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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sale at Auction of P. L. Rogers Estate on Mainland Across from Hunter's Island in Pelham in 1869

On April 2, 1869 an advertisement appeared in the New York Herald published in New York City. The ad contained notice of a sale at auction of a portion of 175 acres of the estate of P. L. Rogers, deceased, in Pelham across from Hunter's Island.

Inspection of Plate 35 contained in the 1868 Beer's Atlas of Westchester County shows the approximate location of the Rogers Estate. A detail from that map appears immediately below. It seems to show an estate located primarily on the northwest side of Pelham Road (today's Shore Road) with a residence located near the road, a short roadway leading to a "Dock" located on the Sound and one oubuilding with a roadway leading from Shore Road near the house to the outbuilding and encircling it completely.

The text of the advertisement providing notice of the sale at auction of the estate appears immediately below.


Peremptory Sale.
Valuable Villa Plots
Westchester County Property,
to be sold at
Mott Haven railroad depot,
first station across the Harlem river,
Saturday, April 3, at 12 o'clock,
by direction of
Gerard M. Stevens, Esq., referee,
A portion of 175 acres of the
Estate of P. L. Rogers,

This desirable property is situated at Pelham adjoining Hunter's Island, and fronting on the Sound. It is distant eight miles from Harlem bridge, on the line of the Harlem and Portchester Railroad. Within two minutes' walk of the new Pelham depot.


It is beautifully laid out in plots varying fro 1 1/2 to 7 acres, fine soil, and lovely building sites on every plot. Neighborhood first class, with fine scenery on the Sound. Buyers and capitalists will do well to invest in the above property, in view of the improvements being carried out in that neighborhood. For maps and particulars inquire of CHARLES D. MOTT, 25 Pine street and at Fourth avenue, corner 125th st."

Source: At Auction, N.Y. Herald, Apr. 2, 1869, p. 8, col. 3.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Image of Bolton Priory in the Town of Pelham Published in an 1859 Treatise on Landscape Gardening

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In 1859, Henry Winthrop Sargent published the sixth edition of his book entitled "Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America; with a View to the Improvement of Country Residences Comprising Historical Notices and General Principles of the Art, Directions for Laying Out Grounds and Arranging Plantations, the Description and Cultivation of Hardy Trees, Decorative Accompaniments of the House and Grounds, the Formation of Pieces of Artificial Water, Flower Gardens, Etc. with Remarks on Rural Architecture by the Late A. J. Downing, Esq." Among the many topics addressed in the treatise was the Elizabethan Style "so common in England in the 17th century".

The treatise condemns the style as "a barbarous kind of architecture, wanting in purity of taste". Yet, it noted that "in some of its simpler forms (Fig. 52), it may be adopted for country residences here in picturesque situations with a quaint and happy effect". To prove its point in this regard, the book also references Bolton Priory in Pelham that still stands. The treatise stated:

"A highly unique residence in the old English style, is Pelham Priory, the seat of the Rev. Robert Bolton, near New Rochelle, N.Y., Fig. 53. The exterior is massive and picturesque, in the simplest taste of the Elizabethan age, and being built amidst a fine oak wood, of the dark rough stone of the neighborhood, it has at once the appearance of considerable antiquity. The interior is constructed and fitted up throughout in the same feeling, -- with harmonious wainscoting, quaint carving, massive chimney pieces, and old furniture and armor. Indeed, we doubt if there is, at the present moment any recent private residence, even in England, where the spirit of the antique is more entirely carried out, and where one may more easily fancy himself in one of those 'mansions builded curiously' of our ancestors in the time of 'good Queen Bess'."

The book contains a lovely engraving showing Bolton Priory only a few years after it was first built in 1838. That image appears immediately below.

Source: Sargent, William Henry, Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America; with a View to the Improvement of Country Residences Comprising Historical Notices and General Principles of the Art, Directions for Laying Out Grounds and Arranging Plantations, the Description and Cultivation of Hardy Trees, Decorative Accompaniments of the House and Grounds, the Formation of Pieces of Artificial Water, Flower Gardens, Etc. with Remarks on Rural Architecture by the Late A. J. Downing, Esq., pp. 347-48 and Figure 53 Opp. p. 354 (6th ed., NY, NY: A.O. Moore & Co. 1859).

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

1799 Notice of Foreclosure Sale of Pelham Manor Lands Owned by Augustus James Frederick Prevost, Stepson of Aaron Burr

Research reveals an interesting notice of a sale of lands at foreclosure published in the August 19, 1799 issue of The New-York Gazette and General Advertiser. The lands were owned by Augustus James Frederick Prevost. Furthermore, the notice suggests that Aaron Burr had some interest in the affair given that he was involved in the underlying deal that created the debt for which the lands were being sold. This is particularly intriguing given suggestions that Burr and Prevost were involved in a scheme to buy up lands near the route of a proposed toll road and rerouted Boston Post Road. See Tuesday, July 18, 2006: Aaron Burr Tries to Pull a Fast One in the 1790s and Must Sell His Farm in Pelham. The text of the notice appears immediately below.

"WHEREAS by Indenture made the first day of June 1797 Augustus James F'k. Provost [sic - should be "Prevost"], of Pelham, in the county of Westchester, for the better securing to John Berry, of the city of New-York, merchant, the payment of one thousand pounds, then current money of the State of New-York, on or before the first day of June 1798, with interest payable quarterly from the first day of September then next, according to the condition of a certain bond executed by Aaron Burr, of the City of New-York, bearing date the day of the said Indenture, did mortgage unto the said J. Berry, all that certain messuage and farm, situate lying and being in the manor of Pelham, in the county of Westchester and the state of New-York, being bounded on the north by the land of James Pell, on the west by East-Chester Creek, on the south by the land of Edward Pell, and on the east by lands in the possession and occupation of Robert Coles, and Jesse Coles, and containing by elimination 155 acres be the same more or less. -- The said farm and tract of land thereby granted being the northernmost half part of the land lately belonging to Jonathan Pell, of the manor of Pelham farmer, deceased; on condition to be made on the payment of said one thousand pounds, with interest, according to said bond. And whereas no part of the same has been paid, and the said John Berry has filed his bill in Chancery, praying that the said Augustus James Frederick Provost [sic], might be decreed to pay said sum, and the said lands be sold for the payment thereof -- to which bill the said Provost [sic] hath answered, admitting all the material facts therein set forth; and thereupon an order hath been entered by consent of parties, that the said monies be paid on the 1st day of September next, with lawful interest, on that day, with the complainants costs of suit, or in default thereof, that the premises mentioned in the complainants bill, be sold immediately after the 1st Sept. next, at public auction at the Tontine Coffee-house, in the city of New-York, by one of the masters of this Court, for the best price that can be gotten for the same, upon giving fifteen days previous notice, to the said first day of September, in one of the public newspapers printed in the city of New-York, of the time and place of sale. This is therefore to give public notice, that the premises aforesaid mentioned in the said complainant's said Bill of complaint -- W I L L B E S O L D AS AFORESAID, at the Tontine Coffee House in the City of New York, on Monday the second day of September next, at 12 o'clock at noon of that day, for the best price that can be gotten for the same, and that all proper parties to be ascertained by said master, will join in the conveyance of said premises to the purchaser or purchasers.

Dated the 16th day of August, 1799.

Aug. 17. t2 Sep. JOHN BERRY."

Source: [Untitled Notice], The New-York Gazette and General Advertiser, Aug. 19, 1799, p. 3, col. 2.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Brief Account of Visits to Bolton Priory in the Early 1880s

In 1996, the University of Nebraska Press published a book entitled "Daughter of the Regiment: Memoirs of a Childhood in the Frontier Army, 1878-1898 - Mary Leefe Laurence". The book recounts the childhood of the daughter of a U.S. infantry officer who served in a variety of locations during the late 19th century. Among those locations was David's Island off the shore of Pelham. One chapter of the book contains Laurence's recollections of her life on David's Island in 1881 and 1882. Contained within that chapter is a brief account of her recollections of visiting Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor. That residence still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Below is a transcription of her brief account.

"Pelham Priory on the mainland was among the spots we visited in our outdoor existence at David's Island. I believe it is now some kind of a public show place maintained as a historic landmark, but I recall it as a spot in a beautiful setting of family life. I remember going with others of our family to call on the family then living there. These elegant ladies always served tea, and after stuffing ourselves with cookies, we children were released from the apron strings and allowed to wander about the place. I can remember the thrill and shudder I experienced when walking down a corridor and coming suddenly upon a suit of armor standing like a man before one of the panels and looking as if to say, 'Get by me if you can.' I knew he couldn't move but felt goose pimples all over my body and would not go too close to him.

We went to Pelham Priory a number of times by way of New Rochelle. There we would be met by the priory surrey or coach, the latter a very dark affair with glass windows and two big horses. We enjoyed these visits hugely."

Source: Smith, Thomas T., ed., Daughter of the Regiment: Memoirs of a Childhood in the Frontier Army, 1878-1898 -- Mary Leefe Laurence, p. 63 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press 1996).

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Walking Tour of Pelham and Surrounding Areas Published in 1878

During the 1870s, Pelham was considered a country playground of the wealthy. Estates were scattered along the Sound and Col. Delancey Kane carried New Yorkers on picnic jaunts in his Pelham coach known as the "Tally Ho" from the Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge. In 1878, the New York Times published a walking tour that covered large portions of the Town of Pelham which, at the time, included Pelham Neck (also known as Rodman's Neck), City Island, Bartow and much of today's Pelham Bay Park. A transcription of the walking tour appears immediately below.




The choice of a route for walking is half the battle. You need pleasant scenery, means of transportation to and from the City, good roads or paths, and, if possible, some historic interest, to enliven the mind with a little fancy or sentiment. A map, to suit the walker, should indicate all the roads and the chief paths, the hills as well as the mountains, the waters and swamps, the points of remarkable views and objects of historic interest, and the distances along every road. Such maps are the delight of tourists in Switzerland, and the geographic basis of the millennium for the New-York walker. In the present lack of such a map here, one has to depend on the limited information to be gathered from others, or on the chances guessed from the railroad maps now published. Hills and water courses are generally the most attractive features represented on the average map. Choose, then, a route along some stream or shore, or over some range of mountains. But the pleasure of a walk depends so much on details that you never know whether you will be pleased or not till you have ended your labor. My own troubles in this regard may be instructive to others, and therefore I shall tell the methods and the results of my last choice. I knew in a general way that Westchester County had delightful scenery, many railroads, good country roads, and rich historical interest; but I did not know any particular line where these elements are united within the compass of a day's walk. I asked my friends about the routes, but received no definite information. In this connection let me say that all good walkers may help the cause by taking me into their select circle, and sending me a statement of the desirable routes they know, the places of departure and arrival, the distances, the general features of the scenery along the road, and the objects of special interest to visit. For I intend to perfect and extend these articles to make a little volume on the walks about New-York. In the lack of better sources I studied various maps of Westchester County, and after some tribulation decided to take the first walk near this City. I reserve the remoter regions for future occasions. After consulting history also, I concluded that an interesting route might be found from King's Bridge, through East Chester, Pelham Neck, New-Rochelle, to Rye Beach. The question now was, would that route offer an interesting variety of woods, views, and details to make a pleasant walk. I accordingly set out from King's Bridge and walked, via Woodlawn, to East Chester. And, as in many other cases, I found that the way was not sufficiently entertaining to recommend, and that another route must be chosen and examined. After other explorations, I concluded that either West Chester or Bartow is the best point to begin walks along the Sound. It is not to be concluded from this statement that there is no interest in the intervening region, but, as far as I have examined, the effects of civilization there are so numerous, and frequently so objectionable, that the region cannot offer pleasant country walks of any considerable length. In regard to choosing routes, under the present lack of adequate directions, the practical advice to offer is therefore equally unsatisfactory and self-evident. Ask your friends, study the map, and then guess.

Our route, then, begins at Bartow, on Pelham Neck, and extends along the Sound as far as the walker chooses to go. Your train starts from Harlem Bridge. With digressions to City Island and to East Chester, the walk to New-Rochelle is about 11 miles long. The historic interests of the region and the beauty of the scenery will lead you to saunter along the shady ways, rather than to hurry for the sake of a long walk. It may be well, therefore, to spend the day between Bartow and New-Rochelle. You may, however, take as an introduction to the main work, a trip from West Chester to Fort Schuyler, where a very extensive view is had up and down the Sound; then back to Schuylerville and on to Bartow -- a distance of about nine miles.

From Bartow Station go south along Pelham neck to City Island. The road is shaded by large trees, and bordered by stone walls, with gray lichens and climbing vines. The old hourses, orchards, and lanes of Pelham Necki have not lost the quiet spirit of the past. The place refreshes you with silence, simplicity, and the effect of nature made domestic by human touches. You cannot shut out the pleasant influence of Spring when she meets you in such quiet nooks. The meadows are now gemmed with dandelions; the Winter wheat is already waving with the advanced graces of Summer, and showing a deep riche green between plowed fields; the blackberry vines have crowned the walls with wreaths of crisp and crimpled leaves; the lilacs hold up their little cones of buds almost ready to flower, and the sweetbrier, with exquisite fragrance, already lures you to a seat by the hedge, under the edge of the woods. The forest is just coloring from gray to the olive tints of bursting buds; the willows across the field are soft clouds of green; the maples have almost lost their little tufts of coral flowers among their olive leaves; the horse chestnut is spreading its arms above yu; the larches are deooping with their soft green tassels studded here and there with a crimson cone; cherry-trees are clodes of white blossoms, and pears and peaches are in full bloom. The apple-trees are just returning from their trance; they are still as shadowy and spiritual as if sketched by Corot. But on looking closer you see that their clusters of leaves inclose a bouquet of dark-red buds, each in a silvery sheath. They will soon bloom; so if you wish for a May Day under the apple blossoms hasten to the old orchard. Pelham Neck was not always so peaceful as on this Spring day. The British landed here on the 18th of October, 1776. Three or four American regiments came down from East Chester to drive them off, and formed their line behind a stone wall. They waited till the English came within very short range and then poured out a destructive fire. But the Americans were unable to stand against the enemy, superior in numbers, and at last were compelled to fall back to their camp, near East Chester, while the British advanced along the sound toward Connecticut. The end of Pelham Neck, the old Bowne homestead, is where Thomas Pell lived, who bought the neck of the Indians in 1n 1654. Before that time this region was an important burial ground of the Indians: for their graves have been found all over it, but chiefly on the Rapelje estate. The neck was years ago a favorite resort of the fish hawk. This bird came, it is said, quite regularly at the vernal equinox to make its nest in the tall forests and live on the numerous fish along the neck. It was regarded as a bird of good omen by the fishermen, and protected by their kindly superstition.

Pelham Bridge, from the neck to City Island, was celebrated for bass fishing 30 and 40 years ago. It could repeat many a long-drawn yarn of hook and line. Great quantities of ducks and other water fowls were then killed about these islands. Brothers of the angle still congregate at the bridge, but your chief interest now will be in the charming view of the Westchester shores. Points and bays of every size and form interlock the land and water with long arms. The beaches curving here and there are peopled with great dumb rocks, shaggy with pendent locks of brown seaweed. Back of these are stone walls, and then the fields stretching away smooth and green to the woods. Here and there an ancient house, bleak and silent, looks out of the forest, or the gables of a sumptuous villa rise above a grove on a knoll. The waters are quite near and social, with the sloops at anchor in the bay, the fishing-boats and groups of anglers, the sails and steam-boats and groups of anglers, the sails and steam-boats further off, and the many picturesque rocks and cultivated islands encircled by the waves. The scene is filled with harmonious details of forest, field, beach, points, bays, and islands, all lighted and blended by the changing water.

If you wish a wider view of the Sound and of Long Island, go to the south side of City Island. This name was given the island by its first ambitious owners, who laid it out for a large metropolis, and did some work in paving and flagging before they discovered that the site was too exposed for shipping. Return to the main road across the neck, and proceed toward New-Rochelle. Take the first road leading north-north-east, and follow the telegraph wires to East Chester. On your right, at this corner [Editor's Note: the intersection of today's Shore and the now-closed Split Rock Road], is the old Bartow house, a large brown-stone mansion, in the Grecian style, with a wing at each end. Under a very large oak on this estate the Indian chiefs sold these lands to Mr. Thomas Pell, in 1654.

East Chester is on a knoll beside the salt meadows, and surrounded by low hills. The old town now consists of a grave-yard, St. Paul's Church, and 10 locust trees. But the surroundings are pretty, with groves, slopes of green sod, the meadow with its brook, and the receding hills, diversified with plowed fields, fresh grain, orchards, and farm-houses. The most attractive feature is the old stone church, rising above its vaults, graves, and tottering trees -- a plain, weather-beaten witness of historic incidents, that are interesting though not of national importance. East Chester was founded in 1664. In 1689 it furnished a company of 70 men to the Leisler party 'who had all subscribed a solemn declaration to preserve the Protestant religion and the Fort of New-York for the Prince of Orange and the Governor whom the Prince might appoint as their protector.' The village green beside the church was the training-ground for that part of the county, and the place where the elections occurred. The New-York Weekly Journal of Dec. 24, 1733, in giving an account of the election of Mr. Lewis Morris, as representative of Westchester County, outlines a scene that would be a striking picture here to-day. The High Sheriff was suspected of undue partiality for the opposite candidate, and his announcement of the election did not state the hour of opening the polls; so about 50 of the voters passed the night on the green, to be ready for emergencies, and to notify their party if the polls were suddenly opened. In those times people traveled but little, and generally went on horseback, and lodged with their friends. Many of the electors from beyond New-Rochelle rode a part of the night, and then, not finding room in the crowded village, slept about a fire in the street. They resumed their way before day, to be at the polls as early as possible. They were joined on the hill near East Chester - Prospect Hill - by about 70 horsemen from the lower part of the county; here they formed in the following order, and marched down the hill toward the church: First rode two trumpeters and three violinists; next, four of the chief freeholders, one of whom carried a banner with 'King George' on one sid, and 'Liberty and Law' on the other, in gold capitals; then followed the candidate, Lewis Morris, Esq., ex Chief-Justice of the Province; next two colors, and finally about 300 horsement, the chief freeholders of the county. At sunrise they entered the village green, and found themselves the first on the ground, and after riding about the place three times they took their position in front of the houses of Fowler and Child. At about 11 o'clock the opposite candidate appeared with a similar cavalcade. They rode twice around the green and exchanged formal bows with their rivals. But the elements thus parading were soon stirred up by closer contact, and the shouts of 'No land tax!' and 'No excise!' led on the turmoil to still more excitement. About noon the High Sheriff came to town, finely mounted and decked in the trappings of the old official splendor, with housings and holster-caps of scarlet richly laced with silver. Then the canvass began, and soon grew to an uproarious scene lik the hustings contests in England. The result of the voting was at last demanded; the Sheriff would not announce it; more demands and more evasions finally brought a clamor for polling. Seats were erected under the trees, and the electors proceeded to cast their votes. The Sheriff illegally refused the ballots of a large number of wealthy Quakers unless they would swear on the Bible to their possession of property well-known to the whole company. The Quakers would solemnly affirm, but they would not swear. Sore complaints and even threats failed to correct the Sheriff's dishonesty; but, for all that, Morris was elected. Then the Sheriff expressed the hope that his mistake would be overlooked by mr. Morris, who assured him his conduct had made him liable to prosecution for £10,000 damages. When all was done the whole body of electors escorted their new representative to his lodgings, with the sounding of trumpets, the playing of violins, and the general rejoicing of everybody. Now, all this occurred at the polling of only 269 votes. And the news of the election was 14 days on the way to Boston by the stage of the King's Bridge turnpike, passing through the green, and the news from Boston returned by the same route in 14 days. The road had been built in 1671, but the first line of stages between New-York and New-England had not been started till 1732. The village green was also the place for less attractive scenes. The village stocks stood there in 1720. One of the 10 old locusts yet standing, though without head or heart, had an iron staple imbedded in its side for holding culprits sentenced to public flogging. This relic has recently been stolen by some person strangely moved by fear, mercy, and acquisitiveness.

St. Paul's Church of East Chester was built in 1764. It is a very plain stone pile, with brick facings. It has very little claim to beauty, but its weather-beaten walls and unpretending spire make an impression of honest service. It is said the church was used as a hospital during the revolution. Afterward it was the Court-house. In the vestry-room is a subpoena written by Aaron Burr summoning one John Green to appear as a witness at the Church of East Chester on the 12th of June, 1787: and, among other old papers, a sermon delivered by Rev. John Bartow in 1722. One piece of the silver service was presented by Mrs. John Quncy Adams. Over the altar is a large painting by Edmonds, at one time a Vestryman of St. Paul's, illustrative of the text, 'And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.' A tablet in the wall reads: 'To the memory of the Rev. Thomas Standard, A. M., M. D., a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the second Rector of this Church, inducted June 8, 1727.' I climbed up the ladders of the belfry, through its square rooms of rough but honest and solid masonry, where the old mahogany communion table and other relics stay in becoming yet touching seclusion; upward again, where the wind moaned in dim corners, and shook the old timbers with irreverent glee; and at last came out on top, beside the bell. This bears the inscription 'The gift of Rev. Thomas Standard, 1758, Lester & Pack fecit.' During the Revolution it was buried by the congregation, to save it from being melted for war purposes. The view is charming of the winding brook in the meadows, the receding hills varied with groves, orchards and farm houses. But the graveyard below is the most attractive sight, with its plain marble slabs, its turf-covered vaults, and its moldy-gray bead-stones, dating back even as far as 1704 and 1711. Some old willows losing their locks, the 10 old locusts tottering on the verge of the grave, a neighboring house of the olden time crumbling to pieces, and the silent, plain old church, all inspire the mind with peace and veneration. But when you go out into the road again, if you wish for still older relics, you can be gratified with an antiquity equal to any yearning. A large rock on the farm of Mr. Charles Sheffelin, west of the church, bears the impress of a human foot. There you can ponder to your heart's content on the course of time.

Resume your route by going over Prospect Hill to Pelham Manor, and down to the shore road at Christ Church, Pelham. The neighborhood is charming with varied scenery and pleasant roads and architecture. The Pelham Priory is just west of the church on the shore road. It is a picturesque house of brown stone, in the old English style, with gables, towers, and climbing vines that become its surroundings of woods and a rocky glen. This residence of the Bolton family, one of whom wrote the History of Westchester County, has many works of art and objects of historic interest. The remainder of the walk to New-Rochelle is delightful, through a fertile region made romantic by its scenes along the shore, and by its historic interest worthy of careful study. C. H. F."

Source: On the Shore of the Sound A Walk from Pelham Neck to New-Rochelle, N.Y. Times, Apr. 28, 1878, p. 4, col. 6.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

A Statute Enacted in 1666 Seems to Have Prompted Thomas Pell to Seek a Royal Grant Confirming His June 27, 1654 Land Acquisition

On October 8, 1666, the first English Governor of colonial New York, Richard Nicolls (often spelled "Nicholls"), confirmed Thomas Pell's 1654 acquisition of lands from Native Americans by issuing a royal patent. Research now suggests that Pell applied for that royal patent as a result amendments to the Code enacted during a session of the Assizes held between September 27, 1666 and October 2, 1666. The time between the session and the issuance of the royal grant to Pell is so short as to suggest that Pell may have been aware in advance that the amendments would be considered during that session of the Assizes. These conclusions are based upon the following entry in a work published in 1871 (full citation below).

"Several amendments of the code were made at this session of the Assizes. Public rates were required to be paid every year in wheat and other produce, at certain fixed prices, 'and no other payment shall be allowed of.' . . . Perhaps the most important decree related to land patents. 'The Court having taken notice of the defects and failings of both towns and persons in particular of not bringing in their grants or patents to receive a confirmation of them, or not coming to take out new grants where they are defective, or where there are none at all, according to former directions in the Law, As also taking it into their serious considerations that several towns and persons within this Government, as well English as Dutch, do hold their lands and houses upon the conditions of being subjects to the States of the United Belgic Provinces, which is contrary to the allegiance due to his Majesty, They do therefore Order that all grants or patents whatsoever formerly made, shall be brought in, to be confirmed or renewed by authority of his Royal Highness the Duke of York, and all such as have not patents shall likewise be supplied therewith by the first day of April next after the date hereof; after which time neither town nor private person, whether English or Dutch, shall have liberty to plead any such old grants, patents, or deeds of purchase in law, but they shall be looked upon as invalid to all intents and purposes.'* [Footnote cites the following: "*Court of Assizes II, 80, Col. MSS., xxii., 107; N.Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., i, 414-419; Hoffman's Treatise, 1, 97."]

This stringent ordinance made great commotion. It was vigorously enforced, because the quit-rents and fees on renewals were necessary for the support of the government. In the course of the next few months, Neperhaem, Pelham, Westchester, Eastchester, Huntington, Flushing, Brookhaven, Easthampton, New Utrecht, Gravesend, Jamaica, Hempstead, Newtown, Flatlands, Bushwick, Flatbush, and Brooklyn, paid new fees and obtained new charters which generally confirmed to each of them their old boundaries, and 'all the rights and privileges belonging to a town within this government.'"

Source: Brodhead, John Romeyn, History of the State of New York, Vol. II, pp. 109-10 (NY, NY: Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1871).

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Patriots Saved Pelham's Cattle from the British Early in the Revolutionary War

Throughout the Revolutionary War Pelham was subject to the depradations of British foraging parties. The very day of the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) on August 27, 1776, one such foraging party moved up the Long Island Sound to the Town of Pelham.

On August 28, 1776, Colonel Joseph Drake wrote a letter from New Rochelle describing what happened the previous day in Pelham. In it he described a British ship that landed troops on City Island (then part of the Town of Pelham) to plunder cattle and poultry. He wrote:

"The enemy lay yesterday and all last night by Hart Island; this morning they removed a little to the southward of Minefords (City) Island, where they at present lay. They have not been able to plunder much. They got from Minefords Island four horned cattle and some poultry, which is all we have been able to learn they have plundered. I immediately sent Captain Hunt, with about fifty men from New Rochelle who, with the help of a part of Colonel Graham's Regiment drove off all the cattle from the Island, to the amount of thirty odd head."

Source: Hufeland, Otto, Westchester County During the American Revolution 1775 ~ 1783, p. 108 (Privately Printed 1926) (citing Force, American Archives, 5th Series).

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Efforts to Sell The Bernard Rynlander Farm in the Manor of Pelham in 1767 and 1770

In 1767 and, again, in 1770, Bernard Rynlander offered to sell his large farm located in the Manor of Pelham. The 230-acre farm lay mainly north of Boston Post Road (today's Colonial Avenue), although about 25 acres lay south of the road. The Rynlander farm adjoined the farm owned by Philip Pell commanded by a farmhouse located approximately where today's Cliff Avenue intersects with Colonial Avenue.

Below is the text of two advertisements that appeared in New York City newspapers offering the Rynlander farm for sale.

"TO be sold, in the Manor of Pelham, in the County of Westchester, and Province of New-York, 230 Acres of Land, between East-Chester and New-Rochel, about a Mile from a public Landing; 5 1/2 Acres of said Land is Salt Meadow; said Farm has on it very good Improvements, Houses, Barns, Cyder-Mill and House; is in good Fence, a great deal of Stone Wall; it is wel timber'd and water'd; there is fresh Meadow sufficient to winter 60 Head of Cattle; orcharding sufficient in a common bearing Year to make 200 Barrels of Cyder; It lies chiefly on the North side of the Boston Road; It may be sold in separate Pieces, if the Purchaser inclines; there is 25 Acres of it lies on the South side of the Road, and has a fair Prospect of the Sound. Bonds, with satisfactory Security, will be accepted as Money, by Bernard Rynlander who will give an indisputable Title for the same."

Source: To Be Sold, The New-York Mercury, Feb. 16, 1767, p. 4, col. 3.

"To be sold at public Vendue, on the 29th Day of October inst. on the Premises, or at private Sale any Time before;

A Farm of Land well improved, containing 230 or 40 Acres, belonging to Barnard Rynlander; it lies on the Manor of Pelham, in the County of Westchester and Province of New-York, between East Chester and New Rochell; it joins to the Land of Philip Pell and Joseph Drake (the late Farm of Benjamin Brown) bordering on the Boston Road; Any Person inclining to purchase at private Sale, the whole, or the one Half, may apply to Barnard Rynlander in New-York, who will agree on reasonable Terms, and give an indisputable Title for the same."

Source: To Be Sold at Public Vendue, The New-York Gazette Or The Weekly Post-Boy, Oct. 1, 1770, p. 1, col. 3.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pelham Manor Runaway Slave Notice in June 30, 1777 Issue of The New-York Gazette; And The Weekly Mercury

As I have indicated in previous postings, for several years I have tried to piece together some of the tragic history regarding slavery in the early years of Pelham's history. For those also working to piece together this history, I provide below a brief list of a few of the available resources on the topic:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006: 1712 Census of Westchester County Documents Slave Ownership in Pelham

Monday, April 3, 2006: 1805 Will of William Bayley of Pelham Included Disposition of Slaves

Friday, February 17, 2006: Runaway Slave Notice Published by John Pell in 1748 Comes to Light

Monday, July 18, 2005: Pelham Manor Runaway Slave Notice in August 29, 1789 Issue of The New-York Packet

Bell, Blake A., Records of Slavery and Slave Manumissions in 18th and 19th Century Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 27, Jul. 9, 2004.

Harris, William A., Records Related to Slave Manumissions: Pelham, New York, Vol. 123(3), The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, pp. 145-47 (Jul. 1992).

Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting provides the text of an advertisement that appeared in at least two issues of The New-York Gazette; And The Weekly Mercury in 1777. In the brief notice, Thomas Pell offered a reward for return of runaway slaves. The text of the advertisement appears immediately below.


Run-away from the subscriber, on Tuesday the 15th of April last, a negro man, of a yellow complexion, part Indian, well set, walks with his knees wide apart, flat nose, about five feet eight or ten inches high, forty five years of age, or thereabouts, goes by the name of Abraham: Had on when he went away, a brown homespun jacket, tow shirt, a pair of buckskin breeches, black and white yarn stockings, and a new pair of shoes.

The said negro took with him a small mulatto wench, by the name of Moll, which he claims as his wife, and two negro children; one a boy three years old, the other a girl five months old. The above negroes were seen on Long-Island, not long since. Whoever apprehends the said run-aways, and brings them to Thomas Bartow, in New-York, or to the subscriber, or secures them so that the owner may get them again, shall receive the above reward, or Three Pounds for the negro, and Two Pounds for the wench and children, and all reasonable charges paid by THOMAS PELL,

Manor of Pelham, Jun 22, 1777."

Source: Five Pounds Reward, The New-York Gazette; And The Weekly Mercury, Jun. 30, 1777, p. 3, col. 2. See also Five Pounds Reward, The New-York Gazette; And The Weekly Mercury, Jul. 7, 1777, p. 4, col. 2.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Aaron Burr Tries to Pull a Fast One in the 1790s and Must Sell His Farm in Pelham

There is a fascinating story behind Aaron Burr and the brief time he owned a farm in Pelham in the 1790s. Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog will detail that story.

On February 26, 1790, Aaron Burr purchased a 146-acre farm in Pelham commanded by a mansion that stood near today's "Split Rock Road" and Boston Post Road known as "The Shrubbery". The home, built in the mid-18th century, was a Pell family homestead owned for many years by Joshua Pell. The 146-acre tract was part of a larger farm owned by Joshua Pell before the Revolutionary War. Joshua Pell had a son, also named Joshua, who served as a British officer in upstate New York during the Revolutionary War.

Mark Gaffney, an attorney and local historian, has studied the Joshua Pell "Jr." estate. (It seems that the father and son did not actually use the designations "Sr." and "Jr.") He has determined that during the 1780s New York State's Commissioners of Forfeiture sold the 146-acre tract to Isaac Guion for 988 pounds. The land had been confiscated from Joshua Pell "Jr."

The will of Joshua Pell "Sr." entitled his children to receive monetary legacies when his entire farm (including the 146-acre tract) was divided in half and devised to two of his older sons: Joshua Pell "Jr." (who was entitled to receive the northern half) and Edward Pell (who was entitled to receive the southern half.) The children of Joshua Pell "Sr." filed a lawsuit in which they were represented by Aaron Burr. As a consequence of the lawsuit, in 1789 the New York State Treasurer paid Joshua Pell "Jr." 988 pounds in compensation for "wrongful taking" and paid Isaac Guion 125 pounds for his expenses.

Significantly, in 1790 Aaron Burr bought the very 146-acre tract at issue in the lawsuit. He bought the northern half of Joshua Pell Sr.'s original farm -- the Joshua Pell "Jr." tract -- from Nicholas and William Wright. He acquired the land subject to the right of dower of Phoebe Pell , the widow of Joshua Pell "Sr." For the complete text of this deed, see Wed. June 14, 2006: Text of Deed by Which Aaron Burr Acquired Pelham Lands in 1790.

Burr soon sold the tract to his step-son, Augustine J. F. Prevost. At least one author has studied that sale and concluded that it was part of a scheme by Aaron Burr to hide his involvement with the tract.

In his book Cipher / Code of Dishonor, Dr. Alan J. Clark analyzed the sale and concluded that during the 1790s, Burr was involved in a secret scheme to move the Boston Post Road (which, at that time followed today's Colonial Avenue in Pelham) to its present location which passes near where The Shrubbery once stood. At the same time (and as part of the same scheme), Burr sought to form a toll road leading from Manhattan through the West Farms area of what was then southern Westchester County. This, it seems, was all part of a land speculation scheme in which Burr sought to profit by acquiring the lands of poor farmers who found it difficult to sustain large farms in the area in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by the predations of two armies in the so-called "Neutral Ground" between New York City and upper Westchester County during the Revolutionary War. By moving the Boston Post Road so that it passed next to his newly-acquired farm in Pelham and by placing a toll road in the West Farms area near the Burr Family's ancestral home to shorten the travel time from New York City, Burr hoped to increase the value of those properties and, before the scheme became known, perhaps acquire other properties in the area that likewise would increase in value.

In his fascinating book, Dr. Clark describes the scheme as follows:

"[I]n 1790 Aaron Burr purchased as a summer residence 'The Shrubbery', manor house of the Pell family since 1740 on the Boston Post Road in Pelham, New York for his bride, Theodosia Prevost married in 1782. Burr conveyed the home to his stepson Augustine Frederick Prevost in 1794.

Next he entered on a scheme to move the New York to Boston road (now the Boston Post Road) and form a toll road in the West Farms area of southern Westchester County and Connecticut near his Burr family ancestral home. Dr. Joseph Browne married Catherine (Caty) De Visme, Theodosia's half sister, in a joint wedding with the Burrs at the Hermitage. He owned some of the land on which the road was to be built. Dr. Brown had acquired it from the estate of John Embree in 1785. Road commissioners, engineered into the legislation for absolute control by Burr himself, were Dr. Joseph Browne, George Embree (the family of the city of Embree deeded to Trinity Church during the war and back to Effingham Embree on May 6, 1795) and John Bartow, Jr. Bartow was a brother of Theodosia Bartow Prevost Burr. The Lewis Morris family took all of the tolls from the new bridge over the Harlem River at their Manor of Morrisania.

Burr began speculating in land of Rebels caught in the no man's land between the armies in Westchester County. These poor farmers had been unable to sustain a living on their land because of constant predation by both sides during the War of Independence and after the war were unable to sustain the vast land holdings without slave labor. They were forced to sell their land at bargain prices. Burr was only too glad to oblige. With the new road Burr and Browne would have convenient access to their newly acquired lands from Manhattan making them more valuable to break up into smaller farms for new immigrants. The enterprise was unpopular with the local population because it required taking thir land for the new road. Since Burr had been appointed Attorney General of the State of New York by Governor Clinton in March, 1790, he was forced to sell the Shrubbery Manor house, situated on the toll road, to his stepson Augustine Prevost, to prevent discovery of his connection to the tolls."

Source: Clark, Alan J., Cipher / Code of Dishonor - Aaron Burr, an American Enigma -- Trinity The Burrs Versus Alexander Hamilton and the United States of America, p. 48 (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse 2005).

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Monday, July 17, 2006

1780 Letter To George Clinton from American Patriot Philip Pell of Pelham Manor, Commissary of Prisoners of the State of New York

Philip Pell was a notable patriot during the American Revolutionary War. He certainly is one of the most notable residents ever to live in Pelham. According to his U.S. Congressional Biography, he was born in the Manor of Pelham on July 7, 1753 and later graduated from King's College (today's Columbia University) in 1770. He studied law and was admitted to the New York bar. He practiced in New York City and Westchester County. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1789. He served as a lieutenant, New York Volunteers, in 1776. He was appointed Deputy Judge Advocate, Continental Army, in 1777. He served as a member of the State assembly 1779 - 1781. Between 1781 and 1783 he served as Judge Advocate General, United States Army. Most notably, he served as a member of General George Washington's staff on evacuation day in New York City in November, 1783. He served again as a member of the New York State assembly, 1784 - 1787. He served as Surrogate of Westchester County from March 13, 1787 to October 31, 1800. He died in Pelham on May 1, 1811 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Paul's National Historic Site in Eastchester (now part of the City of Mount Vernon, New York).

For a period of time during the Revolutionary War, Pell also served as Commissary of Prisoners for the State of New York. Among his other responsibilities was responsibility for exchanging British and German prisoners for captured American troops. On July 10, 1780, he wrote a letter to New York's George Clinton lamenting the fact that although more than thirty Westchester County Patriots had been captured by the British, he did not have enough prisoners to exchange for them. Two had died in captivity and, according to Pell, the British were content to allow the remaining Patriots in their captivity to die "by inches". The text of the letter appears below, as printed in the "Public Papers of George Clinton".

"[No. 3064.]

The Enemy Unwilling to Exchange Prisoners.

Westchester County 10th July 1780.

Sir, The Letters your Excellency dispatched to the several Officers of the Levies in Westchester, I last evening received of Mr. Barclay, and the circuit I shall this day take, will afford me an opportunity of delivering some and safely conveying others of them. Capt. Sackett and his Company have lately distinguished themselves upon the Lines, the the retaking of about two hundred head of Cattle and Horses, which near two hundred of the Enemy consisting of Horse and foot, had taken and were driving down; a Capt. Ebenezer Shield and one other of the Enemy formerly of Westchester, were killed, Sackett lost none.

It is with pain I acquaint your Excellency that above thirty of the most valuable militia of this County are now prisoners with the Enemy, and two of them have lately died in confinement, yet it is not in my power to relieve them as I have not a sufficient number of the Enemy; and the few under my direction have been a long while proposed in exchange, but the Enemy discover a backwardness, seemingly for the sake of murdering ours by inches; I shall give all possible attention to this business and endeavor to relieve our people from their captivity as speedily as shall be in my power. I am, respectfully, your Excellency's most obedient & very H'ble Serv't

Philip Pell, Jun.

[To G. C.]"

Source: Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York 1777-1795 -- 1801-1804, Vol. V, pp. 953-54 (Albany, NY: James B. Lyon, State Printer 1901).

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Friday, July 14, 2006

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

Every Pelham school child knows the story of the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776. Of course, Pelham sat in the midst of the "Neutral Ground" throughout the entire Revolutionary War. Much happened in the area during the War. Today's Historic Pelham Blog publishes an account of one such incident.

In 2004, New York University Press published a wonderful book by Marilyn Weigold entitled "The Long Island Sound - A History of Its People, Places, and Environment". In it, she describes the capture of a Loyalist supply sloop in the waters off Pelham during the Revolutionary War. She wrote, in part, as follows:

"Off City Island . . . a small group of whaleboat men from Darien, after portaging their craft over Rodman's Neck, drew up alongside a merchant sloop known to be a regular supplier of the British ship Schuldham. Taking over the sloop and pretending to be its regular crew, the whaleboat men were allowed to board the Schuldham in the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, the British crew on board had a rather rude awakening as they saw their captain, with a gun at his head, guiding the vessel eastward to Stamford. Patriots throughout the Sound were thrilled to hear about this exploit. They remembered the raiding parties frequently put ashore by the Schuldham to requisition supplies. The inhabitants of Westchester remembered even more the brutalities perpetrated by the raiders as they took away their provisions, leaving behind much grief and resentment."

Source: Weigold, Marilyn, The Long Island Sound - A History of Its People, Places, and Environment, p. 26 (NY and London: New York University Press 2004).

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Notice of Public Sale of Island Known Today as City Island, Published in 1754

I previously have published to the Historic Pelham Blog information about Thomas Pell, Third Lord of the Manor of Pelham, and his offers to sell Minneford's Island (known today as City Island) as reflected in advertisements published in local newspapers in 1747 and 1750. See May 11, 2006: Thomas Pell Offers City Island, Then Known as Minneford Island, for Sale in the Mid-18th Century. In 1754, not long after Pell offered the island for sale, Samuel Rodman (after whom "Rodman's Neck" on the mainland adjacent to City Island is named) offered the island for sale. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides the text of an advertisement published in 1754 in which Rodman offered the island for sale. That text appears immediately below.

"To be Sold at publick vendue, on Tuesday the 16th of April next, or at private sale any time before, either the whole, or half of a good farm or plantation, containing about 236 acres of up-land and meadow, well water'd and timber'd, lying in Westchester county, and commonly known by the Name of Minyford's Island in the Sound: There is on it a good dwelling house, a barn, and other out-houses, a good orchard with upwards of 200 apple trees, besides other fruit trees. Any person inclining to purchase, may apply to Samuel Rodman, living near the premisses [sic], who will give a good title for the same."

Source: To Be Sold at Publick Vendue, The New-York Mercury, Mar. 11, 1754, p. 3, col. 1.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Brief History of City Island Published in a Book by Stephen Jenkins in 1912

As I have noted so many times on the Historic Pelham Blog, City Island once was part of the Town of Pelham until its annexation by New York City, effective in 1896. Throughout much of the nineteenth century, City Island was the political and population center of the Town of Pelham. Thus, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog will provide the text of a brief history of City Island included in the book "The Story of The Bronx from the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day" by Stephen Jenkins published in 1913.

"City Island may be reached by train on the Suburban branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad to Bartow station. Until within a year, a one-horse, bob-tailed car, a relic of former days, used to connect with each train, and, for a fare of five cents, the passenger was taken to Marshall's Corners at the end of Rodman's Neck; for an additional fare, he was carried to the end of the island. In 1910, a monorail electric line was inaugurated; but its first day of business was an unfortunate one, for the car met with an accident and several people were killed. [sic] The road has been run since with more or less success; but at this writing, the rolling stock has decreased to one car; and that is uncertain in its operation when the weather is bad, or windy -- the very time when one most wants to use the line.

City Island was originally called Minnewits, or Great Minnefords, Island. The origin of the name is doubtful, it being ascribed to Peter Minuits, the Dutch Governor and purchaser of the island of Manhattan, and also to Minnefords, Minifers, or Minnewies, the original Indian proprietors. It was within Thomas Pell's purchase of 1654, and also within his manor-grant of Pelham. It received its name of City Island from a scheme of inhabitants of 1761-62 to establish upon the island a city that was to outrival New York. General Heath uses the name 'New City Island' in his Memoirs, so that the name must have been well established in Revolutionary days.

On May 10, 1763, a ferry was established 'acroost from Mr. Samuel Rodman's Neck to said Island.' The same year a ferry was established from the north end of the island and leased to Mrs. Deborah Hicks, 'the best and fairest [sic] bidder.' On May 13, 1766, a ferry was established between the south end of the island across the Sound to Long Island; it was leased to John Barnes for five years.

The first purchaser from Thomas Pell, the manor-lord, was John Smith of the town of Bruckland [Brooklyn]. The island, on June 19, 1761, came into possession of Benjamin Palmer, the builder of the free bridge at Spuyten Duyvil, for £2730. He appears to have suffered considerable loss during the war; for, in 1788, he sent a petition to 'His Excellency, George Clinton, Esq., Governor in and over the State of New York, and Vice-Admiral of the Navy of the same,' for relief. This failing, he again petitioned for redress of grievances in 1789, this time to 'His Excellency, George Washington, President of the United States.' His distress was mitigated by a subscription, as told elsewhere.

The Revolution prevented the accomplishment of the plan of building a city upon the island, though it was revived in 1790. The island was cut up into 4500 lots, each twenty-five feet front and one hundred feet in depth, besides two squares of thirty lots each, reserved for churches, meeting-houses, schools, etc. Ten pounds was the stated price of the lots, and many were brought and sold at that price. In 1818, Nicholas Haight and Joshua Husted owned nearly all of the island, as well as Rodman's Neck and what became later the Marshall estate. In the year following, forty-two acres passed into the possession of George W. Horton.

In 1804, the State Legislature passed an act allowing the construction of a bridge between the island and the mainland and subscriptions were started for its erection; but the attempt failed for want of support. On December 1, 1873, a toll bridge, erected by a stock company, was thrown open to the public. It occupied the site of the bridge laid down on the map of 1761. It was one thousand feet long with a draw of one hundred and twenty feet; the draw being that of the original Coles, or Harlem Bridge, at Third Avenue. A large part of the materials used in its construction came from the old United States frigate North Carolina, which had been condemned and sold by the National Government. This bridge was made a free bridge in 1895, at the time of annexation, and was replaced by the present fine steel structure, constructed at a cost of $200,000, not including approaches, which was opened for public use on July 4, 1901. Work had begun upon it in December, 1898.

Notwithstanding the ferry and the bridge, City Island had been more or less isolated before the opening of Pelham Bay Park, in 1888, and the advent of the bicycle. The inhabitants were engaged chiefly in fishing, piloting, and oyster culture. The fishing was formerly very fine, and upon a Sunday or other holiday the old bridge was lined with ardent anglers. The demolition of the old wooden bridge has driven many of the anglers to the wharf at the south end of the island, at the end of the island's one long thoroughfare. In 1762, the owners of the island petitioned for four hundred feet under water, and the land was granted to them by Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden, May 27, 1763. When the new wharf was built at the lower end of the island in 1901, we find Mrs. De Lancey asserting her claims to the land under water as an inheritrix of the ancient grant, but the case was decided against her. The nearest railroad station is at Bartow, about two miles distant from the business activities of the island, so the people have had to depend to a great extent upon water communication.

There are several yacht clubs located here, and the activities connected with the water constitute the principal business of the island. Several shipyards build and repair pleasure vessels, and in the winter season many of the crack yachts are laid up and housed here. Upon several occasions the defenders of the America's Cup have been so laid up. The yachting industry is principally with sailing vessels; in stormy weather, many sailing vessels from the Sound find safe anchorage near the island until the weather moderates.

There are numerous bathing pavilions, and the bathing is considered healthful, as the island extends so far into the Sound, and the great water-front of Pelham Bay Park with its lack of villages and towns prevents the contamination of the water by sewage. Row-boats, sail-boats, and small launches are plentiful; and there are dozens of places at which they can be hired for sailing and fishing, while several of the hotels and restaurants have more than a local fame. The fishing has always been famous, though fallen off within the past quarter of a century, according to the local anglers. Bolton gives some marvellous stories of successful catches, both as to individual sizes of fish and to quantity, and as he was a clergyman we are, perforce, obliged to believe him.

So self-contained and isolated were the population that when, after annexation, so the story goes, one of the assistant superintendents of schools of the city visited the local school for purposes of inspection, the population waited upon him en masse and notified him that they had been able to get along for over a century without supervision, and that they did not propose to have their teachers and children bothered by superintendents from the city. They have, however, conformed to the inevitable, and now have a fine, modern building, in which the city provides not only instruction for the children, but once a week, from October to May, also furnishes a free lecture in the evening. The colonial entrance to the school building seems peculiarly fitting to the locality.

Probably, the greatest object of interest on the island is the 'Macedonian Hotel.' It bears the following legend:

This House is the remains of the the English Frigate 'Macedonian,' captured on Sunday, October 25th, 1812, by the United States Frigate 'United States,' commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, U. S. N. The action was fought in Lat. 24° N., Long. 29°30' W., that is about 600 miles N. W. of the Cape De Verde Islands off the W. coast of Africa and towed to Cowbay in 1874.

All of which is true, if we omit the first words of the statement: 'This House is the Remains of'; thought I do not accuse the owner of the hotel of intentionally misleading the public. Besides, the house is the remains of the Macedonian, but not of the one captured in Decatur's gallant action. The original British Macedonian was a new ship at the time of her capture, and was afterward repaired and taken into the United States Navy. She was blockaded in the Thames River, Connecticut, until the close of the War of 1812, and then served as a cruiser until 1828, after which she did nothing. In 1835, she was broken up at the Norfolk, Virginia, navy yard. Meanwhile, Congress appropriated funds to build a new ship of the same name, which was commenced in 1832 and launched at Gosport, Virginia, in 1836. She was rebuilt at Brooklyn in 1852, and broken up in 1874 at Cow Bay, Long Island, that graveyard of condemned and obsolete vessels. For a time, this second, American-built Macedonia was used as a practice ship at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where the figure-head of the original British frigate is still preserved as a relic of the heroic days of our infant navy. I

I From The United States Naval Academy, by Park Benjamin; with some slight changes and additions by the author."

Source: Jenkins, Stephen, The Story of The Bronx From the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day, pp. 427-32 (NY and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons The Knickerbocker Press 1912).

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Streetcar Strike of 1916 Included Violence in Pelham

In July 1913, workers on the trolley lines of the Westchester Electric Railroad Company serving Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle, together with workers on the Yonkers trolley lines went out on strike stopping streetcar service in lower Westchester County. The strike eventually spread to transit lines in New York City and much violence followed as companies tried to run trolleys despite the strike. The strike lasted many weeks. Even after the matter was "settled", disputes arose over firings of union workers who participated in the strike and various union members in New York City voted to go out on a second strike. Elements of the dispute continued well into 1917.

Pelham was the scene of several instances of violence related to efforts by the Westchester Electric Railroad Company to run cars through the area during the strike. In one instance, women and children riding in Pelham were struck by stones and cut by flying glass when strikers and sympathizers attacked the trolley in which they were riding. The New York Times reported at the time:

"Oct. 21. -- Just as the people of New Rochelle, Pelham, and Mount Vernon thought the street car strike situation was settling down, a gang of fifty strikers and sympathizers in Pelham Heights today stoned the three trolley cars that were run on the main line between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle. There were women and children in all three cars, and several of them were hit by the stones and cut by glass, but none seriously."

Source: [Untitled Article, "Special to The New York Times"], N.Y. Times, Oct. 22, 1916, p. 19.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

The Involvement of Thomas Pell's Family in the Witchcraft Persecution of Goody Knapp

By the 1650’s a preoccupation with the supernatural and a hysterical effort to root out those who “covenanted” with the spectral world had swept through Connecticut – home of Thomas Pell. Sadly, it seems that Thomas Pell’s family members were not immune from the hysteria. Thomas Pell's wife, Lucy, and his step-daughters were involved in the witchcraft persecution that led to the execution of Goodwife Knapp not long before Thomas Pell acquired the lands that became Pelham and surrounding areas. For those interesting in learning more about these sad events, see Bell, Blake A., The Involvement of Thomas Pell's Family in the Witchcraft Persecution of Goody Knapp, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Jan. 23, 2004, p. 11, col. 1.

Much has been written of the persecution of Goody Knapp. Chapter X of the book "The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut 1647-1697" by John M. Taylor published by The Grafton Press in 1908 deals with the matter. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the entire Chapter X of that book.


'This case is one of the most painful in the entire Connecticut list, for she impresses one as the best woman; how the just and high minded old lady had excited hate or suspicion, we cannot know.' Connecticut as a Colony (1:212), Morgan.

'Mr. Dauenport gaue in as followeth -- The Mr. Ludlow sitting with him and his wife alone, and discoursing of the passages concerning Knapps wife, the Witch and her execution, said that she came downe from the ladder (as he understood it), and desired to speak with him alone, and told him who was the witch spoken of.' New Haven Colonial Record (2:78).

'Shortly after this, a poor simple minded woman living in Fairfield, by the name of Kanp, was suspected of witchcraft. She was tried, condemned and sentenced to be hanged.' Schenck's History of Fairfield (1:71).

THIS was one of the most notable of the witchcraft cases. It stands among the early instances of the infliction of the death penalty in Connecticut; the victim was presumably a woman of good repute, and not a common scold, an outcast, or a harridan; it is singularly illustrative of witchcraft's activities and their grasp on the lives of the best men and women, of the beliefs that ruled the community, and of the crude and revolting practices resorted to in the punishments of the condemned, and especially since in its later developmen it involved in controversy and litigation two of the great characters in colonial history, Rev. John Davenport, one of the founders [p. 122 / p. 123] of New Haven, and Roger Ludlow, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts and Connecticut.* Goodwife Knapp of Fairfield was "suspicioned ." That was enough to set the villagers agog with talk and gossip and scandal about the unfortunate woman, which poisoned the wells of sober thought and charitable purpose, and swiftly ripened into a formaI accusation and indicment.

Pending her trial the prisoner was committed to the house of correction or common jail for the safe keeping of 'refractory persons' and criminals.

What terrors of mind and spirit must have waited on this 'simple minded' woman, in the cold, gloomy, and comfortless prison, probably built of rough logs, with a single barred window and massive iron studded door, a ghost haunted torture chamber, in charge of some harsh wardsmen.

Knapp was duly and truly, and sentenced to death by hanging, the usual mode of execution. No witch was ever burned in New England.

From the day sentence was pronounced until the hanging took place, out in Try's field beyond the Indian field, in view of the villagers, whose curiosity or thirst for horrors or whose duty led them there, this prisoner of delusion was made the object of rudest treatment, espionage, and of inhuman attempts to wring from her lips a confession of her own guilt or an accusation against some other person as a witch.

[Footnote *:] * Connecticut, through its Commission of Sculpture, in recognition of his services to the Colony, is to erect a memorial statue to Ludlow to occupy the western niche on the northern facade of the Capitol building at Hartford. [p. 123 / p. 124]

The very day of her condemnation, a self-constituted committee of women, with one man on it, -- Mistress Thomas Sherwood, Goodwife Odell, Mistress Pell, and her two daughters, Goody Lockwood, and Goodwife Purdy, -- visited the prison, and pressed her to name any other witch in town, and so receive such consolation from the minister as would be for her soul's welfare.

Mistress Pell seems to have been the chief spokeswoman, and each member of the committee served in some degree as an inquisitor, or exhorter, not to repentance, but to disclosures. Baited and badgered, warned and threatened, the hapless prisoner protested she was innocent, denied the charges made against her, told one of the committee to 'take heed the devile have not you,' and also said, 'I must not render evil for evil. . . . I have sins enough allready, and I will not add this [accusing another] to my condemnation.' And at last in agony of soul she made that pathetic appeal to one of her relentless tormentors, 'neuer, neuer poore creature was tempted as I am tempted, pray, pray for me.'

But even after death on the scaffold, the witch-hunters of the day did not refrain from their ghoulish work, but desecrated the remains of Goodwife Knapp at the grave side in their search for witch marks.

All the facts during the imprisonment, execution and burial are set forth in some of the testimonies herewith given, in a chapter of related history (the evidence at the trial not being disclosed in any present record), and all of them marked by a total unconsciousness of their sinister and revolting character.

No case in the history of the delusion in New England [p. 124 / p. 125] is more replete in incidents and apt illustrations, due to their fortunate preservation in the records of a lawsuit involving some of the prominent characters in that drama of religious insanity.

At a magistrate's court held at New Haven the 29th of May, 1654.


Theophilus Eaton Esqr, Gouernor.
Mr. Stephen Goodyeare, Dept, Gouernor.
Francis Newman }
Mr. William Fowler } Magistrats
Mr. William Leete }

a suit was heard entitled --

Thomas Staplies of Fairfield, plant'.
Mr. Rogger Ludlow late of Fairfield, defendt.

It was brought by an aggrieved husband to recover damages for defamation of the character of his wife. It centered in one of the dramatic incidents at Knapp's execution. In the last extremity, and in the presence of immediate death, the prisoner came down from the ladder and asking to speak with Ludlow alone, told him that Goodwife Staplies was a witch.

Some time afterward Ludlow, at New Haven, told the Rev. John Davenport and his wife the story, in confidence, and under the promise of secrecy, but it spread abroad with inevitable accretions, and when it reached Fairfield Thomas Staplies went to law, to vindicate his wife's character in pounds, shillings, and pence. These are some of the statements and remarkable testimonies:

Attorney Banke's declaration -- Ensigne Bryan's answer -- Davenport's view of an oath, Hebrews vi, 16 -- His ac- [p. 125 / p. 126] count and conscientious scruples -- Mistress Davenport's forgetfulness -- 'A tract of lying' -- 'Indian gods' -- Luce Pell and Hester Ward's visit to the prison -- The 'search' of Knapp -- 'Witches teates' -- Feminine resemblances -- Matronly opinions -- Post-mortem evidence -- Contradictions -- Knapp's ordeal -- 'Fished wthall in private' -- Her denials -- Talk on the road to the 'gallows'

'John Bankes, atturny for Thomas Staplies, declared that Mr. Ludlow had defamed Thomas Staplies wife, in reporting to Mr. Dauenport and Mris. Dauenport that she had laid herselfe vnder a new suspition of being a witch, that she had caused Knapps wife to be new searched after she was hanged, and when she saw the teates, said if they were the markes of a witch, then she was one, or she had such markes; secondly, Mr. Ludlow said Knapps wife told him that goodwife Staplies was a witch; thirdly, that Mr. Ludlow hath slandered goodwife Staplies in saying that she made a trade of lying, or went on in a tract of lying, &c.

'Ensigne Bryan, atturny for Mr. Ludlow, desired the charge might bee proued, wch accordingly the plant' did, and first an attestation vnder Master Dauenports hand, conteyning the testimony of Master and Mistris Dauenport, was presented and read; but the defendant desired what was testified and accepted for proofe might be vpon oath, vpon wch Mr. Dauenport gaue in as followeth, That he hoped the former attestation hee wrott and sent to the court, being compared with Mr. Ludlowes letter, and Mr. Dauenports answer, would haue satisfyed concerning the truth of the pticulars without his oath, but seeing [p. 126 / p. 127] Mr. Ludlowes atturny will not be so satisfyed, and therefore the court requires his oath, and yt he lookes at an oath, in a case of necessitie, for confirmation of truth, to end strife among men, as an ordinance of God, according to Heb: 6, 16, hee therevpon declares as followeth,

'That Mr. Ludlow, sitting wth him & his wife alone, and discoursing of the passages concerning Knapps wife the witch, and her execution, said that she came downe from the ladder, (as he vnderstood it,) and desired to speake with him alone, and told him who was the witch spoken of; and so farr as he remembers, he or his wife asked him who it was; he said she named goodwife Stapleies; Mr. Dauenport replyed that hee beleeued it was vtterly vntrue and spoken out of malice, or to that purpose; Mr. Ludlow answered that he hoped better of her, but said she was a foolish woman, and then told them a further storey, how she tumbled the corpes of the witch vp & downe after her death, before sundrie women, and spake to this effect, if these be the markes of a witch I am one, or I haue such markes. Mr. Dauenport vtterly disliked the speech, not haueing heard anything from others in that pticular, either for her or against her, and supposing Mr. Ludlow spake it vpon such intelligenc as satisfyed him; and whereas Mr. Ludlow saith he required and they promised secrecy, he doth not remember that either he required or they pmised it, and he doth rather beleeue the contrary, both because he told them that some did ouerheare what the witch said to him, and either had or would spread it abroad, and because he is carefull not to make vnlawfull promises, and when he [p. 127 / p. 128] hath made a lawfull promise he is, through the help of Christ, carefull to keepe it.

'Mris. Dauenport saith, that Mr. Ludlow being at their house, and speakeing aboute the execution of Knapps wife, (he being free in his speech,) was telling seuerall passages of her, and to the best of her remembrance said that Knapps wife came downe from the ladder to speake with him, and told him that goodwife Staplyes was a witch, and that Mr. Daueport replyed something on behalfe of goodwife Staplies, but the words she remembers not; and something Mr. Ludlow spake, as some did or might ouerheare what she said to him, or words to that effect, and that she tumbled the dead body of Knapps wife vp & downe and spake words to this purpose, that if these be the markes of a witch she was one, or had such markes; and concerning any promise of secrecy she remembers not.'

'Mr. Dauenport and Mris. Dauenport affirmed ypon oath, that the testimonies before written, as they properly belong to each, is the truth, according to their best knowledg & memory.

'Mr. Dauenport desired that in takeing his oath to be thus vnderstood, that as he takes his oath to giue satisfaction to the court and Mr. Ludlowes atturny, in the matters attested betwixt M' Ludlow & Thomas Staplies, so he lymits his oath onely to that pt of the attestation and so his oath not required in them.

'To the latter pt of the declaration, the plant' pduced ye proofe following,

'Goodwif Sherwood of Fairfeild affirmeth vpon oath, that vpon some debate betwixt Mr. Ludlow and good- [p. 128 / p. 129] wife Staplies, she heard M' Ludlow charge goodwif Staplies with a tract of lying, and that in discourse she had heard him so charge her seuerall times.

'John Tompson of Fairfeild testifyeth vpon oath, that in discourse he hath heard Mr. Ludlow express himselfe more than once that goodwife Staplies went on in a tract of lying, and when goodwife Staplyes hath desired Mr. Ludlow to convince her of telling one lye, he said she need not say so, for she went on in a tract of lying.

'Goodwife Gould of Fairefeild testifyeth vpon oath, that in a debate in ye church with Mr. Ludlow, goodwife Staplyes desired him to show her wherein she had told one lye, but Mr. Ludlow said she need not mention ptculars, for she had gon on in a tract of lying.

'Ensigne Bryan was told, he sees how the plantife hath proued his charge, to wch he might now answer; wherevpon he presented seuerall testimonies in wrighting vpon oath, taken before Mr. Wells and Mr. Ludlow.

'May the thirteenth, 1654.

'Hester Ward, wife of Andrew Ward, being sworne deposeth, that aboute a day after that goodwife Knapp was condemned for a witch, she goeing to ye prison house where the said Knapp was kept, she, ye said Knapp, voluntarily, without any occasion giuen her, said that goodwife Staplyes told her, the said Knapp, that an Indian brought vnto her, the said Staplyes, two litle things brighter then the light of the day, and told the said goodwife Staplyes they were Indian gods, as the Indian called ym; and the Indian wthall told her, the said Staplyes, if she would keepe them, she would be so big rich, all one god, and that the said Staplyes told the said Knapp, she [p. 129 / p. 130] gaue them again to the said Indian, but she could not tell whether she did so or no.

'Luce Pell, the wife of Thomas Pell, being sworne deposeth as followeth, that about a day after goodwife Knapp was condemned for a witch, Mris. Jones earnestly intreated her to goe to ye said Knapp, who had sent for her, and then this deponent called the said Hester Ward and they went together; then the said Knapp voluntarily, of her owne accord, spake as the said Hester Ward hath testifyed, word by word; and the said Mris. Pell further saith, that she being one of ye women that was required by the court to search the said Knapp before she was condemned, & then Mris. Jones presed her, the said Knapp, to confess whether there were any other that were witches, because goodwife Basset, when she was condemned, said there was another witch in Fairefeild that held her head full high, and then the said goodwife Knapp stepped a litle aside, and told her, this deponent, goodwife Basset ment not her; she asked her whom she ment, and she named goodwife Staplyes, and then vttered the same speeches as formerly concerning ye Indian gods, and that goodwife Staplyes her sister Martha told the said goodwife Knapp, that her sister Staplyes stood by her, by the fire in their house, and she called to her, sister, sister, and she would not answer, but she, the said Martha, strucke at her and then she went away, and ye next day she asked her sister, and she said she was not there; and Mris. Ward doth also testify wth Mris. Pell, that the said Knapp said the same to her; and the said Mris. Pell saith, that aboute two dayes after the search afforesaid, she went to ye said Knapp in prison house, and the said Knapp [p. 130 / p. 131] said to her, I told you a thing the other day, and goodman Staplies had bine with her and threatened her, that she had told some thing of his wife that would bring his wiues name in question, and this deponent she told no body of it but her husband, & she was much mouved at it.

'Elizabeth Brewster being sworne, deposeth and saith, that after goodwife Knap was executed, as soone as she was cut downe, she, the said Knapp, being caried to the graue side, goodwife Staplyes with some other women went to search the said Knapp, concerning findeing out teats, and goodwife Staplyes handled her verey much, and called to goodwife Lockwood, and said, these were no witches teates, but such as she herselfe had, and other women might haue the same, wringing her hands and takeing ye Lords name in her mouth, and said, will you say these were witches teates, they were not, and called vpon goodwife Lockwood to come & see them; then this deponent desired goodwife Odell to come & see, for she had bine vpon her oath when she found the teates, and she, this depont, desired the said Odill to come and clere it to goodwife Staplies; goodwife Odill would not come; then the said Staplies still called vpon goodwife Lockwood to come, will you say these are witches teates, I, sayes the said Staplies, haue such myselfe, and so haue you if you serach yorselfe; goodwife Lockwood replyed, if I had such, she would be hanged; would you, sayes Staplies, yes, saith Lockwood, and deserve it; and the said Staplies handeled the said teates very much, and pulled them with her fingers, and then goodwife Odill came neere, and she, the said Staplies, still questioning, the said Odill told her no honest woman had such, and then all the women rebuking [p. 131 / p. 132] her and said they were witches teates, and the said Staplies yeilded it.

'Mary Brewster [Historic Pelham Editor's Note: a step-daughter of Thomas Pell] being sworn & deposed, saith as followeth, that she was present after the execution of ye said Knapp, and she being brought to the graue side, she saw goodwife Staplyes pull the teates that were found aboute goodwife Knapp, and was very earnest to know whether those were witches teates wch were found aboute her, the said Knapp, wn the women searched her, and the said Staplyes pulled them as though she would haue pulled them of, and prsently she, ths depont, went away, as hauing no desire to look vpon them.

'Susan Lockwood, wife of Robert Lockwood, being sworne & examined saith as foll, that she was at the execution of goodwife Knapp that was hanged for a witch, and after the said Knapp was cut downe and brought to the graue, goodwife Staplyes, with other women, looked after the teates that the women spake of appointed by the magistrats, and the said goodwife Staplies was handling of her where the teates were, and the said Staplies stood vp and called three or foure times and bid me come looke of them, & asked whether she would say they were teates, and she made this answer, no matter whether there were teates or no, she had teates and confessed she was a witch, that was sufficient; if these be teates, here are no more teates then I myselfe haue, or any other women, or you either if you would search yor body; this depont saith she said, I known not what you haue, but for herselfe, if any finde any such things aboute me, I deserved to be hanged as she was, and yet afterward she, the said Staplyes, stooped downe againe and handled her, [p. 132 / p. 133] ye said Knapp, verey much, about ye place where the teates were, and seuerall of ye women cryed her downe, and said they were teates, and then she, the said Staplyes, yeilded, & said verey like they might be teates.

'Thomas Sheruington & Christopher Combstocke & goodwife Baldwine were all together at the prison house where goodwife Knapp was, and ye said goodwife Baldwin asked her whether she, the said Knapp, knew of any other, and she said there were some, or one, that had receiued Indian gods that were very bright; the said Baldwin asked her how she could tell, if she were not a witch herselfe, and she said the party told her so, and her husband was witnes to it; and to this they were all sworne & doe depose.

'Rebecka Hull, wife of Cornelius Hull, being sworne & examined, deposeth & saith as followeth, that when goodwife Knapp was goeing to execution, Mr. Ludlow, and her father Mr. Jones, pressing the said Knapp to confess that she was a witch, vpon wch goodwife Staplyes said, why should she, the said Knapp, confess that wch she was not, and after she, the said goodwife Staplyes, had said so, on that stood by, why should she say so, she the said Staplyes replyed, she made no doubt if she the said Knapp were one, she would confess it.

'Deborah Lockwood, of the age of 17 or thereaboute, sworne & examined, saith as followeth, that she being present when goodwife Knapp was goeing to execution betweene Tryes & the mill, she heard goodwife Staplyes say to goodwife Gould, she was pswaded goodwife Knapp was no witch; goodwife Gould said, sister Staplyes, she is a witch, & hath confessed had had familiarity wth the [p. 133 / p. 134] Deuill. Staplies replyed, I was wth her hesterday, or last night, and she said no such thing as she heard.

'April 26th, 1654.

'Bethia Brundish, of the age of sixteene or thereaboutes, maketh oath, as they were goeing to execution of goodwife Knapp, who was condemned for a witch by the court & jury at Fairfeild, there being present herselfe & Deborah Lockwood and Sarah Cable, she heard goodwife Staplyes say, that she thought the said goodwife Knapp was no witch, and goodwife Gould presently reproued her for it.'

'Andrew Warde,
'Jurat' die & anno prdicto,

'Coram me, Ro Ludlowe.

'The plant' replyed that he had seuerall other witnesses wch he thought would cleere the matters in question, if the court please to heare them, wch being granted, he first presented a testimony of goodwife Whitlocke of Fairfeild, vpon oath taken before Mr. Fowler at Millford, the 27th of May, 1654, wherein she saith, that concerning goodwife Staplyes speeches at the execution of goodwife Knapp, she being present & next to goody Staplyes when they were goeing to put the dead corpes of goodwife Knapp into the graue, seuerall women were looking for the markets of a witch vpon the dead body, and seuerall of the women said they could find none, & this depont said, nor I; and she heard goodwife Staplyes say, nor I; then came one that had searched the said witch, & shewed them the markes that were vpon her, and said what are these; and then this depont heard goodwife Staplyes sya she never saw such in all her life, and that she was pswaded that no [p. 134 / p. 135] honest woman had such things as those were; and the dead corps being then prsently put into the graue, goodwife Staplyes & myselfe came imediately away together vnto the towne, from the place of execution.

'Goodwife Barlow of Fairfeild before the court did not testify vpon oath, that when Knapps wife was hanged and ready to be buried, she desired to see the markes of a witch and spake to one of her neighbors to goe with her, and they looked but found them not; then goodwife Staplyes came to them, and one or two more, goodwife Staplyes kneeled downe by them, and they all looked but found ym not, & said they saw nothing but what is comon to other women, but after they found them they all wondered, and goodwife Staplyes in pticular, and said they neuer saw such things in their life before, so they went away.

'The wife of John Tompson of Fairefeild testifyeth vpon oath, that goodwife Whitlock, goodwife Staplyes and herselfe, were at the graue and desired to see ye markes of the witch that was hanged, they looked but found them not at first, then the midwife came & shewed them, goodwife Staplyes said she neuer saw such, and she beleeved no honest woman had such.

'Goodwife Sherwood of Fairefeild testifyeth vpon oath, that that day Knapps wife was condemned for a witch, she was there to see her, all being gone forth but goodwife Odill and her selfe, then their came in Mris. Pell and her two daughters, Elizabeth & Mary, goody Lockwood and goodwife Purdy; Mris. Pell told Knapps wife she was sent to speake to her, to haue her confess that for wch she was condemned, and if she knew any other to be a witch [p. 135 / p. 136] to discover them, and told her, before she was condemned she might thinke it would be a meanes to take away her life, but now she must dye, and therefore she should discouer all, for though she and her family by the providence of God had brought in nothing against her, and she was cast by the jury & godly magistrats hauing found her guilty, and that the last evidence cast the cause. So the next day she went in againe to see the witch with other neighbours, there was Mr. Jones, Mris. Pell & her two daughters, Mris. Ward and goodwife Lockwood, where she heard Mris Pell desire Knapps wife to lay open herselfe, and make way for the minister to doe her good; her daughter Elizabeth bid her doe as the witch at the other towne did, that is, discouer all she knew to be witches. Goodwife Knapp said she must not say anything wch is not true, she must not wrong any body, and what had bine said to her in private, before she went out of the world, when she was vpon the ladder, she would reveale to Mr. Ludlow or ye minister. Elizabeth Bruster said, if you keepe it a litle longer till you come to the ladder, the duill will haue you quick, if you reveale it not till then. Good: Knapp replyed, take heed the devile haue not you, for she could not tell how soone she might be her companyon, and added, the truth is you would haue me say that goodwife Staplyes is a witch, but I haue sinns enough to answer for allready, and I hope I shall not add to my condemnation; I know nothing by goodwife Staplyes, and I hope she is an honest woman. Then goodwife Lockwood said, goodwife Knapp what ayle you; goodman Lyon, I pray speake, did you heare vs name goodwif Staplyes name since we came here; [p. 136 / p. 137] Lyon wished her to haue a care what she said and not breed difference betwixt neighbours after she was gone; Knapp replyed, goodman Lyon hold yor tongue, you know not what I know, I haue ground for what I say, I haue bine fished wthall in private more then you are aware of; I apprehend goodwife Staples hath done me some wrong in her testimony, but I must not render euill for euill. Then this depont spake to goody Knapp, wishing her to speake with the jury, for she apprehended goodwife Staplyes witnessed nothing contrary to other witnesses, and she supposed they would informe her that the last evidence did not cast ye cause; she replyed that she had bine told wo within this halfe houre, & desired Mr. Jones and herselfe to stay and the rest to depart, that she might speake wth vs in private, and desired me to declare to Mr. Jones what they said against goodwife Staplyes the day before, but she told her she heard not goodwife Staplyes named, but she knew nothing of that nature; she desired her to declare her minde fully to M'Jones, so she went away.

'Further this depont saith, that comeing into the house where the witch was kept, she found onely the wardsman and goodwife Baldwine, there goodwife Baldwin whispered her in the eare and said to her that goodwife Knapp told her that a woman in ye towne was a witch and would be hanged within a twelue moneth, and would confess herself a witch and cleere her that she was none, and that she asked her how she knew she was a witch, and she told her she had received Indian gods of an Indian, wch are shining things, wch shine lighter then the day. Then this depont asked goodwife Knapp if she had said so, and [p. 137 / p. 138] she denyed it; goodwife Baldwin affirmed she did, but Knapps wife againe denyed it and said she knowes no woman in the towne that is a witch, nor any woman that hath received Indian gods, but she said there was an Indian at a womans house and offerred her a coople of shining things, but she woman neuer told her she tooke them, but was afraide and ran away, and she knowes not that the woman euer tooke them. Goodwife desired this depont to goe out and speake wth the wardsmen; Thomas Shervington, who was one of them, said hee remembered not that Knapps wife said a woman in the towne was a witch and would be hanged, but spake something of shining things, but Kester, Mr. Pells man, being by said, but I remember; and as they were goeing to the graue, goodwife Staplyes said it was long before she could beleeve this poore woman was a witch, or that their were any witches, till the word of God convinced her, wch saith, thou shalt not suffer a witch to liue.

'Thomas Lyon of Fairfeild testifyeth vpon oath, taken before Mr. Fowler, the 27th May, 1654, that he being set by authority to watch wth Knapps wife, there came in Mris. Pell, Mrs. Ward, goodwife Lockwood, and Mris. Pells two daughters; the fell into some discourse, that goodwife Knapp should say to them in private wch goodwife Knapp would not owne, but did seeme to be much troubled at them and said, the truth is you would haue me to say that goodwife Staplyes is a witch; I haue sinnes enough allready, I will not add this to my condemnation, I know no such thing by her, I hope she is an honest woman; then goodwife Lockwood caled to mee and asked whether they had named goodwife Staplyes, so I spake to goodwife [p. 138 / p. 139] Knapp to haue a care what she said, that she did not make differrence amongst her neighbours when she was gon, and I told her that I hoped they were her frends and desired her soules good, and not to accuse any out of envy, or to that effect; Knapps wife said, goodman Lyon hold yor tongue, you know not so much as I doe, you know not what hath bine said to me in private; and after they was gon, of her owne accord, betweene she & I, goody Knapp said she knew nothing against goodwife Staplyes of being a witch.

'Goodwife Gould of Fairfeild testifyeth vpon oath, that goodwife Sherwood & herselfe came in to see the witch, there was one before had bine speaking aboute some suspicious words of one in the towne, this depont wished her if she knew anything vpon good ground she would declare it, if not, that she would take heede that the deuill pswaded her not to sow malicious seed to doe hurt when she was dead, yet wished her to speake the truth if she knew anything by any pson; she said she knew nothing but vpon suspicion by the rumours she heares; this depont told her she was now to dye, and therefore she should deale truly; she burst forth ito weeping and desired me to pray for her, and said I knew not how she was tempted; neuer, neuer poore creature was tempted as I am tempted, pray, pray for me. Further this depont saith, as they were goeing to ye graue, Mr. Buckly, goodwife Sherwood, goodwife Staplye and myselfe, goodwife Staplyes was next me, she said it was a good while before she could beleeue this woman was a witch, and that she could not beleue a good while that there were any witches, till she went to ye word of God, and then she was convinced, and as she remembers, goodwife Stapleyes went along wth her all the way [p. 139 / p. 140] till they came at ye gallowes. Further this deponent saith, that Mr. Jones some time since that Knapps wife was condemned, did tell her, and that wth a very cherefull countenance & blessing God for it, that Knapps wife had cleered one in ye towne, & said you know who I meane sister Staplyes, blessed be God for it.'

Staplies wife was a character. She was 'a light woman' from the night of her memorable ride with Tom Tash, to Jemeaco, Long Island, to the suspicion of herself as a witch, and the 'repairing' of her name by Thomas' lawsuit, and her own indictment for familiarity with Satan some years later. That she had many of the traditional witch qualities, and was something of a gymnast and hypnotist, is written in the vivid recollections of Tash's experience with her. This was his account of it on oath thirty years after:

'John Tash aged about sixty four or thereabouts saith he being at Master Laueridges at Newtown on Long Island aboutt thirty year since Goodman Owne and Goody Owin desired me to goe with Thomas Stapels wiffe of Fairfield to Jemeaco on Long Island to the hous of George Woolsy and as we war going along we cam to a durty slow and thar the hors blundred in the slow and I mistrusted that she the said Goody Stapels was off the hors and I was troubiled in my mind very much soe as I cam back I thought I would tak better noatis how it was and when I cam to the slow abovesaid I put on the hors prity sharp and then I put my hand behind me and felt for her and she was not upon the hors and as soon as we war out of the slow she was on the hors behind me boath going and coming and when I cam home I told thes words to Master [p. 140 / p. 141] Leveredg that she was a light woman as I judged and I am redy to give oath to this when leagaly caled tharunto as witnes my hand.

his 'JOHN + TASH mark

'Grenwich July 12, 1692.
'John Tash hath given oath to his testimony abovesaid
'Before me JOHN RENELS Comessener.'

And Mistress Staplies had other qualities, always potent in small communities to invite criticism and dislike. She was a shrewd and shrewish woman, impatient of some of the Puritan social standards and of the laws of everyday life. She openly condemned certain common moralities, was reckless in criticism of her neighbors, and quarreled with Ludlow about some church matters.

It is evident from the testimonies that Staplies was on both sides as to the guilt of goodwife Knapp, and when rumor and suspicion began to point to herself as a mischief-maker and busybody in witchcraft matters, to divert attention from his wife and set a backfire to the sweep of public opinion, Thomas sued Ludlow, and despite his strong and clear defense as shown on the record evidence, the court in his absence awarded damages against him for defamation and for charging Staplies' wife with going on 'in a tract of lying,' 'in reparation of his wife's name' as the judgment reads. Mistress Staplies did not grow in grace, or in the graces of her neighbors, since some years later she was indicted for witchcraft, tried, and acquitted with others, at Fairfield, in 1692.*

*See Historical Note, p. 161."

Source: Chapter X of the book Taylor, John M., The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut 1647-1697, Ch. X, pp. 122-41 (The Grafton Press 1908).

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