Historic Pelham

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

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can You Imagine What The Bride's Father Was Ready To Do?

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"Just get me to the church on time!" Those words from the 1956 Broadway Musical "My Fair Lady" may best describe the panic-stricken thoughts of poor Isaac McD. Croff of Mount Vernon in 1893. Words probably cannot adequately describe the thoughts of Mr. Croff's fiance and her family, however, when they appeared for Mr. Croff's planned wedding with Kitty Byrd McGalliard, of Pelhamville, on October 2, 1893. Miss McGalliard waited and waited but Mr. Croff never appeared. In fact, he went missing for more than two days after failing to make the scheduled wedding.

Was it a case of cold feet? (He admitted visiting "a woman who had been a most excellent friend of mine" the day of the scheduled wedding.) Had something happened to Mr. Croff? Today's blog posting will address this odd little vignette relating to the history of the little hamlet of Pelhamville.

Isaac Croff was a widower who lived in Mount Vernon, NY. He met and fell in love with nineteen-year-old Kitty Byrd McGalliard. She was the daughter of George McGalliard, a "rich contractor" who lived in Pelhamville. The two were engaged to be married by the Rev. C. W. Bolton of the Episcopal Church of Christ the Redeemer in Pelhamville on October 2, 1893.

Croff failed to show up for the wedding, however. He claimed to have no recollection of events between Monday, October 2 and Wednesday, October 4, 1893. He only knew that he was in New York City on October 2 and -- two days later -- found himself "bewildered" and wandering the streets of Troy, New York. He had a remarkable story to tell. The story of the jilted bride caught the attention of the New York press. Mr. Croff's subsequent story about what had happened was so odd that the New York Times reporter who wrote about it felt compelled to say that "Croff's truthfulness has never been questioned, and all his neighbors in Pelhamville believe his story." Here is his account, as reported in the October 6, 1893 issue of the New York Times:

"'Monday morning last,' he said, 'the day I was to be married, I left Mount Vernon for New-York, where I desired to make some purchases. I had very nearly $600 in my pockets when I started. I made my purchases in the city and took them up and left them at the package office in the Forty-second Street Station, as I desired to go and see a woman who had been a most excellent friend of mine, and tell her I was to be married. Her name I do not care to give, as I do not consider it necessary. After I had called on the woman I started to walk to the Grand Central Station. When I reached Fifty-seventh Street and Eighth Avenue, I glanced at my watch and discovered I had but ten minutes in which to catch the 1:02 train for Pelhamville.

'Seeing a cab standing by the curb, with the driver on the box, I stepped in and told him to drive me to the Grand Central Station as quickly as he could. While I spoke two well-dressed strangers followed me into the cab, one of them saying as he got in, 'This is the best chance we have had in a year.' I paid no attention to them or the remark, and the driver started off at a rapid pace.

'Suddenly, before I could make a move, one of the men (I noticed he was tall, had a grey mustache, and wore a silk hat,) sprang toward me and grasped me by the throat with one hand, while the other man, a short, thick-set fellow, pushed a handkerchief under my nose. This is the last thing of which I have any recollection until I found myself, on Wednesday morning, standing two blocks from the station in Troy. I was too bewildered to know where I was, and I felt weak and sick.

'I examined my pockets and found all my money was gone, except what I had stowed away in one of my inside pockets. I believe the two men took the $567, at any rate it was gone; also my watch and two rings, which I wore on my finger. One of them I valued highly. The wedding ring which I was to use was also gone. I telegraphed to Pelhamville that I was in Troy and did not know how I had got there.

'This is all I can say, except that I called on Dr. Carlisle of Mount Vernon, and he, after a thorough examination, said I was suffering from a strong dose of chloroform, but would be all right in a few days. I intend to go to New-York and see Superintendent Byrnes and lay the facts before him. I am a poor man, and the loss of that money, at present, is the loss of a fortune to me. . . . "

Source: Why He Was Not Married. -- Mr. Croff of Pelhamville Says He Was Chloroformed and Robbed in a Cab, N.Y. Times, Oct. 6, 1893, p. 3.

According to the same account, Mr. Croff returned to the McGalliard residence in Pelhamville on Wednesday, October 4. The family summoned the Rev. C. W. Bolton to the house and, at 7:30 p.m., he and Kitty Byrd McGalliard were married.

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