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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Text of 1804 Will of Alexander Henderson, Owner of the Island Later Known as Hunter's Island

Alexander Henderson once owned the island later known as Hunter's Island in the Town of Pelham. Fanciful legends have arisen regarding Henderson. Indeed, Lockwood Barr wrote much about him in his popular history of the Town of Pelham published in 1946.

Periodically I have blogged about Alexander Henderson. For an example, see:

Friday, February 24, 2006: Notice of Settlement of the Estate of Alexander Henderson of Pelham in 1805

Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting will transcribe the text of the will of Alexander Henderson as that text appears in a paper prepared by members of the New Rochell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1951. A full citation to the source appears at the end of this Blog Posting.


Liber F of Wills, page 98 Dec. 1804

I Alexander Henderson of the Town of Pelham & County of Westchester being of sound Mind & Memory, Do make & ordain this my Last Will and Testament revoking all former Wills by me made. First I desire that all my just Debts be paid. Second I give & bequeath to a woman by the name of Betsy who formerly cohabited with me now resideing in Bengal in the East Indies two hundred and fifty Dollars current money of the United States. Thirdly I give and bequeath to my Friend John Castiers of Abchurch Lane of the City of London Merchant, one hundred Pounds Sterling. Fourthly I give & bequeath to Arabella Elmsley the widow of my Friend Peter Elmsley Esquire of Roan Street London now deceased one hundred pounds Sterling. Fifthly I give & bequeath all the residue of my Estate (both real & personal to my son William Henderson (now residing with me) when he shall have attained the age of twenty three years. Lastly I nominate and appoint the above named John Castiers, Esq. of London Merchant John Watts & Robert Ross Esquires of the County of Westchester Executors of this my last Will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this . . . . . . . day of December one thousand eight hundred and four.

Alex Henderson (LS)

Signed, Sealed & Declared by the said Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us & who have in the presence of each other subscribed our names as Witnesses.

Jno. Staples, William Palmer, D'l Pelton (Daniel)

Notation on the register below the will as follows: 'The original Will of Alexander Henderson was lent to John Hunter of the manner of Pelham with a vus (?) to get it Proved by the court of common Please [sic] for which John Hunter has filed a receipt in this office.'

Proved January 18, 1805 by the witness Daniel Pelton, Merchant of New Rochelle.

Letters Testamentary issued at White Plains January 10, 1805, to Robert Ross one of the Executors named in th will. Recorded in Liber F of Wills page 97.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

NOTE: Alexander Henderson, the maker of the above will, (Liber F, page 98) was born in Charleston, S.C. His full name was Alexander Bampfield Henderson. He was educated in the University of Edinburgh and was a surgeon in the British Army. At one time he was a resident of India. He died December 26, 1804, aged 47 years. He is buried in the Old Huguenot Burying Ground on Division Street, New Rochelle. He lived in Pelham on Hunter's Island which he owned."

Source: Old Wills of New Rochelle: Copies of Wills by Citizens of New Rochelle, N.Y., 1784-1830, pp. 66-67 (New Rochelle Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution 1951) (Mimeographed copy of 250 pp. typescript).

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Google Books Continues Addition of Content With Much More Now Available on the History of Pelham, NY

Google continues to expand the content available through its "Google Books" service. (Google Books previously was known as "Google Print".) The expanded content contains much additional material relating to the history of Pelham, NY and surrounding areas.

For those who may wish to learn more about using the Google Books service, see:

Wed., September 7, 2005: Using Google Print to Further Your Local History Research

Fri., November 4, 2005: Google Print Adds Many Public Domain Books of Use to Local Historians to its Virtual Library

Since I last blogged about Google's virtual library, the company has continued to add content to the collection. The constantly expanding collection includes an ever-growing set of materials relating to the history of Pelham and surrounding areas including many publications now in the public domain.

For example, a search for the phrase "Pell's Point" limited to return only "Full Books" (i.e., complete publications and not just excerpts of publications) now turns up nine interesting items that reference the Battle of Pell's Point that occurred on October 18, 1776. Among those nine items are:

1. The Parliamentary Register; or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons: Containing an Account of the Most Interesting Speeches and Motions; Accurate Copies of the Most Remarkable Letters and Papers; of the Most Material Evidence, Petitions, &c. Laid Before and Offered to the House, During the Fifth Session of the Fourteenth Parliament of Great Britain. In Seventeen Volumes, Vol. X (London, UK: Wilson and Co. 1802).

2. The Parliamentary Register; or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons: Containing an Account of the Most Interesting Speeches and Motions; Accurate Copies of the Most Remarkable Letters and Papers; of the Most Material Evidence, Petitions, &c. Laid Before and Offered to the House, During the Fifth Session of the Fourteenth Parliament of Great Britain. In Seventeen Volumes, Vol. XI (London, UK: Wilson and Co. 1802).

The first item cited above includes an extract of the letter from Sir William Howe to Lord George Germaine dated November 28, 1776 in which Lord Howe describes the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 (see pp. 353-61). The second item cited above includes the record of a hearing conducted by the house sitting as a "committee on the American war" on April 29, 1779. The record of that session includes the testimony of Sir William Howe touching upon the Battle of Pelham (see pp. 319-39).

These are not the only interesting items that such a search query reveals about the Battle of Pelham. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder that if you are using Google Books to assist you will local history research, the online collection is constantly expanding and should be searched periodically for newly-added content.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

19th Century Improvements to East Chester Creek (Also Known as the Hutchinson River)

In 1894, the Government Printing Office released a "Report of the Secretary of War Being Part of the Message and Documents Communicated to the Two Houses of Congress at the Beginning of the Third Session of the Fifty-Third Congress". In that report, the Secretary of War included a Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army detailing the history of improvements to "East Chester Creek" along the border of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides the text of that report.

"D 19.

East Chester Creek, called also Hutchinson River, is a small stream which, as a tidal inlet for the last 4 miles of its course, traverses marshes of one-quarter to 1 mile in width, and empties into East Chester or Pelham Bay, a large bay on the northwest shore of Long Island Sound, just east of Throgs Neck, and 20 miles by water from the Battery, New York City. The width of the creek varies from 25 feet to half a mile at high water, but the channel is narrow everywhere.

Pelham bridge, a highway bridge, crosses the creek near its mouth. A short distance above is the bridge and trestle of the Harlem River branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and at Lockwood, about 2 1/4 miles above its mouth, the stream is crossed by the Boston road. All three bridges are drawbridges.

The mean rise of tide at the mouth of the creek is 7.1 feet.

For half a mile up the creek there was originally a channel from 4 to 9 feet deep at low water, but the depth decreased farther up, and at Town Dock, the principal landing, about 1 1/2 miles from the mouth, the available depth at high water was only about equal to the rise of the tide. Above Town Dock the stream was narrow and crooked, and the depth about the same as just below.

The commerce at Town Dock was principally in coal and building materials for East Chester and Mount Vernon; the latter is a rapidly growing place with a present population of about 15,000. The main business part of the city of Mount Vernon is about 2 miles from Town Dock. It is understood to be mainly for the benefit of prospective Mount Vernon commerce that the improvement of East Chester Creek is desired.


In 1871 a survey of East Chester Creek was ordered by Congress. It was made in the same year, and in the report, dated January 19, 1872, and printed in the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1872, p. 812, three plans of improvement were outlined, viz:

For making and maintaining, by means of a tidal basin and a system of dikes, a channel 9 feet deep at mean low water, estimated to cost $1,646,000.

For making and maintaining in the same way a channel 11 feet deep at mean high water (about 4 feet at low water), estimated to cost $731,000.

For securing 7 feet depth at slack-water navigation by means of a lock above Goose Island (about half a mile from the mouth of the creek), estimated to cost $300,000.

No recommendation as to the worthiness of improvement accompanied these estimates. March 25, 1872, the House of Representatives passed a resolution inquiring the cost of removing obstructions between tide gauges No. 1 and No. 2, so as 'to afford the same depth of water above Station No. 1 as now prevails below it.'

In reply to this resolution, a report was submitted April 3, 1872 (see Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1872, p. 814), containing the following estimates:

Basin, purchase of site, 18 acres, at $150 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2,700
Excavation to level of mean low water, 200,000 cubic yards at 40 cents. . . . . . 80,000
Excavation of cut, 60,000 cubic yards, at 40 cents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,000
Diking and revetting banks of cut. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,000
Engineering and contingencies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17,805

Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136,505

This plan contemplated (as appears from maps on file) straightening the channel at Lockwood and, as it was necessary in any case to replace the old arch bridge of the Boston road by a drawbridge, changing the location of such bridge to a point about 700 feet eastward, so as to give a straighter and cheaper channel for the stream.

In 1873 $25,000 was appropriated for improving East Chester Creek. It was designed to expend it in accordance with the above estimates, which were then considered an adopted project, but no means had been provided for acquiring the land needed for the proposed cut at Lockwood, so no work was done at that time.

In 1875 it became apparent that the proposed change of location of the drawbridge at Lockwood could not be made. The old bridge lay on the boundary between the towns of East Chester and Pelham and was supported by the towns jointly. Under the proposed change of location the new bridge would lie within the town of Pelham, which town would then have to support it; therefore the town of Pelham would not consent to the chang, and the old bridge was replaced by an iron drawbridge in the same location. The proposed location of the cut had, therefore, to be altered to bring it to the drawbridge. This necessitated excavating a considerable amount of rock at an increased cost of $10,000. (See General Newton's letter to the Chief of Engineers, September 24, 1875.)

In 1875 $12,000 more was appropriated for this improvement, but it was not until 1877 that a commission, appointed by the State of New York, finally obtained the land for the proposed cut. After this right of way was secured, in 1877, a contract was entered into for making a cut 9 feet deep at mean high water (2 feet at low water), with a width of 100 feet at high-water level; this contract included about 3,149 cubic yards of rock excavation, 1,210 linear feet of pile dike, and 140 linear feet of crib dike. It was completed in 1878, and in that year and in 1879, under an appropriation of $10,000 made June 18, 1878, dredging was done by hired labor, removing a shoal of bowlders [sic] just outside of Pelham bridge, and making a channel about 125 feet wide and 9 feet deep at high water on the west side of Goose Island, being an extension of the original project.

In 1879 $3,500 was appropriated for continuing the improvement, and $3,500 in 1880. These appropriations were not expended until 1884.

In the Annual Report for 1879 it was stated as necessary to complete the improvement from Pelham bridge to Lockwood 'to construct dikes from the lower end of the cut to Goose Island, a distance of 5,800 feet.' In 1880 these dikes were estimated to cost $40,000.

The appropriations were not large enough to warrant beginning the cut above Lockwood, or the above-mentioned dikes, and these proposed works were apparently abandoned for the time being. In 1881 General Newton, U.S. Engineers, then in charge, reported that --

Furthermore, until it is proved that a depth of 9 or 10 feet * * * can not be maintained under the scale of improvement already completed, it will be unnecessary to inaugurate new works. The amount of funds available, $7,372.14, will be quite sufficient for the present wants of the case.

This money was expended in 1884 in dredging just below Town Dock, a work not included in the original estimate.

August 5, 1886, $10,000 was appropriated for this improvement, which was mostly expended in 1888 and 1889 in dredging between Town Dock and Lockwood to remove shoals from the previously dredged channel.

In 1887 an estimate was made of the cost of the several proposed extensions of project, from which it appears that $84,000 have been either expended or estimated for works not included in the first estimate, and that estimate, therefore, should be increased to $221,000 if it is proposed to carry out the original plan with these extensions.

It was proposed to expend the appropriation of $5,000, made August 11, 1888, in dredging a cut above Lockwood, and in January, 1889, the line of cut was staked out and a description given to the State commissioners for securing right of way. They were asked to obtain permission to deposit the material on the marsh lands adjacent to the cut, which could be done cheaply as compared with the cost of carrying it out into Long Island Sound. The commissioners reported that this consent could not be obtained, and as the available funds were not sufficient to begin work under any other plan for disposing of dredged materials, work was postponed until larger appropriations should be made.

In 1892, owing to certain changes of ownership, it was found that the requisite permission to deposit dredgings on the banks of the creek could be secured, and by authority of the Chief of Engineers an offer of the Mount Vernon Suburban Land Company to dredge and deposit material upon adjacent banks at the rate of 22 cents per cubic yards of mud were dredged and deposited on the west side of the cut, making a channel 9 feet deep at high water, 60 feet wide at bottom, with side slopes of 1 upon 1, extending northward 1,300 feet above the Lockwood drawbridge.

A sketch of East Chester Creek was printed in the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1893, p. 968.


No work was done by the United States. Private parties dredged a slip into the marshes of the west bank just above Lockwood, and have utilized the dredged channels by establishing a propeller freight line, making regular trips three times per week between Mount Vernon and New York City.


There is a channel of 9 feet depth at mean high water (2 feet at low water) from the bay to a point 1,300 feet above Lockwood, with a width of 100 feet or over to a point 1,000 feet above Town Dock; thence to Lockwood from 50 to 75 feet wide, and above Lockwood 60 feet wide.

The dikes on the east side of the channel below Lockwood are in fair condition.


With future appropriations it is proposed to widen the channel below Lockwood and to widen and deepen it above Lockwood, as provided in the modified project. The estimated cost of this work, as submitted in the Annual Report for 1891, is $55,000.

The dikes below Town Dock, at one time proposed, do not seem to be necessary at present as a means of improving or maintaining the channel.

Appropriations for improving East Chester Creek have been made as follows:

East Chester Creek is in the collection district of New York.

The nearest light-house is on the 'Stepping Stones,' 3 miles southeast of the mouth of the creek.

The nearest work of defense is Fort Schuyler, Throgs Neck, about 3 1/2 miles south.

Money statement.

July 1, 1893, balance unexpended. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$15.33
June 30, 1894, amount expended during fiscal year. . . 15.33

Amount (estimated) required for completion of existing project. . . . 55,000.00
Amount that can be profitably expended in fiscal year ending June 30, 1896 55,000.00
Submitted in compliance with requirements of sections 2 of river and harbor acts of 1866 and 1867 and sundry civil act of March 3, 1893.



The above figures show an increase of tonnage over that reported for 1892 (the last received) of 8,875 tons.

Since July 1, 1893, a freight steamer line has been established, making triweekly trips between New York City and Lockwoods.

The year 1893 was a fair average year for commerce by water, but with the improvement of the river the commerce will very greatly increase.

MOUNT VERNON, N. Y., May 7, 1894."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More Reminiscences of Isaac C. Hill of Early Public Schools in Pelham

On September 27, 2005, I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "I.C. Hill's Reminiscences of Early Public Schools in Pelham". In it, I transcribed an article published in The Pelham Sun on December 20, 1913 recounting the recollections of I. C. Hill who was then the principal of the Hutchinson School in the Village of North Pelham.

In 1926, Isaac Hill authored additional recollections that appeared in the local newspaper. Below is an image of Isaac C. Hill and, beneath that, the text of his later recollections of early schools in Pelham.

Isaac C. Hill, Former Principal of North Pelham School and Member of Board of Education

Looking backward almost half a century, many changes have taken place in the growth of our public school system. My thoughts now revert to the times when the Pelhams consisted only of Pelhamville (now known as North Pelham) and of Pelham Manor. In the entire town, I doubt if there were over fifty-five houses. . . . Most every family kept a horse, a cow, chickens and geese.

Few trains on the New York and New Haven road stopped at the Pelhamville station, which was situated on that piece of land now occupied by Burke Stone's real estate office. Fifth Avenue went up grade over the New Haven tracks to Wolf's Lane.

There were three schools in those days. Few of the people here know that the brick building, the old town hall, situated on the Shore Road, just beyond the road leading from City Island, now used as a residence, was a school fifty years ago. It was also the voting place of the town, and on election days the few men voters would drive from all parts of the town to cast their vote on national, state and town matters. In 1889, this building and surrounding lands was [sic] taken over by the City of New York and is now a part of the Park System.

Another school was the Prospect Hill School, now the residence of Mr. O'Neill of the Split Rock Road.

The pupils were compelled to sit on rude home-made benches, with legs dangling in mid-air: no attention being given to the size of the occupant. Drinking water was supplied from the nearest neighbor's well, and drank [sic] from a rusty tin dipper. Microbes were unknown in those primitive days.

A large bar room stove occupied the center of the one roomed building, the fortunate pupils sitting near the stove were 'par-baked' while those at a distance were suffering with the cold. The Hutchinson School was erected in the early [eighteen] fifties, as near as may be ascertained by diligent search through the archives of the State, Town and District, and from the memory of its earliest inhabitants. It was a frame structure on top of the rocks where nothing but ideas would grow. The exact site was just back of the new addition now in the course of erection. A second room was added to this building in 1873. This school was also heated by large stoves in the rear of the rooms, around which the children would gather at recess time on stormy days to play games and eat their lunches. On clear days, the site of the present building was the playground for the children. Ball, old money, moss, tag and hide and seek were the favorite games. The well was at the foot of the hill, and a pail full of water was carried twice a day up the hill and placed on the bench of the front entry by the honor pupil of the day. Blackboards were painted on the walls. During the first few years of my teaching the attendance was greater in the winter season, as at planting and harvesting times the big boys and young men were needed in the fields. My assistant taught three grades while I had five grades in my class room. I have quite a complete record of happenings during my period of teaching, and I find that in 1889 there were but 59 pupils in the entire Hutchinson School. This school contained the largest number of pupils in the district, and today the number of teachers alone surpass the number of pupils of those days. In 1897 there were but 104 pupils. In 1889 the first stone building was completed at a cost of about $6,500. Studying this figure you can readily see the difference in the cost of erecting buildings in those days as compared with the present time.

The opening of this school was a gala day in Pelham. Parents, teachers, pupils and friends met there and inspected the building, listened to addresses and to class exercises by the teachers and pupils. Refreshments were served in the old building. Money was donated for a piano by public subscription . . . .

The greatest growth of our Pelhams is due to our present Congressman, the Honorable Benjamin L. Fairchild. He conceived the idea of developing Pelham Heights into a restricted residential section. This resulted in the building of our beautiful Pelham Heights, and with the ingress of new people it was deemed necessary to build a school there which was termed 'The Colonial School.' Later an addition was placed to this school.

A school was built in Pelham Manor on Jackson Avenue, and in recent years this plant was sold and the children sent to the new school at Siwanoy Place.

So many children wished to attend high school that it was found extremely necessary to have one of our own. Mount Vernon and New Rochelle High Schools required the room for their own needs, so the new Memorial High was erected.

In the case of all the schools, the growing need of the community for greater accommodations has necessitated the building of additions to every building, and later a huge addition to the Memorial High School. These buildings are completely finished. At present extensions are being erected to the Colonial School in Pelham Heights and to Hutchinson School in North Pelham.

We have now four wonderful buildings that may vie with any in the county or state."

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Monday, March 27, 2006

1057 Esplanade: One of the Original Homes Built by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Portions of the Village of Pelham Manor in the Town of Pelham, New York were developed by a group of men who established an association named the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting presents an image of a home contained in the original prospectus published by the Association in 1874 juxtaposed with a recent photograph of the same home that still stands at 1057 Esplanade in the Village of Pelham Manor. For those who wish to learn a little more about the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association, see:

Mon., March 20, 2006: Charles J. Stephens and Henry C. Stephens of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Thu. December 22, 2005: Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873

In 1874, the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association printed a "prospectus" for prospective investors and possible home buyers. One of the model homes shown in the prospectus was the "Esplanade Villa".

The home that stands at 1057 Esplanade in the Village of Pelham Manor is one of the original homes built by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association and is the "Esplanade Villa" shown in the image from the Association's prospectus. Below is an image that shows the engraving contained in the prospectus on top with a recent photograph of the home beneath.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Preparations in 1954 for the Tercentennial Celebration of the Signing of the Pell-Siwanoy Treaty

In 2004 the Town of Pelham celebrated the 350th anniversary of Thomas Pell's June 27, 1654 treaty with local Native Americans by which he acquired the lands that became Pelham and surrounding areas. The year-long commemoration included dozens of events.

Fifty years earlier, Pelham celebrated the Tercentennial of the same event. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a few details regarding the organizers of the Tercentennial celebration and how they organized the events.

In early January, 1954, Town Supervisor Gordon Miller invited citizens to a meeting at Town Hall to organize committees to develop festivities for the Tercentennial celebration. The Pelham Sun announced that during that meeting committees were appointed. Lockwood Barr, Historian of the Village of Pelham Manor who also built the home located at 20 Beech Tree Lane, was appointed "Honorary Chairman" of the "Committee for the Observance of the Tercentennial Anniversary of Thomas Pell's Treaty with the Indians".

The Temporary Chairman of the organizational meeting was Dr. Donald Waugh of Pelham. Among the local organizations that sent representatives to the meeting were: the Manor Club, the Men's Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club, League of Women's Voters, The Junior League, Mount Vernon Hospital, Pelham Country Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Legion, Pelham Civic Association and its Auxiliary, the Pelham Comfort Society and the Degree of Pocahontas.

Dr. Waugh appointed a number of committees for the program that was held in late October, 1954. Early in the year, residents of the Town planned such events as an historical pageant, a parade, a reception for Pell family members and a religious observance. According to one news account, the following committees were appointed.

Plans and Arrangements - Chairman Donald Waugh; Vice-Chairman Carl Capra; Secretary Weston L. Roberts, Jr.; Town Historian Edgar H. Browne; Paul Reznikoff; J. Howard Hanway; Miss Dorothy Burgess; Miss Mary Ellen Burgess; Mrs. Robert Stout; Vincent Lopardi; Dr. Matthew Troy.

Pageant - Mrs. Robert C. Heyl; Mrs. Chauncey L. Williams; William J. Moore; Mrs. William J. Moore; Mrs. Irving Whitney Lynn; A. K. Ridout; Mrs. Amy Beam; Richard D. Mathewson.

Special Events - George Beaghen; Mayor Irving J. Wallach of North Pelham; and Nicholas Martinelli.

Publications - Mrs. Frank Gratz; Richard D. Mathewson; Mrs. Arnold Boyd; and Paul Reznikoff.

Historical - Edgar H. Browne; Mrs. Benjamin L. Fairchild; Francis Pace; and Mrs. Hilliard C. Birney.

Budget - Peter A. H. Voorhis; Joseph McDonald; Clifford Weihman; Mayor Irving J. Wallach; and Mayor Edward M. Freeman of Pelham Heights.

Public Relations - Ralph Kruse; Fred M. Wirth; Edwin J. Sweeney; James H. Pipkin; Adrian Murphy; James Bealle; Boyd Lewis; Butler Powers.

Committees reportedly began meetings almost immediately.

Source: Lockwood Barr, Honorary Chairman For Tercentennial Program Here, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 14, 1954, p. 1, col. 1.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Baseball Fields Opened on the Grounds of the Westchester Country Club in Pelham on April 4, 1884

For several years I have tried to piece together the history of baseball in Pelham during the mid to late 19th century. For those who may be interested, see:

Tue., Jan. 31, 2006: Another Account of Baseball Played in Pelham in the 1880s Is Uncovered

Thu., Oct. 6, 2005: Does This Photograph Show Members of the "Pelham Manor Junior Base Ball Team"?

Thu. Sep. 15, 2005: Newspaper Item Published in 1942 Sheds Light on Baseball in 19th Century Pelham

Thu. Feb. 10, 2005: New Discoveries Regarding Baseball in 19th Century Pelham

Bell, Blake A., Baseball in Late 19th Century Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 17, Apr. 23, 2004, p. 8, col. 2.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides an excerpt of an article entitled "Evolution of the Country Club" that appeared in the December, 1894 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine. In it, the author details a little of the history of the Westchester Country Club that opened in Pelham in April, 1894. The following excerpt makes clear that from the very inception of the Club, its grounds included baseball fields.

"The Country Club of Westchester developed from a suggestion to organize a tennis club into a determination to found a club where all country sports could be enjoyed. The newly organized club leased the house and racing-grounds of Dr. George L. Morris, at Pelham, and after some alterations, including a large addition, took possession April 4, 1884, fully equipped with tennis-courts, a race-track, polo field, basball grounds, traps for pigeon-shooting, a pack of hounds, boats, and bath-houses.

The sale of Dr. Morris's property made it necessary to find other quarters, and in December, 1887, the Country Club Land Association organized and bought Van Antwerp Farm, of about eighty acres, located on East Chester Bay, between Pelham Bridge and Fort Schuyler, and in the spring of '88 began to lay out the grounds and build the present club-house and stables, into which they moved the following year."

Source: Whitney, Caspar W., Evolution of the Country Club, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 90, Issue 537, p. 30 (Dec. 1894).

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mona Freeman, Glamour Girl of the Silver Screen, Lived in Pelham

Mona Freeman was a beautiful actress affiliated for a number of years with Paramount during the 1940s and 1950s. She was born in Baltimore on June 9, 1926, but moved with her family to Pelham as a young girl. She attended Pelham Memorial High School for a time.

In May, 1941, Ms. Freeman was selected as New York City's first "Miss Subways" in a contest in which the John Robert Powers modeling agency judged the contest. It was her big break. She became a professional model.

Mona Freeman on the Cover of Life Magazine.

Tradition says that after reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes saw a photograph of Mona Freeman on the cover of a magazine, he signed her to an acting contract that he then sold to Paramount. She began in movies playing so-called teenage ingenue roles. The image above shows Mona Freeman early in her movie career on the cover of the April 15, 1946 issue of Life.

She played significant roles in a large number of films including: Here Come the Waves (1944); Till We Meet Again (1944); Together Again (1944); Danger Signal (1945); Roughly Speaking (1945); Junior Miss (1945); Our Hearts Were Growing Up (1946); Black Beauty (1946); That Brennan Girl (1946); Variety Girl (1947); Mother Wore Tights (1947); Dear Ruth (1947); Isn't It Romantic? (1948); The Heiress (1949); Dear Wife (1949); Streets of Laredo (1949); Branded (1950); Copper Canyon (1950); I Was a Shoplifter (1950); Dear Brat (1951); The Lady from Texas (1951); Darling How Could You! (1951); Flesh and Fury (1952); Jumping Jacks (1952); Thunderbirds (1952); The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); Angel Face (1953); Before I Wake (1954); Battle Cry (1955); The Road to Denver (1955); Men Against Speed (1956); Huk (1956); The Way Out (1956); Shadow of Fear (1956); Shadow of Fear (1956); Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957); The World Was His Jury (1958); Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (1971).

In addition, Ms. Freeman acted in more than eighty television shows. She acted in episodes of such television series as Wagon Train and Perry Mason.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

1920 Publication Listing Native American Sites Near Pelham

The history of Peham includes, of course, its "prehistory" -- that is, its time before recorded history that began during the 1600s. A rich part of that prehistory involves evidence of Native American life in the area. Many such sites have been studied and documented. For those who would like to read about such sites, see:

Bell, Blake A., Native Americans of Pelham and Surrounding Areas, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Jan. 16, 2004, p. 11, col. 1.

In 1920, the New York State Museum Bulletin published an article by Arthur C. Parker, an archaeologist. The article, entitled "The Archeological History of New York". In it, the author listed known Native American sites in many areas of the State and provided maps keyed to the listings. Among those listings were a number describing Native American sites near Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides an excerpt from the article as well as an image of a map keyed to the pertinent listings. Most, though not all, of the sites listed below are located within today's Bronx County in areas that once were part of the Town of Pelham but which were annexed by New York City in the 1890s.

"Bronx County
List of Sites . . .

2 Village site and shell heap at Pelham Bay Park. The shell heaps are scattered all along the shore here and several have been excavated on the electric line between Bartow and City island by M. R. Harrington. This is near two large glacial boulders. . . .

4 Shell heaps at City island, reported by M. R. Harrington.

5 Shell heaps at Hunter Island.

6 Burial place three-fourths of a mile south of Bartow's station on two small knolls. There is a shell heap 40 feet in diameter just behind the larger knoll.

7 Camp site on the Hutchinson river 1 mile south of Pelhamville station. Many stone relics have been found here.

8 Shell heaps on the west side of East Chester bay near the mouth of a small brook. This is just south of Baychester Station. Most of the sites along this shore have been explored by M. R. Harrington, who has described them to the writer and also furnished notes to the American Museum of Natural History and to Doctor Beauchamp. . . .

12 Extensive shell heaps on City island reported by M. R. Harrington.

13 Shell heaps in Pelham at the entrance of Pelham Neck.

14 Shell heaps along the Hutchinson river and along Pelham bay, about one-fourth of a mile above the railroad bridge. There are numerous relics in this vicinity with evidences of village sites and burials."

Source: Parker, Arthur C., The Archological History of New York, N.Y. State Museum Bulletin Nos. 235, 236, plate 147 and pp. 488-90 (Jul.-Aug. 1920).

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Charles J. Stephens and Henry C. Stephens of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Portions of the Village of Pelham Manor in the Town of Pelham, New York were developed by a group of men who established an association named the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873. Two of those men were brothers: Charles J. and Henry C. Stephens. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide background information on these two brothers. For those who wish to learn a little more about the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Associatin, see Thu. December 22, 2005: Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873.

Charles and Henry Stephens were nephews of the principal financial backer of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association: Silas H. Witherbee. The Stephens Brothers lived in Pelham and, by 1872, were working as real estate agents in New York City. Their firm, Stephens Brothers & Company, described itself as "conveyancers and commission dealers in real property" with "especial attention given to Westchester County, N. Y." The firm served as "Managing Agents" for the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association.

Their work in Pelham may have been one of the brothers' earliest real estate ventures. The earliest reference yet located to the Stephens Brothers and their real estate venture is a classified advertisement that appeared in the May 11, 1873 issue of the New York Times. It reads, in full, as follows:

“OUR ENLARGED CITY. – (SEE WORLD article of Thursday last.) – For sale at New-Rochelle, highly desirable country-seat, located on the Sound, conveniently near station, on New-Haven Railroad, by which it is forty-seven minutes only to Forty-second street (on completion of Fourth-avenue improvements this time will probably be reduced one third;) commutation $75; this estate, of about ten acres, in its completeness is unsurpassed; the grounds are high and healthful, and command charming water and inland views; the improvements consist of spacious mansion house, with city conveniences, stable, coach-house, &c, all in the most thorough repair and ready for an appreciative occupant. Full particulars, photographs, &c., with STEPHENS BROTHERS, No. 187 Broadway.”

See Our Enlarged City, N.Y. Times, May 5, 1911, p. 7.

Below is an image of an advertisement for Stephens Brothers & Company from the early 1870s.

The Financial Panic of 1873 and the depression that followed sealed the fate of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. It entered receivership and failed to complete all its development plans. Charles J. Stephens, who served as the Association's Secretary, remained in the area and was a founding member of the Pelham Manor Protective Club. He was active in the affairs of that Club for nearly seven years. According to records of that Club, he resigned and moved away from Pelham Manor in 1888.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

1854 Advertisement for the Sale of the Old Stone House at 463 First Avenue in Pelham

There is a lovely old stone house located at 463 First Avenue in the Village of Pelham. It was one of the earliest homes constructed in the hamlet known as Pelhamville in the early 1850s. The legend of that lovely Old Stone House is a tale of romance, robbery and riches.

A man named Alexander Diack built the home in the early 1850s. On October 15, 1855, a man named James Parrish purchased the home. As the story goes, James Parrish had a business in which he employed a truckman named Adams. Parrish and Adams supposedly began an express business “as a sideline”. The business did well. When James Parrish died, his wife supposedly received dividend payments from the business paid in gold.

Masked men reportedly robbed Mrs. Parrish. She began to hide the gold she received as dividends somewhere on the property. According to Lockwood Barr’s popular history of Pelham:

"it is said that a million dollars in gold is hidden in the house, or buried in the gardens. Search has been made of the house, and grounds excavated, but without result. However, underneath a hearthstone in the basement kitchen, a hundred small coins of early date were found by one of the owners – but no pot of gold."

Some say the ghost of Mrs. Parrish can be seen about the house, even in daylight, dressed in elegant clothes of the period, searching for misplaced gold. There is also a story that a well-known actor who is a descendant of Mrs. Parrish, Edward Everett Horton, once visited the home, heard the ghost stories and said that the descriptions of the apparition resembled a daguerreotype he had seen of one of his great grandmothers.

Research has revealed an early advertisement published in 1854 offering the home for sale before it was finished. An image of the advertisement appears immediately below, with a transcription of its text below the image to facilitate searching.

"STONE HOUSE FOR SALE AT PELHAMVILLE, 17 miles from the City. - The above house is 36 feet by 36 feet, first-story with basement and attic, two stories deep in the back with oval window to the garden; a good well of water The house is unfinished, and will be disposed of reasonable. Title good. Terms easy. Corner lot 100x200 feet Apply to ALEX DIACK, No 77 1/2 Broome-st., New York"

A photograph of the Old Stone House, taken in 2004, appears immediately below.

In his popular book on the history of Pelham published in 2004, Lockwood Barr provided a little of the history of the Old Stone House. He wrote, in part:

"The old Stone House at 463 First Avenue, corner 6th Street, North Pelham, has accumulated many myths and traditions. The lot now measures 100" x 100". Map 346 of Pelhamville, dated August 4, 1851, by Wm. Bryson, was sold September 8, 1851 to Alexander Diack, by Lewis C. Platt and Henry Marsden, promoters of a real estate development of 1l0 acres, taken over from the Wolf family. The district then, of course, was Pelhamville.

Alexander Diack was born in Dundee, Scotland, and he copied the house of one of his ancestors. Alexander Diack sold the place to James Diack, his brother, on February 16, 1855. James Parrish in New York bought the house, October 15, 1855, and his widow transferred the house to Wm. H. Sparks, in whose home she resided in her later days. After that it passed through many hands until 1920, when it was purchased by Frank Miles Snyder, an architect who had studied abroad. He had great interest and understanding in the old place, and restored it. His family reside there."

Source: Barr, Lockwood Anderson, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams pp. 135-36 (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946). See also The Junior League of Pelham, Inc., A Glance at the Past: Pelham's Growth From 1775-1975 p. 12 (The Junior League of Pelham, Inc. Sept. 1976) (Illustration at p. 12; Pamphlet associated with accompanying map; 32 pp. including Map Bibliography, Manuscript Bibliography and illustrations by Hedy Klein); Village of Pelham, Village of Pelham Centennial Celebration Walking Tour 1896-1996, pp. 19-20 (1996) ("The Stone House Located at 463 First Avenue, this is sometimes referred to as the 'Parrish House'. Built in 1851 by Alex Diack, a native of Dundee, this house was modeled after a Scottish townhouse of one of his ancestors. Some of the windows in the building contain colored glass brought from England. The Parrish family occupied the house starting in 1855. James Parrish employed a truckman named Adams who began an express business as a sideline. It prospered so that when James died, his widow received dividends in the form of gold coin. At a later point, she was robbed. Thereafter, she hid the remaining gold coins for safekeeping, in various parts of the house. Unfortunately, she could not remember all of the hiding places and died before all the coins were recovered. Legend has it that she appears at various times, even in daylight, to search for her gold. Some Pelham residents report having seen her, in ancient finery, walking about the house. To date, searchers have found only a few small coins beneath the hearthstone of the basement kitchen. Veteran actor Edward Everett Horton, a descendant of Mrs. Parrish, on visiting the house, heard the stories of the 'ghost'. He reported that the description very much resembled a photo that he had seen of his great grandmother.").

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

1869 New York Herald Article About Pelham's Boundary Dispute With New Rochelle

For decades in the 19th century, Pelham and New Rochelle disputed the proper location of the boundary line between them. Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of a newspaper article about the dispute that appeared in the November 23, 1869 issue of the New York Herald. The dispute continued for many, many years after the publication of this article.

"DEFINING TOWN BOUNDARY LINES. - The somewhat important legal contest which has existed for many months involving a disputed boundary line between the towns of Pelham and New Rochelle, although primarily settled, is still likely to be the subject of almost endless litigation. Not many days ago the State Engineer, to whom the matter had been referred, rendered a decision regarding the disputed boundary line named, which is said to re-establish a line laid down in 1703 by Augustus Graham who was then Colonial Engineer and Surveyor. According to this decision about 200 acres of land, which for nearly 170 years have been regarded as part of the town of New Rochelle, are transferred to Pelham, and numerous citizens of the latter town are in favor of a suit being at once instituted against the town of New Rochelle for the entire amount of taxes paid by residents of the disputed territory during the period mentioned. It is understood that the recent decision meets with almost universal dissatisfaction from the inhabitants of New Rochelle, who, it is stated, will not relinquish their claim to the disputed territory while any avenue remains open for contesting the matter."

Source: Defining Town Boundary Lines, N.Y. Herald, Nov. 23, 1869, p. 10, col. 1.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Biography of Cornelius W. Bolton Published in 1899

For many years, one of the sons of the Rev. Robert Bolton who founded Christ Church in Pelham Manor served as the rector of the Church of the Redeemer in the area once known as Pelhamville and, later, the Village of North Pelham. His name was Cornelius W. Bolton.

In 1899, The Lewis Publishing Company published a two-volume Biographical History of Westchester County. Among the many biographies contained in the two volumes was one for Cornelius W. Bolton. The text of that biography appears immediately below.


The rector of the church of the Redeemer, Pelham, N. Y., Rev. C. W. Bolton, has been identified with this place fifty years. His history is therefore of interest in this connection, and is as follows:

Rev. Cornelius Winter Bolton was ushered into life at Bath, England, June 3, 1819, and may be said to belong to a family of ministers, his father and grandfather having passed their lives in the active work of the ministry. His parents, the Rev. Robert Bolton and Anna (Jay) Bolton, were natives respectively of Savannah, Georgia, and England. Robert Bolton was educated in England and entered the ministry there, and was there married and lived for a number of years. In 1836, accompanied by his wife and family of thirteen children, he returned to the United States and settled near Pelham, New York, having purchased a farm near that place. He was the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal church at East Chester, New York; built Christ church at Pelham, and finally returned to England and died there. His wife's death occurred a few years later.
The grandfather of our subject, Robert Bolton, was a native of Georgia and was for several years a merchant in Savannah, that state. The maternal grandfather of Mr. Bolton was Rev. William Jay. He was a Congregational minister and was well known, being the author of the work entitled the 'Morning and Evening Exercises,' which became famous throughout the civilized world.

Cornelius Bolton spent the first eighteen years of his life in England, receiving his early education at Millhill and Henley, and in 1836 coming with his parents and other members of the family to this country and settling, as already stated, on a farm near Pelham. For ten years he lived on his father's farm and in that time gained a practical knowledge of agriculture. From farming he then turned to the ministry. Entering Alexander Theological Seminary, in Virginia, he pursued a course in that institution, and graduated in 1847. After his graduation he accepted a position as assistant minister of Christ church in Baltimore, Maryland, where he remained four years. At the expiration of that time he returned to Pelham, where he spent the next two years, and was called thence to Kingsbridge, New York, which was the scene of his labors the next year. After this he was in mission work, at St. George's church, New York city, for six years and a half, and from there went to Mount Kisco and Armonk, New York. Again returning to Pelham, he became rector of the church of the Redeemer, where he has served his congregation very acceptably ever since.

Rev. Mr. Bolton married Miss Cornelia Van Rensselaer, daughter of Cornelius G. Van Rensselaer. She was born and reared in Albany, New York, is a cultured and charming woman, and with becoming grace presides over her husband's home. They have no children."

Source: Rev. Cornelius W. Bolton in Biographical History of Westchester County, New York. Illustrated, Vol. I, pp. 226-27 (Chicago, IL: The nLewis Publishing Co. 1899).

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"To Be Sold,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Two Photographs of Pelham's Town Hall That Once Stood On Shore Road

Before New York City annexed much of the Town of Pelham during the 1890s including City Island and much of today's Peham Bay Park, the center of the town was along today's Shore Road in Pelham Bay Park. There, in 1858, the Town built a small brick structure with a tower that it used as its Town Hall for many years. New York City razed the structure in the 1950s.

The New York Public Libary Digital Gallery includes a couple of rare photographs of Pelham's Town Hall. Below are hyperlinks to the bibliographic information about the photographs and an enlarged view of the two photographs.

Click here to see the bibliographic information.

Click here to see an enlarged view of the two photographs.

These undated photographs show the Town Hall building in the early 20th century while the structure likely was being used by the City of New York as storage space for equipment associated with the upkeep of the area. According to the bibliographic information associated with the images, the photographer was Percy Loomis Sperr (1890-1964). The photographs are included in the New York Public Library's collection entitled "Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s - 1970s".

To learn more about the structure, see Bell, Blake A., Pelham's First Town Hall on Shore Road in Pelham Manor, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 35, Sept. 3, 2004, p. 8, col. 1.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Legend Has It That Nimham, A Wappinger Chief and American Revolutionary War Hero, Was Buried in Pelham on Rodman's Neck

In the early to mid-19th century, there were a number of Native American burial mounds located near the entrance to Rodman's Neck (also known as Pelham Neck) near the water's edge on property once owned by George Rapelje. According to legend, two of the largest mounds contained the remains of Anhook and Nimham. Anhook supposedly was the Native American who murdered Ann Hutchinson and members of her family in 1643. Nimham was a Wappinger chief about whom much is known.

This story likely is fanciful -- not factual. There clearly were Native American burial mounds at the specified location that were excavated before the late 1840s. It seems highly unlikely, however, that those mounds contained the remains of Anhook or Nimham. Nevertheless, today's Historic Pelham Blog posting includes an account published in 1848 describing the legend as well as a later account published in 1912 mentioning the legend and providing a biography of Wappinger Chief Daniel Nimham.

In 1848, Robert Bolton, Jr. of Pelham published his two-volume work entitled "A History Of The County Of Westchester From Its First Settlement To The Present Time". Volume I included a chapter on the history of Pelham (pp. 513-59). In that chapter, Bolton related the legend of the burials of Anhook and Nimham:

"Near the entrance of Pelham neck, is situated the favorite burying ground of the river tribes, to which the Indians brought their dead even from Horseneck, Connecticut, for interment. Numerous mounds are still visible near the water's edge, on the property of the late George Rapelje. Two of the largest mounds are pointed out as the sepulchres of the Siwanoys sachems, Ann-hoock and Nimham. The former was opened some years since, and found to contain a large sized skeleton, by the side of which, lay the stone axe and flint spear head of the tenant of the grave. We have examined several mounds near the water's edge; one of these held the remains of an Indian boy about 12 years old, in a sitting position, together with a beautiful specimen of native pottery formed by the hand alone, rudely ornamented with zigzag lines; in this we discovered an arrow head and the bones of a small animal. This practice of burying their favorite utensils and weapons with the deceased, is known to be an ancient Indian custom. Near the residence of Mrs. King, the remains of an Indian were found in a perfect state of preservation with a gun by his side."

Source: Bolton, Jr., Robert, A History Of The County Of Westchester From Its FirstSettlement To The Present Time, Vol. I, p. 517 (NY, NY: Alexander Gould 1848).

In 1912, the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology published Volume 3 of the Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. In it there appeared a biography of Daniel Nimham indicating that he likely was the Wappinger Chief associated with the legend related by Robert Bolton more than sixty years earlier. The biographical entry reads as follows:

""Nimham, Daniel. A Wappinger chief, noted not only for his active participation in the wars of 1746 and 1754, but especially for his efforts to recover for his tribe the lands lying along the E. side of Hudson r. that had been taken from it while aiding the English. The earliest recorded notice of him is Oct. 13, 1730, the date of an affidavit in which it is stated that the deponent was 'a River Indian of the tribe of the Wappinoes' (Ruttenber, Tribes Hudson R., 51, 1872). Nimham was made chief sachem in 1740; his residence after 1746 was at Westenhuck. In 1755, with most of his fighting men, he entered the English service under Sir William Johnson, and about 1762, in company with some Mohegan chiefs of Connecticut, went to England on a mission regarding their land claims. They received a favorable hearing, and on their return to America their claims were brought into court, but were lost to sight during the Revolution. Nimham was killed at the battle of Kingsbridge, N. Y., Aug. 31, 1778, while fighting bravely in the cause of the Americans. Near the entrance to Pelham's Neck, Westchester co., N. Y., were, according to Ruttenber (op. cit., 81), two large mounds, pointed out as the sepulchers of Ann-Hoock and Nimham. The name of Daniel Nimham, as well as those of Aaron, John, and Isaac Nimham appear in the rolls of New York men enlisted in the service of the Revolution. As Indians are included in the list, Daniel Nimham is doubtless the subject of this sketch. (C. T.)"

Source: Hodge, Frederick Webb, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Vol. 3, pp. 71-72 (Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology 1912).

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Photographs of the H Line and A Line Trolleys on and Near Pelhamdale Avenue

Among the many resources available to those interested in the history of Pelham is a wonderful Web site entitled "Dave's Electric Railroads" located at http://www.davesrailpix.com/. Among the materials available on that site is a large collection of photographs of trolleys on the Third Avenue Railway System that ran through Pelham. That collection is available on the page located at http://www.davesrailpix.com/tars/tars.htm.

There are a number of photographs in the collection that show trolleys traveling along -- or near -- Pelhamdale Avenue. Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides links to -- and information about -- a number of the photographs in the collection.

"Third Avenue Railway
#292 on the H line on Pelhamdale Avenue
Frank Pfuhler collection"

Click Here To View Photograph

This fascinating photograph shows two trolley cars in front of the structures that include today's 89 Wolfs Lane. The structure originally housed the Pelham National Bank when it first opened in 1921. This is the place where the trolley that "met all the trains" departed from the Pelham station on its way to the Pelham Manor Depot and, later, Shore Road -- the trolley that inspired Fontaine Fox to create the "Toonerville Trolley" that appeared in his famous "Toonerville Folks" comic strip.

"Third Avenue Railway
#298 on the H line at Pelhamdale Avenue
Frank Pfuhler collection"

Click Here To View Photograph

"Third Avenue Railway
#280 on the H line at Pelhamdale Avenue
Frank Pfuhler collection"

Click Here To View Photograph

"Third Avenue Railway
#291 on the H line at Pelhamdale Avenue
Frank Pfuhler collection"

Click Here To View Photograph

"Third Avenue Railway
#304 on the A line on Pelhamdale Avenue
Frank Pfuhler collection"

Click Here To View Photograph

This photograph actually shows the trolley proceeding westward on Boston Post Road approaching the "Four Corners" intersection between Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue. The apartments are visible on the left and a portion of the Four Corners Shopping complex parking lot is visible on the right. The trolley tracks in the foreground are in the middle of Pelhamdale Avenue and are the tracks on which the "Toonerville Trolley" ran.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The 1939 Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Pelham, NY

On November 6, 1939, a group of Pelham residents gathered to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the dedication of the Masonic Temple "Winyah Lodge No. 866 - F. & A.M." A program prepared for the event contains a brief history of the formation of the Winyah Lodge and the dedication of the temple.

An image of the cover of the program appears immediately below. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides an excerpt from the program detailing the early history of the Lodge.

Cover of Program for the 30th Anniversary Celebration
of the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Pelham, New York.
Source:  Collection of the Author.

"A little over thirty years ago, a group of enthusiastic Pelham Masons met at the home of Brother Seth T. Lyman, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and First Street, where the old Post Office was then located, and decided that a Masonic Lodge would be a desirable acquisition for the Town of Pelham. After considering many names for the new Lodge, the unanimous decision was 'Winyah.'

'Winyah' is the name of an old Indian Tribe which used to live along the coast of South Carolina. The Bay near Georgetown, S. C., is named 'Winyah' after it.

In the year 1847 Colonel Richard Lathers of Georgetown, S. C., bought several hundred acres of land in the Villages of New Rochelle and Pelhamville extending to Fifth Avenue, including what is now known as Pelhamwood. Colonel Lathers named his homestead 'Winyah Park,' and it was from this park that the name 'Winyah' was taken. It might be of interest here to state that there was another Lodge named 'Winyah'; this was 'Winyah Lodge' of Georgetown, S. C., whose Charter dates from 1743. It was one of the oldest Lodges of Colonial times.

After deciding upon 'Winyah' as the name of the new Lodge, the twenty Masons petitioned the Grand Master for a Dispensation to conduct a lodge in Pelham. The following names appear on the petition:


The Dispensation was duly granted by the Grand Master M . ' . W . ' . S. Nelson Sawyer, and on November 17, 1908, 'Winyah Lodge' met at the old Lodge Rooms of Hiawatha Lodge No. 434, F. & A. M., in Mount Vernon, with Seth T. Lyman, Master; H. Elliott Coe, Senior Warden, and Louis C. Young, Junior Warden, for the purpose of receiving from R . ' . W . ' . Frank V. Millard, District Deputy, the Dispensation empowering the above twenty Masons to conduct 'Winyah Lodge' in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Grand Lodge and their own By-Laws. On May 6, 1909, the Grand Lodge, assembled in New York, decided that the necessary requirements were fulfilled and thereupon granted a Charter constituting 'Winyah Lodge No. 866, F. & A. M.' It is that event which we are tonight commemorating.

The first Stated Communication of 'Winyah Lodge No. 866, F. & A. M.,' was held on June 1, 1909, in the Lodge Rooms of Hiawatha Lodge No. 434, Mount Vernon, N. Y., and upon that occasion the Master, Seth T. Lyman, received the Charter from M . ' . W . ' . Edward M. L. Ehlers. The Officers of the 'Winyah Lodge' at that time were as follows:

SETH T. LYMAN. . . . . . . . . . . . Master
H. ELLIOTT COE. . . . . . . . . . . .Senior Warden
LOUIS C. YOUNG. . . . . . . . . . . Junior Warden
ISAAC C. HILL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Treasurer
JOSEPH W. STONE. . . . . . . . . . Secretary
ALBERT L. LOGAN. . . . . . . . . . Senior Deacon
EDWARD M. C. LOGAN. . . . . . .Junior Deacon
JULIUS A. NELSON. . . . . . . . . .Senior Master of Ceremonies
JOHN ROHRS, JR. . . . . . . . . . . .Junior Master of Ceremonies
REV. HERBERT H. BROWN. . . Chaplain
SAMUEL J. ADLER. . . . . . . . . . .Senior Steward
HORACE E. BURNETT. . . . . . . .Junior Steward
WALTER R. HARRIS . . . . . . . . . Marshal
FRED W. CASE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tiler



The above Officers with the following Brethren, constituted the thirty-five Charter Members of 'Winyah Lodge No. 866, F. & A. M.':


'Winyah Lodge' up to this time had no home of its own, holding the various meetings at Hiawatha Lodge No. 434, Mount Vernon, N. Y., and Huguenot Lodge No. 46, in New Rochelle, N. Y. Many of the members of 'Winyah Lodge' with a few non-Masons formed the Hutchinson Realty Co., and built the present Temple. The first meeting held in the new Temple was on October 30, 1909, when the final arrangements for the dedication of the Lodge Room were made. The Temple was duly dedicated on November 6, 1909, by M . ' . W . ' . Edward M. L. Ehlers, assisted by the Grand Lodge Officers. Upon this occasion R. ' . W. ' . Charles G. F. Wahle directed the choir of the Church of the Redeemer in the rendition of appropriate music. It was the largest Masonic gathering ever held in Pelham, and many Masons were unable to gain admission. After the dedication a banquet was served in the Club Room, and there were about 250 guests.

Winyah Lodge received many gifts - too many to note them all here. The Holy Bible was presented by W . ' . John T. Logan, and the Square and Compasses by R . ' . W . ' . and Mrs. Charles G. F. Wahle. Both these gifts are still in use on the Altar.

The first election of Officers of 'Winyah' as a Charter Lodge took place at the Sixth Stated Communication, held December 21, 1909.

Seth T. Lyman was re-elected Master; H. Elliott Coe was re-elected Senior Warden; Louis C. Young was re-elected Junior Warden; Isaac C. Hill was re-elected Treasurer, and Joseph W. Stone was re-elected Secretary.

The first Public Installation of Officers was held on January 4, 1910. R . ' . W . ' . Charles G. F. Wahle acting as Grand Master, and W . ' . John T. Logan as Grand Marshal.

This Public Installation was greatly enjoyed by the Brethren and their friends, and for many years afterward was a yearly feature with 'Winyah.'

Space does not permit us going further into details regarding the early life of Winyah Lodge, but we would be unappreciative if we did not at this time, pay our humble tribute to the invaluable services so faithfully performed and so cheerfully given by

R . ' . W . ' . CHARLES G. G. WAHLE

Before concluding we must express our appreciation for the work of those who labored so unceasingly for the Lodge in its early days, especially our beloved first Master,

R . ' . W . ' . SETH T. LYMAN 'The Father of Winyah'

In The East

1909 R . ' . W . ' . SETH T. LYMAN
1910 R . ' . W . ' . SETH T. LYMAN
1911 W . ' . HARRY E. COE (Deceased)
1912 W . ' . ALBERT L. LOGAN
1913 W . ' . LOUIS C. YOUNG (Deceased)
1914 W . ' . HENRY E. R. STACEY
1915 W . ' . JOSEPH W. STONE (Deceased)
1916 R . ' . W . ' . WILLIAM R. MONTGOMERY
1917 W . ' . GEORGE N. RICE
1918 W . ' . JACOB A. WIRTH
1919 W . ' . EDGAR H. LAING (Deceased)
1920 W . ' . WILLIAM S. CAMPH (Deceased)
1921 W . ' . GUSTAVE A. WEIDHAAS (Deceased)
1922 W . ' . HAROLD S. ARCHER
1923 W . ' . FRED BERMAN
1925 W . ' . JOHN P. W. CEDER
1926 W . ' . BRICE W. TAYLOR
1927 W . ' . UEL R. PERSALL (Deceased)
1929 W . ' . WALTER B. ROBINSON (Deceased)
1930 W . ' . J. M. CLAYTON SHINN
1931 W . ' . SIDNEY C. SMITH
1932 W . ' . EDWIN J. LYON
1933 W . ' . ALBERT H. PAYNE
1935 W . ' . HERBERT L. DOEPEL
1936 W . ' . HARRY F. MELA
1937 W . ' . RALPH W. PIERSALL
1938 W . ' . EARL M. CAMERON
1939 W . ' . JAMES L. CORRICAN"

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