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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pelham Preservation Society Distributes Historic Architecture Plaques

In 2004, the Pelham Preservation and Garden Society (Pelham Preservation Society LLC) announced a "Historic Architecture Plaque Program" in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Thomas Pell's acquisition of the lands that became Pelham and surrounding areas from local Native Americans. The Society solicited nominations for homes that met the following criteria: (i) the home must be at least 50 years old (1954 or earlier); (ii) the home must be within Town limits; (3) the home must be preserved or restored in an historically-sensitive manner; and (4) materials authentic to the period of construction must have been used whenever possible with changes complementary to the original structure. To read more about the program, see the Society's Web page devoted to the topic.

Plaques have been awarded for the first set of homes to receive the Society's recognition. One such home to receive the award is the home located at 20 Beech Tree Lane. Below is an image of the bronze plaque, a picture of the home noting its architectural styles and information about the history of the house.

To facilitate search, the text of the plaque has been transcribed below:

"20 Beech Tree Lane
Built in 1927 - 1928
Designed by Electus D. Litchfield for Lockwood Barr,
local historian and Wall Street Journal Managing Editor.
Center Hall Georgian Revival house with
Federal Revival elements, including prominent
Palladian window, and flanked by
New England and Dutch Colonial Revival style wings.
Pelham Preservation Society 2005"

Below is a recent photograph of the home. Above each section of the house there is an indication of the particular architectural style of that "section" of the structure. The service wing on the left is in the style of an 1810 shingle house in Maine. The center section evokes an 1800 Georgian house. The right sun porch is in the style of a 1680 Flatbush Dutch house.

The home is known as the "Lockwood Barr Home". It is named for the man who built it in 1927-1928. It is located at 20 Beech Tree Lane in Pelham Manor, New York. The home was designed by one of the nation's preeminent architects of his day: Electus D. Litchfield. A number of his works are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lockwood Barr served as Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal and later founded the "Publicity Department" (now known as "Investor Relations") of General Motors Corporation. Because Barr was an accomplished amateur historian, the home he built is a fascinating combination of three architectural styles of historic interest. As Barr wrote in a letter to his children dated January 1947, the home "is a composite of three distinct styles of architecture – the sunporch [sic] a Flatbush Dutch house of 1680; the whitewashed brick centre section, a Georgian house of 1800; and the service end, the Maine shingle house of 1840".

Each of these styles had special significance to Barr and his wife, Berenice, who lived in Flatbush when they first arrived in new York, vacationed in Maine for many years and were attracted by the Georgian style of a number of the great manor homes that once stood in the Manor of Pelham, particularly on the shores of Long Island Sound.

Barr incorporated into the home many historic items that remain a part of it today including a fireplace mantel from an 1820 Kentucky farmhouse (he was born in Kentucky); a giant pre-Revolutionary War front door lock with an eight-inch long skeleton key from a Norfolk, Virginia mansion, the brass lock from the front door of the St. Johnsbury, Vermont courthouse razed in the 19th century, an electrified whale oil lantern and much, much more.

In the rear of the home is a garden designed by the renowned landscape architect Loutrel Winslow Briggs (1893 - 1977). Briggs was among the nation's most treasured landscape architects much of whose work in Charleston, SC lies within a National Historic District. As one expert on his work has written, a Briggs garden is comparable to "something bearing the English Hallmark, or a piece of silver marked sterling."

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

1786 Notice Requiring Filing of Creditors' Claims Against Forfeited Estates of Loyalists Including Joshua Pell of the Manor of Pelham

After the Revolutionary War ended, the New York State Commissioners of Forfeiture confiscated and sold to Isaac Guion a 146-acre farm in the Manor of Pelham owned by Loyalist Joshua Pell, a son of the elder Joshua Pell. (For additional background on the tract, see Tuesday, July 18, 2006: Aaron Burr Tries To Pull a Fast One in the 1790s and Must Sell His Farm in Pelham.)

The Commissioners of Forfeiture, of course, confiscated and sold the lands of many loyalists. In 1786, the Treasury Office of the State of New York published at least one notice to inform creditors of the Loyalists whose properties had been confiscated to come forward and file any claims they might have against the monies derived from the sales of such lands or be barred from pursuing such claims thereafter. Among the Loyalists whose confiscated lands were mentioned in the notice was Joshua Pell of the Manor of Pelham. The text of the notice appears immediately below.


STATE of NEW-YORK, May 16, 1786.

ALL Persons having demands against the forfeited estates of Edmund Ward and James Delancey, of Westchester, John Bates, David Heustice, Israel Seaman, John Pell, Frederick Devoe, Solomon Fowler, of Eastchester, Archelaus Carpenter, Isaac Titus, John Gidney, George Cornwell, Griffin Corey, Nathan Whitney, William Reed, Isaac Williams, Shubal Brush, Gilbert Miller, Miles Oakley, Phillip Jones, Jeremiah Travis, Shubal Sniffin, Joseph Gidney, Thomas Merrit, Ezekiel Hawley, Joseph Merrit, Nathan Osburn, Anthony Miller, Caleb Frost, William Travis, Benjamin Kip, Jonathan Wright, Joshua Pell, Benjamin Lewis, Zoar Cock, John Crawford, James Crawford, Lewis Homes, James Holmes, Gabriel Davenport, Jacob Frost, Jonathan Moorhouse, Thomas Flewelling, Stephen Fowler, of North-Catle, Peter Drake and Francis Peemart, all of the county of Westchester; who are relievable by an act, entitled, 'An act for the speedy sale of the confiscated and forfeited estates within this State, and for other purposes therein mentioned,' passed the 12th May, 1784, and who have not yet delivered in their accounts or demands, audited and certified according to the directions of the said act, are hereby notified and required to exhibit to me their claims, within four months from the date hereof, that I may proceed to discharge the same as the law directs, otherwise they will be debarred and forever precluded from relief.

94 4W GERARD BANCKER, Treasurer."

Source: Treasury-Office, Loudon's New-York Packet, May 25, 1786, p. 3, col. 4.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another Brief Account of the Capture of the British Ship Schuldham in Pelham Waters During the Revolutionary War

A recent posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provided a brief account of the capture of a British ship in waters off the shore of Pelham during the Revolutionary War. See Friday, July 14, 2006: Capture of the British Ship Schuldham in Pelham Waters During the Revolutionary War. Another account of that event appears in a book published in 1887. Below is a transcription of the pertinent entry, followed by a full citation to the source.


The same year [1776] saw another brilliant exploit, planned and executed by common boatmen, carried out triumphantly. At that time British gunboats were stationed along the Sound as guard ships. The officers and crew treated the villagers with exasperating harshness and received the natural return. Hatred and indignation incited the outraged people to attempt the capture of their oppressors. A plan was arranged by Connecticut whaleboatmen and successfully executed. Across Pelhm Neck they carried their boat and took possession of a market sloop that traded to New York and suppled the guardship with provisions. The Connecticut men, ten or twelve in number, well armed, concealed themselves in the hold while their leader remained on deck and obliged the owner to lay his craft alongside the British vessel, as usual when furnishing supplies. In the dusk of the early morning the two vessels touched. Up rushed the boatmen, and in a twinkling the crew, only half awake, were prisoners and forced to help navigate the prize into New London."

Source: Mullaly, John, New Parks Beyond the Harlem with Thirty Illustrations and Map Descriptions of Scenery Nearly 4,000 Acres of Free Playground for the People, p. 88 (NY, NY: Record & Guide 1887).

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Monday, August 28, 2006

John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Obtained Special Tax Relief in 1826

Periodically I have published postings to the Historic Pelham Blog about John Hunter and the island on which he built his fine mansion in Pelham: Hunter's Island. For examples of such postings, see:

Fri. Dec. 2, 2005: John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham, New York

Wed. Dec. 14, 2005: New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham

Tue. Jan. 17, 2006: John Pugsley, An Early Owner of Appleby's Island Later Known as Hunter's Island

Fri. Mar. 31, 2006: Text of 1804 Will of Alexander Henderson, Owner of the Island Later Known as Hunter's Island

Apr. 27, 2006: Burial Place of John Hunter (1778 - 1852) of Hunter's Island

Tue. June 13, 2006: Sketch Showing Hunters Island Mansion in 1853

The Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784 - 1831, contain an interesting resolution enacted in early 1826 relieving John Hunter of a personal tax imposed by New York City Tax Assessors. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of that resolution.

"The Committee on Assessments on the Petition of John Hunter for relief from a Personal Tax reported in favor as follows

The Committee on Assessments to whom was referred the Petition of John Hunter of Pelham in Westchester County praying to be relieved from the payment of a personal Tax imposed on him by the assessors of the Eighth Ward -- Report that they have examined into the facts and find that Mr Hunter was at the time of the Assessment a resident of West Chester County and not of New York and that he is regularly Assessed and pays personal taxes in that County -- The Committe [sic] are therefore of opinion that the prayer of the Petitioner ought to be granted . . . and therefore recommend the following resolution

Resolved that John Hunter of the Town of Pelham in the County of Westchester be relieved from a personal tax imposed on him by the Assessors of the Eighth Ward.

January 11th

John R. Peters
P. C. Van Wyck
Samel Gilford Junr
Wm W Mott

Which was approved and the Resolution adopted."

Source: Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York 1784 - 1831, Vol. XV, Nov. 10, 1825 - Dec. 25, 1826, pp. 158-59 (NY, NY: City of New York 1917).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thomas Pell, First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, Traded Tobacco Along the East Coast by Barque

For years I have puzzled over the unfootnoted references in Pelliana suggesting that Thomas Pell, often referred to as the First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, traded tobacco along the east coast in the mid-17th century. I have reviewed many, many resources trying to understand the origins of such assertions.

Now, I believe, I understand those assertions. Today's Historic Pelham Blog post transcribes references that appeared in a book published in 1857 that supports the assertions that appear in the Pell Family publication entitled Pelliana.

"Will of Nathaniel Draper made the 25th of the 2d month 1467 [ed. note, typographical error, should be 1647] . . . Gives to Phillip Galpine; all of the tobacco I have aboard of the barke [barque] Faulcon. Said Phillip to receive all his wages due to him from Thomas Pell for 'his service in this barke. -- Acquits Elias Parkman of a bill of £3. 6. 4. except 20s that he gives to Henry Rotherford. Witness, Arthur Branch.

Affidavit of Arthur Branch before Mr. Edward Hopkins at Seabrooke the 1st of November 1647, that he witnessed the above will aboard the barke Faulcon, of New Haven, then riding near Rikatan in Virginia."

Source: Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven, from 1638 to 1649, p. 335, n.* (New Haven, CT: 1857) (available via Google Books).

From this reference it appears that in about 1647 Thomas Pell owned or oversaw a barque named "Faulcon" out of New Haven. (Faulcon is a dated spelling for the term "Falcon".) A barque (or bark) is a sailing vessel with three or more masts, square-rigged on all but the aftermost mast which is fore-and-aft-rigged. The Barque, it seems, carried at least tobacco and traveled as far south as Virginia.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Philip Pell of the Manor of Pelham: An Early Victim of the "Spoils System" in New York at the Turn of the 19th Century

Occasionally I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog postings about Philip Pell, one of the most illustrious citizens and Patriots ever to have lived in Pelham. See, e.g.:

Mon., July 17, 2006: 1780 Letter To George Clinton from American Patriot Philip Pell of Pelham Manor, Commissary of Prisoners of the State of New York

Thur., Apr. 20, 2006: 1788 Campaign Broadside Urging Support for Candidate Opposing Philip Pell of Pelham Manor

One interesting aspect of Philip Pell's life involved his removal as Surrogate of Westchester County in 1801. In a fascinating study entitled "DeWitt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York" Howard Lee McBain argues that Pell was an early casualty of the emerging spoils system in New York. According to McBain, after New York Governor William Jay and the Federalists swept into office, Jay began to oust Antifederalist Republican office-holders in New York. McBain notes that Jay's son, in a biography of his father, made the statement that "not one individual was dismissed by him from office on account of his politics."

In disproving this conclusory assertion, McBain outlines numerous examples of such dismissals including that of Philip Pell. He pointed out that when Republicans returned to power, a number of deposed officials including Philip Pell wrote letters to Governor DeWitt Clinton seeking reinstatement. As McBain put it:

"The facts are of course more or less elusive, but it seems well assured that a considerable number of lesser officials paid the price of their opposition with their positions. Certain it is that when the republicans were restored to power in 1801, a number of letters from deposed officers seeking reinstatement assert that they were removed during the administration of Governor Jay on account of their politics. . . . Philip Pell, writing to Governor Clinton in 1801, states that twelve years previous he was appointed surrogate of Westchester county and 'continued until some time in October last, when,' he goes on, 'I was superseded by the then Governor and Council of Appointment. Why this removal from office I know not, unless to gratify the desire of Samuel Youngs who probably was a favorite.' His statement is borne out by the fact that the minutes bear no record of the cause of his removal."

Source: McBain, Howard Lee, DeWitt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York, pp. 51-52 (Howard Lee McBain 1907) (submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Political Science, Columbia University; citing "July 7, 1801; Civil Files of the Council of Appointment" and "MS. Minutes of the Council, iv, 277").

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Article Published in 1910 About the Life of Anne Hutchinson in New York

For many years local historians have placed the location of the home built by Anne Hutchinson before her murder by local Native Americans in 1643 in various places around Pelham including Rodman's Neck (also known as Pell's Point) and Split Rock. Scholarly research performed in the 1920s, however, seems to establish with near certainty that Anne Hutchinson settled in an area near today's Coop City between the Hutchinson River and Hutchinson River Parkway.

In 1910, however, most people erroneously believed that Anne Hutchinson and her family lived near Split Rock. That myth is occasionally perpetuated even in more recent studies of her life such as the otherwise excellent book entitled "American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans" published in 2004 (see pages 231, 236 and 239).

In 1910, an article by Mrs. Robert McVicker appeared in Volume IX of the "Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association. Eleventh Annual Meeting, With Constitution, By-Laws and List of Members". The article was entitled Anne Hutchinson, Her Life in New York, A Character Sketch". I have transcribed the text of that article immediately below.

A Character Sketch
By Mrs. Robert McVicker.

In order to understand the character of Anne Hutchinson and the part she played in the development of New England; and, in order to obtain a dispassionate view of the events which led to her banishment from Massachusetts, and her subsequent life in Rhode Island and New York, it is necessary to take a hasty survey of the scene upon which she entered, when, in company with her husband, she crossed the seas and landed in Boston in 1634.

The little Puritan Colony she found there had braved the storms and dangers of an unknown coast to found a state wherein its members could worship God in their own way without let or hindrance. Their sturdy independence of thought and action was not a thing of recent growth. According to John Fiske, it was the development of the Teutonic idea of political life, overthrowing and supplanting the Roman idea. This Teutonic idea, which carried with it freedom of thought in religion and representative government in politics, had been germinating for many years in the minds of the English people; Wickliffe had been spokesman for them three centuries before. 'The spirit of Puritanism was no creation of the 16th. century, but is as old as the truth and manliness of England,' says Fiske. The revolt against the authority of Rome was aided by the desire to become acquainted with, and be directed by the sincere truth of the gospel; and the Puritan cherished a scheme of looking to the word of God as his sole and universal directory. His recent acquaintance with it and his inadequate preparation for interpreting it, led him into many errors and was the cause of the many schisms that immediately arose. He searched the scripture, not only for principles and rules, but [p. 256 / p. 257] for mandates, and when he could find none of these, for analogies, to guide him in the smallest points of personal conduct and of public administration.

At the darkest hour of the struggle for constitutional and religious liberty the emigration to the New World began. The various political changes of centuries had tended to strengthen national feeling in England. The Norman nobility grafted upon its society had transformed the Old English thanes into the finest class of rural gentry and yeomanry that has ever existed, and it was from this class that the New England emigrants were drawn. Those left behind were engaged in overcoming perils which threatened the very existence of modern civilization.

The political future of mankind hung upon the questions at issue in England, and that most potent of forces, religious sentiment played a large part in the conflict, so that when Henry 8th, defied the Papal authority, half of England was Protestant already. Although this step was political rather than religious, the Puritan sentiment of revolt against hierarchy in general co-operated with the sentiment of national independence. Everywhere else Rome seemed to have conquered or to be conquering while they seemed to be left, the forlorn hope of the human race.*

In coming to the New World, the colonists, harried and persecuted at home, hoped to find a haven where they could logically carry out their theory of a theocratic commonwealth undisturbed by their environment, and in this they were not disappointed, as they found a practically uninhabited wilderness; but the system itself carried within it the seeds of its own destruction. Its perils politically were from within. It was not the machinations of Laud nor of royalty which proved its undoing, but the bursting into blossom and fruit of its own tenets.

x* Vide Fiske's Beginnings of New England.

At the time of Mrs. Hutchinson's arrival the settlers had had four years of struggle in the wilderness, beset by cold, hunger and disease, exposed to the attacks of hostile savages and encountering hardships which made them old at forty. Cut off from all the refinements of life with few books and with none of the distract- [p. 257 / p. 258] ions which tend to preserve a normal mental balance, it were not strange if their noble traits of firmness, resolution and courage had already begun to harden into intolerance, asperity and selfishness. The sweet uses of adversity seldom tend toward an easy and genial liberality either of thought or of deed. It is said that emigrants, coming over on later ships, could scarcely recognize their relatives so gaunt and haggard had they become. If the new life had wrought such change in their physical appearance much might be said of its psychological effects, culminating a few years later in the persecution of the Quakers, the strange delusions regarding witchcraft, and the many acts of fanaticism by all sects.

Holding their land under a private company and not from the crown, they had felt themselves justified in deporting any and all comers not of their faith, as deemed likely to cause disturbance. But this precaution could not prevent dissension in their own ranks. Church membership had been made the condition for exercising the franchise, in order, no doubt, to keep out the emissaries of Wentworth and Laud. But while they were thus enabled to keep out the vicious as well, they could not exclude the common workings of selfishness and passion, to say nothing of the logical consequences of independent thought. As early as 1631 religious disputes had arisen among them, not to mention differences between the officials themselves. The long service of Winthrop as Governor had aroused the fears of the more democratic and he had just been succeeded by his former associate Dudley. Then too, that 'conscientiously contentious man,' Roger Williams had been in the country several years and had already crossed swords with Colton and other divines, on points of doctrine, which showed him tolerant to a degree one hundred years in advance of his time. Although the fine traits of his character could not fail to have made him friends among his opponents, and he had not yet brought about his own banishment, the latter occurring about a twelve month later, yet even then he was causing much anxiety among the conservatives.

Such was the arena into which Anne Hutchinson and her party stepped when they left the ship Griffen in Boston Harbor. Instead of a peaceful, God-fearing community quietly worshipping [p. 258 / p. 259] according its own set formulas, it was a veritable tinder box to which she herself was destined to provide the spark. The vessel itself also carried another source of anxiety for the much tried colonists, in a copy of the Commission lately granted to the two archbishops and ten of the privy council as a commission to regulate all foreign plantations and to call in patents and charters. It was only the adroitness of the court in evading this demand that saved a surrender of the charter, an event which would have put an end to the very existence of the theocracy. Beset by foes within and without, it was a time to try the fiber of those in authority.

The Reverend John Cotton, the talented minister of St. Botolph's church had preceded Mrs. Hutchinson about a year and was installed as a colleague of the pastor, Wilson, in the Boston church. It was to sit under his teachings that she, with her family, left their home in Lincolnshire; for, as she herself quaintly says, 'when our teacher came to New England, it was a great trouble unto me, my brother Wheelwright, being put by also.' Herself the daughter of a minister, a Mr. Marbury, who had preached in Lincolnshire and afterwards in London, she was greatly interested in religious matters.

She had as a companion on the voyage a preacher by the name of Symmes, with whom she discused [sic] various points of doctrine and aroused in him doubts of her orthodoxy, all of which were duly made known to the authorities by the reverend gentleman upon his arrival. This warning for a time delayed her admission to the church, but at last she was received and soon began to make her presence felt.

Her husband's house stood in the best quarter of the town, nearly opposite the home of Governor Winthrop. Here she soon became a leader in society, fast friend of Sir Henry Vane and many of the leading men and women of the colony. Born in 1600, at this time she was in the prime of life. A capable, energetic and amiable woman of good birth, being of the same family as the poet Dryden, having a vigorous intellect and dauntless courage; her failings, it is said, were vanity and a bitter tongue toward those whom she disliked. The latter trait not being confined either [p. 259 / p. 260] to Mrs. Hutchinson, or the laity at that period. If she were able to surpass in invective, some of her reverend opponents, then, indeed, her ability and ready wit have not been over-rated.

That she was impulsive is certain, but that she was indiscreet depends upon the point of view. If she were anxious to retain her popularity and ride smoothly over the troubled waters of society then she was most indiscreet, but, if she were animated by the desire to break through the crust of formalism fast hardening over the religion of the hour, and to allow the springs of natural and heartfelt piety to well u to the surface and refresh the arid theology of the time, then, indeed, her indiscretion became discretion of an heroic type. To the disinterested student it would seem that the latter were true. She had left the refinements of her home in England, where her own and her husband's family enjoyed distinction, to follow to the new world, a preacher who was more broad minded and tolerant than his colleagues. Associated with her was Sir Henry Vane, one of the greatest Puritan statesmen of that great age. A man whom Fiske says, was spiritually akin to Jefferson and Samuel Adams. A man whose admirable qualities so won the hearts of the people that within a few months after his arrival in Boston, he was chosen Governor, at the very time when Mrs. Hutchinson was at the height of her power. The character of the other men of lesser note, who surrounded her and were destined to suffer with her, makes it apparent that there was a general revolt against the mental tyrrany beginning to be exercised by the clergy. From his dream of reproducing the institutions of God's chosen people as set forth in the Bible, says one writer, the New England Puritan awoke to find that he had surrendered his new commonwealth to his priests.

Mrs. Hutchinson, very soon won the hearts of the women by her kindly ministrations in time of illness and her faithful exhortations toward a deeper and more heartfelt piety. It is curious that amid the conflicting and partisan accounts of her which have come down in history, the best proofs of her goodness of heart and noble intent are found in the recital of her daily life. It is a strange irony that she should be judged by her work, when her whole life was spent in protesting against such evidence of santifi- [p. 260 / p. 261] cation. Her skill in nursing, her cheerful neighborliness, her intelligence and magnetic personality gathered about her a group of friends among the women, who soon began to assemble at her home at regular meetings to discuss the sermons delivered on Sunday and Lecture Day by John Cotton. The men held meetings for religious discourse from which women were excluded and Mrs. Hutchinson thought she was supplying a deficiency when she instituted a meeting for her own sex. At first the enterprise met with great favor and from 50 to 100 women came to listen to her expositions. Mr. Cotton's sermons met with her full approval, as did those of her brother-in-law the Reverend John Wheelwright, former Rector of Bilsby, who had followed the Hutchinsons to Boston.

However, the step from discussion to criticism was short, and it soon began to be said that she cast reproaches upon the ministers, saying that none of them did preach the covenant of grace except Mr. Cotton. The two points of her doctrine which occasioned the greatest disturbance and gave rise to the far famed Antinomian controversy were, 1st. That the actual being of the Holy Ghost was present in the body of a sanctified person, and 2nd. That no sanctification can help to witness to us our justification.

Stripped of all theological verbiage, her accusations against the other ministers as being under a covenant of works rather than a covenant of Grace, simply amounted to accusing them of being teachers of forms, and that Cotton and Wheelwright appealed to the animating spirit like Luther and St. Paul. Referring to the ministers she said 'A company of legall professors lie poring on the law which Christ hath abolished.'

Her teaching of the actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit carried with it the doctrine of individual inspiration, an anarchical doctrine subversive of all church authority; and the second touched the very head and front of her offending for 'the ministers of New England were formalists to the core and the society over which they dominated was organized upon the avowed basis of the manifestations of the outward man.' Such freedom of speech was, of course, intolerable, and so, after an upheaval which [p. 261 - p. 262] threatened to rend the very foundations of the commonwealth, she and her supporters were driven forth with a harshness and cruelty and disregard of law, which will remain forever as a blot upon the history of Massachusetts.

In expressing her sentiments she had only voiced a wide spread feelign of discontent, Chas. Francis Adams says, 'The co-called [sic] Antinomian Controversy was in reality not a religious dispute, which was but the form it took. In its essence it was a great deal more than a religious dispute; it was the first of the many New England quickenings in the direction of social, intellectual and political development. New England's earliest protest against formalism.'

Before winter her adherents had become an organized political party of which Vane was the leader. It is not within the scope of this paper to follow our heroine through the foggy mazes of her court and church trials; nor in her subsequent imprisonment and final banishment from the colony. It is enough to say that through ordeals such as had brought tears of nervousness to the eyes of Sir Henry Vane, and through scenes with which her physical strenght [sic] was in every way inadequate to cope, she preserved the demeanor of a lady and displayed rare tact and judgment; conducting her case with the ability of a trained advocate. Throughout both trials her 'nimble wit and voluble tongue' did not desert her in the supreme hour when the combined efforts of Governor and Deputy Governor and half a dozen divies failed to convict her of wrong doing.

Her claims to inspiration, which men and women of her temperament are prone to consider direct revelations from above, were the immediate means of her undoing.

Her life in Rhode Island, in the midst of the friends and supporters with whom she went into banishment, was a gradual development of the democratic spirit, which is the logical outcome of their tenets. The results to Rhode Island, thanks to these devoted lovers of liberty, and to Roger Williams, the noble champion of toleration, were a complete separation of church and state and the establishment of a true democracy. [p. 262 / p. 263]

Consistently following the logic of her early opinions, Anne Hutchinson herself came to hold very much the same belief as the Quakers, who were soon to follow. She did not believe in magistracy among Christians, nor ordained pastors, and did not believe in bearing arms, persuading her husband to resign from the high office he held on account of these opinions.

Driven out from this new home, after the death of her husband in 1642, by fear that the jurisdiction of Massachusetts might be extended to their settlements, and only too well aware of the sentiments with which she was regarded in her former home, she once more set her face toward the wilderness, accompanied, or followed soon, by several families of her old friends and neighbors.

An incident in her life in Rhode Island had been a solemn visitation from the mother church in Boston, in the persons of three gentlemen 'of a lovely and winning spirit,' who endeavored to bring her back to the fold. But to whom she replied with all her old time spirit.

The author of Chandler's Criminal Trials says that the whole family of the Hutchinson's removed from beyond New Haven to Eastchester in the territory of the Dutch. Another authority, the Puritan Welde, I believe, says they settled in the neighborhood of a place called by seamen Hellgate, which doubtless he considered a most appropriate neighborhood. It was in the summer of 1642 that she came with her son Francis and her son-in-law Collins, 'a young scholar full of zeal' and commenced a plantation at Annie's Hoeck. The settlement was made on what is now known as Pelham Neck, but was long called the 'Manor of Anne Hoock's Neck,' and was close to the Dutch district of Vredeland, which in its turn was only a few miles west of Greenwich, Conn. where doughty Captain Underhill, one of her professed followers, had settled two years before. Here, before the sale of the land was completed, the whole family, with one exception, was murdered by the Indians.

When Roger Williams went to England, a few months previous to their arrival, to represent the affairs of Rhode Island, he was obliged to come to 'Manhattoes' to embark, not being [p. 263 / p. 264] allowed to sail from Boston. Here he found 'hot wars' between the Dutch and the Indians made 'terrible by the flights of men, women and children' and the removal of all that could go to Holland. True to his nature he attempted to make peace between the settlers and the savages who lived on Long Island.

Bolton, in his History of Westchester County, quotes from the records of an old trial which says, 'several testimony's were read to prove that ye Indians questioned Mr. Cornell's and other plantations there about not paying for these lands, which was the occasion of cutting them off and driving away the inhabitants.' Members of the Throgmorton and Cornell families having met death at the same time as the Hutchinsons, all refugees from the hatred of Massachusetts on account of their opinions. Captain John Underhill blames the Dutch authorities for the massacres. He says, 'We have transplanted ourselves hither at our own cost, and many of us as have purchased our land from the Indians, the right owners thereof. But a great portion of the lands which we now occupy, being as yet unpaid for, the Indians come daily and complain that they have been deceived by th Dutch Secretary, called Cornelius, whom they have characterized even in the presence of Stuyvesant as a rogue, a nave and a liar; asserting that he himself had put their names down in a book, and saying that this was not a just and lawful payment, but a pretence and fraud similar to this which occasioned the destruction of Joes. Hutchinson and Mr. Collins to the number of nine persons.'

Mr. Bolton finds that a few years later Pell claimed that he bought Pelham and Westchester of the natives and paid for the tract and that as an English subject he had a right to purchase from Connecticut, it being in His majesty's dominions. This denial, supported by the New England authorities, of the rights of the Dutch to lands they had discovered and had purchased from the Indians in 1640, taken together with the knowledge that the Indians, who murdered the little colony of heretics, belonged to a tribe of Mohegan Indians which owned the supreme authority of the Uncas Chief Sachem 'who had always been the unscrupulous ally of England,' leads the historian to suspect collusion between [p. 264 / p. 265] the New England authorities and the Indians in ridding themselves of the worry of that troublesome woman's presence.

However this maybe [sic], the fact remains that the home of Mrs. Hutchinson and her children (a family of 16 persons) which they had built for themselves on a lovely spot, southwest of the Split Rock, was burned during the terrible raid of the Indians bent on destroying the Dutch settlers and all connected with them. An Indian visited the house in the morning professing friendship, and finding the family defenceless, returned at night with his comrades, killing every member of the family, except one daughter whom they took captive; and burning the houses, barns and cattle of their neighbors also. All that saved the entire number from death was the timely arrival of a boat, which, at the cost of the lives of two of the crew, saved several women and children.

An Indian proprietor of this territory afterwards assumed her name, probably because he was an active party to the massacre, and subsequently signed deeds as Ann Hoock. His grave is also near the same spot and a rock said to be his favorite fishing place, not far away, bears his name.

Her family was not all exterminated however. The daughter Susannah, who was taken by the Indians, was recovered after four years of captivity, by the Dutch on December 30, 1657, married John Cole of Kingston, Rhode Island, where a large number of her descendants still live. Thos. Hutchinson, the historian, and last Royal Governor of Massachusetts was a lineal descendant of her son Edward Hutchinson, who was a captain in King Phillip's war and had remained in Boston along with his sister Faith, the wife of Thos. Savage.

Thus perished the woman whose consistent struggle for liberty of conscience made her hated and dreaded by the authorities of Massachusetts, but whose husband believed to be 'a dear saint and servant of God.' A testimony of no small weight in determining her true character. That a man such as Wm. Hutchinson, himself described as a very honest and peaceable man of good estate, who had followed his wife's fortunes through their stormy course for so many years and yet, after all they had endured to- [p. 265 / p. 266] gether, should be able to say he thought her a dear saint and servant of God, and that he was more nearly tied to her than to the church, is sufficient proof to the average married man or woman that she was all he believed her to be.

Nothing remains to tell of her life in Eastchester but the creek which bears her name, although the spring which furnished water to the family can still be found by careful search, but the blessings of free speech for which she and many like her suffered are the fruits of their labor.

When the Non-Conformists revolted from ecclesiastical authority and established separate churces they republicanized the church. When the individual church members revolted from the teachings of the ministers and insisted upon thinking for themselves, they established democracy in religion. With this great work the names of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson are inseparably connected; and whether her work were done wittingly or unwittingly, the tribute of our gratitude is hers.



Mount Vernon, N. Y.
Authorities drawn upon.

Fiskes Beginnings of New England.
Palfrey's History of New England.
C. F. Adams, Three Episodes of Massachusetts History.
C. F. Adams, Antinomian Controversey.
Sparks Life of Ann Hutchinson.
Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, Vol. 14, 1887-1889.
Bolton's History of Westchester Co.
Richman's Rhode Island."

Source: McVickar, Estelle R., Anne Hutchinson. Her Life in New York, A Character Sketch in Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association. The Eleventh Annual Meeting, With Constitution, By-Laws and List of Members, Vol. IX, pp. 256-66 (New York State Historical Association 1910).

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Early Advertisements for Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor

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As I have noted before on the Historic Pelham Blog, during the late 1880s, The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York had a star teacher. Her name was Emily Hall Hazen. A few Pelham Manor landowners coveted the teacher’s talents and experience. They still were trying to develop the remnants of the subdivision planned by the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association founded in the early 1870s.

To attract “upper class buyers”, a Pelham Manor landowner named Silas H. Witherbee recruited Mrs. Hazen to open a girl’s preparatory school in Pelham Manor. According to one account, “although Mrs. Hazen was urged to locate elsewhere, she yielded to the persuasion and promise of support given by the residents of Pelham Manor.” In 1889 the little school opened, only to become one of the finest girls’ schools in the country before it closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year.

Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls, of course, advertised to attract proper young women to attend the school. One such advertisement appeared in the January - June 1898 issue of The American Monthly Review of Reviews, certainly a publication that likely would attract the sort of readers who might intend to educate their daughters in an elite preparatory institution such as Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.

The advertisement appeared on the "Schools & Colleges" page of the Review in an area that collected advertisements under the heading "Academical and Preparatory, Girls". It was an exceedingly simple ad. It read only "NEW YORK, Pelham Manor. Mrs. Hazen's Suburban School for Girls. Ten miles from New York."

Below is an image of the 1898 advertisement in which I have outlined in red the ad for Mrs. Hazen's School.

Of course, the school issued many such advertisements. Another such example appeared in the July-December, 1901 issued of "The American Monthly Review of Reviews An International Magazine" edited by Albert Shaw (Vol. XXIV, p. 85). This advertisement similarly appeared on the "Schools & Colleges" page of the Review. It read "NEW YORK, PELHAM MANOR (half-hour from New York). Mrs. Hazen's Suburban School for Girls. Arrangements for Young Children." Below is an image of the 1901 advertisement in which I have outlined in red the ad for Mrs. Hazen's School.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Efforts to Sell Rodman's Neck in 1774 and 1775, Apparently Due to Financial Difficulties of Joseph Rodman, Jr.

Apparently beginning in early February, 1774, Joseph Rodman, Jr. of New Rochelle, began trying to sell the peninsula on the mainland across from City Island long known as Rodman's Neck (named after Samuel Rodman). Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will quote a series of advertisements offering the land for sale as well as a couple of notices suggesting that Joseph Rodman, Jr. was forced to offer the property for sale due to financial difficulties.

The following advertisement appeared in the February 21, issue of The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury:


On Monday the 21st March, (if not disposed of before at PRIVATE SALE,)

THAT valuable peninsula, or neck of land at New-Rochelle, commonly called, and known by the name of RODMAN'S NECK, distant 23 miles from the city of New-York; containing about 200 acres, including 8 or 10 acres of salt meadow. On the premises is a commodious new dwelling-house, a large new barn, with stables and other convenient out-buildings; a good bearing orchard, and a variety of peach and other fruit trees. The Farm is in excellent order, divided in proper lots from five, ten, to fifteen acres, mostly inclosed with lasting stone fences; is well water'd, and has a sufficiency of timber for fire-wood. The soil is naturally rich and luxuriant, and may easily be made more so if required as large quantities of sedge and rock weed (those best of manures) are continually drifting on shore from all quarters of the Sound, and can be conveyed to any part of the farm with very little trouble and expence. The situation is healthy and most delightful -- a full prospect up the Sound, unbounded as the ocean; -- an extensive view of New-England and Long-Island shores, with the innumerable islands interspersed, most of which are covered with cedars, pines, and other ever-greens; -- the continual passing and repassing of topsail vessels, sloops, boats, &c. -- and the pleasant and fruitful adjacent country around; renders it all together, inviting and agreeable beyond description.

The conditions of sale, and other particulars may be known by applying to Mr. Joseph Rodman, Jun. at New Rochelle, or Anthony L. Bleecker, of New-York."

Source: To Be Sold, at Public Vendue on the Premises, The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Feb. 21, 1774, p. 2, col. 4.

Essentially the same advertisement appeared a number of additional times thereafter, including: The New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Mar. 14, 1774, p. 3, col. 4; The New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, May 2, 1774, p. 4, col. 1; The New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, May 9, 1774, Supplement p. 2, col. 2.

In about the same time period, however, other "notices" began to appear suggesting that the offers to sell the property were prompted by financial difficulties. For example, several such notices were published at about the same time by James De Lancey, Sheriff of the County of Westchester, indicating that the lands were to be sold due to the issuance of "two writs of fieri facias and venditioni exponas". A writ of "fieri facias" is a writ of execution issued by a court directing a marshal or sheriff to seize and sell a defendant's property to satisfy a money judgment. A writ of "venditioni exponas" is a writ of execution requiring a sale to be made. Below is the text of one such notice, published on April 18, 1774:

"BY virtue of two writs of fieri facias and venditioni exponas, issued out of the supreme court of our lord the king, for the province of New-York, to me directed and delivered, against the goods and chattels, lands and tenements of Joseph Rodman, jun. of New-Rochell, in the county of Westchester, in my bailiwick, and by me taken, will be exposed to sale at public vendue on the premises, on Monday the 18th day of April inst. a farm or neck of land situate at New-Rochell, in the county of Westchester, containing about 200 acres of very good land, the greatest part of which is good mowing ground; there is on said land a good new dwelling-house and barn. Also, at the same time and place will be sold, several horses, cattle and hogs, now in the possession of the said Joseph Rodman. All persons having demands on or defore the day of sale, to me

Of the county of Westchester."

Source: By Virtue of Two Writs of Fieri Facias and Venditioni Exponas, The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Apr. 18, 1774, p. 4, col. 1.

Essentially the same advertisement appeared a number of additional times thereafter, including: The New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Jun. 20, 1774, p. 2, col. 2; The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Jun. 27, 1774, Supplement p. 1, col. 1; The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Jul. 11, 1774, Supplement p. 1, col. 1; The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury, Jul. 18, 1774, Supplement p. 1, col. 1.

A short time after these advertisements appeared, a series of notices indicating that the sale would be conducted by "trustees" began to appear. An example of such a notice appeared in the August 4, 1774 issue of The New-York Journal; Or, The General Advertiser. It read:

"To be SOLD at private sale, and entered on immediately,

ALL that valuable farm at New Rochelle, commonly called, and known by the name of Rodman's Neck, containing about 240 acres. On the premises is a new dwelling-house, a large new barn, and a good bearing orchard, with other fruit trees. The farm is in good order, divided into proper lots, with lasting stone fences, is well watered, and has a sufficiency of timber for fire wood -- The soil is naturally rich and luxuriant, and the greatest part thereof may be made the best of mowing land. The situation is healthy, with a most delightful prospect up and down the sound, abounding with a great variety of fish and fowl. Upon the whole, it needs no recommendation. Whoever views it will find it agreeable and pleasant, beyond description. The conditions of sale, and other particulars, may be known by applying to

JOSEPH DRAKE, } Trustees

NEW-ROCHELLE, July 18. 47-50"

Source: To Be Sold at Private Sale, and Entered on Immediately, The New-York Journal; Or, The General Advertiser, Aug. 4, 1774, p. 4, col. 3. See also To Be Sold at Private Sale, and Entered on Immediately, The New-York Journal; Or, The General Advertiser, Aug. 11, 1774, Supplement p. 2, col. 4.

It seems that Joseph Rodman, Jr. had lost a lawsuit and suffered entry of a substantial monetary judgment against him. It further seems that he suffered financially as a consequence and may have entered bankruptcy proceedings. This is suggested by a brief notice that appeared in the March 23, 1775 issue of The New-York Journal; Or, The General Advertiser which read:

"THIS is to give notice to all those who have any demands on Joseph Rodman, jun. either by bond, note, or book debt, to bring in their accounts at the house of James Beslay, in New-Rochelle, on Monday the 10th day of April next, at ten o'clock in the morning, in order that they may be examined, and a dividend made of the said Rodman's estate, for the creditors, by us

Joseph Drake, } Trustees.
Peter Flandreu,}

81 83

New Rochelle, March 14th, 1775.,"

Source: [Unitled Notice], The New-York Journal; Or, The General Advertiser, Mar. 23, 1775, p. 1, col. 2.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Ghost Gunship of Pelham: A Revolutionary War Ghost Story

In 1897, G. P. Putnam's Sons The Knickerbocker Press published a book by Charles Pryer entitled Reminiscences of an Old Westchester Homestead. The book contains a number of supposed "ghost stories" based upon alleged reminiscences of old timers about the early days of Pelham in the late 18th century and early 19th century. One chapter, entitled "The Wood Famine", recounts an old-timer's recollections of the appearance of the British in and around Pelham during the Revolutionary War and the capture of a British sloop later, supposedly, lost at sea. According to the story, the ship reappears occasionally, yet seems to vanish from sight before the eyes of disbelieving witnesses.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of that chapter. The text appears immediately below.


IT was March -- cold, cheerless, windy March. The roads were in that terrible condition between mud and frost that makes driving at this time of the year in the fair county of Westchester unpleasant, not to say almost impracticable. The sun of spring had scarcely yet caressed the southern slopes into a shade of green, while many a snowdrift still bade defiance to its power on the northern side of fences and hills.

The day itself was no exception to the characteristic weather of the month; the thermometer was just above the freezing-point and the sun was obscured by heavy, dark masses of cloud, while gusts of wind sighed [p. 65 / p. 66] in the trees and around the chimneys, making it anything but tempting to leave the cosy fireside and face the raw atmosphere outside. Still, I had been in the house so long, that I began to suffer from ennui, and resolved to take a ride, bad as the roads were, as far as Pelham, to visit an old gentleman, long a friend of the family, and hear him talk of his boyhood's days.

After a long, slow jouncing, mud-splashing ride, I arrived at the house of my old friend, and while I am sitting with my feet upon the andirons before the crackling hickory fire of the library in his comfortable old-fashioned mansion, sipping a glass or two of his choice wine, allow me to describe my host.

He is a grand-looking man of fully eighty-seven years, with fine features, and though he has now lost the straightness and suppleness of early manhood, and his eyesight is rapidly failing, in other respects his age sits [p. 66 / p. 67] lightly upon him.* [Footnote Transcribed Below at End of This Page.] But what is more remarkable is that his intellect is as clear and keen as though he were still in the prime of life, and he retains a quickness of perception that many a young man might envy.

As the cheery fire begins to have a soothing effect upon us and the discomforts of my boisterous ride commence to wear away, our conversation turns from the events of the day, back to that land of mist and fable called the past. There is nothing around us to jar upon our dream-land; the glowing hickory logs, the bright-polished fire-dogs, the low ceilings of the old homestead, and the old gentleman himself, as he sat there in his great easy chair, all seemed to belong to the epoch of which we were talking.

I remember admiring some fine trees that I could see through a window, upon an island in the bay, a short distance off.

'Yes,' said the old gentleman,

* Died about 1890. [This is the Footnote.] [p. 67 / p. 68]

'those trees have not been disturbed since the wood-famine of 1777.'

Upon my asking the particulars of that event, he continued: 'I well remember hearing my father speak about it some eighty years ago. The winter of 1777 was an intensely cold one, and the British troops posted in the city, as well as the town-people, suffered much for want of fuel, as the country was in such a disordered state that the farmers of the surrounding districts did not bring in the usual supply. Towards the close of the season the fuel became so scarce that something had to be done, as the entire population were brought to such a strait that much suffering and inconvenience was occasioned, and the price of even the poorest wood was something appalling.

'Under these circumstances, the commander of the post thought it advisable, as soon as the Sound opened, to send a small war-vessel a short way to the eastward to procure a load of [p. 68 / p. 69] cordwood for the use of the garrison. The point selected for cutting the wood was this same island at which we are now looking. Accordingly, the little sloop-of-war left port upon her not very nautical or romantic mission; and, doubtless, much to the disgust of her officers and crew, took a couple of large scows in tow, and proceeded slowly up the Sound. On through Hell Gate and past many a quiet farmhouse she sped, now sending her men aloft to set her royals, and now training her guns upon some imaginary enemy on shore. The sun set, and the stars twinkled in the frosty sky, but the wind was light and the progress slow. Several watches were set and relieved ere she rounded Throggs Neck, and the sun of a chill March morning was just rising when she anchored as near the island as her draught of water would allow.

'The expedition of the wood foragers had, however, not been kept as quiet as prudence and military caution [p. 69 / p. 70] ought to have suggested, for, in some unknown manner, the news had been spread abroad throughout the county of Westchester that a British man-of-war with a crew of wood-choppers was about to ascend the Sound, to give the city a supply of fuel. The movements of the ship had been eagerly watched from the shores as she passed along, and word carried to several irregular bodies of colonial troops and other persons favorable to the cause of the revolted provinces. So that a large body of armed men were secreted in the bushes of the main-land near the island when the English sloop-of-war anchored and prepared to land her party.

'Very foolishly, the captain sent nearly all his men ashore to chop and carry the wood, reserving only barely enough to attend to mooring the vessel, little thinking an enemy was in the vicinity. The colonists watched all these proceedings carefully, and saw that their chance had come. [p. 70 / p. 71]

Rusing to their boats they crossed the narrow channel, and boarded the ship before the wood party had time to observer their movements, or to give the slightest aid to their few companions left in charge. The resistance was necessarily feeble, and the ship's company was soon overpowered and compelled to yield the vessel to their captors, who no sooner got possession than they began to train their guns upon the wood-choppers, now deeply interested but helpless spectators of their proceedings.

'Although for the present masters of the situation, it was far too dangerous for the visitors to let the ship remain where she was. It was determined that the best plan would be to run her into some eastern port, and there fit her out as a colonial cruiser: so a sufficient crew was selected from among the most daring and best sailors in the neighborhood, and, under the command of a ci-devant master of a coasting-vessels, the man-of-war again [p. 71 / p. 72] crossed her yards, shook out her canvas, and pointed her prow seaward. Out into the gray mists of the Sound she sped, every stitch of canvas drawing. Slowly, slowly she sank from the view of the watchers on shore behind the eastern horizon, and never by mortal eye was ship or crew seen again.

'Day after day, day after day, and still no tidings of the captured ship, until the heart was weary, and the eye was dim with watching. At last the skipper of a coaster gave the somewhat startling report: 'While lying-to off New London, in a fearful gale, he saw a small war-ship approach, apparently of English build, with every stitch of canvas set, even to her royal studding-sails. She heeded neither bar, shoal, nor rock, but kept steadily on her course, until nearly abreast of him, when sail after sail and mast after mast began to vanish, until nothing but the hull of the vessel with her open ports, through which the guns were projecting, was visible. Slowly and silently [p. 72 / p. 73] the outlines of the ship became less and less clearly defined, until nothing of the majestic vessel was left.'

'What this vision of another world portended nobody ever knew, but even to our own time many old salts are willing to swear that often, before the most terrific storms, when their vessels were compelled to lay-to under reefed topsails, they have distinctly seen an old-fashioned war-ship, under a cloud of canvas, approach near to them, and then gradually vanish into air. Some go so far as to say they could see the crew on her deck, and plainly recognized the knee-breeches and cocked hats of the last century. But, be this as it may, the vessel or crew, so far as I am able to learn, never reached port in this world, and was probably lost in one of the severe spring gales, so prevalent in this latitude at that season.'

And now the old gentleman ceased speaking, took a sip of wine, and indicated that his story had concluded, [p. 73 / p. 74] though he soon informed me that this was far from being the only tale he could relate of the olden time, and the exciting doings of the people now silent, and, except by him and a few tradition-hunters, forgotten."

Source: Pryer, Charles, Reminiscences of an Old Westchester Homestead, pp. 67-74 (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons The Knickerbocker Press 1897).

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Captain of British Sloop Scorpion Stationed Off City Island on July 23, 1777 Gave Notice No Flags of Truce Would Be Permitted to Pass

During the early months of the Revolutionary War, British warship activity in the Long Island Sound off the coast of Pelham was intense. One British sloop that cruised the waters off the shore of City Island has His Majesty's Sloop Scorpion. On July 23, 1777, the captain of that sloop, Philip Brown, issued a notice published in a local newspaper indicating that by order of Vice Admiral Howe, the Scorpion would not permit any flags of truce to pass between Connecticut and Long Island without "Special Licence" of Vice Admiral Howe. The notice stated as follows:

"Scorpion, (off New City-Island) July 23, 1777.
No Flags of Truce are in Future to pass between the Colony of Connecticut, and Long Island, without the Special Licence of the General commanding his Majestry's Forces, nor any Correspondence by Letter, or otherwise permitted but under the above Restriction. Flags of Truce are to be confined in future to New York only. Matters regarding the Naval Department excepted.

By Order of the Viscount Howe, Vice Admiral and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Ships in North America

Philip Brown, Captain of his Majesty's Sloop Scorpion."

Source: Scorpion (off New City-Island) July 23, 1777, Continental Journal, Jul. 23, 1777, p. 3, col. 1.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

1805 Notice of Public Sale of 50 Acres on City Island

On April 16, 1805, a notice appeared in the Mercantile Advertiser indicating that two days later on Thursday, April 18, 1805, a public auction of 50 acres on "New City Island" would occur at the Tontine Coffee house" in lower Manhattan. The sale was to be conducted by George Ferris. The pertinent provisions of the brief notice read as follows:


On Thursday,

At I o'clock, at the Tontine Coffee house, will be sold a valuable property, on New City Island, about 20 miles from New-York, one of the pleasantest situations on the continent, commanding a full view of the sound and the adjacent country. It is laid out in squares and building lots of 1 & 2 acres, together with the water lots. It will be sold together or separately as may suit the purchasers. The whole contains about 50 acres. A map of the Island to be seen at the Tontine Coffee house."

Source: Sales at Auction, Mercantile Advertiser, Apr. 16, 1805, p. 3, col. 3.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another Biography of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights

I have written previously on the Historic Pelham Blog about the life of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights who served as a member of Congress and was responsible for the early development of much of Pelham Heights. See Friday, April 22, 2005: Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights -- A Notable Pelham Personage. Today's Historic Pelham Blog provides additional biographical information about Benjamin L. Fairchild. Below is the text of Fairchild's biography contained in the Official Congressional Directory of the Fifty-Fourth Congress [Second Session] published in 1897.

(Population, 220,857.)
COUNTY. -- Westchester, together with the Twenty-fourth assembly district of the city of New York.
BEN L. FAIRCHILD, of Pelham Heights, Westchester County, was born at Sweden, N. Y., January 5, 1863; removed to Washington, D. C., with his parents at the close of the war of the rebellion, his father having lost his health from wounds and disabilities received in military service, and settled in that city; was educated in the public schools of Washington, and at the age of 13 years entered the draftsman division of the Interior Department, and two years later the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the Treasury Department; studied law at the Columbian Law School, from which he graduated with the degree of LL. M. in 1885; resigned his position in the Treasury Department, and after passing the bar examination and being admitted to the bar of the District of Columbia went to New York City, where, after taking the prescribed course of one year, he passed the bar examinations and was admitted to the bar of that city; has since continued the practice of law with success; became a member of the firm of Ewing, Southard & Fairchild, the other members of the firm being Gen. Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, and Hon. Milton J. Southard; the present name of the firm is Southard & Fairchild; has large real-estate investments in Westchester County, adjoining New York City; has held no public office prior to his election to Congress, but was the candidate of his party for delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1893; was elected to the Fifty-fourth Contress as a Republican, receiving 24,853 votes, against 19,294 votes for William Ryan, Democrat, 362 votes for Foote, Populist, and 624 votes for Lyon, Prohibitionist."

Source: Fifty-Fourth Congress [Second Session] Official Congressional Directory, For the Use of the United States Congress, Prepared Under the Direction of The Joint Committee on Printing by Pitman Pusifier Clerk of Printing Records, Second Edition, Corrected to January 27, 1897, p. 92 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office 1897).

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Monday, August 14, 2006

An Early Account of a Visit to Hunter's Island and John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham

In 1833, a man named James Stuart published a two-volume account of his three-year journey throughout North America. Included in Volume II is an account of Stuart's visits to Hunter's Island in late October, 1829. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of this brief account.


While the weather continued fine [some time shortly after October 27, 1829], and when the roads were good, we took very long walks. When the roads were wet, owing to much rain having fallen, Mr. Weed insisted on our driving out in one of his open carriages free of expence; and he always sent it to church with us when it rained, or when the road was wet. One of the finest walks at New Rochelle, is from thence along the shore to Hunter's Island, situated at a distance of two or three miles, close to the shore, to which it is joined by a bridge. There is a great variety of ground in this island, which consists of about 300 acres, and is well laid out in meadow-land and wood, handsomely disposed. The house is in a beautiful situation, commanding fine views of the lawn, and of the indented shores of Long Island, and the Frith or sound dividing it from Hunter's Island. The house is a large stone building, of heavy architecture, but containing a great deal of good accommodation. The office-houses and garden are good, and in good order. In short, this is not only a fine country seat, in the English sense of the word, but a place well worth a visit, on account of its peculiar and attractive beauties. Mr. Hunter is a man of large fortune in various parts of the state. I was told that 30,000 acres of the Catskill mountains belonged to him. Joseph Buonaparte has been frequently here. Before he made his purchase on the Delaware, he was very anxious to acquire Mr. Hunter's Island; and showed his good taste, as I think, in offering a very large price for it. It is in all respects superior to the acquisition he afterwards made on the Delaware. But Mr. Hunter was quite right to decline, on any terms, to part with such a gem as this.

The second time that I had gone to this island to enjoy its scenes, we were accompanied by a friend from New York. Mr. Hunter had by this time heard of our being in the neighbourhood, and, having noticed us when going away, he followed, and begged us to return to his house and take some refreshment. It was getting late in the evening at the time, and we were therefore obliged to decline to accept his hospitality on this occasion; but we promised to take an early opportunity of paying him a visit, which we accordingly did on the 16th November. Mr. Hunter was long a member of Congress, -- seems a very gentlemanly person, of mild manners, -- very anxious that a good understanding should subsist between the people of the United States and of England, and therefore regretting much the views which Captain Hall has given of the United States. He expressed great approbation of the system of farming practised by several Scotch farmers whom he knew in various parts of this neighbourhood, especially by a Judge Somerville. Mr. Hunter has had a collection of pictures lately made for him in Italy by, I think he said, his brother, at present in that country. I saw part of those pictures, and among them some of considerable merit by Poussin, and Watteau, &c.; but it would have been far more for Mr. Hunter's interest, I suspect, to have purchased half a dozen fine pictures by the best masters. A choice collection might have no inconsiderable effect in forming the taste of the people in this part of the United States, -- far more than the acquisition of so large a number of pictures of the middling class. Chaste works of art are much wanting in the United States. Few persons comparatively are yet acquainted with them. The collections of pictures, and of works of art in the great towns, show great want of information and skill.

I have never been able to observe either here, or in other parts of the United States where we have yet been, any ground for an observation which I have heard again and again made by British writers, viz. that it is difficult to understand the language which the Americans use, and that an American does not at once understand what an Englishman says. On the contrary, I think it much more difficult, in travelling in Britain, to comprehend the various dialects that are used by the lower classes in different parts of the country. Even in the city of London, the language is very different in the city and in the west end of the town. The style of speaking is very much the same all over this country. The only difference seems to me to consist in the different signification which is given to a few words in America, such as the following: -- A lady calling on us when there was some melons on the table, we asked her to partake of it as soon as the servant brought a plate. She was in a hurry, and took up a little bit in her hand, saying, allow me to take it 'friendly,' -- meaning unceremoniously. Of such words as this there is a considerable number, but there is generally no difficulty in finding out the sense in which they are used."

Source: Stuart, James, Three Years in North America, Vol. II, pp. 19-21 (Edinburgh: Printed for Robert Cadell, Edinburgh and Whittaker and Co. London 1833).

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910

In 1901, William Abbatt published a small book about the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776. See Abbatt, William, The Battle of Pell's Point (Or Pelham) October 18, 1776. Being the Story of a Stubborn Fight (New York: Privately Printed, 1901) (entire scanned image of book). The book contained numerous errors in its description of the Battle, misplacing the locations of many of the events that occurred that day.

Nearly nine years later Abbatt published an article on the Battle. In that article he perpetuated many of his earlier mistakes. Below is a little background on the nature of Abbatt's mistakes. After that is a transcription of the 1910 article authored by Abbatt nine years after he released his book on the Battle.

Earlier efforts to place the commencement and progress of the battle by H.B. Dawson (Westchester County, New York, During the Revolution) and William Abbatt (The Battle of Pell's Point) erroneously relied on an inaccurate map published in London by Sauthier in 1777. That map inaccurately showed British and German troops landing by ships at the very end of Pelham Neck (also known as "Pell's Point"). Because contemporary accounts showed that the British marched one and one-half miles from their landing before the battle began, erroneously placing the landing at the lower end of Pelham Neck rather than at the higher end where Shore Road ended at the time meant that scholars who relied on the map measured the marching distance from the wrong place and, therefore, placed the battle at a point far from where it actually occurred.

There was, however, a surprisingly accurate and contemporary manuscript map by Charles Blaskowitz, a British Engineer, entitled "A Survey of Frog's Neck and the Rout [i.e. "Route"] of the British Army to the 24th of October 1776 Under Command of His Excellency The Honorable William Howe General and Commander in Chief of His Majestys Forces &c &c &c" about which Abbatt appears to have been unaware. The Blaskowitz map is incredibly detailed and generally considered to be the best depiction of the location of, and countryside surrounding, the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776. Later scholars of the Battle of Pelham used the Blaskowitz map to establish the true course of the Battle and to correct several of the errors made by Abbatt in his book. For an example, see Hufeland, Otto, Westchester County During the American Revolution 1775 ~ 1783 (Privately Printed 1926) Chapter V "Fighting Begins in the County ~ 1776").

Below is the text of Abbatt's article on the Battle published in 1910. In it he continues to assume the accuracy of the Sauthier map and, thus, perpetuates some of his earlier mistakes.


WM. ABBATT, Editor Magazine of History.


The history of our Revolution (and future historians will probably say the same of the war of the Rebellion) is full, both of incidents and of men whose services were important yet neglected by historians -- sometimes to the magnifying of exemplars of less real value.

Every one is supposed to be familiar with the battles of Saratoga and the surrender at Yorktown, yet how many have heard of the fight at the Crooked Billet, Pennsylvania, or of General John Lacey its hero, or of General Jethro Sumner, of North Carolina?

The former event is not even noticed by Lossing, in his Field Book while the Battle of Pell's Point he dismisses in three lines, in which, as has been justly remarked, he made two serious errors. Other writers treat it no better.

As a matter of fact, it was of the greatest consequence, involving as it did the safety of Washington's Army at a critical juncture, and a loss to the enemy of a greater number than on the first day at Saratoga, or at Monmouth.

To understand the situation, remember that after the defeat on Long Island, the patriot army, after leaving behind the fated garrison of Fort Washington -- too few to fight yet too many to lose -- had retreated as fast as possible toward White Plains. While Howe's troops were comfortably carried by sea, northward to Throgg's Neck in the town of Westchester, there to meet and be stoutly resisted by Prescott of Bunker Hill, in an encounter which the late Mr. Fordham Morris, in Scharf's History of Westchester County has justly termed 'the Lexington of Westchester,' Washington's troops were marching slowly northward. I say slowly because the lack of draught animals obliged them to keep pace [p. 267 / p. 268] with the slow transport of the artillery, the commissary and quartermaster's stores. So few horses had these departments that it was necessary after drawing a cannon or wagon a few miles, to unhitch the team, leave gun or wagon, and return for another, which, in its turn was left for others. As a result the army was strung out along a long route and exposed to the danger of being suddenly and vigorously attacked and beaten in detail. Had any of the really active British officers -- Erskine, Simcoe, Tarleton, or the Tory Oliver DeLancey even, been supreme, instead of the indolent Howe, it had gone hard with our forces during that march of twenty odd miles in the October of one hundred and thirty three years ago.

The rapidly succeeding events of the month were to be signalized by an encounter between the greater part of Howe's force, about seven thousand English and German troops, and a detached brigade of less than a thousand Americans. It began at early dawn within the limits of the town of Pelham, on the morning of October eighteenth, so we are almost celebrating its anniversary -- and after a most obstinate resistance all day, ended at dark with an artillery duel, the American cannon being on a rocky height within the borders of the present Mount Vernon and but a short distance below the point where the electric cars cross the little Hutchinson River at East Union street, less than two miles from our meeting place.

General John Nixon, an old Indian fighter of the 'old French war' had, some time before notified the commander-in-chief that the shore now called Rodman's Neck, but then Pell's Neck or Point, ought to be guarded, as a likely landing place of the enemy.

Colonel Howe's militia regiment had accordingly been stationed there, but at this time seems to have been withdrawn, and the coast above Throgg's Neck was consequently quite undefended. After Howe had spent several days on Throgg's Neck, detained from crossing Westchester Creek by the determined stand made at the present bridge at the foot of Main street, by Prescott as before referred to, he embarked most of his force and passed up the Sound to Pell's Point, where in the small hours of October 18th, [p. 268 / p. 269] they landed (Knyphausen, with part of the Hessians, landed a few days after, on Davenport's Neck, at New Rochelle).

Here they were to be met by an officer who proved his value by ferrying over from Brooklyn the army after its disaster on Long Island. I refer of course, to John Golver, commanding the regiment of Marblehead fishermen and sailors later known as the 'amphibious regiment,' destined that December to play an important part at Trenton, and himself to become one of Washington's best brigadiers.

At just what point he had camped the night before is uncertain but probably some where between the Bronx and Hutchinson's Creek, above St Paul's Church in Eastchester.

His force comprised four small regiments, all Massachusetts men, commanded by himself, Colonels Baldwin, Read and Shepard; in all less than a thousand men, with three cannon. Apparently there were no battery horses and the guns were dragged by hand. Probably for this reason we shall see that they cut no figure that day.

The only authentic story of any extent of the day's fight is a letter from Glover himself four days after, to an unnamed friend in New Hampshire. He says that 'very early in the morning' he saw through his field glass the Sound covered with the boats from the British men of war, landing troops on Pell's Point. Immediately sending a messenger to General Charles Lee, (then ranking next to Washington) who was three miles away (and apparently got no nearer that day) he marched with his whole force to oppose their landing.

Too late to prevent the small boats' landing, he had but reached a point about a quarter mile east of the present Bartow Station on the New Haven railroad, when on the City Island road the scarlet uniforms of the invaders appeared in the distance. Halting the main body, he sent forward one company of Read's regiment -- either that of Captain Peters, Pond or Warren -- to engage them while he should post the rest to the best advantage.

Here crops out the simple, earnest nature of the man, in the [p. 269 / p. 270] passionate declaration born of his feeling overburdened by the responsibility of sole command: 'I would have given a thousand worlds to have had General lee, or some other experienced officer, present, to direct or at least to approve, what I had done.'

But as the sequel shows, Lee could have done no better. Thrown on his own resources Glover, like many another before and since rose to the occasion and came off victorious, though he seems to have been too modest to claim much credit.

Recalling possibly the rail-fence at Bunker Hill, he improved on it by posting his regiments alternately on the right and left of the road at intervals, extending very likely part way up the Split Rock Road. Behind the stone wall they awaited the foe.

While these dispositions were making, the advance company had encountered them, a party of about equal strenght. The huge glacial boulder, ever since called 'Glover's Rock,' on the south side of the City Island road, just west of LeRoy Bay, where the roadway dips to its lowest point, marks the spot where the firing began, at about a hundred and fifty feet distance.

Five rounds were fired, which in flint-lock days required not less than fifteen minutes. Several on either side were killed or wounded and the British pressed forward.

Obeying orders, the captain withdrew his men, retreating on Read's regiment.

The British cheered, and came rapidly on until but thirty yards from the stone wall and Read's three hundred men. Suddenly the wall glistens with a long row of gun barrels, from the five foot small-bore squirrel rifle to the light shot-gun and the heavy 'Tower' musket of fifteen pounds, companion to that of which Lowell sings in 'The Courtin' -'

'Against the chimney crook-necks hung. And
in among 'em rusted
The old 'Queen arm' that Gran'ther Young
Fetched home from Concord busted.'

Three hundred shots ring out and the advancing red coats, [p. 270 / p. 271] smitten as unexpectedly and almost as severely as their descendants by the Boers at Magersfontein, recoil. Like the Americans whom Major André three years later, derided in the Cow Chase, their officers cry:

'Soldiers charge! They hear, they stand --
They turn, and run away!'

But not all -- the narrow road over which now pass daily the many who never heard this story until the D. A. R. a few years ago placed a bronze tablet on the rock to commemorate it, is covered with dead or writhing men in scarlet, some of the same men who have been at Bunker Hill, for the Fourth Foot was at both.

The brief skirmish is over -- for an hour and a half at least. The enemy have retreated to their main body, which is probably still landing from the fleet. But at last the shrill notes of the fife and the roll of drum playing the historic 'British Grenadiers,' herald an advance -- four thousand well-armed, well-drilled Grenadiers, Light Infantry, Infantry of the Line, German Chasseurs, and some dismounted cavalry. Seven cannon, to right and left of them, support them by their fire.

Let us hear once more Colonel Glover's 'plain unvarnished tale.' 'We kept our post under cover of the stone wall till they came within fifty yards of us [when we] rose up and gave them the whole charge of the battalion; they halted , and returned the fire with showers of musketry and cannon-balls.'

Seven rounds are exchange, when the difficult and often -- to inexperienced troops -- disastrous movement of a change of front to the rear, is successfully executed. Read's men retreat, but form again in good order in the rear of Shepard's, which have not yet fired a [shot]. A roar of three cheers from the enemy follows; they doubtless think they have retreated for good.

Dreadfully are they undeceived in another half mile where a stone wall of extra height and thickness shelters the two hundred who make up Shepard's skeleton regiment.

Again the close range of thirty yards, again the musket-lined [p. 271 / p. 272] wall; but this time the Colonel, a veteran of the 'old French war' and the Canada expeditions, and destined, ere the Revolution ends, to have twenty-two battles to his credit, and then to suppress Shays' Rebellion -- ordders 'Fire by file,' (or in succession). Like a pack of huge firecrackers bang the muskets in quick and irregular succession, and at that very short range every shot tells on the compact formation of the British.

They stand firm, and return the fire with a thunderous volley. For nearly an hour the two hundred 'stand off' the four thousand.

Their officers' utmost exertions fail to bring the men up to the fire-fringed wall with a bayonet rush, which must inevitably have cleared it. Several times they retreat, and as often advance. The fallen leaves which dot the road have their counterpart now in many little spots of a dark red, and fallen men lie thick in the dust and on the grassy roadside.

There is one among them whose sword and single belt proclaim him an officer. While his men have fallen back, a daring private of Shepard's leaps the wall and takes hat and canteen from the protrate form, and returns unhurt. The officer is Captain Evelyn, of the Fourth Foot, who sometime before has sent home to England an account of his experience, which, a century later is to see the light in print as 'The Evelyns in America.'

So the day grows apace, a series of intermittent advances on the one hand, sturdy resistance and orderly retreat on the other.

The patriots have now traversed the Split Rock road and the enemy comes on apace. Glover sees that longer resistance will be useless in face of such odds, and orders a retreat, covered by Baldwin's regiment from behind its wall.

The British bring up their artillery, and the higher ground near the head of the present Wolf's Lane gives them an advantageous spot to place it. Rapidly the patriots retreat as far as the old Post Road and turn down it to the bridge (near the old Pell house now occupied by Mr. Rodman). Here they have to ford the Hutchinson, for they took up the planks of the bridge on their advance. Let us hope the tide is out, for they have to flounder [p. 277 / p. 278] through the deep mud to the East Chester (or Mount Vernon) side, dragging their cannon through and placing them on the rocky heights beyond.

Here they open fire, the British replying from their seven guns. It is now late and the short day fades into twilight but until dark they fire away, though as Glover records, 'without doing much damage on either side.' The enemy, fatigued and discouraged by the events of the day, forbear pursuit, and encamp.

'All s quiet on the Potomac' of East Chester. But all along the backward way, burial parties will be busy the next day, and surgeons are now, for nearly a thousand men lie wounded or dead. All of the dead are probably buried at two or three points, where plow and spade may yet turn up their relics. Buttons, buckles, cannonballs, and such have been found, some of which are owned by the Carey family of City Island, Mr. Charles Payer of New Rochelle, the family of the late Rev. C. W. Bolton of Pelham, and an aged chestnut tree, the only thing left there which was a living witness of the battle, is full of bullets. The patriots' loss was small, not over twenty in all, thanks to their stone wall protection.

The results of Glover's all day fight were of the greatest importance, far beyond the loss, heavy though it was, inflicted on the enemy. It secured, first, one day more for Washington's force to reach White Plains, and second, Howe, stunned by the unexpected and heavy loss, encamped for several days after, near New Rochelle. All the while Washington was assembling at White Plains, where he was to fight, October 28th and for the invaluable ten days respite he was entirely indebted to the plain, matter-of-fact, man of Marblehead, who, in the letter I have quoted says: 'However, I did the best I could' -- a phrase which deserves to rank with the historic reply of Colonel Miller at Lundy's Lane, when asked if his regiment, the 21st Infantry, could capture a British battery. 'I'll try, Sire,' and succeeded.

Bunker Hill and Gettysburg, Yorktown and Appomattox, have eclipsed Pell's Point, but to Westchester County people it should be of perpetual interest, as the site of the severe conflict, besides that at White Plains, in the county during our Revolution."

Source: Abbatt, William The Battle of Pell's Point or Pelham, October 18, 1776, in Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association -- The Eleventh Annual Meeting, with Constitution, By-Laws and List of Members, Vol. IX, pp. 267-78 (N.Y. State Historical Association 1910).

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