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.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The "Outrage" of June 10, 1882 -- A Sad Mystery Solved

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at

As I indicated in my posting dated February 23, 2005, I have been reviewing long-lost records of the Pelham Manor Protective Club that the Westchester County Historical Society recently acquired from an antiques dealer in Tarrytown, NY. To read more about that discovery, click here.

As expected, a number of "mysteries" have arisen during the course of my work to transcribe those records. One such mystery arose as I worked last Sunday evening. This posting will address that mystery which I have entitled "The 'Outrage' of June 10, 1882 -- A Sad Mystery Solved."

According to the records of the Pelham Manor Protective Club, on June 12, 1882, the Executive Committee of the Club held a special meeting. Four members of the five member committee were present. The only item of business was the appointment of a committee to investigate "a reported outrage committed on June 10th at or near the town line of Pelham". The principal entry in the minutes of that meeting reads as follows:

"Mr. French [H. Q. French, Treasurer of the Club] moved, that Mr. T. D. De Witt [Thomas D. De Witt of Pelham Manor], be appointed a committee of one to ascertain the truth of a reported outrage committed on June 10th at or near the town line of Pelham, and to offer, if he considers it necessary, to the proper persons of New Rochelle, our assistance in the amount of One Hundred Dollars provisional on the conviction of one or more of the ruffians, and he is instructed to report progress as soon as possible."

One hundred dollars, of course, was a rather hefty sum of money in 1882. Most of the Club's rewards were paid between $1 and $5, so whatever this "outrage" may have been, it certainly seemed quite serious.

Continuing to review the minutes, I discovered several additional related entries. The minutes of the regular meeting of the Executive Committee held on August 22, 1882 reflect a report from Mr. De Witt regarding the results of his investigation. His report, however, was rather unsatisfying and, indeed, only deepened the mystery. According to the minutes of that meeting:

"The following report of Thos D. De Witt in regard to the Outrage committed in New Rochelle, read and adopted.

'In regard to the Outrage committed in New Rochelle, I have failed to learn anything from the authorities in New Rochelle, and therefore I have not deemed it my duty to take any steps in the matter or offer them any assistance. Therefore I ask to be discharged as a committee.'”

According to the minutes, the Executive Committee of the Pelham Manor Protective Club discharged Mr. De Witt of any further obligations in the matter.

"What," I wondered, was this unspecified "outrage" that the Executive Committee seemed unwilling to record in its minutes? As it turned out, it only took about three minutes to answer that question.

I accessed the ProQuest Historical Database containing searchable full-text images of issues of the New York Times from 1851 to 2001. (To learn how to access and use this database -- which is freely available to those who have a free library card issued by Town of Pelham Public Library -- see my posting of February 8 by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of that page.) I searched for all articles published between June 10 and June 30, 1882 in which the phrase "New Rochelle" appeared. Two of the five articles dealt with what clearly was the "outrage" of June 10, 1882.

The “outrage” referenced in the two entries in the minutes occurred on June 10, 1882 on the Boston Turnpike (today’s Boston Post Road) near Pelham’s border with New Rochelle. Five thugs attacked a young woman named Kate Folz robbing her, threatening to kill her and assaulting her. The New York Times published the following account of the crime:

The New-Rochelle policemen are looking for five young highwaymen, residents of that place, who on Saturday last stopped a woman named Kate Folz on the Boston turnpike, robbed her of her earrings, a little over $7, leaving her only 25 cents, and then rifled her carpet-bag and nearly destroyed it, tearing up the clothing that was in it. She said yesterday that they demanded her money or they would kill her. She begged for her life and gave them her money. They then outrageously assaulted her, and only desisted when they saw Mr. P. Berger, one of the village Trustees, approaching. They then fled, and Mr. Berger brought the unfortunate woman to New-Rochelle.” See Highway Robbery in Westchester, N.Y. Times, Jun. 14, 1882, p. 8.

Residents of both Pelham and New Rochelle were outraged by the robbery and assault. The Pelham Manor Protective Club was willing to pledge a $100 reward for the arrest and conviction of the robbers – a considerable sum. In addition, a second article indicates that the citizens of New Rochelle participated in a crowded town meeting to address the situation and even decided to organize their own “Citizens’ Protective Association” much like the nearby Pelham Manor Protective Club as a result of the attack. The New York Times reported a few days later as follows:

The robbery and assault upon Kate Folz, on the Boston turnpike in New-Rochelle, last Saturday, has created wide-spread indignation in the town. The Police have the names of the five desperadoes who did the deed, but they are not yet revealed to the public. Town Supervisor Henry D. Phelps issued a call for a mass-meeting, and last evening the Town Hall was crowded with citizens anxious to punish the perpetrators. Richard Lathers was chosen Chairman of the meeting, and Mr. Phelps was Secretary. Earnest speeches were made by the Chairman and by Messrs. J. F. Harrison, Charles Roosevelt, George W. Lloyd, J. Q. Underhill, George Ferguson, and L. M. Ferguson. Mr. Harrison moved that the meeting subscribe $500 as a reward for the capture of the offenders, and the motion, being seconded by George Ferguson, was unanimously adopted. A motion to organize a ‘Citizens’ Protective Association’ was also adopted unanimously.” New-Rochelle Residents Aroused, N.Y. Times, Jun. 16, 1882, p. 5.

It seems likely that the "outrage" of June 10, 1882 referenced in the long-lost records of the Pelham Manor Club is now a sad mystery solved.

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/


Post a Comment

<< Home