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, June 30, 2006

Is There New Evidence of a Previously Unknown Thanhouser Company Silent Film That Was Filmed, in Part, in Pelham in 1911?


In the hopes that movie lovers, Thanhouser Company experts and silent film aficionados somewhere may be able to shed light on a Pelham mystery, I am devoting today's Historic Pelham Blog posting to the filming of a silent film scene on what we know today as Shore Road in front of the Bolton Priory on December 21, 1911. The reference that caught my eye appeared in a brief item published in The New York Times in 1911. That item reads as follows:

"STAGE ROBBER ROBBED.

------

While Galloping Dick Performs a Daring Hold-Up His Valuables Vanish.

Special to The New York Times.

NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., Dec. 21. - While playing the role 'Galloping Dick,' the famouse [sic] English highwayman, with a local motion picture troupe before the camera this afternoon James Cruzee, an actor, lost a $400 mink overcoat, a $200 diamond scarf pin, and roll of bills containing nearly $100.

The troupe had selected a lonely part of Pelham Road, in front of the Pelham Priory, an old English Gothic church [sic] near Travers Island, for the scene of a stage holdup and were taken there in an automobile. The auto had withdrawn some distance down the road, where a crowd of men and children were watching the act. After 'Galloping Dick' had helped himself to a great quantity of jewels and the heart of a fair lady with powdered hair, the troupe returned to the automobile and Cruzee discovered that his property was gone."

Source: Stage Robber Robbed, N.Y. Times, Dec. 22, 1911, p. 15.

Although I have not yet devoted the research time necessary to detail the background of this incident with certainty, below I am providing my thoughts, hypotheses and preliminary research in an attempt to shed some light on this incident. It is my hope that film mavens may shed additional light on this matter by providing comments on this Blog posting.

Although I am not certain, I believe that the references to "James Cruzee, an actor" in the item quoted above are mistaken references to silent film actor and, later, director and producer James Cruze. James Cruze was born near Ogden, Utah on March 27, 1884 as Jens Vera Cruz Bosen. He died of a "heart ailment" on August 3, 1942 in Hollywood. According to some sources, he acted in, directed or produced over one hundred films most of which were silent films. It is believed that he began acting in 1910 and often played the leading man in films with which he was involved. He married actress Marguerite Snow in 1913 and had a daughter a year later. The couple divorced in 1923 and he married silent film actress Betty Compson at the height of her career. Compson later divorced him as well. In June, 1941, shortly before his death, he married Alberta Beatrice McCoy. In private life he was known as "James Cruze Bosen".

Twice during his career Cruze was named one of the world's ten best directors -- in 1926 and 1928. Although best remembered for the 1923 silent film "Covered Wagon", he became a director for Paramount. During his long career he made, among other films, the following: "The Gangs of New York," "The Old Homestead," "Merton of the Movies," "Hollywood," "Ruggles of Red Gap," "Pony Express," "Beggar on Horseback," and "Old Ironsides". His first talking picture was "The Great Gabbo" with Eric von Stroheim and Betty Compson. His obituary appeared in The New York Times on August 5, 1942. See James Cruze, 58, Screen Director, N.Y. Times, Aug. 5, 1942, p. 19.

Though I speculate that the "James Cruzee" listed in The New York Times item about filming in Pelham on December 21, 1911 was actually James Cruze, so far I have been entirely unable to confirm this. I strongly suspect that the woman in the stage coach wearing a powdered wig was Marguerite Snow. I suspect this because the little information I have been able to locate about the few films with which Cruze is known to have been involved at the time had casts that included Marguerite Snow.

In 1911, James Cruze and Marguerite Snow starred in "She" (released 12/26/1911). That eighteen minute film has been described as a "Science Fiction" film that Cruze reportedly directed. This film would seem an unlikely candidate for the one described in The New York Times report quoted above both because of its timing (release five days after the "Galloping Dick" scene was filmed) and its subject matter (reportedly "Science Fiction"). Other early films in which both Cruze and Snow starred included at least the following: "Lucile" (released some time in 1912 and starring Cruze, Snow and William Russell); and "Undine" (released 9/24/1912 and starring Cruze, Snow and William Russell).

Early in their careers, James Cruze and Marguerite Snow were affiliated with Thanhouser Company, a movie production company located in New Rochelle, New York (see below). Other Thanhouser films released in late 1911 and in early 1912 about which I have been unable to determine much include: "Cinderella" (12/22/1911), "The Expert's Report" (12/29/1911), "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1/16/1912), "His Great Uncle's Spirit" (3/8/1912), "Nicholas Nickelby" (3/19/1912), "For Sale -- A Life" (3/26/1912), "The Star of the Sideshow" (4/2/1912), "The Girl of the Grove" (4/5/1912), "The Baby Bride" (4/16/1912), "The Cry of the Children" (4/30/1912), "Under Two Flags" (7/7/1912), "The Portrate of Lady Anne" (7/23/1912), "Treasure Trove" (7/30/1912), "The Voice of Conscience" (8/3/1912), and "When a Count Counted" (8/25/1912). Assuming that the "Galloping Dick" scene filmed on December 21, 1911 was filmed for a Thanhouser production, it is at least possible that it may have been filmed for one of the movies listed above, but the titles certainly do not evoke the subject matter of the scene described in The New York Times article that appeared on December 22, 1911. Is it possible that this the scene may have been filmed for a now "lost" Thanhouser film?

Presumably the film in which Cruze played the role of "Galloping Dick" would have been completed in about 1912 if the troupe was filming so late in 1911. About all we know of the film -- if it was ever finished -- is that Cruze played the role of "Galloping Dick" (there were other films on this subject) and may have included a scene in which he robbed a stage coach with a woman in a powdered wig inside.

Intriguingly, at about the same time (1911), sheet music was published under the title "Galloping Dick". It is at least possible, it would seem, that the music by Percy Fletcher and G. Rothery may have been prepared to accompany presentations of the silent film, but that is pure speculation on my part.

I suspect -- but cannot establish -- that the Galloping Dick scene may have been filmed for one of the early silent films sponsored by Thanhouser Company. Edwin Thanhouser entered the movie business in 1909 and opened production studios in an old skating rink near the intersection of Warren, Grove and Center Streets in New Rochelle, New York. The location on "Pelham Road" (today's Shore Road) where the "Galloping Dick" scene was filmed in 1911 was only a short distance from the Thanhouser studios.

Thanhouser reportedly released its first film on March 15, 1910 -- The Actor's Children. On January 13, 1913, the skating rink studio building burned to the ground, although reports indicate that the company's film negatives were saved. Over the next several years, new studio facilities were built in the area.

I hope that silent movie aficionados, Thanhouser Company experts or fans of James Cruze may have some information about films with which he may have been involved in or about late December 1911 or during 1912. Otherwise, it would seem, this is simply another instance of the work of an early movie pioneer lost to history. Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. has developed a spectacular Web site devoted to the company and its films located at http://www.thanhouser.org.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Biography of Lewis Gaston Leary, Early 20th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham

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In the early years of the 20th century, Dr. Lewis Gaston Leary served as the pastor of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Village of Pelham Manor. Dr. Leary was an avid traveler and the author of many travel articles published in a host of travel magazines. A brief biography of Dr. Leary, published in 1908, summarized his life, his travels and his writings. The text of that biography appears immediately below.

"Lewis Gaston Leary, whose story, 'A Postponed Proposal,' was printed in the Red Book for April, is a Presbyterian clergyman. He was born in 1877 at Elizabeth, N. J., and was graduated from Rutgers College, with the degree of B. Sc., in 1897, where he took first Scientific honor, Rhetorical honor, and prizes in history, debate, oratory, and metaphysics. In 1900 he received from New York University the degree of M. A. (English literature), and in 1905 the degree of Ph. D. (Arabic and Hebrew). Dr. Leary has traveled in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Syria -- where he was for three years instructor in the American College in Beirut. He presented the first English play ever given in the Turkish empire, Roumania, Servia, and other countries, and speaks five modern languages. He is an authority on Semitic literature and Old Testament exegesis, and lectures on the latter topic at various summer schools. He has just completed one hundred encyclopedia articles on Oriental topics. In the last four years Dr. Leary has had twenty or thirty travel articles published in various magazines. Scribner's has already published two, and has accepted a third, 'The River of Adonis.' Dr. Leary finds his travel articles easily marketed, and as they pay so much better than short stories, he had done little in that line, although he has a dozen or so tales in various stages of completeness. He has in preparation another dozen travel articles, which he contemplates putting into a book. He also gives travel lectures. At present he is the very busy pastor of the Huguenot Memorial Church of Pelham Manor, N. Y., and writing and lecturing have to be relegated to odd hours. Dr. Leary is married, and has two boys, one and two years old."

Source: Writers of the Day in The Writer: A Monthly Magazine For Literary Workers, Vol. XX, Jan. - Dec., 1908, pp. 76-77 (Boston, MA: The Writer Publishing Co. 1908).

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Biography of Mathematician John Pell, Brother of Thomas Pell (First Lord of the Manor of Pelham)


Periodically I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog postings about 17th century mathematician John Pell. He was the brother of Thomas Pell, First Lord of the Manor of Pelham. He also was the father of John Pell, Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham. For examples of earlier postings about mathematician John Pell, see:

Thu., May 19, 2005: Scholarly Book About the Father of John Pell, 2nd Lord of the Manor of Pelham, Is Published

Fri., October 7, 2005: Important Portrait of 17th Century Mathematician John Pell, Brother of Thomas Pell, is "Rediscovered"

Mon., October 24, 2005: More Information on the Portrait of 17th Century Mathematician John Pell

The book by Noel Malcolm and Jacqueline Stedall entitled "John Pell (1611-1685) and His Correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish - The Mental World of an Early Modern Mathematician" published in 2005 by Oxford University Press remains the gold standard for biographical data regarding John Pell. However, a brief biography of Pell appeared in another Oxford University Press publication published in 1921-22: "The Dictionary of National Biography Founded in 1882 by George Smith", Vols. I-XXII. Below is the text of that biography.

"PELL, JOHN (1611-1685), mathematician, was born at Southwick in Sussex on 1 March 1611. His father, John Pell, was incumbent of that place, whither his grandfather, another John Pell, had migrated from Lincolnshire. He came of a good old family, one of his ancestors having been lord of a manor in Lincolnshire in 1368. He married Mary Holland of Halden, Kent, and died at Southwick in 1616, one year before his wife. His daughter, Bathsua Makin, is separately noticed.

Pell, the younger of his two sons, was educated at the free school of Steyning in Sussex, and progressed so rapidly that he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of thirteen, being then, Wood relates, 'as good a scholar as some masters of arts.' He worked indefatigably. A 'strong and good habit of body' enabling him to dispense with recreations, 'he plied his studies while others played.' Yet he never became a candidate for college honours. He graduated B.A. in 1628, proceeded M.A. in 1630, and in 1631 was incorporated of the university of Oxford. By this time, at the age of twenty, he was already 'in great reputation and esteem for his literary accomplishments,' which included the mastery, not only of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, but of Arabic, Italian, French, Spanish, High and Low Dutch. He was 'also much talked of for his skill in the mathematics,' the taste for which continually grew upon him. He was, moreover, remarkably handsome, with dark hair and eyes, and a good voice. In 1628 he corresponded with Henry Briggs [q.v.] about logarithms, and drew up papers on the use of the quadrant and on sundials, which, however, remained unpublished. Lansberg's 'Everlasting Tables' were translated by him from the Latin in 1634. His 'Eclipse Prognosticator' was written about the same time. On 3 July 1632 he married Ithumaria, daughter of Henry Reginolles of London, by whom he had four sons and four daughters; and in 1643, through the interest of Sir William Boswell [q.v.], he became the successor of Hortensius in the chair of mathematics at Amsterdam. A course of lectures on Diophantus, delivered by him there, excited much applause, and his colleague, Gerard John Vossius, styled him 'a person of various erudition and a most acute mathematician' (De Scientiis Mathematicis, cap. x.) In 1646 he was induced by the Prince of Orange to remove to the new college of Breda, where he enjoyed a salary of one thousand guilders; and returning to England in 1652, was appointed by Cromwell to lecture on mathematics at 200l. a year. Two years later he was despatched as Cromwell's political agent to the protestant cantons of Switzerland, in which capacity he acquitted himself so well that he was continued as resident at Zurich with a yearly salary of 600l. The real object of his mission was to detach the cantons from France, and to draw them into a continental protestant league headed by England. Interminable negotiations ensued. 'The move so slowly here,' Pell wrote to Thurloe from the Swiss Baden in May 1656, 'that it is hard to discern whether they go forward or backward' (VAUGHAN, Protectorate of Cromwell, i. 396). Recalled in 1658, he reached London on 13 Aug., three weeks before Cromwell's death. Some obscure services, however, rendered by him to the royalist party and to the church of England secured his position at the Restoration. Having taken orders, he was presented by Charles II in 1661 to the rectory of Fobbing in Essex, and by Dr. Sheldon, bishop of London, in 1663, to the vicarage of Laindon with Basildon in the same county. Both preferments were held by him till his death. Assisted by William Sancroft [q.v.], he introduced on 5 Dec. 1661 a scheme for a reform of the calendar into the upper house of convocation; his name was included in the first list of fellows of the Royal Society chosen on 20 May 1663; and, having been nominated domestic chaplain to Dr. Sheldon on his elevation to the see of Canterbury, he took the degree of D.D. at Lambeth on 7 Oct. 1663 ('Graduati Lambethani' in Gent. Mag. 1864, i. 636). A bishipric was expected for him; but he drifted off the high-road to promotion into hopeless insolvency. 'He was a shiftless man as to worldy affairs,' Wood testifies, 'and his tenants and relatives dealt so unkindly with him that they cozened him out of the profits of his parsonages, and kept him so indigent that he wanted necessaries, even paper and ink, to his dying day.' He resided for some years at Brereton Hall, Cheshire, as the guest of William, third lord Brereton, who had been his pupil at Breda; and his children were in 1671 living in the same neighborhood, as we learn from Thomas Brancker's mention of an unpaid loan for their support (RIGAUD, Correspondence of Scientific Men, i. 166). Pell was also in debt to John Collins (1625-1683) [q.v.], having boarded long at his house. Collins nevertheless respected him as 'a very learned man, more knowing in algebra, in some respects, than any other.' 'But to incite him to publish anything,' he added, 'seems to be as vain an endeavour as to think of grasping the Italian Alps in order to their removal. He hath been a man accounted incommunicable' (ib. pp. 196-7). His hints of new methods led to nothing. 'We have been fed with vain hopes from Dr. Pell about twenty or thirty years,' Collins wrote to James Gregory in or near 1674 (ib. ii. 195). But for this reticence he would, it was thought, have been recommended by the Royal Society to the king of France for a pension. His embarrassments meantime increasing, he was twice thrown into the king's bench; then, in March 1682, Dr. Daniel Whistler [q.v.] afforded him, when utterly destitute, an asylum in the College of Physicians. A failure of health, however, soon compelled his removal to the house in St. Margaret's, Westminster, of one of his grandchildren, whence he was transferred to the lodging in Dyot Street of Mr. Cothorne, reader in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. There, on 12 Dec. 1685, he died, and was buried in the rector's vault.

Pell's mathematical performance entirely failed to justify his reputation. He is remembered chiefly by his invention of the sign . . . for division [periods above and below a hypen], and of a mode of marginally registering the successive steps in the reduction of equations. These novelties were contained in Brancker's translation of Rhonius's 'Algebra,' published with additions and corrections by Pell, at London in 1668. Among his few and slight original printed works may be mentioned: 1. 'A Refutation of Longomontanus's pretended Quadrature of the Circle,' Amsterdam, 1646; in Latin, 1647. 2 'Easter not mistimed,' a letter to Haak in favour of the new style, 1664. 3. 'An Idea of Mathematics,' written about 1639, and sent by Hartlib to Mersenne and Descartes. It was published as an appendix to Durie's 'Reformed Library-keeper,' London, 1650, and included by Hooke, with Mersenne's and Descartes comments, in the 'Philosophical Collections,' 1679, p. 127. It sketched the outline of a comprehensive but visionary plan for the promotion of mathematical studies. 4 'On the Day Fatality of Rome,' printed in 1721 among Aubrey's 'Miscellanies.' 5. 'A Table of Ten Thousand Square Numbers,' London, 1672. An 'Antilogarithmic Table,' the first of its kind, computed by Pell and Walter Warner [q.v.] between 1630 and 1640, was soon afterwards lost or destroyed. Pell had an edition of Diophantus nearly ready for the press in 1647, but it never saw the light. He demonstrated the second and tenth books of Euclid, and only laid aside Apollonius at the request of Golius in 1645. He left large deposits of manuscripts wherever he lodged. Most of these are now in the British Museum, occupying nearly forty volumes of the Birch collection. Among them are tracts entitled: 'Tabulae Directoriae ad Praxin Mathematcicam conferentes,' 1628; 'The Eclipse Prognosticator,' 1634; 'Apologia pro Francisco Vieta' (Sloane MS. 4397). Pell's loose mathematical papers occupy fourteen volumes of the same collection (Nos. 4418-31), while in three more (Nos. 4278-80) his correspondence with his scientific contemporaries is preserved. One of those with whom he was in frequent communication from 1641 to 1650 was Sir Charles Cavendish, brother of William, Marquis of Newcastle. Cavendish unremittingly urged the publication of 'a large volume concerning Analyticks.' Pell replied from Amsterdam on 18 Feb. 1645: 'I fear it will be long ere I find leisure to finish such a volume for the press, adding: 'You have here some of the heads of that multitude of thoughts that I would willingly be delivered of; but it may be somebody else must bring them forth' (Harleian MS. 6796, f. 294). Eleven volumes of the Lansdowne manuscripts (Nos. 745-55) are composed of Pell's further remains. Thence, as well as from one volume of the Sloane series (No. 4365), Dr. Robert Vaughan took the materials for 'The Protectorate of Cromwell' (London, 1638). The bulk of his two volumes consists of Pell's official reports to Thurloe and Sir Samuel Morland [q.v.] on the progress of his Swiss mission (1654-8). They are of great historical importance. His philosophical correspondence during the same interval with Sir William Petty, Hartlib, Brereton, Brancker, and others, is printed in an appendix, together with his letters to his wife. These last are harsh and contemptuous in tone, and suggest that Ithumaria was a foolish woman, though a devoted wife. She died on 11 Sept. 1661, and Pell remarried before 1669. His eldest daughter was married to Captain Raven on 3 Feb. 1656.

His only brother, Thomas Pell, a gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles I, went to America about 1635, and acted as a surgeon in the Pequot war. He settled later at Fairfield, Connecticut, and secured from the Indians in 1654 a large part of Westchester County, in the State of New York. A patent from the Duke of York converted this tract in 1666 into the lordship and manor of Pelham, and it passed by will in 1669, on the death without heirs of the first owner, to his nephew John (born on 3 Feb. 1643), the only surviving son of the mathematician. He was drowned in a boating accident in 1702, and his sons, John and Thomas, became the ancestors of all the American branches of the family.

[Wood's Fasti Oxon. i. 461 (Bliss); Biogr. Brit. 1760 vol. v; Gen. Dict. 1739, viii. 250; Birch's Hist. Royal Soc. iv. 444; Phil. Trans. Abridged, Hutton, ii. 527; Hutton's Mathematical Dict., 1815; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Rigaud's Correspondence of Scientific Men, passim; Robert Boyle's Works, 1744, i. 35; Martin's Biogr. Phil. p. 334; Aikin's Gen. Biography, vol. viii.; Newcourt's Repertorium, ii. 269; Halliwell's Brief Account of Sir Samuel Morland, p. 27; Sherburn's Sphere of Manilius, p. 102; Kennett's Register, i. 574; Alfred Stern in Sybel's Hist. Zeitschrift, xi. 52; Poggendorff's Biogr. Lit. Handworterbuch; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Lansdowne MS. 987, f. 77 (notice of Pell in Bishop Kennett's Collections); Sloane MS. 4223, f. 120 (copy of a biographical account of Pell by Hooke, derived from Aubrey); information from Mr. W. C. Pell, U.S.A.; Bolton's Hist. of Westchester County, ii. 39, 44; O'Callaghan's Hist. of New Netherland, ii. 283; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 444.]

A.M.C."

Source: The Dictionary of National Biography Founded in 1882 by George Smith, Volumes 1-22, pp. 706-08 (London, England: Oxford University Press, 1921-22) (Editors: Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee).

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Land Owned by Thomas Pell and His Wife in New Haven, Connecticut in the Mid-17th Century


In 1888, New Haven, Connecticut celebrated the 250th anniversary of its settlement. In connection with that celebration, the Town published a booklet on its history "Prepared for the use of the Children in the Schools of New Haven, many of whom it is hoped may be active in the observance, fifty years hence, of the third Centennial of its history". A citation to the booklet as well as a link to a digitized copy of the entire publication appears immediately below.

Proceedings In Commemoration of the Settlement of the Town of New Haven (New Haven, CT: Privately Printed Apr. 25, 1888).

The booklet reproduced, among other things, a very early map showing the original streets of the early settlement of New Haven keyed to locations of note. A higher quality view of that same map appears immediately below.



According to the booklet, the solid lines of the map "indicate the original streets of the town; the dotted lines, the additions made in two centuries, down to 1838". Id., p. 10. In addition, numbers that appear on the map depict the locations of famous events or of lots owned by early settlers. Interestingly, according to the booklet, the lot marked by the number "10" on the northeast corner of the intersection of Elm Street and College Street was owned by Thomas Pell's wife, Lucy Brewster Pell. Pell was Lucy's second husband. Before marrying him she was the widow of Francis Brewster, the original owner of the lot marked with a "10" on the map. He was lost at sea in the famed "Lamberton's Ship". For the "10" noted on the map, the booklet says:

"10. Thomas Pell, surgeon at Saybrook fort and in the Pequot war, married the widow of Francis Brewster, the original owner of this lot, who was lost at sea in Lamberton's ship. He purchased Pelham Manor in Westchester County, N. Y., and died at Fairfield, Conn., in 1669."

Id., p. 13.

Satellite imagery seems to indicate that a church building now stands on the site where Thomas Pell likely trod nearly 370 years ago. Click here to see such an image.


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Monday, June 26, 2006

1834 Statute Authorized Herman Le Roy, Jr. to Dam Creek for an Oyster Bed


On April 11, 1834, the New York State Legislature passed a piece of private legislation that authorized Herman Le Roy, Jr. of the Town of Pelham to erect a dam at the mouth of a creek running from his lands into Pelham Bay for the purpose of creating "an oyster pond or bed". The statute reads:

"AN ACT authorizing Herman Le Roy, junior, to erect a dam across a creek in the township of Pelham and county of Westchester.

Passed April 11, 1834.

The People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

H. Le Roy, jr. may erect a dam.

§ 1. Herman Le Roy, junior, of Pelham township in the county of Westchester, his heirs and assigns, are hereby permitted and empowered, for his and their own use and benefit, to erect, construct and keep, across the creek or inlet running from Pelham bay into and surrounded by his lands in said township and county, at the mouth of said creek or inlet, a dam, dike or mound, of such height, shape and materials as may be necessary to enclose or dam up the waters of said creek or inlet, and the land covered thereby, and to apply said last mentioned land to his own benefit as an oyster poind or bed, or any other purpose, provided the extremities of said dam, dike or mound rest upon the said land of the said Herman Le Roy, junior.

May prosecute for trespass.

§ 2. The said Herman Le Roy, junior, his executors, administrators or assigns, may commence and prosecute actions of trespass against all persons trespassing on said land covered with water so enclosed as aforesaid, or doing any injury to the said dam, dike or mound, or the appurtenances, and recover the damages by him or them sustained by such injury."

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Friday, June 23, 2006

More About Martin J. Condon of the American Snuff Company Who Owned an Estate in Pelham Manor


On Friday, December 23, 2005, I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "The Pelham Manor Residence of Martin J. Condon of the American Snuff Company". In it, I detailed a little about the life of one of the nation's most famous financiers and industrialists of the 19th century who once owned a mansion in the Village of Pelham Manor that rivalled the finest palatial residences in the nation. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide additional detail about Martin J. Condon.

Condon served as the first Catholic mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee according to an article about his life by Jack Neely that appeared in "Metro Pulse Online". See Neely, Jack, Metro Pulse Online Secret History: Pooh Bah Go Bragh - The Career of Knoxville's First Irish Catholic Mayor, Vol. 11, No. 11 (Mar. 15, 2001) (available at http://www.metropulse.com/dir_zine/dir_2001/1111/t_secret.html ). According to that article:

"Martin Condon's parents were John and Bridget Condon, who migrated from County Clare to Tennessee, where John got work as a stonemason for the railroad. After the war, older sons Michael and Stephen formed a wholesale grocery, Condon Brothers on Gay Street. Young Martin worked for them as a clerk. They were a politically active family; in the early 1880s, both the older brothers, michael and Stephen, were elected city aldermen.

First known here as the pitcher on the baseball team, Martin showed some independence from his Republican older brother, Michael, by calling himself a Democrat. By the time he was 27, the papers were calling him an 'Irish-American statesman,' a member of several boards, including the City Charter Committee, the School Board; he also served as a 'colonel' on Gov. Bob Taylor's staff.

He married Margaret McMillan, daughter of an old Knoxville family, who converted to Catholicism. They'd eventually have at least three kids, two boys and a girl. They settled on East Fourth, on the more affluent side of old Irish Town.

In a closed-door meeting just after Christmas, 1887, Martin Condon -- barely 30 years old -- was picked to be the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Knoxville."

He reportedly was elected by a landslide -- 2,229 to 1,304. He entered office as a reformist, reportedly "cleaning up the messy account books". Neely wrote that "He and his friend and sometime baseball teammate, William Hunt, bought the Garret Company, a chewing tobacco business in Philadelphia. With five years, Condon and Hunt parlayed it into the biggest chewing-tobacco company in America, controlling 97 percent of the market. They dominated the market until their Memphis-based American Snuff Co. was broken up by Teddy Roosevelt's trustbusting."

The article further notes that Condon "lived for a time in New York, pursuing interests in a Fifth Avenue jewelry store" and in Nashville, Tennessee "where around 1900 he helped establish a Paulist Chapel, served by a school run by Dominican nuns" and also in Memphis.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pelham Manor Submitted Sewage Plans to the New York State Board of Health in 1894


In the never-ending quest to document the history of Pelham, today's Historic Pelham Blog will sink to the depths of dealing with the subject of sewage. More specifically, it will deal with the origins of the Village of Pelham Manor's sewage system, plans for which were first submitted to the New York State Board of Health in 1894 -- only three years after the Village incorporated.

The materials provide glowing praise for the little Village. It "calls attention to the commendable enterprise displayed by this small village in the collection and disposal of its sewage which is worthy of imitation by many of the larger towns of our State."

The State Board of Health of New York published its fifteenth annual report in 1895. The report includes a submission by the Village of Pelham Manor of plans for its new sewage system as well as a recommendation by a consulting engineer that the Board give its approval for that system. The text of the materials appears immediately below.

"PELHAM MANOR.

-----

Plans for a system of sewers and for sewage disposal by means of chemical precipitation were received from the sewer commissioners of the village of Pelham Manor in the county of Westchester.

The matter of examination of plans, etc., was referred to Consulting Engineer Bogart and on his recommendation the plans were approved by the board June 29 [1894]. It is proposed to discharge the effluent from the disposal works into Eastchester creek, and the report of the consulting engineer indicates that no bad results are likely to occur therefrom, as the matter discharged will be purified to such an extent as will render it harmless.

The report also calls attention to the commendable enterprise displayed by this small village in the collection and disposal of its sewage which is worthy of imitation by many of the larger towns of our State. Mr. Bogart's report and a comprehensive description of the system of sewers and disposal works are given herewith and maps and plans follow.

Statement in Connection with the Plans Submitted to the State Board of Health, for the Sewerage of the Village of Pelham Manor.

The village of Pelham Manor has an area of almost exactly one square mile (1.0282 sq. m.). It is bounded on the southeast by Long Island sound and on the southwest by Hutchinson's river, which empties into Pelham bay and is a tidal inlet from Long Island sound. The topography of the village is undulating, rising to an elevation of about 100 feet above tide water and sloping both toward the sound and toward Hutchinson's river. It is impossible to carry by gravity the sewage of all parts of the village either to an outlet upon Hutchinson's river or to one upon the sound, and it is understood that the requirements of the State Board of Health would demand that the sewage should be purified by some approved method of treatment before it is discharged into either of those waters; the present plan contemplates the delivery of the sewage by gravity to the Hutchinson river, for all that portion of the village west of the railroad and for Pelhamdale avenue, and also that portion of the ground east of Pelhamdale avenue. The sewage for that portion of the village east of the railroad and for a small area of lowland and east of Pelhamdale avenue is to be conducted to a pumping station close to the railroad and there lifted to a connection with the gravity system. This arrangement will concentrate at one disposal works the sewage from the whole area of the village. The only exception is from a short piece of the shore road along the sound where there are now very few structures, but here provision is made for a small disposal arrangement, should such be required for the delivery of this small effluent into the water of the sound.

The buildings of the village of Pelham Manor are all of a residential character. There are no hotels, no shops and no industrial or manufacturing establishments. The streets laid out are generally macadamized and the plan shows the location of the sewers in all streets now laid out, and provides, in the size of the sewers and their grade, for an extension of the system over every part of the village not already laid out in streets. The system proposed is that designated as the separate system, there having been already, provision made in various parts of the village for drainage, and the slopes and grades being such as to make further arrangements for the drainage easily practicable. With the exception of some very short branches, to provide for only a few houses, the smallest pipe shown is of eight inches diameter, and the grades and sizes of the pipes are so arranged that no undue amount of flow in them will result from a further settlement upon the land not already built over.

Provision is made for automatic flushing tanks at the head of each sewer and for manholes or lampholes at all changes of direction and grade. The plan adopted for the treatment of the sewage at the disposal works is that of precipitation by the introduction of chemicals, and experience has shown that this will give an effluent of a character entirely suitable for discharge into the Hutchinson river, and that the cost of the treatment will be quite small.

In addition to the plan showing the location of all proposed sewers there is also presented to profile of each line of sewer, a plan of the proposed disposal works, and specifications for the proper construction of the whole system.

Plans are also given showing the construction of manholes and lampholes.

F. CARLES MERRY, President,
JOHN C. HAZEN, Clerk,
CHAS R. GILLETT,
HENRY B. STAPLER,
JAMES F. SECOR,
Sewer Commissioners.

-----

Report on Plans Presented for the Sewerage of Pelham Manor

Hon. C. W. ADAMS, State Engineer:

Dear Sir. -- I have examined the plans for the sewerage of Pelham Manor, have visited the village and inspected the topography, the lines of streets and the location for outlet.

The plans are for a system of sewerage separate from the drainage. The grades are well arranged and the sizes of the various pipes as shown are ample to convey the sewage from all parts of the village to the outlet. This is into Eastchester creek (also called Hutchinson river). Provision is made in the plans for treating the sewage by precipitation of the solids by the addition of lime and iron, and for deodorizing and disinfecting both effluent and sludge.

This will result in an effluent clear and purified and suitable for discharge into this tidal stream.

Pelham Manor is a small village and the presentation of these plans for the effective collection and disposal of its sewage shows an excellent public spirit.

I recommend the approval of the plans.

Respectfully,

JOHN BOGART,
Consulting Engineer."

Source: Fifteenth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of New York Transmitted to the Legislature March 6, 1895, pp. 81-84 (Albany, NY: James B. Lyon State Printer 1895).

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Local Elections in Pelham in 1843


In 1843, local elections in Pelham attracted attention when the Town voted Whigs into office, rejecting several Locofoco candidates. The Locofocos began in the mid-1830s as an anti-Tammany Hall faction of the Democratic party. The faction existed for about a decade. By 1840, Whigs routinely applied the "Locofoco" label to the entire Democratic party. Locofocos typically supported free trade and circulation of coined money versus paper money. They supported unions and opposed "financial speculation". They supported such political figures as Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

Whigs, on the other hand, was the principal political party that opposed the Democratic party founded by Andrew Jackson. It existed from 1832 until the mid-1850s. The Whig party was suspicious of a strong Executive Branch and believed in the supremacy of the Legislative Branch of the federal government. Their platform included economic development and modernization. Whigs supported such political figures as William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Daniel Webster, Winfield Scott and Henry Clay.

John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham was a State Senator and a noted Locofoco. For years, it seems, the people of Pelham elected Locofocos to local office -- until 1843. That year, the Town elected James L. Townsend, a Whig, to serve as Town Supervisor. He won by the slim margin of two votes. Additionally, the Town elected two Whig Justices, a Whig tax Collector, Whig Commissioners of highways, Whig Commissioners and Inspectors of Schools, and Whig Inspectors of Elections.

Whigs throughout the state were elated. The Hudson River Chronicle published an article about the Whig victories in Pelham. The text of that article appears immediately below.

"Sound the trumpet, beat the drums,
The little town of Pelham comes!!

It is even so. The town of Pelham, which, though not much larger than a johnny cake board, contains the princely domains of Senator John Hunter, and several other splendid abodes of Locofoco aristocracy, and which has been Locofoco so long that the memory of the oldest woman in the town runneth not to the contrary, at the town meeting, on Tuesday last elected James L. Townsend, Esq., the Whig candidate, Supervisor, by the handsome majority of two votes. This majority of two may seem small to those who are accustomed to count their majorities by hundreds and thousands, but it is just as good as two hundred for our friend Townsend. It tells well for Pelham; it is carrying the war into Africa, and it is a splendid forerunner of things to come. We know our Locofoco friends will turn up their aristocratic noses, and say, 'Who cares for little Pelham!' But, gentlemen, is not Pelham a town in and of herself? Have you not always claimed her as a 'town,' when, in times past, she set her weight in your scale of the political balance? Does she not count one in the board of Supervisors? Has she not an equal voice with Mount Pleasant in electing Poor House officers, and in assisting to roll up a mighty great tax for the larger towns to pay? Have you not always wrote her down a town when it has been necessary to send an expression of Supervisors to Albany to control legislation? She is a town, every inch of her, and never more a town than since the last town meeting; and now, as the Whigs have got her right, we hope our friend Townsend will set his weight upon her and keep her so.

But, to the glorious result, which is as follows: For Supervisor, J. L. Townsend, Whig, had two majority over Mr. Ogden, Locofoco. This is glory enough for one year; but to swell the tide of triumph, and to cover themselves all over with glory, the Whigs of Pelham went the entire figure, electing two Justices, their Collector by 10 majority, Commissioners of highways, Commissioners and Inspectors of Schools, Inspectors of Elections, and so on and so forth, all through.

Some of the Locofocos of Pelham pretend they let the Election go by default, because Gov. Bouck differs with Senator Hunter about the County appointments!! This is all gammon, and put forth only to cover the mortification of defeat. The Locos of Pelham never fought harder in the world, but all to no purpose. There is a change; a most radical change, in Pelham, and neither Hunter nor Gov. Bouck can mend it. Townsend, the Supervisor elect, is a thorough, out and out Whig; in favor of a Tariff for Protection to American Industry and Labor; in favor of a Sound National Currency, the Distribution of the Proceeds of the Public Lands, the protection of the State Works, and the maintenance of the State Credit, and is opposed to Calhoun, Tyler, Van Buren, Broken Banks, swindling Office Holders, sloping Sub Treasurers, Repudiation and Sam. Young. Ogden, his opponent, is a Locofoco of 'the real ignorant kind;' goes in for Suspension, Low Wages, Broken Banks, Bad Currency, Bad Government, Repudiation, and Direct Taxation, and, like many other Locos, supports Tyler for the offices and Van Buren for the Presidency! These questions were brought directly home to the people of Pelham at the late town meeting -- Senator Hunter's votes and speeches in favor of the measures and principles which Ogden supports, were freely circulated among the Electors, and the result is, that the Locos of Pelham, have discovered the error into which such leaders, Senators and Representatives, have led them, and have triumphantly come out on the side of Townsend, Clay, and Democratic Whig Principles. We welcome the Electors of Pelham into the great Whig family, and give them thirty cheers for their gallant and glorious victory."

Source: Sound the Trumpet, Beat the Drums, The Little Town of Pelham Comes!!, The Hudson River Chronicle, Apr. 11, 1843, Vol. 6, No. 26, p. 2, col. 6.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mystery: A Lawsuit Filed Against the Dissolved Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1915


A newspaper clipping in the files of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham presents a fascinating mystery that I have been entirely unable to solve. It contains publication notice summoning the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association as well as unknown "John Doe" and "Richard Roe" defendants described as "trustees in dissolution of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association" to answer a complaint filed in a lawsuit brought by Mabel C. Mearns.

The clipping provides no clue regarding the nature of the suit. Nor have I been able to locate any other records relating to any such suit. The clipping is particularly puzzling because, according to a handwritten notation on it, the item appeared in the March 6, 1915 issue of the Pelham Record -- about thirty years after dissolution of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in receivership proceedings held in White Plains.

The passage of time, of course, might explain why the notice described the "trustees in dissolution" as unknown to the plaintiff. All of this suggests to me -- though I can only engage in rank speculation -- that the suit likely involved some effort to clear title to some plot of land that may have, at one time, been owned by the Association. Beyond that, I have no theories regarding what this lawsuit could conceivably have involved.

In the hope that the text of the notice might prompt those with more creative minds than mine to come up with better hypotheses as to what this matter may have involved, I have transcribed the entire text of the clipping immediately below.

"PELHAM, N. Y., SATURDAY MARCH 6, 1915 Record ["Record" is handwritten]

SUPREME COURT, WESTCHESTER COUNTY. Mabel C. Mearns, plaintiff, against Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association, 'John Doe' and 'Richard Roe' and others, as trustees in dissolution of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association, the true names of said defendants or any of them being unknown to this plaintiff, defendants.

To the above named defendants, Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association, 'John Doe' and 'Richard Roe' and others, as trustees in dissolution of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association, the true names of said defendants or any of them being unknown to this plaintiff:

You are hereby summoned to answer the complaint in this action, and to serve a copy of your answer on the plaintiff's attorney within twenty days after the service of this summons, exclusive of the day of service and in case of your failure to appear, or answer, judgment will be taken against you by default for the relief demanded in the complaint.

Dated, January 27, 1915.

THEODORE M. HILL,
Plaintiff's Attorney.

Office and Post Office Address,
111 Broadway,
Manhattan Borough, N. Y. C.

The foregoing summons is served upon you by publication pursuant to an order of Hon. Isaac N. Mills, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, dated February 23, 1915, and filed with a copy of the verified complaint in the office of the Clerk of the County of Westchester, on the 25th day of February, 1915, at the County Court House in the Village of White Plains, County of Westchester, and State of New York, the original of such verified complaint having been heretofore filed in the office of the said clerk on the third day of January, 1915.

Dated, February 25th, 1915.
THEODORE M. HILL,
Attorney for Plaintiff.

No. 111 Broadway,
Borough of Manhattan,
New York City."

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Court Decision Issued in 1894 Sheds Light on Finances Behind the Development of Chester Park in the Early 1890s


Chester Park is a lovely neighborhood centered around a public green located at the northern tip of the Town of Pelham. A local landowner named William T. Standen developed the area in the early 1890s. I have published a few items regarding the history of Chester Park. See, e.g.:

Thursday, June 1, 2006: Early Photographs of Chester Park Among Materials Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

Friday, June 2, 2006: Several of the Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

Monday, June 5, 2006: More Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

Tuesday, June 6, 2006: More Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

Bell, Blake A., History of Chester Park in the Village of Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 46, Nov. 19, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.

A judicial decision issued on December 14, 1894 sheds some light on the finances behind the development of Chester Park in the early 1890s. The decision was by an appellate court following an earlier decision. The underlying dispute was an interesting one. It involved three transactions.

According to the Court's opinion, as of July 28, 1892, developer William T. Standen was the owner of fifteen "Bonds and Mortgages" totaling $10,216.67 that appear to have been issued in his favor by individuals who purchased lots in the new Chester Park development. On that date, Standen assigned the fifteen Bonds and Mortgages to Col. William L. Brown as "collateral security" in exchange for a payment from Brown of $9,800. Standen further agreed to repay Col. Brown a total of $10,000 one year later "with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually".

The opinion also describes a second transaction. As of September 8, 1892, Standen owned an additional nine "Bonds and Mortgages" totaling $3,376.67 that also appear to have been issued in his favor by individuals who purchased lots in the new Chester Park development. On that date, Standen assigned the nine Bonds and Mortgages to Col. William Brown as "collaterial security" in exchange for a payment from Brown of $3,300. Standen further agreed to repay Col. Brown a total of $3,376.67 one year later "with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually".

The opinion further describes a third transaction on October 18, 1892. On that date, according to the opinion, Standen owned three shares (with an arbitrary par value of $600 per share) in the Pelhamville Land & Homestead Association. This was the land development Association used to develop Chester Park. On that date, Standen assigned to Col. Brown the three shares of stock as "collateral security" in exchange for a payment from Brown of $1,590. Standen further agreed to repay Col. Brown a total of $1,623.33 one year later "with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually".

The relationship between Standen and Brown apparently unraveled. Slightly more than a year later, on November 8, 1893, Standen commenced a lawsuit to have the three transactions "canceled as usurious and void". Standen argued, in effect, that the transactions were loans that required interest payments that were "usurious" because they exceed the rate of interest that the law allowed to be charged.

Col. Brown responded that the transactions were not loans at all and, thus, limits on the rate of interest that could be charged did not even apply. According to Col. Brown, the transactions involved sales of the Bonds and Mortgages with delivery of the assignments serving as "guaranty" of payment of the bonds and mortgages sold to Col. Brown.

The lower Court ruled that the transactions were not loans and, thus, could not be canceled as usurious. The Appellate Court analyzed the transactions carefully indicating that it agreed, but seemed to decide the matter in favor of Col. Brown based on a letter that William T. Standen wrote to Col. Brown's lawyers in which he admitted that "When these transactions were made, it was certainly understood that this was only an indirect way to the purchase by Col. Brown of the numerous little mortgages which I held, and it was done in this way in order that the colonel might not be bothered with the collection of small amounts of interest, but might look to me for such payments in one sum." This admission, according to the Appellate Court, gutted Standen's case. Accordingly, the Court affirmed.

The text of the entire decision and a source citation appear immediately below:

"Appeal from special term, New York county.

Action by William T. Standen against William L. Brown for the cancellation of three bonds of plaintiff, executed and delivered by him to defendant, and for the return of certain collateral securities. The complaint was dismissed, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

July 28, 1892, the plaintiff was the owner of the following bonds and mortgages:

B.&M. of Philip Godfrey, dated June 15, 1892 to sec. $700 & Int.

B.&M. of Wm. H. & M.E. Stead, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 320 & Int.

B.&M. of Mary E. Taylor, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 290 & Int.

B.&M. of Burnett T. Kirby, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 280 & Int.

B.&M. of Joseph H. Bross, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 320 & Int.

B.&M. of Maurice Hebert, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 400 & Int.

B.&M. of Edward A. Collins, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 200 & Int.

B.&M. of Fred H. Rindge, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 200 & Int.

B.&M. of Geo. Hunt, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 250 & Int.

B.&M. of Geo. P. Langdon, dated June 15, 1892, to sec. 4,606.67 & Int.

B.&M. of Asa S. Ashley, dated June 20, 1892, to sec. 500 & Int.

B.&M. of Grace I. Warner, dated June 20, 1892, to sec. 375 & Int.

B.&M. of Asa S. Ashley, dated June 20, 1892, to sec. 600 & Int.

B.&M. of Fred Nichels, dated July 14, 1892, to sec. 200 & Int.

B.&M. of A.J. McCarten, dated July 14, 1892, to sec. 975 & Int.

[Total] $10,216.67

July 28, 1892, the plaintiff assigned to the defendant the aforesaid fifteen bonds and mortgages, by a written instrument, 'as collateral security' for the payment of the plaintiff's bond, executed on that date, by which he undertook to pay to the defendant $10,000 one year from date, with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually. On the same date the defendant, in consideration of said bond, assignment, and of the delivery of said bonds and mortgages to him, gave to the plaintiff his check for $9,800, which was paid. On the 8th of September, 1892, the plaintiff was the owner of the following bonds and mortgages:

B.&M. of Annie Patterson, dated June 23, 1892, to sec. $116.67 & Int.

B.&M. of Jno. S. Crawford, dated July 12, 1892, to sec. 500 & Int.

B.&M. of Philip Godfrey, dated July 14, 1892, to sec. 260 & Int.

B.&M. of Margaret Reed, dated Aug. 9, 1892, to sec. 320 & Int.

B.&M. of Gilbert J. Angevine, dated Aug. 9, 1892, to sec. 460 & Int.

B.&M. of Jacob Freund, dated Sept. 1, 1892, to sec. 400 & Int.

B.&M. of Jacob Freund, dated Sept. 1, 1892, to sec. 360 & Int.

B.&M. of George Hunt, dated Sept. 2, 1892, to sec. 810 & Int.

B.&M. of Nathan P. Tyler, dated Sept. 2, 1892, to sec. 150 & Int.

[Total] $3,376.67

September 8, 1892, the plaintiff assigned to the defendant said nine bonds and mortgages, by a written instrument, 'as collateral security' for the payment of the plaintiff's bond, executed on that date, by which he undertook to pay to the defendant $3,376.67 one year from date, with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually. On the same date the defendant, in consideration of said bond, assignment, and the delivery of the bonds and mortgages to him, gave to the plaintiff his check for $3,300, which was paid. On the 18th of October, 1892, the plaintiff was the owner of three shares of the stock of the Pelhamville Land & Homestead Association, of the par value of $600 each. October 18, 1892, the plaintiff assigned to the defendant said three shares of stock, by a written instrument 'as collateral security' for the payment of the plaintiff's bond, executed on that date, by which he undertook to pay to the defendant $1,623.33 one year from date, with interest at 6 per cent., payable semiannually. On the same date the defendant, in consideration of said bond, assignment, and the delivery of said shares, gave his check to the plaintiff for $1,590, which was paid. On November 8, 1893, this action was begun to have the three bonds and the three assignments, executed by the plaintiff to the defendant, canceled as usurious and void. The plaintiff alleges in his complaint that the difference ($200) between the plaintiff's bond and defendant's check of July, 28, 1892, the difference ($76.67) between the plaintiff's bonds and defendant's check of September 8, 1892, and the difference ($33.33) between the plaintiff's bond and the defendant's check of October 18, 1892, were retained by the defendant, pursuant to a usurious agreement between the litigants that the plaintiff should pay, and defendant receive, these sums in excess of the legal rate of interest on the sums which the plaintiff obligated himself to pay by those bonds. The defendant, in his answer, denies that any usurious agreement was made between the parties.

Grove M. Harwood, for plaintiff.
Eugene S. Ives, for respondent.

Argued before VAN BRUNT, P.J., and FOLLETT, and PARKER, JJ.


FOLLETT, J.
The special term found as a fact that the transactions were not loans by the defendant to the plaintiff, but were sales by the plaintiff to the defendant, and that the securities mentioned in the assignments and the three bonds given by plaintiff to defendant were for the purpose of guarantying the payment of the bonds and mortgages sold to defendant. The plaintiff filed exceptions to the facts found by the special term and to its conclusion of law. The only question involved on this appeal is whether the findings are contrary to the weight of evidence. The fact that it was recited in all of the assignments that the bonds and mortgages were assigned by the plaintiff to the defendant 'as collateral security' for the payment of the bond of even date is strong evidence that the three transactions were loans instead of purchases. Again, the fifteen bonds and mortgages assigned July 28, 1892, amount, without interest from their dates to July 28, 1892, to $10,216.67, while the bond given by plaintiff to defendant was for $10,000, and the check given by him to plaintiff was for $9,800, making a discount of $416.67, besides accrued interest on the securities. The nine bonds and mortgages assigned by the plaintiff to the defendant September 8, 1892, amount, without interest from their dates to September 8, 1892, to $3,376.67. The bond given by the plaintiff to the defendant on this transaction was for the same amount, and the plaintiff's check was for $3,300, making a discount of $76.67, aside from accrued interest on the securities. The par value of the three shares of stock assigned by the plaintiff to the defendant October 18, 1892, was $1,800. The plaintiff received from the defendant $1,590, and gave his bond for $1,623.33, making a discount of $33.33. It will be observed that the first bond is less, by $216.67 and the accrued interest, than the amount secured by the first fifteen bonds and mortgages. If the transaction were a sale and guaranty of payment of the securities sold, it is difficult to see why the purchaser did not execute a guaranty of the payment of the bonds and mortgages, principal and interest. The second transaction is not open to this criticism, though the bond taken is not equal to the principal and interest of the nine mortgages assigned. In respect to the third transaction, it does not appear that the value of the three shares of stock was agreed upon or even discussed between the parties, which is usual when a sale is made. The plaintiff swore positively that the three transactions were loans, and that the three assignments were, as recited in them, intended as collateral security for the payment of the sums loaned. In this he was corroborated by Charles M. Marvin, who was present at the first and second transactions. This witness testified that the agreement was that the plaintiff should pay the defendant a bonus of 2 per cent. in addition to the legal rate of interest, and that the two transactions were loans. In opposition to this, the defendant testified that the transactions were not loans, but were purchases of the securities assigned, and that the bonds were taken as guaranties of the payment of the securities assigned. Exactly how the payment of the three shares of stock was or could be guarantied is not explained. In a letter written by the plaintiff, September 12, 1893, to the defendant's attorneys, reference is made to a letter written by them to him September 11, 1893. Unfortunately, the letter of the 11th was not put in evidence. In the plaintiff's letter he says:

'When these transactions were made, it was certainly understood that this was only an indirect way to the purchase by Col. Brown of the numerous little mortgages which I held, and it was done in this way in order that the colonel might not be bothered with the collection of small amounts of interest, but might look to me for such payments in one sum.'

This statement is a strong corroboration of the testimony of the defendant, and we regard it as of sufficient probative force to sustain the finding of the learned trial judge, who had the witnesses before him, and had an opportunity to observe their manner. The judgment should be affirmed, with costs.

All concur."

Source: Standen v. Brown, 83 Hun 610, 64 N.Y. St. Rep. 170, 31 N.Y.S. 535 (App. Div. 1st Dep't 1894).

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Period News Reports Shed Some Light on Pelham During the War of 1812


Early 19th century news reports shed a little light on Pelham during the War of 1812. Though it should come as no surprise, several such news items describe depredations by British ships in Long Island Sound around City Island and Hart Island, both of which were part of the Town of Pelham in those days. One such news item, transcribed below, appeared on September 18, 1813 in The Telegraph. It read:

"New York, September 8.
THE ENEMY AT HAND.
Yesterday a squadron of the enemy, consisting of two frigates and a sloop of war, (which we presume to be the Acasta, Orpheus, and Atalanta) came from their station at Gardner's-Island up to the head of Long-Island Sound, and captured a number of coasters and packets, some of them probably with valuable cargoes. Their barges and craft were up to City Island, 16 or 18 miles from this city, and the ships off Hempstead Bay, 5 r 6 miles beyond. The New-Haven packet Augusta, capt. Tall, which sailed yesterday, met a small sloop about 9 o'clock in the evening, from which 30 or 40 musket balls were fired at her, three of which pessed [sic] through her mainsail; when the sloup [sic] stood for another vessel, and the packet made her escape and returned this forenoon. A large number of vessels were in fight at the time, flying for shelter or harbor in every direction. It was said that 8 or 10 were seen taken possession of by the enemy, but no certain account of their names is received.

This increased restriction upon our coasting trade has excited much alarm in this city, and flying artillery have received orders to start instantly for the scene of danger. We cannot suppose, however, that the enemy will remain in this quarter. If nothing but the Valiant is left off New-London, commodore Decatur will have an opportunity of going to sea, attacking the 74. or following the squadron up the Sound & engaging them, if they remain long enough so give him notice of their situation.

Col."

Source: Enemy at Hand, The Telegraph, Sep. 18, 1813, Vol. II, Issue 57, p. 3, col. 1.

Another such article printed at about the same time says the following:

"September 9.
The Enemy.
A letter dated at Horse Neck, on Tuesday evening, states that four British ships of war were in sight of that place the whole day. One of them on that evening was a far down as Captain's Islands, near Rye. They have captured 7 or 8 sail of coasters -- one of them the sloop Elvira, bound to Hartford -- the captain of which vessel finding that he must be taken, took to his boat with the crew, and got ashore.

Other accounts mention, that two of the frigates had been as far as Sands' Point, and were standing down with 8 prizes in company.

On Tuesday at half past 6, a gentleman saw from the top of a house at Westchester, two frigates, a sloop of war, and 8 sloops their prizes -- at the same time 7 or 8 sail were standing towards them, supposed to have been captured by their boats.

Returned, the sloop Clio, Jones, bound to Stamford; the sloop Diana, Pearsall, bound to Fairfield; the packet Agusta [sic], Tolles, bound to New-Haven, with a valuable cargo -- and several others. By these vessels we learn, that there is a British frigate and a sloop of war about 12 or 14 miles above Sands' point, where they anchored at sunset on Tuesday evening, having, according to the different reports, captured between 20 and 30 sail of coasters most of which were at anchor alongside the frigate. The Augusta was chased at 10 o'clock on Tuesday evening by an armed smack to within a mile of City Island, and received several shot through her sails, &c. but made her escape by the smack's pursuing two other sloops which she had a chance of cutting off.

The enemy were at anchor yesterday at Tinicock Point, about 30 miles from this City.

They landed a number of men from their barges in the neighborhood of Rye, and carried off a number of sheep. The militia were assembling to oppose any further attempts to land, A company of flying artillery left this city yesterday for Westchester.

We learn by the passengers in the stage arrived last evening from Boston, that the shps [sic] of war off Tinicock are the Acasta frigate and Atalanta sloop of war."

Source: The Enemy, Connecticut Journal, Sep. 13, 1813, Vol. XLVI, Issue 2394, p. 2, col. 5.

This period seems to have been one of much alarm in lower Westchester County including the Town of Pelham. Yet another similar item appeared in the September 11 issue of Voice of Nation. It read:

"NEW-YORK, Sept. 9.

Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, in the Sound.

Yesterday morning, a British frigate and a sloop of war, were at anchor off Rye Neck, about ten miles above New Rochelle, in the middle of the Sound where they remained at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, becalmed, with six sloops and schooners, (their prizes) at anchor astern of them, and several tenders cruizing [sic] about the Sound, two of which, apparently smacks, were several miles this side of New Rochelle. In the morning at eleven o'clock, the enemy had nine sloops and schooners at anchor astern of rhem [sic], all of which were supposed to be prizes.

A gentleman from Mamaroneck, informed us that the enemy made 30 prizes on Tuesday afternoon, 20 of which they sent off to the eastward; and that the same evening, they sent their barges ashore in the neighbourhood of Mamaroneck, and stole from 60 to 80 sheep. A sloop was also chased into Mamaroneck, by one of the tenders, and escaped without any other damage than a shot through the mainsail. A sloop that had made a harbour in Stamford, was cut out by one of the tenders, who fired a volley of musquetry at several gentlemen who were walking on the beach, but fortunately did not hit them.

We have not been able to learn the names of the vessels captured, but understand one is a Rhode Island Packet, and another sloop belonging to Hartford.

We are informed, that a gun brig and a frigate, are cruizing [sic] about ten miles to the eastward of Rye Neck.

The inhabitants from Haerlem to Stamford are considerably alarmed, and the militia have turned out with the greatest alacrity -- they are, however, in want of small arms, artillery and ammunition which is not to be had in their neighborhood, in consequence of which, we understand, they have made application to the commanding officer of this city for the necessary supplies, which we presume will be readily granted.

We likewise understand that the gunboat Flotilla are bound up sound, and are confident, if they meet the enemy in a similar situation to that of yesterday, they could be able to give a very satisfactory account of him.

A company of mounted artillery, with two pieces of cannon, left this city yesterday afternoon, for New Rochelle, and arrived at Haerlem about sun down.

In addition to the above, a friend has favoured us with a letter from Huntington, dated the 7th inst. of which the following is an extract:

'Yesterday we were alarmed by the arrival at 11 o'clock, of two British ships of war off our harbour, one of which was seen to capture the Packet Amazon, captain J. Conklin, the other stood to the westward, opposite Hog Island, and at sun set, off Lloyds Neck, was seen to capture five sloops.

'Three other ships (supposed to be British) were at the same time discovered several miles to the eastward, and we have no doubt, but the Sound will be closely blockaded as low down as Sand's Point, which will make it very hazardous for any coasters to attempt to pass the sound.

'We are all under arms, and have sent a guard to the Sound shore, to watch the movements of the enemy, who will give a good account of him should he attempt to land.

'Among the passengers on board the Amazon, were several ladies, Mr. John Slesson, Mr. John Graham, a lieutenant in the U. States' army, and Mr. Stephen Ketchum.'"

Source: New-York, Sept. 9. Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, in the Sound, Voice of the Nation, Sep. 11, 1813, Vol. 1, Issue 13, p. 3, col. 1.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Repainting of Historic Signs Marking New Rochelle's Borders, Including Those With Pelham, Temporarily Halted


On Monday, November 14, 2005, I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "Historic Signs Mark Pelham's Border with New Rochelle". In it I described lovely historic signs commissioned by the New Rochelle Art Association during the 1920s that mark the boundaries of New Rochelle including those it shares with Pelham. Since that posting the signs have been removed as part of a program led by Ms. Mickie Fosina to restore the signs, to provide new signposts and to light the signs.

On June 3, 2006, however, The Journal News reported that work to restore the signs has been halted temporarily "over concerns by members of the arts and historical community that the livelier style and brighter colors being employed mar the signs' character". The temporary delay seems to be a minor issue and merely part of the difficult process of gaining the necessary consensus regarding such an admirable project.

After the signs were taken down for restoration, each reportedly was blasted with glass beads and coated using an electrolytic process to ensure a coating that will protect against further rust and deterioration. Artist Brec Morgan of Bridgeport, Connecticut has been working to repaint the signs. He and organizers of the project reportedly have indicated that the intent is to repaint the signs "with greater detail and more vivid colors [to] better reflect what was likely the original work."

Source: Valenti, Ken, Artistic License Suspended, The Journal News, Jun. 3, 2006, p. B1, col. 1.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Text of Deed by Which Aaron Burr Acquired Pelham Lands in 1790


Every schoolchild knows the story of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that took Hamilton's life. Fewer know, however, that Aaron Burr spent time in Pelham, bought a farm there and married Theodosia Prevost of Pelham, a woman ten years his senior who died in 1794.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting transcribes the text of a deed by which Aaron Burr bought lands in Pelham on February 26, 1790. The text of that deed, and a full citation, appear immediately below.

"NICHOLAS WRIGHT, WILLIAM WRIGHT :
TO :
AARON BURR, :

THIS INDENTURE made thetwenty [sic] sixth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety BETWEEN NICHOLAS WRIGHT of the Manor of Pelham in the County of Westchester and WILLIAM WRIGHT of Oyster Bay in Queens county Joiners, of the one part and AARON BURR of the City of New York, counsellor at Law of the other part. WITNESS ETH [sic] that the said Nicholas Wright and William Wright for an in consideration of the sum of EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS current money of the State of New York, to them in hand well and truly paid by the said Aaron Burr the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have granted bargained sold aliened released and confirmed and by these presents do gant [sic] bargained sell alien release and confirm unto the said Aaron Burr (in his actual possession now being by virtue of a bargain and sale to them thereof made for one whole yar by indenture bearing date the day next before the day of the date of these presents and by force of the statute for transferring of uses into possession) and to his heirs and assigns forever, ALL that certain messuage and farm of land situate, lying and being in the Manor of Pelham in the County of Westchester and State of New York, being bounded on the north by the lands of James Pell on the west by Eastchester Creek on the south by the land of Edward Pell and on the east by the lands now in the possession and occupation of Robert Coles and Jesse Coles containing by estimation one hundred and fifty five acres be the same more or less. The said farm andtract [sic] of land hereby released being the northermost half part of the lands which appertained unto Joshua Pell late of the Manor of Pelham, ffarmer deceased at the time of his death and which the said Joshua Pell deceased did by his last will and testament devise to his son Joshua Pell. TOGETHER with all and singular the houses outhouses edifices buildings barns Biars stables orchards gardens lands meadows pastures feedings commons andcommon [sic] of pasture hedges ffences ditches ways paths passages waters watercourses easements liberties profits priviledges [sic] advantages hereditaments emoluments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said premises above mentioned to be granted belonging or in any wise appertaining and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders rents issues and profits thereof and of every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances and also all the estate right title interest use trust possession property claim and demand whatsoever of them the said Nicholas Wright and William Wright or either of them of in or to the same or any part or parcel thereof with the appurtenances. TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said messuage farm and lands andall [sic] and singular other the premises herein abovementioned [sic] and intended to behereby [sic] granted released and conveyed with their and every of their respective appurtenances unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns to the sole and only proper use benefit and behoof of him the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns absolutely forever. (SUBJECT nevertheless to the right of dower of Phoebe Pell the widow of the said Joshua Pell deceased and to the payment of all such pecuniary legacies as are charged upon the said premises by the said will of the said Joshua Pell deceased) and they the said parties of the first part do covenant promise grant and agree to and with the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns by these presents in manner and form following that is to say that they the said parties of the first part at the time of the ensealing and delivery of these presents are the true sole and lawful owners or proprietors of the said messuage ffarm and lands and all and singular other the premises herinabove mentioned and intended to be hereby granted released and conveyed and that they now have in themselves good right full power and lawful authority to gant [sic] release and convey the same premises with the appurtenances unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns in manner and form abovementioned according to the true intent and meaning of these presents and that they now stand seized and possessed of and in the said premises with the appurtenances of a good sure perfect and indefeasible estate or inheritance in fee simple without any manner of condition contingent proviso or limitation of use or uses or other retraint matter or thing whatsoever to alter change charge or defea t [sic] the same (except the right of dower and pecuniary legacies aforesaid) and the said parties of the first part and their respective heirs the same messuage ffarm and lands and all and singular other the premises herein above mentioned and hereby granted released and conveyed with the appurtenances unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns against them the said parties of the first part and their heirs and against all and every other person and persons whomsoever shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents and also that the said several premises with their respective appurtenances now are and from henceforth shall remain continue and be unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns clear and free from all incumbrances whatsoever (except as before excepted) and lastly that they the said parties of the first part and their heirs shall and will at any time or times hereafter upon the reasonable request and at the proper costs and charges in the law of the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns or some of them do make acknowledge execute or suffer or cause or procure to be done made acknowledge executed and suffered all and every such further and other lawful and reasonable act and acts thing and things dowers conveyances and assurances in the law whatsoever for the more perfect effectual and sure making and conveying a good sufficient and absolute title of the above granted and released premises with the appurtenances unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns as by the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns or his or their counsel learned in the law shall be reasonably devised revised or required. IN WITNESS WHEREOF the said parties to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands & seals the day and year first above written.
Sealed & delivered NICHOLAS WRIGHT (L.S.)
in the presence of us. WILLIAM WRIGHT (L.S.)
The word ("year") being interlined and a small erasure in the same line and also the words (" now in the possession and occupation of Robert Coles and Jesse Coles") being wrote upon an erasure before signing & executing and also the words (" of the Manor of Pelham in ") upon an erasure in the first line of this deed.
Richa. Asbridge.
Thomas Pollok.
Received the day and year first within mentioned of the within named Aaron Burr the sum of Eight Hundred Pounds being the full consideration money within mentioned to be by him paid to us. ---- I say Received.
Witnessed
Rich. Asbridge By us, NICHOLAS WRIGHT
Thomas Pollok. WILLIAM WRIGHT
BE it remembred [sic] that on the first day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety personally appearedbefore [sic] me John Slos Hobart Esquire one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature for the State of New York, Richard Asbridge of the City of New York, who being dulysworn [sic] deposeth and saith that he was present and saw the within named Nicholas Wright and William Wright severally sign seal and deliver the within written deed or indenture of release as their and each of their voluntary act and deed for the uses intents and purposes therein mentioned and that the names of Richard Asbridge and Thomas Pollok thereto subscribed as witnesses is of the proper handwriting of this deponent and the said Thomas Pollok respectively and I having perused the same and finding therein no erasures interlineations other than are notices by the witnesses to allow the same to be recorded.

Jn. Sloss Hobart,

TO ALL TO WHOM these presents shall come or may conern [sic] RACHEL the wife of Nicholas Wright and Elizabeth the wife of William Wright within named SEND GREETING KNOW YE that we the said Rachail [sic] and Elizabeth for and in consideration of the sum within ment [sic] to have been paid to our said husbands and in further consideration of the sum of FIVE SHILLINGS to each of us in hand at or before the ensealing and delivery of these presents by the within named AARON BURR the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have remised released and forever quitclaimed unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns forever, ALL our and each of our right title claim or pretence of dower of in or to the messuage farm andtract [sic] of land with the appurtenances within described released and conveyed or to any part thereof and all other our right title claim and demand or in or to the said premises or any part thereof, TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said right of dower and other the premises herein released and quitclaimed with the appurtenances unto the said Aaron Burr his heirs and assigns forever without the let claim or demand of us or either of us or any claiming or to claim by from or under us or either of us. IN WITNESS WHEREOF we have hereunto set our hands & seals the ----- day of ----- one thousand seven hundred and ninety.
Sealed and delivered
in presence of -
Jn. Sloss Hobart.
RACHEL WRIGH (L.S.)
ELIZABETH WRIGHT (L.S.)

BE it remembered that on the twenty sixth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety personally came and appeared before me JOHN SLOSS HOBART ESQUIRE one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature of the State of New York, the above mentioned Rachel Wright the wife of the abovenamed [sic] Nicholas Wright and Elizabeth the wife ofthe [sic] above named William Wright who having been examined by me separate and part [sic] from their respective husbands did declare that they did respectively sign seal deliver the above written release or quitclaim of dower freely & as their voluntary act & deed for the uses & purposes therein mentioned without any fear threats or compulsion of their said husband & I having examined the same & finding no erasures or interlineations therein except what are noted do allow the same to be recorded.
Jn. Sloss Hobart,
A true copy of original Deed and receipt and prooff indorsed and of release of dower indorsed and acknowledgment underwritten taken andentered [sic] this 12th December 1794.
Pr. Richard Hatfield, Clk."

Source: Westchester County Archives, Elmsford, NY, Register of Deeds, Liber L, 363-66.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sketch Showing Hunters Island Mansion in 1853


Many of the postings to the Historic Pelham Blog have dealt with John Hunter and his island in the Town of Pelham known as Hunter's Island. For a few such examples, see:

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

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

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

Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting publishes an image of a sketch of John Hunter's Mansion on Hunter's Island. It shows the mansion in 1853 and appears immediately below.


The sketch shows the mansion nestled among trees at the peak of the island. In the foreground is a group of cattle. Behind them, a sweeping lawn climbs up the hill to the foot of the mansion.

This item, from the collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, is affixed to a stiff piece of cardboard beneath which are written the following words: "The Mansion Hunters Island, New York. ~ in 1853".

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