Historic Pelham

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Festivities of the Huckleberry Indians of the New York Athletic Club Off the Shore of Pelham Manor on July 12, 1896

Huckleberry Island lies near Travers Island just off the shores of Pelham Manor and New Rochelle. In the late 19th Century, members of the New York Athletic Club created a social organization known as the "Huckelberry Indians" who socialized on Huckleberry Island. There is an interesting account of the opening of the island for the season on July 12, 1896 that appeared in the New York Athletic Club Journal of the period. Below are two photographs from the journal as well as a transcription of the Journal's account of the opening of the island that year.


THE pomp and ceremony for which the tribe of Huckleberry Indians are justly famous were brought into play on July 12, when the Island was formally opened for the season. A grand success must be chronicled; in fact, the greatest in the history of this great people. Early in the forenoon the exodus from Travers Island began. The eight, six, fours, doubles, pairs and singles were quickly manned and headed for the scene of revelry, until no craft remained but the flat-bottomed ferry boats, and even one of these was pressed into service by a belated Indian[.]

The cargo of supplies had been landed early, including the clam steamer presented by E. P. Reynolds to his clansmen. Frank Roe's naphtha launch also made frequent trips, carrying provisions which were found necessary to appease the appetites of the ravenous horde.

After the Indians had gorged themselves until they were ashamed to look a clam in the face, and disported themselves to their heart's content in the sad sea waves, Commander-in-Chief Bob Kammerer marshaled his frces and surrounded King Schaefer, who, in response to the cheers which greeted him, addressed his subjects in this manner:

'Fellow Indians and Lunatics -- This immense gathering marks a new era in the history of the Huckleberry Indians, and it is our duty to suitably recognize it. During our winter's exile from the happy hunting grounds of soft clams and sunburn, I have tried to fit myself for the leadership of this great tribe. In pursuit of knowledge I have, though no cannibal, devoured all authors of Indian literature from J. Fennimore Cooper to Richard Croker, but can find no trace of any Indian nation that owned a flag. Let the Huckleberries be the first to possess a standard. I take pleasure in [Page 7 / Page 8] presenting to the tribe a flag thoroughly emblematic of our origin and purpose. Defend it with your lives, and while it waves over you in your feasts do not consider your duty done until the last claim in the steamer has been dispatched and every keg stands on its head.'

After the cheering had subsided General Cable was summoned from the ranks. He accepted the flag in a few well chosen words, and the presentation ceremony then concluded with the execution of the German Fifth March.

Among the Indians present were: G. B. Hand, M. Bishop, C. H. Liebert, R. Stoll, T. L. Cooke, J. B. Cox, E. Winacht, N. E. Gouldy, W. A. Cable, H. E. Zittell, Dr. O'Dell, M. Kaesche, W. E. Dickey, Fred Wenk, F. A. Wattenberg, H. E. Toussaint, A. C. Fiske, F. H. Romaine, R. C. Kammerer, L. W. Seaman, O. C. Hicks, W. Sprague, R. D. Radcliffe, Jr., Jno. H. Murphy, Jas. R. Crawford, Wm. F. Mohr, H. C. Davidson, E. F. Schenck, Jas. Lowerre, Edw. H. Koch, Geo. Schwegler, B. Bogert, S. Stewart, E. P. Reynolds, C. B. Keyes, R. J. Schaefer, F. G. Fullgraff, R. B. Davison, W. J. Davison, R. E. Lee Mordecai, Dr. Wm. T. Todt, Hy Schwarz, Dr. E. Smith, A. J. Kerwin, W. D. Bourne, W. H. Harrison, A. Schroeder, E. Thorp, E. Crawford, E. C. Carter, G. E. Grant, E. N. Blancke, W. F. S. Hart."

Source: Opening of Huckleberry Island, New York Athletic Club Journal, Vol. V, No. 5, pp. 7-8 (Aug. 1896).

Source: Id., p. 1 (cover).

Source: Id., p. 8.

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