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, July 11, 2006

Genealogical and Family History Information Regarding Members of the Horton Family of City Island, Once Part of Pelham

City Island once was part of the Town of Pelham until its annexation by New York City, effective in 1896. One of a number of prominent families on City Island during the 19th century was the Horton family. Members of the Horton family were featured in the book "Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York" by William S. Pelletreau published in 1907. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes text from that book regarding a few members of the Horton family.


Howard Lispenard Horton, second son and youngest child of Stephen Decatur and Caroline Lucilia (Skidmore) Horton, born at City Island, October 10th, 1861. His elementary training was acquired in the public schools of his native place, and his preparatory education he received under private tuition at Fox's Chase, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of eighteen he entered Cornell University, where he was a student for about one year, when he relinquished his studies. He next travelled throughout the southwest, where he was for some time engaged in cattle raising and other lines of pursuit. Upon his return home to City Island he took up clerical work and has followed in that line up to the present period.

Howard Lispenard Horton was married, at Plainfield, New Jersey, to Mary Louise Powers Van Zandt, who is a daughter of Thaddeus Avery Van Zandt.


The line of descent of this branch of the family of which Benjamin Franklin Horton was a member is as follows: 1. Barnabase. 2. Joseph, who married Jane Budd. 3. David, who married Esther King. 4. Daniel, born April 23, 1692, married Esther Lane. 5. Daniel, born September 13, 1744, died December 9, 1807; his wife was Anna French, who died March 28, 1827, aged seventy-eight years three months. The children of Daniel and Anna (French) Horton were: Stephen, who married Hannah Underhill, left a large family; Anna; Samuel Pell; George W.; Margaret, and Elijah.

George W. Horton was born February 21, 1786, died September 22d, 1860. He married Elizabeth Horton, April 24, 1813. She was born April 6, 1794, died June, 1861. The children of this marriage were: Joshua, born September 29, 1814, died January 10, 1815. Benjamin Franklin, born December 25, 1815, died March 20, 1867. Sarah Ann Glover, born October, 1817, died June 30, 1897. Andrew Jackson, born July 16, 1819, died May 3, 1899. Stephen Decatur, born January 18, 1821, died October 23, 1900. Phebe Jane, who married Mattison Arnow, born May 10, 1824, died March 5, 1905. George W., born June 27, 1827.

George W. Horton, father of Benjamin Franklin Horton, resided in New York City until 1833, and was there engaged in the transportation and shipping business. He was the first of the Horton family to settle on City Island, where in 1818 he purchased a tract of land comprising about one-third of the entire island, and thereon erected the old Horton mansion, which is still standing on Main street, at the lower end of the Island. He was an energetic and progressive citizen, and during his active career contributed materially towards the growth, development and building up of City Island, a most delightfully located and beautiful tract of land. He served in the war of 1812.

Benjamin Franklin Horton, second son of George W. and Elizabeth (Horton) Horton, was born in New York City, December 25, 1815. He came with his parents to City Island during his early childhood years, and received his educational training at New Rochelle and Prospect Hill. Upon attaining to manhood years he learned the trade of a wheelwright at Westchester. He did not, however, pursue this line of trade very long, but took up the occupation of pilot on the waters of Long Island Sound. He had not been in this line of employment for any great length of time when he entered into the mercantile business on City Island, where he conducted one of the leading stores and where for a number of years he served as postmaster, having received his first appointment under President James K. Polk. He later again took up the occupation as pilot in the East River and Hell Gate, continuing in that line of pursuit until his death, which occurred March 20, 1867, resultant upon being capsized in his boat off Sands Point, near City Island. Captain Horton was a good and useful citizen, and during the many years of his residence on City Island had won the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens. He was a consistent member of the Baptist Church of City Island. He married, January 4, 1846, Delia A. Abbott, who was born February 23, 1825, daughter of Samuel K. and Mary Ann (Petit) Abbott; both the latter were natives of New York City.

Samuel K. Abbott was for many years a shipping merchant in New York City, and was an extensive vessel owner, having been engaged in the West Indies trade for a number of years. In 1801 he lost much of his property, comprising vessels in West Indies waters, through the French 'spoliation claim.' Many of his valuable papers and documents were destroyed in the fire which razed the custom house in New York City in 1835. These claims have since been in litigation by his descendants. The remains of Samuel K. Abbott are interred in the churchyard of St. Mark's Church, at Second avenue and Eleventh street, New York City. He was a merchant in Broad street, New York City. He and wife attended the inauguration of President Washington.

Marion Petit, who was the mother of Mary Ann (Petit) Abbott, was a daughter of Stephen Craft, who was a native of Long Island, and served in the Continental army during the Revolution under General Putnam. He was instrumental in saving the Episcopal Church at Norwalk, Connecticut, on three different occasions during the final hostilities in that locality.

Benjamin Franklin and Delia A. (Abbott) Horton had born of their marriage the following children: 1. James F., born April 20, 1848. 2. Stephen Decatur, born October 17, 1849. 3. Rochell, born October 8, 1851. 4. Sadie, born August 23, 1853; she married Samson W. Freestone, February 23, 1876, born in Yarmouth, England, died October 8, 1888. 5. Marion, born January 27, 1856; she married Robert J. Vickery; of this marriage were born William and Marion. 6. Nicholas A., born December 25, 1857. 7. Benjamin Franklin, born October 30, 1867.

Delia A. (Abbott) Horton, mother of the aforementioned children, survives her worthy husband, and until recent years was active in church and charitable affairs of City Island. She is one of the oldest members of the Methodist Episcopal church, having been connected with that organization since 1861. She was also, with her mother, Mary Petit Abbott, one of the organizers of the Ladies' Aid Society of that church.

James F. Horton, eldest son of Benjamin Franklin and Delia A. (Abbott) Horton, received his educational training in the public schools of New York City and at the Claverack Academy, near Hudson, Columbia county, New York. Upon attaining to manhood years he learned the profession of pilot under the tutelage of the state appraiser's office at New York City, and after five years' service he was confirmed and appointed by the state officer at New York City a licensed pilot on Long Island Sound, and has since been constantly engaged in this pursuit.

James F. Horton was united in marriage, June 10th, 1874, with Harriet Elizabeth Stringham, born December 31, 1855, daughter of Charles H. and Mary (Bull) Stringham. Her mother, Mary (Bull) Stringham, was a native of Orange county, New York, and a daughter of Samuel, Jr., and Mary (Osborne) Bull, both of Orange county, New York. Samuel Bull, Jr., was a son of Samuel Bull, born November 12, 1758, near Circleville, Orange county, New York. He served as private during the Revolutionary War and assisted in forging the links of the chain which was stretched across the Hudson river at West Point to prevent the British fleet from ascending the river.

The children of James F., and Harriet Elizabeth (Stringham) Horton, are as follows:

1. James Walworth, born March 14, 1875. 2. Marian Elizabeth, born September 1, 1878; she married Dr. F. W. Cortwright, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has one child, Marian Elizabeth Cortwright. 3. Harriet Stringham, born October 29, 1879; she married Samuel F. Reynolds, of City Island, a practicing attorney in New York City. 4. Ida Ethel, born March 20, 1882; she married Jno. Wesley Miller, of City Island, who is at present postmaster of that place. 5. Mildred Louise, born April 12, 1893. 6. Henrietta Jay, born January 18, 1898.

Stephen Decatur Horton, second son of Captain Benjamin Franklin and Delia A. (Abbott) Horton, was educated in the schools of City Island and at Sellick's Academy, Norwalk, Connecticut. After leaving the latter institution he entered the Hudson Institute at Claverack, New York, under the tuition of Professor Flack, where he studied for some time. Upon his return to his home on City Island and attaining his majority he engaged in the mercantile trade, which line of pursuit he continued until a recent period. At present Mr. Horton is the authorized manager of the shipping news station and information bureau located at City Island, on the premises on which he now resides. The station is situated on part of the land originally purchased by his grandfather, George W. Horton.

Rochelle Horton, third child of Benjamin Franklin and Delia (Abbott) Horton, received his educational training in the schools of City Island, attending the same until his eighteenth year, when he became apprentice to his uncle, Captain Nicholas W. Abbott, with whom he served three years studying navigation on the East River and Long Island Sound. Upon completing his apprenticeship Mr. Horton became a licensed pilot, being eligible to navigate in the waters of Hell Gate and Long Island Sound, and has continued in that line of pursuit up until the present time.

Captain Rochelle Horton is a member of Pelham Lodge No. 712, Free and Accepted Masons, and takes an active interest in the social and material affairs of the neighborhood wherein he resides. In 1873 Captain Horton married Martha J. Price, who was born January 8, 1851, and of this union had born to him the following children. 1. Samson W., born August 30, 1875, who upon attaining to manhood years took up his father's vocation, and is now a licensed pilot at City Island, being eligible to navigate in the waters of Hell Gate and Long Island Sound. 2. Sarah A., born March 8, 1878.

Martha J. (Price) Horton, mother of the aforementioned children, died August 22, 1886. Mr. Horton married secondly, April 25, 1888, Alvarette B. Sturgis, who was born January 5, 1864, and of this marriage were born the following children: Clara May, born March 30, 1889; Rochelle N., born February 10, 1897; Alvarette B., born June 18, 1898.

Nicholas A. Horton fourth son of Benjamin Franklin and Delia A. (Abbott) Horton, received his educational training in the schools of City Island. He is now marine reporter and health officer at City Island. He married Louisa R. Smith. Two children: Edna Marguerite, born February 20, 1887; Dorothy L., born January 6, 1891.

Benjamin Franklin Horton, the fifth son of Benjamin Franklin and Delia A. (Abbott) Horton received his elementary educational training in the schools of City Island, which was supplemented by a course in the academy at Fort Edwards, Washington County, New York, and upon returning home to City Island became engaged in various pursuits, and, not unlike his worthy ancestors, has proved himself a good and useful citizen.

Benjamin Franklin Horton was married October 3, 1895, to Leua Heiser, born August 6, 1867, and daughter of Charles N. and Anna (Luhman) Heiser, both of whom were natives of Germany, the former of the city of Frankfort-0n-the-Main, and the latter of the city of Bremen. Of this marriage there were born the following children: Vera Anna, born August 13, 1896, and Frank Heiser, born October 11, 1903.

George W. Horton was the first of this branch of the family to settle on City Island, where he purchased a tract of land comprising about one-third of the island, which he improved and engaged in farming, and here he erected a residence which is still standing and is in a good state of preservation. Mr. Horton was a progressive and enterprising citizen and during his residence on City Island contributed much of his time and substance for the development of the material as well as the moral welfare of that place. Part of the original tract of land purchased by him is yet in the possession of his descendants. He served for a number of years as supervisor of the township of Pelham, and was instrumental in having the first street and public highway made on City Island. He was also instrumental in causing the erection of the court house at White Plains, and also contributed liberally toward the building of the highway running from City Island to Bartow Station.

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. II, pp. 215-21 (NY, NY: The Lewis Publishing Co. 1907).

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