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.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Obituaries of Robert C. Black and His Wife, Mary Grace Witherbee Black

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Two early residents of Pelham Manor who had a tremendous impact on the formation of the Village and the social lives of its residents were Robert C. Black and his wife Mary Grace Witherbee Black. Mr. Black was for many years the head of the noted jewelry firm Black, Starr & Frost. Today's Blog posting will provide the obituaries of these two residents as well as information about the estate left by Mary G. W. Black when she died.

Robert C. Black's obituary appeared in the July 18, 1907 issue of The New York Times. It read:



Head of Fifth Avenue Jewelry Firm Expires at Country Home.

Robert C. Black, head of Black, Starr & Frost, the old jewelry house, 438 Fifth Avenue, New York, died at his large country place at Black Point, Conn., yesterday morning, after an illness of several months, from Bright's disease. Mr. Black was the only surviving member of his firm, the partners, Mr. Frost and Mr. Starr, having died several years ago. The firm was founded by Mr. Black's father, and was originally Ball, Black & Co.

Mr. Black was born in Southport, Conn., Oct. 18, 1844, and at the age of 17 he entered the jewelry business as a salesman for his father. Mr. Black leaves a widow, Mrs. Mary W. Black, and two sons, Clifford and Witherbee Black. He lived in Pelham Manor, N. Y.

Mr. Black was a member of the Union League Club, New York Yacht Club, and New York Athletic Club."

Source: Robert C. Black Dead, N.Y. Times, Jul. 18, 1907, p. 7.

Mary Grace Witherbee Black lived another twenty-one years after her husband's death. Her brief obituary appeared in the July 29, 1928 issue of The New York Times. It read:

"Deaths . . . BLACK-At Pelham Manor, N. Y., on Saturday, July 28, 1928, in the seventy-seventh year of her age. Mary Grace Witherbee, widow of Robert C. Black and mother of R. Clifford Black and Witherbee Black. Funeral service at her late residence, 984 Esplanade, Pelham Manor, N. Y., on Tuesday, July 31, 1928, at 11 0'clock. Interment private."

Source: Deaths . . . BLACK, N.Y. Times, Jul. 29, 1928, p. 25.

About eighteen months later, a brief item appeared in the January 18, 1930 issue of The New York Times providing information about the value of the estate left by Mrs. Black. The item read:


Widow of Ex-Head of Black, Starr & Frost Left Bulk to Sons -- M. S. Ames Had $1,038,742.

Mrs. Mary G. W. Black, widow of the former head of Black, Starr & Frost, Inc., left an estate appraised yesterday at $2,560,998 gross and $2,471,977 net, of which $2,067,018 was in securities. $120,236 in mortgages, $98,852 in cash, $41,701 in personal property and $231,800 the value of real estate at Pelham Manor. Mrs. Black owned 2,380 shares of the total of 100,000 shares of stock of Black, Starr & Frost, Inc., appraised at $1,428,000 as the value of the stock when it was taken over by Gorham, Inc., in a merger.

Mrs. Black gave $1,196,588 each to her two sons, Robert Clifford Black of Pelham Manor and Witherbee Black of Fairfield, Conn., as the residuary estate, and left $5,000 each to eight grandchildren, $16,000 to charities and the rest to friends. She died May 28 [sic], 1928."

Source: Mrs. Black's Estate Valued at $2,471,977, N.Y. Times, Jan. 18, 1930, p. 7.

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