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, March 21, 2005

Pelham Was A Station Stop for the Stage Coach That Carried Mail from New York To Boston in the Early 19th Century

There was a time during the 1830s when Pelham was one of the "principal" station stops of the stage coach that carried U. S. Mail from New York City to Boston. Actually, there were two regular stage coaches, both run by Dorance, Recide & Co. There was a "fast" stage coach and a "slow" stage coach.

During the 1880s, The New York Times published an article based on the reminiscences of "old-timers" who recalled the days of the mail stages that traveled through Pelham. A portion of that account read:

"A few New-Yorkers still remember the old stages of Dorance, Recide & Co., which used to carry the United States mails between this City and Boston. Fifty years ago two stages started from [The North American Hotel] at the corner of Bayard-street and the Bowery every morning. One of them was an especially fast stage. It carried the mails and never booked more than six passengers, and when the mails were unusually heavy no passengers were allowed at all. 'Six passengers only allowed inside,' was the announcement contained in the words painted on the panels of this nimble vehicle, which legend many a time carried dismay to the hearts of impetuous business men who arrived at the stage office only to find the last seat taken. The slow stage carried nine passengers inside and two upon the box. These two stages always left the hotel in company and proceeded up Third-avenue. They crossed Harlem bridge and stopped for dinner 28 miles out. The mail stage usually arrived at Boston half a day in advance of its companion coach. The principal stations on the route were East Chester, West Chester, Pelham, New-Rochelle, Port Chester, Horse Neck, Stamford, Norwalk, Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester. The distance was somewhat over 200 miles, which is the only feature of the route that time has not changed. Mr. Gideon T. Reynolds is said to have been the first man who drove a four-horse stage across the Harlem Bridge. That was in 1828 or thereabout, according to the best stage chronologers. . . . Soon after the stages crossed Harlem bridge they came into a wild and woody country, and not infrequently were they robbed in this locality. There were 'road agents' in those days as well as now, and the mail coaches were protected by a guard, who occupied a perch on the roof over the boot, and was armed with a blunderbuss. This weapon was considered somewhat deadly in those days. It had a funnel-shaped barrel, a flint-lock, and took about half a pint of buckshot for a charge. It was capable of destroying a whole band of robbers at one discharge. But, because it took an expert gunner about 15 minutes to load it, or for other reasons, it seems not to have been very successful in exterminating the stage robbers, for they have continued to increase in numbers and boldness from that day to this, and the gun has gone out of fashion." Before The Locomotive - The Ways Over Which The Stage-Coach Rumbled, N.Y. Times, May 9, 1880, p. 10.


Post a Comment

<< Home