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 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.

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