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 08, 2005

How Did a Village Blacksmith Win the 1906 North Pelham Election by Cornering the Market on Sleighs?

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Judged solely by the historical record, it would seem that politics in Pelham has always been a funny business. Some of the most entertaining Pelham lore revolves around local politics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps one of the strangest, yet amusing, incidents involved the way in which a local village Blacksmith was elected President (i.e., Mayor) of the Village of North Pelham in 1906. Today's Blog posting will tell the story of how James Reilly, the village blacksmith, won the election by "cornering" the market for horse-drawn sleighs in the village.

It seems that in 1906, a number of North Pelham residents were not satisfied with the Replublican and Democratic leaders involved in Village Politics. They submitted a slate of candidates for the Village elections that they labled the "Municipal Ownership" ticket. Among those included in the ticket was James Reilly, the Village blacksmith, who stood for election to the position of Village President.

The day of the election (March 20, 1906), it seems, the weather had not been too cooperative and the crafty blacksmith realized that if he could tie up all the sleighs in the area it might be difficult for voters to get to the polls while his own supporters could be transported to the polling place. He did just that. The New York Times reported the next day:

Cornered the Sleighs and Is Elected President.

* * *

James Reilly, the village blacksmith of North Pelham, having cornered all the sleighs in the village, carried the day for the Municipal Ownership ticket in the village election yesterday. It was one of the most interesting contests in Westchester County, which had village elections in every corner yesterday.

The Municipal Ownership people elected their whole ticket, defeating the Republican and Democratic nominees by a good plurality. Mr. Reilly was elected by a plurality of 26; W. G. Barker was chosen Trustee by a plurality of 43; D. Paul O'Flynn was chosen Treasurer and James Lyon Collector . . . . "

Source: Village Blacksmith Wins In North Pelham, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 1906, p. 6.

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