On October 16, 1926, the Pelhams held a "Colonial Pageant" commemorating events important in the history of the area including the Battle of Pelham that occurred on October 18, 1776. There were more than five hundred members of the cast. Thousands watched the spectacle. The event was held along Split Rock Road which, at that time, extended from today's Shore Road near the Bartow-Pell Mansion to the Boston Post Road.
The pageant was an important and major commemoration in the life of the three villages that formed the Pelhams at that time. There is an ample historical record of the event which included one of the earliest uses of outdoor amplified sound using electrical speakers in Pelham. The event was well reported in local newspapers. Today's Blog posting will relate some of that coverage.
Plans for the pageant were reported in the October 9, 1926 issue of The New York Times
. The report said:
"PELHAMS TO GIVE COLONIAL PAGEANT
500 Persons to Take Part in a Historical Spectacle on Old Battlefield.
Special to The New York Times.
NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., Oct. 8. -- More than 500 persons will participate in a historical pageant to be given on Oct. 16 by High School students and organizations of the Pelhams.
The pageant will have four historical episodes besides a prologue and epilogue. The first episode will be the reception of Anne Hutchinson in 1640 by the Dutch and her massacre by the Indians. It will be given by the Degree of Pocahontas and the Comfort Society of Pelham under the direction of Mrs. Edwin L. Adair.
The second episode will depict the sale in 1654 by the Indians to Thomas Pell of the land comprising the present township of Pelham and vicinity, and will be presented by the students of the Pelham Memorial High School, under the direction of Miss Kathrene Ensign, Miss Anna Coleman and Miss Helen Homer will assist.
The third episode, 1700, will show Lord and Lady Pell receiving yearly tribute from their tenants and the reception of the British envoy as he presents the patent from King James to Lord Pell. This will be presented by the drama section of the Manor Club, under the direction of Mrs. G. Munro Hubbard.
An incident on Oct. 18, 1776, in the Battle of Pell's Neck between a detachment of Washington's Army under Colonel Glover and the British under General Howe will constitute the fourth episode. This will be directed by Colonel C. Sidney Haight, U. S. A., retired, who will be assisted by Major Philip Thurber, U. S. A., and Bruce Delette. It will be put on by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
The prologue was written by Mrs. Joan E. Secor, honorary president of the Manor Club, and will be read by Mrs. Henry E. Dey. The epilogue will be given by students of the Pelham Memorial High School under the direction of Miss Ensign.
The pageant will take place on the site of the former battle ground on the Split Rock Road near the Boston Post Road, Pelham Manor.
Miss Elizabeth B. Grimbell of New York is directing the pageant. Colonel C. Sidney Hight is Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements."
Source: Pelhams To Give Colonial Pageant, N.Y. Times
, Oct. 9, 1926, p. 10.
The pageant was held as scheduled. Once again The New York Times provided a detailed account of the event. That account is related below.
"PELL'S NECK BATTLE FOUGHT ONCE MORE
Thousands of Persons See the Pageant Recalling Episodes of 150 Years Ago.
500 ACTORS IN THE CAST
Colorful Picture of Revolutionary Incidents in Outdoor Setting at Pelham Manor.
Special to The New York Times.
NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., Oct. 16. -- A gathering of several thousand witnessed this afternoon a pageant depicting incidents in the history of the Pelhams. The occasion was the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Battle of Pell's Neck, held on Prospect Hill, Pelham Manor, at the Boston Post Road and Split Rock Road, site of the battle.
A natural amphitheatre [sic] formed by a hill and a plateau afforded a fine setting for the pageant. A grove of trees brilliant in their Autumn hues and the colorful costumes made a perfect picture.
More than 500 residents of Pelham Manor, Pelham and North Pelham participated in the celebration, which started with a parade of the actors, musical organizations and members of the Fire Department.
The pageant's first episode, the reception of Anne Hutchinson in 1640 by the Dutch and the massacre in which she was a victim of the Indians, was given by the Degree of Pocahontas and the Pelham Comfort Society, under the direction of Mrs. Edwin L. Adair of North Pelham. The principal characters were: Anne Hutchinson, Mrs. Adair; Older Daughter, Mabel Schroder; Younger Daughter, Betty Flavelle; Chief of the Siwanoy Indians, Remington Schuyler; Chief of the Wikagyl Indians, Stacy Wood; Chief of the Shippan Indians, Fred Wirth.
The second episode was the sale by the Inidans in 1654 to Thomas Pell of the land comprising the township of Pelham and vicinity. It was presented by pupils of the Pelham Memorial High School under the direction of Miss Cathrin Ensign. The principal characters were: Thomas Pell, Milo Fritz; Dutch Official from New Amsterdam, P. Parker.
The third episode showed Lord and Lady Pell receiving the yearly tribute in 1700 from their tenants; also Lord Pell receiving from the British envoy the patent to the Lordship and Manor of Pelham issued by King James II. It was presented by the drama section of the Manor Club under the direction of Mrs. G. Munro Hubbard. The principal characters were: Lord Pell, Roger B. Hull; Lady Pell, Mrs. Robert Jacob; Miss Pell, Irene Longley; British envoy, William L. Bradley; major domo, Henry E. Dey; members of the gentry, Major and Mrs. Philip Thurber, Mrs. Edgar C. Beecroft, Mr. and Mrs. Northrop Dawson, Mrs. William L. Bradley, Mrs. Frederick W. Ingalls, Mr. and Mrs. Winifred B. Holton Jr. and others. Several coaches used in this episode were loaned by Mrs. Edward Penfield of Pelham Manor.
The fourth episode depicted an incident in the battle of Pell's Neck on Oct. 18, 1776, between a detachment of Washington's Army under Colonel Glover and the British General, Lord Howe. It was presented by the American Legion Post of Pelham, citizens of the three villages and troops of the regular Army. Colonel C. Sidney Haight, U. S. A., retired, was in charge, assisted by Major Philip Thurber, U. S. A. Bruce De Lette, O. R. C., was director. The cast was: Colonel Glover, Captain Del Fungo Griera; Hessian officer, Major Thurber; Colonel Glover's staff, J. M. Perly, G. Lambert, P. Griega and Colonel Haight; General Howe, Ralph C. Angell.
The prologue, a poem written by Mrs. Joan E. Secor, Honorary President of the Manor Club, was read by Mrs. Henry E. Day [sic]. The epilogue was in the form of an allegory. Young girls in classic costume represented Westchester County, the town of Pelham and the three villages, and presented a pantomime of civic and patriotic achievement.
The pageant was directed by Miss Elizabeth B. Grimball of New York. Colonel Haight headed the Arrangements Committee.
Many descendants of Lord Pell witnessed the pageant, among them Stephen C. H. P. Pell, John Pell, Waldron Pell, Miss Adeline M. Turnhull, Mrs. I. S. Lawrence and Ogden Pell. Representative and Mrs. Benjamin L. Fairchild and Mrs. William C. Story were also present.
Mount Vernon Celebrates.
Mount Vernon also celebrated in commemoration of the battle. The celebration was held this afternoon by the East Side Improvement Association, the Mount Vernon Rotary Club and Bronx Xhapter, D. A. R. It took place at Garden Avenue and East Sixth Street, not far from the battle's site. A staff and flag were presented to the city by the association, and a bronze plaque by the Rotary Club. Former Supreme Court Justice Isaac N. Mills presided. The Rev. Dr. O. F. Bartholow, pastor of the First Methodist Church, made the address and Mayor William D. MacQuisten accepted the gifts for the city.
A $10 gold piece, the prize for the best essay on the battle written by a pupil of the De Witt Clinton School, offered by the Improvement Association, was presented to Alan Steinhardt by Mrs. C. Lee Peck of the Bronx Chapter, D. A. R."
Source: Pell's Neck Battle Fought Once More, N.Y. Times, Oct. 17, 1926, p. 28.Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.