Historic Pelham

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

Friday, September 28, 2007

When Incorporated, The Original Village of Pelham Needed More Elected Officials Than it Had Voters

One of the oddest pieces of trivia relating to the history of Pelham arises from the incorporation of the tiny little Village of Pelham in 1896. The original Village of Pelham encompassed the area known today as Pelham Heights. The Village of North Pelham, north of the New Haven line tracks, and the tiny Village of Pelham merged to form today's Village of Pelham in the 1970s.

When first created in 1896, the tiny Village of Pelham had only sixteen registered voters. Yet, by law, if it had been required to fill all seats on its Board of Health, the little Village would have had more offices for elected officials than it had voters. The New York Times made note of this curious fact on June 10, 1896. It said:


Pelham Is The Smallest Incorporated Village of Record.

MOUNT VERNON, N. Y., June 9. - The new village of Pelham, which was created by a special act of the Legislature that was signed recently by Gov. Morton, comprises the territory known as Pelham Heights, and is one of the smallest incorporated villages of record. There are but sixteen voters in the place, and there are eleven offices to be filled. If a full Board of Health should be elected there would be offices for all the voters and some left over.

The village covers that part of Pelham bounded by the village of Pelham Manor, the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railway, Mount Vernon, and New-Rochelle. The new village is the home of Congressman Benjamin L. Fairchild."

Source: Has More Offices Than Voters, N. Y. Times, Jun. 10, 1896, p. .

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Findings of the Coroner's Inquest That Followed the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Today I am continuing a series of postings that transcribe news articles that appeared following the train wreck that occurred in Pelhamville in late December 1885. See:

Monday, September 24, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: More About The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Wednesday, September 26, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885 Continued . . . .

Today's posting transcribes a news story that appeared in The New York Times on January 17, 1886. That item detailed the findings of the coroner's inquest that followed the accident. It read as follows:



The inquest before Coroner Tice relative to the death of Fireman Eugene Blake, in the railroad accident at Pelhamville on Dec. 27, was resumed in the station at that place yesterday afternoon. The first witness was Riley Phillips the engineer, who testified that his train reached the Pelhamville station at 5:55 in the morning, and was running at the rate of 35 miles an hour. It was dark as pitch and the air was full of sand raised by the storm. As soon as he felt the shock of the platform in the track he shut off steam, and the next moment was hurled down the embankment with his engine. It had no flanges on the forward driving wheels, but he believed that flanges would not have saved the engine.

John Heeney, Jr., Superintendent of Motive Power on the New-York and New-Haven Railroad, testified that two -thirds of this engines ran without flanges on the forward driving wheels to enable them to round curves with the least possible strain on the axles. Flanges on all the wheels could not have kept the engine on the track after striking the overturned platform. S. E. Lyon, a Pelhamville carpenter, who had examined the platform posts after the accident, could not swear that there were nail holes in them, and was sure they were not securely spiked to the platform. William Barry, a Road Commissioner of the town, found no other evidence that the platform was fastened down than a spike in one of the uprights. William E. Barnett, counsel for the railroad, admitted that the station property belonged to the company.

Coroner Tice then turned the evidence over to the jury, and in half an hour they found a verdict' That the said Eugene Blake came to his death by a railroad accident at Pelhamville Dec. 27, 1885, through the criminal negligence of the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company in failing to secure the platform of the above station."

Source: The Company Censured, N. Y. Times, Jan. 17, 1886, p. 7.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885 Continued . . .

Those who read the Historic Pelham Blog know that I recently began a series of postings that transcribe news articles that appeared following the train wreck that occurred in Pelhamville in late December 1885. See:

Monday, September 24, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: More About The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Today's posting transcribes a brief item that appeared in The New York Times on January 6, 1886. That item reads as follows:


Engineer Riley Phillips had not sufficiently recovered from his injuries to be present last night at the inquest touching the death of Fireman Eugene Blake in the accident at Pelhamville on the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad on Dec. 27. Coroner Tice and his eight jurors listened to the evidence of John E. Fuller and Franklin M. Cogill, Supervisors of Bridges, in the employ of the railroad, who testified that the platform which was blown by the gale across the track had been firmly built on poles, and that the sleepers had been pinned down by five-inch iron spikes. The planking had been repaired in February, 1885, and the posts were then found in good condition. A colored coachman, John T. Kiar, told how he passed the station just before the accident, and saw the obstruction on the track. The inquest will be continued on Jan. 16 at 5 o'clock P.M."

Source: Westchester, N. Y. Times, Jan. 6, 1886, p. 8.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More About the 1885 Train Wreck in Pelhamville

Yesterday I began a series of postings to the Historic Pelham Blog in which I am transcribing news articles about the fatal train wreck that occurred on the New Haven main line in Pelhamville in late 1885. See Monday, September 24, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885. Below is a transcription of another article about the accident, followed by a citation to its source.



There were a good many visitors yesterday to the scene of the railroad accident at Pelhamville, on the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad, on Sunday morning. New tracks had been laid, however, the splintered ties had been replaced, and trains were running regularly and on time. Down the bank, on the north side of the rails, still lay the mail car on its side, devoid of trucks and all running gear, and near it the wrecked locomotive, No. 127. The demolished tender, what there was left of it, lay near by, and its appearance told of the terrible plunge it had taken down the sixty-foot embankment. A large gang of men were at work with ropes and pulleys, tugging at the locomotive, trying to get it on to the level spot at the foot of the embankment. It will be necessary to lay a temporary track around the embankment in order to get the locomotive and mail car up on the main track.

Coroner Tice, of Mount Vernon, was on the ground at 11 o'clock, and in a house near the station commenced his inquest as to the death of the fireman, Eugene Blake, whose body was forwarded on Sunday to his home in New-Haven. Conductor Erskin C. Holcomb, the first witness, told how the accident occurred. John C. Platt, the water boy of the train, found the fireman in the cab lying upon his stomach with his feet against the furnace door. He answered a question put to him and said he was 'done for.' He was carried to the station, where he died in about 40 minutes. When first found he was conscious, but said nothing about how the accident occurred.

Charles H. Merritt, the station agent, testified that the platform which was blown on to the track, causing the accident, was built about seven years ago, under the direction of John E. Fuller, of Bridgeport. He did not know whether the platform was spiked or anchored down, but thought that there were some spikes in it. The same platform was repaired and partly replanked last Spring under the supervision of F. M. Coghill, of Harlem, now Supervisor of this section of the road. The inquest was then adjourned in order to take the testimony of the engineer and Mr. Fuller. The loss to the company by the accident is estimated at $50,000.

Superintendent Stevenson said yesterday that the idea that the station platform at Pelhamville was insecurely fastened was all nonsense. It was as securely fastened as any platform could be when one-half of it rested on posts. The trouble was the gale which blew the platform over on the track was one of the most terrific that had been known in that locality for years. The wind sweeping through the ravine struck the under side of the platform, and of course something had to give way. The same gale blew the top of a freight car completely off while the train which left Harlem early on Sunday morning was passing a point opposite Pelhamville. When the freight train reached New Rochelle a telegram recounting the accident was sent to Superintendent Stevenson, and he directed that a search be made for the missing car roof. Subsequently a train on its way to this city came upon the roof, which was lying across the up track. The train was stopped and the obstruction was removed."

Source: The Accident at Pelhamville, N. Y. Times, Dec. 29, 1885, p. 8.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

I have written about an unusual train wreck that occurred in late 1885 in Pelhamville. See The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885: "One of the Most Novel in the Records of Railroad Disasters", 80(1) The Westchester Historian pp. 36-43 (2004). For the next several days I will provide transcriptions of news articles about the wreck that appeared in local newspapers. The first, provided below, appeared on the first page of the December 28, 1885 issue of The New York Times.




The mail express train out of Boston known as the 'owl train,' due in this city at 6:25 o'clock yesterday morning, was running at a high rate of speed when it approached Pelhamville Station, 15 miles out from New-York, on the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad. It was nearly 6 o'clock and the train was a few minutes late. As it neared the station Engineer Riley Phillips saw that the track was strewn with timbers and planks. He had just time to shut off steam and apply the brakes when his engine struck the loose lumber, left the rails, plowed through the ties and frozen roadbed and finally rolled down a 60-foot embankment to the right of the track, followed by the Southern and Western mail car. The engineer and his fireman, Eugene Blake, were thrown out of the cab. The former landed in a ditch at the foot of the embankment, and escaped with some bruises and an internal injury which is not considered serious. The fireman was crushed beneath the wreck of the locomotive, and held fast. He was so badly hurt that he died on the ground a short time after the accident.

In the Southern and Western mail car, which pitched end over end down the embankment, were the head clerk, F. S. McCausland and his assistants, W. S. Hart, C. P. Turner, E. E. Clark, J. F. McCoy, Charles Mitchell, and Peter Conaty. Clark, Hart, and Turner were badly bruised about their bodies. Their wounds were dressed, and they were made as comfortable as possible. The rest of the train, which was in charge of Conductor E. Holcombe, consisted of a mail car, of the Boston and Albany line; a baggage car, the coach Martha, of the Mann Boudoir Car Company; two sleeping cars, in charge of Conductor Crane; a smoking car, and two ordinary passenger coaches. All of these cars were derailed, and the sixty or seventy passengers were thrown out of their berths or seats and received a severe shaking up, but no serious injuries. They were badly frightened by the sudden stopping of the train. One of the sleeping cars halted on the very edge of the embankment. Its heavy trucks and the coupling attaching it to the next car kept it on the roadbed. The wheels of the forward truck had sunk deeply into the ground.

F. S. McCausland, the chief mail clerk, said after getting out of his car, which was badly wrecked, that this was the fourth railroad accident he had been in, and he had been fortunate enough to escape every time with nothing more serious than some slight bruises. When he found the car going down the embankment he concluded the best thing to do was to brace himself as well as possible. This he did, and when the car landed he called out to the clerks: "Are any of you dead, boys?' To this inquiry he received answer that they were all right excepting a bad shaking up and some bruises received while they were alternately standing on their feet and their heads. The car was heated by a safety stove, which was riveted to the floor and the doors of which were locked. Not a coal escaped, and thus the horror of a fire was spared to the men.

The passengers in the sleeping cars found themselves in darkness as they were awakened and thrown from their berths, as all the lights had been extinguished. One only received a slight cut from a broken pane of glass. The men hurriedly dressed and joined Conductor Holcombe, Station Agent Merritt, and the train hands in the work of releasing the mail agent and rescuing the fireman from the wreck of the locomotive. Drs. Nutting and Carlisle, of Mount Vernon, were sent for in haste and they rendered such service as was possible to the dying man and attended to the wants of the engineer and others who had sustained injuries.

Some time after the accident the Adams Express train came down from New Rochelle, and took on board the passengers of the wrecked train and brought them to this city. At 10 o'clock a wrecking train arrived from New-Haven, and a large gang of men began the work of clearing away the wreck. The timbers and planks, which caused the accident, were a part of the station platform, which the high wind had torn from its place and piled upon the track. It is said that this platform was never permanently anchored to the ground. The planks were nailed to the timbers, which simply rested on the tops of posts driven into the ground. The rails along the platform were badly twisted and the ties were torn up and crushed, but Supt. William H. Stevenson, who was on the ground at an early hour, said that the line would be clear for trains this morning. He also said that the accident was an unforeseen and unavoidable one, as it could not be anticipated that the platform would be blown upon the track.

Eugene Blake, the unfortunate fireman, lived in New-Haven. He was 35 years old, and had been married only about five months. He was conscious but a short time after the accident, but during that time he called repeatedly for his wife. He appeared to be in great agony, and begged that the wight on his abdomen, which oppressed him, might be removed. His body was taken to the residence of W. A. McGalliord, at Pelhamville, and Coroner Tice was notified. He will hold an inquest at 11 o'clock to-day.

The news of the accident spread rapidly over the surrounding country. Pelhamville is not a village, but simply a station for the accommodation of passengers living along the line of the New-Haven Railroad between Mount Vernon on the west and New-Rochelle on the east. In a very short time people began to flock to the scene of the accident, and a crowd remained there all day viewing the wreck and watching the gangs of men engaged in clearing and repairing the track."

Source: The Platform Displaced, N. Y. Times, Dec. 28, 1885, p. 1.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Ringing of the Bell of St. Paul's Church of Eastchester on the 100th Anniversary of the First Service in the Stone Church

In late December 1888, the congregation of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester celebrated the centennial of the first service held in the stone church building that still stands as today's Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site. The next day The New York Times carried a lengthy article about the celebration. The text of that article appears immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.


The old bell of St. Paul's Church, East Chester, N. Y., pealed out as clear and strong on the crisp December air yesterday morning as though it was brand-new, instead of having done service ina and out the belfry for 130 years. There was a seeming gladness in its pure tone that told all the good people of the neighborhood of an unusual occasion, for yesterday was set apart by the congregation of St. Paul's to commemorate the centennial of the first service ever held in the present structure.

For weeks the gray-haired Rector and the good housewives of the parish had been preparing for this celebration. The former had brought out from their musty hiding places the treasure relics of the church, and the latter had united in preparing a collation that bore the semblance of a feast in its abundance. The news of the centennial had gone abroad throughout the surrounding country and people came from West Chester, Bartow, Mount Vernon, Pelham Manor, White Plains, New-Rochelle, William's Bridge, and New-York to take part in the service. The descendants of the Knickerbockers and the Huguenots met together and traced out pedigrees and the relationships resulting from intermarriage. Old men bent down with years and frosted with time clasped hands on the ancient green and talked of their great-great-grandfathers, while they recounted the legends of the place.

St. Paul's is one of the oldest public buildings now standing in the neighborhood of the metropolis. Only three others can equal it in point of age -- the old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow, St. Paul's at Broadway and Vesey-street, and the ancient Hall of Records that stands on the City Hall green and does service as the Register's office. But, old as it is, the present place of worship had a predecessor. The town grant was made in 1664 and the first church was built in 1698. In 1702 the Congregationalists of the place conformed to the Protestant Episcopal Government. In 1764 the cornerstone of the present structure was laid and in 1788 the first service was held within its walls.

But meantime events portentous of the future were happening. The Declaration of Independence had been signed and the war of the Revolution was being waged. The British army had appeared on Pelham Heights, and, beating back the colonial force under Col. Grover [sic], had taken possession of St. Paul's and were using it for a hospital. The redcoats needed firewood, and so they tore down the old church and burned it piece by piece to keep them warm in the new one. Still the struggle went on and many skirmishes were had, until the fighting culminated in the battle of White Plains. St. Paul's gives evidence of her part in the strife by marks of cannon balls on her sturdy walls that are pointed out to this day with pride by the East Chester folk. Although the church was turned into a hospital for the enemy, the parishioners determined that their Bible, Prayer Book, and bell should not be desecrated, therefore they stole away these articles and buried them. When the war was over they resurrected them, and yesterday all three were used -- the bell to call the worshipers together and the Bible and the Prayer Book in the service.

The bell bears this inscription: 'The gift of the Rev. Thomas Standard, 1758.' The Prayer Book was published in 1715 and the Bible in 1759. Both are in a remarkable state of preservation, and the former contains a special invocation for the King of England, the royal family, and the nobility. At the close of the Revolution this was so distasteful to the parishioners of St. Paul's that they carefully pasted over all allusions to monarchy and aristocracy and used the book in that form. The King of England and the royal family had no place in their prayers. The more comprehensive Christianity of the present day has removed as far as possible the patriotic 'pasters.' St. Paul's also has done service as a court of justice, and within its walls men have been sentenced to be hanged, especially one for horse stealing. In the vestry room there hangs to-day a framed record of a session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer held there nearly a century ago, at which Chief-Justice Morris presided.

Everything about St. Paul's savors of antiquity. On its vestry walls in modest frames are manuscript sermons preached from its pulpit in 1755 by the Rev. Samuel Johnson, S. T. D., President of King's College, (now Columbia,) and adorned with a picture of the preacher; by the Rev. John Bartow in 1722, and by the Rev. Elias Cooper in 1798. There are also the grim likenesses of Rectors and Bishops long since dead, and many relics of the time when St. Paul's was surrendered to the trial of infractors of the common law. Outside the sacred structure the reverential spirit is preserved in the legends of the pepole. The green that stretches before the church was long devoted to parades of the militia, and some of the graybeards of the neighborhood recount in glowing phrases the grandeur of these military exhibitions. On this green are several trees whose gnarled trunks still bear the hooks on which malefactors were long ago hanged by their thumbs in punishment of their misdeeds. Men were also hanged on them by the necks, and one tree bears the proud distinction in legendary lore of having been the gallows of three criminals. They are called 'the gibbet trees' by the East Chester people, and are regarded with awe for the dread fruit they have borne.

St. Paul's has a capacious graveyard, too, and corpses have been buried there through the long stretch of two centuries. The oldest legible tombstone bears the date of 1704, but there are many others so moss-grown and worn down by the combined force of time and weather that their ages or the names of those that lie beneath them are problems wholly past solving. They are harsh, rough slabs rudely carved and forming a marked contrast with the white and polished shafts that rise in the more modern part of the burial ground. One corner of this cemetery is particularly interesting, for this was set apart for the interment of the slaves of the East Chester forefathers -- a sort of poorhouse in the city of the dead. The epitaph literature of this God's acre is peculiar, as this sample will show:

'Life ending here is life begun,
For here a Christian lies,
Though not a modern one.
One whose life evinced to all good will,
Who died a victim to a want of skill.'

The commemoration service yesterday was conducted by the Right Rev. Bishop Potter, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Bolton, the Rev. Mr. Holmes of Trinity Church, Mount Vernone, and the Rev. William Samuel Coffey, the faithful and beloved Rector of St. Paul's East Chester. The Rev. Mr. Clendennin and the Rev. Mr. Van Rensselaere were also present. There was a confirmaiton service, a communion service, and an address by Mr. Coffey on the history of the church. The music was furnished by Miss Jennings, who played the 50-year-old organ, and Miss Kitty Giles, soprano. After the service the entire congregation, headed by the Bishop and the Rector, adjourned to the newly-built horse shed, which had been converted into a temporary dining hall before being turned over to its equine occupants, and partook of the bountiful collation. They were waited on by the Misses Jennings, Van Gasbeck, Briggs, Nedham, Giles, Guard, Earle, and Saunders, and Mrs. Sherwood and Mrs. Coffey. These self-constituted waitresses were neatly attired in white aprons and were most vigilant as to the comfort of their guests.

The Bishop sat at the head of the long table with Mr. Coffey on his right and Miss Martha Wilson, who is now a very old lady and who has done much to keep St. Paul's in repair, occupying a seat of honor. After the company had fed to its utmost on oysters, patties, cold meats, pastry, ice cream, and coffee Bishop Potter made a speech, in which he said that the occasion was really phenomenal. He would illustrate his meaning by a story.

Once upon a time two oysters were floating in a great soup tureen. After a while they encountered each other.

'What! are you here?' asked the first in surprise.

'Yes,' replied the other. 'but can you tell me what sort of a place this is?'

'Oh! this is a church festival,' was the answer.

'Bless me!' exclaimed the first; 'if that is the case what can they want with us both?'

The Bishop had just had two plates of oyster soup and he had counted seven oysters in the first and nine in the second. He could scarcely believe his senses, but he attributed the phenomenon to the characteristic generosity of the East Chester people. Mr. Coffey followed the Biship in an appropriate address and then the other reverend gentlemen and some of the laymen made speeches.

Mr. Coffey has been Rector of St. Paul's 37 successive years, and he feelingly alluded to that fact. His congregation has literally grown up around him and under his teaching. The services began at 11 o'clock, but the festival did not end until the afternoon was far spent. As the white-haired Rector stood on the old green and bade his parishioners an affectionate good-night, the December sun hung for a moment on the crests of the East Chester hills to bathe in a flood of gold the little group standing there beneath the 'gibbet' trees and in the companionship of the solemn spire and silent tombstones of St. Paul's."

Source: The Old Bell Rings Again, N.Y. Times, Dec. 30, 1888, p. 3.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Difficulties Follow the Foreclosure Sale of the Old Le Roy Mansion in Pelham in 1879

Periodically I have written about the family of Herman Le Roy of Pelham, early residents of the area. For a few of the postings I have published in this regard, see:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007: Herman Le Roy of Pelham Offers Reward for Stolen Ewe in 1814

Monday, June 26, 2006: 1834 Statute Authorized Herman Le Roy, Jr. to Dam Creek for an Oyster Bed.

Friday, December 9, 2005: Conveyance of Le Roy Lands in Pelham Between Pelham Bridge and New Rochelle in 1818.

Thursday, August 25, 2005: 1818 Sale of Lands to Herman and Hannah Le Roy of Pelham.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides the text of an article published in The New York Times in 1879 detailing troubles that arose as a result of the foreclosure sale of Herman Le Roy's fine mansion on today's Shore Road. The text of the article is followed by a citation to its source.



The imposing mansion situated on the road between New-Rochelle and Pelham Bridge, formerly owned by Herman Le Roy, was sold on the 10th day of last June, under foreclosure, by the Mutual Life Insurance Company. The surrounding grounds that go with the estate comprise about 120 acres. The property was bought by the third mortgagee, Dr. Wood, of this City, for $51,000. The same place had been sold before for $178,000. Herman Le Roy, who owned it in the last century, was the senior member of the house of Le Roy, Bache & McEvers, which was the best known American house of its time. In this fine old mansion the daughter of Herman Le Roy, Caroline, was married to Daniel Webster. There are a few inhabitants of Pelham who still describe the magnificent appearance of the grounds on the day of that marriage. The son of Herman Le Roy married the daughter of Thomas Addis Emmet. Thus, the children of Le Roy from this old mansion married, one the daughter of the greatest orator, and the other the greatest lawyer and statesman of his time.

A resale of this fine old property was sought by Mr. Keogh, a New-Rochelle lawyer, in behalf of Frank Bently, who owned part of the premises, claiming that errors and irregularities had been made in the foreclosure proceedings. Judge Dykman, of the Supreme Court, yesterday filed at White Plains an adverse decision on the motion to vacate the Referee's sale. Counselor Keogh asserts that the place was sacrificed at the Referee's sale, and declares that he can bring forward a bidder who will give a larger sum than $51,000 for only a part of the estate. The struggle for a resale is therefore likely to be a hard one. The premises were last owned by Patrick Rogers, a well-known clothier, who was killed at the entrance gate a few years ago. Beside this place is the residence of Richard Morris, grandson of the signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mrs. Webster still lives in New-Rochelle, and is 83 years old. Her brother, William Le Roy, also lives there, and is 80 years old. His wife, the daughter of T. Addis Emmet, died last Summer at the age of 81. She was the niece of Robert Emmet, the great patriot."

Source: The Old Le Roy Mansion, N.Y. Times, Jul. 20, 1879, p. 12.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New York Times Makes Searchable Historic Newspaper Collection for Period 1851 - 1922 Available for Free

The New York Times historic newspaper collection has been available from a number of fee-based databases for years. Recently, paid subscribers to The New York Times have had access to "Times Select" as part of their paid subscription. The "Times Select" collection included the historic newspaper collection with an archives that covered the period from 1851 to 1980.

As of midnight last night, The New York Times has made virtually all of its "Times Select" Web site content available on its Web site without fee to the public. Among the free content is the full-text searchable historic newspaper collection covering the period from 1851 to 1922. Material from 1922 to 1980 remains available as part of the same collection on a fee basis given that the material has not entered the public domain.

To search The New York Times archive for the period from 1951 to 1980, go to: http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?srchst=p. There you may find it helpful to click on the "Advanced" search link so that you can search the text of the articles, headlines and by author names and can create a custom date range.

As one might expect, the collection offers a wealth of historic material relating to Pelham and Pelham and surrounding areas. For those interested in Pelham history, this is a free tool that cannot be ignored.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Installation of the First Full-Time Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor in 1877

As I recently noted, periodically I have posted items to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the fascinating history of the church known today as Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor. For a few of many such examples, see:

Friday, August 31, 2007: Announcement of the First Services Held in the Little Red Church of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church on July 9, 1876

Thursday, August 16, 2007: Biographical Data About Rev. Charles Eliphalet Lord Who Served as Acting Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1874-79

Tuesday, June 19, 2007: A Brazen Burglary at The Little Red Church in 1904

Monday, January 1, 2007: Dating an Undated Glass Lantern Slide Showing the Little Red Church (Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006: A Biography of the Rev. Henry Randall Waite, Ph. D., a 19th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church

Thursday, June 29, 2006: A Biography of Lewis Gaston Leary, Early 20th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham

Thursday, March 2, 2006: A Lecture in 1877 to Raise Money for the New Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor

Friday, January 27, 2006: Lectures to Raise Money to Build the "Huguenot Memorial Forest Church" Building in Pelham Manor

Monday, July 25, 2005: The Columbarium at Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor

Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting transcribes a brief announcement that appeared in the December 3, 1877 issue of The New York Times. It announces a special meeting of the Westchester Presbytery for installation of the first full-time pastor of the Church, Rev. Henry Randall Waite. Previously, Rev. Charles Eliphalet Lord had served as "Acting Pastor" while funds were being raised for construction of the church and during the first year of the life of the little church. The text of the announcement appears immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.


A special meeting of the Westchester Presbytery will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 1:30 P.M., in the Huguenot Memorial Church, Pelham Manor, for the installation of Rev. Henry Randall Waite, Ph. D., as Pastor. Rev. Washington Roosevelt, Rev. Llewellyn Bevan, D. D., Rev. Charles Higbee, Rev. T. Ralston Smith, D. D., Rev. William J. Tucker, D. D., Rev. Rollin A. Sawyer, D. D., Rev. Hiram H. Waite, and Rev. Lewis Francis will take part in the exercises. Visitors can reach Pelham Manor by trains on the New-Haven Railroad, from the Grand Central Depot, at 10:10 A. M. and 12 M., and by the Morrisania boats, from Fulton slip, at 8:35 and 11:15 A. M., connecting with trains at North New-York for Pelham Manor."

Source: Pelham Huguenot Memorial Church, N.Y. Times, Dec. 3, 1877, p. 2.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Articles About the 19th Century Boundary Dispute Between Pelham and New Rochelle

I previously have written about Pelham's 19th century boundary dispute with neighboring New Rochelle. See, e.g., Thursday, March 16, 2006: 1869 New York Herald Article About Pelham's Boundary Dispute With New Rochelle. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes a number of additional articles that appeared in the New York Times regarding the dispute. They shed additional light on a matter that took decades to resolve.

"Boundary Line Difficulties - Pelham vs. New-Rochelle and East Chester.

The Citizens of New-Rochelle are greatly excited at the present time in consequence of the town of Pelham laying claim to a large slice of their territory, and of which they have held undisputed possession since 1711. In the year 1703 a survey was made and a map prepared by the official Surveyor of the Colony of New-York, and in 1711 another survey and map was made by a Captain BOND, a City Surveyor of New-York, which gave New-Rochelle a boundary line commencing at a rock on Hunter's Island, known as the 'Gray Mare,' thence running to Shoal Harbor, on the main land; thence running northerly until the line strikes Hutchinson River; thence along the course of that stream to the Scarsdale township line, and under that line New-Rochelle has had jurisdiction ever since that period. Pelham makes the present claim on the ground that the map by which they are guided in the matter was made by a State officer, and therefore takes the precedence over all others, although both maps referred to were made at the instance and request of the people of New-Rochelle. It is understood that the people of Pelham also claim a goodly slice of territory now held by the town of East Chester, away north to the Bronx River, and a certain tree marked in 1703. The question is now before the State Engineer for investigation, and before it is settled, the lawyers engaged will probably have some fine pickings. A special meeting of the citizens of New-Rochelle has been called for Saturday evening to take such action in the matter as may be deemed necessary."

Source: Boundary Line Difficulties -- Pelham vs. New-Rochelle and East Chester, N.Y. Times, Jul. 14, 1869, p. 8.

"Pelham and New-Rochelle Difficulties.
To the Editor of the New-York Times:

In your issue of this date, under the heading 'Boundary Line Difficulties, Pelham vs. New-Rochelle and East Chester,' I find the following: 'It is understood that the people of Pelham also claim a goodly slice of territory now held by the town of East Chester, away north to the Bronx River.'

If such an understanding exists it is entirely without foundation; the town of Pelham does not claim any portion of East Chester, neither does it claim any portion of land that belongs to New-Rochelle. The only matter in dispute is as to the true location of the dividing line between New-Rochelle and Pelham. The dispute is the result of an illegal assessment made by the Assessors of New-Rochelle upon land that has always been within the jurisdiction of the town of Pelham.

Counsel for Pelham.
ALLWOOD, Pelham, Wednesday, July 14, 1869."

Source: Pelham and New-Rochelle Difficulties, N.Y. Times, Jul. 18, 1869, p. 3.

"Pelham-New Rochelle Boundary.

WHITE PLAINS, March 16. -- The disputed boundary line between the towns of New Rochelle and Pelham was decided to-day when the Westchester County Board of Supervisors adopted the report of the Judiciary Committee, which decided that the correct boundary line is that made by the steon walls now in existence as laid down on a map made by Capt. Bond in 1711. There was about 200 feet difference between the disputants. This line has been recognized since 1872."

Source: Pelham-New Rochelle Boundary, N.Y. Times, Mar. 17, 1898, p. 3.

Pelham Gets Fifty Acres on Which New Rochelle Collected Taxes.
Special to The New York Times.

PELHAM, N. Y., Nov. 25. -- A decision has been handed down by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, which, it is believed, will permanently settle the boundary line between New Rochelle and this town, which has been in dispute for nearly a hundred years. The decision confirms Pelham's right to fifty acres of land upon which New Rochelle has for years levied taxes. The original line between the two places was established by Capt. Bond, a surveyor employed by Lord Pelham, who originally owned all the land now known as New Rochelle and Pelham. Lord Pelham reserved Pelham as his manor and sold the other land to the Huguenots, who fled from France after the signing of the edict of Nantes. They cut it up into small farms and built stone fences to separate them from the estate of Lord Pelham. These fences are still standing, and the authorities of Pelham have always claimed that they were the true monuments representing the original boundary line.

In 1897, through the efforts of John M. Shinn, member from Pelham, the Board of County Supervisors took the land away from New Rochelle and gave it to Pelham. The taxpayers of New Rochelle then began an action in the courts, based upon the claim that the Supervisors had no legal right to establish the boundary line. A number of houses have been built upon the disputed strip, and with the land and other property they are assessed for about $60,000. The taxes which have been previously enjoyed by New Rochelle will now go to Pelham."

Source: Boundary Dispute Settled, N.Y. Times, Nov. 26, 1900, p. 1.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Malicious Vandals Imperil Lives on a Passenger Train Passing Through Pelhamville in 1893

In the wee hours of the morning, shortly after midnight on May 31, 1893, a train of the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company passing through Pelhamville struck a railroad tie that had maliciously been placed across the tracks. An article about the incident appeared the following day in the New York Times. The text of that article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.



Passenger Train on the New-Haven Road Strikes a Tie Placed Between Rails.

MOUNT VERNON, May 31.--The officers of the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company were busy to-day about Pelhamville and Mount Vernon investigating an accident on their road that took place about midnight last night when one of their accommodation trains from New-Haven struck a tie, which had in some unknown manner been placed on the rails of the west-bound track.

The train was well filled with passengers getting back to New-York from their holiday outing, and was the last passenger train of the day into New-York. Fortunately no one was injured.

The train stopped as though the airbrake had been put on suddenly. Most of the passengers were asleep, and the sudden awakening created some alarm, but it was soon allayed by the trainmen. The only damage was to the locomotive, which had its steam chest broken by the tie. Another locomotive was summoned from New-York.

The officers incline to the belief that the tie was thrown on the tracks by some malicious or intoxicated persons. They do not think that robbery was planned, for but one tie had been placed on the track. There were many ties near at hand with which a thorough job could have been done."

Source: Many Lives Imperiled, N.Y. Times, Jun. 1, 1893, p. 1.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dedication of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham in 1896

Yesterday I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog a transcription of an article that appeared in the December 25, 1895 issue of the New York Times announcing plans to construct St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville. See Wednesday, September 12, 2007: Announcement of Planned Construction of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville in 1895.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of an article that appeared in the same publication several months later describing the dedication of the newly-built edifice. The text is followed by a citation to its source.



Archbishop Corrigan Dedicated It and Dined with the Rector.

PELHAM, N. Y., July 5.--Archbishop Corrigan officiated at the dedication of St. Catherine's [sic] Roman Catholic Church, in Pelhamville, at 10 o'clock this morning. The sermon was by the Rev. M. Milan, C. S. P. High mass was sung by the Rev. John Anthony Kellner, rector of St. Gabriel's Church, New-Rochelle. The music was b the choir of St. Gabriel's Church, assisted by the Apollo Orchestra of New-Rochelle.

St. Catherine's Church is in St. Gabriel's Parish, and will be in charge of the Rev. Father Kellner and Father Cussick, assistant rector of St. Gabriel's Church.

Pelhamville is remote from the parish church, and the Roman Catholic residents of the hamlet have long desired a church of their own. The edifice will seat about 400 persons. It is of wood, on stone foundation. The church was built with contributions made by parishioners of St. Gabriel's.

Archbishop Corrigan, who presided at the dedication of St. Catherine's Church, Pelhamville, and bestowed the Papal blessing on the congregation, was the guest this afternoon of the Rev. John Anthony Kellner, rector of St. Gabriel's Church, at the rectory. The Rev. Father Newey, who acted as master of ceremonies, and the Rev. Father McMillan of the Paulist Fathers, who preached the dedicatory sermon, were also the referend father's guests."

Source: St. Catherine's New Church, N.Y. Times, Jul. 6, 1896, p. 9.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Announcement of Planned Construction of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville in 1895

In December, 2005 I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog a brief account of the origins of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Peham. See Tuesday, December 6, 2005: The Origins of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham, New York. In that posting I referenced an article that appeared on Christmas Day, 1895 in the New York Times announcing plans to build the church. Below I have transcribed that article in its entirety, followed by a citation to its source. Immediately below is an image of a postcard showing the church building in about 1920.



Ground to be Broken in January -- Plan of the New Building.

PELHAMVILLE, N. Y., Dec. 24. -- It has been decided to build a Catholic Church here. The church will stand on a lot near the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Blessed Redeemer.

The lot is the gift of Patrick Farrell. It is 100 feet square. Five hundred dollars have been contributed for the building. Crosses and seven stained glass windows have also been presented.

In order to build a church here, where the need of one has been felt a long time, it was necessary to obtain the consent of the Rev. John Anthony Kellner, Rector of St. Gabriel's Church, New-Rochelle, in whose parish Pelhamville is. The request for the church was granted by Father Kellner, after he had obtained the sanction of Archbishop Corrigan.

There are in this vicinity more than fifty representative Catholic families. The Rev. Father Kellner said to-day that the outlook for the new church was most promising, and it was certain to increase rapidly in strength. Considerable assistance is expected from New-Rochelle and Mount Vernon.

The church will be Gothic in style. It will have a seating capacity of 350 persons. The dimensions will be 35 feet by 76 feet. It will be a frame structure, with a bell tower over the sacristy. The basement will be of stone. Promise has been made by several persons of Pelhamville to construct the basement free of charge.

Ground will be broken for the foundation in January, and it is expected to have the building completed in June."

Source: Catholic Church For Pelhamville, N.Y. Times, Dec. 25, 1895, p. 16.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Abstract of 1798 Will of Thomas Pell of Pelham

As I noted yesterday, in the last few months I have collected abstracts of early wills prepared by residents of the Manor of Pelham and, later, the Town of Pelham. I created an index to such postings earlier this year. See Thursday, March 29, 2007: Index to Transcripts of Wills and Abstracts of Wills Prepared by Early Pelham Residents.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an abstract of the 1798 will of Thomas Pell. The abstract appeared in Volume 56, Issue 2 of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record published in 1925.

"THOMAS PELL, of Pelham; Apr. 17, 1798; mentioned wife Phebe and 'the household goods she brought me from her father;' son Thaddeus, son Thomas; dau. Susannah, wife of Henry Stringham; dau. Catherine Pell; dau. Elenor Pell. Executors, Newberry Davenport, Esq., of New Rochelle and Philip Pell, Esq., of Pelham. Wit., Gilbert Lawrence, John Ladrine, Newberry Davenport. Probated May 5, 1800."

Source: Source: Bristol, Theresa Hall, Abstracts of Wills Recorded at White Plains, Westchester County, N. Y., Subsequent to May 1, 1787, New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 56, Issue 2, p. 119 (NY, NY: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Apr. 1925) (citing Liber B).

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Abstract of 1799 Will of Samuel Rodman, Jr. of Pelham

In the last few months I have collected abstracts of early wills prepared by residents of the Manor of Pelham and, later, the Town of Pelham. I created an index to such postings earlier this year. See Thursday, March 29, 2007: Index to Transcripts of Wills and Abstracts of Wills Prepared by Early Pelham Residents.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an abstract of the 1799 will of Samuel Rodman, Jr. The abstract appeared in Volume 56, Issue 2 of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record published in 1925.

"SAMUEL RODMAN, of Pelham; Aug. 22, 1799; devised all real estate to sons Charles, Samuel and William, except undivided land on Miniford's Island or elsewhere which latter be devised to daus. Deborah, wife of John Bertine and Anne; to wife ----, all the money she and James Lewis carried upon Maniford's Island, likewise the expenses paid out for a law suit of hers at Bedford and White Plains; mentioned son Samuel under 17; son William under 16; g. s. Robert Bertine. Executors, friends Josiah Quinby of Eastchester and nephew Joseph Pell of the same town, and Samuel Titus and Elijah Ward of New Rochelle. Wit., Elijah Ward, Philip Rhinelander, William Anderson, Junr. Probated Sept. 9, 1799."

Source: Bristol, Theresa Hall, Abstracts of Wills Recorded at White Plains, Westchester County, N. Y., Subsequent to May 1, 1787, New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 56, Issue 2, p. 120 (NY, NY: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Apr. 1925).

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Friday, September 07, 2007

1816 Advertisement for Sale of Two Farms in the Manor of Pelham

In 1816 a brief advertisement appeared in New York newspapers offering two farms located in the Manor of Pelham for sale. The farms apparently belonged to William and George Crawford. A transcription of the advertisement appears below, followed by a citation to its source.


TWO FARMS pleasantly situated in Westchester county, manor of Pelham, and state of New-York, about seventeen miles from this city. One of them contains 105 acres, and the other 47 acres of excellent land; adjoining East Chester creek, being about half a mile from the Boston Post Road, and about the same distance from the new bridge across East Chester creek. On the said Farms there is a large Dwelling-House, Barn and other Out-Houses, together with a handsome bearing Apple Orchard. There is a proportion of meadow, arable, and woodland. They are well calculated for a gentleman wishing a summer retreat. The above will be sold together or separate as may suit the purchaser, on reasonable terms, if applied for on or before the first day of June next. Enquire of RICHARD BERBIAN, No. 8 Phoenix Buildings, or to William and George Crawford, on the premises. may 21"

Source: For Sale, Columbian, Published as The Columbian, May 23, 1816, Vol. VII, Issue 2014, p. 3, col. 3.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in An Account Published in 1940

Noted Westchester County Historian Otto Hufeland authored a book published in 1940 entitled "Early Mount Vernon". The book included information about St. Paul's Church in Eastchester which, of course, now sits in an area within the Town of Mount Vernon. For many years during the 18th and early 19th centuries the church was one of the only ones in the area close enough to be attended by residents of Pelham. Below is an excerpt from the book about the church.

"The Post Road to Boston, it will be understood, ran from 'Kings Bridge' over the Harlem River to and through the County to Boston and was the only road at that time, and it was on that road that the Eastchester people located their little church just above where the Westchester Path came into it. Originally the Eastchester people had worshipped with those from Westchester, but in 1693 they passed the following resolution:

'At a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Eastchester, held the 9th of May 1693, they have agreed by voat to Build a Metting hous according to the dimenshuns agreed upon.'

This 'Metting hous' was one of the first houses in the present City of Mount Vernon and its 'dimenshuns' were supposed to be 'twenty-eight feet square and about eighteen feet to the eaves; the sides as well as the roof being shingled which latter met together in an apex.' Around this small church were gathered the few houses that afterwards constituted the Village of Eastchester and this is the beginning of our history.

The new stone church which followed this was erected on the 'Green' opposite the old wooden church so that the roadway was between them. This we have from old Dr. Coffey, who told us that Philemon Fowler stepped into a hole where the rain had washed away the earth and exposed the foundation of the old church quite clearly. In fact, the old church was still standing during the Revolution because sol- [Page 4 / Page 5] diers gathered some of the wood to make the new building more comfortable for the wounded who were put into the new building in 1776. This old building was probably east or northeast of the present stone church. Although the present building was begun in 1764, it had no flooring in it during the Revolution and was not finished until 1787.

Around these two buildings were laid the remains of the fathers, mothers and children of the settlers and [Photograph of the Stone Church Appears Here] residents of the vicinity. They should not be disturbed. From the old field stone markers to the more elaborate monuments and vaults, they form the only connection this age has with the days of long ago. An old field stone, all that the time could afford, with the inscription 'R. S. d. Dec. 14 1704' is still there and is the oldest inscription we can decipher. It is over the grave of Richard Shute who died December 1704, the old 'Recorder' to whose loving care we are indebted for the record of all we know of the old settlers. It should be carefully protected. [Page 5 / Page 6]

The 'Church Green' was the gathering place for the people of the vicinity. In 1733 a celebrated election took place there. A large number of people gathered there to elect a member of the Assembly. The decision was against the wishes of the governor and was at once overruled by him. This tyrannical proceeding was upset by a jury of the people in court. Any one desirous of reading the whole of this interesting trial may find it at length in Bolton's History of Westchester County, as it is too long to quote here.

There was quite a little fighting during the Revolution on the ground covered by Mount Vernon now. On October 17th, 1776 Colonel Glover, who had been sent by General Nixon from Mile Square to watch the British and prevent them from cutting off Washington in his retreat from New York to White Plains, camped in a bend of the Boston Post Road where it crosses the Hutchinson River at Wolf's Lane, where the public playground now is. In the morning after his arrival he climbed the hill at the foot of the present McClellan Avenue and looking down the valley of the river, he saw a great number of vessels landing, down where the present Pelham Bridge crosses Eastchester Bay. He at once went back and ordered his men to march through Wolf's Lane and the Split Rock Road and post themselves behind the stone fences on the high side of the road and he himself marched with a small body of men to an eminence beyond and there he awaited the coming of the enemy. As soon as they came within range, his men fired and then retreated along the Split Rock Road to the next regiment posted behind the stone walls, who gave the British a similar reception and so down the whole line until they found the British occupying higher ground than the Americans, when the latter withdrew to their camp across the Hutchinson River, but not before they had [Page 6 / Page 7] taken up the planks of the bridge which crossed that stream. This skirmish of about 750 men who opposed the British army of 4000 was completely successful and permitted Washington to retreat with his small army unmolested to White Plains. The flagstaff on the hill and the tablet just inside the playground entrance mark this important engagement. The American loss was eight men killed, thirteen wounded, while the British loss was estimated at 140 to 150 killed and wounded. The British wounded were carried to the Eastchester church and the Americans withdrew towards Dobbs Ferry.

The bell in the church, which had been presented to it by the Rev. Thomas Standard, was taken down either before or after the battle and was buried together with the Bible and prayerbook. The general belief is that this was done to protect it from the British but the following resolution of the Provincial Congress shows that this probably was not the case.

Fishkill Oct. 5, 1776. Resolved unanimously. That his Excellency Gen. Washington be requested and authorized to cause all the Bells in the different churches and public edifices in the City of New York to be taken down . . . that the fortunes of war may throw the same out of the hands of the enemy . . .

Besides, this was an Episcopal church none too friendly to the American cause. Another good reason was that it was buried in the Vincent place and the Vincents were thought to be tories. The Vincent House which stood just below the Mount Vernon boundary on the Post Road, was later purchased by Colonel Wm. S. Smith who was a son-in-law of President John Adams. During the prevalence of the yellow fever in Philadelphia he visited there and made it the 'Nation's Capitol' for a few days.

In connection with the Vincent House it is necessary to relate an incident that occured there in No- [Page 7 / Page 8] vember 1779 which has caused some discussion. A body of American mounted troops nder Colonel Armond passed through there on a secret expedition. It was found necessary to shoe a horse which Vincent, the local blacksmith, refused to do because it was Sunday and he was out of coal. The excuse was a poor one for in those days when horses could not be delayed on religious scruples or for any other cause, it was necessary to shoe a horse on Sunday as well as on week days. A dispute arose during which Vincent was shot. Vincent was a member of a suspected tory family and this brought the fight to a bitterness which resulted in his death. The original Vincent house was a small one, about 25 by 18 feet with a lean-to twelve feet deep, where he probably shod the horses, and one and one-half stories high, making the whole about 25 by 30 feet. Colonel Smith, when he purchased the property, built the portion that was two and one-half stories, that we knew as the Halsey house.

But to go back to the battle which was fought by Colonel Glover. A few days after that battle a small body of Americans stole across the Bronx and 'started to carry off three tubs of shirts' from a house where washing was being done by the British. On being discovered they dropped the shirts and ran, but meeting a party that had been sent after them, they attacked the Hessian outpost, killing ten and taking two prisoners. This happened at the tavern of Robert Morell near where the Judge Mills house, now the Free Synagogue of Westchester, stands.

On August 22nd, 1777 there was quite a skirmish at Eastchester Church. General Putnam, hearing that the British guard at the hospital was small, sent General Varnum there to capture some hospital supplies, of which the Americans were so much in need. The ex- [Page 8 / Page 9] pedition was successful in driving off the guard, and while they were busy gathering the supplies, Varnum sent a detachment out to investigate the neighborhood. While they were absent the British returned in force and drove off the invaders, killing a captain and a number of privates.

About the middle of July a body of Americans scouting along the Bronx at Mount Vernon were discovered by a larger body of British under Simcoe, and the latter tried to lure them into an ambuscade by sending a few cavalry down the hill opposite and placing an infantry column on both sides of the road that led to Hunt's Bridge hoping that the Americans would come down after the cavalry. But the officers of the ambuscade were seen by the Americans, who turned their guns on them and caused them to beat a hasty retreat.

A map prepared by Colonel Rufus Putnam, chief engineer of the American army, later in the year shows a heavy guard on a line extending from Valentine's Hill to Eastchester over the intervening Mount Vernon. There were Hessian grenadiers at Valentine's Hill, British infantry regiments on both sides of Bronx River, and Grenadier, Light Guards, and Light Dragoons between them on the road to Eastchester.

As the war neared its end, the success of the raids on the British outposts became so common that the raiders became careless and even boastful. It was on one of these raids that the Westchester guide, Brom Dyckman, lost his life. On March 4th, 1782 Captain Honeywell, with a body of volunteers backed by a battalion of infantry under Major Woodbridge, made a raid on Delancey's camp at Morrisania. The latter were posted to cover the retreat while Honeywell, passing close to Fort Number 8, at daylight galloped into the British camp. Taken by surprise, the enemy fired [Page 9 / Page 10] a few shots and ran, while Honeywell started back along the White Plains Road with twenty prisoners and as many horses. But the firing had aroused the garrisons of the fort and they followed the raiders as far as the present Scott's Bridge where Woodbridge's infantry were lying awaiting them. After firing a few shots the British retired to rest their tired infantry. While they were in this position Brom Dyckman and his cousin rode out from the American rear guard waving their swords as a challenge. A British rifleman who had crept up behind a stone fence fired a shot at long range which unfortunately terminated Brom's career. He was led from the field by his cousin and died a few days later. A monument to his memory was erected by the State at Crompound Church where he lies buried together with Colonel Greene and Major Flagg who were killed later at Yorktown in the upper part of the County.

Mount Vernon was part of the 'Neutral Ground' where there were almost daily fights between the cowboys and the skinners, both vagabonds and robbers, who robbed either side when they were able to beat the farmers.

In connection with the Revolution, perhaps Aaron Burr should be mentioned here. Court was held for a while in the Eastchester Church and Burr often had occasion to visit it on business. There was, however, another reason that brought him there. His wife came frequently to visit Frederick Prevost, her son by her first husband, who lived in the first house on the right hand side of the New Boston Post Road after you crossed the bridge (Lockwood's) into the town of Pelham.

When on March 13, 1783 General Carleton notified Governor Clinton that the last of the British forces would be withdrawn from Westchester County, it be- [Page 10 / Page 11] [Photograph of Guion's House Fills Page 11] [Page 11 / Page 12] came necessary to provide some means to govern the State until a permanent government could be installed. For that purpose he appointed a 'Committee for the Temporary Government of the Southern Part of the State' and the members of this Committee met at Guion's tavern and functioned there until it was dissolved. The tavern has now completely disappeared, but its location is marked by a tablet on the south side of the Old Boston Post Road a little below St. Paul's Church."

Source: Hufeland, Otto, Early Mount Vernon, pp. 4-12 (Mount Vernon, NY: Privately Printed by Mount Vernon Public Library 1940).

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More About the Opening of the Harlem and Portchester Railroad Line Through Pelham in 1873

Yesterday I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a brief item regarding construction of the railroad line in 1873 that came to be known as the New Haven Branch Line. See Tuesday, September 4, 2007: Constructon of the New Haven Branch Line in 1873.

Although construction of the line never led to the quick development of a suburban settlement as planned by local residents, there was a great deal of excitement about the potential for the area at the time. One article that appeared in 1874 described the opening of the line and the excitement it generated. That article is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


The south-easterly quarter of Westchester County, embracing the towns of Portchester, Rye, Harrison, Mamaroneck, and White Plains, bounded on the west by the Bronx River, and on the east and south by Long Island Sound, has not yet been opened to popular suburban settlement, and, with the exception of the few towns on the line of the New-York and New-Haven, the New-York and Harlem, and the Harlem and Portchester Railroads, is unavailable to the masses. Throgg's Neck, a small peninsula in the town of Westchester, is, perhaps, the most desirable location in all this section of the county because of its comparative proximity to the Metropolis, and its charming situation and topography. This peninsula is bounded east by the Sound and Pelham Bay, and on the west by a rivulet known as Westchester Creek. The land is rich, rolling, and ridgy, and is occupied chiefly by large estates of from twenty-five to fifty acres, owned by wealthy New-Yorkers, and held by them as private Summer seats. Among them are Lorillard Spencer, Geo. T. Adee, the heiress of the estate of John D. Wolf, Francis Morris, Jacob Lorillard, Claiborne Ferris, Lawrence Waterbury, John Hunter, Peter Lorillard, and Daniel Coster. With such families as those in possession it will be many years before the section is opened for settlement, and they retain it as a sort of exclusive aristrocatic suburb of their own. It is at present approachable only by the Portchester Railroad, which has a couple of small local stations here, and by a local steam-boat ferry. Of course it is at all times accessible to its present holders by carriage, over the new boulevards in the lower portions of the Twenty-third Ward, the old Boston Post road, and other rural thoroughfares. That section lying south of this territory from a line running east and west from Lydig's Mill, on the Bronx, to the mouth of the Bronx River, and embracing North New-York and Port Morris, is, as a rule, low and unfitted for residences. A great portion of it has lately been laid out and improved by the Port Morris Land Improvement Company, but as it has good water frontage it will be almost wholly developed to commercial purposes, contingent upon the completion of the Hell Gate improvement. In the section lying west of Throgg's Neck and east of the Bronx, which is traversed by the Harlem Railroad, the old Westchester Turnpike, Fordham and Pelham avenues, and the Boston road, settlements have been very general about Olinville, Williamsbridge, now called Jerome, and Bronxdale. Land hereabouts ranges all the way from $800 to $2,500 per acre, and is generally held in large parcels by people who have the capital to wait for appreciation of values. Within the past four years there have been auction sales held at Mamaroneck and Rye, in which 3,000 lots were sold, but a great deal of the property went off in plots, and has not been improved in any way, but is 'held for a rise.'


The great trouble with the eastern and southern part of Westchester County is that it is not sufficiently opened by trunk railroads. Local railroads lack the amount of traffic which enables the companies to run frequent trains, and the growth of places along their lines is comparatively slow in consequence. In order to live in any remote suburb the people must have frequent facilities of communication. The rates of commutation by the Harlem Railroad seem scarcely to realize, as yet, the popular estimate of cheap rapid transit. The tickets are issued in packages of 100, good from three months, and the limit of the commutation route is Pawling. For all present or immediately prospective purposes White Plains is the limit of suburban travel of which commuters may avail themselves. Mott Haven is about five miles from Forty-second Street Depot, and the tickets are sold at $8 per 100, which would be equal to twenty-six cents per day to and from the City Hall. To Melrose, six miles, the commutation fare is nine cents; to Morrisania Station, One Hundred and Sixty-seventh street, ten cents; to Tremont Station, seven miles, twelve cents; to Fordham, eight and a half miles, fifteen cents; to Jerome, ten and one half miles, sixteen cents; to Woodlawn Heights, fifteen miles from the City Hall, or eleven and one-half miles from the Grand Central Depot, sixteen cents; to Mount Vernon, Bronxville, and Tuckahoe, the same fare, sixteen cents, though they range from one and one-half to five miles further on the route. These stations have from thirty to sixty trains daily, and are within from twenty to thirty-two minutes of Forty-second street. As far north as Woodlawn Heights stations have the advantage of the double service of trains of the Harlem and the New-Haven roads, as both lines use the same track to the diverging point of the routes at the latter station. The Yonkers division of the Hudson River Railroad extends on the west sid, from the old Thirtieth Street Depot, north, and runs about forty trains daily, connecting the City with Manhattan, the stations at Carmansville, Fort Washington (One Hundred and Seventy-sixth street,) Inwood, Spuyten Duyvil, Riverdale, Yonkers, Hastings, Dobb's Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown, which is twenty-five miles distant, and is available as a suburban residence only for a very select class. The whole of these stations, up to and including Riverdale, are now within the City boundaries, the distance to this last place being twelve miles, and the commutation fare eighteen cents per trip. These rates are reductions of about twenty to twenty-four per cent. on the regular single fare prices of tickets."

Source: Westchester County Proper. Along the Line of the Harlem and Portchester and Other Railroads, N.Y. Times, May 31, 1874, p. 4, col. 3.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Construction of the New Haven Branch Line in 1873

In 1873, the railroad that came to be known as the New Haven Branch Line was constructed through the area that soon became the Village of Pelham Manor. At the time there was much excitement among property owners who thought that the arrival of the railroad would lead to the development of an idyllic suburb. Local landowners banded together to form the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association to develop the area.

On August 13, 1873, a brief item appeared in the New York Times describing efforts to construct the first two tracks that would form the new line. The text of that article is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


Five hundred tons of steel rails have just been received from Europe for the completion of the Harlem River and Portchester Railroad. Two construction trains and a large force of laborers are now employed on the work, and an additional construction train will be placed on the road this week. Both tracks, it is expected, will be laid and in running order by the 1st of October, by which time some alterations and improvement to the draw-bridge at Pelham Bay will also be completed. It was at first contemplated to commence operations with a single track, and open the road by Sept. 1, but the recent determination to complete both tracks before opening the road will delay that event about one month. A contract has been made by which the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company is to lease the road, and operate it in connection with its own lines. This will enable the latter company to increase its freighting and other facilities, and will give it two entrances into the City of New-York. Loaded freight-cars can be transferred from it to other lines terminating at Jersey City, Hoboken or Long Island, thereby avoiding delay, expense, and breakage of bulk."

Source: A New Railroad, N.Y. Times, Aug. 13, 1873, p. 8, col. 2.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

A Pelham Lawyer Charged with Defrauding the Railroad in 1871

In 1871, a well-respected attorney who lived in Pelham was arrested and charged with fraud under a very odd set of circumstances. The lawyer, William Stewart McClellan, was charged with falsely claiming to be the Town of Pelham's Tax Collector and presenting false "tax bills" to the New Haven Railroad over a six-year period, thereby defrauding the company out of about $5,000. An account of his arrest and a description of the scheme appeared in the January 29, 1871 issue of the New York Times. The account is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


WM. STEWART McCLELLAN, a lawyer residing at Pelham, and doing business at Mount Vernon, was arrested yesterday in civil suit, on complaint of the New-York and New-Haven Railroad Company, on an order issued by JUSTICE TAPPEN, of the Supreme Court. The accused is charged with having defrauded the Company during the last six years out of nearly $5,000, by representing himself to the Superintendent of the Railroad as the Collector of the State, county, town and school taxes for Pelham. Each year he presented to the Company what purported to be correct tax-bills against the Company's property in that town, all of which bills were in excess of the true amount by several hundred dollars. The accused was required to give bonds to await the result of the suit. It is understood that criminal proceedings will be instituted against him."

Source: Westchester County, N.Y. Times, Jan. 29, 1871, p. 8, col. 5.

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