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, January 31, 2008

Lucky to Be Alive: David Pettet of North Pelham Struck by Train on December 16, 1901 and Lived

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Pelham residents often walked along the railroad right-of-way to travel between Pelham and Mount Vernon. As one might expect, such a practice led to tragic accidents on numerous occasions. David Pettet of the Village of North Pelham was one such traveler. He was struck by the Boston Express while walking from Mount Vernon to Pelham on December 16, 1901. Here is an account of the incident.
"THROWN FORTY FEET AND LIVED.
-----
MAN STRUCK BY TRAIN GOING FIFTY MILES AN HOUR HAD ARM AND COLLAR BONE BROKEN.
David Pettet, sixty years old, of North Pelham, while walking on the New-Haven Railroad tracks from Mount Vernon to Pelham, yesterday, was struck by the Boston express, which was running at the rate of fifty miles an hour. He was tossed forty feet down an embankment.
The train was stopped, and when the trainmen went to pick up a dead man, as they supposed, they found that Mr. Pettet was still alive. He was taken to the Mount Vernon Hospital, where it was said that his collar bone and right arm were broken, and that he was badly shaken up, but otherwise uninjured."
Source: Thrown Forty Feet and Lived, New-York Tribune, Dec. 17, 1901, p. 14, col. 1.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Confusion Over Where Residents of Hart's Island in Pelham Should Vote in 1884


During the 19th century, confusion arose over whether Hart's Island was part of the Town of Pelham, part of Westchester County or part of New York City. This created confusion over where residents of the Island should vote. The matter was clarified by statute, but later Pelham residents became outraged as the political machines of New York began to push people who worked on Hart's Island to vote in Pelham.

A brief article published in The Sun on August 31, 1884 recounted the confusion and how it was addressed by statute. The text of the article appears below.

"The Hart's Island Vote.

An employee in one of the city's institutions on Hart's Island wrote to the Election Bureau to ask where he ought to vote at the coming election -- in Pelham or in New York. Investigation showed that custom sanctioned Pelham as the polling place of inhabitants of Hart's Island, while the map plainly put the island in Westchester county. On the other hand, chapter 238 of the Laws of 1869, which empowered the Charity Commissioners to establish an industrial school on Hart's Island, referred to the island as the property of the city and county of New York. To offset this, in the Revised Statutes of 1875 Hart's Island is included in the town of Pelham, while chapter 782 of the Laws of 1870 takes the same view, saying that the boundary line had not been altered since Capt. Bond drew his map in 1711. The Chief clerk of the Election Bureau concluded that the balance of authority lay with Pelham, and advised the anxious inquirer to vote there. The vote of Hart's Island is not large. The island is tenanted chiefly by the dead in Potter's Field."

Source: The Hart's Island Vote, The Sun, Aug. 31, 1884, p. 6, col. 2.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Brief Obituary of Rev. Washington Roosevelt of Pelham Published February 13, 1884


A brief obituary announcing the death of Rev. Washington Roosevelt on February 11, 1884 appeared in the February 13, 1884 issue of the New-York Tribune. Below is the text of that brief obituary.

"ROOSEVELT -- The Rev. Washington Roosevelt, at Pelham, Westchester County, on Monday, February 11, in his 82d year.

Funeral at the Presbyterian Church, in Pelham Manor, on Thursday next at 2 o'clock.

Relatives are requested to meet at his late residence at half-past 1.

Carriages will be at the New-Rochelle Depot to meet the 12 o'clock train from Grand Central Depot.

Please omit flowers."

Source: Roosevelt, New-York Tribune, Feb. 13, 1884, p. 5, col. 6.

The reference in the obituary to the "Presbyterian Church, in Pelham Manor" is a reference to the Little Red Church, the sanctuary of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

1884 Burglary and Gun Fight at the Pelham Manor Depot


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

The purpose of the club was “to assist the public authorities in maintaining law and order within a radius of one mile from Pelham Manor Depot....” The club raised money to fund its work, which included guarding against tramps, petty thieves, stray livestock and other local problems. The records of the club, which was disbanded once the village of Pelham Manor was incorporated, provide documentation of the development of a local government in lower Westchester County in the 1880s.

As part of the locality's crime-fighting initiative, burglar alarms were installed in a number of locations including the little Pelham Manor Train Depot on the New Haven Branch Line where burglars had struck before. One evening, that burglar alarm awoke R. C. DeWitt who raced to the Depot with his pistol and soon found himself in a gun battle with the burglars. An Account of the incident appeared in the January 10, 1884 issue of the New-York Tribune and is transcribed below.

"PELHAM MANOR -- About one a.m. yesterday Mr. R. C. DeWitt, of Pelham Manor, was aroused by the ringing of his burglar alarm, which indicated that the depot of the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company on the Harlem River Branch had been entered by burglars. Mr. De Witt went to the station, armed with his revolver. Then he discovered that a couple of burglars had forced their way through a small window into the ticket office. He fired at them five times, and the robbers in return fired shot for shot, without effect. They made their escape from the building, followed by Mr. De Witt and some of his neighbors; but owing to the storm and darkness of the night all trace of them was soon lost. They obtained only a small amount of money."

Source: Pelham Manor, New-York Tribune, Jan. 10, 1884, p. 8, col. 4.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Obituary of Richard L. Morris of Pelham Published on June 15, 1880


Richard L. Morris was an illustrious resident of Pelham during the 19th century. He had a "country home" in the Town. He was a grandson of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He died at his home in Pelham on June 14, 1880. An obituary appeared in the June 15, 1880 issue of The Sun, published in New York City. The text of that obituary appears below.

"DR. MORRIS'S DEATH.

-----

Grandson of One of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Richard L. Morris died yesterday morning in his country residence at Pelham, Westchester County. While ascending the stone steps in the rear of the old mansion, four years ago, he fell, and was afterward an invalid, but able to walk at times until his last and fatal illness attacked him about ten days ago. Before that accident he was robust and hearty, entering into all the pleasures and enjoyments of younger persons. The mansion is on the shore of the Sound and his chief delight at twilight was to sit on the veranda, surrounded by his family, and watch the sailing vessels and steamboats pass by an opening in the grove at the foot of the lawn. He was tall and stout, being six feet and three inches in height, and weighing more than 200 pounds. He had a genial nature, and was a friend to many in more humble circumstances. He leaves a wife and five children.

Dr. Morris was born in the old Morris homestead at Morrisania on Nov. 4, 1805. He was one of the twelve children of James Morris. His grandfather, Lewis Morris, half brother of Gouverneur Morris, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and he had his manor laid waste in consequence thereof. Dr. Morris entered Hamilton College in 1821, but he remained there only a year. Afterward he entered Columbia College, and was graduated in 1826. Then he studied in the New York Medical College, and subsequently he studied in the office of Dr. Alex H. Stevens, a celebrated surgeon, who married one of Dr. Morris's sisters. Dr. Morris took little interest in politics, and he held only two public offices -- that of Health Commissioner from 1818 to 1852, and that of Health Officer from 1852 to 1854. He had lived at 9 St. Marks place, but after he retired from office he went to Mamaroneck to live. A year afterward he purchased the Le Roy mansion at Pelham and began to lead a quiet life.

The funeral services are to be performed on Thursday in St. Peter's Church, Westchester, of which Dr. Morris was the warden until a year ago. The body is to be placed in the Morris Family vault."

Source: Dr. Morris's Death, The Sun, Jun. 15, 1880, p. 1, col. 6.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Account of the First Trip of Colonel Delancey Kane's Tally-Ho to Open the 1880 Coaching Season


I have posted many items to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the spectacle of "coaching to Pelham" in four-in-hand carriages during the 1870s and 1880s. Col. Delancey Kane began the practice during the 1870s and many followed in his footsteps. To read a little about the curious fad, see:

Friday, February 11, 2005: Col. Delancey Kane's "Pelham Coach", Also Known as The Tally-Ho, Is Located.

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach" (Sep. 2003).

Friday, January 16, 2009: The Final Trip of the First Season of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" in 1876.

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008: Brief "History of Coaching" Published in 1891 Shows Ties of Sport to Pelham, New York

Wednesday, July 27, 2005: 1882 Engraving Shows Opening of Coaching Season From Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005: Taunting the Tantivy Coach on its Way to Pelham: 1886.

Thursday, August 3, 2006: Images of Colonel Delancey Kane and His "Pelham Coach" Published in 1878.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog is an account of the first trip of Col. Delancey Kane's Tally-Ho to open the 1880 coaching season. The account appeared in the April 22, 1880 issue of the New-York Tribune. It appears immediately below.

"OPENING OF THE COACHING SEASON.

FIRST TRIP OF THE TALLY-HO TO NEW-ROCHELLE.

A better day than yesterday for the opening of the coaching season could not have been asked, and the trip of Colonel Delancey Kane's Tally-Ho coach from the Brunswick Hotel to New-Rochelle and back was most enjoyable. At a minute or two before 10 the coach appeared, Colonel Kane holding the high-spirited horses well in hand, and by a graceful turn bringing them close up to the curb in front of the hotel. The windows from which a view of the animated scene could be obtained were filled with ladies who watched for the appearance of Mrs. Delancey Kane and her guests for the day. They were promptly on hand, and soon in their seats on the top of the coach. The ladies and gentlemen were as follows: Colonel and Mrs. Delancey Kane, Frederick Bronson and wife, George P. Wetmore and wife, Oliver Iselin and Miss Iselin, John I. Kane and wife, Miss Kane and Hugo Fritch. No one rode inside the coach. The ladies wore dark spring toilets, and carried bouquets of bright flowers.

When all were comfortably seated for the long ride, Colonel Kane grasped the reins, the guard wound some merry notes on his bugle, and away the horses dashed up Fifth-ave., which was filled with vehicles of all descriptions, requiring a steady hand and a quick eye to guide the nervous, eager horses among them. All along the avenue the pedestrians stopped to look with admiration at the gay turnout. The schedule time was adhered to with variations of only a few minutes. Relays of horses were in waiting at Harlem, Union Port, Pelham Bridge, New-Rochelle, and a Pelham Bridge again on the return. A stop of several hours was made at New-Rochelle, where the party arrived at 12.

At 5:33 p.m. the coach was seen by the crowd which had gathered near the Hotel Brunswick, as it came down Murray Hill, and a few seconds later the ringing notes of the bugle attracted the attention of all in the neighborhood, and at 5:35 p.m., five minutes behind schedule time, the coach rounded up before the door and the guests alighted.

The Tally-Ho coach has been engaged for many days in advance. To-day C. Oliver Iselin will drive a party of friends to New-Rochelle, and to-morrow Pierre Lorillard with a coach-load will enjoy the same trip. C. Peters, Peter Marie and others will occupy the top seats. Among the others who have engaged seats for themselves and their friends during the coming few weeks are Dr. Kinloch, Mrs. Delancey Kane, Colonel Jay, C. H. Arnold, James Lawrence, Philip J. Sauds, Walter Kane, Thomas P. Ramsdell, Mr. Roosevelt, R. T. Gambrill, John I. Kane, C. Fellows, S. I. Calford, J.P. Kernochan, George H. Holt, ex-Governor Dorsheimer, W. A. Travers, Mrs. William Astor who has engaged the whole coach for May 13, Mr. Haven, Robert Seney, O. W. Buckingham and Leonard W. Jerome. The annual parade of the Coaching Club will take place on Saturday, May 29."

Source: Opening of the Coaching Season, New-York Tribune, Apr. 22, 1880, p. 8, col. 2.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1901 Notice of Foreclosure Sale of Properties in Pelham Belonging to the New York & Westchester Water Company


In 1901, a notice of a foreclosure sale of the properties of the New York & Westchester Water Company appeared in New York City newspapers on a number of occasions. A number of the properties involved were located in Pelham. I have been researching the incidents that led up to this notice and what transpired thereafter. I will provide a series of posts detailing some of the background. Today's post transcribes the notice.

"SUPREME COURT, COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER. - CENTRAL TRUST COMPANY OF NEW YORK, PLAINTIFF, against NEW YORK & WESTCHESTER WATER COMPANY, and others, Defendants. In pursuance to a judgment of foreclosure and sale herein, bearing date the 29th day of April, 1901, and filed in the office of the Clerk of the County of Westchester, on the 2d day of May, 1901, the undersigned Referee in said judgment named will sell at public auction at White Plains, at the front door of the County Court House of the County of Westchester, and State of New York, on the 17th day of June 1901, at 12 o'clock noon, the premises directed in said judgment to be sold, which said premises are described as follows: All the lands, tenements, buildings, fixtures, machinery, tools, implements, fuel, materials and property both real and personal now owned, connected with or used in the operating of said water works or appurtenances thereto, and also all the mains and structures and all the rights, credits, income, profits and franchises of the New York & Westchester Water Company constructed and operated and all the rights, privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging. The following property is included in the above general mortgage description, but for greater certainty a more specific description thereof is hereunto annexed: All the right, title and interest of the New York & Westchester Water Company in and to all those two certain lots, pieces or parcels of land, situated,lying and being in the town of Pelham, County of Westchester and State of New York and known on a certain map entitled 'Lands of F. A. R. Marquand, near Pelhamville, N. Y.,' made by R. W. Burrows, C. E., December 28, 1888, and filed in the office of the Register of Westchester County as lots number 9 and 10 and bounded and described as follows: Northeasterly in front by the extension of Third Street as laid down on said map: southeasterly on one side by lot number 8; southwesterly by part of lot number 31 and the centre line of Hutchinson Creek and westerly and northwesterly by the centre line of said Hutchinson Creek as laid down on said map, being the same premises on which the pump house, etc., is now situated. Together with the appurtenances and all the estate and rights of the grantors in and to said premises. All the right, title and interest of the New York & Westchester Water Company in and to all that lot, piece or parcels of land in the town of Pelham, Westchester County, New York, viz: On Sparks Avenue or street and beginning at a point formed by the intersection of said Sparks street or avenue and the centre of Hutchinson's River, thence northerly through the centre of said river 100 feet; thence easterly 50 feet; thence southerly 100 feet; thence westerly 50 feet to the point or place of beginning. Together with the appurtenances and all the estate and rights of the grantors in and to said premises. All the right, title and interest of the New York & Westchester Water Company in and to that certain tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being in the town of East Chester, in the County of Westchester and State of New York, bounded and described as follows, to wit: Beginning at a point in the centre of the Hutchinson Creek adjoining the lands formerly of A. Beebe (now of said Edward F. Brush), thence westerly along the northerly boundary line of said land formerly of A. Bebe to a point nine hundred (900) fee easterly from the easterly side of a road known as the California Road and running from thence through the lands of said Edward F. Brush (formerly Minott Mitchell) the following courses and distances: Norther 22° 40', east 350 feet, north 88° 07', west 470 feet, north 4° 45', west 515 feet, north 41° 35', west 179 feet to a post at the end of a stone wall; thence again through the lands of said Edward F. Brush (formerly Minott Mitchell) the following courses and distances, to wit: South 48° 28', east 700 feet, north 22° 40' east to a point (where a line drawn easterly and at right angles therefrom to the centre of Hutchinson Creek, and thence following the course of said Hutchinson Creek, and thence following the course of said Hutchinson Creek southwesterly as the same winds and runs to the point and place of beginning would comprise in the whole tract hereby intended to be conveyed 16 acres; thence easterly from said last mentioned point at right angles with said last mentioned course to said Hutchinson Creek, and thence southwesterly along the centre of said Creek as the same winds and runs to the point or place of beginning, containing within said boundaries sixteen (16) acres of land. Being a portion of the premises conveyted to said Edward F. Brush by Juliet D. Frost by deed dated January 8, 1889, and recorded February 6, 1889, in Liber 1157 of Deeds, page 89, together with the appurtenances and all the estate and rights of the grantor in and to said premises. Also all the pipe lines of the New York & Westchester Water Company, which generally described are as follows: They start near the intersection of Pelhamville Street and Willow Street, in Pelhamville, close to the New Rochelle line, and run thence through Fifth Avenue, or Wolf's Lane, in a southerly direction to the Pump House on Third Street, with various branches in the Village of Pelhamville, all connecting with the main line; they continue south from the pumping station at Third Street, along Wolf's Lane to the Old Boston Post Road, at which the line branches one branch running in a generally southerly direction to the Boston Road and the other in an easterly direction along the Old Boston Post Road to Pelhamdale Avenue, thence southerly to the Boston Road, together with various branches in the Village of Pelham Manor thence in a southwesterly direction on the Boston Road to its intersection with the pipe line of the Upper New York City Water Company. A line commences at the intersection of Highland Avenue and the Old Post Road and runs southerly along Highland Avenue; thence westerly through Jackson or Hudson Avenue, to the Pelham Road, and thence in a generally southerly direction through or near the Pelham Road to the Throgg's Neck Road. A line branching from that above described commences at Bartow and runs generally in a southeasterly direction through Rodman's Neck, to City Island and thence to Hart's Island. Various branches connect with this line on Hart's Island, City Island, Rodman's Neck, and in and about Bartow. A line commences at the intersection of Pelham Road and Eastern Boulevard, runs in a generally southerly and then southwesterly direction on Eastern Boulevard through Schuylerville to Unionport. A branch commences at the intersection of Pelham Road with Middletown Road, runs along said last mentioned road in a generally easterly direction and supplies numerous private residences and the Westchester Country Club. A line commences at the intersection of the Pelham Road with the Throgg's Neck Road, runs in a generally southeasterly direction to Fort Schuyler and supplies various private properties and contains numerous branches supplying certain adjacent settlements. A line branches from the Eastern Boulevard southerly on Ferris Avenue and certain branches therefrom supplying adjacent residences. A line commences at the intersection of Pelham Road and Throgg's Neck Road and runs generally in a westerly direction under Westchester Creek into the Village of West Chester, together with the various branches connecting therewith in the streets, avenues of said village. A line runs from West Chester northwesterly along the Williamsburg Road to the Village of Williamsbridge, with the branches connecting therewith in the various streets and avenues of Williamsbridge, and continues along the White Plains Road through the villages of Wakefield and South Mount Vernon, with branches through the various streets and avenues of said villages. A branch runs through 19th Avenue to the intersection of said avenue with the Kingsbridge Road, where it intersects pipe of the Upper New York City Company. The line continues along the White Plains Road and crosses the tracks of the New York, New Haven and Hartford and the New York Central railroads to the Glen Park Pump House. Returning along Williamsbridge Avenue there are three lines into the Morris Park Race Track and the adjacent property, and a large number of lines situated within the park enclosure. A line commences in the Village of West Chester, runs in a generally southwesterly direction along the Westchester Road through Unionsport and the McGraw and Mapes estates, with lines branching therefrom and connecting with the villages of Van Nest and Park Versailles, with various branches in the streets and avenues of said villages of Unionport, Van Nest and Park Versailles. A line commences at the intersection of the Unionport Road with the Westchester Road, runs along said last mentioned road northwesterly to the Catholic Protectory and thence over the track of the New York, New Haven and Hartford R. R. Co. at Van Nest Station along the Unionport Road to a fire hydrant distant about 500 feet from Morris Park Avenue. The Water Company also owns all pipe situated in Van Nest Park. There are numerous fire hydrants, gates and gateboxes connected with the lines of pipe above described, all of which are also owned by the Company. No bid will be accepted by the Referee herein at said sale from any bidder who shall not deposit at or prior to the time of the sale the sum of $10,000 in cash or certified check upon a National bank of the City of New York to the order of the Referee; such deposit of cash or check shall be returned to the bidder if his bid be not accepted. In addition to the payment at the time of making the bid such further portions of the purchase price shall be paid in cash as the court may by its orders direct. Any further amounts to be paid on the purchase price of the property may be paid in cash or in bonds and coupons belonging thereto and secured by the mortgage set forth in the complaint; such bonds and coupons will be received at such price or value as shall be equivalent to the distributive amount that the holders thereof would be entitled to receive thereon in case the entire amount of the bid shall be paid in cash. The property will be sold subject to all taxes and assessments which are at the time of said sale liens upon the same, except and only as far as the court may hereafter direct the payment of such liens out of the proceeds of sale. The purchaser or purchasers at such sale shall not be required to assume or adopt any contracts or agreements of the defendant Water Company, but shall have the right to elect whether or not to assume or adopt the same or any thereof within six months after the completion of the sale. The amount of the lien or charge to satisfy which the above described property is to be sold is $690,785, with interest thereon from April 22, 1901, together with the costs and allowances of this action and the expenses of the sale. For a further and more particular description of the premises so to be sold and conditions of said sale, reference is hereby made to said decree of foreclosure and sale on file in the office of the County Clerk of Westchester County, at White Plains, New York, and to the original mortgage foreclosed.

Dated May 25, 1901.

ALBERT H. F. SEEGER. Referee.
BUTLER, NOTMAN, JOLINE & MYNDERSE, Attorneys for Plaintiff, 54 Wall Street, New York City."

Source: Foreclosure Sales. Supreme Court, County of Westchester. - Central Trust Compnay of New York, Plaintiff, against New York & Westchester Water Company, and Others, Defendants, New-York Tribune, Jun. 14, 1901, p. 8, col. 6.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Townspeople of Pelham Vote Down Bond Proposal at the First Prospect Hill School in 1891


I previously have written about the first Prospect Hill School in Pelham Manor that once stood on the lands located at 212-22o Jackson Avenue and 966 Plymouth Street. For a brief history of the school and a early photograph of it, see:

Monday, January 9, 2006: The First Prospect Hill School in Pelham Manor.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a brief report that appeared in the January 26, 1891 issue of The Sun, published in New York City. The report indicates that Town taxpayers met at the little school on January 25, 1891 to vote on a bond proposal for improvements to the Town's highways and roads. The bond was defeated "by a large majority".

"Will Not Bond the Town.

PELHAM. Jan. 25. -- The taxpayers of the town of Pelham held a meeting on Saturday night, in the schoolhouse in Pelham Manor, to vote upon the question of bonding the town for $90,000 for improvements to the highways and road purposes. The meeting was largely attended by both men and women property owners in the town. A vote was taken, and the proposition for the bonding of the town was defeated by a large majority."

Source: Will Not Bond the Town, The Sun, Jan. 25, 1891, p. 3, col. 7.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Litigation Over Compensation for Pelham Property Owners Whose Lands Were Taken by New York City for the New Pelham Bay Park


During the late 1880s, New York City was engaged in taking lands from Pelham citizens for the creation of the new Pelham Bay Park. Some believed the compensation proposed to them for payment by the city for the taking of their properties was inadequate. Litigation resulted.

Below is the text of an article on the topic that appeared in the March 16, 1889 issue of the New-York Tribune.

"THE COURTS.

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PAYMENT FOR NEW PARK LANDS.

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PROPERTY-OWNERS WHO WANT THEIR AWARDS INCREASED.

In the General Term of the Supreme Court yesterday Presiding Justice Van Brunt and Justices Barrett and Cullen listened to argument on the application made on behalf of the city for the confirmation of the report presented by the Commissioners of Estimate for the new parks above the Harlem River, except as to certain portions of it. The total awards made by the Commissioners amount to about $9,000,000. The larger portion of the awards were confirmed in December. Since then eleven of the property-owners who had objected have withdrawn their objctions [sic]. Among those whose protests are still before the court are Dr. C.S. Wood, whose award was $96,126 for 137 acreas taken for the Pelham Bay Park, which, he claims, are worth over $400,000; Ann Bolton, whose award was $202,089 for land, water-power, buildings and bleachery and tape-mill machinery taken for Bronx Park, and Gouverneur Morris, who claims that the nominal damages awarded for the road-beds taken for St. Mary's Park are entirely inadequate.

In support of the application, Franklin Bartlett, the special counsel for the city, said that he had but three objections to raise. One of these was to the award of $25,504 to A.C. Chandler for sixteen lots taken for the Bronx Park. This was more than double the estimate of the owner's experts and was a manifest error. He also objected to the awards of $8,000 to the town of Pelham for the Pelham Bay Bridge, and $20,000 to 'unknown' for Pelham Bridge Highway, which is claimed by the town of Pelham and by Westchester County. For the objecting property-owners J. Alfred Davenport, John C. Shaw, John Berry, ex-Judge C. P. Daly, Thomas Allison, Prescott Hall Butler and others appeared as counsel. Decision was reserved."

Source: The Courts. Payment for New Park Lands, New-York Tribune, Mar. 16, 1889, p. 4, col. 1.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Studies Created by Noted Architect Cass Gilbert for the Pelham Manor Station

A lovely stone train station designed by nationally-renowned architect Cass Gilbert once stood in the Village of Pelham Manor on the so-called branch line. The station replaced an earlier wooden structure and stood at the end of the Esplanade at track level along the train tracks that now serve Amtrack and freight trains. The station was razed in the mid-1950s to make way for I-95 (the New England Thruway).

I have posted a few pictures of the station to the Historic Pelham Blog in the past. See:
Friday, June 8, 2007: Photographs of Pelham Manor Station and the City Island Station on the Branch Line Published in 1916.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007: Photograph of Pelham Manor Station on the Branch Line Published in 1908.

The Library of Congress has in its collections what appear to be two wonderful "studies" of the station prepared by Cass Gilbert as he designed the structure. One of them is particularly intriguing because it shows two views of the station and was drawn on the verso of a "used bridge whist score card". Both studies were created in about 1907.

Sadly, it appears that high resolution digital copies of the studies are not available in the online digital collections of the Library of Congress. All that is available are two so-called "thumbnail" images showing the studies. Below are the two thumbnails, each followed by a link to the pertinent bibliographic data Web page on the Library of Congress Web site.


The bibliographic data for the studies immediately above may be viewed by clicking here.


The bibliographic data for the studies immediately above may be viewed by clicking here.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Little More Information About John Hunter of Hunter's Island

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Periodically I have posted items to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham. He was a wealthy merchant and close colleague of President Martin Van Buren who visited his grand estate on Hunter's Island. For examples of such postings, see:

Friday, December 15, 2006: References to John Hunter of Pelham Manor in the Papers of President Martin Van Buren

Friday, December 2, 2005: John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham, New York

Wednesday, December 14, 2005: New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham

Thursday, April 27, 2006: Burial Place of John Hunter (1778 - 1852) of Hunter's Island

Monday, August 14, 2006: An Early Account of a Visit to Hunter's Island and John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham

Monday, August 28, 2006: John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Obtained Special Tax Relief in 1826

Tuesday, November 21, 2006: John Hunter Loses a Debate in the State Senate During the Winter of 1841

Thursday, August 2, 2007: Biography of Arthur Middleton Hunter of Pelham, A Descendant of John Hunter of Hunter's Island.

Today's posting transcribes a very brief reference to John Hunter contained in a book entitled "The Old Merchants of New York City" published in 1865.

"George Hunter, whose widow John Broome married, died in 1799. The widow owned the house No. 137 Greenwich street, and she lived there when she was married to John Broome. Her name was Ruth. She married Mr. Hunter in 1777, during the war. She had a son born 4th August, 1788. He was named John Hunter. He resided at 5 State street for many years, from 1801 to 1812. He was the Hunter of Hunter's Island.

He became very distinguished in after years, and was well known to many of the present generation. In a convention to amend the Constitution of this State, John Hunter was the oldest, and Lorenzo B. Shepard the youngest member present."

Source: Barrett, Walter, The Old Merchants of New York City Third Series, p. 217 (NY, NY: Carleton, Publisher 1865).

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Plans to Annex Pelham and Make it Part of New York City in 1870


On May 10, 2007, I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog the text of an article that appeared in The New York Times on August 12, 1870 indicating that residents of Pelham favored annexation of much of Westchester County by New York City in 1870. See:

Thursday, May 10, 2007: Report That Pelham Favored Annexation of Much of Westchester County by New York City in 1870.

Another article on the same topic appeared in the same issue of The New York Times. That article detailed "Grand Schemes" for the improvement of Westchester County revolving around plans to annex much of Westchester County to make it part of New York City. The text of the article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Grand Schemes for the Improvement of Westchester County.

It is now well understood among certain influential political leaders of this City and Westchester County, that a great annexation scheme, heretofore hinted at, together with some other plans, affecting that suburban district, are to be brought forward at the next session of the Legislature. The first and most important scheme affecting the interests of the citizens 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. Many now go so far as to favor the annexation of the four towns named entire, as well as the towns of East Chester, Pelham, New-Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, White Plains, and Greenburg, and the lower sections 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 or Byram River at Porchester. Great inducements are held out to the citizens of the towns named, by the projectors and advocates of the scheme. The convenience of a bountiful 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 very large proportion of the population would doubtless hail such an event with satisfaction.

Another project is that of converting the Bronx River, from its outlet in the East River, near West Farms, and opposite Riker's Island, to White Plains, into a grand canal, 100 feet wide and 8 feet deep, with locks at such points as may be deemed necessary, so as to render it available at all times for the transportation in barges of lime, lumber, coal and other heavy articles of merchandise. It is likewise suggest that a canal be cut from the Bronx River, at a point just below Williamsbridge to Mill Brook, at Fordham, and thence widen and deepen that stream and construct such locks as may be necessary along the same, so as to adapt it for the purposes of a canal to its outlet in the Harlem River. A portion of the the Bronx River water may by this arrangement be diverted from its present course to Mill Brook, and thus greatly diminish the impurity of the latter stream.

It is contended that this improvement would do much in promoting the prosperity of the country along the lines of the two canals, by increasing the facilities and cheapening the cost of transporting heavy freight, at the same time draining all the low lands through which they would pass, thereby removing all miasmatic influences."

Source: Grand Schemes for the Improvement of Westchester County, N.Y. Times, Aug. 12, 1870, p. 8.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Golf at Pelham Manor in 1903

Yesterday on the Historic Pelham Blog I wrote about "Golf in Pelham Manor in 1895". Today's posting addresses golf in Pelham Manor in 1903 and demonstrates how truly dangerous it could be.

It seems that in 1903, the Pelham Manor Golf Club had laid out a small course near the Pelham Bay Park boundary not far from Long Island Sound. The groundskeeper for the course heard shooting in an area known as "Golf Club Woods" and investigated only to find three men hunting rabbits and "song birds". When he confronted them, he was shot in the hand. The story below describes the incident and appeared in The New York Times on November 14, 1903.

"SHOT BY ANGRY HUNTER.

------

Pelham Manor Golf Links Foreman May Lose His Wounded Hand.

NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., Nov. 13. -- Frank Glasser, foreman on the grounds of the Pelham Manor Golf Club, was inspecting the golf links this afternoon, and when near the Hunter Island Inn heard shooting in Golf Club woods.

He found three Italians with a bag of rabbits and song birds and ordered them away, fearing some of the shot might carry onto the links and hit the players. The Italians refused, and Mr. Glasser attempted to arrest one when the fellow turned on him and fired.

Many of the shot in the gun passed completely through Mr. Glasser's hand. His family doctor says the Hand may have to be amputated. The Italians escaped."

Source: Shot by Angry Hunter, N.Y. Times, Nov. 14, 1903, p. 5.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Golf at Pelham Manor in 1895


Pelham has a long tradition of supporting the ancient sport of golf. Indeed, I have written before about golf in Pelham. See Bell, Blake, The Early Days of Golf in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 36, Sep. 10, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

One of the early efforts to establish golf in the Village of Pelham Manor occurred in 1895 when Mrs. John Cunningham Hazen (of Hazen's School for Girls) and her daugher, Miss Edith Cunningham Hazen established a club and laid out a tiny course. The New York Times published an article about the club. The text of that article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"
GOLF AT PELHAM MANOR.

---------

Mrs. Hazen Organizes a Club, with Prospects for Success.



PELHAM MANOR. N. Y., Nov. 9. - Residents of Pelham Manor are going to play golf every pleasant day until Winter begins in earnest. Every one who lives at the Manor has caught the
craze to become a golfer, and most of the talk bristles with golf terms. The golf fever, if it may be so termed, began here this Summer, and now, as a result, Pelham Manor has a golf club to which a number of prominent residents of this place and New-Rochelle belong. The organization of a club here is probably the forerunner of similar clubs through all Eastern Westchester County.

It is proposed to make the Pelham Manor Golf Club a society organization. The membership wlll
be limited probably to 100. The first requisite to become a member will be to have received an
invitation.

Golf sticks, and all paraphernalia necessary for playing the game have already been secured by
the more enthusiastic golfers. Links have been layed [sic] out on Prospect Hill., adjoining Pelhamville Park. The first essay at playing the game was made a. day or so ago, when a number of golfers went out on the gruunds and practiced striking the little white balls.

The work of organizing the Pelham Manor Golf Club was begun and carried out by Mrs. John
Cunningham Hazen and MIss Edith Cunningham Hazen. Miss Hazen Is Secretary and Treasurer of the club. There are a good many details yet to be arranged before the club becomes thoroughly established, but enough has been done to insure a. highly successful organization by the time snow melts in the Spring.

The links were opened formally last week. A large tent was put up at the teeing ground, where a reception was held. Mrs. John C. Hazen, Mrs. Robert C. Black, Mrs. Jabish Holmes, and Mrs. Frank Hunter of Pelham Manor, Mrs. Richard Lathers, Jr., Mrs. Henry Loomis Nelson, and Mrs. Henry D. Noyes of New-Rochelle received.

Among those who have joined the club are Mr. and Mrs. Cholmondeley Thornton, Robert C. Fisher, Arthur L. Clark, the Misses Ogden, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gillett, Theodore M. Hill, L. Percy James, the Misses Le Barbier, the Misses Bolton, Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Roper, Mr. and Mrs. James Boothby, Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Corlies, Mr. and Mrs. H. B. B. Stapler, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Scribner, George A. Albro, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Remington."

Source: Golf At Pelham Manor - Mrs. Hazen Organizes a Club, With Prospects for Success, N.Y. Times, Nov. 10, 1895, p. 6.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Brief Biography of Henry Heywood Fox Published in 1915

In 1915, Harvard published a report on members of the Class of 1900. Included within that report was a brief biography of Pelham Manor resident Henry Heywood Fox. That biography appears below, followed by a citation to its source.
"HENRY HEYWOOD FOX
Born Cambridge, Mass., March 14, 1880.
Parents Jabez Fox, Susan Elizabeth Thayer.
School Cambridge Latin School, Cambridge, Mass.
Years in College 1896-1900.
Degrees A.B., 1900; S.B., 1904.
Married Elizabeth Gorham Roper, Pelham Manor, N. Y., Nov. 27, 1906.
Children Eleanor, Oct. 1, 1908; Heywood, June 22, 1911; David Thayer, April 22, 1914 (died June 5, 1914).
Business Engineer.
Address (home) 414 Monterey Ave., Pelham Manor, N. Y. (business) 11 Broadway, New York, N. Y.
Was employed by Turner Construction Company in the fall of 1904 after receiving S.B. degree. Was superintend- [Page 168 / Page 169]
ent of construction until May, 1908, since then estimating engineer.
Member: Harvard Club, Pelham Country Club, The Country Club, Westchester, New York City, American Economic Association."
Source: Harvard College Class of 1900. Secretary's Fourth Report June, 1915 Printed for the Class, pp. 168-69 (Cambridge, MA: Crimson Printing Company 1915).
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brief Biography of Reginald Pelham Bolton, Local Historian

Reginald Pelham Bolton, a member of the Bolton family of Pelham who built Bolton Priory, was a local historian and amateur archaeologist in the late 19th century and early 20th century. His biography appeared in a book entitled "Builders of Our Nation" published in 1914. That biography appears below, followed by a citation to its source.
"Bolton, Reginald Pelham, consulting expert engineer of New York City, was born in London, England. 1856; son of Rev. James Bolton, B.A. (of Pelham Priory, Westchester, N.Y.) and Lydia Louisa (Pym) Bolton. Private education. Learned engineering by apprenticeship. Married, first. 1878, Kate Alice, daughter of Captain James Behenna. R.A.; second, Washington, D.C., 1892. Ethelind, daughter of Leonard Huyck; children: Ivy May, born 1879; Guy Reginald, born 1883. Technical practical education in London, 1874-78. in designing department. Edge- moor Iron Works. 1879; with E. D. Leavitt. M.E., 1881. Traveled in England, Holland, France. Italy, Sicily, Spain and United States, designing and erecting machinery for mines, shipyards, etc., until 1904; [Page 72 / Page 73] since 1904 in consulting practice in New York City; consulting engineer to Department of Water Supply, New York City; N.Y. Central and Hudson River Railroad, The Plant System, R. H. Macay and Company, etc. Episcopalian. Association Member Institution of Civil Engineers (England), Telford Gold Medal, 1891; member American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Naval Engineers, American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, New York Electrical Society, New York Historical Society, City Historical Club, Municipal Art League, American Folk-Lore Society; trustee American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, Holyrood P.E. Church (N.Y. City); secretary Washington Heights Taxpayers' Association. Recreations: Historical research and discoveries in Washington Heights. Author: Motive Powers (Longmans), 1895; Elevator Service, 1908; Building for Profit, 1911; numerous monographs in transactions of engineering societies: also The Assault of Mt. Washington, 1901; Autobiography of an Irish Terrier, 1904."
Source: Builders of Our Nation. Twentieth Century Edition Men of 1913 Published Annually, pp. 72-73 (Chicago, IL: Men of Nineteen-Thirteen 1914).
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Aftermath of the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885


I have written before about the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885. See, e.g.:

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: More About the 1885 Train Wreck in Pelhamville.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2007: Findings of the Coroner's Inquest That Followed the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885.

Friday, December 21, 2007: 1886 Poem Representing Fictionalized Account of the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885.

Bell, Blake A., 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).

Recently research has revealed a letter to the editor of a railroad engineer journal published in 1886 that details the recuperation of one of the crew members injured in the wreck and describes the reconstruction and redeployment of the engine that wrecked. The letter is transcribed in full below, followed by a citation to its source.

"NEW HAVEN, CONN, Feb. 17, 1886.

MESSRS. EDITORS: Bro. R. E. Phillips, who went down the bank with his engine at Pelhamville, on the New York, New Haven & Hartford R. R., has so far recovered from his injuries as to be out. It is a pleasant surprise to the boys to see him around again as none of us believed a man could go down such a place as that is and live. His engine, 127, is just out of the shop, and running the Shore Line Limited Express. She has been remodeled somewhat by our Supt. of Motive Power, J. Henney, Jr., and Brother Dane says she is a good one. Mr. Henney has just turned out a new engined, 129, and a beauty she is. Brother Livingston has been breaking her in; she is to go on the limited express via Springfield, a run of 273 miles per day. Brother H. B. Hinckley and Mr. Thompson will be found on the right hand side alternate days.

Will send the JOURNAL, in a few days, some facts and figures pertaining to some of our engines here, which I think will make the boys say, What! HAWKEYE."

Source: New Haven, Conn, Feb. 17, 1886, Monthly Journal Published by The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Vol. XX, No. 4, p. 233 (Apr. 1886).

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Brief "History of Coaching" Published in 1891 Shows Ties of Sport to Pelham, New York


On May 1, 1876 "The Pelham Coach", known as Col. Delancey Kane's "Tally-Ho", began running between New York City's Hotel Brunswick and Pelham Bridge. Within a short time, The New York Times reported that "[t]he Pelham coach has commanded as much patronage as if it were the only means of communication between Pelham and this City." The inaugural run of the Pelham Coach ,was the introduction of Col. Kane's New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line.

Periodically I have written about Col. Delancey Kane and his "Tally-Ho". See, for example:

Fri., February 11, 2005: Col. Delancey Kane's "Pelham Coach", Also Known as The Tally-Ho, Is Located.

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach" (Sep. 2003).

Wed., July 27, 2005: 1882 Engraving Shows Opening of Coaching Season From Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge.

Wed., September 28, 2005: Taunting the Tantivy Coach on its Way to Pelham: 1886.

Thurs., August 3, 2006: Images of Colonel Delancey Kane and His "Pelham Coach" Published in 1878.

Interestingly, the "Tally-Ho" was not the only coach that ran to Pelham during those years. A brief "History of Coaching" included in a book on coaching published in 1891 makes this clear. Below is the pertinent excerpt from that book, followed by a citation to its source.

"COACHING IN AMERICA.

The revival of coaching in England, some few years since, had no more enthusiastic admirer than Colonel I)elancey Kane. He not only took a principal part in it himself by running a coach, but conceived the idea of introducing this most attractive mode of travel to the people of the United States, and to him alone must be given the credit of inspiring the lovers of horses to indulge in this healthy recreation.

In the year 1875, the "Tally Ho" was running from London to Virginia Water, with Edwin Fownes, Sen., as professional Coachman, Guide, and Mentor. The Colonel soon became thoroughly initiated into all the little points and ideas, which are necessary to be learned to become a practical coachman.

The following year the Colonel returned to New York bringing the "Tally Ho" and Arthur Fownes, son of his former mentor, with him, to act as guard, in which capacity he has had no equal on this side of the water. It is a great pity that the example he set, regarding the proper time to sound a call, and the proper call to sound, was not followed as an established standard. It ought to be [P. 175 / P. 176] more clearly understood, that a guard is not merely one who can make a noise; he should know what to blow, and what he blows for.

The following is a brief history of "Coaching in America. In 1870 the ''Tally Ho" made its first appearance during the spring season, starting from New York (Hotel Brunswick) to Pelham (Arcularuis Hotel). The start each day being witnessed by admiring crowds of people, and it proved such a pronounced success, that it was decided to put it on the road in the fall, and the journey was extended to New Rochelle (Neptune House). The following season, 1877, a different road was selected. The "Tally Ho" running to Yonkers (Getty House), starting from (Hotel Brunswick), New York.

The "Tally Ho" was put back again on the New Rochelle road in 1878, running from (Hotel Brunswick) New York to New Rochelle (Hugenot [sic] Hotel), but in consequence of the bad condition of the roads, the coach had to stop running. During the foregoing season A. Fownes acted as guard and coachman. To show that the interest taken by the public in coaching was not allowed to abate, the following article copied from the "New York Herald," of April 3, 1880, may be interesting reading: "On Wednesday, April 21, Colonel T)eLancey Kane will start with his coach 'Tally Ho' for the season of 1880. From New York to New [P. 176 / P. 177] Rochelle is the route selected, and the same places as in former years will be passed through, viz., Harlem, Mott Haven, Fox's Corners, Westchester, Pelham. Bridge and Pelham. The changes of horses will take place as formerly. During the past winter the coach has been entirely reappointed, the original color having been retained. A glance at the official time table below shows that the "Tally Ho" will leave the Hotel Brunswick at 10 a.m. and arrive at New Rochelle at 12 m. Fully three hours and a-half may be passed at the Castle Inn, as the horn of the guard will not give notice of the return trip until half-past 3 p.m. At half-past 5 p.m. the Hotel Brunswick will be reached. Beside the attraction of the route, which is one of great beauty, always pleasant, often picturesque, and occasionally romantic, Travelers by the "Tally Ho" will find a most charming old-fashioned hotel in the Castle Inn. The house has been leased by the Queen's County Hunt, with forty acres of land surrounding it, for a hunting headquarters, and they have furnished it, so as to make it a regular old-fashioned country hotel of the first-class. Passengers will find on the grounds the Hunt model kennels, which have just been completed, containing over forty hounds, ten additional couples having arrived from England on Thursday last. There are now over thirty horses in the Hunt stables, and fox hunting in its best form is regular- [P. 177 / P. 178] ly carried on every Wednesday and Saturday at half-past 1 p.m. The field is open to all comers, and every body [sic] will be made welcome.

"Much has been done to the roads by the village authorities, through which the coach will pass, and the road between Pelham Bridge and New Rochelleis [sic] now being macadamized by the residents of the neighborhood in view of the 'Tally Ho's' return.

The coach, in short, will be well-horsed, admirably managed and capitally driven. It will as heretofore run regularly, rain or shine. The Coaching Book will be open in a few days, when places can be secured for weeks in advance.["]

As stated in the foregoing article, the roads had been repaired and the weather being exceptionally good, that season, everything proved very satisfactory.

In this year Frank Swales was professional coachman, and H. Distin acted as guard. It will not perhaps be out of place to mention that the name "Tally Ho" has been wrongly applied to every old ramshackle vehicle drawn by four horses. It would be equally reasonable to name a barge or rowboat "Mayflower" or "Volunteer," as to call all coaches "Tally Hos."

There being no new aspirant in 1881 to take up and follow in the footsteps of the Colonel, who during the time the "Tally Ho" ran, was sole proprietor, and bore [P. 178 / P. 179] the entire expense himself. A few members of the Coaching Club, at that time in its infancy, started the "Tantivy" by subscription, and starting from New York (Hotel Brunswick) made the (Tarrytown Hotel) Tarrytown, its terminus, A. Fownes, professional coachman, and E. Graham acted as guard.

The following are the coaches in chronological order and may be used for reference:
1882. The Tantivy's second appearance, running from New York (Hotel Brunswick) to Yonkers (Getty House), H. Evans, guard.

1883. No coach ran this year

1884. "The Greyhound" started on its first trip from New York (Hotel Brunswick) to Pelham (Country Club). C. D. Iselin, G. E. Eoosevelt, Proprietors. H. Distin, guard.

1886. The subscription coach "Tantivy" again made its appearance this season running to (County Club) Pelham, from New York (Hotel Brunswick). F. Cunard, guard.

1887. The "Tantivy" starting from New York (Hotel Brunswick) running to Pelham (County [sic] Club). F. Swales, prof. coachman, F. Cunard, guard. [P. 179 / P. 180]

1890. The "Tantivy" starting from New York (Hotel Brunswick) to (County [sic] Club) Westchester. H. Distin, guard.

The principal owners of the "Tantivy" were Colonel Jay, Frederic Bronson, Esq., Hon. Hugo Fritsh, Isaac Bell, Esq., T. R. Roosevelt, Esq., and Reginald Rives, Esq.

1891. In consequence of the bad condition of the roads there was no coach run this year."

Source: Swales, Frank, Driving as I Found It. What To Drive. How To Drive by Frank Swales. Illustrated by Walter Petter, pp. 175-80 (Chicago, New York: Brentano's 1891).

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Monday, January 07, 2008

1878 Article Describing the "Attractions of Little-Known City Island" in the Town of Pelham


On August 25, 1878, The New York Times published an interesting article describing the "Attractions of Little-Known City Island" in the Town of Pelham. The article provides a lovely snapshot of an important part of the Town of Pelham at the time -- a part of the Town that New York City annexed about two decades later. Below is the text of the article, followed by a citation to its source:

"THE PEARL OF THE SOUND.
ATTRACTIONS OF LITTLE-KNOWN CITY ISLAND.
A CHARMING COUNTRY LANE - HOME OF THE OYSTER AND CLAM - A TITLED POPULATION - RELIC OF THE MULTUM IN PARVO CLUB - WHERE THE BASS AND BLACKFISH ABOUND.

About a dozen miles from the City, on the Shore Line branch of the Harlem and New-Haven Railway, is a small station called Bartow. It is where one gets off the train to go to City Island. The ride to that little station is a very pleasant one; past long gleaming arms from the Sound, that at high tide reach far up in the land among the meadows of tall, rank, dark green grass; past brooks and mills and hamlets, while the cool salt air comes breezily from the shimmering bosom of the watery expanse gleaming in the distance. It is just after the train's hollow rumble over a long, low bridge that a forest is entered, and there, beneath the shadows of the trees, nestles Bartow. Opposite the station is a pretty little house, where, through a widely-opened door, one may see a table set out with bright service on a cloth of snowy whiteness for a dinner, for which the dinner never seems to come, though alluring signs on the dwelling's front invite the public. A little back in the woods, beside the New-Rochelle road, stands the 'Bartow Hotel,' which appears to do a composite business in beer and horse-shoeing. And those houses, with the depot, of course, are all there is of Bartow.

From the station a road extends, nearly all the way through a shady lane, over to City Island, one of the most delightful short drives -- little over a mile and a half -- that can be found anywhere along the shore. Overhead arch oaks, hickories, maples, and elms. On either side are rough stone walls. Cresting those walls with foliage and snowy bloom lie tangled masses of the flowering vine that people hereabouts call 'Aaron's beard.' Modest yellow and blue flowers nestle at the bases of the rocky piles. Here and there the golden rod uprears its yellow sprays, and on the little knolls beside the road the sumac's crimson tufts flare brilliantly. The sweet breath of the new-mown hay floats up from low meadows, and at the next turning of the road gives place to the saline scent of the still lower lands, where tall grasses leave their roots in the salt tides. Inlets from the Sound flash like burnished silver in the distance, losing themselves amid masses of heavy foliage, and seem little lakes, as they appear from the road. Now and then one catches, among the grasses nourished by those waters, the ruddy glow of the marshmallow's flower. The stubble on a far-off hill appears a sheet of dead gold. In the roadway are strewn forest leaves, already tinted by the frosty breath of Autumn, and from amid the boughs above the songs of birds make sweetest melody. Now and then one gets a glimpse of a stately mansion, far back from the road, to which, from massive iron gateways, run shell or pebble walks and carriage-ways. One of the handsomest of those is the residence of ex-Judge Steers, formerly of New-York, father of Henry Steers, the famous shipbuilder.

And so this charming road continues to the long, low, broad bridge which connects the mainland with City Island. At the mainland end of that bridge is a small hostelry, known as 'Flynn's,' if a curiously-contrived sign made up of oyster-shells is to be accepted as evidence, where anglers come from the City, and small parties of excursionists occasionally from Mount Vernon, Yonkers, and smaller places near by. Facing the other end of the bridge, on the island, is a handsome hotel, erected by Harry Cunningham, the once popular actor, who left the stage and became a still more popular restaurateur in the Bowery. He had great hope of making this a favorite road house; but hardly was it completed when he died, and now it is kept by his brother, who is an invalid and does not wish to be bothered with guests. From the bridge one can enjoy a delightful view of this arm of the Sound which cuts off City, High, and Rat Islands from the mainland. Below the bridge, far as one can see them, stakes mark out the boundaries of allotments of space on the bottom, where different owners have millions of oysters and clams stored away waiting for the New-York market, for this neighborhood is where the finest, fairest, and fattest of East River oysters and the sweetest of small clams are found. Upon the water, and half submerged, are ponderous 'oyster floats,' enormous boxes wherein the shell-fish are heaped by the ton for convenient transfer to the smacks. The tapering masts of scores of shapely little sloops and schooners, riding at anchor further down the stream, are sharply outlined against the sky, while here and there one with snowy wings outspread is to be seen, darting swiftly away, or returning home. Above the bridge can be seen, mostly in the forenoons, many small boats, in which men are going through strange pantomimic action. They seem to be making many obeisances, and waving their arms in fantastic fashion. Upon closer investigation, they prove to be fishermen, operating long tongs and rakes that clutch oysters and clams from the bottom, 20 feet below. The water is so clear that it reflects another sky, as varied and beautiful in its ever-changing tints as that above. The quiet is so profound that one hears the rattle of a few clams dropped from a rake into the bottom of a boat far away, and the ripple of a girl's laughter from another boat beneath the bridge wakes echoes on the shores.

The nearest island to City Island is that denominated High by reason of the attitude of a mass of rugged rocks on its eastern front. Upon those rocks stands a house, once the Summer head-quarters of the now defunct 'Multum in Parvo Club,' an association of journalists and actors, which flourished here some years ago. They leased the island for a term of 10 years -- not yeet expired -- from Mr. Peter V. King, a rich Wall-street merchant. Boyhood's associations have endeared the lonely island to him, and he has been heard to say that 'There is not money enough in New-York to buy it.' There is an excellent spring of cold and pure water upon it, and the western half of it might, with some little trouble, be made productive. A man of means could establish here a most enjoyable Summer residence. Rat Island is simply a mass of rocks. There are said to be numbers of rats on it, but why rats should choose to live there, where they find shelter, and what they get to live on, are all questions which nobody answers definitely, and which must cast a shadow of doubt over the reality of the rodents there. Away, over to the eastward lies Hart's Island, and farther up the Sound is David's Island, from both of which at times one hears, distinct but mellowed by the distance, the music of drum and fife, for on both soldiers are quartered.

City Island is peculiar in many things, but in none more so than in that its men, leaving out of the count a very few professional persons, are all Captains, except two or three, who are Commodores. Mr. Belden, Jay Gould's partner, who owns a magnificent mansion on the lower end of the island, is one of the uncounted ones, and so are D. J. Bacon and a brace of parsons. But, inasmuch as the business of the place is entirely connected with the water either directly or indirectly, everybody nearly has at least one more or less pretenious bouat, and he who owns a boat -- that is, a boat with a sail to it -- is by consequence, a Captain. They seem to draw the line at the possession of a sail. Proprietorship of a row-boat does not invest one with the dignity of a Captaincy, but bore a hole in the front seat of the row-boat, step a little mast in it and fly a small leg-o'-mutton sail therefrom, and the rank is won. When a man gets a lot of sailing boats, like Pell, the famous oysterman -- who is building a great house here, and is said to be worth $1,000,000 -- they call him Commodore. Buty they have no Admirals as yet. A more thoroughly enjoyable place than this in the Summer season cannot be found in the vicinity of New-York, for those who want quiet, coolness, pure health-giving air, and that balmy indefinable sense of rest which is so grateful after the heat, noise, and turmoil of the City. There is absolutely nothing here to remind one that there is a great City within two hours sail, nothing, that is, which recalls the disagreeable features of town-life. No milkman's demoniac yell, no postman's piercing whistle; no rattling carts and rumbling trains and ragmen's clanging bells disturb the Sabbath-like peace that is over all. The avocations of the people are almost entirely pursued out on the water, and on shore the sounds one hears most are the merry voices of children playing on the grass beneath the shade of the elms and poplars along the bank. Sometimes a party of excursionists or picnickers drive over from Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, or some other town on the mainland, and cross the island to Capt. Charley McLenon's place, where they revel in clam chowder -- for the making of which that place is famous -- roast clams, oysters, and fish. The steamboat Seawanhaka takes some excursionists up there every Sunday, but they are all quiet people, who look for calm pleasures, not the sort of tough citizens who afflict decent folks going to Rockaway and Coney Island. About this season of the year the anglers begin to constitute themselves the principal visiting population of City Island, and long before daylight every morning when the tide serves, numbers of earnest men, laden with fishing-tackle, pocket flasks, and hope, may be seen clustering about Capt. Stringham's place near the bridge, getting boats and informaiton, and setting out to ensnare bass or black-fish. Capt. Stringham knows all about the fish in these waters, just as muh as if he were personally acquainted with them. He can tell when to find the bass at home down in the inlet that runs up to Pelham Bridge, and, by the way, the bass there are now commencing to bite well. He knows, too, just where to place the man who wants blackfish, whether off the big reef above High Island or over the old schooner wreck near Hart's Island, or in any other of 50 places where those excellent fish are just at this season so crowded together that they are popularly supposed to be rubbing the scales off each other. The ways and resorts of the frost-fish, the flounder, and the young bluefish are alike known unto him, and not to him only, but to many City men, for whom this has been a favorite haunt for sport since their boyhood days. By the middle of next month, when there will be frosty mornings, the reefs, and inlets, and shoals in this neighborhood will be a very paradise for skillful anglers, but as yet the water is too warm for much sport with the big fish. Many persons make excellent catches of blackfish with hand-lines from the bridge on frosty mornings at flood tide, but just now the main captures effected there are toadfish, sea-spiders, and begalls -- and it may be casually remarked that, if there is anything more exasperating than a creditor, it is that abominable and useless little begall. When the time comes, say in a fortnight from now, for using the information, anglers who propose trying those waters for the first time may be interested to know that they need not load themselves with bait in the City. At low tide they can pick up on the beach any desired quantity of 'fiddlers;' with little trouble can dig for themslves all the soft clams and sand-worms they may want, and 'shedders' are almost as easily got.

Malarial fever and dyspepsia are unknown on City Island. Dr. Bacon, a resident there, says that he never expects any other practice than births and accidents, and the latter are very scarce. Taken all in all this is surely the choicest spot near the City for residence, and were it better known, and the facilities for reaching it so extended that it would not be practically cut off from the rest of the world after the 6 o'clock train, it would certainly ere long be covered with villas and gardens."

Source: The Pearl of the Sound. Attractions of Little-Known City Island, N.Y. Times, Aug. 25, 1878, p. 12.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Letters Carried by John Pell, Second Lord of the Manor of Pelham, When He Arrived in America in 1670



Thomas Pell is often referenced as the "First Lord of the Manor of Pelham". He died in late September, 1669. He died without issue of his own. His principal legatee was his nephew, John Pell, of England.

John Pell arrived in America in 1670 to take control of the estate left to him by his Uncle. He carried with him letters from a number of references. Those letters are in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the letters carried by John Pell when he arrived in America.

"SIR, - I have lately, viz. March 26, 70, written so large, that I shall doe little else by this opportunity of Dr. Pells son than to referr you to yt letter, and to the Books I sent you together with the same. Only I shall here mention, that, since yt. time, here is come abroad a new Hypothesis of the Fluxe and Refluxe of the Sea, devised by one Mr. Hyrne, supposing yt ye Earth, besides ye Diurnal and Annual motion, hath another, directly from North to South, for ye space of 6 hours and some odd minuts, and then again from South to North for ye same time; and yt in this motion ye Earth does not always move to the same points, but farther, when we have Spring-tides, yn at other times; and yt ye motion of ye Earth in each vibration from the Spring-tide to ye neap-tide decreaseth, as that of a Pendulum will doe; and from thence again increases in ye same proportion it decreased, till the Tydes be at ye highest. [P. 245 / P. 246]

From this Hypothesis he pretends to solve all the phaenom of ye diurnal and menstrual Tydes, adscribing the Annual to meer casualties. Hence he will give a reason, why ye Spring tides are all the world ouer at ye same time, on the same side of the AEquator; and why a place hath the greater tydes, ye farther it is distant from the AEquator, etc.

It would be worth knowing, whether, according to this supposition, it be high water on yr American shore all ouer, at ye same time it is high water all over the European Shore. He affirms particularly, yt in the Bay of Mexico there is but a very litle or no rise and fall of ye water, and pretends to solve this phaenomenon also by his Theory.

Sir, you will doe us and Philosophy a good piece of service to acquaint us w th what particulars you know of the matter of fact in America, and of what you can learne from observing and credible navigators all ouer that part of the world. This gentleman is very confident of the truth of this Hypothesis, taking the liberty to say in writing, yt he hath been for many years as fully satisfyed in his judgement concerning the Cause of this Phaenomenon, as of any in Nature.

This must be examined by good Observations, and a general and faithfull History of ye Tydes: to w ch that you would contribute your and yr friends symbols, is the errant of this letter from, Sir,

Y.r very afft and faithfull servant,

H. OLDENBURG.

The Books sent March 26, were; 1. Mr. Boyles Continuacion of Expts concerning ye Spring and Weight of the Air. 2. Dr. Holders Philosophy of Speech. 3. Dr. Thurstons Diatriba de respirationis usu primario. [4.] All the Transactions of A. 1669.

(Addressed) To his honored Friend JOHN WINTHROP, Esquire. Gouernor of Connecticutt in New England.

To be inquired for at Boston. By a friend.

(Indorsed) Mr. Hen: Oldenburge.

-----

WHITEHALL, 22 Jun. '70.

MY VERY WORTHY FRIEND, - The unfrequency of our Correspondence must not in the least detract from our kindness. I usually answer your letters with the first conueniency after I receiue them. I doubt not of your continuing your industrious enquiries, though of a long while wee haue had no account of them from you. The bearer will acquaint you with occurences here & so giues me ground of excuse for the breuity of my letter, but you do not measure my friendship by the number of my lines. I will be glad of any oppertunity to make it appear by the highest kinde of demonstration you can put me to. And to shew you I have a firm confidence of yours, I do most earnestly recommend to your fauor the bearer Mr. John Pell, whose worthy father Dr. Pell you know we value highly. The Gentleman is a Server in ordinary to the King; & I do firmly expect & certainly promise my self you will use him as you might expect I would a [P. 246 / P. 247] friend of yours vpon your serious recommendation, and indeed I will account your kindness to him as a singular testimony of your friendship to,


My worthy friend, your reall servant,


R. MORAY.

(Indorsed) Sr. Robert Moray to Govr. W. 1670.

HONOURED SR, - You might justly blame my backwardnesse of answering your kind & large letter to me last year, but yt I trust your goodnesse will be ready still to make ye best construction of what admits anie. I have my self undergone a sicknesse which was like to have proov'd ye last, & since the recovery found my self on a sudden plunged in & distracted with a most troublesome tedious controversie & Lawsute, whiles my dear wife fell ill, & after much weaknesse, growing upon her byond recoverie, departed this life, which accidt was followed with a sad traine of many other troubles to me; besides ye losse of many ver speciall ffrends in severall parts, & especially of that dear & worthy frend of ours Mr Morlaen, whom I had so great a Desire to have seen once more. He & his wife soon deceased one after another, & I am informed that all his goods & those many excell t curiosities & rarities he was master of were suddenly sold, distracted, scattered. After all this, when I recollect what is past, I cannot but admire & adore Gods mercifull & wonderfull dispensation, deliverance, & sustentation, whereby he hath & doth uphold me in all my streights, that I have cause to complain of nothing but my own unthankfullnesse to him for all his goodnesse. Sr, from all this I doubt not but you will easily inferre, that it was rather an increase of trouble to me than otherwise that I could not enjoy ye benefit of so acceptable an entercourse as your singular Love & kindnesse invited & engaged me to; & that I was right glad of this good opportunity by ye meanes of Dr. Pell (so worthy & dear a ffrend) his own & onely son, to expectorate my case into yor Bosome, & to deleiver into your own hands this Testimonie of my constant & due Respects to your person & ye high & worthie esteem of yor vertues & Merits, sorrie onely that for ye present I have not other & better matter to entertain you withall; & to requite the paines you took & ye content you gave me by ye rehearsall of so many signall acts of the Divine Providence, vulgarly call'd casualties. Truly, Sr, I esteemed them so much ye more because I am sure you doe not report such matters by common hearsey; & indeed, Sr, if we would but be attentive observers of our own personall concerns of this kinde, in thankfull acknowledgemt to God & usefull Providence for our selves, what Treasures would it afforde us, & what incitements, encouragemts, & engagemts, to fear, love, & serve our great & good God, & to be on all occasions helpfull, comfortable, & beneficiall to ourselves & others, causing us often to remembr, sing, & practice the 107th Psalm. I could instance passages of my own Experience & Experimts of this nature, as of ye greatest part of my Life, so especially of ye latter troublesom yeares, but yt ye circumstances [P. 247 / P. 248] are too many & diffuse for Letters. However, we do well to observe all occurences, & to imprrove all experiments without & within us to the End of our Creation, Redemtion, & Preservation. I hope, Sr, if God vouchsafes me longer Life and health I shall be at better leasure hereafter to entertain your epistolar visits, & glad of any opportunity to shew, that, how undeserving soever of so meritorious & thrice worthy a friendship as yours, none is more willing and desirous to endeavour all acknowledgemt thereof than,

Most honoured Sr, Your very humble & much obliged Servant,

THEODORE HAAK."

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. - 1878 -, pp. 245-48 (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society 1879) (Part of June, 1878 Meeting, Section on "Correspondence of the Founders of the Royal Society with Governor Winthrop of Connecticut").

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