christmas Supplement),
Dec. 17, 1926, p. 15, cols. 1-7.

As every one was most anxious to see a new building erected quickly, the Board of Education submitted at the annual meeting, May, 1912, a proposition to issue bonds to the amount of $25,000 to build on the old foundations of the burned school.  This proposition was carried by a vote of 135 to 2.  But the old saying 'more haste less speed' 'was truly exemplified when Adams & Co., who purchased the bonds refused them on the ground that the advertisement appeared only 3 times, the law stipulating 4 public notices of bond issues.

This unfortunate error turned out, however, for the best, as the Board of Education, after further investigation, decided to increase the size of the proposed building.  At a special district meeting held September 20, 1912, the Board presented a resolution calling for an issue of bonds to the amount of $40,000, which was carried by a vote of 70 to 62.  Hemingway & Rohrs, local builders, were awarded the contract.

Mr. Isaac C. Hill reported that the school opened September, 1913, with 228 children,, including 22 for kindergarten.   

On September 9, 1913, the new school (see Cut No. 5), by a vote of the children was to be known as HUTCHINSON SCHOOL in memory of that illustrious woman, Anne Hutchinson, who settled in this vicinity in 1642.

About this time Pelham was honored by having this school selected by School Inspector S. J. Preston as an ideal place to hold the Annual Teachers' meeting for the first district, on Nov. 14, 1913.

Hutchinson School was not dedicated, however, until January 1914.  Not only was the assembly room crowded but both halls adjacent to it were likewise filled with people anxious to hear Dr. John H. Finley, then State Commissioner of Education, and Mr. Thomas W. Church, President of the New York Board of Education.  

Hutchinson School filled the requirements of North Pelham from 1913 until recently (1926) when the Board of Education decided to build a large addition which is in course of construction.

Before concluding, permit me to voice the feelings of those who attended the old school house on the hill and extend to Isaac C. Hill, one of the last of the old schoolmasters, the sincere thanks of a grateful community.

We hope that his days may be long so that his light shall still shine for many years to come, an example of loyalty, fidelity and uprightness, for the benefit of the youth of today."

Source:  Montgomery, William R., The Old Schoolhouse On The Hill - Pelhamville, The Pelham Sun (Christmas Supplement), Dec. 17, 1926, p. 15, cols. 1-7. 


*            *            *            *             *

Below are a few of the many examples of previous postings to the Historic Pelham Blog that deal with the history of schools and education in The Pelhams.

Tue., Aug. 12, 2014:  The Laying of the Foundation Stone at Prospect Hill School on Sunday, June 9, 1929.

Mon., Aug. 11, 2014: Excerpts of January 8, 1889 Remarks Dedicating a New School Building in Pelhamville.

Fri., Aug. 08, 2014: 1894 Pelham School Budget Vote: Stage Coach Authorized To Transport Pelham Students in Days Before Autos and Buses.

Thu., Mar. 27, 2014: The "Industrial School at Pelham" Hosted by Christ Church in 1884.

Tue., Mar. 11, 2014: An Early History of Mrs. Hazen's School For Girls in Pelham Manor, Published in 1913.

Mon., Mar. 10, 2014: Dedication of Pelham's New High School in 1911, Now Known as Siwanoy Elementary School.

Tue., May 11, 2010: Mystery Solved - Pelham Town Hall That Once Stood On Shore Road Was Used as a School.

Wed., Mar. 31, 2010: Request for Comment: What Pelham Manor School is This, Shown in 1907?

Tue., Feb. 23, 2010: A Brief History of the Development and Unveiling of Parkway Field in 1955 -- Known Today as Glover Field.

Tue., Feb. 16, 2010: Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York.

Thu., Feb. 04, 2010: Successful Appeal of Order Dividing the Union Free School District No. 1, Town of Pelham, Into Two School Districts in 1916.

Wed., Jan. 13, 2010: Celebration to Lay the Cornerstone of the New Pelham Memorial High School Building on October 18, 1919.

Fri., Jul. 24, 2009: Late 19th Century Photos of Students with Tennis Rackets at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.


Tue., Jan. 20, 2009: An Account of the Rev. J. L. Ver Mehr Regarding His Brief Stint as an Instructor of French and Italian at Pelham Priory in 1843.

Mon., Mar. 3, 2008: 1891 Advertisement May Reflect Summer Rental of One of the Dormitories of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.


Mon., Feb. 25, 2008: Town of Pelham School Board Trustee Election of 1881.

Wed., Feb. 20, 2008: Pelham Teachers Threatened to Strike for a Pay Increase in 1906 -- All Eleven Of Them.

Tue., Jan. 22, 2008: Townspeople of Pelham Vote Down Bond Proposal at the First Prospect Hill School in 1891.

Wed., Nov. 14, 2007: 1890 Advertisement for Taft's School for Boys in Pelham Manor.


Thu., Jul. 12, 2007: The Infamous Burglary of the Girls of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor in 1905.

Wed., Jun. 06, 2007: Proposed Layout of the Grounds of Pelham Memorial High School in 1920.

Mon., Apr. 16, 2007: History of Pelham Schools on the Web Site of the Pelham Union Free School District.


Thu., Apr. 5, 2007: A Brief History of Early Schools in the Manor of Pelham and Surrounding Areas Published in 1905.

Fri., Mar. 2, 2007: A Brief Account by American Author Margaret Deland of Her Education at Pelham Priory in the 19th Century.

Mon., Jan. 15, 2007: Brief Biographies of Henry Waters Taft and Horace Dutton Taft of Pelham Manor (and Other Family Members).

Tue., Jan. 02, 2007: The Little Red Schoolhouse In Pelhamville -- Predecessor to Today's Hutchinson Elementary School.

Wed., Sep. 6, 2006: Pelham Hall Shelter, a "Refuge for Erring Girls", Founded by Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.

Tue., Aug. 22, 2006: Early Advertisements for Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.


Wed., May 31, 2006: Two Views of the Pelhamville School House Built in the 1850s.

Tue., May 30, 2006: A Biography Published in 1906 on the Life of Horace Dutton Taft, Founder of the Taft School for Boys in Pelham Manor.

Wed., May 24, 2006: Program for January 8, 1889 Opening of the Hutchinson School in Pelhamville.

Tue., Mar. 28, 2006: More Reminiscences of Isaac C. Hill of Early Public Schools in Pelham.  

Mon., Jan. 09, 2006: The First Prospect Hill School in Pelham Manor.

Fri., Oct. 14, 2005: A Reunion of Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.

Mon., Oct. 03, 2005: Siwanoy School -- The Town of Pelham's Former High School.


Tue., Sep. 27, 2005: I. C. Hill's Reminiscences of Early Public Schools in Pelham.

Mon., Aug. 15, 2005: 952 Pelhamdale Served as a 19th Century School for Girls, Then a School for Boys.

Mon., May 09, 2005: The Historic Murals in the Pelham Memorial High School Library.

Bell, Blake A., Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls: Pelham Hall, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 40, Oct. 8, 2004, p. 12, col. 1. 


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College


Much has been written about the Battle of Pelham on October 18 ,1776.  Indeed, at the end of today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog I have included a bibliography with links to thirty-two articles I have written about various aspects of the Battle.  

Historians long have known that an eighteenth century theologian who maintained an extensive set of diaries during the Revolutionary War made multiple references to the Battle of Pelham.  Ezra Stiles, D.D., LL.D. was an American academic, educator, Congregationalist Minister, theologian, author who also served as President of Yale College from 1778 until 1795.  During the Revolutionary War he kept an extensive set of diaries reporting all that he learned of the progress of the war as well as the details of his life.  His diaries were published in a multi-volume set in 1901.



Ezra Stiles, 1770-1771, from a Painting by Samuel King.
Source:  Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by
Kurpfalzbilder.de using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public 
Domain Via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ezra_Stiles.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ezra_Stiles.jpg

The published diaries of Ezra Stiles include multiple references to the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 and to events immediately before and after the Battle.  The diaries are particularly fascinating because they collect a number of accounts of the Battle including the well-known letter from the camp at Mile Square and the less well known letter from Northcastle dated October 29, 1776 in which the author provides a brief eyewitness account from the perspective of those who were left behind by Col. Glover as he raced from a hill overlooking the bridge across the Hutchinson River (where today's Colonial Avenue / Sandford Boulevard cross the little creek) to meet the British landing on Pell's Point (today's Rodman's Neck).  Those left behind were ordered to man artillery from the hill to protect any retreat by Col. Glover and his troops (which is exactly what happened at the close of the Battle).

Immediately below are transcriptions of text relating to the Battle of Pelham and surrounding events taken from the published diaries, followed by a citation to their source.

"DIARY OF EZRA STILES . . . OCTOBER 10-18, 1776 . . . 

October . . . 

[Page 62] 

14.  Last Even g  [Evening] acc o [account] came to Fairfield that 6000 Kings Troops had landed at Frogspoint [i.e., Throggs Neck] in W. Chester, friday or sat y last.  There is considerable Motion among the Tories which are said to be a quarter of the pple west of Stratford River.  Appearance of Conspiracy & Preparation for Insurrection; they express great Expectations that the Kings Troops will prevail.  The Patriots & Friends of Liberty dont love to take violent Courses with them, but begin to think they must.

Major Lamb of N. York, is just returned from his Captivity at Quebec where he was taken when General Montgom y was slain.  I saw him at Stratford.  He lay on board ship at N. Y. some Time.  He tells me the Regulars said on board his ship, they had lost four hundred killed on L. Isld besides wounded; which agrees with L d Howes say g [saying] that he had lost Eighteen hundred brave Men there -- for if 400 were killed, 1800 were damaged; He also told me that an officer came on board Ldsdy Evng. (15 Sep) daming the Yankies for runaway Cowards, & storming that there was no Chance to fight & get honor & rise -- he was in the Monday Action also, & came again [Page 62 / Page 63] on board at Evening cursing & damning the War, saying he had found the Americans would fight, & that it would be impossible to conquer them.

16.  At N Haven, Confirm a [Confirmation] of Land g at Frogpoint.  Visiing.  Rode to Mr. Darlings in Amity.  1  [Footnote 1 reads:  '1  Judge Thomas Darling (Yale 1740), Dr. Stile's old College Tutor, lived in Amity Parish, now Woodbridge.']  

17.  At N H.  News of Gen. Arnolds Repulse on Lake Champlain 11th Inst. or friday last.  Gen Gates inclosed to Gov Trumbull, G. Arnolds Letter informing this, & also a List of Forces on that Lake -- which Dr Carrington who read the Letter gave me from Memory as follows:

Oct. 11, 1776 Naval Action, Kings Fleet on Lake Champlain.

1 Ship --          16 Guns
1 Snow            16 G.
1 Schooner      14 G.
2 Do.                12 G. each
2 Sloops          1 Bombketch
1 Large ship not in action
___
9

20 to 30 Gundalos with an 18 lb in each.

1000 Men in Batteaux -- large Bodies of Indians on each Side the Lake,

American Fleet there:

1 Sloop -- 12 Guns
1 Schooner -- 12 G.                lost 1 schooner 12 G.
2 Schooners 8 G. each           2 Gondalas
10 Gundalas.  3 Row Gallies  60 killed &c
___
17

18.  Gen. Assembly sitting at New Haven, Various Opinions as to the strength of our Armies.  Both our Armies certainly more healthy, the Dysentery much abated.  The most of the Western Militia of Connecticut returned -- tho' great Complaints of Want of Men to gather in the Indian Harvest, which the Women do with great Alacrity.

Secret y Wyllys tells me Gen. Wadsworth carried with him Three Thousd from Connecticutt.  The middle of Sept. he says that G. Wash g had but seventeen Thousd effective Men:  Sickness & Defection prevailed so much.

This day Secr y Wyllys tells me News from G. Wash g to last Tuesday -- his Army in better State than ever.  Commissary Trumbull just from thence says 28 Thousd:  -- Col. --------- says 30,000 be- [Page 63 / Page 64] sides Ten Thousd on Jersey side.  So it should seem we are 40 Thousd strong at N York, & increasing daily.  Col. Wyllys says the Northern Army by late Returns appear to be Eleven Thousd at Ticonderoga, of which G. Gates informs Nine Thousd are effective.  

Gen. Lee arrived at Kingsbridge Oct. 13.  At President Daggets I this day saw the Rev d Mr Gordon of Roxbury return g from visiting the Camps at Ticonderoga & N York.  He fears for the Northern Army; is easy for that at N York -- he thinks G. Howe of the Kings army good for Execution, not skilful at planning, -- and doubts the Generalship of any of their Officers -- at least he thinks them not capital Characters.

When I was at Fairfield I saw Sloss Hobart 1 [Footnote 1 reads:  '1  John Sloss Hobart (Yale 1757), son of the Rev. Noah Hobart, of Fairfield.'] Esq a sensible Gent. & Member of the N. Y. Convention.  He gave me the follow g Draught of the Action of 16 Sept. which began near the 14 M. stone & ended at the 8 M. stone.

We have two General Clintons in our Army.  From one of them who was in the Action Mr Hobart received the account.  Gen. Putnam and Gen. Greene commanded in the Action with about 15 to Eighteen hundred Men. the Enemy having in the action from 30 to 4500.  Gen. Clinton & Gen. Mifflin were present in the action as Spectators.  Gen. Clinton said he was ordered next day to bury the dead left on the field, and buried 78 of the Enemy, the most of which fell in the Buck Wheatfield.  He judged we lost 120 killed & wounded -- the Enemy 400 killed besides wounded:  but perhaps more probably less.  Mr. Hobart saw one who escaped from Harlem, who told him that he counted 190 wounded of the Enemy in one barn, & 110 in another, so 300 wounded, and this not all.  On the whole we fought well in this action.

Extract Letter dated Harlem seven miles from N. York Sept. 16, 1776.

'Yesterday was an unlucky day for us.  The Enemy landed about ten o'Clock at Turtle bay below Hellgate, under cover of many Ships of War.  The Brigade under Gen. Parsons were soon obliged to retire from the Waterside, & give ground for the Enemy to land.  Gen. Mifflin immediately marched from Mount Washington with a thousd men, to the ground near & below this place; where he made a stand, threw up some Works, rallied our retreating Troops, & in an hour after had the principal part of our Army [Page 64 / Page 65] (who were stationed below us) drawn up in good order on the heights.  General Putnam & Scott were in N York, but made their Way thro' the Enemys Line with all their Men & the Guards



Map Appears at this Point, Page 65.

EXPLANATION (by Dr. Stiles) OF DIAGRAM.

A.  The North side of a Hollow way where the Action began.
B.  Fence, behind which the Enemy rallied the first time.
C.  Fence, from whence our People attacked the Enemy at B, 150 yards apart.
D.  No Field pieces, but Virginia detachment, which enfiladed the Enemy.
E.  Buckwheat field, where the Enemy rallied a second time, & an Action ensued for 1 1/2 hour when the Enemy fled, and attempting to rally in an Orchard at 
F, were so closely pursued, that they stood but a few minutes, when the Rout became general.

[Page 65 / Page 66]

of the City. -- Three days since it was resolved to quit the Town, & we have been removing ever since.  We have taken almost every thing out of the City, but lost some Canon & Stores.  New York never was tenable, & the holding of it obliged us to divide our Army into many weak parts.'

On the night of 20th Sept. the City of New York was in flames about one quarter [sixth] of the City is consumed.  The Regulars ascribe it to the New Engld Captives.  Probably an accident. . . . 

19.  This Morning Mr. Sam l Adams, the eminent Patriot passed thro' New Haven in his Return to Congress.  I visited my aged Mother & Friends at North Haven:  rode to Wallingford & lodged at Dr. Dana's.

20.  Ldsdy.  I preached for Brother Hubbard at Meriden. . . . This Morning Express for New Haven, advises that Gen. Arnolds Fleet is intirely routed on the Lake.

22.  One left Ft Constitution last friday (18) says the Kings Troops are casting up Lines at the Stone Chh in New Rochelle & within about seven miles of Kingsbridge -- that an Action has happened, Col. Shepard in it.  Yesterday it was said at New Haven there were five ships off Fairfield.  I set out with my Daughter Kezia on return for Dighton, & rode to Middletown.  This day I have been ordained 21 years.

*          *          *

NOVEMBER 29, 1776 . . . 

[Page 85]

29.  Lett. from Mt Independence Nov. 17.  (Ticonderoga.)  'We are all upon the Move to Albany as fast as we can get over the Lake.  The En y have moved into Winter Qu rs in Canada, consid. Snow hav g fallen there.  This acc o was bro't this Morn g by o r Flag from St Johns with an Officer belong. to the En y.  The Reasons of the intended Remove of our Troops is a suspected Movement of the Enemy in that Quarter, & also the necessity of going that Way to settle the Affairs of the Army with a Committee of Congress that is there.'

Journal of G. Wash. Army the last fourt'night of October 1776.  A critical period.  Extr. of a letter dated Camp near the Mills about three Miles N o of White plains Nov. 1.

'About the 15th of Oct r the great Movements of the Enemy up the Sound, their Land g in large bodies at Frogs Pt, & the Intelligence which the Generals obtained that the Enemy with their whole force were off against E. Chester & N. Rochel, & that both L d [Lord] & Gen. Howe were there in person, gave the Generals full satisfaction, that Gen. Hows plan was to make a bold stroke & hem in & cut off our Army at once.  Gen. Lee I have understood tho't that the Situation of the army of the States of America was much too confined & crampt, & that it could not be good Policy to lie still in such a Situation, or to hazard the great Cause in which we were embarked in one General Action, in which if we should not succede, the Army might be lost, as a Retreat would be extremely difficult if not impossible.  It was determined by the Generals therefore to counteract the Enemy by a general Movement.  Gen. McDougals Brigade from the Lines at Harlem, several Reg ts of Militia at Ft Wash., & 5 or six Reg ts from the Jersey side were ordered over Kingsbridge & marched on towards the Enemy to counteract them in their Operations.  Generals Heath, Parsons &c with more than half the [Page 85 / Page 86] army were there before.  Gen. Lee also now took his Post on that side not far from the Enemy.

On the 16th the Generals were all in Council & determined to leave Harlem, Ft Wash., & Kingsbridge only with a Garison & march into the Country.  

In the meantime the Stores Baggage &c were moved to places of safety with the greatest Expedition.  G. Lincoln had orders to post himself at Volentine [i.e., Valentine] hill near Mile Square & to cast up some Works for defence & Redoubts were cast up on the Hills & on all difficult Passes on the road from Kingsbridge to Mile Square to secure our March.

On the 17th G. Spencer's whole Division had orders to march to Mile Sqr, which we reached next day.  Two Brigades of yt Div. encamped at Mile Sqr on the left of G. Lincoln, & L d [Lord] Stirl g marched on further and formed still on the left of them towards the White plains making a front twds the Enemy from E. Chester almost to the White plains on the E. side of the highway, so as to secure the March of the Troops behind us on our Right, and to defend the Teams & Waggons yt brought on our sick, Canon,, Stores &c.  In this manner one Division of the Army passed another till we extended from the Sound up to White plains & over to Kings street, not far from Connect. Line where Gen. Parsons took his post, and till the last Division on the right Wing, which was Gen Lee's, reached the Plains, and marched out Westward between the main body of the Army & the River.  This was on the 25th & 26th of Oct.  This left all the Rode from E. Chester to Kingsbridge open to the Enemy, except g a few Guards & a Reg t at or near Ft Independence.  This I have understood was Col. Wyllys's & that his Orders were, if the Enemy came on too powerfully to retreat to Ft Washington.  Gen. Green I have understood (Quaere) is at Ft Wash. with abo't 1600 or 2000 Men, & that the Garison is well supplied with Provis. & warlike stores so as to stand a long siege.  They have a Communic a with the forts on the high Rocks on the opposite shore.  All the Barracks & Prepar a for Winter, we have been obliged to leave for the present.  Our stores of every kind, as far as I can learn, have been bro't off & sent to places of safety; our field Art y with 2 double fortified 12 pounders & one brass 24 D o we have bro't off with us.

While we were mak g this grand Movem t into the Country, the Enemy were not idle; hav g collected their Troops from all qu rs at [Page 86 / Page 87] Frogs Pt & on board their ships, whichg were ranged along shore off against the Point, & opposite to E. Chester.  On the 18th they began a Canonade from their Ship g early in the day, & landed some Men on a pt or neck of Land near E. Chester Meetinghouse, & their main Body advanced from Pells neck out towards the g t Post Road from Connect. to N York.  Gen Lee, who had been watching their motions, had posted a Reg t or 2 of men with one of the Rifle Batalions, in a very advantageous Manner to annoy them, & bring them into an Ambush, which partly succeeded.  A large advanced Guard came forward, with 2 parties on the right & left of them to flank & get round our pple. wherever small parties sh d appear to oppose them.  A small party of our Troops were sent forward to fire on the large advanced Body of the Enemy & to divert & lead them on to a Wall, behind which the Reg ts mentioned were principally secreted.  The Enemy came very near the Wall, & rec d a general fire from our Troops, which broke their advanced Party intirely, so that they ran back to the main Body, formed & came on again in larger numbers, keep g up a heavy Fire with Field pieces on the Walls & Men.  They advanced now very near & rec d a second Fire which intirely routed them again, and they retreated in a narrow Lane by a Wall, in a confused huddled manner, near which were posted a large Body of Riflemen, & som Comp a of musquet men, who at this favorite Moment poured in upon them a most heavy Fire once or twice, before they could get our of the Way; & they were seen to fall in great Numbers.  The whole Body of the Enemy then advanced in solid Columns, & large flank g parties advanced diff. Ways to surround our Men.  They however kept the Wall, till the Enemy advanced a third time, and after giv g them several Fires they retreated by order from their Officers.  Gen. Lee greatly commended the Conduct of the Men.  

The Enemy were tho't at the lowest Computation to have lost 500 Men, some think not less than a thousd.  We had but very few killed, & as far as I can learn not more than 50 or 60 Wounded.  The En y adv a on to a high pt or neck of Land, not far from E. Chester Meetinghouse, from which they were able to command the Rode with their field pieces, but they kept very much in a body, so that our pple on Sat y & Sunday Nights, the 19th & 20th of Oct., bro't off more than 100 Bbs of Pork, that had been left in the store at E. Chester without any Molestation.  About the same time the Enemy sent some light parties along on the shore as far [Page 87 / Page 88] as N Rochel & Maroneck, but their main body did not move but very little.  

On the Even g of the 22 d Thirty six of the Enemy were taken & next Morn g brot to headquarters.  They were Tory Rangers who had listed under the infamous Major Rogers.  One of them had been an Officer in the N York Service, & deserted from us not long since.  Two or 3 of them I have been told were from Newtown in Connecticut.  The 23d there was much Canonad g & a smart Engag t between a party of our Men & the Enemy.  The Enemy were beaten, left thirteen Hessians dead on the field &c &c.  In this Action we had not one man killed, & but 6 or 8 wounded; but one it was that mortally. . . . 

[Page 90]

Lett. 'Camp at Millsquare E. Chester 23 Oct.' 

' . . . .  Friday Morn g last (18) we were alarmed &c, -- and the Enemy landed at Rodman's Pt (a place about four miles from our Encampment) with their whole Force.  The Brigade under the command of Col. Glover, consisting of about Seven hundred Men, one Reg t being absent for Guard. -- We marched down towds the place where the Enemy were advancing with a body of Sixteen Thousd with a very large Artillery.  The first attack was made by a small party on their advanced Guard, which were effectually routed & forced to retreat to the main body; who when they came up were fired upon by two Reg ts advantageously posted by Col. Glover & Major Lee (who behaved gallantly) which bro't [Page 90 / Page 91] many of them to the Ground.  Thus we continued fighting them & retreating the whole Afternoon until they came to a Stand, where they now remain except stretching along down towards Connecticut, I suppose for Forage.  Our Men behaved like Soldires, conformed to the Orders of their Officers & retreated in grand Order. -- Our loss is about Nine or 10 killed & abot 30 wounded.  The Enemy, a Deserter says, lost Two hundred killed on the spot & great number wounded.  People may think what they please of the regular & spirited Behav. of the British Troops, but I that day was an Eye Witness to the contrary, I saw as great Irregularity almost as in a Militia.  They would come out from the Body & fire single Guns.  As to their Courage, the whole Body of 16 Thousd were forced to retreat by the fire of a single Regiment, & many of them old Troops.  The fourth Reg t was one that run.  And had we been reinforced with half their Number might have totally defeated them.  -- The next day G. Lee (under whose commd we are) came & publicly returned his Thanks to Col. Glover & the Officers and Sold rs under his Commd for their noble, spirited, & soldierlike conduct during the Battle. -- G. Wash has since &c.  -- The En y have so far quitted N York that our pple have been down as far as a placed called Bower Lane, which is but one Mile from the Extent of the City.'  

Another Acc o -- Lett. Northcastle Oct. 29.  -- 'We have secured & encamped in every hill & dale between this & N. York.  Last Friday week (18) our whole Brigade that then lay at East Chester under Command of Col. Glover, was ordered to oppose the progress of a large body of the Enemy then landing at Rodmans Point.  Three Reg ts were ordered to pass a Causey (the only passage) & march to oppose them; & our Regt with 3 pieces of Art y was posted on an Eminence overlooking the Causeway, to secure a Retreat for the others & prevent the Enemy's Advancing.  Col. Glover so posted the three other Reg ts in the Wood, that they annoyed the Enemy greatly.  But discovering that they had determined to flank them he ordered a Retreat.  We had 6 or 7 killed & about 18 wounded; the Enemys Loss about 140 or 150. -- '  N B. Seven Regts in the Brigades & yet by a former Letter only 700 men.  How small the Number of the effective Men of a Reg t?

'After this skirmish we retreated to Mile Square where we lay encamped till friday (25 Oct) when we with the Remainder of Gen Lees Div. joyned the main Body of the Army at White plains, one [Page 91 / Page 92]  mile & an half from our present Situation.'  So No Castle 1 1/2 M. from White plains."

Source:  Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, ed., The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, D.D., LL.D. President of Yale College Volume II March 14, 1776 -- December 31, 1781, pp. 63-66, 85-88 & 90-92 (NY, NY:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901). 

*          *          *          *          *

I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776.  See, for example, the following 32 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.



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