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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Foul Play Suspected in Disappearance of the Head of the Pelham Ice Company in 1905

For many years in the early 20th century, the Pelham Ice Company maintained an ice plant in a structure located where Tiffany's now maintains a facility behind the Village of Pelham Village Hall on Sparks Avenue. The plant processed ice for delivery to Pelham and surrounding areas for ice boxes and other such uses. At the time, an "Ice Trust" began trying to take over such plants throughout the area. It largely succeeded. However, the head of the Pelham Ice Company, John W. Ferguson, refused to sell the facility to the Ice Trust. Not much later, he disappeared under suspicious circumstances. People suspected foul play.

Below are two newspaper articles from the period describing Ferguson's disappearance.



General Alarm Out for J. W. Ferguson, of Pelham Ice Company.

A general alarm was sent to the police of New York City and Westchester County last night to find John W. Ferguson, a well known resident of New-Rochelle, who has been mysteriously missing from his home in that city since January 11. Mr. Ferguson was at the head of the Pelham Ice Company, which owns a large plant in North Pelham, and was a member of the Republican Club and the yacht clubs of New-Rochelle. His friends believe that his mind has become deranged because the Ice Trust has made serious inroads on his business and threatened to ruin it.

At the time the Ice Trust absorbed all of the plants in Westchester County, it offered to purchase Mr. Ferguson's company with the others, but the price offered did not suit him, and as he was doing a good business he decided to defy the combination. It was not long till his business was crippled. Of late Mr. Ferguson has been sick and his friends noticed that he was much depressed. He left his home at No. 11 Bayview-ave., on January 11, telling his wife and daughter that he was going to New-York, and they have not seen him since."

Source: Ice Company's Head Missing, New-York Tribune, Jan. 18, 1905, p. 3, col. 4.



Well Known New-Rochelle Man Gone -- Family Fear Foul Play.

Papers filed in a suit brought at White Plains yesterday by Amanda Kimball against John W. Ferguson, a well known resident of New-Rochelle, to recover $1,000 she alleges she lent him, showed that Mr. Ferguson disappeared on January 11. On that day Mr. Ferguson was on his way to this city. As the family could not get any trace of him after he reached the Grand Central Station. They now fear that he has met foul play.

Mr. Ferguson owns an artificial ice plant at Pelham and it is said the Ice Trust tried to force him out of business. The loss of business and the fact that he borrowed considerable money worried him greatly. The police of Westchester County and of the city have sent out a general alarm for him.

An order has been signed directing that a summons and complaint in the Kimball suit be served on the defendant by publication. Mr. Ferguson is fifty-seven years old. He has been a resident of New-Rochelle for nearly twenty years. He is a member of the New-Rochelle Yacht Club and other organizations there."

Source: Can't Find Ice Manufacturer, New-York Tribune, Feb. 11, 1905, p. 4, col. 5.

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