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.

Friday, April 15, 2005

How Pelhamville "Lost" Its Name!

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The screaming headline in the June 29, 1896 issue of the New York Times said it all: ANGRY PELHAMVILLEITES. Those who lived in Pelhamville, indeed, were very angry. They believed that the twenty voting residents of the newly incorporated Village of Pelham -- known as Pelham Heights -- had "duped" them and "made a laughing stock" of them. Residents of Pelhamville believed that the newly-incorporated Village of Pelham had used the influence of U.S. Congressman Benjamin L. Fairchild, a large landowner and resident of the Village, to arrange a change in the name of the local post office and the train station from Pelhamville to Pelham. Residents were outraged. Pelhamville, in effect, had lost its name.

One account related the story from the perspective of the 200 voting residents of the little hamlet of Pelhamville. It said:

"Pelham Heights, the home of Congressman Ben L. Fairchild, was incorporated last Spring through special legislation. It was a surprise to every one, for no one thought that wooded fields, in which there were only a few houses, were about to become a village bearing the historic name of Pelham. The thing was done, however, and the village had its election in due time. There are nearly enough offices for each voter in the village to have one. S. Cushman Caldwell was elected President. John F. Fairchild, Congressman Ben L. Fairchild's brother, was elected treasurer. Ralph K. Hubbard, Howard Scribner, and G. C. Fletcher were elected Trustees.

The Fairchilds are large property owners in the new village.

The residents of Pelhamville were more astonished than any one else when Pelham Heights was incorporated under the name of Pelham. They were almost speechless when they saw the village across the railroad tracks organize its government. It then burst upon them with full force that the United States Government had changed the name of the Post Office that stands near the railway station from Pelhamville to Pelham.

But their cup of sorrow was not yet full, for the New-York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company the other day took down the old signs bearing the word Pelhamville, and put in their places signs with the word 'Pelham.' Now persons wishing to visit Pelhamville must get off at Pelham, and those writing to friends in Pelhamville must address Pelham.

There really is no Pelhamville. It has been wiped out of existence."

Source: Angry Pelhamvilleites - Their Post Office and Railroad Station Stolen, N.Y. Times, Jun. 29, 1896, p. 9.

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