Historic Pelham

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book by George Rapelje, Pelham Resident Along With His Father, Rem Rapelje, Published in 1834

Google Books continues to be a wonderful source of information about the history of Pelham. For example, during an unrelated search I ran across a wonderful book published in 1834 entitled "A Narrative of Excursions, Voyages, and Travels, Performed at Different Periods in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa". The book was written by George Rapelje, an attorney who lived for many years in Pelham and inherited the estate of his father, Rem Rapelje, located on Pelham Neck. He sold that estate and moved to New York City shortly after his father's death.

The book, which provides a wealth of information regarding two early residents of Pelham, includes a number of insteresting references to the Rapelje farm in Pelham. Below are a couple of examples of such references.

"When I returned to New-York [in the early years of the 19th century], I found my father had moved to Pelham, Westchester county, and also his brother-in-law, John Hardenbrook, Esq. He had a noble farm there of three hundred acres. The water of the Sound and Eastchester Bay laved the shores of his farm, and furnished most excellent fishing, which we enjoyed; often bringing home fine black-fish and sheep-heads, the latter not unfrequently weighing from ten to fifteen pounds." [Page 56]

"I built a house and resided on the banks of the Hudson, about two miles from the city of New-York, for six years. After this, I resided at Pelham until my father's death, when I sold my farm and came to live in the city of New-York." [Page 57]

As one would expect, the book also provides a wealth of information about these two early Pelham residents. Below is an example:

""I shall indulge myself in giving a few particulars of my life.

I was born on the 9th of August, 1771, in a three story brick house, on the north side of Liberty-street, at that time called Crown-street; the house was a few doors from the corner of William-street. My father's name was Rem Rapelje, and at that time, before business was so distinctly divided as it now is, was a ship owner, dealt in general merchandise, and kept a store in Maiden-lane, directly in rear of his dwelling- [Page 2 / Page 3] house. He was a native of Brooklyn, Long Island. He lost his father when a child, and his mother having contracted a second marriage, he felt all the chilling influence of a step-father, and sought for friendly aid elsewhere. He fortunately had an uncle, in the corn, grain, and flour business, a thrifty, intelligent man, who took him into his store, which was at the fork of Maiden-lane and Crown-street. Here, after a few years of industrious labor, during which he supported the character of an intelligent, honest young man, he was sent in a schooner, as supercargo, to the island of Curacoa [sic], in the West indies, and although but twenty-one years of age, had other vessels consigned to him. His personal appearance, his honesty, his amenity of manners, as well as his intelligence, made him a popular young man. . . . [Page 11]

At the close of the American war, my father purchased the glass-house farm, three miles and an half from the city, as it then was, but now in it, on the North river. It received its name from an unsuccessful attempt to make glass bottles there. It was little north of a country seat called Content, a delightful place, the summer residence of a Mrs. McAdam, sister to a Mrs. Shaw, whose daughter had married Sir Richard Wheat, and after his death, admiral Lord Cochran, who, if living, now resides in Scotland. My father resided at the glass-house farm thirteen years, when he removed to a much larger farm, at Pelham, West Chester country, where he resided until his death, which happened at the age of seventy-six years and ten months; my mother survived him several years."

Source: Rapelje, George, A Narrative of Excursions, Voyages, and Travels, Performed at Different Periods in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, pp. 2, 3, 11, 56-57 (NY, NY: West & Trow, 1834).

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