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 12, 2008

He Fought the Bull and the Bull Won: Mad Bull Killed North Pelham Farmer in 1900

A North Pelham farmer suffered a horrible death in a strange battle with a bull on July 13, 1900. The odd event merited a lengthy article the next day in the New-York Tribune. The sad circumstances are a reminder of an earlier time when Pelham was dotted with farms and pastures. The Town, of course, has been fully developed with no farmland for nearly ninety years now. The text of the article appears below.






While attempting yesterday to punish an angry bull, Patrick Welch, an old and well known farmer of North Pelham in Westchester County, was gored to death.

Yesterday morning when Mr. Welch went to his pasture to milk the cows the bull made for him. It plunged at him with its head lowered, but he avoided it by taking refuge behind a stone wall. He then went to the barn, armed himself with a pitchfork, and returned to punish the bull. In the scrimmage that followed the farmer had his trousers torn, but he managed to jab the bull several times in the face, and it finally retired to another part of the field.

Mr. Welch afterward told some of his neighbors that he had whipped the bull until it was as tame as a cat. While he was talking a storm came up, and he hastened back to the pasture to drive the cows to shelter. He found the bull waiting for him at the gate. Its face was swollen from the wounds inflicted upon it in the morning. When the beast saw the farmer it set up an angry bellowing. Fearing trouble, Mr. Welch again seized the pitchfork. His victory in the morning had made him confident, and he opened the gate and walked toward the big creature without hesitation. This added to the bull's fury.

The creature lowered its huge head and made for the farmer with the speed of a train. The farmer tried to keep it off by jabbing it again in the face with the pitchfork, but this time the animal was so maddened that it did not seem to mind it. It kept on coming, and, catching its victim in the back with its horns, tossed him about twenty feet. Mr. Welch had just risen to his knees, and before he could defend himself the bull was upon him again. There was a cry of agony, and the fight was over. One of the animal's sharp horns had caught the man in the temple and penetrated the brain. Mr. Welch's nose was also broken. A man on an adjoining farm who saw the fight ran to the pasture. The farmer was dead, and his clothing was saturated with blood.

The bull after the death of its victim retired to a remote corner of the pasture and seemed to be satisfied. Coroner Banning has learned that the bull had a reputation in the neighborhood for being vicious. Recently it broke its chain and chased Miss Fairchile, an actress, who is staying in Pelham, across a field. She escaped by crawling under a fence.

Mr. Welch was sixty-six years old, and leaves a widow and family. The burial will be tomorrow afternoon at St. Catherine's Roman Catholic Church.

His sons said yesterday that they intended to kill the bull, as it was a menace to the neighborhood.

The battle between the man and the bull must have ben a long and fierce one, as the ground is trampled and torn for a long distance in every direction from the spot where Mr. Welch was found. The bull had torn the turf out with its horns and hoofs. When the bull was found later he bore evidences of the fight. His nose and head, neck and flanks, had great welts."

Source: Mad Bull Kills Farmer, New-York Tribune, Jul. 14, 1900, p. 6, col. 1.

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