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, January 31, 2007

A Large Distillery Once Stood on the Prevost Farm in Pelham During the 1790s

In 1795, Augustine J. Frederick Prevost placed an advertisement in The Daily Advertiser published in New York City. The advertisement offered his farm including a a significant distillery with an associated dwelling for sale.

I have written about Augustine J. Frederick Prevost and the home in which he lived -- called the Shrubbery -- before. (Prevost was the step-son of Aaron Burr.) For examples of such earlier postings, see the following:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006: Aaron Burr Tries to Pull a Fast One in the 1790s and Must Sell His Farm in Pelham

Wednesday, June 14, 2006: Text of Deed by Which Aaron Burr Acquired Pelham Lands in 1790

Thursday, April 14, 2005: The Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road

Monday, October 2, 2006: The Revolutionary War Diary of Loyalist Joshua Pell, Jr. of the Manor of Pelham

A photograph of the home that stood on the Prevost farm may be found here: "The Shrubbery Before its Destruction by Fire in 1890s".

The fascinating and descriptive advertisement offering the Joshua Pell / Augustine J. Frederick Prevost Farm for sale appeared in the February 9, 1795 issue of The Daily Advertiser. It is quoted in its entirety below, followed by a full citation to its source.

"Farm and Distillery for Sale,

A Handsome well improved FARM, containing about 160 acres of excellent land, and twelve acres of salt meadow, situate on a navigable river, opposite the town of East Chester, in the town of Pelham, 20 miles from New York; forty tons of good English hay are cut annually, besides a large quantity of salt grass and sedge; there is on the premises an orchard of the best grafted fruit, and a great variety of every kind, a good dwelling house and a new barn; Also, a large Distillery 56 by 46 situate on the shore of the said creek with 5 stills, one of 1200 galloons [sic], and 5 of 400 gallons each; in this building are apartments for a distiller and a small family, a continual stream of water leading through the upper story of the house renders all pumping uncessary [sic], and one hogshead of cyder brandy or rum, and 60 gallons of gin may be made daily; the country around yields an abundance of cyder which may be purchased, at a low price, the distillery being the only one in the southern part of West Chester county, is the best and nearest market.

If any one should incline to purchase the distillery, and dwelling house, with an acre of land adjoining, it will be disposed of in that way in preference. Apply to the subscriber on the premises, or to J. B. Prevost, No. 30 Partition Street, New York.


Jan. 28. 3aw 4w"

Source: A Farm and Distillery for Sale, The Daily Advertiser, Feb. 9, 1795, Vol. XI, Issue 3116, p. 4, col. 2.

Clearly a distillery of the size described in the advertisement was a commercial venture that likely served surrounding communities and, perhaps, New York City. No known trace of the distillery has yet been found, although there are interesting areas along Eastchester Creek (the Hutchinson River) where possible remnants may exist.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Interesting Advertisement for Sale of Land on City Island in the Town of Pelham in 1800

Periodically I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog transcriptions of the text of unusual or interesting advertisements offering lands for sale in Pelham during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today's posting transcribes the text of another such advertisement for land located on City Island offered for sale in 1800. The text of the advertisement and a citation to its source appear immediately below.


On City Island, West Chester County, and possession given the first of May next - Several rights of LAND, with two Dwelling Houses - One 35 feet in front, 31 feet deep, two stories high, four rooms on the lower floor, two on the upper floor, besides a kitchen and milk room. One, two rooms on the lower floor and a kitchen. Both houses have got good cellars, and the smallest a piazza in front. Part of the land is well cultivated and is fence [sic]; the remainder is well worth improvement. Besides the orchard of good bearing trees, there is on the land a considerable number of others, such as pear, peach and cherry trees, and excellent Well of water, and the prospect from either house is delightful, and convenient for a gentleman, farmer, merchant or inn keeper - there is 4 acres of land which produced a plentiful crop this last harvest, owen again with wheat and rye; the situation is so well shown and frequented, that any further description would be needless, only it may be recommended for a safe and agreeable retreat during the hot months. The terms will be made known by applying to Mr. Richard Berrien at his house in New York, corner of First and Eagle streets, or to that subscriber on the island by whom an indisputable title will be given.

feb 15 1W"

Source: For Sale, The Daily Advertiser, Vol. XVI, Issue 4689, Feb. 21, 1800, p. 4, col. 4.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Palmer Family Offers One Thirtieth of City Island for Sale in 1785

Before the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Palmer had grand plans to develop the island located in the Manor of Pelham then known as Minneford Island. He renamed it "City Island" as part of his plan to create a great port city to rival New York City. The onset of the Revolutionary War brought those plans to a screeching halt.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an interesting advertisement published in 1785 in which two members of the Palmer family offer for sale a large portion of City Island. The text of the advertisement and a citation to the source appear immediately below.

"To be SOLD, at private SALE,

A PROPRIETOR'S Right, on the New City Island (so called) laid out in squares and lots, in order to form a city; the right contains the one thirtieth part of said island; -- Any person or persons inclining to make their fortune, by making a purchase of the whole or a part, may know the conditions of sale, by applying to us the subscribers, living in North Castle, state of New-York, who will give an indisputable title for the same.


Jan. 26. 6I 4p."

Source: To Be Sold, at Private Sale, Loudon's New-York Packet Supplement, Feb. 17, 1785, p. 1, col. 3.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

A History of the Early Years of City Island When it Was Part of the Town of Pelham, Published in 1927

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Regular readers of the Historic Pelham Blog likely realize (as the banner at the top of the site suggests) that many posts are my research notes regarding issues of interest regarding the history of Pelham and surrounding areas. Today's post is another example of such an instance.

Below is text that I have transcribed from portions of a book published in 1927 entitled "The Bronx and Its People: A History, 1609-1927". The excerpt deals with issues relating to the history of portions of Pelham annexed by New York City in the mid-1890s. A full citation to the source appears beneath the excerpt.

"In Pelham -- Nearly all of the part of the township of Pelham that was taken within the city of New York is included within Pelham Bay Park. There is a small section in the vicinity of the Boston Road not included in the park, and also City Island; the first part is negligible. There are now many different ways of reaching City Island. Until 1912 a one-horse, bob-tailed car, a relic of former days, used to connect with the railroad station, 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 train was inaugurated; but the first day of business was an unfortunate one, for the car met with an accident and several people were killed. City Island was originally called Minnewits, or Great [Page 346 / Page 347] Minnefords, Island. The origin of the name is doubtful, it being ascribed to Peter Minuit, 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 the 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 'acrosst 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 Kicks, 'the best and fairest 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, 176, came into possession of Benjamin Palmer, the builder of the free bridge at Spuyten Duyvil, for £2,730. 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.

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 4,500 lots, each twenty feet front and one hundred feet in depth, besides two squares, of thirty lots each, reserved for churches, meeting-houses, schools and the like. Ten pounds was the stated price of the lots, and many were bought 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 later became 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 [Page 347 / Page 348] 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 been begun upon it in December, 1898.

In spite of 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 drove 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, on May 27, 1763. When the new wharf at the lower end of the island was built 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. 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 there. Upon several occasions the defenders of 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 helpful, as the island extends far into the Sound. Rowboats, sail-boats, and small launches are plentiful, and there are many places where they can be hired for sailing and fishing, while several of the hotels and restaurants have more than a local fame. The population was self-contained and isolated, and it took the people a little time to get accustomed to interference from Manhattan, after annexation. Probably the greatest object of interest on the island is the 'Macedonian Hotel.' It bears the following legend: 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.' However, it would appear that while the house is the remains of a ship 'Macedonian,' it was not the one captured in Decatur's gallant action. The original British 'Macedonian' [Page 348 / Page 349] was a new ship at the time of her capture, and was afterwards 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. In the meantime Congress appropriated funds to build a new ship of the same name, which was begun 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. For a time this second, American-built 'Macedonian' was used as a practice ship at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where the figurehead of the original British frigate is still preserved as a relic of the heroic days of our infant navy."

Source: Wells, James L., Haffen, Louis F., and Briggs, Josiah A., eds., The Bronx and Its People: A History 1609 - 1927, Vol. I, pp. 346-49 (NY, NY: The Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1927) (Historian Benedict Fitzpatrick).

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Brief Account of the Early History of City Island, Published in 1909

A brief history of the early days of City Island appeared in a small book published in 1909 entitled "New York, Old and New: Its Story, Streets and Landmarks". The excerpted text of that brief history appears immediately below, followed by a full citation to its source.

"City Island, at the head of the Sound, was once a part of Westchester County, but since 1895 has been included within the corporate limits of the city. It was in 1654 that Thomas Pell bought from the Indians a tract of land which included what afterwards became the towns of Westchester, Pelham, and New Rochelle, along with what was then known as Minneford's Island. John Pell, second lord of the manor established by his uncle, sold this island in 1685 to one John Smith, and after passing through sundry hands it became in 1781 the property of [Page 358 / Page 359] Joseph Palmer, of Throg's Neck, who soon after conveyed it to his brother Benjamin. Then it was that it earned the name of City Island and a place in history, for its owner was a man given to dreams, and the dream which most held his thought was the founding of a city on his island domain which should rival New York. Hell Gate made the passage from the Sound into the waters of New York harbor a perilous one, and Palmer argued that any plan by which it could be avoided would be hailed with enthusiasm. Minneford's Island seemed to him to offer an admirable solution of the problem. It was a central point in the highway of commerce, there were natural harbors and protection from storms, and land for dwelling-houses and stores.

Palmer accordingly set to work with energy and considerable shrewdness to give shape and substance to his dream. A bridge was projected from the island to the main-land; the former was plotted and a city plan prepared which provided slips and dock for ships of all sizes; and advertisements were published setting forth the good fortune that would accrue to all who shared in the enterprise. And for the moment all went well. Many of the lots in the future city sold for ten pounds each, and Palmer was offered [Page 359 / Page 360] three hundred and a thousand pounds for different portions of his land. But then came the Revolution, and with it the capture of the island by the British. Palmer himself was taken prisoner, and though he was allowed after a time to go with his family to New York, where he remained until the end of the war, it was upon conditions which later led to the seizure of his property. He petitioned in vain for its return, and in helpless age was only saved from want by the generous aid of Aaron Burr and a few other friends. And such was the sorry ending of his dream of a water-girt city. Seventy years after his death, however, the bridge he had hoped to build was opened to the public, while now trade has sprung up on his island, and all about it is heard the hum of enterprise."

Source: Wilson, Rufus Rockwell, New York, Old and New: Its Story, Streets and Landmarks, Vol. II, pp. 358-60 (Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Company 1909).

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Account of the October 18, 1776 Battle of Pelham and the "Grand Review" that Followed It, Published in 1897

Below is the text of an account of the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776. The account was published as part of a "series of papers on Historic New York" known as the Half Moon Series published by G. P. Puntnam's Sons "The Knickerbocker Press" in 1897. A full citation to the source appears after the quoted text.

"Howe now had New York, but it was of very little use to him so long as Washington's army occupied a strong position extending from the mouth of 'Harlem Creek' right across the island to the Hudson. The British commander, however, had two alternatives besides a direct assault; he could pass between Forts Lee and Washington with his fleet, ascend the Hudson, and make the position of the Americans untenable by landing in their rear. But to do this he would have to stand the fire from the forts, which might do considerable damage to his men-of-war and transports. The East River, or Sound, was, however, entirely free from forts, and afforded him almost as good an opportunity of getting into the rear of the Americans as the Hudson; this alternative was therefore selected, and on October 12, 1776, Howe embarked the greater part of his army and sailed up the Sound or East River as far as Throg's Neck (now a portion of Greater New York), where he landed, [Page 415 / Page 416] leaving Lord Percy to keep Washington occupied at Harlem. He hoped by this movement to get directly in the rear of the Continental army, and so force it either to surrender, or entirely to rout and scatter it; but the rebels had not been sleeping.

General Heath, with a force of several thousand men, had been sent to defend the causeway and tear down the bridges across Westchester Creek, so it would be impossible for Howe to gain the rear of the Americans without a fight. Howe did not care to advance through a marsh in the face of so strong a force, and delayed on the Neck six days, in which little but ineffective skirmishing was accomplished. At the end of this period he took to his boats again, proceeded northeast about three miles, landed his forces on Pell's Neck or Pelham Neck, (now Pelham Park), and advanced towards the Albany and Boston roads. Heath threw a couple of brigades in his way, and attempted to check his progress. For a time quite a spirited fight was the result; but the Americans were out-numbered and compelled to retire with a loss of about ten killed and forty wounded. Howe had at last succeeded in reaching the place he wanted, but it was too late for his purpose of capturing the Continental army; for the Americans had evacuated Manhattan Island, except Fort Washington, and were now comparatively [Page 416 / Page 417] safe on Chatterton Heights, near the village of White Plains. For a few days Howe's army covered a wide field, and we hear of some of his troopers almost as far north as the Connecticut line. This, however, was probably done merely in search of forage, for he soon concentrated them on the Albany Road near the scene of the recent engagement.

It was a beautiful autumnal morning, October 23, 1776, that the greatest military pageant took place that the fair county of Westchester ever saw, at all events in the eighteenth century. Howe, preparatory to following Washington, drew up his entire army for review, along the road and on the meadows (very near the present boundary line between the city, and the now much curtailed County of Westchester), then known as Pelham and Eastchester flats. Some ten thousand men took part in the ceremonies, and the effect must, indeed, have been inspiring and beautiful. The bright scarlet of the British regulars, contrasted well with the more sombre green of Knyphausen's Hessians, and with the background of the yellow sedge grass covered with sparkling frost. This was afine picture by which, on the chill October morning, to impress the inhabitants with the invincible power of England's chivalry, and the politic commander had thought it wise to invite a few of the more distinguished proprietors of loyal tendencies to witness the affair. There was the fiery Philipse, and the philanthropic colonist who is said to have sprung from the grand old House of 'Kourlandt' (Cortlandt), to witness the glorious return of their sovereign's banner, and, while the bands played and the sun glistened upon the bright arms of the troops, this little band of officers and gentlemen rode along the lines and inspected the army. As the sun rose higher in the heavens the day became warm and genial with that Indian summer balminess, so common to our American autumn. By noon the party before alluded to, were glad to halt for refreshments under the golden shade of what, even then, must have been a group of grand old chestnuts. That lunch just before the march to White Plains has become historic, and the old resident can still point out the trees with pride to any visitor who may be passing that way. Let us hope, however, that the meal of these fine gentlemen was not spoiled by the presence of that rough old German, the Count von Knyphausen, who, though a dashing soldier and a brave man, was no courtier, and anything but a pleasant dining companion. All that is left of this gallant assembly, are the old trees that have defied all change in this beginning of the winter (1897-98) still stood, the only landmarks of those long- [Page 418 / Page 419] departed days. But, old trees, you are not to stand here always. Though you may have seen the Indians of the seventeenth century; Washington, Howe, and Clinton, of the eighteenth; and all the celebrities of the nineteenth; yet those trunks of yours, sixteen feet in circumference though they be, are but hollow shells; the gales of two hundred winters have lopped many a fair limb, and ere the twentieth century shall grow old the squirrel will no longer play on your boughs, nor the frosts of autumn turn your leaves to gold!

In the fall of 1876, just a hundred years after the day of the 'Great Review,' two gentlemen were lunching under the same old trees. 'The days of old' were discussed, and the historic spot examined in all its bearings; but after a time the conversation flagged, and they sat gazing up into the shady trees, whose leaves were fast turning into those brilliant hues with which the American forest-trees bid good-bye to summer, when the elder man turned to his companion and said: 'Here is the pistol which my grandfather carried when with General Howe on the day of the 'Grand Review,' when they lunched under these trees just before the Battle of White Plains; now, as I want you to remember this occasion, I present you with the derringer as a memento of the anniversary of that parade.' As they gazed upon this weapon of a former age, the nineteenth century seemed to fade into the Indian sumer mist, and they could only see the scarlet of the British regulars and the green of their Hessian allies; the figures of the chivalric Cornwallis; the gallant but peace-loving Howe, and the rough old soldier, Knyphausen.

But to return to our narrative. The day after the 'Grand Review' Howe went in pursuit of the Continental army and on October 28, stormed Chatterton Heights near White Plains, and forced Washington to retire to North Castle. He himself, however, did not go farther, but soon withdrew to the city proper, to rest and refresh his troops, evidently thinking he had done enough for one campaign."

Source: Pryer, Charles, The "Neutral Ground" in Half Moon Series: Papers on Historic New York, Vol. II, No. XII, pp. 409, 415-19 (NY and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons The Knickerbocker Press 1897) (Edited by Maud Wilder Goodwin, Alice Carrington Royce and Ruth Putnam).

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another Brief Reference Regarding the Siwanoy "Tribe"

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Yesterday I published to the Historic Pelham Blog brief information from an 1872 book entitled "Indian Tribes of Hudson's River; Their Origin, Manners and Custons; Tribal and Sub-Tribal Organizations; Wars, Treaties, Etc., Etc.". See

Monday, January 22, 2007: Information About Siwanoy Native Americans Published in 1872.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting brief information about the Siwanoys taken from the "Handbook of American Indians North America edited by Frederick Webb Hodge published in 1910. The text of the excerpt appears immediately below, followed by a full citation to its source.

"Siwanoy (from their having been a seacoast people, their name may be a corruption of Siuanak, 'salt people,' a dialectic form of Sueanak, a name applied by the Delawares to the English. -- Gerard). One of the principal tribes of the Wappinger confederacy, formerly living along the N. shore of Long Island sd. from New York to Norwalk, Conn., and inland as far at least as White Plains. They were one of the seven tribes of the seacoast and had a number of villages, the principal one in 1640 being Poningo. (J. M.)"

Source: Hodge, Frederick Webb, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico in Two Parts, Part Two, p. 585 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Gov't Printing Office 1910) (Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30).

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Information About Siwanoy Native Americans Published in 1872

In 1872, Edward Manning Ruttenber released a book entitled "Indian Tribes of Hudson's River; Their Origin, Manners and Customs; Tribal and Sub-Tribal Organizations; Wars, Treaties, Etc., Etc." The book included information about Siwanoy Native Americans believed by many to be a "tribe" of Native Americans that populated the area in and around today's Pelham.

Native Americans unquestionably inhabited Pelham and surrounding areas long before Europeans settled the area. There is a debate, however, about whether there ever was a distinct group of Native Americans that might properly be labeled “Siwanoys”. According to Ives Goddard, a noted scholar on the topic:

“Some early deeds suggest that the [Long Island] Sound-shore residents were not organized in political groups distinct from their western neighbors, but evidence has been claimed nevertheless for a Siwanoy group extending east from the Bronx River . . . However, the name Siwanois is found only among early information of a general nature, not linked to specific individuals . . . The political groupings and proper designations for the Sound-shore Indians of Westchester and Fairfield counties thus remain obscure.”

Source: Goddard, Ives, Delaware in Handbook of North American Indians: Volume 15, Northeast, 213, 214 (Trigger, Bruce G., ed.; Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution 1978) (citing De Laet 1909:44; Ruttenber 1872: 77-85; Bolton 1920: 246-69).

Interestingly, one of the citations for Ives's proposition is the above-referenced book by E. M. Ruttenber. That book seems to assume that there was a Siwanoy "tribe" that populated the area in and around today's Pelham. The following passage appears in that book:

"7th. The Siwanoys; also known as 'one of the seven tribes of the sea-coast.' This chieftaincy was one of the largest of the Wappinger subdivisions. They occupied the northern shore of the sound, 'from Norwalk twenty-four miles to the neighborhood of Hell-gate.' How far they claimed inland is uncertain, but their deeds covered the manor lands of Morrisania, Scarsdall and Pelham, from which were erected the towns of Pelham, New Rochelle, East and West Chester, North and New Castle, Mamaroneck, Scarsdall, and parts of White Plains and West Farms; other portions are included in the towns of Rye and Harrison, as well as in Stamford. There is also some reason for supposing that the tract known as Toquams and assigned to the Tankitekes, was a part of their dominions. A very large village of the chieftaincy was situated on Rye Pond in the town of Rye. In the southern angle of that town, on a beautiful hill now known as Mount Misery, 2 stood one of their castles. Another village was situated on Davenport's Neck. Near the entrance to Pelham's Neck was one of their burial grounds. Two large mounds are pointed out as the sepulchres of the sachems Ann-Hoock and Nimham. In the town of West [End of Main Text on Page 81; Footnote 2 on That Page Appears Immediately Below]

2 This hill is said to have acquired its present name from the fact that a large body of Indians were there surprised and cut to pieces by the Huguenots of New Rochelle, in retaliation for a descent upon their place. If such a battle took place it has no official record. The story is mythical. [End of Footnote 2; Text of Page 82 Begins Immediately Below.]

Chester they had a castle upon what is still known as Castle Hill neck, and a village about Bear swamp, of which they remained in possession as late as 1689. Their ruling sachem in 1640, was Ponus, whose jurisdiction was over tracts called Rippowams and Toquams, and the place of whose residence was called Poiningoe. He left issue three sons, Omenoke, Taphance and Onox; the latter had a son called Powhag. In 1661, Shanasockerell, or Shanorocke, was sachem in the same district, and, in 1680, Katonah and his son Paping appear as such. Of another district Maramaking, commonly known as Lame Will, was sachem in 1681. His successor was Patthunck, who was succeeded by his son, Waptoe Patthunck. The names of several of their chiefs occur in Dutch history as well as in the early deeds. Among them are Ann-Hoock, alias Wampage, already noticed, who was probably the murderer of Ann Hutchinson, 1 and Mayane, spoken of in 1644 as 'a fierce Indian, who, alone, dared to attack, with bow and arrows, three Christians armed with guns, one of whom he shot dead; and, whilst engaged with the other, was killed by the third,' and his head conveyed to Fort Amsterdam. The occurrence served to convince the Dutch that in offending against the chiefs in their immediate vicinity, they were also offending those of whose existence they had no previous knowledge. 2 Shanasockwell is represented as 'an independent chieftain of the Siwanoys,' on the island called Manussing. . . . .

1 Nothing was more common among the Indians than to give to a warrior the name of his victim.

2 Documentary History, IV, 14."

Source: Ruttenber, Edward Manning, Indian Tribes of Hudson's River; Their Origin, Manners and Customs; Tribal and Sub-Tribal Organizations; Wars, Treaties, Etc., Etc., pp. 81-82 (Albany, NY: J. Munsell 1872).

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Friday, January 19, 2007

The Harp of Pelham: A Book Published in 1844 by William Jay Bolton of Pelham Manor

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In 1844, a son of Rev. Robert Bolton of Pelham Manor named William Jay Bolton published a book of poetry entitled "The Harp of Pelham". A scanned copy of the book recently has been made available online as part of the collections of Google Book. A citation to the book and a link to the scanned copy appear immediately below.
Bolton, William Jay, The Harp of Pelham (NY, NY: Windt's Printery 1844).

The image of the book is not perfect. On a number of important pages the text is cut off along the right margin making it difficult to read some of the material. Nevertheless, very few copies of the privately-printed tome still exist. I have unsuccessfully been trying to acquire a copy for nearly five years. Thus, the searchable online copy is a welcome addition to Google Books.

The story behind "The Harp of Pelham" is fascinating. Today's Historic Pelham Blog is an effort to tell that story.

William Jay Bolton

William Jay Bolton was a son of the Rev. Robert Bolton who built Bolton Priory and founded Christ Church in Pelham Manor. William Jay Bolton was an exceptional artist who eventually was admitted to the National Academy of Design where he won prizes including a coveted "Silver Palette" for one of his works. See Roberts, Anne Elliott, William Jay Bolton -- Artist in Glass, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 22, 1954.

He put his talents to good use as he, his brothers and father worked to beautify Bolton Priory and the nearby church building they had constructed. He became a master stained glass window artist assisted by his brother John Bolton. He began working with glass when he created some small panels "bearing the arms of the Pell family and those of his father's forbears" for windows in Bolton Priory, the family residence. See Bolton, Reginald Pelham, William Jay Bolton Associate of the National Academy, Artist, Author, Worker in Stained Glass and Minister of the Gospel, 9(2) The Quarterly Bulletin of the Westchester County Historical Society 25, 27-28 (Apr. 1933). Thereafter, he created for the little Christ Church building what is believed to be the nation's first figured stained glass window. The beautiful window, which depicts figures for the "Adoration of the Magi", may still be seen in the church.

I have written about William Jay Bolton and his work a number of times. Examples include the following.

Monday, April 4, 2005: Art and Poetry of William Jay Bolton of Bolton Priory in Pelham

Thursday, April 7, 2005: Another Volume of William Jay Bolton's Sketches and Ruminations Located?

Friday, April 1, 2005: The Earliest Newspaper in Pelham?

The Pelham Chronicle

In 1838, William Jay Bolton began the preparation of a family "newspaper" distributed about every other week. The cost of the paper was a "donation" of the reader's choice. No printed copies of the little newspaper are known to exist. It appears that the "newspaper" was prepared in handwritten form in small journals and was passed among Bolton family members as a form of amusement to alleviate some of the tedium of living in the undeveloped and somewhat isolated rural area in the Manor of Pelham.

Interestingly, though, the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham contain two slim leather-bound journals filled with handwritten pages that appear to contain many of the "issues" of the little newspaper that William Jay Bolton prepared and circulated among family members. In most such "issues" there is a "Poet's Corner" containing poetry written by William Jay Bolton.

An example of the first page of such an "issue" of The Pelham Chronicle (Sept. 1, 1842) from one of those volumes appears immediately below:

The Schoolhouse and The Harp of Pelham

In the early 1840s, members of the Bolton family worked to build and open a tiny little schoolhouse to provide free education for local children. The little building still stands next to Christ Church on Shore Road near its intersection with Pelhamdale Avenue. An engraving of the school building appears immediately below.

In about 1844, William Jay Bolton decided to collect the poetry he had written and publish it in book form. The book, The Harp of Pelham, was sold for $1. Proceeds of sale were used to fund development and operation of the little schoolhouse pictured above. In fact, in the Preface to the volume, Bolton wrote:

"The contents of this little volume originally appeared in the domestic newspaper of a large family, who, living in the seclusion of the country, and thrown upon their own resources for amusement, found a chronicle of passing events both interesting and instructive.

A word about such a family periodical, and this one in particular, may not be improper here, or useless elsewhere. It appears about once in a fortnight [every two weeks]: the price is 'one contribution.' It usually opens with advertisements, humorous or real, and a leading article: it notices events passing and past, contains tales, essays, conundrums, &c. and concludes with a 'poet's corner.'

From a small beginning six years ago, our 'Pelham Chronicle,' has grown in importance among a circle of friends who have been pleased to consider it possessed some merit . . . .

The proceeds of sale, if any, will be appropriated for to the school-house for this destitute neighborhood."

The Harp of Pelham is notable in a number of important respects. First, it may be the first published book actually written in Pelham Manor. Second, it reflects the early work of a young man who later became a noted artist. Third, it is part of the history of Bolton Priory and the little schoolhouse built by the Bolton Family for the neighborhood. Finally, though apparently never printed, it reflects content that appeared in what might be viewed as the earliest "newspaper" prepared in Pelham.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776

On November 1, 2006, I published to the Historic Pelham Blog an item entitled "Two British Military Unit Histories That Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776". Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides information about several additional British military unit histories that also note their members' participation in the Battle of Pelham.

Hamilton, F. W., The Origin and History of the First or Grenadier Guards. From Documents in the State Paper Office, War Office, Horse Guards, Contemporary History, Regimental Records, Etc. by Lieut.-Gen. Sir F. W. Hamilton, K.C.R. Late Grenadier Guards. In Three Volumes, Vol. II, pp. 220- (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street 1874) ("With the view to forcing the Americans from their strong position at Haerlem without having recourse to a direct attack on their lines, General Howe, leaving four brigades in New York, under Lord Percy, embarked the Guards and the rest of the army on the 12th of October, and passing up East River through the passage called Hell Gates, landed his troops at Frog's Neck, from whence if he had advanced rapidly he might have surrounded the American army before they could retire by Kingsbridge. General Washington had proposed to await the conflict on York Island, but upon the advice of General Lee, withdrew all his troops, and posted them behind entrenchments extending from Kingsbridge to Whiteplains, facing the east, having the Brunx, a deep river, in their front. General Howe determined to pursue, in the hope of still bringing the enemy to action, and the British troops accordingly re-embarking at Frog's Neck on the 18th, landed a little further eastward at Pell's Point, with but slight opposition, and with the loss of thirty-two men killed and wounded. On the 21st the main body reached New Rochelle, whence it advanced towards Whiteplains, where the American army [Page 220 / Page 221] was concentrating, and on the approach of the British on the morning of the 28th of October, the Americans hastily struck their tents and prepared for action. . . . ").

Smythies, R. H. Raymond, Historical Records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment, Now 1st Battalion The Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) From its Formation, in 1717, to 1893. By Captain R. H. Raymond Smythies, 1st Bu. P.W.V. (South Lancashire Regiment.), pp. 44-45 (Devonport, England: A. H. Swiss 1894) ("New York was subsequently caputred, and the 40th took part in the operations. The Americans, however, took up another position, and General Howe, in order to cut them off from New England, embarked a portion of the British troops in boats and landed them, on 12th October, near Chester. The grenadier and light companies of the regiment formed part of this force, but the remainder, with the rest of the fourth brigade and two other brigades, under Lord percy, remained at Haarlem to cover New York. [Paragraph] On the 18th the troops under General Howe were again embarked, and landed at Pell's point. From thence they advanced and [Page 44 / Page 45] encountered a detachment of Provincials, when a sharp skirmish ensued, in which several were killed and wounded.* [Footnote * Reads as Follows: "* Of the 40th, Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave, commanding one of the battalions of light infantry, was wounded; two men of the light company were killed, and several wounded."]").

Fortescue, J. W., A History of the 17th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge's Own) by Hon. J. W. Fortescue, pp. 38-39 (London: MacMillan and Co. 1895) ("The Americans then evacuated New York town and retired to the northern extremity of New York Island, where Washington fortified a position from Haarlem to Kingsbridge along the Hudson River in order to secure his retreat across it to the mainland. The English warships now moved up the Hudson to cut off that retreat; and Howe having left four brigades to cover New York town, embarked the rest on flat-bottomed boats to turn Washington's position. The flotilla passed through Hell Gate; and Howe having wasted a deal of time in disembarking the troops first at the wrong place, landed them finally at Pell's Point, the corner which divides East River from Long Island Sound, and [Page 38 / Page 39] forms the extreme point of the spit of continent that runds down to New York Island. The advanced parties of the Seventeenth were engaged in a trifling skirmish at Pelham Manor, a little to the north of Pell's Point, shortly after disembarkation; but the British advance was practically unopposed, and the army was concentrated at New Rochelle, on Long Island Sound, on the 21st October.").

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1799 Advertisement Offering 225-Acre Farm of Caleb Pell For Sale

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In the late 18th century, Caleb Pell, a descendant of John Pell who often is referred to as "Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham", owned a farm that encompassed lands in Eastchester and Pelham. In 1799 a series of advertisements appeared in a New York newspaper offering the farm for sale. The text of the advertisement is quoted below, followed by citations to its sources.

A Farm containing 225 acres, including salt meadow, in the town of East-Chester, on the main road to Boston, and within half a mile of the Church [now Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site]; for many years in the possession of Mr. Caleb Pell -- It is well watered with living springs, and has the best tract of timber in the county -- There are on the premises a good Farm-house, barn, cyder-mill, with a new screw, and an orchard of ten or twelve acres of the best grafted trees, capable of making sixty hogsheads of cyder annually, a garden with a number of the best kind of peach trees, and a fine well of water at the door. An indisputable title will be given, and a great part of the purchase money may remain on mortgage -- For particulars enquire of

No. 7 - Maiden lane,
N.B. No application will be received after the first of April.
Feb. 22 2w"

Source: For Sale, A Farm Containing 225 Acres, Commercial Advertiser [New York], Mar. 1, 1799, Vol. II, Issue 440, p. 4, col. 3. The same advertisement also appeared as For Sale, A Farm Containing 225 Acres, Commercial Advertiser [New York], Mar. 5, 1799, Vol. II, Issue 443, p. 4, col. 3.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides the text of a brief biography of a British military officer who served during the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776. A citation to the source appears immediately below the quoted material.


In 1770 this officer was appointed to an Ensigncy in the 12th foot, with which regiment he served at Gibraltar, and in 1776 received a Lieutenancy. He served at this period, by permission, as Lieutenant in the light infantry company of the 23rd foot in America, and was at the taking of Fort Washington, and in the actions of Pelham Manor, White Plains, Danbury Powder Mills, Brandywine, Germantown, &c, in the course of which he was twice wounded. During the two years he [Page 5 / Page 6] served in America, he was appointed Aid-de-Camp to Sir Henry Clinton, and to Early Percy. In 1780 he succeeded to a company in the 12th, and at the siege of Gibraltar covered the retreat of the sortie with the grenadiers and light infantry, and was thanked in orders for his conduct. He was appointed Major of the 76th in 1782; and Lieutenant-Colonel of the 72d in 1783 : he was reduced at the peace, but soon after purchased into the 34th, which he joined in America and remained there two years during which time he commanded at Quebec. In 1789 he went upon half-pay, and afterwards purchased into the 61st, from which he was removed to the 65th. The 1st of March, 1794, he was appointed Colonel by brevet; 3rd of May, 1796, Major-General; 25th of September, 1803, Lieutenant-General; and the 4th of June, 1813, General. He received the Colonelcy of the 12th foot, his present regiment, the 15th of October 1811."

Source: Philippart, John, ed., The Royal Military Calendar, or Army Service and Commission Book Containing The Services and Progress of Promotion of the Generals, Lieutenant-Generals, Major-Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, and Majors of the Army, According to Seniority: with Details of the Principal Military Events of the Last Century, Third Edition in Five Volumes, Vol. III, pp. 5-6 (London: A. J. Valpy, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, 1820).

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Brief Biographies of Henry Waters Taft and Horace Dutton Taft of Pelham Manor (and Other Family Members)

On May 30, 2006, I posted a brief biography of Horace Dutton Taft to the Historic Pelham Blog. Taft founded what became one of the nation's premier college preparatory schools, The Taft School (now located in Watertown, Connecticut) in Pelham Manor in 1890. See Tue., May 30, 2006: A Biography Published in 1906 on the Life of Horace Dutton Taft, Founder of the Taft School for Boys in Pelham Manor.

On February 14, 2006, I posted a brief biography and reminiscenses of Henry Waters Taft, Horace D. Taft's brother, who also lived in Pelham Manor for a time. See Tue., Feb. 14, 2006: An Account of the Blizzard of 1888 by Pelham Manor Resident Henry W. Taft.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes genealogical and biographical data of Horace Dutton Taft and Henry Waters Taft (as well as other members of their families) that appeared in a book published in 1907. The material appears within genealogical data regarding the Taft family of Worcester County, Massachusetts. The text that follows includes all of the pertinent information, as well as a citation to the source.

"THE TAFT FAMILY, of Worcester county, Massachusetts, trace their ancestry to Robert Taft, who was a housewright by trade, and settled in Mendon, Massachusetts, in 1669, to which place he came [from] Braintree, which was then a province. His wife, Sarah Taft, bore him five sons: Thomas, born 1671; Robert, 1674; Daniel, 1677; Joseph, 1680; and Benjamin, 1684. The father, Robert Taft, died in February, 1725; the mother, Sarah Taft, in November of the same year.

Captain Joseph Taft, fourth son of Robert and Sarah Taft, was born in 1680, died in 1747. He married, 1708, Elizabeth Emerson, granddaughter of the first minister of Mendon, Massachusetts. They were the parents of nine children, among whom were the following: Moses, born 1713; Peter, 1715; Joseph, 1722; and Aaron, April 12, 1729.

Captain Peter Taft, second son of Captain Joseph and Elizabeth (Emerson) Taft, was born in 1715. He was a farmer in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Cheney, and the sons born of this marriage were: Henry, Gershom, Aaron and Peter.

Aaron Taft, third son of Captain Peter and Elizabeth (Cheney) Taft, was born May 28, 1743. His early education fitted him for Princeton College, but the exigencies of the family called him home before he had established a good reputation as a scholar. He then turned his attention to farming in his native town of Uxbridge, from which, after a residence of thirty years, he removed in March, 1799, to Townshend, Vermont, where he died March 26, 1808. About 1768 he married Rhoda Rawson, daughter of Abner and Mary (Allen) Rawson and great-great-granddauther of Edward Rawson, secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1650 to 1686. Mrs. Taft, who was a woman of superior intelligence and ability, died June 9, 1827. Their children were: Milley, born July 29, 1769; Selina, February 20, 1771; Cynthia, August 17, 1773; Rawson, October 15, 1775, died 1776; Nancy, August 20, 1777; Jeremiah, November 21, 1779; Mary, July 12, 1783; Peter Rawson, April 14, 1785; Sophia, December 3, 1787, died 1843; Judson, Novembe 6, 1791, died 1794; Samuel Judson, October 4, 1794.

Peter Rawson Taft, third son of Aaron and Rhoda (Rawson) Taft, was born April 14, 1785. In 1810 he married Sylvia Howard, and settled in Townshend, Vermont, where he taught school and later was admitted to the bar. He was judge of the court of Windham county, also one of the commissioners of the county and for many years a member of the legislature of Vermont. In 1841 he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he died in 1867, aged eighty-two years, leaving one son, Alphonso Taft.

HON. ALPHONSO TAFT, son of Peter Rawson and Sylvia (Howard) Taft, was born in Townshend, Windham county, Vermont, November 5, 1810. Through the hard work and self-sacrifice of his parents, who possessed a large amount of ambition for their son, and the boy's own intense desire for a thorough education, he entered Yale College in 1829, and graduated therefrom with high honors in 1833. For two years thereafter he taught in Judge Hall's Academy, in Ellington, Connecticut, and was afterward tutor at yale. He studied law in the Yale Law School, and was admitted to the bar of Connecticut in 1838. The following year he began the practice of his profession in Cincinnati, Ohio, rose steadily and rapidly in his profession, was engaged in many important cases and became a leader of the bar of Ohio. In 1857 he argued successfully before the United States supreme court the claim of the city for the bequest of Charles McMicken, whoch secured the fund forming the nucleus of the endowment of the University of Cincinnati.

In 1865 Mr. Taft was appointed by the governor of Ohio to a vacancy in the superior court of Cincinnati. He was afterward twice elected to the office by the people, the second time having the unusual honor of being chosen by the votes of both parties, no opposing candidate being presented. He was considered a model judge. It was said of him that 'no young man was ever turned away with the impression that his case was too small for the judge's patience; no experienced lawyer ever felt that his case was too large, or the questions involved too intricate, for the judge's capacity and learning.' Perhaps the most important case which came before him as judge of the superior court was that of 'The Bible in the Public Schools.' The Catholics and Jews, who formed a large proportion of the citizens of Cincinnati, complained of the introduction of religious instruction in the schools as violating the spirit of the Constitution, and doing them an injustice. The school board stopped the reading of the Bible in the schools. The court was appealed to on the ground that the board had no power to take such a step. A violent contest arose on the question. Feeling ran high, and it was evident that the judge who dared face the storm must incur great unpopularity. To Judge Taft, however, there seemed absolutely no question of the right of the school board to take such action. His mind clear on that point, it was not in the nature of the man to consider for a moment the popular clamor or the effect of the decision on his own career. The other two judges decided against the school board. [Page 1 / Page 2] Judge Taft delivered an elaborate dissenting opinion. When the case was taken to the supreme court of Ohio, this opinion was sustained in every point by a unanimous court of five judges, and has since beome the law throughout the United States. 'The Bible in the Public Schools' case arose in his path several times later and probably prevented his being governor of Ohio. When, however, the storm of prejudice and bigotry had subsided and people had time to consider the matter, Judge Taft's reputation as a judge who knew neither fear nor favor was inevitably increased. In 1872 he resigned from office in order to join his two sons in the practice of law under the style of A. Taft & Sons.

In 1876 Judge Taft was appointed secretary of war by President Grant, succeeding General Belknap, and the following May was transferred to the office of attorney general, which he held until the end of the administration in March, 1877, when he resumed the practice of his profession in Cincinnati, Ohio. In April, 1882, he was appointed by President Arthur, United States minister plenipotentiary to Austria, and in 1884 was promoted to the Court of Russia, remaining until August, 1885. In the spring of that year he had a sever attack of pneumonia, followed by typhoid fever, being one of the numerous Americans who have fallen victims to the Russian climate. The disease broke down his extraordinary rugged constitution and he returned, shattered in health, to private life. He sought relief in southern California, but his death occurred in San Diego, May 21, 1891, aged eighty years.

Judge Taft was exceedingly fond of historical and genealogical research, and gave considerable attention to tracing the lineage of the Taft family. He delivered the historical address at the Taft family re-union at Uxbridge, Massachusetts, August 12, 1874. Judge Taft took an active interest in all educational matters, and served more than twenty years as a trustee of the Cincinnati high school. he was a member of the corporation of Yale College and was honored with its degree of LL. D. in 1867. His five sons graduated from that well-known institution, and his grandsons keep up the family tradition. In politics Judge Taft began life as a Whig and an ardent supporter of Webster. He joined the Republican party at its formation, and was always a warm supporter of its principles. In 1856 he was a delegate to the National Republican Convention, which nominated John C. Fremont for president. In the same year he was nominated by the Republicans of Cincinnati for congress, but was defeated by the Democratic candidate, George H. Pendleton. In every position to which Judge Taft was called he rendered most able, effective and loyal service. He was a gentleman of scholarly attainments, of the highest personal character, and a kindliness and sweetness of disposition which endeared him to all who came in contact with him.

Judge Taft was twice married. He married (first) in September, 1841, Fanny Phelps, daughter of Judge Charles Phelps, of Townshend, Vermont. She died in 1851. Of their five children three died in infancy; the surviving children were . . . . . . . . . .

Judge Taft married (second), December 26, 1853, Louisa Maria Torrey, daughter of Samuel D. Torrey (see sketch of Samuel D. Torrey), of Millbury, Massachusetts. They had five children:

1. Samuel Davenport, died in infancy.

2. William Howard, born September 15, 1857, [became U.S. President and Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court] . . .

3. Henry Waters, born May 27, 1859, in Cincinnati, Ohio. After his graduation from Yale College in the class of 1880, he studied law in Cincinnati and Columbia, and established himself in practice in New York city, being now a member of the firm of Strong & Cadwalader. One of his ablest and most important arguments recently was in the United States supreme court, where he was employed by the government to prosecute its suit against the Tobacco trust. The decision of the court was a complete triumph for principles which have far-reaching consequences. This important case is reported as Hale vs. Henkel in volume 201 of the United States Supreme Court Reports. In 1905 Mr. Taft received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Yale. He married in 1883, Julia Walbridge Smith, daughter of Hon. Levi Smith, of Troy, New York, and their children are: Marian Jennings, died in infancy; Walbridge smith, of the class of 1907 at Yale; William Howard, class of 1909 at Yale; Louise Witherbee.

4. Horace Dutton, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 28, 1861. He graduated from Yale College in 1883, studied law and was admitted to the bar, but decided to pursue the vocation of teaching. He was for three years a tutor of Latin in Yale College. In 1890 he established the Taft School for boys at Pelham Manor, New York, but in 1893 moved the school to Watertown, Connecticut. The school has prospered and has now about one hundred pupils. The catalogue announces that 'the object of the school is to give boys a thorough preparation for the best colleges and scientific schools, and to make them strong, healthy and manly men.' In 1893 Mr. Taft received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Yale. He married in 1891, Winifred Shepard, daughter of Mrs. Helen Bierstadt Thompson, of Niagara Falls, New York.

5. Fanny Louise, the only daughter, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 18, 1865. She was educated in Cincinnati and at Farmington, Connecticut, completing her studies abroad in music and the languages. In 1890 she became the wife of Dr. William A. Edwards, a physician and surgeon, formerly of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now resideing in Los Angeles, California.

HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT . . . . . "

Source: Crane, Ellery Bicknell, ed., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personl Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts with a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Vol. II, pp. 1-2 (NY Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

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Friday, January 12, 2007

A Brief Description of Scott's Grocery Store at Bartow Village in Pelham

In the 19th century there was an area in the Town of Pelham known as Bartow. The tiny hamlet was a quaint collection of buildings clustered around the little wooden Bartow station on the New Haven branch line. The area was located on the mainland near Shore Road not far from City Island. Today the Pelham Bit Stables stands on shore road in the area once known as Bartow. New York City annexed the entire area, including City Island, in the mid-1890s.

Because plans to create Pelham Bay Park and annex the area swirled for many years, the area never developed as planned. Indeed, ne published account described the lack of development in “Bartow-on-the-Sound” in 1885. It stated:

“This ‘Bartow-on-the-Sound’ was started about 14 years ago. The New-Haven Railroad built a station there for City Island people. At once a town was started with the above high-sounding name. About 80 acres were laid out in city lots, 25 by 100. Jere. Johnson’s services were called in, and he, with his persuasive powers, managed to sell some 50 or 60 lots. Since then a town has arisen – a town destined, it may be, to rival New-York, for in 14 years there have been built, to wit: item, one seventh-rate hotel and gin mill; item, one gin mill without the hotel; item, one blacksmith’s shop; item, one real estate office unoccupied for 13 ½ years; item, one dwelling, part occupied for a Post Office; item, a grocery and feed store; item, about five frame houses; in all about 11 buildings, all told worth about $40,000”.

Source: The Pelham Park, N.Y. Times, Dec. 15, 1885, p. 5.

There is a brief reference to the grocery that stood at Bartow and that is referenced in the article quoted above. It is from a book of fiction authored by Gouverneur Morris and published in 1904 entitled "Ellen and Mr. Man". The pertinent excerpt from that book reads as follows:

"It was quite de riguer in those days for the child that had money to treat the other children at Mr. Scott's grocery-store, near the Bartow station. You could have your pick of many things, but animal crackers, elephants, tigers, lions, and rhinoceroses, and shoe-laces made of licorice were the most choice. You went at the animals like a discriminating surgeon with a knife. You lopped off a leg, then a nose, then another leg, until what had been, say, a stately elephant was nothing but a bitten round of cracker-stuff. Of course those crackers tasted in all parts exactly alik, and yet to this day, if I came across one, I could eat the legs and head with considerable relish, and really feel snippy about the flavor of the rest. But give me [Page 47 / Page 48] shoe-laces! They were always my fancy: shiny, tough, and elastic. You took one end between your teeth, let go with your hands, and worked it, by little bites (you had to guard against biting too hard), all the way into your mouth, then (if I may so express it) you unbit it all the way out. I dare say this was a very nasty way of eating, but, by heaven, I can recommend it! It wouldn't do for a duchess at a court dinner, but for humble people in private life -- mm! mm!

Well, I had been treated so many times, without ever having treated back (for all my fine talk of money), that children's souls began to revolt within them. And I must say mine did too. So that when Walter Craig (a fat and selfish child) up and said point-blank that he wasn't going to treat me any more (and he didn't recommend it to others, either) unless I treated back, matters reached a crisis.

Far from being indignant (how could I be? - my soul was sick), I said, with tearful dignity, that the reason I never treated [Page 48 / Page 49] was because I always left my money at home, but that if anybody thought I hadn't any money, he could say so, and be a dirty little liar; and if anybody thought Iwas stingy, well, let him wait where he was on the steps of Mr. Scott's store until I had time to go home (about three quarters of a mile), get my moneys, and come back, and then if any dirty little liar that said I had no money and thought I was stingy would eat all I would buy for him, he would burst.

Walter Craig (that fat and selfish child), having learned the expression in his father's stable, gave back that he would wait for me until a certain place froze over.

With that I started for home. My whole being was at sea with despair, and there was a buzzing in my ears. There was no way that I could think of in which I could raise as much as a dime. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, and knew that Peter had left the other children to come with me. We went along in [Page 49 / Page 50] silence, and I began to evolve a plan by which I might get rid of Peter, and try to sell to Mr. Arcularius [Historic Pelham Note: The owner of the 19th century Arcularius Hotel near Pelham Bridge] or Mr. Blizzard the little gold trumpet (marked in little block letters of 18K.) that Peter had given me.

'You needn't come with me, Peter,' I said.

'Needy,' said Peter, 'I thought that perhaps you was out of money, and that if you was I could lend you some.'

Gratitude to the point of agony surged suddenly within me, and with equal sudenness my rebellious pride and high stomach had refused the offer.

'I've got lots,' I said, with an attempt to feign carelessness. We did not talk very much after that, for I was faint with the superimpending calamity, utterly without invention, and possessed only of a vague desire to get rid of Peter and die.

We had turned into Mosquito Row, when I heard my name called, and turning, beheld the postman in his little cart. [Page 50 / Page 51]

'It's for you,' the postman said, and waved a letter.

I took it and thanked him like one in a trance, and put it into my pocket. There was no chord within me that could have responded to anything less pleasant than sudden riches or sudden death.

I told Peter to wait in the hall till I ran up-stairs and got it. I locked myself in my room. Something might yet be effected with the gold trumpet. I opened the drawer in which I had hidden it, and found that it was gone.

I laid me on the bed, so utterly bowed down with shame and misery that I thought I should die. Some one tried the handle of the door, and then knocked.

'Needy - can't you find it?'

It was impossible to lie successfully any more. I knew it, and yet I lied.

'Because, if you can't find it, I can lend you some.'

'Peter,' I wailed, 'please go back and tell them I can't come because I'm sick. [Page 51 / Page 52]

'I've got a sick-headache,' I added, to fortify my invention.

Peter did not speak for a moment, and when he did his voice was unexpectdly severe and censorius.

'I guess you better come and tell them yourself,' he said.

I rose from the bed and opened the door.

'Have you got it all right?' said Peter.

'It's here,' I said slapping the pocket into which I had put the letter.

'Let's see,' said Peter.

I showed him the envelop.

'Isn't that the letter you just got?'

'Oh, no; it's the one I keep my money in.'

I had formed a vague notion of dropping the envelop into the water as we crossed the bridge, and setting up a great wail over the loss of its contents. Somehow, it is not quite pleasant to write these things about one's self - even if one has changed one's ethics upside down, which I haven't, quite.

Peter pinched the envelop. [Page 52 / Page 53]

'It's paper money, isn't it?' he said.

'How much?'

'I forget,' said I.

Half-way over the bridge I made up my mind to the distressing accident that was to deprive me of means. But at the brink of the deed - I balked. It was too barefaced - too obvious. I resolved boldly to face the other children, tear open the envelop with eclat, and finding nothing in it, to laugh, call myself a donkey, and say that I had been such a fool as to fetch the wrong one.

I am face to face with Walter Craig (that fat and selfish child). I have opened my envelop, and taken out a square of paper with 'From ELLEN' on it in large hand-printing. I have also, somewhat to everybody's surprise, but more especially to my own, produced from the afore-mentioned envelop a ten-dollar bill.

I have little comment to make about this episode in my life or its lesson, which seems to read: lie, and you will be rewarded. It has occurred to me, however, [Page 53 / Page 54] that perhaps God disliked Walter Craig for being fat and selfish more than he did poor little me, who was trying to hold up my head and my father's before men, and whose only means of doing so (or the only means I knew) was lies - lies - lies. Anyway, I lied and was rewarded, and Walter Craig was fat and selfish, and he was punished.

Walter Craig had often eaten dried apricots, but he had never eaten enough. On this afternoon he did. It was a real pleasure to watch them go into him, and to hear the praises whih he showered upon me. He ate steadily for upward of an hour, so that it was a pleasure to see. Then a great thirst began to consume him, and he drank four glasses of water and a bottle of ginger-ale. Then he began to swell.

At first he complained of little pains in the region of his waistband - they were just stitches in the side, he thought. Then he said he felt sick and thought he would go home. His face was white, and beads [Page 54 / Page 55] stood upon his forehead. Reaching the stoop of the store, his abdomen suddenly turned into a hard bowl of agony, and advised him to press his knees against his chin, This he did. Then he rolled, shrieked, and bellowed, for the fear of death and the pains of hell were in him.

It took a doctor to keep Walter Craig's selfish life in his fat body, and when at length he rose from his bed of mortal agony and came out to play, we sympathetic others greeted him whith insulting cries of:

'Glutton! Glutton! La-la-la!'"

Source: Morris, Gouverneur, Ellen and Mr. Man, pp. 47-55 (NY, NY: The Century Co. 1904).

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

More 17th Century Commercial Records Involving Thomas Pell and Edmund Leach

As I have noted in the last two days' postings to the Historic Pelham Blog, between 1876 and 1909, the City of Boston prepared and published a 39-volume set of records relating to the early history of the City. In addition to the records quoted yesterday, there are additional records that seem to reflect Thomas Pell's commercial activities as a young man. Another series of such records is transcribed immediately below. A full citation to the source appears immediately after the excerpts, taken from Volume 32 of the records.

Please note that a number of the records seem to relate to Edmund Leach of New Haven. They are quoted because Leach seems to have had some business relationship with Thomas Pell, also of New Haven.


[Page 222.] . . .

6 (8) 1649 Joshua Hues granted a tre Attr generall for all debts from all psons in Virginia unto David Selleck w th power of substitution.

6 (8) 1649 John Manning of Bost. merch t constituted James Neale of ffayall merch t his true & lawfull Attr: granting him full power &c: to ask &c: all & singular debts bills bonds & Accounts due unto him from any pson or psons whatsoever in Virginia. & in speciall of Tho: Bushrode Mercht. & of the receipt to give acquittance &c: also to compound &c: & to appeare in any Court &c: with power to substitute one Attr &c: ratifying &c:

6 (8) 1649 I attested a bond of Mr Selleck of 500 ii to Edmund Leach & Thomas Pell."

Source: A Volume of Records Relating to the Early History of Boston Containing the Aspinwall Notarial Records from 1644 to 1651, Vol. 32, pp. 5, 245(Boston, MA: Municipal Printing Office 1903).

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

17th Century Commercial Records Involving Thomas Pell and Edmund Leach

As I noted in yesterday's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog, between 1876 and 1909, the City of Boston prepared and published a 39-volume set of records relating to the early history of the City. In addition to the records quoted yesterday, there are additional records that seem to reflect Thomas Pell's commercial activities as a young man. Another series of such records is transcribed immediately below. A full citation to the source appears immediately after the excerpts, taken from Volume 32 of the records.

Please note that a number of the records seem to relate to Edmund Leach of New Haven. They are quoted because Leach seems to have had some business relationship with Thomas Pell, also of New Haven.


[Page 217.] . . .

28. (7) 1649 I doe by these acknowledg to have rec d of Edmund Leach of Newhaven in Waomam and tradeing cloth to the value of one hundd & eighty pounds sterl to be paid in Boston in New Engl. in Merchantable bever at, price current, at or before the first day of June next, unto the sd Edmund Leach or his Assignes, & in case I put off any of the goods to the value of the one halfe of sd sum I doe pmise to pay the one halfe at my next coming to Boston, for pformance of w ch I bind mee my heires Exeut rs administrat rs or assignes. Witnes my hand this 23th of August 1649

Isaac Allerton.

Witnes hereunto.
Thom: Willett
Nich. Hart.

28. (7) 1649. This bill bindeth mee Adam Mott of Manhatoes to pay or cause to be pd unto Edm. Leach or his assignes the sum of fyve hundd thirty & fyve guilders at or before the first day of July next in good merchantable bever in skin at foure guilders the pound, or coate at six guilders ten stivers the pound, for pformance of w ch I bind me my heires Execut andministrat rs or assignes to the sd Edmund Leach his heires executo rs administrat rs or assignes : in witnes whereof I have here unto set my hand this 15th day of September 1649.

Adam Mott.

Witnes hereunto
Edward Preston
John Duncan.

[Page 218.]

[Vol. 32 Page 239 / Vol. 32 Page 240]

28 (7) 1649 This bill bindeth me Jacob Haey now of Monhatoes in the new Netherlands to pay or cause to be pd unto Edmund Leach Now of new haven in New-England the summe of foure hundd & fourty guilders in good merchantable bever in coate at six guilders the pound, or skin at four guilders the pound, at or before the sixth of June next, for the pformance of wch I bind mee my heires executo rs administr or assignes to the sd Edm Leach his Executors Administr or assignes. Witness my hand this 19th day of August 1649

Jacob Haey.

witness hereunto
Adam Mott
Georg. Baxter.

28 (7) 1649 I Peter Anderson alias Scoftepheger doe acknowledge my selfe to be indebted unto Edmund Leach of Newhaven for two pipes of wine the summe of fyve hundd & fifty guilders to be pd in good merchantable Bevers at eight guilders the skin at or before the 15th day of May next, or also fyve hundd guilders the pound, or else in Coate bever at six guilders the pound by the aforesd time, all to be pd at the Manhatas. in witnes whereof I bind my heirs executors administr or assignes to the sd Edm. Leach. Witnes my hand this 24th of July 1649

The mark of Peter Anderson alias Scoftepheger

Witnes hereunto
Joseph Alsop
John Duncan.

28 (7) 1649 This bill bindeth mee Ephraim Wheeler of ffairefield to pay or cause to be pd unto Edm. Leach late of Newhaven the summe of foure score pounds in manner & forme as followeth, that is to say forty pounds sterl in beefe or pork good & merchantable & at current price at or before the last day of Sept next, & the other forty pounds sterl to be pd in wheat & pease (halfe of it at least to be wheate) at or before the first day of March next after the beefe and porke is to be pd. wch wilbe in the yeare, 1650. the sd pease & wheate to be dd also at price current at ffairefield above sd for pformance of wch I vind mee my heires executors Administrat or assignes, unto the sd Edmund Leach his heires Executors administrators or Assignes. In witnes whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 17th day of Septemb r 1649

Ephraim Wheeler

Witness hereunto
Tho: Wheler
Edw: Preston.

[Vol. 32 Page 240 / Vol. 32 Page 241]

28. (7) 1649 This bill bindeth mee Jonathan Brewster of Plymouth in New England to pay or cause to be p d unto Edm. Leach of Newhaven in New England his Executors adminstrat or assigns the summe of threescore pounds sterl. in bever at eight shillings the pound good & merchantable at or before the 20th day of Aprill next at Boston in New England, for the performance of w ch I bind mee my heires Executors Administrat or assigns.

witnes my hand & seale this sixth day of Sept 1648

Jonathan Brewster

witnes hereunto
Thomas Pell
John Duncan.

[Page 219.]

27 (7) 1649 Recd of Edm. Leach the summe of twenty shillings in full satisfaction of all actions debts bills or bonds until this 22th day of August 149. } 20ss.

p [by] me Alex Bryan

28. (7) 1649 I doe by these wholely release & acquitt Edmd Leach from all bonds bills debts & dues whatsoever from the beginning of the world unto this day of the date hereof. In witnes whereof I have hereunto sett my hand.

Dat. this 25th day of August. 1649.

Thomas Pell

Witnes hereunto
Joshua Attwaters
Samuel Eaton.

28 (7) 1649 This is to testify that I Adam Mott do acknowledg to have made even w th Edmund Leach concerning all bills bonds depts reckonings accounts or dues whatsoever from the begining of the world until this day. Witnes my hand this first of Sept. 1649

Adam Mott.

Also I attested a Copie of these 3 acquittances & the six bills aforegoing. 28 (7) 1649.

1 (8) 1649 Thirty dayes after sight of this my onely bill of exchang pay unto Mr ffrancis Brewster or assignees nineteene pounds ten shillings sterl. value here rend. make him good paymt & put it to Acco. as by advise Vale.

Kiquotan 20th march 1643.

Yor loving friend
Tho: Bushrode.

Rec d on the other side
p me ffrancis Brewster.


Source: A Volume of Records Relating to the Early History of Boston Containing the Aspinwall Notarial Records from 1644 to 1651, Vol. 32, pp. 5, 238-41 (Boston, MA: Municipal Printing Office 1903).

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