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.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Philip Gargan, Chief of Police of Pelham Manor, New York

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This week I have continued to assemble biographical information about early 20th Century Pelham residents from Alvah P. French's five-volume "History of Westchester County New York" published in 1925. Today's posting provides biographical data regarding Philip Gargan, a World War I veteran and Chief of Police of the Pelham Manor police force for twenty five years.

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"PHILIP GARGAN -- An executive of pronounced efficiency, and with experience both in police matters and the World War, Chief Philip Gargan, of Pelham Manor, holds a place in the respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens. An able as well as a popular official, he has proven his faithfulness and loyalty in the public service both at home and abroad.

"Philip Gargan is the son of John and Anne (Farrelly) Gargan. His grandfather, Philip Gargan, came to this country in a sailing vessel nearly a hundred years ago, where he married and settled in New York City. After staying here about twenty years the elder Gargans returned to Ireland, and on their way back their son John was born, he remaining in that country where, in turn, Chief Philip Gargan was born. However, some of the grandparents' children stayed in America. John and Anne (Farrelly) Gargan were the parents of eight children, all born in Ireland, as follows: Philip, the subject of this review; Thomas, who has succeeded in his father's cattle business in Ireland; John and Mary, died in infancy; Patrick, who came to this country and became employed by well known New York families, he served in the World War in the South, in the Anti-Aircraft service; Edward, with John Wannamaker Company in New York, he served with the United States Navy during the World War as chief petty officer; Joseph, who died in New York in 1917; and Birdie, a stenographer in New York.

"John Farrelly, brother of Chief Gargan's mother, came to this country about sixty years ago. After living some time in New York City he engaged in wholesale and retail grocery business under his own name, continuing with market success up to the time of his death, about fifteen years ago.

"Philip Gargan was born February 27, 1881, in Muff, County Cavan, Ireland, and he attended the National School at King's Court in that county. Coming to the United States in 1898, he first settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he entered the employ of the wholesale firm of J. L. Alther & Company, with whom he continued six years. Removing to New York City, he shortly after came to Westchester County, there joining the police department of Pelham Manor in 1906, so continuing until 1916, when he entered the United States Army for the Mexican Boarder service.

"In response to President Wilson's call for Mexican Border service he was later granted a leave of absence to join the 69th Regiment, New York National Guard, when that regiment was assigned to McAllen and Mission, Texas, and again when it was recalled to Washington, District of Columbia, to act as a guard of honor at the President's second inauguration in 1917. The regiment then went to Camp Mills, Long Island, and when the United States entered the World War this crack outfit, which was later commanded by the fighting Colonel William Donavan, was the first to be ordered overseas to take its place as shock troops on the several battle fronts, at first on the defensive sector at Luneville, France, and Champagne Marne, the Aisne Marne, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. At the battle of Argonne Forest, the 69th Regiment was on the famous Heights of Sedan when the Armistice was signed, and thence it turned back, and followed the Germans through Belgium as they were demobilized from town to town, and on through to Remagen, Germany, which is about thirty miles from Coblenz. During all the terrific battles in which the 69th Regiment took part Chief Gargan escaped without suffering serious injury, and returning with his regiment in 1919 on the United States steamship, "Philadelphia," going to Camp Upton, New York, where he received an honorable discharge on May 8 of that year. When he enlisted as a private he was soon advanced to sergeant of the first class, and [p. 53 / p. 54] at the end of the war he became eligible to the Reserve Officers' Corps.

"On May 10, 1919, he was back at his old post at Pelham Manor, and he experienced a very pleasant surprise when he learned for the first time that the Village Board had selected him as its chief of police, a position he still ably occupies. He is the possessor of medals won for valor in the World War, besides having been recommended by his company commander.

"Chief Gargan is a member of Walsh Marvel Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, at Pelham; Post No. 50, American Legion, at Pelham, and the Rainbow Division Association of War Veterans, New York City. He is prominently affiliated in police connections; the Policeman's Benevolent Association of Westchester County, the Police Chief's Association of the State of New York, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police of the United States and Canada number in his memberships. Beginning with his assignment to the important office of chief of police he has done splendid work in the department by adding new facilities, such as motorizing it with motorcycles and automobiles, and increasing the force from ten men to twenty-four, as well as establishing a merit system. The Police Department of Pelham Manor is recognized as one of the most up-to-date and efficient departments in Westchester County."

Source: French, Alvah P., ed., History of Westchester County New York, Vol. V, pp. 53-54 (NY, NY & Chicago, IL: Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1925).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
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http://www.historicpelham.com/.

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