Historic Pelham

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fox Hunting Arrives at The Country Club in Pelham in 1885


Pelham Manor once was the country playground of members of New York Society. During the 1880s, New York Society attended steeplechase races at The Country Club that then was located in the area of today's Pelham Bay Golf Course. In 1885, members of the Club assembled a pack of hounds and brought fox hunting to Pelham Manor. Below is a brief account of the event excerpted from an article published in 1897.

"The first cross-country riding done in Westchester was after the Queens County hounds, brought over from Long Island by Mr. Griswold, and quartered at Castle Inn, New Rochelle. For a season or so, supported by Elliott Zborowski and some other leadning spirits of that day, the pack was hunted by Mr. Griswold, and then went back to Long Island, where it was consolidated with the Rockaway hounds, as already related.

From that time, about 1881, there was no hunting in Westchester until, in 1885, a pack of harriers was imported by Mr. James M. Waterbury, and by him given to the Country Club, then located at Pelham. To this pack the Country Club loaned its name and provided stabling and kennels, but the hounds were supposed to be maintained by an uncertain subscription list, and were hunted by different members of the club, who, in an informal way, were annually chosen at the hunt dinner.

Such a haphazard method, of course, proved very unsatisfactory, so that when the Country Club moved from Pelham to near Westchester town, the humting members organized an independent club - although the old harrier livery, green coats faced with canary, was retained -- called it the Westchester Hunt, and moved the kennels to the neighborhood of White Plains."

Source: Whitney, Caspar, Cross-Country Riding, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. XCIV, No. DLXIV, pp. 821, 832 (May 1897).

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

References to Pell Family Members in "Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution"


In 1864, Little, Brown and Company published a book by Lorenzo Sabine entitled "Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution with an Historical Essay" in two volumes. Sabine provided brief biographical data for many Loyalists including a couple of Pell family members from the Manor of Pelham. Below are the brief entries with citations to their sources.

"PELL, JOHN. Of New York. Ensign in the Queen's Rangkers. A prisoner in Northampton, Massachusetts; released from jail, November 5, 1779."

Source: Sabine, Lorenzo, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution with An Historical Essay by Lorenzo Sabine in Two Volumes, Vol. II, p. 157 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company 1864).

"PELL, JOSHUA. Farmer. In 1782 a Loyalist Associator at New York to settle at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, the following year, with his family of fourteen persons."

Source: Id., p. 565.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

British Ship Grounds on the Devil's Stepping Stones Near Pelham on April 23, 1777


The journals of Henry Duncan, a Captain in the British Navy during the Revolutionary War, contain a brief account of the grounding of a troop transport ship near Pelham in the spring of 1777. The account is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"North River, New York. - Having previously been appointed to the command of an expedition destined up the Sound:

On Tuesday, the 22nd April, 1777, at 1 p.m. got the fleet under way, consisting of twelve transports, an hospital ship, and some small craft; the army, consisting of about 2,000 men, under the command of Major-General Tryon, stood into the East River, while the admiral made a diversion with some frigates and transports up the North River. The wind was about SE in Hell Gate. The fleet got all through about half after four. Joined the Swan and Senegal at the Brothers; they proceeded on with us, and the fleet anchored at dark near City Island. I went with the general on board the Senegal. At eleven at night the wind came to NE, and very thick foggy weather.

23rd April. - At 11 a.m. the weather cleared up. At 3 p.m., the turn of tide, weighed and worked to windward. One of the transports got on the Stepping Stones [i.e., the Devil's Stepping Stones in the Sound] and made the signal of distress. Sent Captain Molloy to her assistance, with orders to shift the troops, &c., if necessary.

24th. - At daybreak made the signal for the sternmost ships to weigh and come near us; the wind was easterly and the sternmost ships could get no farther than the Senegal in the course of the tide; therefore did not weigh in the Senegal. Captain Molloy reported this morning that he had taken the troops out of the transport that run on the Stepping Stones. Got the ship off in the night, and re-embarked the troops in their proper ship again. Half-past nine Mr. Tonkin, with two transports and Brown's corps embarked on board them, joined us [Page 139 / Page 140] from Oyster Bay, agreeable to the orders I had sent him. At noon the fleet all close to us; the wind about ENE, hary weather, and a pretty fresh breeze of wind. Half-past 3 p.m. got under way with the fleet. Hazy weather, with the wind at SE by S. At six came to an anchor. Thick hazy weather, so that I coul not see all the fleet. Night coming on, appearances of bad weather, and most of the transports without pilots; I thought it unsafe to work any longer to windward; it turned out a rainy, blowy night, the wind at ENE."

Source: Laughton, John Knox, ed., Journals of Henry Duncan Captain, Royal Navy 1776-1782 in The Naval Miscellany, Vol. I, pp. 139-40 (The Navy Records Society 1902).

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Brief Biography of Henry De Witt Carey, 19th Century Pelham Justice of the Peace


Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biographyof the Nineteenth Century published in 1908 includes a brief biography of a man named Henry De Witt Carey who once lived on City Island and served, for a number of years, as a Justice of the Peace in the Town of Pelham. The biography is transcribed in its entirety below, followed by a citation to its source.

"CAREY, HENRY DE WITT, business man, jurist, was born March 24, 1844, near Middletown, N. Y. He was a successful merchant of Middletown, N. Y.; for the past quarter of a century has been the manager of the export department of the New Home Sewing Machine company with headquarters at 28 Union square, New York city. He has always taken an active interest in democratic politics, and is a member of the Tammany society and the Sagamore and Pequod clubs and of the American Historical society. For four years he was a justice of the peace at City Island, N. Y.; and in 1889 - 90 was judge of the court of general sessions of Westchester County, N. Y. He is a thirty-third degree member of the Masonic fraternity; and a member of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Mr. Carey is president of the Pelham Park Street Railroad company; president of the Metropolitan dispensary; president of the board of trustees of the New York College of midwifery, and other institutions."

Source: Herringshaw, Thomas William, ed., Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Ninetheenth Century, p. 192 (Chicago, IL: American Publishers' Association 1898).

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Exchange of Prisoners in the Waters Off the Manor of Pelham During the Revolutionary War


Slowly a wide variety of resources is beginning to divulge more and more about events that occurred in the Manor of Pelham during the Revolutionary War. On one occasion there occurred an exchange of prisoners in waters off Hart Island in the Manor of Pelham. A Loyalist held as an American prisoner and named Judge Thomas Jones was exchanged for an American Brigadier General named G. Selleck Silliman who had been held by the British. Below is material from a book published in 1880 that includes the text of a letter written by G. Selleck Silliman describing the event.

"JUDGE JONES' EXCHANGE FOR GENERAL SILLIMAN. -- Sir Henry Clinton and Governor Trumbull agreed to the exchange of the parties, soon after the Judge's capture; but before the exchange was completed, Clinton sailed on his [Page 21 / Page 22] South Carolina expedition, leaving General Knyphausen in command at New York. Trumbull then wrote to Knyphausen in the matter and received reply Feb. 24, 1780, from Commissary Loring, that he was directed by General Knyphausen to state that General Clinton had left him no 'instructions' for the exchange. (Trumbull Papers, Vol. XI. p. 71.) Trumbull accordingly wrote again, March 13, and enclosed to Knyphausen a copy of 'the proposals made for the exchange of G. Genl. Silliman, &c., for T. Jones, Esq., &c., by Mr. Franklin and Majr Andre's consent. The Governor added: 'I hope this measure will put an end to any further delay or objection to the execution of the proposed exchange, and have only to add that Mr. Jones shall be ordered in as soon as B. Genl Silliman shall be sent out to us.' Trumbull also wrote to Governor William Franklin, President of the Board of Associated Loyalists, requesting him to furnish Knyphausen with the original proposals or Andre's consent. The Governor, furthermore, wrote on the same date to Judge Jones at Middletown, that he revoked the permission which had been given him to go into New York in exchange for General Silliman, until further orders, because, as he says, 'those proposals being fully known in N. York give me some reason to suspect a Disposition at least to Delay if not to fully evade them.' (Trumbull Papers, Vol. XX. pp. 236-238.) To Trumbull's letter of the 13th, Knyphausen replied on the 19th that he would 'inquire particularly into the affair' and answer 'in a short time.' This answer does not appear on file among the Governor's papwers, but it was doubtless favorable, and on the 27th of April following the exchange was finally effected.

The incidents of the exchange as given by Mrs. General Silliman (Jones' History, Vol. II., p. 565), may be supplemented by extracts from letters from the General himself, and his brother Deodate Silliman. The latter had charge of the Judge and sailed with him from Fairfield in the schooner Mifflin, of New London, at 9 A.M. April 27. 'About three in the afternoon,' he reports to the Governor 'I had the Pleasure of meeting the General off hart Island on his way to Fairfield to be exchangd. We then Proceeded with Flaggs together to the Grand Duke guard ship off New City Island, where th master of the Flagg and myself ware taken on board, and the exchange was then compleated By my giving a Receipt that I had Recd the General, and taking Receipt that I had Delivered Mr. Jones in Exchange for him -- which I beg leave to Transmitt to your Excellency.'

General Silliman's letter, written to the Governor (Papers, Vol. XI. p. 1070), is as follows:

'FAIRFIELD, May 2d 1780

SIR: Last Fryday evening, I had the satisfaction again to return from captivity to my Family and Friends, and once more to breathe the Air of Liberty and Freedom.

I left New York on Wensday last on Parole, in order to come Home to procure your Excellency's Permission for Mr. Jones to be sent in in Exchange for me. On Thursday about Three of the Clock in the afternoon, I happily met Mr. Jones in the Sound near Hart Island, going in under your Excellency's Flag in order that I might come out exchanged. We immediately put back, and came under the Stern of the Guard Ship the Grand Duke, commanded by Capt. Holman, [Page 22 / Page 23] which lay between New City Island and Hart Island. The Exchange was there made, and we having exchanged vessels, Mr. Jones proceeded immediately for New York, having the wind and tide for him, but I was detained by the same means that carried him on till the next morning, and then made sail and got Home at evening.

And now Hond. Sir give me Leave to return your Excellency my most sincere Thanks for the many Favours that I have in Time past experienced from your Excellency, and Especially for your late particular attention to every measure that tended to return me to the Blessings of Liberty and Freedom.

The Deputy Commissary of Prisoners when I parted with him threatened that they would soon have me again. . . .

I am Your Excellency's
Most Obedient
Humble Servant
G. SELLECK SILLIMAN.

His Excellency Govr. TRUMBULL.'"

Source:Johnston, Henry P., Observations on Judge Jones' Loyalist History of the American Revolution. How Far Is It An Authority?, pp. 21-23 (NY, NY: D. Appleton & Co. 1880).

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The New Haven Line Stone Arch Above Highbrook Avenue




There is a lovely stone arch of the New Haven line beneath which Highbrook Avenue passes in the Village of Pelham. In 1908 the Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering published information about the stone arch, as well as a schematic explaining its construction. What follows is a transcription of the text of that entry and an image of the schematic.



"448. Stone Arch. In Fig. 236 is shown a stone arch on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at Pelhamville, N. Y. This arch was constructed over a highway, and the length of its axis is sufficient for four overhead tracks. The span is 40 feet, and the rise is 10 feet above the springing line, the latter being 7 feet 6 inches above the roadway. The arch is a five-centered arch, the intrados corresponding closely to an ellipse, the greatest variation from a true ellipse being 1 inch. The theoretical line of pressure is well within the middle third, with the full dead load and partial live load, until the short radius is reached, where it passes to the outer edge of the ring-stone, and thence down through the abutment. There is a joint at the points where the radii change, to simplify the construction.



The stone is a gneiss found near Yokers, N. Y., except the keystone, which is Connecticut granite, and the coping, which is bluestone from Palatine Bridge, N. Y."







Source: Turneaure, Frederick E., ed., Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering, Vol. IV, pp. 448-49 (Chicago, IL: American Technical Society 1908).



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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Exchange of Correspondence with State Department of Health in 1907 Regarding Sewage Pollution of Hutchinson River


In 1907, the State Department of Health directed Mount Vernon, the Village of Pelham Manor and the Village of Pelham to stop dumping untreated, raw sewage into the waters of the Hutchinson River. There followed an exchange of correspondence among the three municipalities and the Department. Below are transcriptions of the letters relating to the Village of Pelham Manor and the Village of Pelham and a citation to their source.

"ALBANY, N. Y., November 14, 1907.

President of the Village, Pelham, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: -- Complaints have been made to this Department with reference to the pollution of the Hutchinson canal. [Page 548 / Page 549]

A thorough investigation has been made by this Department and I am advised that the sewage of several hundred persons in your village is discharged into the Hutchinson river, and it does not appear that any plans for these sewers were ever approved by the Department as required by provisions of the Public Health Law.

I therefore bring this matter to your attention and urge that you give it your careful consideration. The Department is taking up with the city of Mount Vernon and the village of Pelham Manor the question of the proper disposal of their sewage and I urge that you give this matter your immediate and careful consideration.

Failing to receive assurances that proper disposition will be made of your sewage and that steps have been taken to see that the necessary plans required are approved by this Department, I shall feel it my duty to take such steps as I can legally for the enforcement of such provisions of the Public Health Law as may apply hereto, and to secure better conditions than at present exist.

Your attention is called to the provisions of the Public Health Law regarding the matter of the discharge of sewage, approval of sewer plans, etc., and I shall be glad to hear from you with reference to this matter with as little delay as possible.

Very respectfully,
EUGENE H. PORTER,
Commissioner of Health

-----

PELHAM, N. Y., November 29, 1907.

DR. EUGENE H. PORTER, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, Albany, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR. -- I am in receipt of your favor of the 14th inst. relative to the sewer plans and sewage disposal of the village of Pelham.

Regarding the former -- all the sewers in this village were constructed by private parties (Mr. B. F. Corlies and the Pel- [Page 549 / Page 550] ham Heights Company) about twelve years ago and all the streets in which they are located were at the time owned and controlled by these parties. Within the past year Mr. Corlies dedicated his streets to the village but the balance of the streets (over 75 per cent.) still remain the property of the Pelham Heights Company and over which the village officials have not control.

As you can readily appreciate the authorities are placed in a rather peculiar position as regards the sewage question in this village but I can assure you the officials will willingly co-operate with your board as far as their jurisdiction extends. I understand that communications have been received by the villages of Pelham Manor and North Pelham relative to this matter and I would, therefore, suggest, that a representative of your board meet in joint conference with the boards of trustees of the villages of Pelham, Pelham Manor and North Pelham in order that the recommendations and requirements of your board may be more fully explained.

Awaiting you [sic] reply, I am,

Very respectfully,
S.L. JACQUES,
President

-----

ALBANY, N. Y. ,December 9, 1907.

Mr. S. L. JACQUES, President of the Village, Pelham, Westchester county, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: -- I am in receipt of your communication of recent date with reference to the sewers in your village.

I note that these sewers were constructed by private parties and that a few of them have been turned over to the village, but over 75 per cent, remain the property of the Pelham Heights Company.

That being the case I wish to take up, without delay, this apparent violation of the law by this company and wish you would kindly give me the names of the officers of the company and I will communicate with them directly. [Page 550 / Page 551]

A little later on I will endeavor to arrange to meet the officers of your village and Pelham, Pelham Manor and North Pelham, and go into this matter more in detail.

Very respectfully,
EUGENE H. PORTER,
Commissioner of Health

-----

ALBANY, N. Y., November 14, 1907.

President of the Village, Pelham Manor, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: -- Recently complaints have been made to this Department with reference to the pollution of the Hutchinson canal by the sewage from the city of Mount Vernon and the village of Pelham Manor.

A thorough investigation of the situation has been made by the Department and I have before me a detailed report showing the exact situation with reference to the discharge of sewage from the municipalities mentioned.

It appears that a public nuisance is created by the discharge, without purification, of the sewage from the city of Mount Vernon and the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor, intot the waters of the Hutchinson river. Your attention is called to the fact that at the time of the approval of the plans for the sewer system in your village plans for a sewage disposal plant were also approved, which has never been constructed, and no permit has ever been issued for the discharge of raw sewage into the Hutchinson canal by your village, nor was such discharge contemplated at the time of the approval of the plans. I have taken this matter up with the city of Mount Vernon and the other municipality involved, and wish to urge upon you a prompt and careful consideration of the matter of the future disposal of the sewage of your village.

I will be glad to arrange to meet the officials of your village to discuss this matter if you so desire. As the matter is one which cannot be longer delayed, failing to receive satisfactory assurances that the necessary steps will be taken at once to provide for the proper disposal of the sewage of your village, I shall [Page 551 / Page 552] feel it my duty to take such steps as I can legally for the enforcement of such provisions of the Public Health Law as may apply hereto, and to secure better conditions than at present exist.

Very respectfully,
EUGENE H. PORTER,
Commissioner of Health

-----

PELHAM MANOR, N. Y., November 22, 1907.

DR. EUGENE H. PORTER, State Commissioner of Health, Albany, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: -- Mr. C. H. Pond, president of the village, asks me to acknowledge for him receipt of your letter of the 14th inst. about sewage discharge, and to say that the board of trustees would be pleased to meet you or your representative at such time as you find convenient; please give him two or three days' notice.

Yours respectfully,

HENRY N. BABCOCK,
Village Clerk"

Source: Twenty-Eighth Annual Report of the State Department of Health of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1907, Vol. II, pp. 548-52 (Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company, State Printers, 1908).

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Photograph of Pelham Manor Station on the Branch Line Published in 1908




In 1908, The Architectural Record published a wonderful article entitled "Along the Harlem River Branch". Among other things, the article provided brief information about the newl-opened Pelham Manor Train Station designed by master architect Cass Gilbert. It also included a wonderful photograph of the station. That photograph appears immediately below, followed by the text of the information about the station and a citation to its source.




"Pelham Manor station (Fig. 9), which one has the pleasure of finding in a sufficient state of forwardness to be photographed from the fact and not from an imaginary perspective, is a present in an environment not only suburban, but sylvan. Long may it remain so. It is not fantastic to hope that the design of the station, to conform to the existing surroundings, may help to keep it so. At any rate, nothing could be more in conformity with the surroundings as they are than this rough, low, square tower, this expanse of the simplest possible rough stone wall, this covering of heavy and deeply corrugated tiles, extending over but not overweighing the terminal sheltering sheds. The thing is a particular pleasure to behold."

Source: "Along the Harlem River Branch", The Architectural Record, Vol. XXIII, No. 6, Jul. - Dec., pp. 422-23 (NY, NY: McGraw Hill Publishing Co. Dec. 1908).

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Monday, May 21, 2007

More About the "Mysterious Murder" in Pelham in 1870


On Thursday, May 17, 2007, I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog an item entitled "A Mysterious Murder in Pelham in 1870". The item described an incident in which the body of an unidentified murder victim washed ahore near City Island in the Town of Pelham. Today's posting provides further information about this incident based on an item published in the New York Herald on June 11, 1870. The item is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"MURDER ON THE SOUND

-----

Excitement on City Island - The Corpse Exhumed and Identified - Probable Assassination on Board a Sound Steamer - Strange Conduct of a Relative.

Within the past few days the isolated inhabitants of City Island - forming one among the many verdant spots in Long Island Sound - have been diverted from their pastoral sports and fishing excursions by a degree of excitement seldom experienced in their midst. The washing ashore of a murdered man in their neighborhood, the farcical inquest on and unceremonious burial of the corpse, and subsequently the exhumation and identification of the assassinated stranger, form at present the topic of conversation among the residents of the island. As the particulars relating to the finding of the body alluded to were given in the HERALD of yesterday, together with the informal investigation as to the cause of death, it is unnecessary here to reiterate the tragic story.

On Thursday evening John Richards and Morris Keeze, of New York, accompanied by a boarding house keeper from Bridgeport, Conn., called on the poormaster at City Island, and produced a note from Captain Ward, of the Tenth police precinct, stating that the first named party believed the deceased to have been his brother, Christian G. Richards, late of East Bridgeport, and requesting that the body be exhumed for his inspection. They had in their possession a likeness of the missing man, which Poormaster Baxter at once recognized as that of the murdered stranger. Having first obtained a permit from Justice Sparks, who held the inquest, and after identifying the shoes, as well as other articles found on the deceased, the body was exhumed and fully identified by Richards as that of his brother, and also by the boarding house keeper, at whose place the deceased had been staying in Bridgeport.

It was ascertained from Poormaster Baxter, by a HERALD reporter, who visited City Island yesterday afternoon, that John Richards, who was about visiting Europe on important business, wrote to his brother, some three weeks ago, requesting him to come on to New York, as he wished to see him before sailing. He received no answer, and after a few days his letter was returned, unopened, from the Post Office at Bridgeport. Becoming alarmed, he proceeded to the latter city, and, on arriving at the boarding house of the deceased, learned that his brother had left for New York about a week previously. Inquiries regarding the missing man were at once set on foot in Bridgeport and vicinity, but no clue could be found as to his whereabouts. Baxter states that it is generally believed the deceased was murdered while on board the steamer Bridgeport, and that the body was thrown overboard into the Sound at a point east of Hart's Island, from whence it drifted with the east wind to the spot on the western shore where it was found. This theory, he states, is supported by the fact that two Hell Gate pilots, named Charles E. Adams and Alexander Banta, both living on City Island, state that while boarding the Bridgeport about daybreak of the morning supposed to succeed the night on which deceased left Bridgeport for New York, they saw a quantity of blood on the deck abaft the cabin and near the stern of the steamer. This, if true, would have formed a most important evidence before the jury of inquest.

Another strange feature of this mysterious case is observable in the circumstance that after the remains had been exhumed and identified, John Richards, who claims to be a brother of the deceased, requested the poormaster to reinter the body, as he was about sailing for Europe, where he would be absent two months at the expiration of which time he would have the body removed and properly interred. As a consequence the corspse was again committed to the earth. It appears that deceased was a German, about twenty-six years old, and had been employed as foreman in a machine shop at Bridgeport, Conn. His brother, while at City Island, stated that he frequently carried considerable money with him, and that he was rather partial to drinking lager beer."

Source: The Muder on the Sound, N. Y. Herald, Jun. 11, 1870, p. 5, col. 3.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Celebration at Pelham Bridge in 1872


On the evening of Thursday, September 26, 1872, a celebration described as "the most brilliant we ever witnessed in Westchester County" occurred at the Grand View Hotel at Pelham Bridge. The description of that ceremony that appeared nearly a week later in the New York Herald provides an interesting glimpse of an evening entertainment in the Town of Pelham in the days before radio, television, movies, the Web and other such entertainment vehicles. The description of the event is quoted in its entirety immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

"ON LAST THURSDAY EVENING A SUMPTUOUS EN-tertainment was given by Mr. Griffith Thomas, at the Grand View Hotel, Pelham Bridge, kept by Blizzard & Mahony, and on this occasion, as on all others, his generosity was boundless, and the whole affair was the most brilliant we ever witnessed in Westchester county; 140 variegated lanterns illuminated the arched platform of the hotel, on which the guests assembled, and while the New Rochelle Brass Band filled the air with delightful music, magnificent fireworks were set off in front of the balcony, where his lovely wife and her lady friends were seated. The supper was delicious, the table was splendidly arranged and elegantly decorated with choice flowers. But its chief ornament was Mrs. Thomas, in her surpassing beauty, void of that haughty consciousness that is so painfully perceptible in Nature's favorites, reminding us of Raphael's Madonna. Mr. Thomas is a very wealthy gentleman, and, being one of Nature's noblemen, the wealth could not have fallen into better hands. His sole happiness appears to be centered in making others happy, and his kind deeds will be remembered long after he has joined his loved ones, gone before him to a happier land than this."

Source: [Untitled], N.Y. Herald, Oct. 2, 1872, p. 1, col. 2.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Mysterious Murder in Pelham in 1870


In 1870, the body of an unidentified man washed ashore near City Island in the Town of Pelham. The man had been murdered. Pelham's Justice of the Peace, Judge Sparks (after whom Sparks Avenue is named), conducted an investigation and authorized burial of the body without notifying the coroner to permit a coroner's inquest. Quite a scandal erupted as a consequence. What follows is the text of an article about the events that appeared in the June 10, 1870 issue of the New York Herald.

"A MYSTERIOUS MURDER.

-----

Tragedy on Long Island Sound - The Corpse of a Stranger Washed Ashore Near City Island - Conclusive Evidence of Assassination and Robbery - The Body Buried Without a Coroner's Inquest - An Obsequious Justice of the Peace.

The brutal murder of an unknown man, whose body was cast ashore by the waters of Long Island Sound within the past week, has, through the bungling interference of a justice of the peace, remained hitherto almost unnoticed. Last Friday some fishermen discovered the corpse of a stranger near City Island, and in the town of Pelham, Westchester county, and the occurrence having been mentioned to Justice Sparks that official, without notifying one of the Coroners, proceeded on his own responsibility to hold an inquest. A jury having been summoned, an examination of the body took place, which disclosed a deep cut under the right ear, which had penetrated beyond the jugular vein, sufficient at once to produce death. Two gashes were also found on the left wrist, as though inflicted while the deceased was endeavoring to evade the knife of his murderer.

The body is represented to be that of a German, apparently about five feet six inches in height, and was genteelly dressed in dark clothing. A gold ring was found on one of the forefingers, in order to secure which it was found necessary to amputate the digit. In one of the pockets a small amount of money was discovered, and hanging from the vest was a portion of a watch chain with seal attached, leaving little room to doubt that the watch had been secured by the murderer. In view of these facts the jury rendered a verdict that the man came to his death by wounds inflicted by some person or persons unknown to the jury. The body was subsequently buried on City Island by the poormaster of the town of Pelham.

Having been first notified on Wednesday of the unwarrantable proceedings attending the inquest, Coroner Bathgate, at the request of citizens living in that vicinity, visited City Island and had an interview with Justice Sparks, to whom he expressed in sever terms his disapprobation of Sparks' conduct in usurping the functions of the county coroners, and at the same time giving the former to understand that if a repetition of the unwarrantable proceeding occurred he (Bathgate) would bring the matter before the Grand Jury.

In the HERALD of the HERALD of the 5th inst. a paragraph under the heading 'Suspected Foul Play' appeared, setting forth that a German named Frederick Etzold, a resident of Union Hill, N.J., and who was an agent for Wheeler & Wilson, had gone on a visit to Bridgeport, Conn., since which time no traces of him could be found.

It was ascertained yesterday afternoon, through Captain Leviness, who lives on City Island, and who saw the body, that the appearance of the corpse corresponded, to some extent, with that of Mr. Etzold, and the wife of the missing man, having been notified, intends visiting the spot to-day, when the body will be exhumed for her inspection."

Source: A Mysterious Murder, N. Y. Herald, Jun. 10, 1870, p. 5, col. 6.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Board of Supervisors of Westchester County Vote to Build New Iron Bridge to Replace Pelham Bridge in 1869


Periodically I have posted to the Historic Pelham Blog items relating to the area around Pelham Bridge. That area once was part of the Town of Pelham but, today, is within Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. New York City annexed the area in 1895 (effective in 1896). For examples of a few such postings, see:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007: The Owner of the Pelham Bridge Hotel Sold it for the Princely Sum of $22,000 in 1869

Monday, May 14, 2007: Plans to Widen Shore Road in the Town of Pelham in 1869

Friday, May 11, 2007: A Sad Attempted Suicide at Pelham Bridge in 1869

Tuesday, June 28, 2005: The Hotel and Bar Room at Pelham Bridge

In 1869, the Westchester County Board of Supervisors voted to appropriate funds to replace the old wooden Pelham Bridge with a new iron structure. A brief news item describing the decision is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

""NEW BRIDGE AT PELHAM. -- The old wooden bridge connecting Pelham with Westchester village having been reported by the committee appointed to investigate the matter as in an unsafe condition, the Supervisors of Westchester county have appropriated $30,000 for the building of an iron one, the work to be done at once."

Source: Westchester County - New Bridge at Pelham, N. Y. Herald, Dec. 6, 1869, p. 10, col. 3.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Owner of the Pelham Bridge Hotel Sold it for the Princely Sum of $22,000 in 1869






For many years a little hotel stood near the Pelham Bridge. An image of the hotel, derived from a glass negative in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, appears immediately below.





I have written about the Pelham Bridge Hotel before. See Tuesday, June 28, 2005: The Hotel and Bar Room at Pelham Bridge.

In 1869, a tiny item appeared in the New York Herald reporting that the Pelham Bridge Hotel had been sold for the princely sum of $22,000. As part of my efforts to document the history of the area, I have transcribed the brief text of the report immediately below.

"REAL ESTATE NOTES . . .

Charles Freeman has sold the Pelham Bridge Hotel property in the town of Pelham, to William Florence for $22,000. . . ."

Source: Real Estate Notes, N. Y. Herald, May 28, 1869, p. 8, col. 4.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Plans to Widen Shore Road in the Town of Pelham in 1869


The post-Civil War boom brought development pressures to the sleepy Town of Pelham. Shortly before the railroad branch line was opened through the area that became the Village of Pelham Manor, there was an effort to improve the roads that led through the area. One such road was today's Shore Road, also known as Pelham Road. An article appeared in the May 8, 1869 issue of the New York Herald describing plans to improve and widen that road. The text of the article appears immediately below.

"THE EASTERN BOULEVARD.

-----

The people on the Sound and shore from Pelham ot [sic] Morrisania are perfectly jubilant over the idea of having their long neglected district opened by means of one of the most magnificent boulevards in Westchester county. The line of the road is to commence at Pelham bridge, following and widening the old Pelham road as far as the residence of John Hunter; thence in a southerly direction through the lands of John Farnham and John Van Antwerp to the Arnow homestead on Willow lane; by and along Willow lane, following the same and widening it to 100 feet, its entire length to Schuylerville, at McGroey's Hotel, on the Fort Schuyler road, then crossing the same and running in a direct line to the southerly side of the Oakland (Ferris') Nursery, on Westchester creek. A drawbridge one hundred feet wide is to be built here to cross into Unionport, following Sixth street and widening the same; thence through Unionport and the lands of Francis Larken, Bradish Johnson and R. H. Ludlow, to the southern boulevard at Morrisania, thus making a splendid drive, on a road one hundred feet wide, direct from the new Harlem bridge. The act passed the Legislature on Thursday, and by the terms of the bill the work is to commence immediately. The commissioners, Abraham Hatfield, Thos. Jay Byrne, Wm. Watson, George Cooper and Hugh Lunny, have called a meeting to be held at the office of Judge Byrnes, in Westchester, on Thrusday next, the 13th inst., to organize and appoint officers and take action at once in furthering the work to completion. The road is to cost $20,000 per mile; and the commissioners are authorized to raise the amount by issuing bonds of the town, payable in equal portions yearly for twenty years. The work will be finished by the 1st of September next, when a perfect 'belt boulevard' of Westchester county will be completed - i.e., this boulevard through Unionport connects with the Southern Boulevard at Morrisania, the Southern Boulevard with the Great Central Boulevard at Fordham, it, in turn, running to Yonkers and White Plains.

The rise in value of property already is fabulous on the entire line of the road both at Throg's Neck and Unionport, the demand for lots at the latter place being almoust incredulous. Two hundred per cent would be a low estimate of the advance in real estate since the news first came of the passage of the bill. Taken in connection with this that the Portchester and Second Avenue Railroad bill, passed a day or two since, received the Governor's signature and became a law, it is not difficult to estimate the sudden importance of landowners or the elation of the masses. In order to display action in the latter matter the directors have called a meeting for Wednesday next, with a view to not only break ground but to put six squads of laborers to work at once, for they declare it to be their determination to have the cars running through Unionport to New York six months from th first day of June.

And now that facilities for travel to and from the city have at last been opened the people may speedily expect to see Westchester, long noted for its beauty picturesqueness and salubriousness of climate, become one of the most famous and fashionable summer resorts in the State. Persons doing business 'in the city' have long felt the need of and desired just such a romantic spot as this, where they can remove their families during the hot summer months and enjoy with them the soft balmy air, good bathing, &c., without the fear of fever and ague, or incurring the mosquito plague."

Source: The Eastern Boulevard, N.Y. Herald, May 8, 1869, p. 10, col. 2.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

A Sad Attempted Suicide at Pelham Bridge in 1869


In 1869, the New York Herald published a brief item regarding a sad attempted suicide at Pelham Bridge in the Town of Pelham. The brief item references the Morris home along today's Shore Road as well as the old Town Hall that once stood along the same roadway. Below is the text of that news item.

"ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. - One of the men employed by Mr. N. Morris on his place at Pelham, while laboring under a temporary fit of insanity, on Thursday, made a desperate attempt to end his existence by jumping off Pelham bridge into the bay. For several days he had been unwell; still his friends apprehended nothing unusual until they saw him running for the bridge, when their fears became awakened and they started in pursuit, but too late to prevent the attempt at self-destruction. After some difficulty he was got out of the water, when he became unmanageable and started on the double quick for Westchester village, some three miles distant, followed by the overseer and others. Here his pitiable condition, his feet and head being bare and his clothes dripping with water, attracted the attention of a gentleman, who took him in charge and had him removed to the Town Hall, where proper restoratives were applied and where he still remains under watch. The wife of the unhappy man visited him several times during the day and seemed very anxious to have him removed to his home, but it is not deemed advisable to listen to her solicitations for the present."

Source: Attempted Suicide, N. Y. Herald, Apr. 3, 1869, p. 10, col. 2.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Report That Pelham Favored Annexation of Much of Westchester County by New York City in 1870


According to a report in the August 12, 1870 issue of the New York Herald, some Pelham residents favored annexation of much of the County of Westchester, including Pelham, at that time. The text of the report appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"ANOTHER BIG JOB.

-----

Project to Enlarge the City of New York - Portions of Westchester County to be Annexed - A Grand Canal Contemplated - Additional Suburban Improvements.

For some time past it has been well understood among certain influential political leaders in New York and Westchester county that a great annexation project, with other gigantic suburban improvements, are to be brought forward and pushed through at the next session of the Legislature. The most important scheme affecting the interests of the taxpayers of Westchester county is the projected incorporation of the towns of Morrisania, West Farms, Westchester and the lower section of Yonkers with the city of New York. It is understood that numerous residents of the towns named not only favor the annexation of the sections indicated, but also the towns of East Chester, Pelham, New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, White Plains and Greenburg, also the southern portions of Harrison and Rye, running

THE BOUNDARY LINE

from the Hudson river at Tarrytown, along the northern line of Greenburg and White Plains, thence in a direct line through the towns of Harrison and Rye to the Connecticut line at Portchester. Inducements are held out to the citizens of the towns named, by the projectors of the scheme, which will doubtless have the desired effect. The convenience of a plentiful supply of Croton water (by the construction of an additional reservoir if necessary), and the protection of the Metropolitan Police and Fire departments, are promised, and a large proportion of the population would doubtless hail such an event with satisfaction.

ANOTHER PROJECT

determined upon is that of converting the Bronx river from its outlet in the East river, near West Farms and opposite Ricker's Island to White Plains, into a grand canal, one hundred feet wide and eight feet deep, with locks at such points as may be determined upon, so as to render it available at all times for the transportation in barges of lumber, coal and other heavy articles of merchandise. It is also suggested that a canal be cut from the Bronx river at a point immediately south of Williamsbridge to Millbrook at Fordham, and thence widen and deepen that stream, and construct what locks may be necessary also along the same, so as to adapt it to the purposes of a canal, to its outlet in the Harlem river. A portion of the Bronx river may by this arrangement be diverted from its present course to Millbrook, and thus greatly remedy the impurity of the latter stream."

Source: Another Big Job, N. Y. Herald, Aug. 12, 1870, p. 4, col. 6.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

1870 Meeting of Residents of Pelham and Surrounding Areas To Encourage Construction of the Branch Line


With the post-Civil War boom, landowners northeast of New York City along the Long Island Sound began clamoring for better means of travel between the City and the area in and around the Town of Pelham. As support for a railroad line to serve the area grew, residents of Pelham and surrounding communities met in 1870 at the Town Hall in the Town of Westchester (now part of the Bronx) to encourage officials to build the so-called "Harlem River and Portchester Railroad".

An article describing the meeting appeared in the June 1, 1870 issue of the New York Herald. The text of that article appears immediately below.

"HARLEM RIVER AND PORTCHESTER RAILROAD.

-----

Meeting in Favor of the Project - Suburban Residents Clamoring for More Speedy Communications with New York.

A meeting composed of influential real estate owners of the town of Westchester, Westchester county, was held in the Town Hall of the former place on Monday evening, for the purpose of considering what measures were requisite to secure the early construction of the proposed Harlem River and Portchester Railroad. Among those present were William D. Bishop, President of the New York and New Haven Railroad, and many of the directors of the projected road.

After the meeting had been organized by the choice of William Watson, president, and the appointment of Claiborne Ferris, secretary, Mr. BISHOP in a somewhat lengthy address, set forth the effect of opening a railroad in enhancing the value of land through which it might pass, as well as the inevitable appreciation which would follow regarding property contiguous to the proposed road. He contended that the population of Westchester and adjoining towns is too sparse at the present time to warrant the company in paying extravagant prices for land, and in addition construct a first class railroad: but that if those whose lands would be increased in value by the road would tender or provide the right of way, the company would immediately go to work and give them a first class railroad. Without some inducement on the part of the property owners along the line of the proposed road, he could not hold out much encouragement to the residents of that locality as to the time when the project would be carried out.

C.A. ROOSEVELT, of Pelham, stated that the property owners of his town were prepared to tender the right of way.

A committee was then appointed on the part of the town of Westchester, to confer with similar bodies in behalf of the towns of Pelham and West Farms, to obtain the right of way for the contemplated railroad through those towns."

Source: Harlem River and Portchester Railroad, N.Y. Herald, Jun. 1, 1870, p. 6, col. 3.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rev. Francis Asbury, Methodist Minister, Preaches in Pelham in 1772


Francis Asbury served as one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Born in England on August 20, 1745, he became an ordained minister at the age of 22. He volunteered to spread the Gospel to America and traveled here in 1771. According to some sources, when the American Revolution began, he was the only Methodist minister to remain in the country. He died on March 31, 1816 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Francis Asbury kept meticulous journals of his travels. His journals for early 1772 show his travels and preaching through the Manor of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes pertinent entries from the published version of some of his early journals.

"ASBURY'S JOURNAL [JAN. 1772. . . . .

On Wednesday the 15th I preached at two in the afternoon at Mairnock [Mamaroneck] with some power, and in the evening returned, preached at Rye, to a large company, and felt my Master near. Thursday 16, I was taken ill with a cold and chill. The next morning I rode to New-City [this is "New City Island", today's City Island], but the cold pinched me much. On New-City Island a congregation was assembled to receive me. I spoke to them with some liberty and they wished me to come again. A wise old Calvinist said, he might experience all I mentioned, and go to hell. I said, Satan experienced more than I mentioned, and yet is gone to hell. After preaching I rode to Mr. B.'s, though in much pain. When I had preached there I went to bed. During the whole night I was very ill. My friends behaved very kindly, and endeavored to prevail upon me to stay there till I was restored: but my appointment required me to set off for Eastchester, where I preached, and rode near eight miles in the evening to New-Rochelle. On the 19th, the Lord's day, I preached three times, though very ill. Many attended, and I could not think of disappointing them. Monday the 20th, I rode to P.'s Manor [i.e., Pell's Manor -- Pelham], and preached there at noon, and at six in the evening at P. B.'s in Roechelle [New Rochelle]. The next day I rode to D.'s, but the day was extremely cold. In the night I had a sore throat, but through the help God I go on, and cannot think of sparing myself:

'No cross, no suff'ring I decline,
Only let all my heart to thine!'

Tuesday the 21st I preached at my friend D.'s for the last time, on, 'Those things that ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.' The people seemed deeply affected under the word. In the morning of the 22d, I set out for the New-City, and preached there in much weakness and pain of body, and in the evening went to my friend P.'s [Pell's ??]. That night I had no rest: ane when I arose in the morning, the pain in my throat was worse. On the 23d [Page 22 / Page 23] I came in a covered sleigh to my friend B.'s, where I took up my lodging, being unable to go any farther. I then applied to a physician, who made applications to my ears, throat, and palate, which were all swelled and inflamed exceedingly. For six or seven days I could neither eat nor drink without great pain. The physician feared I should be strangled, before a discharge took place: but my God ordered all things well. I am raised up again; and cannot help remarking the kindness with which my friends treated me, as if I had been their own brother. The parents and children attended me day and night with the greatest attention. Thus, though a stranger in a strange land, God has taken care of me. May the Lord remember them that have remembered me, and grant to this family life forever more!

February 5. Still I feel myself weak. It is near a fortnight since I came to my friend B.'s. Dr. W. has attended me in all my illness, and did all he could for me gratis. Yesterday was the first day of my going out. I went to Westchester to hear a friend preach. My kind friends S. and W. brought up a sleigh from York on Monday last, but my friends at this place would not suffer me to go with them. In the course of my recovery, I have read much in my Bible, and Hammond's Notes on the New-Testament. I have also met with a spirited piece against predestination. I did not expect to find such an advocate for general redemption in America. This day I ventured to preach at Mr. A. B.'s to his family and a few other people. In the evening returned home, and found Mr. D. L., the former governor's son, there; who lives in the woods near Salem, and invited me to his house. We spent the evening comfortably together."

Source: Journal of Rev. Francis Asbury, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Three Volumes, Vol. I, From August 7, 1771, to December 31, 1786, pp. 22-23 (NY, NY: Lane & Scott 1852).

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Monday, May 07, 2007

1827 Statute Defining the "Limits and Divisions" of the Town of Pelham


Pelham is often referenced as the "oldest Town in Westchester". Technically, such a reference is incorrect. The Town of Pelham was created in 1788 at the same time as many other towns in the County of Westchester.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes pertinent portions of an 1827 statute that reaffirmed the "limits and divisions" of towns and cities located throughout the State of New York, including the Town of Pelham.

"TITLE 1. . . . Westchester.

6. The county of WESTCHESTER shall contain all that part of this state, bounded Southerly, by Long-Island Sound: Easterly, by the east bounds of the state: Northerly, by the north bounds of the manor of Cortlandt, and the same line continued east to the bounds of the state, and west to the middle of Hudson's river : and Westerly, by a line running from thence down the middle of Hudson's river, until it comes opposite to the bounds of the state of New-Jersey, on said river; then west to the same; then southerly along the west bounds of this state, to the line of the county of New-York; and then along the same easterly and southerly to the Sound, or East river, includ- [Page 2 / Page 3] ing Captain's Island, and all the islands in the Sound to the east of Frog's Neck, and the northward of the main channel. . . .

[Page 22] TITLE 4. . . .

ยง 5. The county of WESTCHESTER shall be divided into the towns of Bedford, Cortland, Eastchester, Greenburgh, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Mount Pleasant, New Rochelle, Newcastle, Northcastle, North Salem, Pelham, Poundridge, Rye, Scarsdale, Somers, South Salem, Westchester, White Plains, Yonkers and Yorktown; the extent and limits of which said several towns shall be as follows: . . . .

[Page 23]

12. The town of Pelham shall contain all that part of said county, called and known by the name of the manor of Pelham, extending Sourtherly and Easterly, to the bounds of the county, including the islands called the New City Island, Hart Island, and Appelby's Island."

Source: The Revised Statutes of the State of New-York , Vol. III, Revised Statutes of the State of New-York; &c. -- Enumeration and Boundaries of the Several Towns and Cities of This State Being Part of Chapter II, of the First Part of the Revised Statutes, and Consisting of the Folowing Titles: Title 1. - Of the Several Counties of the State. Title 4. - Of the Several Towns of This State. Title 5. - Of the Several Cities in This State, pp. 2-3, 22-23 (Albany, NY: Packard and Van Benthuysen 1829).

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Biography of Silas H. Witherbee Who Helped Develop the Village of Pelham Manor




Silas H. Witherbee was born in 1815. He lived for many years in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan at 228 Madison Avenue. He was the father of Mary Witherbee who married Robert C. Black of the internationally-renowned jewelry firm Black, Starr & Frost. Although he never lived in Pelham, he had an important influence on the area that became the Village of Pelham Manor in the 1870s and 1880s.

On Tuesday, February 21, 2006 I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog an item entitled "Silas H. Witherbee and His Influence on the Village of Pelham Manor". In it I provided biographical data regarding Silas H. Witherbee. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides a portrait of Witherbee and a biography of him that appeared in a book published in 1895. As always, a citation to the source follows the quoted material.

"SILAS HEMINWAY WITHERBEE, manufacturer, born in Bridport, Vt., not far from the shore of Lake Champlain, Jan. 27, 1815, died at his home in New York city, June 8, 1889. Of the large family of his father, Jonathan, a farmer, the subject of this memoir was next to the youngest child. The Witherbees are of English descent, and their ancestors were rewarded by the crown for valiant services during the Cromwellian period, receiving recognition by the gift of a title. Some of the family removed to New England in the earliest days of settlement.

Mr. Witherbee received a common school education, such as most farmers' sons began life with at that time, and as soon as he was old enough to work engaged as apprentice to a blacksmith. While his first experience was not without influence in determining his subsequent career, he did not like blacksmith's work. After a year or two, he accepted a position as clerk in the store of his brother in law at Port Henry, N. Y., just across the lake from his former home. Here he remained for several years until he took a position as clerk with The Bay State Iron Co., whose furnaces were [Page 731 / Page 732]



[Page 732 / Page 733] located in Port Henry. About this time, June 23, 1842, he married Sophia C. Goff of Orange county, N. Y., and began housekeeping on a salary of $600 a year. After a few years with The Bay State Iron Co., he was removed because of the jealousy of the superintendent. Mr. Witherbee had been making himself too valuable to the company and people had come to prefer dealing with him, rather than with the man actually in charge. He then went to Westport, N. Y., remaining for a while at the blast furnace located there, but The Bay State Iron Co. soon sent for him and gave him the place of the superintendent who had dismissed him.

After a few years, he formed an alliance with his nephew, J. G. Witherbee, to engage in a small way in the transportation business on Lake Champlain, and a little later they bought an interest in the iron ore mines near Port Henry, which, largely through their exertions, became famous as iron properties. Successiveyl, the firms organized were S. H. & J. G. Witherbee, Lee, Sherman & Witherbee, and Witherbee & Fletcher; and finally George Sherman and he, having bought all other interests, they organized the firm of Witherbee, Sherman & Co., which has always had the highest standing for integrity and financial soundness, not only in the iron trade, but throughout Northern New York. At his death, Mr. Witherbee was yet at the head of this copartnership. He was vice president of The First National Bank of Port Henry; director of The Port Henry Iron Ore Co., and president of The Lake Champlain & Moriah Railroad, besides being interested in other business ventures, local and otherwise. He became, in 1887, president of The Port Henry Furnace Co., successors of the original company, from which he had in his early life been dismissed by the superintendent.

In 1868, Mr. Witherbee removed to New York, and in the following year bought the house in which he lived until his death. He early joined the Union League club, and was one of its regular although unostentatious supporters, and a member and trustee of the Brick Presbyterian Church. In the '70s, he became interested in property in Westchester county, near New Rochelle. Largely through his instrumentality, the attractive suburb of Pelham Manor came into being. Part of his property was taken by the city for the Pelham Bay Park. He never held public office, being of an unobtrusive nature, but was always a staunch supporter of the Republican party. Of a most generous disposition, many men were helped by him in a quiet way. It was a boast of his early life, that, if he ever had more than $20,000, all sums above that should go towards educating young men; and while this was not literally fulfilled, many young men and boys had reason to thank him for their start in life and his continued encouragement. Mr. Witherbee had three children, Elizabeth V., wife of the Rev. Lewis Francis; Mary G. W., wife of Robert C. Black, and Walter C. Witherbee."

Source: Hall, Henry, ed., America's Successful Men of Affairs - An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography, Vol. I, pp. 731-33 (NY, NY: The Tribune Association 1895) (published by The New York Printing Co. The Republic Press for The New York Tribune).



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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Obituary of William Robert Lamberton of Pelham Published in 1894


In 1894, The Scotch-Irish Society of America published an obituary as a memorial to William Robert Lamberton of Pelham. The item read as follows:

"WILLIAM ROBERT LAMBERTON.

-----

AT Saybrook, Conn., died on Thursday, August 9, Willie Robert Lamberton, in the thirty-third year of his age.

Willie Robert Lamberton was the only child of the late Col. W. H. Lamberton, of Carlisle, Pa., and Mrs. Constance M. Lamberton-Miller, of this city. The funeral ceremonies took place at Grace Church, Old Saybrook, Conn., on the morning of August 10, 1894, and his remains rest in the family plot at Woodlawn, New York City. He died of consumption.

From his extreme youth he gave evidence of a strong mind and great will power. He rapidly developed a legal mind of the highest order, and attracted the attention and love of the late Charles O'Conor, whose mantle seemed to have fallen upon him and who bequeathed to him his private library. He was as a son in the latter years of the life of that great master in jurisprudence. His father, Col. William Harkness Lamberton, was on Gov. Porter's staff when twenty years old. He was in Florida when the war broke out. The Lamberton family is a very old one, and Willie Robert Lamberton is directly descended from William de Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrew's (Scotland), 1297. The ancient Coat of Arms are: 'Arms-Argent, three escollop shells, table, crest, stag's head at gaze, St. Andrew's cross between the Attires. Motto: Volonte de Dieu."

His first important action in a brief life of great activity was the organization, completion, and successful operation of the Pelham Park Railroad Company, of which he as President until affliction compelled him to retire to the position of Vice President about a year since; he was prominent in a number of railway cases in which large amounts were involved; he was the youngest street railway President in the United States at the English Annual Convention of the New York State Street Railway Association, held at Rochester, N. Y., September 16, 1890, and whose likeness appears in a group of the Association and friends photographed on that day; he was a prominent and influential man in the interests of the town of Pelham, Westchester County, N. Y., where his advice and opinions were much sought after and successfully followed; he was frequently importuned to accept proposed offfcial positions in vari- [Page 210 / Page 211] ous societies; he was a member of the Country, New York Athletic, and Pelham Manor Clubs. His kindness to the poor, from whom he never withheld possible assistance, was proverbial.

At the very threshhold of a brilliant and most promising life he passed away from amongst men at the village of Saybrook, Conn., where he was temporarily residing, on the morning of August 9, at nine o'clock.

His private life was that of devotion to home and to his mother; latterly, to her inculcations of the truth, touching imperishable honors, and of which he gave evidence that he had assuredly secured -- a blessed immortality.

J.B.M."

Source: The Scotch-Irish in America -- Proceedings and Addresses of the Sixth Congress, at Des Moines, IA., June 7-10, 1894, pp. 210-11 (Nashville, TN: Barbee & Smith, Agents 1894) (Published by order of The Scotch-Irish Society of America).

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Information About Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak Published in 1922


In 1922, Frye Publishing Company released a book by Katharine Stanley Nicholson entitled Historic American Trees. The book included a passage about Thomas Pell's Treaty Oak that once stood on the grounds of the Bartow-Pell Estate. Beneath that tree, according to tradition, Thomas Pell signed a "treaty" with local Native Americans on June 27, 1654 by which he acquired the lands that became known as the Manor of Pelham. Below is the passage from the book.

"THE PELHAM OAK

In 1654, Thomas Pell, of Fairfield, Conn., bought property north of the Harlem River, 'embracing all that tract of land called Westchester,' in what is now New York State. Beneath the shade of a large white oak, which has ever since been called by his name, the deed was signed by the Indian Chiefs Manninepol, Annhook, and five other Sachems [sic] from whom he purchased the land for 'two guns, two kettles, two coats, two adzes, 2 shirts, one barrel of cider and 6 bits of money' [sic]; the value of the payment is estimated to have amounted to eight pounds, four shillings and six pence [sic].

Nine days before the transaction [sic], a meeting of the Director General and Council of New Netherlands had taken place, and it had been resolved to forbid the English settling on any soil which, the Government claimed had been 'long before bought and paid for,' and to order them 'to proceed no farther, but to abandon that spot.'

Pell, being one of the chief offenders, it was reported by the attorney of the New Netherlands, that he had 'dared against the rights and usages of Christian countries to pretend that he bought these lands of the natives,' and that he was making a settlement there. He continued to hold the land, however, ignoring all objections, and when at length the Dutch surrendered, in 1664, became its undisputed owner. In 1666, Governor Nicholls, of New York, confirmed a large part of Pell's grant, and 'erected a township or manor; the propietor rendering and paying in fealty therefor yearly, unto his Royal Highness, James, Duke of York, or to such governor as should, from time to time be by him appointed, as an acknowledgment, one lamb upon the first day of May, (the feast of S. S. Philip and James).'

For more than two hundred and fifty years, the old oak had been famed as the landmark where the beginnings of historic Pelham Manor were made. It is said to have stood on the Post Road, between Pelham Bridge and the entrance to the Bartow place. About one hundred and seventy-five feet south of the bridge, is an oak stump, surrounded by an iron railing, believed by many to be the remains of the treaty tree. According to the report of the American Scienic [sic] [Page 12 / Page 13] and Historic Preservation Society, however, this is incorrect, and nothing now is left of the fine old oak but the record of its fame."

Source: Nicholson, Katharine Stanley, Historic American Trees, pp. 13-14 (NY, NY: Frye Publishing Co. 1922).

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Year Pelham Had No School


In 1834, the Town of Pelham had about 250 residents. That year, the Town inexplicably held no school for its youngsters. The annual report of the Superintendent of Common Schools noted the failure in a rather puzzled tone. What follows is an excerpt of the entry.

"It has been stated in the two last annual reports of the Superintendent, that the organization of the common schools, and the administration of the system in all matters, external to the schools themselves, by the officers of towns and school districts having a supervision over them, are brought to as great a degree of order and regularity as it is reasonable to expect under any circumstances. The commissioners of common schools of all the towns in the State, have made their reports as required by law. In the town of Pelham, in Westchester county, no school has been kept during last year. This town was organized in theyear 1788, and includes the ancient manor of Pelham, which is of very limited dimensions. In the year 1835, it had but 255 inhabitants; and the whole town constitutes one school district, in which, for some cause not explained, there was no school in the year 1834. The report from that town simply states the fact without assigning the reason."

Source: Annual Report of the Superintendent of Commons Schools of the State of New-York Made to the Legislature, January 6, 1836, p. 23 (Albany, NY: Croswell, Van Benthutsen and Burt 1836).

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