Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Infamous Burglary of the Girls of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor in 1905

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a school for girls stood at the corner of Boston Post Road and Esplanade in Pelham Manor. It was known as Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.

In 1905, an employee of the school committed what became an infamous crime; she stole trunks full of jewelry and finery from the wealthy students of the school. Many newspaper stories appeared at the time. One such story appeared in The Evening World published in New York City. The text of that article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

Trunks Full of Jewelry and Finery Claimed by Students.
(Special to The Evening World.)

PELHAM MANOR, N. Y., May 22. -- Hilda Armstrong, twenty-three years old, who for three years had been employed as a maid by Mrs. John Cunningham Hazen in her Pelham Manor seminary for girls, has been held to await the action of the Westchester Grand Jury on the charge of robbing many of the students as well as Mrs. Hazen.

Detective H. R. Marks, who worked up the case, looks upon Miss Armstrong, who is of Danish parentage, as a regular female Raffles, and it is believed she had been systematically looting the rooms of the young girls for a long time.

In her room, the detective says, were found two trunks containing plunder, while another trunk, telescope bag and dress-suit case containing loot, as alleged in the complaint, were found hidden in another house in Pelham Manor.

One of the complaints on which Miss Armstrong was arrested was made by Miss Launderman, who comes from a wealthy South Carolina family, who lost clothing and jewelry, and which she identified. The stolen property was spread out in a room in the seminary yesterday afternoon and it was then that about fifty students identified articles as their property.

In the trunks were found a bank-book issued by the Union Dime Savings Bank, of Manhattan showing a balance in Hilda's favor amounting to $750 and more than two thousand different articles of clothing, jewelry and other valuable things, many belonging to the girls.

The stolen stuff included lace collars, cuffs, six dozen handkerchiefs, two valuable Bibles, six pairs of costly gloves, parts of silver-mounted manicure sets, gold chains and rings, expensive underwear, silk quilts, silk skirts, silk and ear muffs and a large quantity of linen goods.

When Hilda was arraigned before Judge Hill at Pelham Manor she was represented by Henry L. Ruppert, who waived examination for her, and the case was sent to the Grand Jury.

The girl was released on cash bail. She declined to make any statement."

Source: Seminary Maid Under Bail as Fair Raffles, The Evening World, May 22, 1905, p. 7, col. 1.

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