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.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley"

Nearly everyone familiar with Pelham history and those familiar with the once-popular "Toonerville Folks" comic strip know that the little trolley car that inspired comic strip artist Fontaine T. Fox to create the "Toonerville Trolley" ran through Pelham Manor during the early 20th century. Occasionally I have published Blog postings about the famous "Toonerville Trolley" such as the examples listed below:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005: The Toonerville Trolley Pays its Bills -- Late!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005: Pelham's "Toonerville Trolley" Goes To War

Friday, June 17, 2005: "Skipper Louie" of Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley

Tuesday, April 19, 2005: Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line

The Toonerville Trolley brought joy to many folks for nearly half a century. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting is not about that joy, however. Rather, it is about the saddest day in the history of the rickety little trolley that inspired its comic counterpart.

During early morning hours on May 7, 1918 (some later stories erroneously say 1917), the Village of Pelham Manor Police Department received a call about a burglary in a home on Witherbee Avenue in the Village. At 4:00 a.m., several officers were going off duty and waited for the Pelham Manor trolley.

As they waited, they saw the trolley stop at the intersection of Pelhamdale Avenue and Witherbee Avenue to pick up a passenger. The police stopped the trolley and Pelham Manor Patrolman John McGuire reportedly asked the motorman "Which passenger got on last?" The motorman pointed to a passenger seated at the rear of the car.

Patrolman McGuire walked back to the rear of the car and addressed the passenger: "We want to ask you some questions. You'll have to get off here with me." Patrolman McGuire reportedly linked his arm with that of the passenger and the pair moved to the front of the car.

Patrolman McGuire reached the steps of the car first and walked down them. As he did, the suspect pulled a pistol, shoving it into McGuire's back and firing a shot.

Patrolman McGuire died instantly. In the confusion, the despicable and cowardly murderer fled.

The case has never been solved.

Source:  Pelham Manor Police: Slaying on Trolley, The Standard-Star [New Rochelle, NY], Mar. 13, 1963, p. 52, col. 1.

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