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, February 28, 2007

Lord Cornbury Installs John Bartow as Rector of the Parish of Westchester, Eastchester, Yonkers and the Manor of Pelham in 1702


Wills on file in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York, contain entries other than wills. Examples of such entries include material regarding Lord Cornbury's installation of John Bartow as Rector of the Parish of Westchester, Eastchester, Yonkers and the Manor of Pelham in 1702.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes abstracts of those records published in 1893. The abstracts appear immediately below, followed by a citation to their source.

"ABSTRACTS OF WILLS - LIBER 7. . . .

[Mandate of Lord Cornbury in Latin.] To all Rectors, Chaplains, Curates and ministers, and to Caleb Heathcote, Henry Hunt and Josiah Hunt, Church Wardens of the Parish of Westchester, Eastchester, Yonkers, and Manor of Pelham, commanding them to induct the Rev. JOHN BARTOW, as Rector in the said Parish, now vacant, and to put him in possession of the Rectory, Glebe, and Church property. Given under the Prerogative seal of this Province, November 9, 1702.

Cornbury.

[Latin.] By virtue of the above written mandate, and in the presence of Hugh Farquhar and Thomas Hunt, Joseph Haviland, Daniel Clark, and Edward Collier. We William Vesey, Clergyman, and Josiah Hunt, Church Warden of the Parish of Westchester and Eastchester, have inducted the Rev. JOHN BARTOW, in the Parish Church of Eastchester, Westchester, Yonkers, and Manor of Pelham, and put him in possession of the Rectory, Glebe, and Parish property. In Testimony whereof we had subscribed these Presents, December 6, 1702.

We whose names are underwritten, doe certifie and declare, that on Sunday the 6 day of December, anno Domini 1702, JOHN BARTOW, Clerk, after his induction, did in the Parish Church of Westchester, read the morning and evening service, according to the exact form by Act of Parliament prescribed, and immediately after the reading of ye aforesaid service did declare his unfeigned assent and consent to all contained and prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, as the Law in such cases directs, before ye Congrega- [Page 361 / Page 362] tion on the said day assembled, and also did read ye books of ye 39 Articles of the Church of England, with the ratification. And immediately after ye reading of ye aforesaid Articles and Ratification before the Congregation, did declare, at the above said time and place, his unfiegned assent and consent to them, and to all things therein contained. In Testimony whereof we who were present have hereunto subscribed our names this 6th day of December anno Dom., 1702. William Vesey, Joseph Haviland, Edward Collier, Thomas Hunt, Hugh Farquhar, William Willett, Josiah Hunt, John Williams."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York, 1665-1707 in Collections of the New-York Historical Society For the Year 1892, pp. 361-62 (NY, NY: The New-York Historical Society 1893).

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Excerpt of 1917 Report to Board of Education Regarding Distribution of Student Population in Pelham

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In 1918, Teachers' College, Columbia University, published a doctoral dissertation by N. L. Engelhardt entitled "A School Building Program For Cities". In it, the author quoted an interesting excerpt of a report on the geographical distribution of the student population within the Town of Pelham in 1917. The pertinent portion of the dissertation has been excerpted and transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"3. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION

Dot maps illustrating densities of total population and of school population show frequently no conformity in the distributions. In other words, density of child population does not shift with density of total population. This was borne out clearly in the school building program as laid out by Strayer and Trabue for the community [Page 32 / Page 33 and Part of Page 34 Contain Unrelated Table / Page 34] of Pelham, N. Y., in May, 1917. The following is an excerpt from their report 15 [Footnote 15 Reads: "15 Unpublished."] to the Board of Education.

During the five-year period between the federal census of 1910 and the state census of 1915, the population of the town of Pelham increased from 2,998 persons to 3,782 -- an increase of twenty-six per cent. That section of the town lying north of the New Haven Railroad, known as the village of North Pelham, increased during this period from 1,311 to 1,874 persons -- an increase of forty-three per cent. The Pelham Heights section had a sixteen per cent increase during this five-year period, while the Pelham Manor section increased only eleven per cent. The best estimate we have been able to make of the present distribution of population indicates that there are very nearly 4,000 persons now living in the town, half of them living north and half of them living south of the New Haven Railroad. It may reasonably be expected that the town of Pelham will contain 6,000 persons by the year 1925. Under normal circumstances this would mean that school accommodations would be necessary for at least 1,200 pupils by that time.

From information furnished by the pupils who attended the school on Monday, May 14, we find that the afverage family supplying children for the schools from the Pelham Manor and Pelham Heights sections, contains 4.7 persons. The average school family in that section of North Pelham, known as Pelhamwood, contains 3.9 persons, while the average family supplying the schools from the remainder of North Pelham contains 5.5 persons. The average [Page 34 / Page 35] family in general throughout New York State and the United States as a whole, was composed in 1910 of about 4.5 persons. The small size of the Pelhamwood families is partly due to the fact that this section is being developed just now, and that the great majority of those who are building homes here are young people whose families may be expected to reach the normal size during the next ten years. The problem of elementary school accommodations for the children of Pelhamwood will probably become most urgent in about five years."

Source: Engelhardt, N. L., A School Building Program for Cities, pp. 32-36 (NY, NY: Teachers' College, Columbia University 1918) (Ph.D. dissertation published as part of series: "Teachers College, Columbia University Contributions to Education, No. 96).

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Invitation to Pelham Country Club's "Tercentennial Terpsichore" on October 9, 1954

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Throughout 1954, the Town of Pelham celebrated the tercentennial of the signing of the Pell-Siwanoy "Treaty" on June 27, 1654. Among the many celebratory events was a costume dance held at the Pelham Country Club.

Below is an image of an invitation to that dance. To facilitate searching, I have transcribed the text of the invitation. That transcription appears immediately below the image.


"YOU'RE ALL INVITED TO THE
Tercentennial Terpsichore

Members and their guests will be arriving . . .
By . . . [image of old-fashioned steamship]
By . . . [image of trolley car]
By . . . [image of old-fashioned bicycle built for two]
And By . . . [image of old-fashioned Model T style automobile]
to attend the

PELHAM COUNTRY CLUB COSTUME DANCE
Saturday, October 9th, 1954

Enliven the evening's activities by appearing in costume -- anything from hoop skirts or bustles for the ladies to checks, race track stripes or even red flannels (oh, no, Jeeves!) for the gents.

----

PRIZES FOR THE BEST COSTUMES

----

Costumes Not A Necessity But Rather A Welcome Addition to the Party.

----

Come Out and Enjoy a Full Evening of Real Relaxation

[image of couple dressed in vintage clothing dancing]

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Music by
LESTER LANIN'S ORCHESTRA

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He'll mix the modern with some of the old-time standbys so that everyone, old and young, can trip the light fantastic!

----

Dancing 9 to 1 O'clock

----

Don't Miss the Dinner
6:30 to 8:00 O'clock

ENTERTAINMENT COMMITTEE
Ed Craig, Chairman"

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Friday, February 23, 2007

1846 Notice of Sheriff's Sale of Land Owned by William McClellan of the Town of Pelham


William McClellan once owned a large swath of land between the location of today's New Haven main line tracks and the old Boston Post Road (known today as Colonial Avenue) in today's Village of Pelham. (He also owned at least one other large tract in Pelham, nearby.) In 1846 a notice of sheriff's sale of those lands appeared in a Sing-Sing, New York newspaper. That notice is quoted in its entirety below, followed by a citation to its source.

An interesting feature of the notice is that it affirms local tradition of the origins of the street name "Wolf's Lane". The notice makes reference to "the lane leading to Andrew Wolf's". The notice immediately follows:

"Sheriff's Sale. - By virtue of an execution to me directed and delivered against the goods and chattels, lands and tenements of William W. McClellan, I have levied upon and will expose to public sale at the Court House in the village of White Plains, on the 7th day of May next, at 1 o'clock, P. M. of that day, all the right, title and interest which the said William W. McClellan had on the 5th day of March, 1845, or at any time afterwards, in whose hands soever the same may be, in and to the following described premises, viz. :

All that certain piece, parcel or lot of land, situated, lying and being in the town of Pelham, county of Westchester, and state of New York, and bounded and described as follows: On the south by the old Boston Post Road, on the west by the lane leading to Andrew Wolf's, on the west by lands of Philip Pell, on the east by lands of Henry Granzebeak [sic], containing about fifty acres, be the same more or less.

Also, all that certain lot, piece or parcel of land, situated, lying and being in the town, county and state aforesaid, and bounded and described as follows: On the south by lands of Philip Pell, on the west by lands of Andrew Wolf, on the north by lands of Francis Seacor [sic], on the east by lands of Henry Guion, and on the south and east by lands of Henry Granzeback [sic], containing about 30 acres be the same more or less.

WM. H. BRIGGS, Sheriff.
By JACOB FOSHAY, Under Sheriff 22w7"

Source: Sheriff's Sale, Hudson River Chronicle [Sing-Sing, NY], Vol. 9, Issue 22, Mar. 17, 1846, p. 3, col. 3.

That particular Sheriff's Sale does not appear to have been held since essentially the same notice appeared in the same newspaper later the same year. See Sheriff's ale [sic], Hudson River Chronicle [Sing-Sing, NY], Vol. 9, Issue 38, Jul. 7, 1846, p. 4, col. 3.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

An 1843 Plan To Annex Southern Portion of Pelham To Queens County?


I recently ran across an interesting legal notice published in 1843. It cries out for followup research since there must be a fascinating story behind the tiny notice.

The notice suggests that there was a move in 1843 to introduce legislation to annex the southern portion of the Town of Pelham to make it part of Queens County. The brief notice is quoted in its entirety immediately below.

"Notice

IS hereby given, that application will be made to the Legislature of the State of New-York, at the present session thereof, for the passage of an act to set off the southerly part of the town of Pelham, and to attach the same to the County of Queens, on Long Island.

Dated Feb. 14, 1843. 19w6"

Source: Notice, Hudson River Chronicle [Sing Sing, NY], Feb. 28, 1843, Vol. 6, Issue 20, p. 4, col. 5.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Pelham Mystery Solved: The Pelham Trading Company Incorporated in 1901


On Monday, April 10, 2006, I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog an item entitled "A Mystery Yet To Be Solved: The Pelham Trading Company Incorporated in 1901". It has taken nearly a year, but that mystery is now solved.

As I noted in the April 10, 2006 posting, buried in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham is stock certificate "No. 1" issued by The Pelham Trading Company. An image of the stock certificate appears immediately below.



In closing the summary of the meager evidence regarding the company, the posting noted: "Beyond these few basic facts, nothing else is known about the history or the activities of this company. Only time will tell whether more can be uncovered. . . . . . "

More has been uncovered. The Pelham Trading Company was incorporated on May 6, 1901. At about the same time, a large group of residents of the Village of Pelham Manor created The Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor.

With one exception (Alfred L. Hammett), every individual who served as an officer of The Pelham Trading Company or who was involved with The Pelham Trading Company was also an active member of The Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor.

Research suggests that as part of an intense drive by Pelham Manor residents in 1901 to improve their lovely village, various residents created The Pelham Trading Company to ensure a local "high quality" supply of various necessities such as coal, wood for burning in stoves and fireplaces, livestock feed, hay, straw, oats and livery services. William K. Gillett served as President of the company. Edward M. Fowler acted as Vice-President. Alfred L. Hammett served as treasurer. R. Clifford Black, Jr. served as secretary. The board of directors included Robert C. Black, Edward M. Fowler, William K. Gillett, Alfred L. Hammett and Henry B. B. Stapler.

In October 1901 the Publication Committee of The Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor issued a publication entitled The Pelham Manor Review. The extensive journal included a host of articles on local and national issues. On page 28 of that publication there appeared an advertisement for The Pelham Trading Company. The text of the advertisement sheds light on the activities of the company. An image of the advertisement appears immediately below, with a citation to its source. To facilitate searching I have transcribed the text of the advertisement beneath its image.


Source: The Pelham Trading Company [Advertisement], The Pelham Manor Review, Oct. 1901, p. 28 (original in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham).

"WILLIAM K. GILLETT, President. ALFRED L. HAMMETT, Treasurer
EDWARD M. FOWLER, Vice President. R. CLIFFORD BLACK, JR., Secretary

DIRECTORS:

ROBERT C. BLACK, EDWARD M. FOWLER, WILLIAM K. GILLETT, ALFRED L. HAMMETT, HENRY B. B. STAPLER.

-----

The Pelham Trading Company

PELHAM MANOR, N. Y.

Coal, Wood, Feed, Hay, Straw, Oats.

We keep only the VERY BEST of everything we offer to the Public. This may be relied upon.

LIVERY: Carriages to let, and horses boarded by the day, week or month.

Distance Telephone: 33 Pelham Manor

CHARLES F. ROPER, Manager."

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Formation of the Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor in 1901


On June 20, 1901, residents of the Village of Pelham Manor met and formed an Association to improve and beautify the Village. The organization later changed its name to the Pelham Manor Village Improvement Society.

For a number of years the organization shaped a number of projects that were important to the Village including the construction of a new stone train station at Depot Square, the extension of the "Toonerville Trolley" line from the railroad station to Shore Road, the construction of a stone horse watering trough at Boston Post Road and the Esplanade and much more.

One of the projects with which the organization was involved was the publication of a journal known as The Pelham Manor Review. There is only one known copy. It was published in October 1901 and is in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham. In that issue an article about the association appeared. It is quoted in its entirety below.

"THE VILLAGE IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION OF PELHAM MANOR.

For a long time it has been in the minds of several members of this community that much might be done to beautify and to develop this unique and attractive suburb by combined effort.

This thought took form in a meeting called for this purpose on June 20th, 1901, from the minutes of which meeting we quote the following:

'A meeting of residents of Pelham Manor was held in Mrs. Hazen's parlor Thursday, June 20th, 1901.'

The following resolution, after discussion was passed: 'It is the sense of this meeting that an organization for matters of Village Improvement be formed. It shall be called the Village Improvement Association (later changed to Society) of Pelham Manor, N. Y. It shall have a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary, and an Executive Board.'

The names of Officers and members of Executive Board elected will be found on previous page.

At this meeting it was also resolved to extend an invitation to every dweller in Pelham Manor to attend a meeting at an early date to request their cooperation.

In accordance with this resolution a meeting was called and held July 1 in Mrs. Hazen's school building. Great interest was shown in the movement to make our village a still more completely ideal country home.

The work which has been undertaken by the Pelham Manor Village Improvement Society is one which should appeal strongly to the civic pride and the personal interest of every public-spirited member of the community.

The Society makes no claim to originality. The movement for the betterment of the environment and the conditions of village life through the aid of voluntary associations like this has been in progress for half a century, during which period the value of such agencies has been demonstrated beyond question. This Society, therefore, is not an innovation; it simply takes its modest but confident place in the numerous ranks of similar organizations of longer standing which have come to form a class of the recognized institutions of progressive communities.

It follows, from what we have just said, that the Society is not intended in any way to reflect upon the duly constituted authorities or to relieve them of their official responsibilities. On the contrary, its aim is to uphold them in everything that they may do for the welfare of the village, and, by the cultivation of a proper public sentiment, render the discharge of their public dutes [sic] as easy and agreeable as possible. A friendly concord between the Village Fathers and the Society is most earnestly desired, and the Society invites from them the cordial sympathy and co-operation which it, for its part, extends to them.

The Society also wants it clearly understood that it aims to benefit the whole, and not a part, of the community. It wishes its membership to be, as nearly as practicable, co-extensive with the population of the village. It desires to represent all ideas and interests, and to have the aid of the discriminating intelligence and the neighborly support of everyone in reaching the best conclusions and pursuing the wisest courses. [Page 4 / Page 5] Its policy is one of persuasion, not of coercion.

Some features of the progressive work undertaken are indicated by the duties assigned to the various committees.

The Committee on Transportation is charged with the work of securing a new railroad station. The present structure, considering the amount and character of the traffic which it represents, is as discreditable to the village as it is unworthy of the wealthy corporation which inflicts it upon our daily sight. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co., with its enormous resources, can easily give Pelham Manor a commodious and artistic station, with sightly surroundings, such as it has given to other places of no greater importance, and the Society wishes to aid the village in securing this desirable end. This Committee approves the extension of the trolley line on Pelhamdale Avenue from the railroad station to the Sound, in order to give the residents of Pelham Manor the benefit of ready access to their beautiful waterfront. This extension will also afford access to Christ Church near the Sound, facilitate intercommunication between the railroad station and the New York Athletic Club grounds at Travers Island, increase the value of properties of all kinds throughout Pelham and Pelham Manor, and be of immense advantage to all who live within walking distance of the trolley line.

Through the Committee on Streets and Trees, the Society will work, within moderate and justifiable lines, for the preservation and cultivation of our noblest trees by the elimination of the less valuable ones; for the improvement of the health of the community by the judicious trimming of overburdened branches in order to admit the sunlight and permit a free circulation of pure air; and for the elevation of the village standard in matters pertaining to sidewalks and roadways.

The Committee on Sanitation will work on such problems as may present themselves from time to time on the improvement and extension of the sewerage system; the drainage of wet lands; the abolition of the mosquito pest, etc.

The Finance Committee has charge of the receipts and disbursements.

The Committee on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will materially aid all those who are interested in dumb creatures. It will also endeavor to have a fountain placed in one of the highways for the refreshment of man as well as beast.

The Committee on Public Improvement and Public Welfare will further the interests of the residents in every possible way.

The Committee on Membership will be glad to receive the names of persons desiring to join the Society. All who have the good of the village at heart will be welcomed by the Society, as it needs the hearty cooperation of all public-minded citizens in order to do the most effective and lasting work.

The Committee on Plans, Scope and Suggestions will explain to all who address themselves to it, the nature of the Society, its aims, work in hand, etc., and will receive all friendly suggestions made in the interest of the village.

The Committee on Publication invites contributions on literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, scientific and humorous subjects; and will print questions relating to the work of the Society in the interest of both the residents and the Society.

The Committee on Children's Auxiliary will interest all the younger residents who are anxious to be of real aid to their village.

In all its undertakings, the Society looks to the residents for a quick understanding of its work and their friendly appreciation of the problems to be solved. It will be to everyone's advantage not only to join the Society, but [also] to select some special committee whose work is felt to be most congenial to the member's tastes and abilities and have a talk with the chairman without delay. In this way the Society will be encouraged by the personal activity of its members, and the members will, in turn, deepen their own interest in the welfare of the village."

Source: The Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor, The Pelham Manor Review, Oct. 1901, pp. 4-5 (original in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham).

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Another Manor of Pelham Ghost Story: The Whispering Bell


After years of researching Pelham history, I was virtually certain that I had uncovered all published accounts of "ghost stories" regarding Pelham and surrounding areas. Recently, while researching The Village Improvement Association of Pelham Manor, I ran across an item published in "Holden's Magazine" in April 1848 with yet another ghost story: "The Whispering Bell; A Legend of Westchester".

The story concerns the bell that still hangs today at Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon. That church, of course, was for many years a principal place of worship for Pelham families in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many former Pelham residents are buried in its graveyard.

Below I have transcribed the lengthy story in its entirety.

"THE WHISPERING BELL;
A LEGEND OF WESTCHESTER.
NO. III.
[ORIGINAL.]

THERE are a great many credulous people in the world, and a good many of an entirely different turn of mind -- and as it is always pleasant and pleasing for a story-teller to be on as good terms as possible with those who, by chance or by any other way, form his acquaintance, the writer of this, with the ambitious hope of holding a small place in the esteem of both parties, has spent considerable time, not to mention anything about a small outlay of patience, in endeavoring to ascertain the correctness of the incidents mentioned, and feels quite happy in stating that his exertions have been crowned with the highest success.

There are a good many old people who do not believe in ghosts, and there are a good many young people who do; yet there are very few living at the present time who have not, at various periods of their terrestrial sojourn, broached the subject of their existence to certain unruly members of the rising generation, and by certain and unmistakable allusions to 'old shoes' and 'dark rooms,' brought the refractory juveniles to a sense of their feebleness and of the positive impropriety of their behaving 'so naughty.'

For our own part, we must honestly acknowledge that in our 'bib and tucker days,' we once and a while, probably oftener, bade desperate defiance to the laws of good behaviour, generally expected to be familiar with small children by those of a 'larger growth,' and in return for our youthful exuberance were as frequently treated with visions of tall personages decorated with extremely long white gowns, of a very picturesque description, and well calculated to create nervous sensations in the region of our intellectual faculties. These 'walking shadows' were oftentimes ushered in by a mysterious rattling of stair rods and sundry wild shrieks to render their appearance more impressive, and convey a better idea of their importance to those who were least desirous of cherishing their acquaintance.

To say that these mysterious visions ever made us better than what we were originally intended, we can not certainly and keep truth on our side -- but this we can and do say, with some degree of assurance, that their 'familiarity bred contempt,' and also created in our mind a desire to discover the manner in which they, as spiritual individuals, existed, while paying such uncommon long visits to the good people of this mundane sphere; for it is an indisputable fact that some of those gentlemen ghosts had funny tricks of 'doing for themselves,' in the way of lodging and eating, which the initiated, even as late as the present period, have not found out. As the aforesaid desire increased, we felt more and more like having our mind set at rest in regard to the matter. Fortune, however, at last favoured us with a golden opportunity of satisfying our youthful longings, and we had the indescribable pleasure of making a discovery which some how or other convinced us that one ghost, in particular, was a most unmitigated humbug, let the rest be what they may. We discovered, on peeping surreptitiously through the key-hole of the apartment which his ghostship occupied, that in his endeavour to personate the character, for which he was by nature never intended, that he had actually purloined from the bed one of its whitest sheets, and that his feet were encased in a pair of boots manufactured by the village shoemaker, whose workmanship at that time was more remarkable for its solidity than beauty. We afterwards found out that he not only did what most other people were in the habit of doing, but that he did what a good many other people did not -- that is, being possessed of a genial flow of spirits, he would oftentimes get exhilarated, we will not say drunk, for we have become so fashionable now-a-days that that word is rendered altogether obsolete. Well, 'that same' ghost was a good honest fellow, and, like Yoric, was one of 'infinite jest,' and would 'often set the table on a roar.' But the potent poison was too much for him; it killed him at last, and his ashes now rest in the village church-yard of which we are about to speak.

East Chester is a beautiful and picturesque little place, pleasantly situated about sixteen miles from the city of New York. In the time of the Revolution, it sent forth a good many strong arms and stout hearts to do battle for the country, and was the scene of many a brilliant exploit and daring achievement. 'Twas here that lived and died some of those who calmly looked forward, amidst the darkest storms, for good for those whose cause was blessed of God. In this little village we behold Washington in the darkest hour of the American Revolution, firmly trusting in an over-ruling Providence, and calling on those [Page 219 / Page 220] around him to exercise the same faith, and to fight the good fight, and fight it bravely.

To us it has many pleasant associations, for with it is linked some of the happiest and brightest hours passed in boyhood's day. The old school house and the mill, the village church and the grave-yard hard by, all rise before us as we write, and bring with them the old associations of other days, when the future was painted in our imagination with all the lovely hues of the rainbow, and when nought that was selfish or debasing had stolen in upon our feelings. There was a little brooklet that ran through the green meadow by the old church-yard, and many a day, after being tired and weary in pursuing the bright-eyed trout along the stream, have we crossed over and watched the old sexton at his work among the graves. At such times he would beguile us with some pleasant story of the olden time, for grave making to him was not as to those who looked on, but rather as a business which he expected to go at regularly every morning, and finish at a certain hour at night. And yet his work among the graves, instead of making him cross and crabbed and gloomy, had a contrary effect, and when either at work or at leisure, he was always one of the most jovial and light-hearted old men we ever knew. His ruling passion, it might be said, was grave digging, for he would rather work than play, and would always go about it with such a hearty will, that one would almost fancy that he would as leave pick out his best friends and make their graves, as quickly as he would those of others. But whatever he seemed outwardly, he had a big heart throbbing in his bosom, a heart that did not throb for one alone, but all, and was as light and happy at the 'worst of times' as at the best.

One cold afternoon in December, some years ago -- we recollect it well -- as the old sexton and ourself were entering the porch of the church, we heard a strange noise, as if of some one moaning among the graves; presently it grew nearer and nearer, and instead of lamenting was full of deep, strong melody, that sounded like the chaunting of the church choir. Then it rose up higher and higher, until it died away in soft sweet whispers, as if its melody had been exhausted.

ONE, TWO, THREE, pealed forth the bell, but yet no human power was nigh.

The old sexton turned round, and as he did so, there was something strange and solemn in the expression of his face.

'You heard it, did you not?' said he, speaking for the first time. A nod of the head, with a mysterious look, was the reply he received, for, to tell the truth, if you had been by, dear reader, you would have noticed some very peculiar workings about our physiognomy -- not that we were afraid at all -- no, no, not a bit of it, but we felt quite strange and sentimental.

''Tis the anniversary,' he continued; 'how strange that I did not think of it before. Yes, 'tis the anniversary,' and he paused and bowed his head.

'The anniversary of what?' we inquired, our bump of curiosity getting somewhat excited.

''Tis a long story,' he said, 'and this is not the time or place for you to hear it. Those two unmarked graves you see by yonder vault, now almost level with the ground, have something to do with it; and, if you please, you may go home with me and I will tell it you.'

Now, whether we had sufficient curiosity to hear the sexton's story will be shown, but to tell the truth, and be candid and above-board about the matter, we will own up to having one other motive for accepting his polite invitation, which was for the purpose of seeing his black-eyed little niece, for whom we had at that time a tender, very tender regard. And who will blame us for it? Not you, we are pretty positive, for there are but few at that age who do not have the same sensation, and if we are not greatly mistaken there are some older heads in our circle of acquaintance who have not yet learned better.

The soft light of the setting sun had fallen on the earth, and the roaring wind had for a time died away. The old sexton left the church-yard with a firm step, and his eye seemed to lighten up as he thought of his snug fireside, and the good cheer that awaited him on his arrival home. We walked down the little knoll leading from the church gate, and were in a second on the bridge which crosses the road a short distance below. We passed but few people on our journey, but all of them had a friendly 'how do you do?' for the old sexton, and even the dogs at the different gates gave him welcome, for starting off at first with vigorous barks as they heard footsteps approaching, they would, on leaping the wall, greet him with familiar wagging of tails and sundry other demonstrations of esteem in general vogue with the canine race, all of which can be better understood than described. Here and there a light shone brightly through the window, and you might discover, with but slight exertion, a happy group of children seated around a blazing fire of wood, the sparks flying out as if they too would like to join in the merriment. But many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then have ceased to beat, and the eyes that beamed so brightly have hid their lustre in the grave. The old sexton has 'gathered them in,' and they now 'sleep the sleep which knows no waking.'

There was a light step heard within the sexton's cottage as he knocked at the door, and there was a bright face beaming with smiles that welcomed him as he entered. Just then something beneath our waistcoat, we will not say what it was, gave two or three uncommon strong throbs, and at the same time we felt a strange burning in our face which we did our best to suppress, and, by the greatest exertion, succeeded. Fanny was all light, all joy, all smiles, while we felt most wofully nonsensical, and fully illustrated our feelings by our looks. Oh! that was a sly rogue, that Fanny; and, though it is some years since we have met, we will wager one of our largest possessions that she has broken many a poor fellow's heart ere this!

A nice tidy little lady was the sexton's wife, in her tastefully trimmed cap and her gold specs. She was the very personification of comfort, and seemed to spend all her time to make her husband happy. There was a large brass warming-pan hanging back of the door -- that looked like comfort, surely. Then there were sundry little articles hard by, which none but old people who enjoy themselves, have; and last, though not least, there was quite a venerable looking pipe, with a very long stem, on her work-stand, and beside which reposed a paper of the 'choicest' tobacco, brought forward expressly and in readiness for the old gentleman after supper.

The supper! Ha! ha! what a supper to wait on [Page 220 / Page 221] a good appetite? There were short cakes, though rather long in the baking; spare-ribs freshly cut from some unfortunate member of porkdom, and which were not spared; pickled salmon, and fried potatoes, with a few than Fanny, for her own individual appetite, had thought proper to bake.

It was a pleasant thing to see the old sexton, with a smiling countenance, seated between his wife and Fanny, now making a demonstration on the spare-ribs, and then punishing the short cake in a manner extremely terrific. Then the joyous laugh of the little black-eyed beauty at some witticism perpetrated by the old man; and, then, shall we mention it, the strange confusion of eight feet under the table, when two, smaller than the rest, would, as if compelled by magic, come together gently at the toes, -- sometimes getting lost in the confusion, but always finding out the right harbour in the end.

Supper over, the table was cleared, and the dishes nicely washed and put away. Everything being ready, the old gentleman smiled good-humouredly as he drew his chair closer to the fire, lighted his pipe, and produced a very mysterious looking MSS., which, to judge by the chirography, certainly bore the marks of genius, to say the least. As it afterwards came in our possession, we have taken the liberty of calling it

THE OLD SEXTON'S STORY ABOUT THE WHISPERING BELL.

'In the time of the Revolution,' commenced the old man, 'the people about this neighbourhood and surrounding country were greatly annoyed by the British and Hessians. Their property was destroyed; their houses plundered, and everything was done that could be done to make them uncomfortable. The language of the British was as insulting to females as males and they oftentimes committed acts which today's humanity shudder at the bare recital. Sometimes, when they were out of provisions, they would visit a house and take from it all they could lay their hands upon, not so much as leaving a crumb of bread behind. All farming utensils were stolen, and everything useful was either taken away or destroyed on the spot. To avoid, as far as possible, these annoyances, the people had to bury their money, and all else worth preserving. There are but few living now, surrounded by luxuries and comforts from every clime, that think at what a price their present happiness was purchased, and of those noble spirits who so gallantly and bravely fought for the independence of their country. No, no: the world is changing every day, and it seems to me that the good old feelings that flowed in the noble tide of human sympathy are fast ebbing away.

'One time, learning that a party of British and Hessians were about to pay them a visit, the Americans took the bell which hangs in the Episcopal church, and filling it with money and other valuables, buried it under an apple tree in the orchard * [asterisk footnote] of -----. Among those concerned in secreting it were two brothers, who lived in the village, and who went by the name of Wilson. At one time they were thought a great deal of by those who knew them, and were often entrusted with secrets which, if they so felt disposed, might turn gently to their own individual

-----

* At that time the farm was owned by a gentleman by the name of Vincent. His son was shot down under a black walnut tree, which is now standing, for refusing to shoe a British officer's horse. The place is at present owned by a relative of the writer.

[End of footnote, return to body of text at top of next column]

benefit, for they were quite poor, and lived mainly by the little jobs which they got to do about the neighbourhood.

'The eldest, whose name, I believe, was Henry, had a wife and one child -- a little girl some three or four years of age. They had been married quite young, and his wife was of a sickly and delicate constitution, and what occasioned her ill-health more than anything else, I think, was the manner in which her husband oftentimes conducted himself; for he had a passion for strong drink, a burning, awful thirst for rum, which would often make him act more like a madman than a human being possessed of reason and reflection. He would, at times, go for weeks without tasting a drop, but soon after the fit would seize him again, and he would spend as long a time in indulging his beastly appetite for the intoxicating cup. He could not, if he had tried, done more to break her heart. Yet for all, for any unkind thing that he did, she, true woman-like, freely forgave him, hoping that he would soon see the error of his way, and mark out a new path for the future. But her bright anticipations were scarcely created before they were dashed to the ground; still she hoped on, dreamed on, ever trusting, and ever willing to forgive. To tell all that woman suffered, and so patiently and so meekly withal, would bring tears to the eyes of the most obdurate scoundrel. Days and weeks, and months, and years, of privation and misery seemed nothing, if she could only ween him back to the path of rectitude.

'His brother, in respect to drinking, was as different as could well be, for he detested the conduct of Henry, if possible, more than any one else; and he was not at all backward in speaking to him, and giving him his opinion on the subject. This created a dislike for him in the bosom of Henry, who had been frequently heard to swear, that if ever he crossed his path it should cost him his life. No one thought anything about his threats, but looked upon them only as the idle ravings of a drunken man.

'By some singular coincidence they had both resolved to dig up the bell, on the same night, and at the same time, when discovery would be the least possible. The night before they contemplated carrying their designs into execution, Henry had commenced one of his fits of drunkenness, and on coming home, he, in a moment of forgetfulness, told his wife what he was going to do on the following evening, and likewise of his intention of quitting the country if successful in recovering the buried treasure. He had arrived at that point which roused in his mind the worst passions of his animal nature, and made him think that all mankind was his common enemy, and that he, in justice to himself, must have revenge, not on one, but all -- in fact, the free use of ardent spirits had wrecked his mind completely. His wife threw herself upon her knees and besought the Almighty Being to lead him back from his evil ways, and guide his steps aright. But her prayers and words seemed to have but little effect upon her husband -- for the more she entreated the worse he became -- and even went so far as to tell her that if she did not desist from her entreaties, that she should not live to see the morrow dawning. It was a piteous spectacle to behold that woman, still so young and beautiful, on her knees, beseeching him to cast aside for ever the awful poison [Page 221 / Page 222] which was carrying him with slow, sure steps to death and degradation.

' 'For God's sake, for my sake, for our child's sake, Henry,' she cried, 'dash aside the accursed wine cup, and be yourself once more. There is forgiveness even for the worst; you can, you will, you must repent; do not, do not hold back any longer.' Not a murmur escaped his lips as she spoke, but he sat before the fire with his head bent down, as if he dared not look her in the face -- her he had so deeply wronged.

' 'Speak to me -- only a word, Henry; tell me that you love me now as you did in other days. Do not look so cast down and dejected; I am still your loving wife, your own true Mary!'

' 'Stop this at once!' he exclaimed, rising to his feet, and dashing the chair on which he was seated to the floor with all his strength, 'stop this woman's talk at once, or, by all the fiends in hell, the life blood shall not flow through your veins a moment longer! I have sworn, and call God to witness, that for all the injuries I have received I will have revenge -- that from this time forth, to the last moment of my life, I shall devote my whole energies to the one object -- it shall be terrible, undying, and unextinguishable!'

'It was plain to see upon that woman's altered face that the last blow had been given to break her heart. No tear or sound escaped her -- she stood there transfixed almost to the floor, a perfect picture of despair. Those who coldly talk of woman's love, how little do they know of her patient and gentle nature!

'That night she died of a broken heart. Her existence had been a brief and joyless one, lingering on without pain until her life blood ebbed slowly away.'

The old man brushed a tear from his cheek as he read.

'Beneath a plain grave stone in a lonely corner of the yard repose the bones of mother and child. They died when life was in its spring time, but not before the world's cold breath had frozen their fresh young hearts; but they are in Heaven now -- in Heaven!

* * * * * * * *

It was a dark, cold night, the one following the death of Wilson's wife. He had been drinking almost the whole time since, and he started forth at twelve o'clock, to search for the treasure a crazed and desperate man. It seemed that the fiend himself had frightened away the better part of his good nature and taken possession of the citedal of his soul. There was a demoniac glitter in the flashes of his dark eyes, and they almost seemed to be starting from their sockets. His face had grown old that very night, but not with the hand of time. About his whole appearance there was something truly startling and terrible, a something which would create feelings of repugnance in the mind of any one who saw him.

'By the dim light of an old lantern he found his way to the meadow, and after searching about for a little time he at last discovered the apple tree under which the bell containing the treasure was buried. It was about three feet from the surface of the ground, and about two from the body of the tree on the right. He had armed himself with a pickaxe and spade, and after taking a good drink of the brandy which he had in a small black bottle, he commenced his work, and was soon agreeably astonished to find that by the sounding of the crowbar he had reached the bell. The night, as I said, was very cold, and it would seem that the nearer he got to the treasure the more familiar he became with the black bottle, until at last he swallowed every drop of its freindship, and then dashed it away from him with a curse. The earth had all been removed from the bell, and for a moment he seated himself upon it to rest. The liquor he had drank, seemed to have taken but little effect upon him, and he rested after the fatigue with considerable relish. But his composure was soon to be disturbed, for on looking across the meadow towards the old barn which stood there then, he fancied he saw a light coming toward him. He could not be mistaken, but cleared his eyes and looked again -- yes, he was right, and it approached nearer and nearer every moment. What was to be done? It was too late to think of covering up the bell again, and to run and leave it -- no, no, it had cost him to much labor to do that. He extinguished his light and made sundry preparations for the reception of his visitor, whoever he might be. A footstep came nearer and nearer, and in a few moments it was very evident that the stranger was coming to the apple tree. He approached it, and as he reached the ground, Wilson darted behind another tree near at hand.

' 'Ha! ha! then I am not wrong after all,' muttered the stranger, surveying the work before him; 'I would have sworn that I saw a light -- the villians, who ever they may be, have ran off without daring to touch a thing. What cowards some folks are, and to run away too from a treasure like this, when poverty is so very unpopular with the world. Ha! ha! its quite funny. I would have given a guinea to have seen what queer looking fellows they were.'

' 'Then behold one of them!' shouted Wilson, springing forward and grasping the stranger fiercely by the wrist. 'I am the only one of those fellows you would like to see -- now look at me well and see what you can make by the interview. Look well, I say, for my features are not always the same, and you may not perhaps recollect me!'

' 'Great God!' exclaimed the stranger, recoiling -- 'HARRY!!'

Wilson smiled and was silent.

' 'Harry,' said the stranger wildly, 'do you not know me -- speak. Do you not know me? You look pale and tremble -- I am no enemy, speak to me!'

' 'Enemy or not, you die -- die on this spot and by my hand. Your time has come. I've sworn it!'

'With that he seized him by the throat -- they clinched and fell. For a time the struggle was desperate, but the voice of the stranger grew fainter and fainter, until it wholly ceased. His brother had kept his oath, and he was dead.

'He was found near the bell the next morning, and by some kind friends buried in the village church-yard. There was but one bag of gold missing. Young Wilson, at the time of his death, was engaged to be married to a young lady residing in the neighbourhood. She did not long survive him, however, and those two graves I showed you to-day were their's. Harry Wilson was never heard of after, but ever since the bell was placed in the old church tower, it has, on the anniversary of the murder, been heard to strike ONE, TWO, THREE, and strange sounds have also been heard by those who have been near it at those times.

'Many years have passed by since that night, but [Page 222 / Page 223] still it is well remembered by many inhabitants. I have been sexton here, man and boy, for over fifty years, and not an anniversary has passed without the strange noises from the bell.'

When the old gentleman had finished his story, the gold spectacles of his 'better half,' were quietly edging themselves toward the extreme tip of her nose, and Fanny, dear soul, had fallen into a very comfortable slumber. We thanked him for his kindness, and started for home with fearful expectations of getting a 'blowing up' for keeping such bad hours. We succeeded in reaching our bed in safety, however, and were in a short time dreaming of belles in general, and the WHISPERING BELL of the old sexton in particular.

New York, March 1st, 1848."

Source: The Whispering Bell; A Legend of Westchester, Holden's Magazine, Apr. 1848, pp. 219-223.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

1802 Advertisement May Show Image of Pelham Farmhouse

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A tiny engraving published in 1802 in the Mercantile Advertiser published in New York City may depict a tiny Pelham farmhouse. If so, it may be one of the earliest published views of any location in the Town of Pelham. I noted the possible existence of any even earlier such image in the following posting:

Wednesday, August 31, 2005: Depiction of Pelham Farmhouse Published in 1794.

The image, which appears below, was published as part of a small classified advertisement that offered a 130-acre farm located in the Town of Pelham for sale. It shows a tiny, saltbox-style farmhouse near a large shade tree with chimneys at each end, a shingle roof, and a fence. There are two windows visible on to the right of the front door and one window visible to its left. There can now be no certainty, of course, that the tiny image is an accurate depiction of the actual farmhouse on the property offered for sale, but it is at least possible that it is. The entire text of the advertisement appears beneath the image below, followed by a citation to its source.





"A FARM FOR SALE.

A FARM of about 130 acres, in the county of West Chester, Manor Pelham, about 17 or 18 miles from New-York. The old Boston road and the new Turnpike both run through it. There is a considerable quantity of good wood-land on said Farm, several excellent bearing orchards and plenty of good meadow. There are on the premises, a dwelling house and barn and other outhouses. Also, a good cyder-mill, and two wells excellent water, and otherways well watered. The Farm is under good cultivation, within one and a half mile from the two public landings of East Chester and New-Rochelle, a handsome situation for a country seat, and well worth the attention of persons wanting such a place. It will be sold at public auction on the premises, on Wednesday the 10th March next, at 12 o'clock; and being an undivided estate, it will be sold without reserve for cash, and possession given on the first of April next.

N.B. For further particulars, enquire of ELI GUYON in New-Rochelle, near the Church, or STEPHEN RICH, no. 32 Barclay street, New-York. February 9. 1 mo"

Source: A Farm For Sale, Mercantile Advertiser, Feb. 10, 1802, Issue 2969, p. 2, col. 2.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Text of January 1, 1885 Annual Report of the Pelham Manor Protective Club


The population of Pelham grew quickly after the Civil War. With development came problems, particularly as “tramps” found the area enticing and hitched rides to Pelham on trains running on the New Haven Main Line and the Branch Line. Before the Village of Pelham Manor was incorporated in 1891, local residents founded the Pelham Manor Protective Club as a means of working together for the good of their community. Nearly the entire adult male population of the area – 52 local residents – subscribed as members.

The purpose of the club was “to assist the public authorities in maintaining law and order within a radius of one mile from Pelham Manor Depot....” The club raised money to fund its work, which included guarding against tramps, petty thieves, stray livestock and other local problems. The records of the club, which was disbanded once the village of Pelham Manor was incorporated, provide documentation of the development of a local government in lower Westchester County in the 1880s. The page shown below is the cover of the annual report for the year 1884. It was read to members of the Club at a meeting on January 1, 1885. The entire text of the report follows the image below.



"REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Pelham Manor Protective Club.

January 1st, 1885.

Members of the Protective Club of Pelham Manor.

Gentlemen:

Another year has gone passed and you are again gathered together as you have been wont to do to elect your officers for another the ensuing year, and to hear from our Executive Committee – what of their doings during the year just closed, and to counsel together as to what should be done for your mutual benefit and protection during the year to come. The most important thing perhaps which your Committee has to report is, that they have done but little, and that mainly because there has been but little to do. During the year your Committee have held ten regular meetings. The first meeting being was held January 5th, at this meeting Geo. H. Reynolds was elected Chairman and David W. Johnson Clerk and Treasurer. On the first of July, Mr. De Witt, who was one of the chief promoters of the Club and has almost continuously since its organization been a member of the Executive Committee, retired from service upon the Committee. His associate members greatly regretted his retirement and the consequent loss to the Committee of his zealous, efficient and untiring aid in the transaction of the Club business. Mr. [Page 1 / Page 2] Wm. Allen Smith was elected to fill the vacancy caused by Mr. De Witt’s resignation. On the night of January 9th, two burglars forced an entrance to into the depot and post office, and while at their burglarious work were surprised by Mr. De Witt. His report to the Committee is as follows:

‘Mr. De Witt reported that the depot at Pelham Manor was broken into at about 2.30 A.M., January 9th. That he and others were aroused to the Station and endeavored to arrest the burglars, but they were well armed and escaped by jumping through a window, after exchanging several shots with Mr. De Witt. One of them was a tall man and the other was a short man. They left behind, a hat, a key and a blanket. The blanket was returned to Mrs. Condon of New Rochelle, from whom it was stolen that same night. No clue was found by which the burglars could be traced or identified.’ No other burglaries or misdemeanors have been committed within the jurisdiction of the Club during the year.

The tramp notices have been kept posted and we have issued a pamphlet containing our articles of association and suggestions to members. We have had placed in the Depot a Telephone which the members have the free use of to new Rochelle and to the whole Telephone District by paying small extra charges to points beyond New Rochelle The membership at your last meeting was 41, during the [sic]

Two members have resigned and six have been dropped from the rolls, making the present membership 43. [Page 2 / Page 3]

The Treasurer reports as follows: --

Amount on hand Jany. 1st, 1884, $151.62
Received for dues, 66.00
“ “ initiation fees, 30.00
Received for extra use of Tele-phone, 8.55
Total $256.17

Paid for Record Book and engrossing records of the Club 20.50
Paid for arrest of two tramps 20.00
Paid for impounding one cow 1.00
Paid for 100 copies of Pamphlet of Instructions to Members 11.75
Paid for Telephone Service 47.15
“ for Watchman’s Detective Clock 40.00
Paid for postage stamps 1.00
“ “ printed notices of Special Meeting 1.75
Total Expenditures $143.15
Leaving a balance on hand of 113.02

$256.17

And uncollected dues
Uncollected dues $2.00

At a meeting of the Executive Committee held September 13th, Mr. Wm. E. Barnett and Mr. Wm. Allen Smith were appointed a Committee to prepare a plan for bringing [Page 3 / Page 4] the night watchman and lamplighting service within the control of the Protective Club.

Their report was as follows: --

To the Executive Committee of the Pelham Manor Protective Club.

The undersigned, your Committee appointed at the meeting held September 13, 1884, to prepare a plan for bringing the Watchman and Lamplighting service, now existing in PELHAM MANOR, within the control of the PROTECTIVE CLUB, beg leave to report as follows: -

We have given the matter committed to us full consideration. At the outset, we find that the expense of the service amounts to about $2.35 per month to each of the twenty-five subscribers to the service. It would be obviously inappropriate to assess all the members of the Club for this service, which is of immediate benefit to a limited number. And those immediately benefited could not be thus specially assessed, under the ARTICLES of ASSOCIATION, without amending the ARTICLES so as to cover this case. An objection at once arises, that some members of the Club residing within the benefited district might, for various reasons, be unwilling to pay the necessary assessment.

Your Committee are of the opinion that, with a slight change in ARTICLE IId., of the ARTICLES of ASSOCIATION, there would be no question that, under ARTICLE IVth, [Page 4 Page 5] the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE would have full power to establish and maintain, under the auspices of the PROTECTIVE CLUB, such private Watchman, or other services as may be desired for special districts within the jurisdiction of the CLUB, provided that the expenses of such special services are all met by voluntary subscriptions; and it is evident that whenever there is a real demand for such service the voluntary subscriptions will be forthcoming.

In order to make it perfectly clear that the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE shall have power to provide any special services under voluntary subscriptions of the persons benefited and for the purpose of better defining the object of the CLUB we recommend that Article IId., be amended by the insertion, after the words ‘law and order’, of the words: ‘And otherwise to provide for the safety of members of the CLUB, their families and property’.

If the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE shall see fit to present this Amendment to the members of the CLUB for their adoption, we recommend that, for the sake of clearness and to provide for the proper expedition of Amendments which may subsequently be offered, the following be presented to the members of the CLUB at the same time.

Amend ARTICLE IXth., so that the ARTICLE shall read as follows:

‘These ARTICLES may be amended at any [Page 5 / Page 6] meeting of the CLLUB specially called for that purpose, by an affirmative vote, in person or by proxy, of two thirds of all the members of the CLUB’.

Respectfully submitted

Wm. E. Barnett )
} Committee.
Wm. Allen Smith )

Pelham Manor, November 29th, 1884.

This report was accepted and the recommendations therein contained were approved by the Executive Committee,

All of which we beg most respectfully to submit.

[Signed] Geo H Reynolds
[Signed] D. M. Johnson
[Signed] Robert C Black
[Signed] Wm E Barnett
[Signed] Wm Allen Smith

[Page 6 / Page 7] [No text on page 7]"

Source: Collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Abstract of 1772 Will of Mary Pell of the Manor of Pelham


The following is an abstract of another early will prepared by an 18th century resident of the Manor of Pelham. It is an abstract of the will of Mary Pell prepared on April 18, 1772 and proved May 30, 1772. Beneath the abstract is a citation to its source.

"ABSTRACTS OF WILLS - LIBER 28. . . . .

Page 261. -- In the name of God, Amen. I, MARY PELL, of the Manor of Pelham, in Westchester County, widow, being of sound disposing mind. I direct all debts to be paid. I leave to my son, Caleb Pell, my Great Bible. 'I leave to my son James one good feather bed and bedding thereunto belonging, which he now ledges in.' I leave to my son Elijah one good feather bed, and a negro boy, if my son lives to be 21. 'The reason I give my sons no more by this will is they having received the rest of their portion already.' I leave to my daughter, Ann Van Kleeck, 'the use of 6 large Table silver spoons, to be bought with my money of £8 value, so long as she lives, and then to her daughter, Mary Lawrence.' I leave to my daughter, Mercy Rodman, the same number of spoons for life, and then to her daughter Charlotte. I [Page 43 / Page 44] leave to my daughter, Bathsheba Pell, 6 large silver Table spoons that I have marked C. P. M., and £10, and a Damask Table cloth. I leave to my daughter, Euphemia Pell, my silver Tankard marked C. M. P. during her life. If she leave issue she may give it to whom she pleases, but if not, then to my daughters, Bathsheba and Philena. I also give to my daughter Euphemia a pair of brass candle sticks. I leave to my daughter Helena my Silver Pint Mugg marked T. P. A. and 6 silver tea spoons, one pair of sugar tongs marked M. P., and one Mahogany Tea table, and £10, and a feather bed and furniture. I leave to my granddaughter, Mary Pell, daughter of my son Caleb, one pair of gold sleeve buttons of 40 shillings price, to be bought for her with my money, and my silver shoe buckles. I leave to my grandson, Caleb Haviland, one pair of gold sleeve buttons, 40 shillings price, My negro man, Dick, is to be sold, and may choose his master. The money is to be paid to my three daughters, Bathsheba, Euphemia, and Helena, and I leave them the rest of my estate. I make my brothers, James Ferris and John Ferris, executors.

Dated April 18, 1772. Witnesses, Charles Vincent, Sr., Joshua Pell, Jr., John Bartow. Proved, May 30, 1772."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York - LIBER 28 Continued in Collections of The New-York Historical Society For the Year 1899, pp. 43-44 (NY, NY: New-York Historical Society 1900).

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Abstract of 1773 Will of John Pell of the Manor of Pelham


The following is an abstract of yet another early will prepared by an 18th century resident of the Manor of Pelham. It is an abstract of the will of John Pell prepared on February 19, 1773 and proved March 1, 1773. Beneath the abstract is a citation to its source.

"ABSTRACTS OF WILLS - LIBER 28. . . . .

Page 426. -- In the name of God, Amen. I, JOHN PELL, Esq., of the Manor of Pelham, in Westchester County, being indisposed in body, this February 19, 1773. I leave to my grandson Joseph Pell, the only son of my eldest son, Thomas Pell, deceased, all my lands and tenements in the Manor of Pelham, where I now live, and he is to pay all legacies, when of age. I leave to my granddaughter, Rebecca Tidd, the north end of my dwelling house, and the use of 50 acres of land, and part of my orchard and fresh and salt meadows, to bring up her children. My grandson, Joseph Pell, shall pay to my son, John Pell, Jr., £100, when of age, and he is also to pay my executors £100. My funeral charges and just debts to be paid out of my movable estate, and the rest I leave to my daughters, Rachel Tidd, Abigail Sutton, and Phebe Dawson. I make my sons, John and Josiah, and my cousin, Philip Pell, executors.

Witnesses, George Cornwell, Samuel Hitchcock, Joseph Cox. Proved, March 1, 1773."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York - LIBER 28 Continued in Collections of The New-York Historical Society For the Year 1899, pp. 103-04 (NY, NY: New-York Historical Society 1900).

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition: "Overlooked Hero: John Glover and the American Revolution"

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On Saturday, February 10, Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site opened a spectacular new exhibit entitled "Overlooked Hero: John Glover and the American Revolution". As a Colonel, of course, John Glover led the American troops who fought a significant delaying action against the British Army in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Whether you are a student of the battle or simply are interested in the Revolutionary War, I highly recommend that you visit the exhibit. It is wonderful. On display are many Glover-related items including a uniform that he wore later in the War and a letter of commendation written to him late in the war by General George Washington, later the first president of the United States of America.

Below are photographs of a small sampling of items on display at the exhibition. Also below are a few photographs of the event on Saturday. As always, I have tried to transcribe text from images to facilitate searches.

Placard 1



"OVERLOOKED HERO:

Glover's fishermen leaving Marblehead for Cambridge, 1775
Painting by J. O. Johnson, ca. 1920
Fenimore Art Museum
Cooperstown, New York"

Placard 2



"John Glover and the American Revolution

JOHN GLOVER. There's a name that's familiar to people with an interest in the Revolutionary War, and that local residents might know as the namesake of the Pelham athletic fields. But who was he? What are his connections to the War for American Independence and to New York?

Well, John Glover's a great American success story. Born to humble circumstances in 1732, he was reared in Marblehead, Massachusetts and developed a very successful merchant and ship enterprise. Glover's wealth and prominence led to political leadership and local military involvement as the conflict between Britain and the colonies reached the precipice.

It would be difficult to surpass his great achievements as an officer in the Revolutionary War, expecially in the critical year of 1776. All of the leadership, military knowledge and maritime skills he had developed were -- fortunately for the Patriot cause -- brought to bear in three dramatic episodes that helped to save the budding American independence movement. Twice on the water -- at Brooklyn in August and at Trenton in December -- and once on land (the nearby Battle of Pell's Point in October) Glover guided operations that helped to salvage the Revolution at some of its darkest hours.

His contributions in the latter part of the war were impressive, but, as you'll discover, actually hindered by a mysterious illness.

After the great American victory, he enjoyed the fruits of independence, returning to Marblehead as an honored citizen and political leader. But his sacrifice in terms of family, health and fortune was considerable, a prime example of the high cost of American independence. We invite you to learn about Glover's inspiring experiences through sound, models, artwork, historic images and prints, artifacts and text. This display was made possible by the following:

The National Park Service / Department of the Interior
The New York Council for the Humanities
Society of the National Shrine of the Bill of Rights
John and Jean Heins
Ball Chain"

Placard 3



From Humble Birth to Codfish Aristocrat

The seeds of John Glover's leadership and military skill that blossomed during the Revolutionary War are evident in his early life in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the foremost commercial fishing port in North America.

An ambitious and self-made man, Glover rose from humble beginnings and had started to build his fleet of fishing schooners by the age of thirty-one. The short, stocky Marbleheader even commanded some of his own vessels to the Newfoundland coast, experiencing the dangers of the long and stormy voyages along with his men. Involved heavily in the fishing industry with his large fleet, Glover traded with Spain and Portugal, as well as the West Indies. A man of energy and business ability, he soon reached a prominent position in the close-knit mercantile 'codfish' aristocracy, and had earned the respect of all levels of Marblehead society.

[Print showing cod drying on the fishflakes in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

This historic print shows cod drying on the fishflakes in Marblehead, an important part of the commercial fishing industry. In the years before the American Revolution, John Glover achieved great success in that industry, eventually joining the 'codfish aristocracy'.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

[Ashley Bowen watercolor showing Marblehead in 1763]

Marblehead in 1763
Watercolor by Ashley Bowen
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

On the even of the American Revolution, John Glover's town of Marblehead, Massachusetts was the foremost commercial fishing port in North America, and especially vulnerable to British laws in the 1760s and 1770s that tended to curtail colonial mercantile wealth and independence.

[Recent photograph of John Glover's 18th century home in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

A recent photograph of John Glover's 18th century home, located at the waterfront, Glover Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts. A historic landmark, the house is still used as a residence.
Photograph by Sharon Mills.

In 1760, at the age of 28, Glover entered the political arena, joining the local Whigs in opposing Britain's encroachment upon the political and commercial rights of the colonies. Enraged by the Boston massacre of 1770, he united with other Whigs and wrested control of town government from the pro-British faction. In 1774 he became a member of the Committee of Correspondence which spread information and coordinated anti-British action across the colonies. Additionally, he joined the local Committee of Inspection that enforced the prohibitions on trade with England that had been passed by the First Continental Congress.

As war seemed imminent, Glover, a militia officer since 1759, was commissioned a colonel of the reformed Massachusetts regiment which would become the 14th Continental Regiment, the 'Marbleheaders.' Glover raised ten companies of some 500 fishermen and sailors, a few of who were Spanish, Native American, Jewish, and African-American. Those men -- many of whom knew Glover personally -- united under the power of his command. In late June 1775, armed with a pair of silver pistols and a sword, Colonel Glover led his troops from Marblehead to the American camp at Cambridge, helping to bottle up the British army in Boston.

In addition, during that tense first summer of the war, he directed the building of forts and defenses along the Massachusetts coast to repel British attempts to press men and gather supplies. Under General Washington's command, he led the project to convert maritime vessels into warships, or 'Washington's Schooners,' the first American naval fleet.

[Image of painting of men in colonial garb signing paper]

John Glover was a member of Marblehead's chapter of the Committee of Correspondence, groups of men across New England who worked to spread information and co-ordinate activities in the resistance movement against British policies.

[Image of 1920s folk painting]

This folk painting from the 1920s shows a mounted Colonel John Glover and his Marblehead regiment leave the town common in June 1775 to join the Patriot forces besieging the British in Boston.
Courtesy of Fenimore Art Museum.

[Image of painting showing African American Revolutionary War soldier]

John Glover's Massachusetts regiment was one of the few integrated units in the Patriot army in the early stages of the war, including several African American soldiers, who had been sailors and fishermen in colonial Marblehead."

Placard 4



"A Hero of '76

The New York-New Jersey campaign of 1776 was a difficult experience for the American forces. The British dealt a series of devastating blows to the fledgling Patriot away from August through December, nearly destroying George Washington's forces. In many ways, it was Colonel John Glover, using expert seamanship, military leadership and pure grit, who helped to save the American independence movement in those days that tried men's souls.

Following the crushing victory of the British over the Patriot army at the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, Glover's 14th Regiment, or 'Marblehead Mariners' performed an extraordinary rescue feat. At 5 o'clock in the morning of the 28th he and his regiment crossed to Brooklyn from Manhattan. Following fierce fighting and British reinforcements on land and sea, General Washington made the wise decision to evacuate, and Glover directed the manning of the vessels and rafts that had been brought down through the Harlem River from the North [Hudson] River.

During the first part of the summer night, the men worked with great difficulty because of the ebb tide and a strong northeast wind. But later, when the wind changed and a heavy fog providentially covered the Long Island side, Glover and his fishermen-soldiers were able to complete the evacuation of Washington's 9,000 men, field pieces, heavy ordinance, and all ammunition, as well as horses, cattle, and provisions. All this was accomplished in nine hours across the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, oars muffled against the splashing of the water.

[Image of sketch of Glover addressing some of his men]

An artist's depiction of Colonel John Glover addressing one of the soldiers from his 14th Regiment, dressed in fishermen's garb that was common attire in the Marblehead fighting unit.

[Image of painting of George Washington at the evacuation of Brooklyn]

General Washington pictured at the scene of the evacuation of more than 9,000 American troops across the East River, from Brooklyn to Manhattan, August 29, 1776. One of the most remarkable achievements of the war, this operation was supervised and facilitated by Colonel John Glover and the Marblehead regiment.

[Photograph of plaque beneath the Brooklyn Bridge]

Historic marker beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that notes the successful evacuation of the American army to Manhattan on August 29, 1776.
Photograph by Sharon Mills.

In mid October, Glover, in temporary command of a small brigade comprised of four Massachusetts Continental regiments, was sent to Eastchester (today's St. Paul's Church neighborhood) to disrupt a British amphibious landing designed to trap the main body of American troops in northern Manhattan. Indeed, on the morning of October 18th, he faced 4,000 Hessian and Brisith soldiers heading ashore. Glover took advantage of the stone walls running along each side of the Split Rock Road, the obvious path for the enemy advance. The colonel from Marblehead skillfully deployed three of his regiments, alternating each behind an intersecting wall. Waiting until the Crown troops came within range, upon orders from Glover, each regiment engaged the enemy, then moved back behind the next wall when their flanks were threatened.

Eventually, in danger of encirclement, Glover ordered his brigade back down the hill and across Hutchinson Creek to his own 14th regiment and artillery, exchanging canon fire with the British until nightfall. By interfering with the enemy advance, Glover enabled the main body of Washington's troops to reach White Plains. Outnumbered and commanding a larger force than he had previously led, Glover's tactics and leadership at Pell's Point marked his finest hour as a field commander.

Following the American retreat across New Jersey, Glover rejoined Washington's forces on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River in early December. There, ten miles below Trenton, on the night of December 25th, Glover and his 'Marbleheaders' ferried 2,400 troops -- again with horses, artillery, and wagons -- across the Delaware River under extreme winter weather conditions. After marching several miles, they fought in the Battle of Trenton, and then transported the army and about 1,000 Hessian prisoners back across the river, all on the same day.

[Photograph of Split Rock Road from William Abbatt's book]

An early 20th century image of the Split Rock Road, in Pelham Bay Park, about a mile from St. Paul's Church, still similar in appearance to October 18, 1776 when it was the scened of the major piece of combat in the Battle of Pell's Point.

[Photograph of wooden bridge across Hutchinson River]

A late 19th century scene of a simple wooden bridge over the Hutchinson River, the location where Colonel John Glover's brigade crossed on the morning of October 18, 1776, as they marched to meet the British invasion at the Battle of Pell's Point. Today, this would be the bridge under the Hutchinson River Parkway where Sandford Blvd. meets Colonial Drive.

While the famous scene of the crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776 depicts General Washington standing in one of the craft, it was actually Colonel John Glover and his Marblehead regiment who skillfully directed the ferrying of the troops from the Pennsylvania to the New Jersey side of the river for the attack on the Hessian post at Trenton."

Placard 5

"Battling Malaria & Escorting the Convention Army

John Glover's service in the latter part of the Revolutionary War, 1777-1782, was considerably different from his experiences in the early part of the conflict. He was hampered by a mysterious illness, although a strong commitment to the cause kept him in the army. While General Washington counted Glover as one of his most able officers, changes in patterns and locations of major battles prevented the Marblehead brigadier general (a position to which he was promoted in February 1777), from performing the laudable deeds of 1776.

Brigadier General Glover played an important role in the Saratoga campaign of 1777, the turning point of the war when the Americans captured an entire British army in upstate New York. Commanding a brigade, the Marbleheader led successful raids on the vulnerable Crown forces in late September. In October, his troops captured a deserter who revealed the location of British troops and helped avert a possible disaster for the American army.

Glover was present October 17 when British General John Burgoyne surrendered to America's commander at Saratoga, Major General Horatio Gates. Following the victory, Gates assigned Glover responsibility for escorting the defeated forces -- known to history as the Convention Army -- of about 5750 men on a month-long march of 250 miles to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taking charge of defeated, aristocratic European generals and their troops (both British and Hessian) was a challenging and fascinating experience for Glover, the man from humble origins. Through the long movement, he gained the respect of General Burgoyne and the commander of the German forces, General Friedrich von Riedesel.

[Image of engraving of encampment of the Convention army]

Encampment of the Convention army at Charlottesville, Virginia, after they had surrendered to the Americans
Engraving, c. 1780, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library

Following the American victory at Saratoga, General John Glover had prime responsibility for escorting these defeated British and Hessian forces across Massachusetts to Cambridge; they were subsequently taken to Virginia.

[Image of portrait of General John Glover]

Gen. Glover
Illustration, c. late 18th century, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library.

This folk art painting of General John Glover presents a different view from that offered by most contemporary illustrations.

In lagte 1777, Glover's health began to worsen. Beginning with the onset of shivering chills, the cycle would continue with headaches, dizziness, and nausea, followed by high fever. Additionally, Glover experienced inability to sleep and weakness that left him debilitated for weeks after a seizure. (Although not really diagnosed at the time, or by later historians, recent research by a St. Paul's staff member concluded that he was suffering from malaria.) Even with the aid of quinine, the attacks recurred, for new parasites would continually grow in the bloodstream.

This condition, combined with the shift of the major fighting to the South, changed Glover's role. His last major military action was in the Rhode Island campaign, when his brigade halted a British advance and helped facilitate an amphibious withdrawal at Newport in late August 1778. Assigned to the Hudson Highlands in 1780, he was part of the military tribunal that sentenced British Major John Andre to hang in the notorious Major General Benedict Arnold treason affair, and directed Andre's execution.

[Image of painting of Burgoyne's surrender with inset showing detail depicting John Glover]

General John Glover was present (third from right, also see adjacent highlight) at the surrender of British General John Burgoyne to American General Horatio Gates, ending the Battle of Saratoga, New York, October 17, 1777, the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

[Image of silhouette of mosquito]

General John Glover contracted the dreaded mosquito-borne disease of malaria sometime in late 1777, which affected his health and military performance for the remainder of the war.

[Image of illustration of scene of August 29, 1777 engagement in Rhode Island]

Scene of the engagement on Rhode Island, Aug. 29, 1778.
Illustration, 1778, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library

Follwing the British counter-attack at the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778, American troops under General John Glover gallantly halted an English advance at Quaker Hill in Newport, preventing a rout and covering an amphibious retreat to the mainland.

[Image of men with John Andre during his death sentencing]

General John Glover was the officer in charge of the execution of British officer and spy John Andre, October 2, 1780, at Tappan, New York. Here, Major Andre, hand on desk, listens to the order imposing the penalty of death for espionage as part of the notorious Benedict Arnold affair."

Placard 6

"The Cost & Fruit of Independence

Like many American leaders, John Glover paid a considerable cost in the cause of independence, losing much of his personal wealth, his good health, and his wife and two children during the war years.

His eldest son, John Jr., a captain in Glover's regiment in 1776, was captured later in the war and died after being transported to England. In the fall of 1778, he suffered the loss of his beloved wife Hannah, the mother of his 11 children, after a long illness that she contracted during the war. For the next two years, he balanced military duties with raising his many children. Glover re-married, to a cousin of Paul Revere, in 1780.

Glover was a humble man, satisfied to return to a quiet civilian life as a respected local figure, enjoying the fruits of American independence which he was so instrumental in securing. He was selected to six terms as a town Selectmen and two terms in the Massachusetts legislature. Additionally, he represented Marblehead in the Massachusetts state ratifying convention in 1788, voting for the new Federal Constitution.

When the war began, Glover invested considerable personal wealth in Continental securities used to finance the war and contributed his vessel to the American cause. During the conflict, his assets helped to recruit and even to provision troops under his command. Glover's commercial fortunes plumtetted as Marblehead's maritime economy was devastated during the war and, like much of New England, suffered a post-war depression, partly because of the disruption of trade with Great Britain. However, using the same skills and knowledge that had developed his colonial business enterprise, Glover gradually re-establshed his profitable merchant and fishing operations.

[Image of pencil-drawing of John Glover]

A pencil drawing based on a portrait of John Glover in 1794 by John Trumbull - the great painter of the American Revolution when Glover was 62.

[Image of engraving of the State House in Boston]

John Glover represented Marblehead for two terms in the Massachusetts state legislature, which met in the old State House in Boston, which is illustrated here.

[Image of the Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

In late 1789, John Glover and other local dignitaries held a banquet honoring President George Washington at the Lee mansion, in Marblehead, which was built in 1768.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

One of his proudest moments was welcoming his former commander-in-chief on a special visit to Marblehead. When the newly elected President Washington toured New England in 1789, John Glover joined him in the Lee mansion with his fellow selectmen for a celebratory banquet. John Glover died in 1797 at the age of sixty-four. His service in the Revolutionary War is commemorated in monuments and memorials in Brooklyn, Pelham, Boston and Marblehead.

Regarding his commitment to the American Revolution, he wrote to John Hancock that 'a desire to giving the finishing blow to the glorious work . . . begun are the only prevailing motives that can possibly induce them to continue. I wish my fortune would enable me to serve my country without pay, I would readily and cheerfully do it; it is well known it will not, yet I continue, tho, it's at the expense of my little fortune, earned by industry and hard labor in my youth.'

[Photograph of Glover's farmhouse in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

A 20th century photograph of the farmhouse in Marblehead that John Glover lived in following the Revolutionary War. The house was confiscated from a Loyalist and purchased by Glover for a modest price.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

[Image of 18th century Gloucester, Massachusetts, near Marblehead]

After the Revolutionary War, Marblehead gradually re-established its maritime economic health, returning its appearance to the busy New England harbor scene captured here in an 18th century woodcut of nearby Gloucester. Much of John Glover's wealth, which was nearly dstroyed during the tumult of the Revolution, also returned by the 1790s.

[Image of family page from the Glover family bible]

A facsimile of the family page from the Glover family bible
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society

Of particular interest are the note, at top, that John Glover Jr., son of the general, and a Revolutionary War soldier himself, was 'lost at sea' in August 1777, and the note, near the bottom, that 'the above are children of Jn Glover and Hannah, his wife, who died Oct 13th 1778'.

[Photograph of John Glover's grave]

John Glover died of hepatitis on January 30, 1797, at age 64, and is interred in this box grave, with a marble top, in the Old Burial Hill cemetery, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. (An almost identical gravestone is located behind St. Paul's Church.)
Photograph by Maria Byrne."


The opening of the Exhibit, from Noon to 4 p.m., was well-attended. Demonstrations at the site included "A Few Words from His Excellency, Glover's Commander, General Washington" and "A Special Visit from Phillis Wheatley". Throughout the day there were ongoing talks and demonstration, at the site, by costumed re-enactors, recalling Glover's accomplishments, and other aspects of the Revolutionary War.

Additionally, there was a full schedule of programs in the museum, including: the formal opening of the new exhibition; a talk entitled "African Americans and the American Revolution" by Professor Clarence Taylor, History Department, Bernard Baruch College / CUNY; and a showing and discussion of portions of the movie "The Crossing" based on the historical novel by Howard Fast, with an emphasis on portions of the film that bear on John Glover. The presentation was led by St. Paul's historian Maria Byrne.

Below are photographs taken during the event, each followed by brief explanations.


Above is a photograph of a uniform worn by John Glover during the Revolutionary War. The information provided with the uniform states as follows:

"General Glover's Coat
c. late 18th century
Wool
Courtesy of Washington Crossing Foundation

During the Revolutionary War, John Glover wore many regimental coats, made on his orders and purchased at his expense. This coat, made of fine wool cloth, was probably used for ceremonial purposes at some time during the war. It was passed down from a Glover descendant to a Massachusetts historian, who donated it to the Washington Crossing Foundation in the 20th century. Some alterations have been made over time."

The image above shows a costumed re-enactor playing the role of George Washington and speaking with attendees at the event.

The image above shows a museum docent dressed in 18th century costume.

The two images immediately above show the front of a letter and a facsimle of the inside second page that same letter from General George Washington (and signed by him) to General John Glover forwarding a Congressional citation at the time of his resignation from the service late in the Revolutionary War. The placard next to the facsimile of the second page reads:

"Letter, George Washington to John Glover
30 July 1782
Courtesy of The Raab Collection, Ardmore, Pennsylvania

This letter from General Washington to General Glover accompanied a commendation to Glover passed by the Continental Congress. In this correspondence, Washington also wishes Glover a 'restoration of health attended with every happiness in your future walks of life.' The inside second page, which includes Washington's signature, is presented here."

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