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, April 24, 2009

Dutch Authorities Remove the Settlers At West Chester in March, 1656

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Not long after Thomas Pell planted a tiny settlement of Englishmen at the head of Westchester Creek in late 1654, the Dutch in New Amsterdam decided to remove the settlers by force.  Early Dutch records reflect efforts to remove the English settlers.  One such account appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Book V. ~ 1656. . . .

Feb. 2. . . .

The Directors having received, by this time, information of the encroachments of the English at Oyster bay and Westchester, sent out orders to erect a fort at the former place, and to repel, even by force, all attempts to settle on the Company's lands in voilation of the treaty of 1650,

Feb. 22.

which the States General formally approved this spring. 2  [Footnote 2 reads:  "Hol. Doc. viii., 122, 134; Alb. Rec. iv., 207; De Witt, iii., 192; Thurloe, iv., 526; Hazard's State Papers, ii 549."]  Pursuant to these instructions the Director-general took the necessary steps to vindicate the Company's rights to Vreedlant.  The English of that settlement ('which they called Westchester,') were not only in the habit of entertaining fugitives from justice, but had kept up, during the recent Indian excesses, a constant correspondence with the savages.  To put an end to these irregularities, Captains

Mar. 6.

De Koninck, Newton, and the Attorney-general were sent secretly to that quarter with a suitable force to arrest the leaders and destroy all the buildings, except three or four, permitting the other settlers to remove their furniture within three days.  Those of the expedition who should be guilty of plunder were to be most vigorously punished.  this party set out immediately, and on reaching the place, were met by Lieut. Wheeler and other settlers, prepared for resistance, 'as the land was their own.'  They were forthwith disarmed, and removed, twenty-three in number, to the Manhattans, where they were placed on board the Ballance.  Those among them who were runaways were

Mar. 14.

Chap. VL ~ 1656.

afterwards sent to prison.  The others, who had been inno- [Page 312 / Page 313] cently lured to settle on the Company's lands, were placed under civil arrest and lodged in the City Hall.  'On the remonstrance of their wives,' and in consideration of the inclement season of the year, the Director and Council ordered that they should be set at liberty, on promising,

Mar. 15.

under oath, to depart with their goods and chattels within six weeks from the district, not to return again without permission.  On the followind day the arrested parties

Mar. 16.

addressed a petition to the Director-general and Council expressing their willingness to submit to their government 'so long as we continue within your jurisdiction,' provided they should be allowed the liberty of choosing their officers for the administration of such laws as may be enacted for the good of the township, and have their arms restored.  They likewise asked the privilege to make laws for the regulation of their town affairs not repugnant to the general laws of the province; and to divide the lands among the townsmen, none being admitted except according to the agreement which had been made among themselves, on commencing the settlement. 1 [Footnote 1 reads as follows:  "Signed, Thomas Newman, Thomas Wheeler, Robert Bassett, Isaiah Gilbert, John Rose, Robert Rose, Therwod Caniff, [in another entry, Davis,] Uncles Bill, William Benfall, John Jenner, Robert Meaker, [Bartholomew Meares,] Obadiah Gilbert, Roderick Osbert, John Broundith, [Landish,] Edward Waters, Samuel Morris, Samuel Hart, William Ward.]  They were told, in reply, that they should be allowed the same privileges 'as the freemen of the villages of Middleborough, Breukelen, Midwout, and Amersfoort were enjoying.'  They should be permitted to nominate a double number of persons to fill the offices of magistrates, from which the Executive would make a proper selection.  Capt. Raith. Paxton, William Elliott, Black Marchand, John Gray, Roger Wheeler, 'all Englishmen,' who had taken up arms against the authorities, were discharged and ordered to quit the province,

Mar. 25.

unless some of the other towns were willing to receive them and remain security for their good behavior.  Westchester sent in its first nomination of magistrates shortly

Mar. 28.

after the date of the above agreement. 2 [Footnote 2 reads as follows:  "These persons were Lieut. Thomas Wheeler, Thomas Newman, John Lord, Josiah Gilbert, William Ward, and Nicholas Bayley.  The application [Page 313 / Page 314] was signed Richard Bassett, Robert Rose, John Jenner, William Benfall, John Smith, Joseph Laugton, and John Richardson."]  The settlers

Book V. ~ 1656

petitioned at the same time that no farms nor villages should be granted or established within two Dutch miles of the centre of their settlement; that such as had land granted them may select it where they considered most convenient; that they may have power to admit or reject new settlers for just cause; that such lands as were not entered on within six months should be forfeit; that actual settlers be obliged to contribute to the common expenses in proportion to the extent of their farms; that they be permitted to choose, within themselves, officers to execute justice according to law, and to maintain peace and manage town affairs; also officers to discipline the settlers 'in a military way.'  They requested a copy of the laws of the country 'drawn out in English,' that they may know how to conduct themselves, when they transgress the same, and how to punish evil-doers, with power to make orders for town matters 'not repugnant to the fundamentals of your laws.'  They finally craved arms and ammunition for self-defence, on paying therefor, and that whatever wriings may pass between themselves and the government be in English, so that they 'may fully and perfectly understand them.'  Thomas Wheeler, Thomas Newman, and John Lord were

Mar. 28.

selected as magistrates, but the conclusions on the other demands were postponed until the Director and Council should have an opportunity to consult the petitioners.  Thus happily terminated a misunderstanding which threatened, at first, a different issue.  This settlement was henceforth called 'Oostdorp' by the Dutch, and East-town by the English. 1  [Footnote 1 reads as follows:  "Alb. Rec. iv., 187; x., 38, 39, 250, 315, 316, 321, 322, 328-331, 335-337, 340, 343-346; xi., 283-285, 291, 300-303, 308-313, 318-321; xvi., 303.  When the English appeared before New Amsterdam, (August, 1664,) the inhabitants of Westchester addressed a petition 'to his Majesty's Commissioners for the affairs of New England,' in which, after setting forth the purchase of this tract by Pell, they refer to the arrest of the twenty-three settlers by Capt. De Koninck, who they say 'were committed prisoners to the hould of a vessel, where they continued in restraint from all friends, for the space of thirteen days, fed with rotten provision, creeping with worms, whereby some of them remained diseased to this day, after which they were carried away in chaines and laid in their dungeon at Manhatoes; that they had perished with famine in the said impris- [Page 314 / Page 315] onment but for the relief obtained at other hands,' and 'that when the said pretended powers had freed the said prisoners and introduced their own government over the said plantation, they drove away such as would not submit to their pretended authority, to their great endamagement, and the enslaving of such as remained.'  Book of General Entries, i., II.  This statement has been copied by some English writers, without, however, any reference to the real statement of the facts.  By comparison with the text, it will now be seen how blinded these men have been by their own passions.  Capt. De Koninck set out from New Amsterdam on the 7th, and returned about the 10th or 11th of March.  The prisoners were landed on the 14th, and conveyed, those who had been fugitives from justice, to prison; the others to the City Hall.  They were, therefore, only about three or four (instead of thirteen) days aboard the Ballance.  The story of 'the rotten provision,' &c., is, it is to be presumed, of the same character as this representation.  On the 15th, the day after they landed, all were liberated except five, who, having taken up arms against the authorities, were allowed to settle in the other towns of the province, on giving security for keeping the peace.  The privileges granted to the town, show that the settlers were placed on a par with the other settlements in New Netherland, and do not in any way substantiate the representations made to his Majesty's commissioners."] 

[Page 314 / Page 315]

Chap. VI. ~ 1656

At the close of the year, another nomination, in conformity to their patent, was sent in, and Messrs. Newman, Lord, and John Smith were appointed magistrates.  Capt. Brian Newton, Secretary Van Ruyven, and Commissary Van Brugge, were sent thither to administer the oath of office to these men, and that of allegiance to the other inhabitants.  The latter, however, objected to taking the oath in the absolute sense in which it was drawn, and would promise obedience only to the law provided it was conformable to that of God; their allegiance was to continue only 'so long as they remained in the province.'

1657.  Jan. 1.

This form having been agreed to, was signed by fifteen of the settlers.  The whole population at this time amounted to twenty-five men, and ten to twelve women.  Six of the former were absent when the commissioners visited the place, and Anthony Gill refused to sign the declaration. 1  [Footnote 1 reads as follows:  "This first day of January, Anno 1657:  In East towne in the New Netherlands:  Wee hose hands are onder writen do promise to owne the Gouernor of the Manatas as our Gouernor and obey all his magistrates and lawes that are made accordin to God so long as we liue in his jurisdiction.  (Signed) Robbert Bassett, George x Reith, John Finch, John Wilson, Richard x Horton, Thomas x Taylor, Hendrick x Cornelysen, Thomas x Marsin, Nick Loobey, John Quimbee, Josiah Cibber, Obadiah Cibbord, Jonathan Llockwood, Robert x Meacker, Jeffery x Fferris.  The meeting to sign the above paper was called by beat of drum.  The commissioners were desirous, for dispatch sake, to have the people assembled on Sunday, but they would not consent:  'It was their [Page 315 / Page 316] Sabbath.'  Of their mode of worship the commissioners give in the journal of their expeditioin the following account:  '31 Dec.  After dinner Cornelis van Ruyven went to the house where they held their Sunday meeting, to see their mode of worship, as they had, as yet, no preacher.  There I gound a gathering of about fifteen men, and ten or twelve women.  Mr. Baly said the prayer, after which one Robbert Bassett read from a printed book a sermon, composed by an English clergyman in England.  After the reading, Mr. Baly gave out another prayer and sung a psalm, and they all separated.']

[Page 315 / Page 316] 
Book V. ~ 1657.

The people complained seriously of annoyance they experienced from the Indians, who, having guarantied the quiet possession of the land to Mr. Pell, were now displeased that the settlers had submitted to the Dutch, especially as Mr. Pell insisted on having either his money returned, or the conditions of the sale honestly fulfilled.  On this account they insisted on the restoration of their arms, which, they said, were not all returned according to promise.  In their present condition they were exposed to great danger, should the Indians attack them, and therefore they demanded means to protect themselves. 1  [Footnote 1 reads as follows:  "'Honored Sir, wee humbly desire and requestthat you would be pleased to send us a count book and those twelve muskets which you spak of, with the rest of the ammunition for the use and safeguard of our plantations with the orders and lawes which we are to walk by that wee may know how to act.   From Este towne the 1st of January, 1657, Thomas Newman.'"]

Source:  O'Callaghan, E.B., History of New Netherland; or, New York Under the Dutch, Vol. II, pp. 312-16 (NY, NY:  Bartlett and Welford, 7 Astor House, D. Appleton and Company, No. 200 Broadway 1848).

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pelhamville Fire on February 4, 1878

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Pelhamville was the site of a rather hazardous factory that caught fire and burned to the ground on February 4, 1878.  The cause of the fire was attributed to "spontaneous combustion".  The building was uninsured.  The following article appeared the next day in The New York Times.
A frame building belonging to the Miners' Powder Company, at Pelhamville, Westchester County, took fire shortly after 8 o'clock yesterday morning, and in a short time was totally destroyed; no insurance.  The loss is roughly estimated at $3,000.  The cause of the fire is a mystery, and can only be accounted for on the hypothesis of spontaneous combustion.  The company manufacture an explosive for blasting purposes.  It is composed of nitro-glycerine, with charcoal, sawdust, &c., as absorbents, is put up in the form of compact cartridges, and is asserted to be non-explosive, except in the use of a certain fulminate arranged to act by percussion, and which is added at the warehouse in New-York, so that the cartridges at the factory will burn freely, but only as fuse or roman-candles do.  It is claimed also, that a secret ingredient is used in the admixture which renders the cartridges non-explosive."
Source:  Losses by Fire, N.Y. Times, Feb. 5, 1878, p. 5, col. 5.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

1877 Account of Competition for DePeyster Medal at the Glen Drake Range in Pelhamville

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I have completed my recent efforts to uncover more information about the "Glen-Drake" rifle range in Pelhamville during the 1870s. See:

Mon., April 20, 2009:  Only Known Image of the Glen-Drake Rifle Range Near Pelhamville.

Wed., April 1, 2009: Evidence of a "Glen-Drake" Rifle Range in Pelhamville During the 1870s.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article that appeared in a New York City newspaper in 1877 describing the competition for the DePeyster medal at the range.  The brief article sheds additional light on the history of the range.

"GLEN DRAKE RANGE, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A very limited number of the members of the First, Second, and Fifth Divisions of the National Guard met at the Glen Drake range, on Sept. 27, the occasion being the regular match for the DePeyster medal.  This is the grand match of the American Rifle Association, and as the badge had been won twice by two marksmen, an interesting contest was expected, particularly as the Westchester sharpshooters had been practicing steadily at this range, 300 yards, fully intending that the beautiful medal should not again leave their county.  The conditions of the match are:  Open only to National Guardsmen in uniform, distance 300 yards, standing, military rifles, State model, seven rounds per man, and the ground between the firing points and the butts being very hollow, close work is required to secure an average score.  The mid-day train brought the New York and Brooklyn marksmen to the range, and as the weather was pleasant, all looked forward to a fine afternoon's sport.  Unfortunately, the pleasure was marred by a squabble for the possession of the trophy, and the assistance of a constable and justice of the peace was finally needed to settle the dispute.  The cause of the quarrel was the direct refusal of Lieut. J. A. Gee, the last winner of the badge, to surrender it to the proper officers of the association until the close of the match.  One of the essential conditions of this contest is that the winner shall give bonds for its safe keeping, while in the bond is a clause which binds the holder to return the badge to the association whenever so requested.  This rule has been readily complied with in all previous contests.  Capt. Charles F. Robbins, the first winner, gave bonds, and returned the badge previous to the second match.  Lieut. Gee himself, the second winner, gave bonds, and also returned the badge in the proper manner.  Private Backofen, who won the third and fourth matches, did likewise, and it was not until after the close of the fifth contest that any trouble was experienced.  Lieut. Gee, who won this match, was not prepared with his bonds; but as he expected to attend some military ball or entertainment the evening of the match, he requested permission to wear the badge, promising to return it, or give the necessary bonds in a few days.  This favor, Mr. Thompson, the Treasurer of the American Rifle Association, readily granted, and the Lieutenant, having obtained possession of the badge, failed to either return it, or give the required bonds, notwithstanding the repeated demands of the successive treasurers and secretaries of the association.  Tired at length of waiting for the badge or the bonds, the Board of Directors called the match, and Major Coburn, the executive officer of the range, previous to commencement of the firing, approached Lieut. Gee, and said:  'Now, Lieutenant, if you are ready to turn over the badge to the association, we will proceed with the match.'  This very just request the Lieutenant declined to accede to, stating that he refused to give up the badge until the match was completed, when he would turn it over to the winner.  The Lieutenant is a regular attendant at the Creedmore matches, and he must have known that a medal or trophy is invariably turned over to the executive officer before the commencement of a new match, and his direct refusal to comply with the request rather astonished Major Coburn.  However, he endeavored to convince Lieut. Gee of his error, but the latter refused to see it, and a general row was imminent.  This was stopped by the interference of Mr. Jarvis, the acting Secretary of the association, who had entered a replevia suit, the complaint being that Lieut. Gee was wrongfully detaining the property of the association.  All parties, therefore, adjourned to the Justice's Court at Pelhamville, where the Lieutenant again refused to deliver up the badge, and taking it from its case, pinned it on his breast, and said that it must be taken from him by force.  The justice then ordered the constable to remove it from the Lieutenant's coat, which was accordingly done.  Thus ended the squabble, and, of course, the match for that day, and the men wended their several ways, it is needless to say, not in the best of humor.  The officers of the association are content with their rights in obtaining possession of the badge, while the Lieutenant and his friends threaten civil suits and court-martial.  We opine that the matter will be allowed to rest just where it is.  The association is about to contsult the donor, Gen. DePeyster, as to the future contests for his badge, and it is very probable that the coming matches for the medal will be held at Creedmoor, where they will be well attended.  The annual match for the Fifth Division prize was held on this range, on Oct. 5:  distances, 200 and 500 yards; five rounds at each range."

Source:  Glen Drake Range, Westchester County, N.Y., The Spirt of the Times [New York, NY], Oct. 6, 1877, p. 252, col. 3.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1950 Article Mentions Model Railroading Club That Used Pelham Manor Depot

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For a number of years after the New Haven Branch line stopped running passenger service at the beautiful little Pelham Manor Depot, a model railroading club sprang up to use the empty Depot.  The Club built a massive model railroading layout that even included a tiny replica of the very Pelham Manor Depot within which the Club was housed.  The Club lasted only a few years until the Depot was demolished to make way for today's I-95.

Below is an article that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times on January 5, 1950.  It mentioned the little club that made the Pelham Manor Depot its headquarters.

"Model Railroading Holds Interest of Many People
With Hundreds of Men This Hobby Takes the Place of Golf, Stamp Collecting or Woodcraft -- In Some Cities There Are Clubs, with Elaborate Miniature Railroads -- Estimates Place Followers of Hobby at 250,000 Fans.
By Sumner Ahlbum
In Nation's Business for January, 1950

The tile-roofed field-stone station at Pelham Manor, N.Y., is a neat example of suburbiana.  It is also a railroad paradox. 

Past the platform runs the four-track Hell Gate route of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, but no trains have stopped there for years.  Inside, however, where in earlier days commuters waited for the 8:15, stands a miniature replica of Pelham Manor's deopot, a literal chip off the old stone.  Past it runs one of the world's largest railroads -- scaled to match the miniature station -- and the engineer who fails to stop is in trouble. 

This phenomenon takes place on three Thursday nights a month when the timetable of the dwarf-sized Eastern Lines comes to life at 8:22.  Pelham Manor suddenly becomes Central City, and a group of intent business men, most of whom commute to their daytime offices in full-sized trains, bend their efforts to getting Local No. 1, westbound, off on its scheduled run.

Just as others play golf, collect stamps or carve ships that fit inside whisky bottles, these are grown-ups with the same fierce determination to relax.  They have fun playing at running a railroad, an occupational dream many a man has had tucked in the back of his head since boyhood.

But they are not, as some cynics might believe, playing with toys.  The locomotive and coaches that rolled west from Central City at 8:22 are as different from the train under Junior's Christmas tree as a push-pedal auto is from a limousine.  Like a lot of other grown men all over the nation, they are riding a hobby known as model railroading. 

It's a hobby engaged in by an estimated 250,000 business men, clerks, architects, doctors, bankers -- and even railroad men.  They have good company, too, John Jacob Astor II, whose investment portfolio includes good-sized chunks of the real thing, has a scale-model railroad that occupies a whole floor in his New York town house, plus a large outdoor version on his Long Island estate.

Lyndon Y. Shaw, a first insurance underwriter in Reading, Pa., spent 200 hours building a model electric locomotive scaled one fourth of an inch to the foot, and was one of last year's prize winners in the hobby.  A ten-wheeler steam loco, scaled a little less than half that size, won honors for Edward M. VanLer, a purchasing agent for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y.

These men occupy themselves with their hobby (or play at it, depending on which side of the track you stand) in a variety of forms and sizes.  The clubs and more ambitious individuals go in for big lay-outs with complicated yards, heavy traffic and the electrical wizardry of such things as route inter-locking.  Such modeling usually is to a scale of one fourth of an inch to a foot, which is called 'O' gauge.  The home-grown variety may be a small segment of a modern prototype, a jerkwater branch that runs from coal bin to washtubs, a replica of something in the 1880[s, or even a street car line.  Mostly this is in the highly popular 'HO' gauge (3.5 mm to the foot); there are other sizes, too, including one as small as one tenth of an inch to a foot (called 'TT' for tabletop). 

In the more popular sizes, miniature trains can be bought over the counter, complete with tracks ready to take home and run.  But model railroaders mostly prefer to buy the more exactly scaled models in kit form and put them together themselves, or even, in the case of the more meticulous modeler, to get a set of scale blue-prints and build from scratch. 

This preoccupation for exactness has built up a new industry now estimated at about $7,500,000 annual gross among some 100 manufacturers.  These range from one-man basement workshops that operate on a part-time basis to a plant in Portsmouth, R.I., housed in two secondhand boxcars a mile from the nearest railroad.  The two biggest producers are Mantua Metal Products, which has 80 employees and is a complete operation, and Varney Scale Models, which has less than half that number of workers and farms out a lot of work to subcontractors.

The Association of American Railroads (full-sized) estimates there are 250,000 fans to support these manufacturers, along with 30 wholesalers and 3,000 retail outlets.  A more realistic view is offered by Albert Kalmback, publisher of Model Railroader magazine, Kalmbach was a model railroader in the late 20's, which was the Tom Thumb area of the hobby.  A bride who didn't think he was crazy helped him start his magazine in 1934, and in the intervening 15 years, the Model Railroader has been given fairly unanimous credit as the fuel that gave the hobby and the industry their present full heads of steam.

Pelham Manor depot is a good place to watch the hobby on a teamwork basis.  Like other games played by teams, the Westchester Model Club's Eastern Lines draws spectators -- 75 to 100 on an average operating night.

What they see is a complex railroad weaving itself about a foom 81 by 21 feet, crisscrossed by trestles and bridges, studded with signal towers, crossing gates, a roundhouse, oil tanks, way stations and other embellishments familiar to anyone who has ever looked out of a train window.

Along more than 200 feet of mainline track, in and out of yards, branches and sidings, and up the hill of the 190 foot mountain division rolls a steady procession of passenger expresses, locals, milk trains, fast freights and peddlers.  These trains make scheduled station stops, obey block signals, pick up a Pullman or a diner and drop off a boxcar or two at Pineville as if each one had an engineer in the cab and a conductor riding the caboose or coaches.  In a manner of speaking they do, although the conductors work their trains standing beside the track, and the engineers peer down from cabs in a balcony overlooking the pike.

On the Eastern Lines, the top brass for such maneuvers is a salesman who on Thursday nights becomes superintendent of operations.  (The club president is a printer in everyday life, but his is an administrative role and he has no finger in running the road.)  A daytime office manager backs up the super as trainmaster, and a schoolteacher serves as chief dispatcher.

Not all the 30 or so members of the club care about operating jobs.  Some get their fun out of building and maintining the right-of-way and scenery of the 300,000 [illegible]

Nor is it the only club to have such an appropriate setting for its quarters.  The [illegible] club is housed in an old passenger coach donated by the Southern Railroad.  The Lost Boy Model Engineers Society in Oakland Calif. which ranks with the Westchester club as one of the largest is surrounded by the busy and noisy transfer yards of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads.

On one extreme, he may get so seriously involved in the hobby as to build a special room just to house it.  Carl Allen, an Appleton, Pa. jeweler, has a home railroad that is as elaborate as many club pikes.  It copies a real-be coal housing road to exacting detail, and its photomural scenery outdoes most group operations.

On the other extreme are little outfits like the four-by-five-foot railroad jointly operated by Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Pratt in Porterville, Calif.  Their sole motive power is a dockside switcher, and it is likely to catch up with its own caboose if all the rolling stock is coupled on at the same time. 

The methods under which these home roads operate are subject to individual whims.  The sticklers for realism are just as intense about their game as a chess player is about his; there are also those who stick tongue in cheek while they letter engines and cars with fantastic road names like 'Tiny and Tempermental.' 

How does a banker, for instance, get sidetracked into spending his evenings with little railroads instead of relaxing over a tall, cool statement of liquid assets?

It can happen in any number of ways.  Maybe he spots a model railroad hobby shop window display as he strolls to the 5:15, and winds up taking the 5:30 with a $1.95 boxcar kit to try out.  Maybe somebody talks him into taking a look at a club railroad on operating night, and he suddenly gets the urge to hang his name on the extra board. 

Or--and this is a common failing among fathers, both in fact and prospective--he starts out to get a toy train for junior, and the first thing you know, junior is out on a blind siding while father elects himself chairman of the board with hand on the throttle. 

The railroads, needless to say, encourage such goings on.  A model railroader who goes traipsing about the country is likely to ride a train.  If he should get a chance, someday, to ride in the engineer's cab, he has reached a model railroader's Valhalla.

Withness the case, for example of David Manners, 83, director of a New York music school, a railroad buff since he was a youngster .  Mannes talked himself into riding a New Haven electric engine from New York to Westport, Conn., recently and figured he dropped about 70 years from his life.

Men who ride the engines and cabooses every day for a living often feel the urge to run their own railroads in their off hours.  And there is the ironic opposite in Altoona, Pa., a city whose main reason for being, perhaps, is the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Horseshoe Curve. 

Altoona has a busy model railroad club, but at last count, however, there wasn't a single Pennsylvania Railroad man on the roster.  All hands are business men."

Source:  Model Railroading Holds Interest of Many People, Watertown Daily Times, Jan. 5, 1950, p. 4, col. 6.Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Only Known Image of the Glen-Drake Rifle Range Near Pelhamville

I recently wrote about a nagging mystery regarding the existence of a "Glen-Drake" rifle range in Pelhamville during the 1870s. See:

Wed., April 1, 2009: Evidence of a "Glen-Drake" Rifle Range in Pelhamville During the 1870s.

Stubbornly, I have continued my efforts to locate more information about the rifle range. To my surprise, I have now located an engraving published in 1876 that shows the rifle range -- likely the only extant image showing the site. The engraving appeared in a book that included a little more information about the range. I have quoted the pertinent excerpt from the book below and include the image immediately below.

"The American Rifle Association was organized at Mount Vernon, Westchester County, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1874, mainly through the efforts of Captain Frederick Whittaker, who was one of the original corporators of the National Rifle Association. With considerable pluck the young organization began work at once upon a temporary range; targets were erected upon the new Wimbledon plans, rules were adopted similar to the revised Wimbledon rules, and matches were held, the result of which was such as to warrant the Directors in securing land for a permanent range. They succeeded in procuring sixty-three acres of Mr. Thomas S. Drake, within ten minutes' walk of Pelhamville depot, on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the distance from the Grand Central Depot, N.Y., being about fifteen miles. The time occupied in reaching the range is about thirty-five minutes. The cost to those who purchase excursion tickets is seventy-five cents. The canvas target, and the telegraph worked by a corps of operators, were introduced first by this Association in this country. In honor of the owner, the range has been called Glen-Drake.

Gen. J. Watts De Peyster, for the purpose of encouraging off-hand shooting, presented to this Association a medal which is said to be the most artistic and handsome ever made in America for a similar purpose."

Source: Starr, George C., The Forest and Stream Hand-Book for Riflemen, pp. 6-7 (NY, NY: J.B. Ford & Co. 1876) (text appears on page 6; engraving appears on page 7).

The engraving provides additional clues regarding the precise location of the Glen-Drake rifle range. In the foreground there appears to be a small creek spanned by a small bridge across which a roadway passes. There is a knoll in the distance in front of which are six canvas bullseye targets for the riflemen. According to the text, the range was located about a ten minute walk from the Pelhamville depot on the New Haven Line.

It seems possible that the creek is the Hutchinson River at the far northern reaches of today's Town of Pelham. If so, then the rifle range would appear to encompass -- at least in part -- an area that since has been covered by the construction of the Hutchinson River Parkway. (Please use the comment feature below to provide your own theories regarding the location of the site.)

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A Brief History of the Early Years of "Riding to Hounds" by Members of the Country Club at Pelham

Those who visit the Historic Pelham Blog regularly know that recently I have tried to document the sport of "riding to hounds" by members of the Country Club located in Pelham during the 1880s. See:

Thu., April 16, 2009: A Serious Carriage Accident and Many Tumbles During the Country Club of Pelham's Riding to Hounds Event in November 1889.

Wed., April 15, 2009: More About the Country Club Sport of "Riding to Hounds" During the 1880s in Pelham.

Tue., April 14, 2009: 1889 Account of the Sport of Riding to Hounds by Members of the Country Club Located in Pelham.

I now have located a brief history of the early years of the sport at the Country Club located in Pelham published in Harper's Magazine. I have transcribed the pertinent excerpt from an article in that magazine below, followed by a citation to its source.

"From that time, about 1881, there was no hunting in Westchester until, in 1885, a pack of harriers was imported by Mr. James M. Waterbury, and by him given to the Country Club, then located at Pelham. To this pack the Country Club loaned its name and provided stabling and kennels, but the hounds were supposed to be maintained by an uncertain subscription list, and were hunted by different members of the club, who, in an informal way, were annually chosen at the hunt dinner.

Such a haphazard method, of course, proved very unsatisfactory, so that when the Country Cloub moved from Pelham to near Westchester town, the hunting members organized an independent club -- although the old harrier livery, green coats faced with canary, was retained -- called it the Westchester Hunt, and moved the kennels to the neighborhood of White Plains. New hounds were bought -- mostly from the Meadow Brook, which now had about thirty-five couples in its kennels -- the quality of the hunt improved througout, and Mr. T. A. Havemeyer, Jun., the first master, had an immediate and flattering success. Mr. N. C. Reynal succeeded Mr. Havemeyer, after the latter had served several years, and the pack continued to show good sport; but, alas, there came a cessation of interest, which last year caused the sale of the hounds, and to-day the only hunting in Westchester is done by Mr. William Iselin's superb pack of beagles. Of the names most closely identified with Westchester hunting are Messrs. T. A. Havemeyer, Jun., James M. Waterbury, Major Cooley, De Lancey Kane, Edward C., Howard, and Robert Potter, Charles Pelham-Clinton, Laurence Jacob, N. C. Reynal, and William Iselin."

Source: Whitney, Caspar, 'Cross-Country Riding in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. XCIV, No. DL, p. 832 (May 1897).

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Serious Carriage Accident and Many Tumbles During the Country Club of Pelham's Riding to Hounds Event in November 1889

Recently I have been trying to document the sport of "riding to hounds" hosted by the Country Club once located in Pelham during the 1880s. See:

Wed., April 15, 2009: More About the Country Club Sport of "Riding to Hounds" During the 1880s in Pelham.

Tue., April 14, 2009: 1889 Account of the Sport of Riding to Hounds by Members of the Country Club Located in Pelham.

The sport seems to have been part of a fad that swept the region in the 1880s and early 1890s. See, e.g., A Dozen in at the Death; Brilliant Riding to Hounds on Staten Island, N.Y. Times, Oct. 3, 1889, p. 5; An Exciting Hunt; A Great Day for the Richmond County Country Club, N.Y. Times, Oct. 6, 1889, p. 5; The Essex County Hunt; Following the Hounds Over a Heavy and Rough Course, N.Y. Times, Dec. 4, 1892, p. 3; A Lively Hunt at Lakewood; Large Field of Riders and Many Spectators in Carriages, N.Y. Times, Dec. 22, 1895, p. 7.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a report published in 1889 that describes a hunt hosted by the Country Club located in Pelham during which there was a serious carriage accident and numerous tumbles.





Although the weather was unfavorable for riding to hounds, the Country Club of Westchester has seldom known a more enjoyable time than that which it experienced yesterday. Major James C. Cooley, a prominent member of that organization, gave a hunt breakfast at his pretty country place just outside West Chester Village, and almost the entire membership of the club responded to his cordial invitation to be present. The guests were so numerous that the commodious house was overcrowded, but that fact only heightened the pleasure of Major Cooley and Mrs. Cooley, who are never so happy as when entertaining their friends.

Among the many present were Mrs. W. H. Sands, Sir Frederick Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. James M. Waterbury, Mr. Frank Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pelham-Clinton, Mr. and Mrs. Story, Mr. Louis Haight, Mrs. Jacob Lorillard, Mrs. McDonald, Mr. William Chapin, Miss Carey, Mr. Dwight Collier, Mr. M. V. B. Davis, Mr. Henry Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Potter, Mrs. Zerega, the Messrs. Thorne, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Potter, Col. and Mrs. DeLancey Kane, Mr. and Mrs. William Iselin, Miss Campbell, Mr. John Davis, Mr. Robert Potter, Mr. Frank Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Iselin, Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hunter, Mr. and Mrs. Blois, Mr. and Mrs. Wissmer, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Carter and Miss Carter, Mr. Henry Adee, Mr. Ernest Adee, Miss Pinchot, Mr. Clarence Sackett, Mr. Theodore Havemeyer, Jr., the Messrs. Harriman, Mr. Boyle, Mr. Lee Taylor, Mrs. McDougall, Miss Camilla Moss, Mr. Cram, and many others prominent in Westchester society.

The exterior of Major Cooley's residence was almost as interesting during the breakfast as the interior. The grounds were filled with gay traps, while directly in front of the main entrance more than a score of spirited hunters were paraded. Outside in the roadway were many vehicles of farmers, who had taken advantage of the holiday to watch the sport, even though they were not invited to be present. In the yard to the rear of the house the hounds were penned, and they kept up a constant and impatient accompaniment of yelps to the laughter of the gay throng indoors. The whole scene was striking in its color and its life.

When the breakfast had ended, Mr. Theodore Havemeyer, Jr., who has taken Mr. Pelham-Clinton's place as master of the hounds, announced that the chase was about to begin. Instantly the house was emptied of its occupants, and there was a general scurrying for horses and carriages. Among the ladies having mounts were Miss Carey, Mrs. Howard Potter, Mrs. Collier, Mrs. Story, Miss Pinchot, Mrs. William Iselin, Mrs. E. C. Potter, and Miss Camilla Moss. The gentlemen who started out to follow the hunt numbered at least twenty-five, while Master Cooley and Master Iselin brought up the rear on ponies, and another little boy was grotesquely mounted on a big-eared donkey.

The order of the gay cavalcade as it filed into the highway was as follows: The hunds, the horsemen and horsewomen, the gay traps of the invited guests, and promiscuous assemblage of farm vehicles that had never before been put to such use. The entire line was flanked on either side by a hilarious throng of urchins and half-grown boys on foot, who found some amusement and infinite exercise in trying to keep up with the swiftly-moving train.

The throw-off was in an open field about 200 yards from Major Cooley's residence. Unfortunately for the riders, this field was guarded by a high stone wall. The result was that about half of the pack broke away from the huntsman, climbed this wall, caught the scent, and were away with a chorus of yelps before the riders realized what had happened. Then the remaining dogs followed suit, and all the hounds were in imminent danger of being lost in the thick underbrush, toward which they were rushing with startling speed.

A majority of the riders stood immovable with astonishment when Mr. Havemeyer led the way at the formidable fence. His horse refused, and not another animal would take the obstacle. It was a critical moment, but the master of the hunt was equal to the occasion, and with a whoop and a rush, plying both whip and spurs, he got over. Major Cooley followed, with Miss Carey and Mr. Robert Potter at his heels, and the doubt as to the pack being lost was dissipated. Away these few riders went splashing through a bog and then climbing a rocky hill until they were lost in the dark brown cover of the woods.

The other riders made no pretense of following, but hurried away with the carriages up the road to the place where it was known that a check would be held. Here they had the satisfaction of getting into line and parading through Westchester Village and past the grounds of the New-York Jockey Club to the resumption of the drag. In this parade a very painful accident happened. Mrs. McDonald and Mr. William Chapin were driving in an open wagon. As they were turning the corner of the street in the village, a heavy six-seated vehicle was driven recklessly behind them. It caught the rear wheels of the light wagon, and in an instant the whole thing was a jumbled wreck in the gutter by the roadside. Mrs. McDonald fortunately escaped, but Mr. Chapin sustained serious injuries. His forehead and cheek were cut open and both eyes were blackened. He was knocked senseless by the shock, but recovered sufficiently to bind a handkerchief about his head. Then he was taken to the clubhouse attended by several friends, who refused to follow the hunt after witnessing the accident.

A majority of the people, however, were happily ignorant of Mr. Chapin's misfortune, and they continued pell-mell after the hounds. The going was remarkably rough and at times dangerous, not only on account of the stiffness of the country, but by reason of the soggy and uncertain condition of the ground. With the exception of a half dozen daring spirits the riders decided that discretion was the better part of valor and kept to the road.

But the others kept up with the pack, and after a hard run of about ten miles had the satisfaction of coming in at the death, or at least of being in at the place where the death would have been if there had been a fox instead of an aniseed bag. Miss Carey was the only lady who succeeded in following the hounds, and she would have succumbed to the perils of the going had she not possessed remarkable pluck and skill. As it was, she had two heavy falls, but remounted after each and dashed away in the lead of Mr. Havemeyer.

Mr. Sackett also got an ugly fall, but suffered nothing beyond a shaking up. The master of the hunt, the Messrs. Potter, and Major Cooley escaped accident, but the run was generally considered the most exciting and, consequently, the most successful that the Country Club has yet had. Major and Mrs. Cooley were awarded most cordial thanks for their entertainment and Miss Carey was deservedly the heroine of the day."

Source: Tumbles Were Numerous -- But the Country Club Had a Fine Run, N.Y. Times, Nov. 6, 1889, p. 3.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More About the Country Club Sport of "Riding to Hounds" During the 1880s in Pelham

Yesterday I published to the Historic Pelham Blog an account of a so-called "Drag Hunt" hosted by the Country Club of Pelham in 1889. See Tue., April 14, 2009: 1889 Account of the Sport of Riding to Hounds by Members of the Country Club Located in Pelham.

Today's posting transcribes another account of such a "Riding to Hounds" hunt hosted by the Country Club in 1888. The account appears immediately below.





If the Country Club had had the making of the day it could not have had more perfect weather for riding to hounds than yesterday afforded. An Indian Summer haze hung over the hills of Westchester, and the breeze that blew in from Long Island Sound was as delightful as that of an October afternoon. The sky was cloudless and the slanting rays of the yellow sun produced a temperature that was neither too warm nor too cold. The going was just right, too, not too hard and not too soft. As a consequence the attendance was a large as that of any meet this Fall. Gay and fashionable folk came from all points of the territory bounded on the east by Mamaroneck and on the west by New-York City.

An unusual incentive was found in the elaborate hunt breakfast given at 'Will Mount' by Mr. Frank Watson and his mother, Mrs. William Watson. The palatial country residence was thrown open with unreserved hospitality and the company that did ample justice to the tempting viands was quite as notable for its quality as for its quantity. There were more than a hundred guests, and, as they all knew each other, the cheer was unlimited and the wit was more sparkling than the wine. There were Mr. and Jacob Lorillard. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Sands, Mr. and Mrs. Livingston Beekman, Mr. and Mrs. George Adee, Mr. and Mres. Howard Nott Potter, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pelham Clinton, Mr. and Mrs. William Iselin, Mr. and Mres. Edward C. Potter, Miss Charlotte Zeroga, Mr. Richard Zeroga, Miss Carey, Mr. Louis Hiaght, Mr. and Mres. E. Blois, Mr. Luis Onativia, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sloan, Mrs. Ladenburg, Mr. and Mrs. James Waterbury, Mr. and Mrs. C. O'Donell Iselin, Mr. and Mres. Henry Havemeyer, Miss Waterbury, Master Monte Waterbury, Mr. J. C. Furman, Mr. Jacob, Mr. Henry Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, Mr. Robert Potter, Mr. Frederick Ball, Major James Cooley, and many others whose names are familiar in social and hunt circles.

The breakfast was so inviting and the company so entertaining that the hunt was almost forgotten in the enjoyment of the repast. It was nearly 4 o'clock P. M. when Mr. Howard Nott Potter, acting master of the hounds, announced that everything was in readiness for the start. Then there was a general scamper for the spacious lawn, and the halls of 'Will Mount' were quickly emptied of the ladies and gentlemen. The pack was at the door and manifested their impatience of the delay in deep-mouthed baying.

The Country Club does not boast of its dogs. They are not imported English foxhounds, but simply a pack of harriers [ed. note: a breed of hunting dogs that resemble small English foxhounds but that were bred for hunting rabbits], a little uneven, but keen of scent and game to follow the trail so long as it lasts. They have no regular master of the hunt, for the club has never yet been able to afford that luxury, but there is an able committee of Major Cooley, Mr. H. N. Potter, and Mr. E. C. Potter, who alternate in discharging the onerous duties of that exalted position. Nor does the Country Club make believe to follow a live fox from start to finish, but they [have] just as much sport as it desires, for the dragman can always choose a course that will test their metal to the utmost. Another advantage of this style of hunting is found in the ability to lay out a course so that the occupants of the carriages and the road-riders can always see and enjoy the sport. Major Cooley was eminently successful in this respect yesterday. He had the dragman go such a course that the pack and hunters were never lost sight of once by those that had to stick to the roads.

The number of gentlemen who turned out yesterday in bottle-green coats, with yellow collars and vests, was a three to one to the number that actually followed the pack over the entire course. Many who went boldly at the jumps when the start was made retired gracefully to the easier going of the road long before the finish. Of the dozens or more ladies who had mounts only one went the course and was in at the death, or rather the place where the death would have been had there been a fox to die. This was Miss Carey, and she rode with a pluck and dash that awakened the envy of many and aroused the admiration of all.

The start was made in a field adjacent to the grounds of the Watson homestead, and after two stiff stone walls had been negotiated the huntsman found themselves in a field of soft plowed land that tested the gameness of their horses and gave the pack a decided lead in the race. The next field afforded better going, and hounds and horses were soon rushing away to the east like the wind. Then came a grand scramble by the carriages and road-riders. More than two score traps of every description and half as many people on horseback had assembled on the hill overlooking the course. There were ladies in jaunty habits, big men on big horses, and little boys on little ponies. The equine display ranged from the big-boned carriage horses to the most diminutive of Shetland ponies, and the diversity in the size of th horsemen was quite as great. As the pack disappeared everybody rushed to the front at once and the skill of the drivers was the only thing that prevented a serious collision. Down the road they rushed pell-mell, kicking up a cloud of dirt and covering each other with dust. They quickly came in sight of the chase again, and thereafter kept nearly abreast of them, picking out the several huntsmen and commenting on their style and pluck.

Over all sorts of obstacles and across every kind of ground the hounds and hunters rushed until the Catholic Protectory was reached, and there a halt was called for a few minutes until the stragglers caught up, and then the trail was resumed with greater vim than ever. And so it continued until the end was reached in front of cheery Major Cooley's residence.

Mr. Howard Potter and Mr. Louis Haight were the first in at the place where the death ordinarily occurs, and plucky little Miss Carey was close behind them. The brush and mask were not awarded, for the simple reason that there were none, but the Country Club is such a family institution that it would probably not have cut off the fox's tail had there been one, so wholly do they deprecate rivalry among themselves. The run had been about eight miles, and as no serious accidents had occurred everybody was delighted. Mr. Louis Onatiyia's horse had refused early in the game and his master had been compelled to retire to the road in deep chagrin; Mr. E. C. Potter had caught a nasty cropper, but had pluckily remounted and ridden the run out; Mr. Robert Potter's mount had fallen in a blind ditch, but had extricated himself; Mr. Freddie Bull had bruised his horse severely, and Mr. Louis Haight had nearly ridden the pack down in his efforts to lead the hunt.

All these happenings and many more were recounted as the pack was whipped in, but they were only ordinary casualties of chasing either a fox or a drag, and did not count. The universal opinion was that the meet was one of the most successful the Country Club has ever held."

Source: Country Club Drag Hunt, N.Y. Times, Dec. 9, 1888, p. 5.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1889 Account of the Sport of Riding to Hounds by Members of the Country Club Located in Pelham

For a number of years in the 1880s, Pelham was the site of the "Country Club" -- the nation's second suburban country club founded for the recreational enjoyment of its members in a "country" setting. I have written much about the Steeple Chase races and the "base ball" games that took place at the Country Club.

For years, however, I have known that members of the Club maintained kennels on the ground and held grand horseback "hunts" throughout lower Westchester County. I have searched in vain, however, for detailed accounts of the hunts.

Finally I have located one such account from the October 13, 1889 issue of The New York Times. It is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.




Accustomed as it has been to no more exciting sport than a paper chase or a tennis tournament, the quiet little village of Rye was stirred to its centre yesterday afternoon by the appearance of a pack of hounds and a large number of horsemen in its streets. As the merry horn of the huntsman and the yelping of the dogs were thrown back in echoes from the white sides of the cottages, the entire population turned out to see what was the matter.

The cause of the unwonted [sic] disturbance was the advent of the Country Club hunt, which had come up from West Chester to give the fair ladies of Rye a treat in the way of chasing the elusive anise seed. Mr. Charles Pelham-Clinton, the master of the hunt, rode proudly down the main thoroughfare of the hamlet with the eager pack close at the heels of his charger, while close behind followed Major Cooley and Mr. Theodore Havemeyer, Jr., in the bottle-green coats of the Country Club, well mounted and courageous; the three Potter brothers, Howard, Edward C., and Robert; Mr. Jacob Cram, Mr. Clarence Sackett, Mr. C. G. La Farge, Mr. W. K. B. Emerson, Mr. Ramsay Turnbull, Mr. Wainwright, Mr. Arthur Turnbull, Mrs. Howard Potter, Mrs. E. C. Potter, the Misses Benedict of Greenwich, and a score of other ladies and gentlemen, all on horseback and all palpitating with suppressed excitement in anticipation of the invigorating sport of riding to hounds.

After these was a grand parade of vehicles from West Chester, Pelham Manor, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Greenwich, Cos Cob, and the immediate neighborhood of Rye. Everybody admitted that it was the finest turnout ever seen in that vicinity, and Rye was consequently very proud and very happy. In the various traps were many well-known fashionable people, including Mrs. Pelham-Clinton, Miss Jacob, Mrs. Catlin, Mrs. E. C. Benedict, the Misses Stephens, Mrs. De Ruyter, Mrs. Erving, and dozens of others.

Many of the ladies were driving and showed themselves to be adepts [sic] in the use of the whip. Moreover, they were arrayed in gala colors and were otherwise prepared for an afternoon of splendid fair-weather sport. There was not a thought of anything but blue skies and golden sunshine and therefore open-top vehicles predominated, and any close carriage of whatever description was occupied by farmers or common country folk, who were not the happy possessors of T-carts, jaunting cars, buckboards, or other kindred traps. An umbrella or a mackintosh would have been an insult to the weather god, and all such articles had been carefully left at home. The assumption was that so fair a promise as the morning gave could not be gainsaid by the afternoon, and in all the gay throng there was not one who had a suspicion of rain and mud.

From the rendezvous at the Rye railway station the brightly-dressed cavalcade moved slowly and imposingly through the village out into the picturesque country road leading to 'The Hermitage,' as the local outdoor club is called. When this pretty resort was reached the hounds were led into a neighboring field for the throw-off, and immediately thereafter the pack was baying full tilt on the scent of the drag.

The Country Club members dashed after them precipitately, taking every jump with Major Cooley gallantly leading the van. The riders from Rye were less experienced, but not less brave, and they followed with reckless daring. The ladies and a few of the more cautious men took to the road with the whirling carriages, and the chase was under full headway.

Across the green fields swept the yelping pack, swift as the wind, their heads erect, their tails stiff and straight, their red tongues lolling out, and their eyeballs rolling fiercely in the madness of the run.

Away down Wilton's Point they sped, then back again across the old Boston road over to Harrison, and off toward beautiful Mamoroneck [sic]. So swift was the pack that whip and spur had to be freely used on the good, game horses to keep up with the hounds.

As for the roads, they were filled with scurrying vehicles drawn by animals on a dead run and still lashed by their excited drivers.

'Isn't it glorious!' cried the ladies of Rye, and with ribbons streaming on the wind, with cheeks reddening, and eyes dancing in excitement, they stretched their white necks as they flew along the brown roads eager to see every jump and to lose no note of the inspiring music made by the vanishing pack.

The drag had been planned with admirable consideration for the pleasure of the road riders, and there were but few moments when some part of the chase could not be seen from the carriages. So great was the excitement that a huge black cloud rising in the west was not noticed until an ominous peal of thunder startled the gay crowd and caused it to look upward. Flashes of lightning were playing about the ragged edges of the overhanging mass, and suddenly there fell a patter of big, splashing raindrops that instantly diverted the attention of the ladies from the hunt to their handsome gowns and costly millinery.

They looked in vain for shelter and then, stopping suddenly, the most of them turned and incontinently fled for home. The effort was useless, for the rain had got [sic] too much of a start in the race, and, wholly unprotected as they were, it pelted them mercilessly. Off came their hats and bonnets to be stowed carefully under skirts and wagon seats, but the relentless rain kept coming down and drenched them through and through.

The bold hunters were in no better plight. The sudden and continuous shower made the going slippery and dangerous and destroyed the scent. There was but one thing to do. The dogs were called off, whipped in, and the entire company, which had left astonished little Rye with floating colors, light laughter, and exuberant spirits, rushed for cover dripping, bedraggled, and soaked to the skin.

Thus was the brilliant promise of the sunny midday fulfilled, and thus ended what was thought to have been the red-letter day in the gala almanac of Rye. A few of the ladies and gentlemen found some consolation in a tea at the Hermitage after they had exchanged their soaking garments for others that were dry and comfortable.

'Oh, it's a shame!' cried one of these with a suspicion of tears in her eyes. 'It was all so splendid, and to think it should end like this. A thunder shower in October -- just think of it! Such a thing could not have happened in any other place than Rye!'"

Source: Rye Laughed At The Hunt, N.Y. Times, Oct. 13, 1889, p. 2.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

1909 Village Elections in Pelham

What follows is a brief but interesting account of the 1909 Village elections in Pelham. The account appeared in the March 17, 1909 issue of The New York Times.



Reilly, 'the Village Blacksmith,' Wins In North Pelham for the Fourth Time.

The annual charter elections yesterday in the Westchester villages of North Pelham, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and Tuckahoe were especially interesting because of fights against the re-election of many of the nominees.

In North Pelham James Reilly, 'The Village Blacksmith,' again ran for President, after having held the office for three terms. He was elected by a vote of 155 to 88. The first time Reilly ran it was as an Independent and he was elected. He was re-elected on the same ticket, but last year he was nominated by the Republicans and elected, and this year they re-nominated him.

His opponent was Peter Cedar of Cedar Kennels, who opposed him the first time he ran. Reilly carried in with him the entire Republican ticket.

In Pelham Manor President Charles E. Pond, Republican, was re-elected for the fourth term, over James F. Secor, who ran on an Independent ticket.

In Pelham the fight was bitter, and resulted in the defeat of the present President of the village, Thomas L. Jacques, who had held the office for three years. He was beaten by A. N. White, the independent Republican candidate. The vote was 69 to 52.

In Tuckahoe, William Rubly, Democrat, won over William F. Thompson by a vote of 208 to 132."

Source: Elections in Westchester, N.Y. Times, Mar. 17, 1909, p. 4.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Announcement That the Pelham Country Club Bought the Bonnie Brae Property Necessary for its New Golf Course in 1920

In 1920, the Pelham Country Club acquired certain tracts necessary to allow it to open its new golf course. One of those tracts was the acreage known as "Bonnie Brae" adjacent to the Boston Post Road lying partly in the Village of Pelham Manor and partly in the City of New Rochelle. A brief announcement of the acquisition appeared in the April 15, 1920 issue of The New York Times. It appears below.

"Pelham Golf Club Buys.

Harris B. Fisher sold to the Pelham Leasing Corporation the acreage known as 'Bonnie Brae,' on the Boston Post Road, and lying partly in the village of Pelham Manor and the city of New Rochelle, Westchester County, N. Y. The corporation has acquired the property for the Pelham Golf and Country Club, recently organized, and will shortly exercise its options on the remainder of the tract necessary for the links."

Source: Pelham Golf Club Buys, N.Y. Times, Apr. 15, 1920, p. 23.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Death of Charles J. Stephens in City of Mexico in 1891

Periodically I have written about Charles J. Stephens and his brother, Henry C. Stephens. See Mon., March 20, 2006: Charles J. Stephens and Henry C. Stephens of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Portions of the Village of Pelham Manor in the Town of Pelham, New York were developed by a group of men who established an association named the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873. Two of those men were the Stephens brothers. For those who wish to learn a little more about the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Associatin, see Thu. December 22, 2005: Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873.

Charles J. Stephens died in 1891 while on a tour of Central America while assembling material for a book. A very brief announcement of his death appeared in The New York Times. It is quoted below.

"Charles J. Stephens, an old resident of Pelhamville, who with his brother laid out the town site of Pelham Manor, died Sunday last in the City of Mexico. He had been traveling in Central America collecting material for an illustrated book."

Source: City and Suburban News - Westchester, N.Y. Times, Aug. 21, 1891, p. 3 (Aug. 21, 1891).

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New Haven Railroad Appointed Charles Merritt its First Ticket Agent in Pelhamville in January, 1875

For the first few years that the New Haven Line passed through sleepy little Pelhamville, the wooden station there had no ticket agent. In fact, until 1872, Pelhamville was merely a "flag stop" on the New Haven Line. This meant that trains on the New Haven Line did not stop there regularly. Rather, a "flag" was raised as a signal to the engineer to stop the train so that passengers at the station could embark. According to the Village of North Pelham Souvenir Program for the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Village of North Pelham, "Four trains stopped at Pelhamville station, if you flagged them, and you paid your fare of five cents to New York, on the Train."

The New Haven Railroad installed its first ticket agent at the Pelhamville station in January, 1875. His name was Charles H. Merritt. The following is a brief announcement of the appointment that appeared in The New York Times.


Mr. Charles Merritt has been appointed ticket agent of the New-Haven Railroad Company at Pelhamville, being the first agent stationed there. . . . "

Source: City and Suburban News, N.Y. Times, Jan. 16, 1875, p. 12.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

1666 Record Containing "Observations" on the Patent Granted to Thomas Pell

In 1897, the Office of the State Historian of the State of New York issued its "Second Annual Report of the State Historian of the State of New York". Included withint that publication were transcriptions of the State's "Official Colonial Records" for the years 1664 to 1674. Among those records was a brief "observation" regarding the patent issued to "Thos. Pell" of "Ockway" (actually, "Onckway", today's Fairfield, Connecticut). The page containing the record is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"1666 - Continued.

Page 12

Observations on the patents granted to the freeholders of Harlem; to Constant and Nathaniel Silvester; To Thos. Pell, and to the freeholders, &c., of Flushing.

Early Harlem Items.
Observations, 1666.

to 3 May

on The Freeholders &c of Harlem, their patent observe that there is one conditioin which is that the place is to be forever thereafter called by the name of Lancaster.

2d to build one or more boats fitt for a ferry
There is also liberty of going farther west into the wood with their horses & Cattle for range as they shall occasion.

Slips from Long Island.

31st May

Constant Silvester )
} Observe
Nathan'll Silverster )

this island is made an entire enfranchised township or manor independent of any Jurisdiction upon Long Island & to be Governed by the Gov'r & Council & & Gen'll assizes

To be holden in free & Common Soccage & Fealty only.

6th Octo'r 1666

Mr Tho's Pell )
} observe
of *Ockway )

an enfranchised township or manor Independent on any Jurisdiction upon the main or upon Long Island & to be Governed by the Gov'r Councill & Gen'll assizes

To be holden in free & Common Socage as of East Greenwich & fealty only

15th Febry

Freeholders )
& Inhabitants } Observe
of Flushing )

To have all the priviledges belonging to a toun & to be distinguisht by the name of Flushing."

Source: Hastings, Hugh, ed., Second Annual Report of the State Historian of the State of New York - Transmitted to the Legislature, February 22, 1897, p. 184 (Albany and NY, NY: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co. 1897) (Appendix G - Colonial Records of the State - Transcription From the Records in the State Library from 1664, When the English Captured the Province of New Netherlands, to 1671; citing "Page 12 . . . 6th Octo'r . . . 1666" Colonial Record).

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Paper Recounts Burial of the Bell of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester To Save it from the British During the Revolutionary War

On April 28, 1898, Charles Pryer read a paper entitled "The Old Historic Buildings of Westchester County" before The American Numismatic and Archaeological Society of New York City. Included in his paper was an account of the burial of the bell of St. Paul's Church of Eastchester during the Revolutionary War to save it from the British. The pertinent excerpt of the paper is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"We think most of us would have liked to have looked out of the upper window of the old Manor-house [the so-called "Pell Manor House" known today as Pelhamdale and located at 45 Iden Avenue] one morning toward the close of October, 1776. There on [Page 37 / Page 38] the flats, and on the Albany pike near the homestead, was drawn up the entire army of Sir William Howe for one last review, before marching to attack Washington, then occupying a strong position on Chatterton Heights, near the village of White Plains. This army of Howe's consisted of about ten thousand men, regulars and Hessians, and must have made a fine appearance on that fair autumn morning. Sir William and his staff, with some of the gentry of the neighborhood, lunched under a clump of old chestnuts, several of which are still standing. In this same vicinity and overlooking almost the same scene stands the old East Chester Church, erected some years before the close of the seventeenth century (rebuilt in 1765), and now a venerable and picturesque building surrounded by a spacious churchyard, in which lie buried many who were laid to rest when good Queen Anne was on the throne, and when the Indian arrow and the stone scalping-knife were oft seen in these parts outside the cases of a museum. The structure is of stone, and substantial rather than beautiful, as most of the edifices in this county are that were erected at this early period, but in over two centuries the old bell has never failed to ring at the proper time to call the people together, except on one occasion. Now let us examine into the cause of this omission of the time-honored signal of worship to give its accustomed warning. It was during the Revolution. Howe had driven Washington to North Castle and had himself returned to New York, leaving the section of the country lying between the two regular armies a prey to those irregular and disorderly bands known under the name of Skinners and Cow Boys. The former were nominally on the Continental side, while the latter favored the Royalists; both, however, robbed and plundered indiscrimately and without regard to the politics of their victims. It can readily be understood that they necessarily became the terror of the country, and that all valuables were kept out of sight. As the autumn of the momentous year 1776 declined into winter, and the snow covered the devastated and bleeding land, the people that still remained in their war-haunted homes gave up all their social gatherings and met their friends and neighbors only at the services in the old church.

It was a winter evening, the stars glistened on the snow-clad earth, and the ice-crystals gleamed in the frosty air. The voice of the priest at his vesper hymn floated out from the church upon the still night air:

Ore te per illum crucem
Quam tuliste tristem trucem, etc.

Scarcely had the last words died upon the lips of the speaker, when the doors of the church were violently burst open and a man, in semi-military apparel, rushed in, shoouting: 'Save your lives and property! The Skinners will soon be upon us!' The poor fellow was evidently much wearied from his exertions, and sank down in the nearest seat exhausted. The people gathered round him with a storm of questions: 'How long before they will be here?' 'Where did you see them?' etc.; but they did not waste much time in idle curiosity, and in a moment or two had decided upon a plan to save some of their effects. A few of the strongest went up into the belfry, unhung the bell, and let it down outside the church by means of the rope, then they scattered to their several houses and in an incredibly short time collected all their valuables of gold and silver and returned to the church. These articles, with all the coins in their possession, they put into the bell, and then a couple of the strongest men carried it, not without some difficulty, to a neighboring orchard, [Page 38 / Page 39] where with picks and shovels they dug a hole and buried their treasure, being careful to replace the snow on the spot, so that in the night and at a little distance, it looked as white as the rest of the ground. Scarcely had they returned to their homes before the marauders were upon them and many of the houses were searched, but as we know few things of value were found, so the desperadoes had to content themselves with taking all the horses and cattle they could get in the vicinity, and driving them to their camp.

There was one other singular fact, however, in connection with the old bell; among those who disposed of their coins and silverware at this midnight burial were two brothers, one a very respectable member of society, and the other a drunken ne'er-do-well; both, however, had put money in the general receptacle, and both were in a hurry to get it back in their possession, and by a singular coincidence they both decided to excavate the treasure upon the same evening. There was no connivance between them, as they were not on good terms, owing to the dissolute habits of one, as before stated. The drunken brother is supposed to have arrived at the spot first and started work, taking, as was his custom, drink after drink from a large black bottle that he always carried, until he was more or less under the effect of potations, though the cold air and the hard labor of removing the frozen ground prevented his becoming actually intoxicated. About the time he reached the bell containing the treasure a lantern appeared, evidently carried by somebody coming to the same spot, and, he naturally thought, upon the same mission. Before, however, he could collect his somewhat befogged brains, his brother appeared upon the scene, and immediately accused him of stealing the money. From this the quarrel soon became so heated that words led to blows, and the two men shortly grappled in a desperate struggle, the result of which was, the last comer, and the better of the two brothers, was left dead upon the ground, where he was found next morning by some of the near residents. Of course before long the entire neighborhood was aroused, and a search for the murderer made, but he was never seen more. The strangest part of the entire incident was, that the contents of the bell were not disturbed beyond the amount put in the general pool by the murderer. Even the dead brother's portion was left entirely intact. A few days after the old bell was re-hung in the church tower, and, so far as history is concerned, there is nothing to make us suppose that it was ever removed again."

Source: Pryer, Charles, "The Old Historic Buildings of Westchester County" in The American Numismatic and Archaeological Society of New York City List of Meetings Held and Papers Read Before the Socity Under the Direction of the Committee on Papers and Publications 1898-1899, pp. 37-39 (NY, NY: 1899).

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Biography and Photograph of Henry Beidleman Bascom Stapler, an Active Member of the Pelham Manor Protective Club in its Latter Years

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. 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 Pelham Manor Protective 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 origins of a tiny municipal governing structure in lower Westchester County in the 1880s.

In the last three years of the Club, one of its most active members was Henry Beidleman Bascom Stapler (Henry B.B. Stapler). Below is his biography and a photograph of him as a young man.

"Henry Beidleman Bascom Stapler

Died 1906

Born February 24, 1853, in Mobile, Ala., the son of James and Maria (Beidleman) Stapler.

He prepared for college at Reynold's Classical Institute, Wilmington, Del.

He was married November 10, 1880, to Miss Helen Louisa Gause, daughter of John Taylor and Martha J. Gause, of Wilmington, Del. They had four children:

Martha Gause, Born May 30, 1882.

John Taylor Gause, a lieutenant in the Navy, born November 22, 1883.

Henry [Beidleman] Bascom, Jr., Yale '08, born October 16, 1885.

James Beverly, Christ College, Cambridge '11, born April 16, 1890. [Page 196 / Page 197]

The year after graduation [from Yale] Stapler was classical instructor in the Hartford (Conn.) Public High School, and at the same time began his course in the Yale Law School, which he completed in 1876. During his college course he won several prizes in English composition, and at the end of the second year in the law the Jewell prize for the highest marks in examination. During the second year of his law course he was also instructor in history in the Hopkins Grammar School.

After a clerkship with Fowler & Taylor in New York City, he was admitted to practice in May, 1878, and the following September formed a partnership with his classmate, John L. Wood, which continued ten years, after which he practiced alone. From 1891 to 1893 he was assistant district attorney of the city and county of New York, and was then with George P. Breckenridge, in the law firm of Stapler & Breckenridge.

He died of pneumonia at his home in Pelham Manor, Westchester County, N.Y., December 1, 1906, in his fifty-fourth year."

Source: Biographical Record of the Class of 1874 in Yale College - Part Fourth 1874-1909, pp. 196-97 (New Haven, CT: The Tuttle Morehouse & Taylor Co. 1912).

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