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, March 14, 2006

A Potentially Significant Advertisement - Is This Hunter's Island?

Editor's Note, March 17, 2006: Once again, I am amazed at the oft-referenced "power of the Net". After asking on March 14 if the advertisement discussed in this Blog posting might be a reference to an owner of Hunter's Island, I received the answer in an email from Mark Gaffney of Pelham Manor. Mark is a friend who is one of the most knowledgeable people I know regarding the early history of Pelham Manor and the islands off its shore.

Mark demonstrated to me that the advertisement I referenced in this blog posting is actually an advertisement for the sale of City Island -- not Hunter's Island. Mark stated, in part:

"I see in your March 14 blog the question of whether the '230 acre' island in Pelham advertised for sale in 1761was Hunter's Island. No, it was City Island. See the enclosed summaries of historical deeds to City Island and Hunter's Island, showing that John Innes (the seller in the advertisement) was the owner of City Island at the time. Josiah Pell was the owner of Hunter's Island in 1761.

A source of confusion is the size of the islands. While Hunter's Island is generally described in deeds as 250 acres in size, and City Island as 230 acres, and your blog quotes the advertisement as describing a 230 acre island. My copy of the Innes advertisement published in the New York Gazette in March 23, 1761 (copy enclosed) speaks of a 330 acre island. An advertisement for Hunter's Island published in the New York Gazette on February 22, 1773 (copy enclosed) speaks of a 230 acre island."

The March 14 Blog posting discussed by Mark Gaffney appears immediately below:

For many years, the early owners of the island off the shore of the Manor of Pelham that later came to be known as Hunter's Island have remained a mystery. Lockwood Barr traced ownership of the island in his book on the history of Pelham published in 1946. He lamented the lack of ownership information in the extant records, noting that the "first conveyance of the Island found in the office of the County Clerk of Westchester, is a deed dated January 17, 1797, transferring an island ' . . . commonly called Appleby's . . . ' from John Blagge to Alexander Henderson." (Barr, p. 91).

Research has turned up an advertisement for the sale of an unidenfied "Island in the Manor of Pelham" published in 1760. The advertisement describes the island, saying that it contained 230 acres. Hunter's Island and the adjacent Twins together comprise about 250 acres.

The text of the advertisement appears immediately below. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with comments or thoughts regarding whether the advertisement describes what we know today as Hunter's Island, now a part of the Orchard Beach complex joined to the mainland by many tons of landfill.

"To Be Sold,

AN Island in the Manor of Pelham, West Chester County, containing 230 Acres of excellent Land, very well timbered and watered, with Salt Meadow sufficient for wintering a large Stock of Cattle; a fine bearing Orchard also, of various Kinds of Fruit; with a Peach Orchard. There may be mowing Ground made for 40 load of English Clover Hay, with very little Trouble, the Soil for it not as yet ploughed nor cleared, and as rich as possible can be. There is more than Timber enough upon the Premises to pay for the whole Land, if transported to New-York, for which Purpose nothing can be handier; and Stones sufficient to Stone Ditch the whole Farm into 20 acre Lots. Likewise - Fowling, Fishing, Lobstering, and Clamming.

There might be a Porpoise Fishery made at the Narrows, with no great expence, the Channel at a low Tide, not being 30 Yards over, through which pass every Tide of Ebb, during the whole Spring, and Summer, vast Scools of these Fish.

A Road likewise from the Narrows through Mr. Rodman's Neck of Land opposite, up to the Boston or Country Road, leading to New-York, for all sorts of Cattle, Carriges, &c. to pass at Times.

Any one inclining to purchase, may be informed with the Conditions of Sale, by John Innes, jun. living upon the Island; or by John Innes, sen. near Jamaica, on Long-Island, who will give any Purchaser an indisputable Title for the same."

Source: To Be Sold, The New-York Gazette, May 19, 1760, p. 4.

The island, it seems, proved a hard sell. Essentially the same advertisement appeared at least two more times (and likely more). It appeared in the June 23, 1760 and March 16, 1761 issues of the New-York Mercury.

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