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, January 30, 2009

Article Published in 1901 Detailed Ghost Stories and Legends of Pelham

An article appeared in the December 15, 1901 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune entitled "Legends of Pelham". It detailed ghost stories and legends about the area. Perhaps most significantly, it included a series of wonderful photographs showing, among other things, Split Rock and the Pell Treaty Oak.

None of the stories is new. All previously have been reported on the Historic Pelham Blog. However, there are a few interesting twists and additional details included in these renditions of the stories. Thus, below is the text of the lengthy article, followed by the photographs that accompanied the story.




The red spectres of long departed Indian braves and the white ghosts of massacred Englishwomen and children, victims of Indian cruelty, haunt the lands which a few hundred years ago were a part of the manor of Lord Thomas Pell, and on which practical people of to-day and recent yesterdays have built the attractive village of Pelham. Even the devil has left his footprints in the immediate vicinity, and Manitou, the god of the Indians, has a stone rocking horse on the neighboring shore ready and waiting to carry him in triumph when he finally comes to end all things. And if all this is not enough, there is a phantom fire ship, which sails up and down the Sound with the heavy winter storms.

There are not many people in Pelham to-day who have seen these ghosts and phantoms. Indeed, most of the villagers believe that they ceased active duty a long time ago. There are others, however, who say they have seen these wonders with their own eyes, and that they can still be seen and heard if one watches in the proper spirit on the right sort of night; and to this faithful few belongs the credit of preserving the details of the traditions of Pelham. The scoffers know not the names of the tribes which fought on Haunted Cedar Knoll, and have never even heard of their predecessors -- the wolfmen of the stone age. For this they are to be pitied.

It was to Pelham that Ann Marbury Hutchinson came when the Puritans had driven her from Boston and again from Rhode Island, for her expounding of the truth of simple living. She came into the wilderness without fear, owing to her trust in a power greater than any wielded by mere man, but not without danger. The Dutch in Manhattan did not look with favor on the approach of the English, even though they were exiles, and Puritan hatred was ready to follow this devoted woman, did follow her in fact, through cruel Indian allies. Crossing from Flushing with her family of fatherless children and a few devoted followers, she had her house built on the rising ground back of Split Rock, so-called from a fissure in the centre of its huge bulk, through which a tree had slowly forced its way. She continued to expound her peculiar faith with characteristic force, and there were many among the scattered neighbors who believed in her teachings.

Among others who came to her meetings was big John Underhill, captain by virtue of his powers as an Indian fighter. He cared not so much for her teaching as he did for her handsome self. She liked the big, careless fellow, but she was severe with him.

'What have you done since you were here last that you should have left undone?' she would ask when he came to the meeting.

And under her stern glance, John would tremble and confess to the 'crimes' of a fortnight. Drinking rum or daning with a maid at the tavern were the usual sins.

'Will you never become good?' she would say with a sigh, and then to one of the faithful, 'Bring me the foll's cap.'

She would place the long peaked cap upon his curly head, and he would take his seat before the others and do penance. Yet as soon as he was away from her he was the same roistering good fellow.

One morning an Indian came to the Hutchinson cabin, and his friendly greeting gained him entrance. They were English, and the Indians made war only against the hated Dutch. Ann did not fear him, and fed him well on cakes and fresh bread and clams from the shore.

'Where all the men?' asked the Indian, as he ate the food she prepared for him.

'There are no men here,' she said, and, pointing to her oldest son, 'this is the only man I have.'

'Ugh!' exclaimed the Indian. 'Him no man; only little boy.'

He went his way with a smile on his face, after promising to bring the woman some game the next time he came that way. He came again, all too soon, and the game was an Indian game. The same night the redskins came in force, surrounded the house and set fire to it from several sides. When the frightened woman tried to rush out she was driven back into the flames. The son escaped, only to be burned at the stake in front of Split Rock, it is said. The little sister, whom he had carried from the house, was taken by the Indians, and lived among them so long that she hated to return with the white men who found her after many years.

John Underhill was in a tavern when a man came in with the news of the massacre. He dashed a mug of ale from his lips and swore a mighty oath to be revenged on the Indians. Many men were ready to help him, and a large, well armed company was soon on the trail. It led straight back to Connecticut, and at Stamford the revenging party was not far behind. The Indians encamped near Bradford, and to that point Underhill tracked them through the snow. They were on the edge of a high bluff, and, throwing his men around the approachable sides of the camp, the trap was made complete. Hardly an Indian escaped, and their bodies were thrown over the bluff. To this day the spot is known as the Indian burying ground.

When the work of revenge was ended John Underhill stood on the edge of the bluff. He gazed at the blood stained snow and the ruins of the camp. He looked at the bodies below.

'I have done my best,' he said, taking off his cap and looking up to the sky, 'but if we had killed a thousand more of the red devils, it would not have paid for a single drop of Ann Hutchinson's blood!'

Then he shook his fist in the direction of Boston, where lived her Puritan persecutors, for he knew they would rejoice when they learned of her fate. And he was right, for rejoice they did, and made sermons about it in which 'the just hand of God smiting the unrighteous' played a part.

The site on which Ann Hutchinson's house stood is as yet unmarked. A short time ago it was definitely place, and a movement is under way to put a suitable table on the spot. A creek in the vicinity is named after her, and Mrs. J. C. Hazen has named one of her school buildings Marbury Hall, in honor of the woman who founded the first woman's club in America, and did so much for the people of her time.


'If you want to see the most awful ghosts you can possibly imagine,' advised an old woman, who has lived all her life in Pelham, 'you must wait until the moon is full and then hide yourself near Haunted Cedar Knoll.'

She was not the kind of woman who would give a stranger wrong directions for the fun of it, and her manner was as serious as it had been a few moments before, when she told me of the death of her only son.

'And where is this haunted place?' she was asked.

'You know the Boston Post road - the one that runs from Pelham to New-Rochelle, and how much further I don't know, but I guess clean through to old Boston? Well, the Pelham Priory is on that road; you can't miss it, for it's the finest old house hereabouts. And just across from the priory is a knoll covered with rocks and cedar trees. That's the place.'

'Have you seen ghosts there?' asked the stranger, 'or did some one tell you about them?'

'Sure, certain, I seen them,' she said, shaking her head wisely. 'Do you think I'd believe what people told me? You do as I told you, and you can see them for yourself. I don't ask any one to believe me.'

'But the moon won't be full for days yet, and I cannot wait that long. Suppose you tell me about them.'

'I was a young girl when I saw them,' she began, 'and that was a long time ago.' She smiled. 'It was so frightful that I never dared go back again. They were Indian ghosts, you see, and their cries and yells just made your blood stop running.'

'The wind was blowing. I suppose?' interrupted the listener.

'Well, there was some wind, but I know what sort of noises the wind can make. Nothing like those I heard. There were more than a score of them, and they had no heads, unless you count the heads which they were carrying in their hands, which couldn't have been of much use to them. They formed in a big ring, and began to dance. First, each headless ghost danced by himself. Then, they threw the heads in the centre of the ring and danced around them. After they got tired they picked up the heads again (I've always wondered if by chance some of them might have picked up the wrong heads), and in a minute they were gone. All that I saw myself.

'My grandmother told me how the Indians came to haunt the cedars, but I can't swear as it's the true story. Once there were two tribes that were very good friends -- the Siwanoys and the Laaphawachkins -- least that is what the names sounded like. One of the 'Si's' killed one of the 'Laapshaws' in a quarrel, and the 'Laapshaws' robbed some of the 'Si's' graves in revenge. So there was a blood feud. They fought a deadly battle on the knoll, and the 'Laapshaws' were all dead. The others cut off their heads and left them there for their squaws to bury, and that is the whole story.'


Pelham is not the only place on Long Island Sound where one hears of the Phantom Fire Ship. It is said to have been seen at various places from Hell Gate to Gardiner's Island, and even beyond. Unlike the Flying Dutchman, this phantom of the sea cannot be seen from other vessels, but only from the shore. The Pelham account is as thrilling as any of the others. Here it is:

When the buccaneers infested the Sound they captured a ship, and because the cargo was not worth their trouble and the loss of a few bold pirates they killed the crew. Having no use for a big white horse which was on board they tied him to the foot of the foremast. Then they set fire to the ship and sailed away. The ship caught fire quickly, and was soon all in flames, but, strange to say, the fire burned without smoke and without destroying anything. It burned life into the murdered crew and enabled them to move about the decks. The horse alone was frightened, and sparks flew as he pawed at the foremast.

When the fiercest storms blow this pyrotechnic craft blows here and there with the wind, leaving behind a trail of sparks. Even the waves dash back from her redhot sides with a hiss of pain, and for the moment are turned to flame. The fiery sailors run about the decks and even climb into the rigging, which is the color of molten iron. At least, the fire phantom did all this when the old residenters were boys, according to their own story. That the newcomers have never been able to see it proves nothing. Perhaps they did not look at the right time.


When those who lived a hundred years or more ago found the prints of huge human feet on rocks at various places they decided that they had been left by the devil in his flight through the country. The first print was discovered in East Chester, and another, pointing in the same direction, was near Fort Schuyler. Across the Sound, on Long Island, they found the third footprint in solid rock, and there the trail was lost. Long Islanders have said that if the devil could jump from East Chester across Pelham to Fort Schyler, a distance of nine miles, he would not find it difficult to step across the island into the sea. In Pelham they hint that perhaps the devil liked Long Island and stayed there. Anyway, when they found the footprints the imagination of the residents was called upon to furnish an explanation for the devil's flight, and as a result, two traditions have been handed down. The good people of Connecticut had been casting devils out of witches a little while before the discovery, and it is only natural that they accepted that explanation.

The other story is more elaborate, and goes back further - even as far as the Stone Age. In that time the people who lived here were like wolves, and the hand of the devil was heavy upon them. They tried in every way to rid themselves of their oppressor. Some thought that if they could only cut off his tail the devil would feel the disgrace and leave them. Accordingly, two of the strongest men, famous wielders of great stone axes, were appointed to perform the task. They waited many days before they found him asleep. Great was they dismay when they found that he slept with his tail tucked under his body. They decided to cut off his cloven hoofs. When the devil awoke from his long slumber he found that a human foot had grown on the stump of his right leg and that he had neither foot nor hoof on the other. Accordingly he made haste to leave the country by a series of mighty jumps.

The redeeming feature of this tale is that it explains the absence of cloven hoof, and the fact that all of the prints are those of the right foot. The footprints are really there, and are as plain to-day as they ever were.


Near what is known as 'The Old Pell House,' which stands just over the brow of Prospect Hill, in full view of the Boston Post Road, are the remains of 'Treaty Oak,' under which Thomas Pell, first lord of the manor, signed the treaty with the Indians for the manor lands. He came from Connecticut in 1654, and had little trouble persuading Maminepoe, Annhoock and the other sachems to sign away their land. He began to look about for a dwelling site, and chose Pelham Neck because the fishhawks nested in the oaks and chestnut trees. A belief which he brought from England convinced him that good fortune came to a farm on which fishhawks nested. Luck was with Lord Pell, and before he died he found himself in secure possession of his manor in spite of the protests of the Dutch.

His nephew, John Pell, became the second lord of the manor, and was sadly afflicted until he found a new cure for rheumatism. He had not left his bed for years, so the story goes, when one day a slave came running into the room shouting that a mad dog was running into the room shouting that a mad dog was running about the lower floor. The effect on John was magical. He jumped from the bed and climbed the stairs to the second story without a sign of pain. The cure was permanent, even though he afterward learned that the mad dog story was nothing but a hoax to scare the faithful slave."

Source: Legends of Pelham, New-York Daily Tribune, Dec. 15, 1901, Part II, p. 2, col. 1.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Suffrage for Pelham Women

In the early twentieth century, as the women of New York intensified their efforts in support of women's suffrage, there were communities that granted women property owners the right to vote in local elections. Pelham was one such community. Women property owners in Pelham were granted the right to vote on matters that affected their taxes as early as 1890. An interesting article that raised the topic appeared in the February 17, 1909 issue of The Evening World published in New York City. The text of that article appears below.



Cross Marks So Poorly Made That Nobody Could Tell What They Meant.




'Such a Crowd' at the Polls That Mrs. Hurttig Would Not Get Out of Carriage.


By Ethel Lloyd Patterson.

Fifty women have voted in Pelham. Ten of the votes were thrown out because the ballots were incorrectly marked, but aside from that every one had a perfectly lovely time.

While all Manhattan, from the Battery to the Bronx, has been a seething suffrage argument, the fair citizens of Pelham have been 'saying nothing but sawing wood.' Can they vote? Well, I should say so, and not any of your fake straw ballots, either.

The momentous questions that were placed before the skirted politicians were, first: Whether a new Town Hall to cost $25,000, was to be built, and second, whether the additional purchase of a $5,000 piece of property was necessary.

'I voted in this township when no other woman would take the trouble to do it,' proclaimed Mrs. G. S. Karback, who seemed to be the leading spirit of the polls. 'Not that shirking responsibility is necessarily a feminine trait,' she added. 'The men are the same way. They want to see a measure or a resolution passed, but they won't take the trouble to go down to the polls and vote for it. Then, when things go differently from the way they wished, they commence to complain about it.

Not New Experience.

'It is nothing new, though, for the women of Pelham to vote,' Mrs. Karback continued. 'We are nineteen years ahead of New York, for we have been voting for that length of time. You see, all property owners here, whether men or women, are permitted votes upon subjects that concern their taxation. Even the joint property ownership of husband and wife allows the woman a vote. Of course, a lot of the Pelham women are not interested enough in these things to bother to come down to the polls, but I have been preaching to them lately. I ask them what they would do if their husbands died and they had to look after their own property alone. A lot more of them turned out this time than ever before. There were about one hundred and fifty voters, fifty of whom were women, I should say.

'We had regular printed ballots. The questions they were asked to vote upon were printed above, and space opposite the words 'Yes' and 'No' were left, so that a cross might be printed after either one of them.

'No, you would not think that a mistake was possible,' Mrs. Karback agreed, 'but nevertheless ten women did disqualify their votes. They printed the crosses so poorly that nobody could tell what they had attempted to signify. Then some of the them got the crosses in the wrong place, or else wrote comments on their ballots.'

Why She Didn't Vote.

'I did not vote,' Mrs. F. Hurttig, another Pelham matron, admitted, 'but I went all the way down to the fire-house on Fifth avenue, where the polls were.

'I had not intended to go, but when it was almost luncheon time somebody drove up for me and told me that my vote was needed for something or other. I did not understand it at all, but they said that all I need do was just drive down to the fire-house and draw a cross opposite the word 'Yes' on the ballot.

'When I got out of the carriage there were so many men around the firehouse that I thought I would wait a little while before I went in. The crowd did not seem to thin any, and then I remembered that the children would be coming home from school for their luncheon, so I did not say a word to any one, but I just quietly slipped home again. I would have liked to oblige them, but I did not know what it was all about, and, anyway, no one knew whether I voted or not.'

Other prominent Pelham women who cast their ballots are: Mrs. Jacob Heiser, Mrs. John Godfrey, Mrs. Thomas Monroe and Mrs. Samuel Totten."

Source: Patterson, Ethel Lloyd, Pelham Women Cast Fifty Votes, Ten Thrown Out, The Evening World, Feb. 17, 1909, p. 8, col. 1.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Biography of Archibald Robertson, Another Resident of City Island When it Was Part of the Town of Pelham

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes a brief biography of Archibald Robertson, a ship, yacht and launch builder on City Island in the 19th century. At the time, City Island was part of the Town of Pelham.


Archibald Robertson, a progressive and enterprising citizen of City Island, where he is engaged in the ship, yacht and launch building trade, is a grandson of Nicholas F. Robertson, who was a native of Scotland, came to America in 1812 and settled in one of the Canadian provinces. His son, Henry R., father of Archibald Robertson, was born at Prince Edward Island, 1815, and he married Martha Munn, who was born at Pictou, Canada, 1817.

Archibald Robertson was born at Charlottetown, province of Nova Scotia. Canada, May 24, 1842. and was there educated in the schools of his native town and at Calais, Maine. Upon attaining to manhood years he learned the ship carpenter's trade at Calais, where he followed the trade for a number of vears and later removed to Hartford, Connecticut, where he [Page 243 / Page 244]
again took up his profession, continuing there until 1877, when he came to City Island and here purchased lands, formerly a part of the Fordham estate, and shorerights, upon which he established his ship building plant, and by his industry and enterprise built up a successful trade in building yachts and pleasure craft. Among his patrons were some of New York's leading representative men. In addition to his commercial interests, Mr. Robertson takes an active interest in all enterprises that have for their objects the material good and welfare of the community in which he resides. He is an active member of Pelham Lodge, No. 712, F. and A. M., and also Huguenot Council, and New Rochelle Lodge, Royal Arcanum. Mr. Robertson is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church at City Island and has served as a member of the board of trustees of the same for over fifteen years. He retired from active business pursuits in 1906, and resides in a pleasant cottage on King avenue, overlooking Long Island sound.

Archibald Robertson married, at Calais, Maine, October 4, 1870, Mary Agnes Martin, born May 4, 1851, daughter of Alexander and Jane (Wilson) Martin, both natives of Calais, Maine. Of this marriage Mr. Robertson had born to him the following children: 1. Jessie May, born July 19, 1872, married John Spencer, and has one son, Archibald Spencer. 2. Florence, died in infancy. 3. Lawrence. 4. Annie Grace, born at Hartford, Connecticut, July 20, 1875. 5. Jennie Bell, died aged nine years. 6. Archibald, Jr., died in his second year. 7. Edith Louise, born August 24, 1882. 8. Alice Martin, born March 4, 1884. 9. Martha, born February 6, 1888, died September 26, 1904. 10. Alexander, born February 5, 1891, died in his second year. The faithful wife and mother of the aforementioned children passed away March 8. 1905. She was a consistent Christian [Page 244 / Page 245] lady, possessed of many excellencies of character and contributed much of her time in assisting those in want, in time of sickness, and in many other ways."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, pp. 243-45 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Biography of William Vickery, a 19th Century Resident of City Island in the Town of Pelham

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting continues a recent series of postings that transcribe biographies of 19th century residents of City Island when it was part of the Town of Pelham. Today's posting provides biographical data regarding William Vickery and his wife.


William Vickery, deceased, for many years a useful and highly respected citizen of City Island, where he was for many years engaged in garden farming, which line of pursuit was his chief employment, was born in the parish of Withel Flory, in Somersetshire, England, in May, 1824.

He was there educated and reared to manhood and trained [Page 249 / Page 250] to the routine of farm life. In 1854 he decided to come to the United States, hoping to find a broader field for his skill and labor, and upon arriving in New York city settled at City Island, where he entered the employ of Bruce Hunter, and then came to Pelham, where he found employment with Joshua Leviness, at garden farming. After working two years and saving his capital, Mr. Vickery purchased land from Joshua Leviness, upon which he erected the house where the family now resides on Maine street, City Island. Soon after locating there Mrs. Vickery engaged in storekeeping, and two years later purchased the lot and store adjacent to the old house and has since conducted the mercantile business on these premises. In addition to the storekeeping business Mr. and Mrs. Vickery had leased over sixty acres on City Island, where they conducted a successful garden farm, shipping nearly all their products to the markets of New York city. They both continued in this line of work until the death of Mr. Vickery, which occurred October 27, 1871, and for nine years after her husband's death Mrs. Vickery conducted the garden farm in connection with the store. William Vickery was a consistent member of the Episcopal church at City Island, and during the many years of his active and busy life became well and favorably known and was highly respected.

William Vickery married, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Bristol, England, 1854, Jane Vickery, born September 1, 1821, daughter of John and Sarah (Redler) Vickery, she being of no kin or relationship. Of this marriage were born the following children: 1. Ellen, born 1854, died August 25,1870, aged sixteen years. 2. Robert J., born March 13, 1856, died June 7, 1902; he married Mary L. Prout, born December 14, 1861, died December 22,1881; she was of Newark, New Jersey; they had one daughter, Ellen Jane Vickery. Robert J. Vickery married (second), January 6, 1886, Marian Horton, born January 27, 1856, daughter of [Page 250 / Page 251] Captain Benjamin Franklin and Delia (Abbott) Horton, and three children were born of this union, namely: Jane Roseland, born October 13, 1886, died January 7, 1888; William F., born April 25,1888; Marian Horton, born November 8, 1890. 3. William Frederick, born December 17,1859, died November 25, 1885; he married Emma A. McClennon, born September 8, 1858, died August 13, 1889, daughter of Charles and Amelia McClennon, and had children: Robert William, born July 5, 1878; Annette, born November 12, 1880, married Edward Williams and has children: Robert Lewis and Roland Vickery Williams. Charles Evison, born September 26, 1883."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, pp. 249-51 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

William Henry Scofield and the Scofield Family Who Lived on City Island in the Town of Pelham in the 19th Century

As I have noted before on the Historic Pelham Blog, City Island once was part of the Town of Pelham. New York City annexed much of the Town of Pelham including City Island in the 1890s. One of the prominent families who lived on City Island in the Town of Pelham during much of the 19th century was the Scofield family. Below is a biography of William Henry Scofield that includes much information about the family, followed by a citation to the source.


William Henry Scofield was a useful and highly respected citizen for many years of City Island, borough of Bronx, where he was born December 28, 1828. His parents were William and Maria (Bishop) Scofield, who were among the first land owners of City Island, where they were engaged in farming throughout the active years of their life. They were the parents of five children: 1. William Henry, see forward. 2. Mary Ann, born January 15, 1829, married Elisha Booth, September 3, 1848, and has children: Isabella, born September 3, 1849, married David Craft, December 31, 1869, and has one child, Agnes Craft, born July 28, 1875, died February 7, 1876. Spencer S., born July 18, 1865, married Carrie Magnus, August 27, 1891 ; she was born September 11, 1869, and has children: Frank L., born July, 1893; Florence, born February 1, 1895. Maria S., born April 17. 1869, died April 16, 1889. 3. Elizabeth, married Samuel Pell, of City Island. 4. Sarah, married Ezra Waterhouse, of City Island. 5. Daniel, died aged about nineteen vears. [Page 242 / Page 243]

William H. Scofield received his educational training in the schools of City Island, and was reared to manhood years under the parental roof. Upon taking up the practical duties of life, he engaged in the oyster planting and shipping business, in which line of pursuit he was successfully engaged for many years. In addition to his commercial interests, he took an active part in all social and church enterprises of City Island, and frequently gave of his time and substance for charitable purposes. In all his affairs he became known as a just and upright man. He passed away February 19, 1902.

Mr. Scofield married, January, 1867, Sarah Fritts, born August 6, 1829, in Hunterdon county, New Jersey, daughter of Frederick and Elizabeth (McKinney) Fritts. Of this marriage were born two children, both of whom died in early life. The faithful wife survives her husband and resides on the homestead at City Island."

Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, pp. 242-43 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Biography of Jacob Smith of City Island, Proprietor of the Macedonian Hotel

City Island once was part of the Town of Pelham. New York City annexed much of the Town of Pelham including City Island in the 1890s. For much of the 19th century, however, a large segment of the population of the Town of Pelham resided on City Island.

One of those who lived there was Jacob Smith. For years he served as the proprietor of the Macedonian Hotel. Portions of that hotel supposedly were constructed from part of the English frigate Macedonian. Commodore Stephen Decatur (at the time, a Captain) captured that frigate during the War of 1812 to wide acclaim.

Within the hotel (now a restaurant on today's City Island) there is a plaque with an inscription that reads:

"This house is the remains of the English Frigate 'Macedonian,' captured on Sunday, October 25th, 1812, by the United States Frigate 'United States' Capt. Stephen Decatur, U.S.N. The action was fought in Lat. 24° N., Long 29°30' W., that is about 600 miles N.W. of the Cape of Verde Islands off the W. coast of Africa and towed to Cowbay in 1874."

This legend attracted curious visitors from far and near to the little hotel on City Island. However, the information turned out to be entirely wrong. It turns out that the structure includes material that is not from the original remains of the Macedonian captured during the War of 1812. It is constructed in part from the remains of a second ship also named "Macedonian" that launched at Gosport, Virginia, in 1836, rebuilt in Brooklyn in 1852 and broken up in 1874 at Cow Bay, Long Island.

See Jenkins, Stephen, The Story of The Bronx From the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day, pp. 431-32 (NY and London: The Knickerbocker Press 1912). See also Cook, Harry T., The Borough of The Bronx 1639-1913 Its Marvelous Development and Historical Surroundings, pp. 133-35 (NY, NY: Published by the Author, 1913).

Source of Photograph: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, Between pp. 242-43 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

The Pelletreau book cited immediately above contains biographical data for Jacob Smith as well as a photograph of him with his extended family. The text and photograph appear below.


Jacob Smith, a patriotic and enterprising German-American citizen of City Island, borough of the Bronx, where he has become well and favorably known as the preserver of the old frigate sloop 'Macedonia,' which has become a matter of considerable local historic interest. The English frigate 'Macedonia,' captured on Friday, October 25, 1812, by the United States frigate, 'United States,' was commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur. The action was fought in latitude 24 north and longitude 29' 30" west; that is about six hundred miles northwest of the Cape De Verde Islands, on west coast of Africa; was towed into Cow Bay, 1874.
Jacob Smith was born at Kaisers Lautern, in the Rhine Pfalz district, kingdom of Bavaria, Germany, February 11, 1841, son of Frederick William and Rosanna (Wail) Schmitt, [Page 240 / Page 241] and was one of a family of eight children, six of whom emigrated to the United States and took up their residence in New York city, and two of whom died in the Fatherland. The six children who emigrated to the United States were as follows: 1. Wilhelmina, married William Seltzer. 2. William, died in New York city at the age of sixteen years. 3. Jacob, of this review. 4. Annie, who married Charles Steger. 5. Nicholas, married Sarah Frank. 6. Peter, married Margaret -------. The mother of the aforementioned children came to the United States in 1850 and died in New Rochelle, Westchester county, New York, in 1868. Her husband, Frederick William Schmitt, passed away in the Fatherland in 1847.
Jacob Smith, of this review, came to the United States in 1850 and with the family took up his abode in New York city, where he received his elementary training. Upon attaining to manhood years he learned the machinist trade, which line of occupation he followed for some time. In 1872 he came to City Island and there continued to follow his trade until 1888. That year, after having received permission from the United States government to undertake the task of restoring the old frigate sloop 'Macedonia,' he did so and added an annex to the same, using it for living purposes and also as a family and picnic resort, which has become popularly known as the Macedonia Hotel. During his residence at City Island, Mr. Smith has at all times taken an active interest in the material welfare of the neighborhood. He is an active member of the Mt. Vernon Singing Verein and such other organizations as have for their object the advancement of the social interests of the community.
He married, in New York city, December 6, 1864, Sarah Ann Hyde, born May 28, 1840, daughter of James K. and Clara (Jennings) Hyde. Of this marriage were born the following children: 1. Jacob P., born March 14, 1866, married Louise [Page 241 / Page 242] Lockyer. 2. Sarah L., horn November 5, 1868, married John P. Hawkins, Jr., of City Island. 3. Phoebe E., born November 19, 1870, married Captain John Crawford. 4. Elizabeth J., born November 17, 1872, married John Stradinger, of Van Ness, borough of the Bronx. 5. Joseph, born December 12, 1874, married Decie Mayer. 6. Mary H., born September 26, 1876, married Thomas Coltart, of City Island. 7. Isaac, died at the age of five years. 8. Frank Harrison, who lost his life by drowning at the age of nineteen. 9. Martha, died at the early age of one year. The mother of the aforementioned children died December 2, 1894; she was a consistent christian lady and a member of the Episcopal church."
Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, pp. 240-42 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

Source of Photograph: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. IV, Between pp. 240-41 (NY and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company 1907).

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776

Sir Thomas Musgrave became a general in the British army in the 18th century. He fought in the Battle of Pelham, apparently as a Lieutenant-Colonel. He was wounded during that battle.

I previously have posted a brief biography of Musgrave to the Historic Pelham Blog. See:

Monday, October 30, 2006: Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Today's posting transcribes another such biography of Musgrave that appeared in Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography. The text appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"MUSGRAVE, Sir Thomas, British soldier, b. in 1737; d. in London, 31 Dec., 1812. He was captain of the 64th regiment, brevet major in 1772, and lieutenant-colonel of the 40th regiment on 28 Aug., 1776, in which year he accompanied Gen. Howe to this country. He was wounded in the battle of Pelham Manor, 18 Oct., 1776, and at Germantown, 4 Oct., 1777, saved the day by throwing himself with five companies into the Chew house, where he successfully held the American forces at bay until the British columns rallied. He became colonel and aide-de-camp to the king and brigadier-general in 1782, major-general in September, 1790, and general in April, 1802."

Source: Wilson, James Grant & Fiske, John, eds., Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. IV Lodge-Pickens, p. 471 (NY, NY: D. Appleton and Company 1900).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Fool Driving" in Pelham in the New-Fangled Automobile in 1906

In 1906, The Outing Magazine published an article entitled "How Fool Driving Affects the Popularity of the Automobile". In the article, the author describes a sharp turn on today's Shore Road in an area between Pelhamdale Avenue and the boundary of Pelham Bay Park. The number of accidents that occurred at that location on a single Sunday afternoon was staggering. An excerpt of the article describing the matter appears below.

"Manufacturers, with only a few exceptions, insist that legislation regarding automobiles is an unnecessary hardship and more than that, unconstitutional. There is not the slightest doubt that the same regulations that apply to horse-drawn vehicles would be sufficient protection against highway accidents if it were not that about one out of every ten motorists either is mentally incapable of sanely running a car or else is criminally negligent and careless in the handling of his machine.

As an example of this statement, the writer spent an entire Sunday afternoon last month watching automobiles traveling on Pelham Road between the boundary of Pelham Bay Park and Pelhamdale Avenue in Pelham Manor. Within three hundred yards of Pelhamdale Avenue is a fairly sharp turn in the road, hidden on two sides by trees and an embankment. In four hours, 207 cars of one kind and another passed the point. Of these, 31 took the turn at the same speed they had been making straightaway, while 176 slowed down, and yet the danger to the car that slowed down was greater than it was to the speeding car.

In four hours there were five accidents on the turn, but fortunately each was to an automobile. In a half-mile stretch at this point there is no sidewalk and the street is only thirty-one feet wide, but at times motorists tried to pass each other traveling three abreast at not less than twenty miles an hour.

Pedestrians have beaten a path in the ditch, and in four hours only two teams were seen on that street, all having been compelled to utilize the Boston Post Road a half mile further inland, and thus lose the beautiful scenery along the Sound.

This is the sort of thing that causes legislation and local hold-ups, and right at this point, within a month, constables and a Justice of the Peace will be stationed to arrest the Road Hog -- and, of course, a great howl will be set up, although every arrest probably will be deserved."

Source: How Fool Driving Affects the Popularity of the Automobile in The Outing Magazine, Vol. XLVII, No. 5, p. 664 (Feb. 1906).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Account of the Rev. J. L. Ver Mehr Regarding His Brief Stint as an Instructor of French and Italian at Pelham Priory in 1843

I have written often about Robert Bolton and his family, Bolton Priory and the Pelham Priory School for Girls founded at the Priory. See, e.g.:

Friday, March 2, 2007: A Brief Account by American Author Margaret Deland of Her Education at Pelham Priory in the 19th Century.

Thursday, December 14, 2006: Items from Bolton Priory in the Collections of The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, The New-York Historical Society.

July 28, 2006: Image of Bolton Priory in the Town of Pelham Published in an 1859 Treatise on Landscape Gardening

July 26, 2006: A Brief Account of Visits to Bolton Priory in the Early 1880s

July 5, 2006: Bricks Laid by Washington Irving and Ivy from Kenilworth Castle at the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor

March 15, 2006: A Biography of Cornelius W. Bolton Published in 1899

March 1, 2006: 1909 Real Estate Advertisement Showing Bolton Priory

February 22, 2006: Doll Depicting Nanette Bolton in the Collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

December 7, 2005: The Sale and Subdivision of the Bolton Priory Estate in the 1950s

November 29, 2005: An Early, Interesting Photograph of Bolton Priory in the Village of Pelham Manor

September 21, 2005: The Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel Building at Christ Church in Pelham Manor

Aug. 23, 2005: Society Scandal: The "Strange" Story of Mrs. Adele Livingston Stevens Who Acquired the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor

Jul. 13, 2005: 11 Priory Lane: The Rose Cottage

Jun. 10, 2005: Pelham's Most Magnificent Wedding Gift: The Bolton Priory

May 3, 2005: Colonel Frederick Hobbes Allen, An Owner of Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor

April 7, 2005: Another Volume of William Jay Bolton's Sketches and Ruminations Located?

Apr. 4, 2005: Art and Poetry of William Jay Bolton of Bolton Priory in Pelham

Nov. 16, 2006: Robert Bolton, Jr.'s Inscription to His Father Inside Book He Authored That Was Published in 1855.

Dec. 14, 2006: Items From Bolton Priory in the Collections of The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, The New-York Historical Society.

In 1877, Rev. J. L. Ver Mehr published an autobiography that included an account of a brief stint of service at Pelham Priory in 1843. He claims he was fired shortly after debating slavery with four students from Charleston, South Carolina and offending them greatly with his opinions. Below is the account, followed by a citation to its source.



First impressions are sometimes true, but oftener prove not so, because not always made on minds unruffled. When, on the following day, I sat with wife and child on the 'Staten Islander,' steaming with rapid strokes to the Metropolis of the West, I felt the chill of loneliness and lack of sympathy. Crowded was the deck with " ladies," though instinct told me that all were not so, and that I was in the atmosphere of 'moneyed aristocracy.' Languid and observing of self seemed those ladies, but none had a word of sympathy for the stranger who, with her babe on her lap, came thousands of miles.

Thus I remember having thought at that time, and having observed to my companion how different it would be if a stranger came to old Europe. I now must smile. Yet the feeling was true and natural, and to this day a 'stranger' has a right on me, just for being a stranger. But soon we came to the noisy hive of nations, and found our way to Mondon's 'Hotel Francais.' For with nervous instinct the stranger is apt to cling, as long as possible, to what he is accustomed to. And from there I set out on the following day to visit Dr. G. Burke, for whom I had a letter of in- [Page 283 / Page 284] troduction. His wife was a Geneva lady, whose parents, neighbors of the pastor of the Witness, I knew. In him I found an upright, warm-hearted friend, a Christian gentleman, who received me stately but kindly. And he introduced me to others, where I was well received. But there seemed to be a sameness in all. A certain outward appearance, making men and women, and houses and parlors all alike, without the individuality to which I was accustomed in Europe.

And this was the general impression I received, as far as I can remember, all over the metropolis. A great sameness, and perhaps, in consequence of it, a great want of excitement, transforming common things into a sort of romance. For romance is the natural atmosphere of the world, especially, of the more refined sex. Even the poor foreigner, seeking his bread by selling his knowledge of languages, for a while was transformed into a political refugee, a victim of tyranny! And I gave lessons in Italian to a young lady, the only heiress of a great fortune, homely, but romantic. And the mother kept strict watch until she knew I was the husband of a handsome wife. But even then the pupil would have me an Italian refugee, and hesitated accepting the gift of my copy of Silvio's 'Priggioni," because she knew so many recollections must be connected with the little volume.

Yet pleasant are to me the recollections of those first introductions into a world so new to me. And when at last we were settled in a 'boarding [Page 284 / Page 285] house,' that essentially American institution, so full of mischief, I remember the amazement wherewith we beheld the dispatch of meals, the political talk between whigs and democrats, the north and south so strongly marked, the religious discussions amongst Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Unitarians, Israelites, Infidels, all at the same table. It was new to us and perplexing.

From Merle d'Aubigne, the historian, I had received an introduction to his elder brother, established in New York, an active enterprising merchant. And he, with his wife and amiable children, received me as a brother of d'Aubigne should do. He brought me once to John B. Astor, then perhaps the richest man in the world, for whom I had a letter. I found him old and crippled, and very near taking leave of his worldly riches. Another time he took me to Flushing, where the Rev. S. presided over St. Ann's Hall, the first school for young ladies which I saw. It seemed to me like a dream. So much outward appearance; costly furniture; large parlors; greenhouses; covered walks; the ladies all in silk, sweeping by like queens; and the reverend principal himself dressed in latest style. It made a strange impression upon me. And I thought that if the internal answered to the external, those scholars must be very accomplished indeed.
After that I visited many others with a view to obtain employment. For my means drew to an [Page 285 / Page 286] end, and I often looked upon my wife and babe, just recovering from deadly struggle brought on by change of climate, with feelings of deep concern.

And one afternoon, in the beginning of September, I came home from my wanderings, and found my wife, with tearful eye, rejoiced. 'I sat,' said she, 'looking through the window, inwardly praying God to have pity upon us, when a lady rang the bell, and asked after you. I went to see her. She was the daughter of the Rev. Bolton, who wishes to engage you at his Institute at Pelham. Who sent her, I do not know; but she was so glad to find you; and I promised you would go to-morrow, to see her father.

And I remember having embraced my faithful companion with joy. And the source of joy I remember very well. Not so much, the prospect of needed help, as the token of 'prayer answered.' Thus we were, at that time; simple and confiding, and in our confidence, reckless perhaps in the eyes of others, yet happy, because continually 'trusting.' Full of expectation, I took the cars, and having left them at Winchester, walked the remaining miles, through the bewitching scenery of American landscape, and American country residences. Those fanciful dwellings and tasteful grounds! It took me by surprise, and walking up to Pelham Priory, I could not help exclaiming: 'I wish she were with me!'

Nothing indeed could surpass the scenery around the Priory. It was all new to me, and when at [Page 286 / Page 287] last I entered the dwelling, built in gothic style and furnished all through in perfect harmony, I forgot that I was in a 'school.' Yet so it was. And the Rev. Mr. Bolton, with his wife, a daughter, of the celebrated Jay, and his amiable family, made me feel in Europe, only with the freedom and pleasing, 'laissez aller' of American influence. And I felt at home in another sense. For they were truly God-fearing people, laboring with earnest desire to glorify their Redeemer. And when, at noon, I was placed in the large dining hall, next to the reverend Principal, and surveyed the bevy of thirty or forty scholars, from all parts of the Union, setting down as a large family, with evidence of good breeding and liberal instruction, my heart was warmed, and I thought Pelham Priory a paradise.

With these feelings I returned, having arranged with Mr. B. that I should come twice a week, to instruct in French and Italian. And with the Abbotts I made an arrangement in the beginning of September. They were, I believe, four brothers. John, the author of many works, took the lead. On Lafayette place they opened their Institute; and I was engaged for French, and other things, as they happened to be necessary; among others for drawing.

The Abbott plan was to make instruction as pleasant as possible. With this view, grammar and all rules were severely banished. And when, in aftertime, I composed a series of exercises, going [Page 287 / Page 288] more systematically through grammar, I lost my labor. For not only did I give offense, but even a promised increase of salary was withdrawn!

Thus I worked under the directions of others, often against my better convictions, and chafing under the yoke of necessity, seeing instruction made a tool for profit, and the increase of scholars the main object in view. I began to feel as if I made bricks and bricks, and had to furnish the straw besides. But necessity compelled me to many 'essays' and 'trials' of 'new' methods, until at last my own lack of experience deprived me of my most pleasing task, the instructions at the Priory.

It was an 'aristocratic' school, and many were the ladies from the sunny South, who there received their 'finishing touches.' Among them were four sisters from Charleston, sweet and interesting, and with them I once came in discussion concerning 'slavery.' A European, fresh from the old world, has no idea of the tenderness of this point. I honestly, but imprudently, confessed my astonishment that in a Republic, founded on 'Liberty,' such a thing as 'slavery' could exist. I was not aware of the deep offense I had given. Nor did the sweet sisters show any annoyance. But at the following lesson, the eldest sister handed me her composition signed with her name, with this addition : 'from Charleston, S. C., where liberty exists in all its forms.'
And this was a declaration of war. For since [Page 288 / Page 289] that time all went against me. And soon I perceived that good Mr. Bolton was perplexed, and had a word to say. At last he said it. At the end of the month my services would be dispensed with.

That evening I walked home over the beautiful hills, colored with autumnal leaves; but I was depressed and gloomy, and remember having had the tears in my eyes, when thinking of wife and child."

Source: Ver Mehr, J. L., Checkered Life: In the Old and New World, pp. 283-89 (San Francisco, CA: A.L. Bancroft and Company).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photograph of Members of the New York Athletic Club Shooting Traps on Travers Island in 1911

For many years, members of the New York Athletic Club were able to shoot traps on Travers Island in the Village of Pelham Manor. Collections of the Library of Congress include an interesting photograph indicating that it shows men on Travers Island shooting traps. The image appears below, followed by a link to the Web page on the Library of Congress Web site that provides bibliographic data regarding the photograph.

An inscription on the photograph indicates that it was taken on March 22, 1911 and was printed from a glass negative. The bibliographic data indicates that the photograph is from the George Grantham Bain Collection in the Library of Congress and was created by the Bain News Service. Click here to view the bibliographic data regarding the photograph.

Labels: , , ,

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

Yesterday I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog an item describing the first trip of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" in the coach that became his famed "Tally-Ho" to Pelham Bridge on May 1, 1876. See:

Thursday, January 15, 2009: The First Trip of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" on May 1, 1876.

Today's posting transcribes an account of the final trips of the first season of Col. Kane's famed coach. The transcription is followed by a citation to its source.




The last load of passengers who were regularly 'booked' for the Pelham Coach was carried on Thursday, and notices to the effect that the stage would cease running for the season on the 2d of December had been posted on the bulletin at the Hotel Brunswick for a week. The whole coach was secured for yesterday and to-day by the Coaching Club and Mr. F. Sherman, so that the tardy ones who had neglected to avail themselves earlier in the season of the opportunity to ride with Col. Kane through the Park, and across Westchester County to Pelham, found that it was too late when they applied for places a day or two ago. The trip on Thursday was made with a party consisting of Mr. W. E. Iselin and some friends, Mr. H. G. Satten, Mr. Hugo Fritsch, and Mr. C. Steward.

Yesterday morning the party consisted of Mr. Nicholson Kane, Mr. F. Sherman, Mr. F. Bronson, and Mr. A. T. Rice, of the Coaching Club. The coach left the Hotel Brunswick at 11 o'clock. A keen north-west wind was blowing, and the 'outsiders' were wrapped thickly in blankets to protect them from the cold. A short halt was made at Pelham, which 'outsiders' and 'insiders' improved in restoring the circulation to their chilled bodies, and in discussing an abundant dinner. When the coach arrived at the Hotel Brunswick, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the horses were steaming after their brisk run, the driver and guard were looking very ruddy, and the four 'outsiders' were apparently glad to alight.

To-day Mr. Sherman's party, consisting of Nicholson Kane, Mr. G. Barnwell, Mr. J. K. Lawrence, Mr. H. Fearing, Mr. S. Cowing, Mr. H. Gay, Mr. G. Kane, Mr. G. Steward, Mr. C. Steward, and Mr. Sherman, will occupy the coach on its final trip until next Spring. Col. Kane will drive, and Fownes, the guard, who has tipped his hat so acceptably and profitably during the entire season, will occupy his place and awake the echoes once more with his cheerful horn. The coach was put on the road on May 1, and ran from that time until July 4 to Pelham every day, except Sundays and one day on which it was taken off for repairs, carrying an average of eleven passengers per trip. On July 5 the route was extended as far as New-Rochelle, and from July 5 until Sept. 8, daily trips were made between the Hotel Brunswick and New-Rochelle, the coach carrying an average number of eight passengers. On Sept. 8 the trips to New-Rochelle were discontinued, and since that date passengers have only been carried as far as Pelham and back. The coach was off the line one day since Sept. 8 when it was driven in the parade of the Coaching Club. The average number of passengers per load since Sept. 8, was ten. Col. Kane has scarcely missed a trip during the entire season, and has become so accustomed to 'tipping' his hat repeatedly and to everybody that rode with him, that he frequently greets his friends in coachman fashion even when he is not on duty upon the box.

The expense of running the coach for seven months exceeded the receipts by nearly eight hundred dollars, so that the pleasure of maintaining the establishment has cost Col. Kane about five dollars a day. The expenses and receipts were about as follows:


Sixteen horses, seven months, $15 each . . . . . . . $1,680
Five grooms $40 a month each . . . . . . . 1,400
Horse-shoeing . . . . . . . 224
Guard, salary and expenses to and from Pelham . . . . . . 1,000
Wear and tear of coach . . . . . . . 500
New wheels and general rpeairs [sic] . . . . . . 500
Depreciation and repair of harness, &c . . . . . . . 400
Rent of stable . . . . . . . . 800

Total . . . . . . . .$6,254


Hotel Brunswick and Pelham, 2,672 fares, $1.50 each . . . . $4,008
Hotel Brunswick and New Rochelle, 448 fares, $2 each . . . 896
Box seat extras . . . . . . . 156
Packages, about . . . . . . . 100
Coachman's fees, about . . . . . . . 312

Total . . . . . . . . $5,472

Excess of Expenditures . . . . . . . . . $782

Col. Kane expresses no regret at the loss he has sustained. He has had an abundance of outdoor excercise in good company, and has helped to stimulate the love of coaching in this City. Already a line of coaches on the west side of the City, along the Hudson River shore to Yonkers, is talked of as likely to be established next Spring. The road is a beautiful one, and would, it is believed, attract many patrons to a line of coaches driven over that route. The Pelham coach will begin its trips as early next Spring as the condition of the road between New-York and Pelham will permit, and will run between New-Rochelle and the Hotel Brunswick as soon as the demand for extended trips shall warrant Col. Kane in announcing them."

Source: The Pelham Coach, N.Y. Times, Dec. 2, 1876, p. 8.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The First Trip of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" on May 1, 1876

I have published numerous items on 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:

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).

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

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.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of an article that appeared in The New York Times on May 2, 1876 describing the first trip of Col. DeLancey Kane's coach from the Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge.




A fine, airy day, a lively company, a delightful ride, with plenty of pleasing incidents and no untimely happenings, attended the introduction yesterday of Col. Delancey Kane's New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line. The purpose of the line, as has been stated in THE TIMES, is not pecuniary profit, for under the most favorable circumstances, with every seat full every day of the season, the coach cannot pay its expenses. Col. Kane will drive his coach mainly for his own amusement, with, perhaps, the secondary idea of affording such persons as care to avail themselves of it, the pleasure of a novel ride through an interesting and picturesque country, with a sojourn of four hours on the shore of Long Island Sound at Pelhm Bridge, between going and returning. Viewed in this light the New-Rochelle and Pelham coach must be regarded as affording the means of a day of unrivaled enjoyment. It probably gives the best possible excursion out of New-York, and it is sure of meeting the appreciation and patronage it deserves. It is a public coach in the fullest sense of the word. For the next week the seats are all engaged, mostly by friends of Col. Kane, but there has been no unjust discrimination. The coach-book is kept at the Hotel Brunswick, and seats are engaged by those who come first. The coach leaves the Hotel Brunswick at 10:30 every morning, and passing through Harlem, Mott Haven, Fox Corners, Union Port, West Chester, and Middletown, reaches Pelham Bridge at precisely 12 o'clock. Returning, it leaves Pelham Bridge at 4 o'clock, and reaches the Hotel Brunswick at 5:30 o'clock. Whenever there are spare seats on the coach it will take up passengers anywhere above Fifty-ninth street. The tariff is low, being fifty cents to Harlem, seventy-five cents to Fox Corners, $1 to West Chester, $1.25 to Middletown, and $1.50 to Pelham Bridge, with fifty cents extra for the box seat each way. The coach is after the regular four-in-hand pattern. It was built in England, and is perfect in every detail. It has a canary colored body and carriage, and the customary black boots 'fore and aft.' On the rear of the coach, in handsome yellow and gold letters, is printed its title, 'New-York and New-Rochelle;' on the panels of the doors are the names of the places through which it passes, 'Harlem and West Chester,' and 'Mott Haven and Pelham Bridge.' There are eleven passenger seats on top, including the box seats by the side of the driver. There are four seats inside, but nobody would occupy them from choice. The driver's seat is on the right side. The guard has a seat in the rear of the coach to the left. His business is to look after the comfort of the passengers, adjust the harnesses on the road, collect the fares, and, when not thus engaged, to blow flourishes on a long, straight brass horn.

In a word, Col. Kane's coach is the exact reproduction of the English coach, and in its management the rules and customs of England are rigidly observed. The top of the coach yesterday was occupied exclusively by personal friends of Col. Kane, who had engaged their seats a fortnight ago. Miss Astor had the box seat, and the other passengers were Mrs. Kane, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Bronson, Mr. and Mrs. H. Hunnewell, B. R. Winthroop, Miss Rutherford, Col. W. Jay, Fred Sherman, T. Newbold, and J. D. Balfour. The inside of the coach was occupied by the representatives of the Sun and TIMES, who were not early enough in securing seats on the outside. The coach left the Hotel Brunswick at exactly 10:30 o'clock, and it was sent off with a round of hearty cheers by the crowd. The splendid horses attracted especial notice. The leaders were a bay and black, and the wheelers a chestnut and a brown, with black points. The harnesses were new and very stylish. The collars were of russet leather, with gold-plated hames. From the hotel Col. Kane drove straight up Fifth avenue, and the coach created the greatest possible stir all along the way. The windows of the residences were filled with ladies who waved their handkerchiefs and nodded their heads with enthusiasm as the coach rolled swiftly by. Rows of young men bowed in unison from the curbstones, where they had been waiting for at least half an hour to pay their respects to the turnout and its passengers. Central Park was quickly reached, and turning into the main avenue the coach followed its entire length, emerging from the park at One Hundred and Tenth street in just thirty minutes from the time of starting. Here a turn was made to the right, and, with a most extraordinary flourish o fthe horn, entrance was made into Harlem. As the coach rumbled rapidly through the principal street the inhabitants turned out as one man. The grocers dropped their sugar trays, the butchers their cleavers, the shoemakers their lasts, and rushed with one accord to their front doors. The fascination of the coach and four-in-hand was even greater than the fascination of May morning, and from the stoops of houses littered with all manner of household furniture men, women, and teamsters, for the nonce on terms of democratic equality, looked down with curious interest. Occasionally a person would recover presence of mind enough to wave a handkerchief or raise a hat. Crossing the bridge over the Harlem River, the coach wheeled up in front of the Wakack Hotel, where four fresh horses were in waiting in full harness. The change was made in about two minutes, and, with a crack of the whip and a blast of the horn, the journey was resumed. The elegant residence of Mr. Spofford, Col. Hoe, and Mr. Simpson were passed in rapid succession. At the hotel at Fox Corners the guard tossed off a bundle of the New-York morning papers. Just beyond an engine was lying idle on the track. The engineer and stoker had climbed to the top of the cab, and greeted the coach with the blowing of the engine-whistle and the ringing of the bell. Rounding Watson's Hill, the horses were soon galloping through Westchester, passing the Summer homes of Harry Coster, Mr. Halford Leton, and Miss Wolf, from nearly all of which there was given a sign of friendly recognition. In Middletown the 'deestrict' school boys and girls were in wating by the roadside. Such of the girls as had handkerchiefs waved them. The rest tossed their bonnets and joined with the boys in rounds of treble cheers. From Middletown to Pelham Bridge, the road led by the residences of Mr. Leighton, Mr. Van Autrip, Lorillard Spencer, Mr. Waterbury, and the stables of Mr. John Firman and Mr. John Hunter. The end of the route, Arcularius Hotel, was reached at 12:02 o'clock, only two minutes behind the time put down on the time table. The distance of 16 miles had been made in one hour and thirt-two minutes. Arcularius Hotel is the old Pierre Lorillard mansion, situated on the shore of the Sound, surrounded with beautiful lawns and shade trees, and affording excellent opportunity for boating, fishing, and bathing. There could not be a pleasanter place in which to while away an afternoon. Lunch was served immediately on arrival, after which the party paid a visit to the stables, where Col. Kane keeps his horses, under the care of the well-known trainer, Donahue.. Following the rule of English coach lines, of a horse for every mile, Col. Kane has sixteen horses on his line. They are all sound, smart, and handsome, and possess the greatly important requisite of speed. Six of these horses will run the line between New-York and Mott Haven. The remaingin ten cover the distance of nine miles between Mott Haven and Pelham Bridge. The four horses that left New-York in the morning took the coach back from Mott Haven at night. The four that were put on at Mott Haven rested at Pelham Bridge last night and return this evening. There are four 'rest' horses on the line to relieve lame or sick horses, and to mkae the Summer's work as easy as possible for the regular teams. At 4 o'clock the coach started on its return, reaching each stopping place on time, and arriving at the Hotel Brunswick at exactly 5:30 o'clock. The journey through the Park and down Fifth avenue was productive of a greater sensation than was the morning trip. The coach passed everything on the road, the horses traveling most of the time on the run. A large crowd greeted the arrival at the hotel, and the performance of inspection was again repeated. Col. Kane was highly gratified with the manner in which his first trip had been made, and was much pleased at the lavish encomiums of his passengers."

Source: The New Coach Line. Charming Ride to Pelham Bridge, N.Y. Times, May 2, 1876, p. 10.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Windsor Heights, an Area South and East of Prospect Hill Village, Sold to Developer in 1921

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

In 1921, a brief item appeared in The New York Times announcing that a developer had acquired eighty-four lots in the Windsor Heights section of Pelham Manor, an area south and east of the development once known as Prospect Hill Village. The Windsor Heights area had been slated for development since at least 1904 when a development map had been filed for the area. See Barr, Lockwood Anderson, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, p. 129 (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946) (referencing "Map filed Sept. 24, 1904--Windsor Heights: section south and east of Prospect Hill village.").

Below is the text of the item that appeared in the July 24, 1921 issue of The New York Times, followed by a citation to its source.

"Pelham Manor Lots Sold.

The Anoka Construction Company of New York bought eighty-four lots in the section formerly called Windsor Heights, at Pelham Manor, near the New York City boundary line and overlooking Pelham Bay Park. The property was held at $60,000, and was sold through George Howe as broker.

It is the intention of the buyers to improve the property with a number of dwellings to be constructed on large plots at a cost of $15,000 each."

Source: Pelham Manor Lots Sold, N.Y. Times, Jul. 24, 1921, p. 103.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Biography of Lewis Witherbee Francis of Pelham Manor Published in 1911

In 1911, the American Iron & Steel Institute published a "Biographical Directory" of its members. Included in that directory was a biography and a photograph of Pelham Manor resident Lewis Witherbee Francis. The photograph appears below, followed by a transcription of the biography and a citation to the source.

Born in Port Henry, N. Y., July 21, 1865, son of Lewis and Elizabeth V. (Witherbee) Francis. Educated at Berkeley School, New York City and graduate of Williams College, A. B., 1888.
Upon graduation, began work with the firm of Witherbee, Sherman & Co., miners of iron ore near Port Henry, N. Y. Later was admitted to partnership and was in charge of the sales department. In 1900, when the firm was incorporated, became Secretary and Assistant Treasurer and also continued to be in charge of sales as before. Also Director of the Cheever Iron Ore Co.; Second Vice-President and Director, Lake Cham- plain & Moriah R. R. Co.; Secretary, Treasurer and Director, Cubitas Iron Ore Co.; Secretary, Treasurer and Director, Witherbee Real Estate and Imp. Company.

Member, American Institute of Mining Engineers; Director of Witherbee Memorial Association, Mineville, N. Y.; School Trustee, Pelham, N. Y. Member, University Club and City Lunch Club, New York; Hamilton Club, Brooklyn; Pelham Country Club; Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.

Business address: 2 Rector St., New York City.

Home address: Pelham Manor, N. Y."

Source: McCleary, James T., ed., Biographical Directory of the American Steel Institute, p. 95 (NY, NY: American Iron and Steel Institute 1911).

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Biography of Lockwood Barr, Author of Popular Book on the History of Pelham

In 1946, local historian Lockwood Barr published a popular book on the history of Pelham, New York. The title of the book is A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946).

A brief biography covering the early years of Barr's life appeared in a "History of the Class of 1905 Yale College" published in 1908. That brief biography, followed by a citation to its source, appears immediately below.

Reporting for the Wall Street Journal, 44 Broad St., New York City. Residence, 275 Clinton Ave., Brooklyn, N. Y. (Vol. I, page 57.) Unmarried.

Lockwood Anderson Barr was born April 2, 1883, at Bowling Green, Ky., the son of Edward T. Barr., D.D.S., and of Mary (Anderson) Barr.
B.A., Centre College (Kentucky), 1903. B.A., 1905, entering in the fall of 1904.
'Managing Editor of Times-Journal, daily newspaper of Bowling Green, Kentucky, from August 1, 1905, to May 1, 1906. On locating party of engineering corps of Illinois Central Railroad in Indiana during summer of 1906, and later transferred to construction work on the Y. & M. Railroad in Mississippi. Resigned April 1, 1907, and came to New York with The Turner Construction Company in its engineering department. Accepted position July 1, 1907, with Dow, Jones & Company, 44 Broad Street, publishers of the Wall Street Journal, 'the Leading Financial Daily Publication in the World.' My work is a combination of statistical research, reporting, and making various charts and maps.'"

Source: Sargent, Murray, ed., History of the Class of 1905 Yale College, Vol. II, p. 95 (New Haven, CT: Yale University 1908).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Another Brief Biography of Philip Pell of the Manor of Pelham

Philip Pell was one of Pelham's most distinguished citizens in the last three centuries. I have written about Pell on a number of occasions. See, e.g.:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007: Philip Pell of Pelham Elected To Chair Meeting of Supporters of the New York Gubernatorial Candidacy of George Clinton in 1789

Monday, November 5, 2007: References to Philip Pell in the Minutes of the Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York

Friday, March 30, 2007: Biographical Information for Philip Pell Published in 1895

Thursday, August 24, 2006: Philip Pell of the Manor of Pelham: An Early Victim of the "Spoils System" in New York at the Turn of the 19th Century

Monday, July 17, 2006: 1780 Letter to George Clinton from American Patriot Philip Pell of Pelham Manor, Commissary of Prisoners of the State of New York

Thursday, April 20, 2006: 1788 Campaign Broadside Urging Support for Candidate Opposing Philip Pell of Pelham Manor

A brief biographical sketch of Philip Pell appears in a recently-published and quite significant and well-written and edited book entitled "The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections 1788-1790". The brief sketch, and a citation to its source, appear below.

"Pell, Philip (1753-1811), Candidate for Representative, District 2

Born at Pelham Manor, Westchester County, Pell graduated from Kings College (Columbia) in 1770 and received a master's degree in 1773. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1774, and practiced law in Westchester County and New York City. Pell was a lieutenant in the New York militia, 1776; a deputy judge advocate in the Continental Army, 1777; and judge advocate general for the army, 1781-1783. He represented Westchester County in the Assembly, 1779-1781 and 1784-1786. He was appointed to the first board of regents of the University of the State of new York in 1784. From 1787 to 1800 he served as surrogate of Westchester County; he was sheriff of the county, 1787-1788. In December 1788 Pell was appointed to the last Confederation Congress, which he attended in early 1789."

Source: DenBoer, Gordon, ed., The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections 1788-1790, Vol. III, p. 561 (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press 1986).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Another Brief History of The Pelham Bridge

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Periodically I have provided background and history on the bridge known as The Pelham Bridge located in today's Pelham Bay Park. The current version of that bridge celebrated its centennial last year. Below are links to a few of the items I have posted regarding the bridge in the last few years.

Thursday, January 1, 2009: A Brief History of Pelham Bridge.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008: New York State Senate Report on Petition by Inhabitants of Westchester to Allow Construction of Toll Bridge Across Eastchester Creek in 1834.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007: The Laying Out of Pelham Avenue From Fordham to Pelham Bridge in 1869.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of the Pelham Bridge.

Friday, Juny 22, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of "Country Seat" at Pelham Bridge.

Friday, May 18, 2007: Celebration at Pelham Bridge in 1872.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007: Board of Supervisors of Westchester County Vote to Build New Iron Bridge to Replace Pelham Bridge in 1869.

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

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

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides yet another brief history of the Pelham Bridge that appeared in a book by Stephen Jenkins published in 1912 entitled "The Bronx From the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day".

"In March, 1812, the Legislature incorporated the East-Chester Bridge Company, and the bridge over the Hutchinson River near its mouth was built soon after. In 1817, the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Company was incorporated for the purpose of building a turnpike from the causeway at Westchester to the above mentioned bridge, following probably the lane of Sauthier's map. The first bridge was destroyed by a storm, and the company was authorized by the Legislature of 1816 to sell its property and franchises for a period of forty-five years. The second bridge was built in 1834 by George Rapelje, with the right to charge tolls for a period of thirty years; but the supervisors of Westchester County purchased the bridge in 1860 and made it free. The former iron bridge was constructed in 1869-70; but it proved insufficient for the traffic after the automobile arrived, and it was replaced by the present larger bridge, opened by the Department of Bridges on October 15, 1908, at a cost of $517,000.

The bridge has always been famous for the good fishing to be obtained from it, and the author remembers having made several trips to it when a very small boy, walking from [Page 317 / Page 318] Mt. Vernon and back with his companions by way of Eastchester and the Split Rock Road. Bolton gives records of a striped bass weighing sixty-three pounds, being caught on June 3, 1844, of another of fifty pounds, caught by E. des Brosses Hunter, and of others of twenty and forty-three pounds at various times. 'There were giants in those days!' Flounders, tom-cod, eels, and fish of all kinds, including an occasional sheepshead, are also mentioned by the same author. The best time for fishing is in the months of September and October. The stream was formerly clear, but for many years it has been polluted by the sewage of Mt. Vernon and the outpourings of the gas-works at Eastchester, and the fish are not so plentiful as formerly."

Source: Jenkins, Stephen, The Bronx From the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Daypp. 317-18 (NY, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press 1912).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,