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, December 30, 2005

Subdivision Development Map Created in 1873 for Bartow Village in the Town of Pelham

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On August 28, 1873, Maria Lorillard Bartow had a surveyor create a map of a proposed subdivision on lands of the Bartow Estate near the Bartow Station on the New Haven branch line. Maria Bartow was the widow of Robert Bartow who built the famed Bartow-Pell Mansion on today’s Shore Road. Fourteen months later, on October 11, 1874, Maria Lorillard Bartow filed a certified copy of the subdivision map (Map No. 627) entitled “Map of Bartow Situated in the Town of Pelham, Westchester County, New York”.

The map depicted grand plans to develop the lands around the Bartow Station immediately adjacent to the branch line railroad tracks. The entire area was within the Town of Pelham at that time, although New York City annexed the area in the mid-1890s. An image of the map appears immediately below.

The railroad tracks cross the map from left to right – approximately southwest to northeast – in the very center of the map. The Bartow Station sat in the center of the planned village.

On the Long Island Sound side of the railroad tracks, there were a number of streets planned to lead north from today's Shore Road toward the railroad tracks: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets. Third Street was the only such street planned to lead from Shore Road across the railroad tracks to that portion of the development northwest of the branch line railroad tracks. Bishop Avenue was planned for construction parallel to the railroad tracks on the Sound side immediately in front of the railroad station.

On the side of the railroad tracks away from the Long Island Sound (northwest of the branch line railroad tracks) the map depicted two streets planned for construction parallel to the railroad tracks: Oak Avenue and Chestnut Avenue. The map was filed with the Westchester County Registrar not long after an auction of the lots took place on September 14, 1874.

Though the lots were auctioned, developers never really constructed the subdivision. Once New York City began acquiring nearby lands for inclusion within the planned Pelham Bay Park, all development in the area ceased.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Efforts to Preserve Silent Film Made in Pelham in 1929


Pelham, New York is a small town located in Westchester County just northeast of New York City. On June 27, 1654, Thomas Pell of Fairfield, Connecticut purchased the area from local Native Americans.

As part of the Town of Pelham’s 350th Anniversary Celebration in 2004, The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham filed a 33-page grant application with the The National Film Preservation Foundation seeking a grant to preserve a 16 mm film made in Pelham in 1929. Entitled “Memorial Day Pelham NY 1929”, the film documents a day of events revolving around the Town’s Memorial Day celebration on May 30, 1929. Examples of a few of the images from the film submitted with the grant application appear immediately below.



The application detailed extensive research regarding the film and included newspaper accounts of the film and events depicted in the film published in 1929 as well as a history of motion picture exhibition in Pelham. It also included images taken from the film. Research suggests that Pelham Post No. 50, American Legion commissioned the film. It shows members of the Post, a parade through various parts of the town and a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of fallen heroes.

The National Preservation Foundation subsequently awarded a film preservation grant to the Town of Pelham to permit preservation of the historic 16 mm documentary silent film. The grant totals approximately $1,100 and will fund the creation of a new internegative (with titles), the manufacture of a new print copy of the film and the creation of a digi beta from the preservation copy that can be used to create DVDs for distribution to educational institutions in Pelham.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides a brief report on the status of the film preservation.

The film, in its original canister, is in the possession of Cineric with preservation expected by the “end of the first quarter 2006”. Cineric is considered by some to be among the industry’s finest restoration and preservation facilities. Cineric, located at 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 508, New York, NY, has restored over 200 films including Jason and the Argonauts, The Birds, American Grafitti, A Man for All Seasons, The Man from Laramie and The Caine Mutiny.
Cineric has indicated that the film “Memorial Day Pelham NY 1929” is a diacetate film, a precursor to safety film and is in excellent condition.

To learn more about the film and the grant awarded by the National Film Preservation Foundation, see National Film Preservation Foundation Awards Grant to Preserve 1929 Silent Film Made in Pelham, Vol. 1, Issue 11, Historic Pelham Herald, p. 1 (May 2004).

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Mystery of the "Manor Club Girl" That Set Pelham Tongues Wagging in 1913


The Manor Club was the scene of a bizarre mystery that set Pelham tongues wagging in 1913. Newspapers called it the mystery of the "Manor Club Girl". Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will tell a little of the mystery of the Manor Club Girl.

At about 6:00 p.m. on Monday, February 10, 1913, the secretary of the Manor Club, Henry Day, was passing the clubhouse. This was the old clubhouse of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor on the site of today's structure located at 1023 Esplanade. (To learn more about the original clubhouse, see the December 13, 2005 posting entitled "The Manor Club's First Clubhouse Built in 1887-1888"). An image of that clubhouse published in 1892 appears immediately below.



Mr. Day found a young girl dressed expensively and lying unconscious on the steps of the Manor Club. She was about seventeen years old and "very pretty". He carried her into the club and called the Chief of Police and an ambulance from New Rochelle Hospital.

Day revived the girl, but she was "unable to tell her name or to explain how she got to the club". She was hysterical and, according to one account, "raved about a limousine automobile and appeared to think that some one was trying to injure her."

Based on some of the things the girl said, police concluded that she was employed by a "motion picture house" and contacted the firm which, in turn, contacted her parents. Police concluded that the young girl had been drugged and thrown from an automobile.

The ambulance took the girl to New Rochelle Hospital where a man and woman claiming to be her parents called for her. According to one account, however, she "apparently recognized neither the man nor the woman who called for her".

The New York Times reported that "hospital authorities satisfied themselves that the couple who called were really the girl's parents". By the next day, she was able to walk and was released into the couple's custody by the hospital.

The mystery of the Manor Club Girl has never been solved. Her name is unknown and authorities did not learn how she came to be unconscious on the clubhouse steps.

Source: Call For Manor Club Girl - Parents Get Her and Guard Identity - She Doesn't Recognize Them, N.Y. Times, Feb. 12, 1913, p. 12.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mystery Home Depicted in 1925 Real Estate Advertisement


It's not often that I consider myself lazy, but . . . . Today I will begin a series of postings to the Historic Pelham Blog reproducing old real estate advertisements published in the 1920s in an effort to obtain help from readers in my efforts to identify the homes pictured in the advertisements. I will admit that although I have been collecting examples of such advertisements for years, I have yet to undertake any meaningful efforts to identify the homes depicted in the advertisements. I am hoping readers will help me avoid drives throughout Pelham searching for the homes depicted in these advertisements.

Today's example appears immediately below. It appeared in a magazine published in 1925. I have reproduced the text of the advertisement below its image to allow for full text searching of its content via the Historic Pelham Blog.



If you recognize the home above (or think you may recognize it), please click on "Comment" below and provide identifying information. I will receive an email and will update this entry at a later date with all such information. (Guesses are welcome!)

The text of the advertisement states as follows:

"Residence of Unusual Distinction
Set Amid Beautiful Oak Trees
AT PELHAM, N. Y.

BUILT of hollow tile with white marble dash finish, the roof of rough tile with copper leaders and gutters, the house is notable for its architectural excellence and pronounced charm.

The first floor has hall extending from front to rear, living room, 20x34-6, with fireplace, sun parlor, dining room, breakfast room, lavatory and service quarters; second floor: 5 master rooms, 3 baths, built-in shower; third floor: 3 rooms, bath and large storage area. Basement has billiard room and two lavatories. Vapor heating system, vacuum cleaning systm, ice-making plant and large refrigerator.

Porch 85x8 across front, with porte cochere in rear.

3-car garage with individual heating plant. The grounds 200x125 are charmingly landscaped with formal garden, lawns, shrubbery and over 400 varieties of flowers.

For further particulars apply S-3539.

Fish & Marvin 527 Fifth Ave., New York
Telephone Murray Hill 6526"

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Monday, December 26, 2005

The Dutch Acquired Lands Including Pelham From Local Native Americans in 1640


On June 27, 2004, the Town of Pelham celebrated the 350th anniversary of Thomas Pell's acquisition of lands that included Pelham from local Native Americans. The events of that day were the highlight of a celebration that lasted the entire year. Interestingly, however, Thomas Pell's treaty with local Native Americans signed on June 27, 1654 likely was not the initial effort to acquire lands that included Pelham from local Native Americans. The historical record suggests that the first such effort occurred on April 19, 1640. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little background regarding the events of that day.

In 1640, officials of New Amsterdam were engaged in efforts to acquire from local Native Americans lands near what we know today as the Island of Manhattan. Though the circumstances surrounding such acquisitions were quite complex, one reason for the purchases was to slow the westward expansion of English settlements that was inching inexorably from the northeast toward Manhattan.

According to E. B. O'Callaghan, a 19th century scholar of the Dutch history of New York and, particularly, the history of New Amsterdam:

"Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of the province, was dispatched early in the spring [of 1640] to the 'Archipelago,' to purchase that group of islands, which lay at the mouth of the Norwalk River, 'and all the adjoining lands, and to erect thereon the standard and arms of the High and Mighty Lords the States General; to take the savages under our protection, and to prevent effectually any other nation encroaching on our limits, or making incursions on our land and territory.'"

Source: O'Callaghan, E.B., History of New Netherland; or, New York Under the Dutch, Vol. I, pp. 214-15 (2d Ed., D. Appleton & Co. 1855).

O'Callaghan further indicates that this land acquisition took place on April 19, 1640. Id.

The area encompassed by this acquisition is generally believed to have extended from today's Hell Gate to Norwalk and to have included today's Town of Pelham. There long has been dispute over whether the Dutch actually -- or adequately -- compensated the Native Americans for the purchase. Many historians have suggested that among the many complex causes that may have played a role in the Native American massacre of Anne Hutchinson and members of her family was a failure by the Dutch to compensate the Native Americans for the lands on which Hutchinson settled.

Though Pelham commemorated the 350th anniversary of the Pell purchase in 2004, the 350th anniversary of the initial acquisition of the lands from local Native Americans may actually have occurred in 1990. . . . . . .

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Friday, December 23, 2005

The Pelham Manor Residence of Martin J. Condon of the American Snuff Company

One of the nation's most famous financiers and industrialists of the 19th century once lived in the Village of Pelham Manor in a mansion that rivalled the finest palatial residences in the nation. His name was Martin J. Condon and, for thirty-eight years, he served as president of the American Snuff Company. Condon actually created two vast fortunes because, after creating his first fortune, he was adjudged a bankrupt in August 1912. Consequently, he lost his lovely residence in Pelham Manor. That massive home was razed during the Depression years. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little information about the Pelham Manor home of Martin J. Condon.

Immediately below is a detail from a map published in a local Atlas in 1908 showing the location of the Condon mansion on today's Boston Post Road at the Esplanade. The red arrow points to the mansion, with Boston Post Road running up the length of the detail on its far left.




At the height of his career, Martin J. Condon served not only as President of American Snuff, but also as a director of the Carnegie Trust Company. He made the mistake, however, of endorsing notes held by a bank that failed plunging him into the bankruptcy abyss. At the time, he owned a "country home" in Pelham Manor and a residence in Nashville, Tennessee. His property in Pelham Manor included about 5-1/2 acres on which sat a palatial Spanish Renaissance home designed by the architectural firm of Little & O'Connor.

In connection with Condon's bankruptcy, the home was put up for sale. An image of a real estate advertisement for the home published in 1912 appears immediately below.


The advertisement includes a great deal of information about the home. It states, in part, as follows:

"This unusually desirably [sic] estate of five and one-half acres in the choicest section of Pelham Manor is offered for sale at less than the original cost of the buildings. It is situated at the southwest corner of the Boston Turnpike and Esplanade, with a frontage of six hundred and fifty feet on the former and of three hundred and eighty-five feet on the latter.

The dwelling, Spanish Renaissance in design, was erected by George Mertz's Sons from plans of Little & O'Connor and has every modern convenience. The house is equipped throughout with an indirect hot water heater system and all bathroom fittings, electrical fixtures, etc. are the finest obtainable.

The first floor contains large living room 46 x 44, drawing room 33 x 21, billiard room 33 x 21, dining room 33 x 21, breakfast room 25 x 21, two dressing rooms with lavatories, kitchen, laundry, servants' sitting room, pantries and numerous closets.

On the second floor are four masters' bedrooms 25 x 21 and two masters' bedrooms each 24 x 14. Each bedroom has its own private bath and unusually spacious closets. There are also two large dressing rooms connecting with two of the larger bedrooms. The servants' rooms, eight in number with two baths, are in a separate wing on the same floor.

The furniture now in the main rooms of the first floor, most of which was especially designed for the house, as well as furniture for some of the masters' bedrooms, can be secured at a very moderate cost at the option of the purchaser.

There is a private chapel on the third floor with stained glass windows and decorations from designs by the Church Glass & Decorating Company.

Surrounding the southerly and easterly sides of the house are numerous porches and terraces. There is a stable, of the same general design as the house, containing four box stalls, accommocations for six automobiles, harness rooms, cleaning rooms, etc."

During his bankruptcy, Mr. Condon provided testimony regarding his assets including his home in Pelham Manor. One report of his testimony said: "Condon testified that he owned five and a half acres at Pelham, in which his equity was $220,000, his home property at Nashville, Tenn., in which he had a $15,000 equity, and an automobile, and that $91,000 was due him from a brokerage account with Moore & Schley." Receiver for Condon, N.Y. Times, May 4, 1911.

Martin J. Condon died of pneumonia in Memphis, Tennessee on February 24, 1940 at the age of 82. His obituary appeared in the February 25 issue of The New York Times. It noted:
"In August, 1912, Mr. Condon was adjudged a bankrupt in the United States District Court in New York. At that time his liabilities amounted to approximately $5,000,000 and virtually his only asset was a country home at Pelham Manor. Mr. Condon laid his financial difficulties to the endorsement of notes held by a bank that had failed. He predicted that he would make a financial comeback.

That his prediction was borne out could be determined no more strongly than in the report of the Securities and Exchange Commission in April, 1935, showing Mr. Condon to have been earning the previous year $65,000, one of the high salaries in this country. Still active head of the American Snuff Company at the time of his death, Mr. Condon went from New York to Memphis when the headquarters of the concern were transferred following dissolution of the American Tobacco Company by a Supreme Court decree."

Martin J. Condon, N.Y. Times, Feb. 25, 1940, p. 38.
Below is an early postcard view of the Condon residence showing it in about 1910.




Thursday, December 22, 2005

Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873



Most residents of the Village of Pelham Manor in the Town of Pelham, New York know that portions of the Village were developed by a group of men who established an association named the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873. Most, however, do not realize the extent of the lands in Pelham originally planned for inclusion in that development -- approximately 500 acres extending from today's Shore Road all the way to what was then called the Pelhamville Station on the main New Haven railroad line in today's Village of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little information about the extent of the lands encompassed by the original development plans of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association.

It appears that the principals of the Association intended to develop two broad areas consisting of at least three distinct neighborhoods. At least one early map shows the area south of today’s Boston Post Road labeled as “Pelham Manor” while the area north of the roadway extending to the New Haven Line railroad tracks was labeled “Huguenot Heights” – hence, the “Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association”. See Pelham Manor And Huguenot Heights Association, The Daily Graphic [New York], Jun. 12, 1874, p. 785 (full page advertisement).

Another early map of the planned development suggests plans to divide portions of the two principal areas into three subdivisions: the “Chestnut Grove Division”, the “Glen Mitchill Division” and the “Pleasant Ridge Division”. See Map of Three Divisions of Lands of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Pelham, Westchester Co. NY (photostatic copy in the collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham).

Clearly members of the Association intended to develop additional subdivisions later since these three did not encompass any of the Association’s lands extending from the branch line railroad tracks to the Long Island Sound. Nor did these three subdivision encompass lands near the main New Haven Line railroad tracks.

Immediately below is a detail from a map of the planned development published as part of an advertisement that appeared in the June 12, 1874 issue of The Daily Graphic, a New York City newspaper. (Note the reference to the "NEW CITY ON THE SOUND" reflected at the bottom of the detail.) I have added two numbered arrows (1 & 2) to denote lands not commonly thought of as included within the original plans for the development by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Arrow 1 points to lands north of today's Colonial Avenue that were encompassed within the planned development. Arrow 2 points to lands east of the so-called "branch line" railroad tracks. That area, today, includes such areas as Manor Circle, Beech Tree Lane and portions of Pelham Bay Park following the old boulder lined roadway that once led from Hunter's Island to today's Boston Post Road.



The Chestnut Grove Division extended from the branch line railroad tracks to today’s Boston Post Road. It included lots on the south side of Boston Post Road and on both sides of the following streets: Highland Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Edgewood Avenue, Esplanade and Pelhamdale Avenue. Id.

The Association focused first on the Chestnut Grove Division. Interestingly, initially all the land between Pelhamdale Avenue and Esplanade extending from today’s Black Street to today’s New England Thruway sound barrier was designated as the site of a major hotel complex planned for the lands right in front of the Pelham Manor Depot. Id. That complex, of course, was never built.

The boundaries of the remaining two subdivisions are a little harder to place. The planned street names were never implemented.

The Glen Mitchill Division was planned for the area from just west of the Boston Post Road to today’s Colonial Avenue. It included lots on the east side of Pelhamdale Avenue and extended westward to an area near today’s Fowler Avenue. The Pleasant Ridge Division was planned for a portion of what we know today as the Heights. It was planned for the area from today’s Colonial Avenue to an area just north of today’s Boulevard. It was bounded on the west by Wolfs Lane and extended eastward to an area just east of today’s Cliff Avenue. Id. Lands north of the planned Pleasant Ridge Division, like those east of the branch line railroad tracks, were not included in the original map of the three planned subdivisions. Apparently they were to be developed at some point after the three central subdivisions.

The Association failed in 1876 in the midst of a major financial depression that followed the financial panic of 1873. The only neighborhood in which any development occurred under the aegis of the Association was the Chestnut Grove Division.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Early Sketch of the First Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island in Pelham


Occasionally during the last eleven months I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog postings about the New York Athletic Club located on Travers Island in Pelham Manor. For example, see:

Thu. May 26, 2005: The New York Athletic Club's Opening of the New "Summer Home" on Travers Island in 1889

Wed. June 15, 2005: The New York Athletic Club Saved a Portion of the Kemble House Property on Shore Road in the 1920s

The May 26 posting includes an image of an early postcard with a photograph of the original clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island before it was destroyed by fire. That clubhouse was opened for "inspection" by club members on June 8, 1889. See Travers Island, N.Y. Times, Jun. 9, 1889, p. 3.

The building, known as "the big house" was a two-story shingle style structure with a cellar and an attic. It was approximately 100 feet by 40 feet in size and contained 48 sleeping rooms and two large dormitories as well as a restaurant, cafe and a billiard room.

An early sketch depicting a different view of the same clubhouse was published in a real estate publication issued in 1892. The citation for the article that included a sketch of the clubhouse is: Pelham Manor, Pelham Heights and Vicinity, Real Estate Record and Builders Guide, Vol. L, Issue 1,292 Supplement, Dec. 17, 1892, p. 1. The image appears immediately below.



This view of the clubhouse shows quite well the important piazza that wrapped around much of the shingle style building. The clubhouse burned on January 5, 1901 in one of the most spectacular fires Pelham has ever witnessed. When the disaster was over, all that remained of the lovely building pictured above were "three large chimneys, two stone towers, and a smoldering pile of ruins." Clubhouse At Travers Island Burned, N.Y. Times, Jan. 6, 1901, p. 2.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An Early Description of Construction of the First Nine Holes of the Pelham Bay Golf Course


Golf has been played in and around Pelham since at least 1895 and, likely, before that time. For those interested in learning more about the history of golf in Pelham, see Bell, Blake A., The Early Days of Golf in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 36, Sept. 10, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

Today's Pelham Split Rock Golf Club, consisting of the Pelham Bay Golf Course and the Split Rock Golf Course, sits on land that once was part of the Town of Pelham before annexation by New York City in 1896. The narrow, tree-lined Split Rock Golf Course opened in 1934 and was designed by John van Kleek. Pelham Bay Golf Course opened in 1905.

There is an interesting early account of the early, slow efforts to build the first nine holes of the Pelham Bay Golf Course (which was redesigned by John van Kleek in 1937). The account, published in 1900, indicates that Val Flood, New York City's "golf professional" was overseeing construction of the course. Although the first nine holes of the course were scheduled to open in August, 1900, its condition in September of that year -- a full month later -- was described as "chaotic". The New York Times said:

"Not a green is yet ready. Just now they present bare, dirt surfaces, reminding one somewhat of the 'browns,' as facetious golfers term the dirt greens of Florida. . . . [I]n many instances it looks as though the old sod had simply been scraped from the surface, for, although well rolled - the only thing that seems to have been done effectually thus far - the old roots and new shoots of coarse grass are cropping out in many places. . . . [I]t is apparent to the simplest golfer that no putting can be done there until another season. The rank grass has been but sparsely cut, the tees are in a very primitive condition, and the excessive roughness of a large part of the ground will require weeks of persistent rolling before the old ploughed ruts can be partially eliminated. Golfers who expect to find such fine turf as Van Cortlandt can boast, will be grievously disappointed, and even with hard work, it will take at least a year to bring the Pelham Bay Park links into comfortable playing condition. Every one in the immediate vicinity who is at all golfy admits that the work has been very slow. Foreman See himself confesses that he has been handicapped by lack of men, although he has a dozen at work now and a seven-ton roller, which made its appearance last week. Statements are still being made that a portion of the course may be opened this Fall, but the present condition renders that decidedly unlikely, and, indeed, a golfer would find no enjoyment in playing a second time." Pelham Links' Chaotic State, N.Y. Times, Sep. 10, 1900, p. 3.

The same article contains a very interesting piece of information about the clubhouse then planned for the golf course. It notes that that the old Delancey Mansion near Plum Cove where today's Shore Road periodically floods just south of the Pelham Manor border likely would be used as the clubhouse once the course opened. For many years thereafter, Hunter's Island Inn served as a popular roadhouse and, during Prohibition, speakeasy until it was razed in the 1930s. The article notes:

"When the course does get in shape the golfers will have an admirable headquarters for luncheon and lockers in the Hunter's Island Inn. This is a commodious stone building, being the old Delancey house, and is upon the Park property. It is but a step from the front door to the first tee. When the golf links become well established the facilities for all conveniences will be superior to those at Van Cortlandt. There are over 200 members of the New York Athletic Club who play golf, and as the Pelham course is only a short distance from Travers Island, they are all anxious for a chance to play." Id.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Second Loutrel Briggs Garden "Discovered" in Pelham


A second historic "Loutrel Briggs Garden" has been "discovered" -- that is, rediscovered -- in the Town of Pelham. On October 20, 2005 I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "Historic Loutrel Briggs Garden 'Discovered' in Pelham Manor". In it, I described a recently "rediscovered" Loutrel Briggs Garden located in the rear of the "Lockwood Barr House" at 20 Beech Tree Lane. Today's posting will provide details of a second Loutrel Briggs Garden located in the last few days at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue.

The renowned landscape architect Loutrel Winslow Briggs (1893 – 1977) is widely noted as among the “Pioneers of American Landscape Design” who literally shaped our history. See Birnbaum, Charles A. & Karson, Robin, eds., Pioneers of American Landscape Design, pp. 35-37 (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2000). An expert on his work and the work of many of his contemporaries has described him saying “Briggs, above all others, is credited with establishing what is generally known today as ‘Charleston’s garden style.’” Cochran, James, Preserving Charleston’s Landscape Legacy, Historic Preservation, Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 2 (American Society of Landscape Architects, Spring 2005). In the last few years, heightened awareness of the importance of his work has led to surveys intended to identify remaining gardens that he designed, preservation workshops dedicated to teaching the owners of Briggs gardens how to preserve, document and maintain his original work, as well as lectures, tours and a weekend charrette all dedicated to Loutrel W. Briggs and his landscape architecture. See id., p. 3.

Research has revealed that the lovely home located at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue near the intersection of Irving Place includes much of an original Loutrel Briggs Garden designed and created in about 1928. Photographs of the Garden and the plans for the garden prepared by Mr. Briggs appeared in the following article: A Community Prize Winner - Garden of Mrs. W. W. Warner At Pelham, N. Y. - L. W. Briggs, Landscape Architect, Garden & Home Builder, pp. 526-27 (Feb. 1928). The Garden Plan published in that article appears immediately below:



Although much of the original garden seems extant, the circular pool on the main lawn is no longer visible and has either been filled or removed. The landscaped garden no longer appears to extend all the way to Irving Place (located at the bottom of the plan above). The pathway and steps leading from the area near the circular pool first to the circular "Naturalistic Garden" and then the circular "Rock Garden", however, continue to exist. The photograph immediately below shows that portion of the garden.



What appears to be "descendants" of early plantings remain throughout the garden although it is not possible to see from the public sidewalks around the home whether the Rose Garden and Drying Yard near the garage at the end of the driveway remain. Below are two photographs of the home located at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue. On the left is a photograph of the home from the above-cited article published in 1928. On the right is a photograph from roughly the same angle taken on December 17, 2005.


According to the 1928 article, "[t]he landscape architect's plan explains the relationship of the different individual features. The local community prize was awarded to this garden as being the one that was the greatest asset to the community as seen from the roadway. And this is achieved without sacrificing any sense of privacy in the really intimate parts of the garden. The rising contour materially helps in this treatment." Id., p. 526. The same article continues:

"Mrs. W. W. Warner's garden, at Pelham, is satisfying at all times of the year although the accompanying photographs show it in its early summer dress. When the Tulips bedeck the narrow borders adjoining the connecting walk from the main terrace to the rock garden, the feeling of intimacy and compactness to the owner is quite marked: yet as the lower photograph shows there is a broad stretch of open lawn for public view which is a splendid setting for the interesting groups of flowering shrubs (Azaleas, Rhododendrons, etc.) with Dogwoods and other small trees and the border of Phlox that so conspiculously edges the herbaceous planting." Id., p. 527.

This garden, according to experts on Loutrel Briggs, appears to be only the second Briggs Garden now known to exist in the northeastern United States. Undoubtedly others exist, waiting to be "rediscovered". Hopefully many more may be found in Pelham.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Pelham's Hutchinson River "Landing" in the Early 19th Century

Yesterday I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a brief posting entitled "Logging the Virgin Forest in Pelham in the Early 19th Century". Coincidentally, I received three email messages from readers interested in the reference to the Hutchinson River "landing" contained in the November 17, 1813 classified advertisement from The Evening Post that I quoted in yesterday's posting. The most extensive message said:

"I read your article with interest regarding the long-ago logging industry of Pelham. It seems to explain the remains of some sort of dock (the loading dock you mention?) in the Hutchinson River. Where 95N passes over the River, these are visible at a low tide. Look for the mud flat near the remains of the old rowboat. Also, if you follow the train tracks south, as they pass Co-op City, you will see more of the same; and in a 'better' state of preservation. What do you think?"

Comments such as these caused me to give some careful thought last evening to the landing and its location and whether there may be remnants of piers that supported a dock associated with the landing. In the last few years I have read many references to the landing, but have not tried to collect them and analyze them with any substantial effort.

One of the earliest maps of Pelham containing sufficient detail to show such a landing was prepared in 1853. Below is a detail from a copied version of that map prepared in the 1940s. I have added an arrow to show the location of the landing as depicted on the map. Note that not only does the map show a "landing", but it also shows the "Prevost" property north of the area consistently with the reference in the classified advertisement quoted yesterday saying that the wood offered for sale on the Prevost property was within "3/4 of a mile of the landings".


Detail from Copied Version of 1853 Map
Prepared in the 1940s.

Last evening I tried to compare the map detail to a current view of the same area. I chose the "Hybrid" version of satellite photography and street maps offered by Google. I located the area where I-95 crosses the Hutchinson River as well as the area to the south. Click here to see the hybrid satellite image / map that I reviewed. (Remember, when you view such a Google map you can place your cursor on the map and depress your left mouse button. While depressing that button you can drag your cursor to move the map and thereby "navigate" through the satellite image / map hybrid.)

Of course, the analysis is not easy. Beginning in the 19th century, the Army Corps of Engineer straightened much of the channel of the Hutchinson River. Thus, the path of today's Hutchinson River is different in many respects from its path in the early 19th century.

However, in comparing the Google image with the map detail above, you may notice that remnants of the distinctive "loop" in the path of the river just north of the landing appear to be visible in the satellite image. If that is the case, then any remnants of the landing should be to the south of the remnants of the distinctive loop.

Using the Google satellite map scale of approximately 1-1/4 inches represents 500 feet and doing the best I can to approximate distance based on a review of the map detail above, it looks to me like any remnants of the landing likely would lie about 2,000 feet south of the place where I-95 crosses the Hutchinson River. That would seem to place it very roughly in an area of the river across from where Peartree Avenue intersects with the bend in Co Op City Boulevard.

Thus, the reader who noted that "if you follow the train tracks south, as they pass Co-op City, you will see more of the same; and in a 'better' state of preservation" likely is correct.

My curiosity is so stimulated that the next step will be to track down the possible remnants at low tide and photograph the site.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Logging the Virgin Forest in Pelham in the Early 19th Century


It may be difficult to imagine, but there was a time when virgin forest covered much of Pelham. There is evidence that ship timbers and large amounts of firewood once were logged from lands in Pelham.

The most recently-uncovered evidence of such operations comes from a series of classified advertisements published in The Evening Post, a New York City newspaper, in 1813. An early Pelham resident named Augustine Frederick Prevost placed the advertisements. Prevost owned an estate with a grand home located in the area where today's Boston Post Road crosses the Hutchinson River. One such advertisement, published on November 17, 1813, read as follows:

"FOR SALE, the WOOD, standing on near 30 acres of land at Pelham in the county of Westchester, supposed to be about 800 cords, within 3/4 of a mile of the landings, whence it mayy be brought to New-York for one dollar per cord. The wood is walnut, birch, and near one hundred of the largest most valuable white oak for ship timber, all upland growth. Enquire of
AUG. FRED. PREVOST,
Nov. 10 10t Pelham, West-Chester county"

The "landings" to which the advertisement refers were landings on the Hutchinson River where small boats could load and unload.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham


Recently I have uncovered some new information about John Hunter's acquisition of Hunter's Island located in the Manor of Pelham before New York City annexed the island and later connected it to the mainland with landfill. John Hunter built a showplace mansion on the island that was considered Westchester County's showplace throughout the early 19th century. It housed one of the nation's finest private art collections and hosted illustrious guests including President Martin Van Buren. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little information about John Hunter's acquisition of the island.

In his popular book on the history of Pelham published in 1946, Lockwood Barr traced much of the ownership history of Hunter's Island. In one passage, he wrote:

"Since no deed for Hunter's Island to John Hunter, has been found, it is not known exactly when Hunter acquired the Island, but obviously it was after 1804 and before 1812. . . . Proof that John Hunter purchased the Island from William Henderson is contained in the deed to Ambrose C. Kingsland, dated 1866, from John Hunter 3rd, Executor of the estate of his grandfather, John, which reads in part: '. . . tracts of land heretofore conveyed to John Hunter, senior, now deceased, by William Henderson . . . and known by the name of Hunter's Island, formerly known by the name of Henderson's or Appleby's Island, and the two small islands contiguous thereto, commonly called The Twins. . . containing as estimated, 250 acres more or less . . . being the same premises conveyed by Thomas Hunt to John Blagge and by him to Alexander Henderson. . .'

The title to the Island, from Henderson, was not satisfactory, for soon after the death of William Henderson in 1812, John Hunter took legal steps to clear the title. Peter Jay Munro, one of the leading lawyers of that day: 'levied a fine and recovery in behalf of John Hunter, Esq. for the entire Island. . .'--according to a footnote in Bolton, Vol. II, p. 89." Barr, pp. 93-94.

Review of copies of The New-York Evening Post published in 1818 has revealed notice of an action in fine that may be the "fine and recovery in behalf of John Hunter" to which Mr. Barr referred.

Regular readers of the Historic Pelham Blog may recall that I described the archaic legal concept of an "action in fine" in a posting published December 9, 2005 entitled "Conveyance of Le Roy Lands in Pelham Between Pelham Bridge and New Rochelle in 1818". There I noted that before about 1833, the fine was a fictitious personal action that the parties "settled" and presented to the court for approval of the settlement. The defendant in such an action was called the "Deforciant" because the fictitious action was premised around the fiction that the defendant seller of land was unjustifiably using force to prevent the buyers from possessing the land -- deforcing them from the land. The land purchasers brought an action begun by writ of covenant against fictitious deforciant. The parties then applied to the court for approval of a compromise of the action. The terms of the settlement were recorded in court records and public notice of the settlement was provided typically by publication in local newspapers.

According to the eighth edition of Black's Law Dictionary (2004), "[t]he fine owed its popularity as a means of conveyancing to two factors, neither of which was present in the standard method of conveyance by means of feoffment. First, the enrolling in the court records provided evidence of the transaction which was both permanent and free from the danger of forgery. Secondly, the effect of the fine was to set running a short period of limitation at the expiration of which all claims to the land were barred. It was this second aspect which made the device attractive as a means of 'barring' fees tail." (quoting Butt, Petter, Land Law, pp. 102-03 (2d ed. 1988).

In 1811, John Hunter used the fine in an apparent effort to clear title to Hunter's Island. A notice related to that effort appeared in the November 23, 1818 issue of The New-York Evening Post. It read:

"SUPREME COURT.
John Hunter, plaintiff.
vs.
Robert R. Hunter, deforciant.
_____________________
PUBLIC notice is hereby given pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided that in the supreme Court of Judicature of the people of the state of New-York, held at the city of New-York, on the first Monday of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, before Smith Thompson, Ambrose Spencer, William W. Van Ness, Joseph C. Yates, and Jonas Platt, Esquires, justices of the said supreme court, a fine with proclamations of the lands and tenements hereinafter mentioned was levied and acknowledged between the parties aforesaid, which fine is to the effect following to wit : West Chester County, to wit : This is the final agreement made in the supreme court of judicature of the people of the state of New-York, at the city of New-York, on the first Monday in May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, before Smith Thompson, Ambrose Spencer, William W. Van Ness, Joseph C. Yates, and Jonas Platt, Esquires, justices of the said supreme court, and others then and there present, between John Hunter, Esquire, plaintiff, and Robert R. Hunter of the city and state of New York, Esquire, deforciant, of two messuages and two hundred and fifty acres of land, meadow, pasture, wood, salt-meadow, sedge, marsh, and land covered with water, with the appurtenances, situate at Pelham, in the county of Westchester ; being a certain farm, consisting of three islands or parcels of land, lying in the East River or Long Island Sound, at Pelham, aforesaid ; one called 'Hunter's Island,' alias 'Henderson's Island,' alias 'Appleby's Island,' and the other two called 'The Twins;' which said three islands being situated near each other, are surrounded by the water of the said river or sound, and at high water form three separate and distinct islands, and at low water are connected together by sedge and marsh, and which said farm, or islands, parcels of land and premises, are butted and bounded as follows, viz : Beginning at the easterly side of the bridge, connected the first mentioned island with the main land, at low water mark, being the middle of the channel of the water dividing the said first mentioned island from the main land; thence running along the shores of the said farm, islands, parcels of land and premises, at low water mark aforesaid, until the said line comes to the westerly side of the said bridge; and thence running under the said bridge to the place of beginning ; comprehending and including within the said line or boundary, the whole, and each and every part of the said Farm, Islands, parcels of land and premises lying or being above low water mark aforesaid, and containing in all two hundred and fifty acres, be the same more or less ; and also of the aforesaid bridge, connecting the first mentioned island with the said main land at Pelham aforesaid as the same bridge now stands over and across the water separating the first mentioned island from the said main land ; and also the right easement or privilege of a road four rods wide leading from the northerly end or butment of the said bridge where it joins the said main land to the public highway in Pelham aforesaid, and running and being as the said road now runs or extends from the said butment to the said public highway ; and also of ninety-eight acres and two perches of land, meadow, pasture, and wood, with the appurtenances situate at Pelham aforesaid, in the said county, being a certain other farm, tract or parcel of land at Pelham aforesaid, (formerly in the tenure or occupation of Augustin James Frederick Prevost,) bounded as follows, viz : Beginning at the southerly corner thereof near a school house where a farm now or late of William and George Crawford joins the highway leading from the Westchester turnpike road in Pelham to Rodman's Neck, (so called) ; thence running northerly with the said highway to land now or late of Caleb Pell ; thence running eastwardly with the last mentioned land to land now or late of the heirs or devisees of William Bailey, deceased, commonly called the 'William Bailey farm' ; thence running southwesterly with the last mentioned land, to the aforesaid farm now or late of William and George Crawford ; and thence running westerly with the last mentioned farm to the place of beginning ; containing ninety eight acres and two perches of land, be the same more or less -- Whereupon a plea of covenant was summoned between them in the same court, that is to say, that the said Robert R. Hunter hath acknowledged the said tenements, with the appurtenances, to be the right of him the said John Hunter, as those which the said John Hunter hath of the gift of the said Robert H. Hunter, and those the said Robert R. Hunter hath remised and quit claimed from him the said Robert R. Hunter and his heirs, to the aforesaid John Hunter and his heirs forever -- And moreover the said Robert R. Hunter hath granted for himself and his heirs, that he will warrant to the aforesaid John Hunter and his heirs, the aforesaid tenements with the appurtenances, against all persons forever ; and for this acknowledgement, remise, quit-claim, warranty, fine, and agreement, the said John Hunter hath given to the said Robert R. Hunter forty thousand dollars ; and that the said fine was proclaimed the first time in the said supreme court on the seventh day of May, in the year first above mentioned. Dated this fourteenth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.
JOHN HUNTER,
ROBERT R. HUNTER.
Towt, Atty. Nov. 19 law5w"

Supreme Court, The New-York Evening Post, Nov. 23, 1818, p. 4.

In addition to the significance of this notice to the history of Hunter's Island, there are two very significant references included in the notice. First, the notice contains one of the earliest references -- though not the earliest reference -- to a school located in Pelham. Significantly, however, this early reference gives the location of the school and places it near the location where the old one-room-schoolhouse on Split Rock Road once stood (that building has been incorporated into the home located at 982 Split Rock Road).

Another significant reference within the notice is the ancient roadway that led from John Hunter's causeway that connected Hunter's Island to the mainland all the way to today's Boston Post Road. I have written about that roadway, remnants of which are still visible within Pelham Bay Park in an area just south of the Beech Tree Lane section of the Village of Pelham Manor. See Tuesday, November 1, 2005: The Mystery of The Ancient Boulder-Lined Road Near Beech Tree Lane.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Manor Club's First Clubhouse Built in 1887-1888



Today's Manor Club, located at 1023 Esplanade in the Village of Pelham Manor, is a cultural, civic and social club for women. Although it had its beginnings in the 1870s, it was not organized formally until January 10, 1882. The clubhouse that stands today is not the original clubhouse. Today's clubhouse opened in 1922. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide two early views of the original clubhouse and a little about its history.



View of the Original Manor Club Clubhouse
Published in Real Estate Guide Printed in 1892

A history of the Manor Club by Mrs. Earle E. Bradway indicates that in May 1883 the club decided to purchase two lots on the Esplanade owned by Mrs. Robert C. Black for the construction of a clubhouse. According to Mrs. Bradway, "Mr. Robert C. Black, Mr. John H. Dey, Mr. W.R. Lamberton, Mr. George H. Reynolds and Mr. G. Osmar Reynolds signed and filed articles of association under the provisions of an Act of the Legislature passed in 1875, and on the 28th day of May 1883 became incorporated under the name of the Manor Club. This incorporated club in June 1883 took title to the land referred to and carried out the intention of the purchase by conveying life interests to the several members of the old Manor Club.”

It took members of the Club several years to raise the money necessary to build a new clubhouse. In the meantime, they decided that the lots previously purchased were not the best location for the structure and arranged a new site – the site where today’s clubhouse now stands.

Club members selected F. Charles Merry as the architect. He designed a lovely shingle-style building with a large auditorium in the center and a deep “piazza” (porch) that surrounded nearly the entire building.

View of the Original Clubhouse of the Manor Club
from Club Member Certificate Printed in 1888.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1887, a crowd gathered for the laying of the cornerstone of the Manor House, the new clubhouse. The Order of Exercises for the ceremony suggests that those who participated believed that they were shaping the history of their village – three of the speakers addressed the following topics: “History of Pelham Manor”, “The Early History of The Manor Club”, and “The Later History of The Manor Club”. Construction proceeded smoothly and the new clubhouse opened in June 1888.

The club expanded rapidly by growing its membership effectively. By 1917 it appears that the financial affairs of the group were in order and discussions began regarding whether to expand the aging clubhouse or to build a new one. A building fund was started and members such as Mrs. Robert C. Black donated additional funds toward the project. Finally, in 1921 the club decided to build the new clubhouse. A plan was devised “to have members sign pledges ranging from twenty-five dollars to five hundred dollars, payable over a five year period” to assist with the project. Fundraising succeeded and the club selected Mr. William H. Orchard as the architect for the new clubhouse.

The old clubhouse was razed. Construction of the new clubhouse proceeded smoothly and the clubhouse was formally opened in February 1922.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

19th Century Subdivision Map of Planned Bartow Village



During the mid to late 19th century, there was an area in the Town of Pelham known as Bartow. The hamlet of Bartow was a quaint and small collection of residences located on the mainland near City Island. The entire area -- as well as City Island -- was annexed by New York City, effective in 1896. Before then, however, the little area known variously as Bartow, Bartow-on-the-Sound, Bartow Station and Bartow Village became an important part of Pelham and its history.

Detail of 1895 Map by Julius Bien & Co.
Showing Bartow, Northwest of City Island.


All that remains today of the little hamlet of Bartow are the remnants of a once beautiful stone train station designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1908 to replace the little wooden station built on the branch line in the 1870s. The station was known as Bartow station. Today the stone station is a collapsed and decrepit shell covered with vandals' graffiti.


Recent Photograph of Remnants of Bartow Station
in Pelham Bay Park

I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog a number of postings about the hamlet of Bartow and the remnants of its train station. See:

Thu. March 24, 2005: The Bartow Area of Pelham in the 19th Century: Where Was It?

Thu. July 21, 2005: Today's Remnants of the Bartow Station on the Branch Line Near City Island?
This weekend while working at the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, I pulled out a copy of a map showing a subdivision that once was planned for construction around the Bartow Station on the branch line. An image of the map appears immediately below.


This "Map of Bartow Village" shows a planned subdivision thwarted by New York City's acquisition and annexation of the lands as part of its development of Pelham Bay Park during the late 19th century. The map offers an interesting insight into the area. The railroad tracks cross the map from left to right in its very center. The small black rectangle at the center of the map represents the Bartow Station. A photograph of the remnants of that station appears above.

Today's pathway leading to the remnants of the station appears to lie approximately where "Third Street" was planned in the little Village. On the Long Island Sound side of the railroad tracks, there were a number of streets planned to lead from today's Shore Road toward the railroad tracks: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Streets. Third Street was the only such street planned to cross the railroad tracks. Bishop Avenue was planned for construction parallel to the railroad tracks on the Sound side immediately in front of the Railroad Depot.

On the side of the railroad tracks away from the Long Island Sound (opposite the Railroad Depot) two streets were planned for construction parallel to the railroad tracks: Oak Avenue and Chestnut Avenue.

Interestingly, the map seems to reflect that a number of the properties near the Railroad Depot were reserved by the Bartow Estate involved in the development of the subdivision -- presumably because the properties likely were among the most commercially valuable. A few others appear to have been reserved for -- or owned by -- others including J.H. Byron.

Today the area sits near the Pelham Bit Stables in Pelham Bay Park. Rarely do those who pass even realize that a residential village once was planned where today there is little more than trees, brambles and a lovely bridle trail.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Conveyance of Le Roy Lands in Pelham Between Pelham Bridge and New Rochelle in 1818


In 1818, Herman and Hannah Le Roy commenced a lawsuit against their son, Herman Le Roy, Jr. The matter, in reality, was not a contested one. Rather, it was a means by which their son, a wealthy New York City merchant, conveyed property to his mother, Hannah. The suit was a way for Herman Le Roy, Jr. to convey clear title to the lands to his mother.

The type of action they filed was an action then known as "the fine". Before about 1833, the fine was a fictitious personal action that the parties "settled" and presented to the court for approval of the settlement. The defendant in such an action was called the "Deforciant" because the fictitious action was premised around the fiction that the defendant seller of land was unjustifiably using force to prevent the buyers from possessing the land -- deforcing them from the land. The purchasers brought an action begun by writ of covenant against the seller of the land. The parties then applied to the court for approval of a compromise of the action. Typically the seller would admit that the land belonged to the purchasers because the seller had made a gift of the land. The "fine" was the payment for the land. The terms of the settlement were recorded in court records and public notice of the settlement was provided typically by publication in local newspapers.

According to the eighth edition of Black's Law Dictionary (2004), "[t]he fine owed its popularity as a means of conveyancing to two factors, neither of which was present in the standard method of conveyance by means of feoffment. First, the enrolling in the court records provided evidence of the transaction which was both permanent and free from the danger of forgery. Secondly, the effect of the fine was to set running a short period of limitation at the expiration of which all claims to the land were barred. It was this second aspect which made the device attractive as a means of 'barring' fees tail." (quoting Butt, Petter, Land Law, pp. 102-03 (2d ed. 1988).

A series of identical notices of the fine filed by Herman and Hannah Le Roy appeared in The New-York Evening Post beginning in November 1818. The notice provides an important historical record of the lands that Herman Le Roy, Jr. owned and conveyed to his parents. For this reason, the notice is reproduced below in its entirety.

"SUPREME COURT.
Herman Le Roy and Hanna his wife, Plaintiffs.
vs.
Herman Le Roy, Junior,
Deforciant.
-----------------------------------------------
PUBLIC notice is hereby given, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided, that in the Supreme Court of Judicature of the People of the State of New-York, held at the city of New-York on the first Monday of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, before Smith Thompson, Ambrose Spencer, William W. Van Ness, Joseph C. Yates, and Jonas Platt, Esquires, Justices of the said Supreme court a fine with proclamations of the lands and tenements hereinafter mentioned was levied and acknowledged between the parties aforesaid, which fine is to the effect following to wit. West Chester County, to wit. This is the final agreement made in the Supreme court of Judicature of the People of the State of New York, at the city of New-York, on the first Monday in May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, before Smith Thompson, Ambrose Spencer, William W. Van Ness, Joseph C. Yates, and Jonas Platt, Esquires, Justices of the said Supreme court, and others then and there present, between Herman Le Roy and Hannah his wife, Plaintiffs, and Herman Le Roy, Junior, of the city and state of New-York, merchant, deforciant of all those to messuages and three hundred and fifteen acres of land, meadow, pasture, wood, salt meadow, sedge, marsh, and land covreed with water, with the appurtenances, situate at Pelham, in the county of West Chester being a certain farm of land consisting of three several tracts, pieces or parcels, butted and bounded as follows, that is to say, First, all that certain tract, piece or parcel of land, meadow, pasture, salt meadow, sedge, marsh, and land covered with water, lying upon the southerly side of the highway leading through Pelham aforesaid, from the bridge at the mouth of East Chester Creek to New Rochelle. Beginning at the corner where the division line between the said farm and the farm of captain Joseph Sackett crosses the said highway, thence running southerly with the said division line to the mouth of a small stream or run of fresh water which flows from a spring on the northerly side of the said highway near the place of beginning and discharges itself into Pelham Bay, or that part or arm of the East River or Long Island Sound which separates a certain island called 'Hunters Island' alias 'Hendersons Island' alias 'Appleby's Island' from the main land, then running along the middle of the channel formed by the said stream of fresh water through the sedge or marsh belonging to John Hunter, thence running southerly and westerly with the said low water mark, and the sedge or marsh of the said John Hunter, to a point where the said low water mark diverges from the land of the said John Hunter, thence still running southerly and westerly along the shore of the said bay, river or sound, at and with the said low water mark, to the mouth or entrance of a small salt creek, flowing from the said bay, river or sound into the main land, and which creek is the boundary of land belonging to James Harvey, thence running up and along the middle of the said creek to the aforesaid highway, and thence running easterly with the said highway to the place of beginning -- Secondly, and also all that other tract, piece or parcel of land, meadow, pasture and wood, lying on the northerly side of the said highway, and opposite to the tract, piece or parcel above described, butted and bounded as follows, viz. : beginning at the corner where the division line between the said farm and the aforesaid farm of the said Joseph Sackett crosses the said division line and following the several courses thereof to land of George Crawford, then running with the last mentioned land to a road called 'Pelham road,' leading from the before mentioned highway to the West-Chester turnpike and thence running southerly with the said Pelham road to the junction with the first mentioned highway, and thence running easterly, with the said highway, to the place of beginning -- Thirdly, and also all that certain other tract, piece or parcel of land, meadow, pasture, wood, salt meadow, sedge, marsh, and land covered with water, lying and being also upon the northerly side of the first mentioned highway, and also opposite to the tract, piece or parcel first above described, butted and bounded as follows, via : Beginning at the northerly side of the said highway, at the corner where the said highway crosses the little salt creek before mentioned by salt meadow now or late of Elbert Roosevelt ; thence running up and along the middle of the said creek, to a piece of salt meadow, now or late of Moses Clark, David Clark and Ransom Burtis ; thence running along and around the last mentioned peice of salt meadow following, the several courses of the boundary thereof, to the middle of the said salt creek, at the north-westerly end or side of the said piece of salt meadow ; thence running up and along the mideel of the said salt creek, to a piece of salt meadow, now or late of the heirs or devisees of William Bailey, deceased ; thence running with the last mentioned piece of salt meadow, to salt meadow and land, now of George Crawford ; thence running with the last mentioned salt meadow and land, to the Pelham road before mentioned ; thence running southerly with that road to its junction with the last mentioned highway, and thence running westerly with the highway to the place of beginning ; and which three tracts, pieces or parcels, contain together in all three hundred and fifteen acres of land, meadow, pasture, wood, salt meadow, sedge, marsh, and land covered with water, be the same more or less : Whereupon a plea of covenant was summoned between them in the same court, that is to say, that he the said Herman Le Roy, junior, hath acknowledged the said tenements, with the appurtenances, to be the right of her the said Hannah, as those which the said Hannah hath of the gift of the said Herman Le Roy, junior, hath remised and quit-claimed from him the said Herman Le Roy, junior, and his heirs, to the said Hannah, and her heirs forever ; and more over the said Herman Le Roy, junior, hath granted for himself and his heirs, that he will warrant to the said Hannah and her heirs, the aforesaid tenements, with the appurtenances, against all persons forever. And for this acknowledgement, remise, quit-claim, warranty, fine and agreement, the said Herman Le Roy and Hannah his wife, have given to the said Herman Le Roy, junior, thirty-five thousand dollars ; and that the said fine was proclaimed the first time in the said supreme court, on the seventh day of May, in the year first above mentioned. Dated the fourteenth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.
HERMAN LE ROY,
HANNAH LE ROY,
HERMAN LE ROY, junior.
Towr, attorney. no 15 Mlaw 5w"

Supreme Court, The New-York Evening Post, Nov. 23, 1818, p. 4.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The First Stone Bridge Built Across Eastchester Creek in Pelham, 1814-1815


In the early 19th century there was no easy way to travel by roadway along the Long Island Sound from New York City through the Town of Pelham. Among the many obstacles to the construction of such a roadway was the lack of a bridge across the mouth of the "East Chester Creek" where the Hutchinson River empties into the Long Island Sound. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little of the history regarding the construction of the first bridge across Eastchester Creek.

The mouth of the Hutchinson River where it meets the Long Island Sound is quite wide. As Lockwood Barr points out in his popular History of Pelham published in 1946 (see p. 83), the first place above the mouth of the river where the waters can be forded was known as "Wading Place" in the 18th and 19th centuries. Wading Place is where today's Colonial Avenue crosses the Hutchinson River beneath the Hutchinson River Parkway overpass that crosses Colonial Avenue. That location, of course, is quite distant from the mouth of the River.

In the early years of the 19th century, Pelham landowners who lived on the mainland near City Island realized that a bridge across the mouth of the River would substantially increase the value of their lands. Consequently:

"A group of property owners in Pelham, West Chester and City Island were instrumental in getting passed an Act of the Legislature, March 16, 1812, authorizing erection of a toll-bridge across the River at its mouth. Among the incorporators were John Bartow, John Hunter, Elbert Roosevelt, William Bayard, James Harvey, Richard Ward, Daniel Pelton, Joshua Eustace, Herman LeRoy."

Barr, pp. 83-84.

A review of copies of The Evening Post, a newspaper published in New York City at the time, reveals that a company known as the "Eastchester Bridge Company" began soliciting contractors for proposals to build the bridge in 1814. One such advertisement read as follows:

"EASTCHESTER BRIDGE COMPANY.
PROPOSALS will be received by the Company, for the building of a Stone Bridge across Eastchester creek, from the town of Pelham to Throgsneck, the distance across computed about thirteen hundred feet ; any person inclining to contract for the erection thereof are desired to call on Mr. JAMES HARVEY, in the town of Pelham near New-Rochelle, county of Westchester, who will exhibit a survey of the creek, and enter into such other explanations as may be required.
May 13 -- 3w"

Eastchester Bridge Company, The Evening Post, May 14, 1814, p. 3.

The same advertisement also appeared in the May 21, May 24, May 25, May 28, June 3 and June 7, 1814 issues of The Evening Post.

James Harvey of Pelham had a particularly significant interest in seeing that the bridge was built. It appears that he planned to sell his large farm in Pelham on the Long Island Sound as soon as the bridge was built. This can be inferred by virtue of an advertisement appeared in a number of issues of The Evening Post shortly after the bridge was completed. The advertisement read:

"FARM.
FOR SALE the valuable Farm on which the subscriber now lives, (formerly the property of Geo. Ra;elye, Esq.) on the manor of Pelham county, Westchester, 15, 1-2 miles from the city of New-York, and adjoining the new bridge lately erected across the mouth of East Chester Creek, containing near 200 acres, and is bounded on three sides by the waters of the sound, of which there is a full view, and of all vessels passing up or down. There is on said farm a large well built dwelling house, and farm house, barn, carriage house, stable, grainery, dairy, smoke house, sheep fold and house, with racks complete for 200 sheep, and many other necessary out buildings, three orchards in full bearing, of the best grafted apples, with a great abundance of every other kind of fruit ; 60 acres of fresh meadow, a proportion of salt meadow, about 30 acres of wood land, the remainder first rate pasture land, the whole capable of being made excellent meadow, and in quality of soil is surpassed by none in the county. Attached to which is a large body none in the county. Attached to which is a large body of sedge. 100 loads of drift stuff may yearly be collected from the stores, the waters of which abound with all kind of scale and shell fish. For further particulars apply on the premises.
Feb 2 tf JAMES HARVEY."

A storm destroyed the bridge on April 12, 1816. According to Lockwood Barr, a new bridge was not built for another 18 years. See Barr, p. 84.

Of course, a number of bridges were built over the years at and near that location. To learn more about the iron "Pelham Bridge" built there in 1871 and the hamlet that grew nearby, see the following Historic Pelham Blog postings:

Thu., Aug. 18, 2005: The Opening of the New Iron "Pelham Bridge" in 1871

Tue., Aug. 9, 2005: Cock Fighting at Pelham Bridge in the 19th Century

Thu., Jul. 21, 2005: Today's Remnants of the Bartow Station on the Branch Line Near City Island

Tue., Jun. 28, 2005: The Hotel and Bar Room at Pelham Bridge

Thu., Mar. 24, 2005: The Bartow Area of Pelham in the 19th Century: Where Was It?

Wed., Mar. 23, 2005: Prize Fighting at Pelham Bridge in 1884

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http://www.historicpelham.com/.
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