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, January 24, 2006

1890 Circular of The Pelham Manor Protective Club on Lamp Lighting

Readers may recall that occasionally I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog information about the work of the Pelham Manor Protective Club first established in 1881 as a "Vigilance Committee" to oversee the health and welfare of Pelham Manor residents a decade before the incorporation of the Village of Pelham Manor. See:

Wed. February 23, 2005: The Westchester County Historical Society Acquires Records of The Pelham Manor Protective Club from Dealer in Tarrytown, NY

Mon. January 23, 2006: The Beginnings of Organized Fire Fighting in Pelham Manor?

Among the many aspects of local life with which the Club became involved in the 1880s were efforts to light the area's streets with oil lamps. Research suggests that prior to 1885, a group of Pelham Manor residents initiated a voluntary system whereby about 20 local residents pooled modest amounts of money to purchase and place oil lamps on posts. The lamps were lit each evening and extinguished each morning by a lamp lighter. In 1885, the Pelham Manor Protective Club decided to hire a night watchman to patrol the streets of the area and considered whether to bring within its jurisdiction the lamp lighting system.

A subcommittee of the Executive Committee of the Club concluded at that time that portions of the lamp-lit area benefitted residents who were not members of the Club. The subcommittee concluded that this would make it difficult to pay for such a service with Club funds and also that changes would have to be made to the Club's by-laws to permit such a move. The Executive Committee decided to "allow" the service to continue as it was, a system of cooperation among about 20 homeowners in the area.

By 1890, however, as more residents moved to the area and improvements such as the Manor Club had been built, the need to expand the lamp lighting service was perceived to be critical. The Pelham Manor Protective Club decided that it would be appropriate for it to administer and expand the program. Thus, on March 28, 1890, the Executive Committee of the Club issued a circular to Club members providing notice of a "general meeting" of the Club at which proposed amendments to the constitution of the Club would be considered to "bring the lamp and watchman service into the general service of the Club, where it properly belongs." The text of the circular appears immediately below:


It has been found impracticable to sustain the night patrol and street lamp service in Pelham Manor, upon the present basis, which is one of voluntary subscription, from about one half of those who receive the benefit of it.

The only alternative to abolishing the service seems to be to reconstruct it upon a new basis, and with this in view a geneal meeting of the Protective Club is called, to be held at the Manor House, on Monday, March 31st, 1890, at 8:30 P. M., to pass upon a proposed amendment to the constitution, which will bring the lamp and watchman service into the general service of the Club, where it properly belongs.

The proposed amendment will make the total Protective Club dues $2.00 per month, including lamps and watchman; besides which the Executive Committee will be authorized as at present, to levy extra assessments if required, not to exceed $9.00 in any one year. If all the residents of the Manor join the Club on this basis as they should, it is probable that the extra assessments will seldom or never be needed, as it is estimated that the regular dues will cover lamp and watchman, snow plow, arrest of tramps and all other duties now undertaken by the Protective Club.

All those who use the streets in the evening should be interested in having them lighted, and all those who have property either for their own use, or for sale or to rent will see the advantage of having the approaches to it through well lighted streets.

There are many defects in the distribution of existing lamps which cannot be remedied under the voluntary subscription plan, but which the Committee would hope to obviate with a new arrangement. As a whole however, our streets are believed to be as well if not better lighted than those of most small communities.

Whatever may be thought of the inefficiency of the night patrol it is a fact that many of the surrounding towns have been annoyed by tramps and sneak thieves to an extent that we have never been subject to, and the maintenance of a watchman has doubtless had a decided preventive effect upon these nuisances. Both the patrol and lamp service ought to be extended and improved, but this can be done only be general support, without which they must be discontinued.

All those to whom this circular is sent are invited to be present at the meeting on March 31st, and to express their views fully upon above questions.

Protective Club Members unable to be present, but who are in favor of the proposed amendments will please send, proxy to W. D. BAKER, Esq., Secretary, authorizing him to cast their votes. A two-thirds vote of all members is necessary to pass the amendments, so that any member failing to vote, either in person or by proxy, in effect votes against adoption.

Those who are not members and are unable to be present on the above date are requested to write to MR. BAKER before the meeting stating whether they will join the Club, the initiation fee of which is $3.00.

This question is of great importance to all residents of the Manor, and the adoption of the amendment and consequent improvement of the service depends largely upon general support. A full attendance at the meeting and a free discussion of the points involved is therefore earnestly desired.

By order of Executive Committee

W. D. BAKER, Secretary.

Pelham Manor, N. Y., March 28th, 1890."

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At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My great great grandfather was the lamplighter for north Pelham until 1922 when automatic lighting was installed.


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