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, May 23, 2005

Thomas M. Kennett, Long Time Editor of The Pelham Sun

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Perhaps one man, more than any other, is responsible for documenting the history of Pelham -- at least during the 20th Century. That man was Thomas Milward Kennett who lived at 42 Linden Avenue for many years until his death on September 1, 1958. Mr. Kennett acquired The Pelham Sun in 1921 and made it a force in the community for many years. Today's blog posting will provide a little information about Thomas M. Kennett.

A man named Peter Ceder started The Pelham Sun on April 9, 1910. Mr. Ceder was a "former New York City newspaperman who was conducting a real estate and insurance business in North Pelham." Barr, Lockwood, A Brief But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as The Lordshipp & Mannour of Pelham Also the Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, p. 164 (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press 1946). Mr. Ceder began the paper in addition to his work as a real Estate agent and insurance salesman in North Pelham. According to Lockwood Barr:

"In 1919 a group of residents of the Pelhams, having large business interests in the City of New York, and believing that there was a real need in the community for a local weekly publication that would record, exclusively, the news of the three villages, bought The Pelham Sun. . . . In that group were Robert A. Holmes, Vice President of Dobbs Hats; L. O. Thompson, silk merchant; William T. Grant, Chairman W. T. Grant Chain Stores; Merton C. Robbins, Publisher of Advertising & Selling; John Clyde Oswald, Editor of The American Printer, Harry A. Anderson, attorney; Walter R. Quick, Comptroller of the Metropolitan Insurance Co.; Charles C. Davis, Vice-President The Eaton Crane & Pike Paper Co.; Thomas L. McReady, advertising agent; and Roy W. Howard, Chairman of the Scripps-Howard Newspapers.

The Pelham Sun purchased The Record, and The Register, in 1920 and on February 28, 1921 Thomas M. Kennett was appointed editor. Mr. Kennett purchased The Pelham Sun from its stockholders in 1925 and with his son, Frederick T. Kennett . . . operate[d] the paper". Id., pp. 164-65.

Before coming to Pelham, Thomas Milward Kennett worked on the old New York World and other newspapers on the east coast. See Thomas M. Kennett, Headed Pelham Sun, N.Y. Times, Sep. 2, 1958, p. 25. The newspaper's stockholders installed Kennett as editor of the paper in 1921. After purchasing the paper from its stockholders four year later, Kennett named himself President of the newspaper. Id.

Thomas Kennett's reputation as a talented local editor grew quickly. On October 2, 1925, representatives of thirty weekly newspapers published in Westchester County, New York gathered at the White Swan Inn in White Plains to organize a local industry group devoted to local newspapers. That night Thomas M. Kennett was elected President of the new organization. See Weekly Papers Organize -- Representatives of Thirty Westchester Journals Elect Officers, N.Y. Times, Oct. 3, 1925, p. 15.

Mr. Kennett quickly became a fixture in the community involved with many organizations. He was a charter member, and served as President, of the Pelham Lions Club. Thomas M. Kennett, Headed Pelham Sun, N.Y. Times, Sep. 2, 1958, p. 25. He was a founder and president of the Pelham Board of Trade. Id. He served as a director of the Relief Hook and Ladder Company. Id. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Pelham Men's Club and, for many years was a member of the New York State Firemen's Association. Id. He also was a member of the Masons and served as chairman of many charity campaigns. Id. Mr. Kennett retired from the newspaper in 1953.

Mr. Kennett's community service extended beyond the little town of Pelham. For example, during World War Two he served on a committee responsible for ensuring that "every newspaper plant in the metropolitan district contributes every bit of scrap metal that it can spare to the salvage drive" as part of the war effort. See Newspapers Form Salvage Committee -- Its Duty Will Be To See That Plants Give Full Aid, N.Y. Times, Oct. 3, 1942, p. 8.

According to his obituary published in The New York Times, in February1958 Mr. Kennett suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Thomas M. Kennett, Headed Pelham Sun, N.Y. Times, Sep. 2, 1958, p. 25. He lingered for some months and died at the age of 76 on September 1, 1958. Id. His obituary noted that:

"Surviving are his widow, Isabel; two sons, Fred T. and James E.; two daughters, Mrs. Maurice Graillat and Mrs. Richard Berger; six sisters in England, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren." Id.

The Pelham Sun still exists although its content is not devoted solely to Pelham. The newspaper, based in Yonkers, New York in lower Westchester County, reportedly has a circulation of about 2400. It is owned by Martinelli Publications, 40 Larkin Plaza, Yonkers, NY, 10701 (914-965-4000).

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At 12:23 AM, Blogger Lorrie Price said...

Thank you so much for this information about my Grandfather. It gives me a place to start in researching the ancestry of my Father's family. If there is anyone out there who knows anything else about Thomas Kennett please contact me at Lbpgoddess@aol.com. Thanks, Lorrie Price


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