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, July 29, 2005

Has Another Piece of the Treaty Oak Surfaced?

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Perhaps “Thomas Pell’s Treaty Oak” is the only tree ever to merit an obituary on the front page of The New York Times. The article, in the paper’s April 9, 1906 issue, announced the death of the giant white oak the previous day. Until then, the tree had stood for years on the grounds of the Bartow-Pell Mansion on Shore Road in Pelham Bay Park. Tradition holds that beneath its limbs 351 years ago, Thomas Pell signed a "treaty" with local Siwanoy Native Americans and acquired lands that today we know today as Pelham, New Rochelle, portions of Bronx County and much of the surrounding area.

The tree was revered for many years before it was destroyed by fire in 1906. Pieces of the tree made their way into the collections of museums, local organizations and private individuals. Now, it seems, another piece of the tree has come to light.

A Manhattan resident has reported to me that he has "a cross-section of the Pell Treaty Oak that is mounted on a mat board and encased in a rectangular shadow box frame, along with 2 small documents." According to the owner, "[t]he older document describes the oak and transfer of the property, the other describes an auction at which the wood piece was purchased in 1914."

Pieces of the tree are known to exist in a number of collections including those of the New-York Historical Society, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and the Manor Club (located on the Esplanade in the Village of Pelham Manor). The photograph immediately below shows a piece of the tree donated to the Manor Club in 1890.

Much has been written about the tree. To learn more, see: Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak, HistoricPelham.com (2003); Bell, Blake A., Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak, 78(3) The Westchester Historian, pp. 73-81 (Summer 2002). In addition, I have written a book detailing Thomas Pell's purchase and the legend of the Treaty Oak. That book may be purchased from a number of sources listed below.

Click Here To Buy the Book
Directly from the Publisher, iUniverse

Click Here to Buy the Book from Amazon.com.

Click Here to Buy the Book from Barnes & Noble.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at


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