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 10, 2006

Mrs. Aaron Burr Describes Roads in Pelham in 1791

The record of the Manor of Pelham in the decade after the close of the Revolutionary War is somewhat scant. Yet, pieces of it may be found in hundreds and hundreds of different sources waiting to be assembled not unlike a child's jigsaw puzzle. One such source is the collection of letters exchanged between Theodosia Prevost Burr and her infamous husband Aaron Burr. Theodosia Prevost Burr owned a home that once stood in Pelham named the Shrubbery. Although the home burned in the 19th century, a photograph remains. That image appears immediately below.

In a letter to her husband dated July 23, 1791, Mrs. Burr made brief reference to the terrible condition of the roads in and around Pelham at the time. There were, at that time, only a few extant roads in the area so her account likely describes either the old Boston Post Road (today's Colonial Avenue), the road that today we call "Split Rock Road" (although a portion no longer exists because it is beneath I95 and within the Split Rock Golf Course) and, perhaps, the roadway we know today as Shore Road. Mrs. Burr's letter, written from Pelham on July 23, 1791, states in part:

"As you gave me leave to dispose of the old wheels as I pleased, I gave them as my part towards a wagon; we have a good plain Dutch wagon that I prefer to a carriage when at Pelham, as the exercise is much better. We ride in numbers and are well jolted, and without dread. Tis the most powerful exercise I know. No spring seats, but, like so many pigs, we bundled together on straw. Four miles are equal to twenty. It is really an acquisition."

Source: Pidgin, Charles Felton, Theodosia - The First Gentlewoman Of Her Time - The Story of Her Life, and a History of Persons and Events Connected Therewith, p. 159 (Boston, MA: The C. M. Clark Publishing Co. 1907).

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