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, July 31, 2009

1878 New York State Law Limits Powers of Pelham Town Officials to Borrow Money

For many years during the 1870s and 1880s, rival factions on City Island and the mainland battled over whether to improve roadways in the Town of Pelham and how to pay for such improvements.  City Islanders typically opposed road improvements on the mainland and, thus, opposed efforts to raise money for such improvements.  Eventually, the City Island faction convinced State lawmakers to pass a law limiting the ability of Town officials to borrow money to fund such improvements.  The text of the statute is quoted below.

"CHAP. 355.

AN ACT to limit and define the powers of the the [sic; asterisk footnote reads "So in the original."] * supervisor, town clerk, commissioners of highways and justices of the peace of the town of Pelham, in the county of Westchester.

PASSED MAY 24, 1878; three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New York represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

[Left Column Summary:]  Not to apply to supervisors for authority to borrow money, etc.

SECTION 1.  The supervisor, town clerk, commissioner of highways and justices of the peace of the town of Pelham, in the county of Westchester, shall not have power, after the passage of this act, to apply to the board of supervisors of the said county for authority to borrow, upon the credit of the said town, any sum whatever, and to issue the bonds of the said town under and in pursuance of chapter eight hundred and fifty-five of the laws of eighteen hundred and sixty-nine, or under chapter two hundred and sixty of the laws of eighteen hundred and seventy-four,

[Left Column Summary:]  Except by resolution of town meeting.

excepting under and in pursuance of a resolution passed at a town meeting held according to law in said town, expressing the amount to be raised, or borrowed, and the object to which the same shall be appropriated;

[Left Column Summary:]  Resolution not to be passed without notice being given and posted.

and it shall not be lawful for any such town meeting to pass any resolution for the purposes aforesaid without a public printed notice being given, and posted in at least twenty public places in said town, among which shall be the railroad station at Pelhamville, the town hall, the railroad stations at Pelham Manor and Bartow, City Island bridge and the town clerk's office and each post-office in said town, at least four weeks prior to the said town meeting,

[Left Column Summary:]  Contents of notice.

and such notice shall specify the object and amount of each sum proposed to be raised or borrowed as aforesaid, and that the same will be presented at the next town meeting.

[Left Column Summary:]  Publication.

Such notice shall also be published for four weeks prior to said meeting in a newspaper printed and published in said town, if there shall be one, and if none is so printed and published, then in a newspaper printed and published in the village of New Rochelle and also in Mount Vernon.

[Left Column Summary:]  Proof of posting and publication.  Record.

It shall be the duty of the town clerk to present to the town meeting proof of the posting and publication of such notice before any resolution shall be passed for the purposes aforesaid, and such proof shall be recorded in full in the minutes of the town meeting.

[Left Column Summary:]  Vote necessary.

HTML clipboard§ 2.  No resolution for the appropriation or raising of money shall be passed at any town meeting in the town of Pelham unless by the vote of three-fifths of the taxpayers present at such meeting, taken by ballot, 

[Left Column Summary:]  Who entitled to vote.

and no person shall vote unless he shall be a taxpayer, and all taxpayers shall be entitled to vote for such appropriations except those who only pay a dog tax.

HTML clipboard§ 3.  This act shall take effect immediately."

Source:  Laws of the State of New York Passed at the One Hundred and First Session of the Legislature Begun January First and Ended May Fifteenth, 1878, in the City of Albany, Chap. 355, p. 440 (Albany, NY:  A. Bleecker Banks, Publisher, 1878).

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pelham-Related Trolley Franchises Granted in 1897

The following article describes Pelham-related trolly franchises addressed in 1897.  It is transcribed in full, followed by a citation to its source.

They Are Granted by the Board of Aldermen After a Sharp Discussion.
It Is Concluded Not to Wait for a Decision in the King's Bridge Road Case -- A Possible Union with the 'Huckleberry.'

The Board of Aldernen, at its regular meeting yesterday afternoon, granted with only three dissenting votes, franchises to the Pelham Park Railway Company, which operates a horse car line from Bartow to City Island, to build two branches of its road, one to Westchester Village and the other in the direction of New Rochelle as far as the city line.

A public hearing on the matter had been held on Monday afternoon, and at that time the sentiment of the Railroad Committee seemed to be in favor of deferring all action on any street railway matters until a decision was given in the King's Road Bridge case, which is before the courts.  But when the time came for the committee to report, it was a favorable one, signed by four of the members.

A proviso is made in the resolutions that the franchises shall be sold at public auction, according to law, and that not more than 5 cents shall be charged any passenger for a continuous ride on the roads of the company.  Another proviso is to the effect that the company shall pave and keep in repair the surface between the tracks, and shall keep this part of the pavement and for two feet beyond the rail on either side, clean and free from dirt or snow.  The third proviso is as follows:

That at the end of twenty-five years the said company, after a re-valuation, shall have the privilege of acquiring the same rights by paying the additional valuation, or that in case the city or some other corporation shall procure the same, then the Pelham Park Railroad Company shall be reimbursed the amount of the cost of building said railroad." 

Source:  Pelham Park Franchises, N.Y. Times,  Dec. 1, 1897, p. 12.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plans for Shooting Matches at the Glen-Drake Rifle Range in Early 1876

Yesterday I wrote about the "Glen-Drake" Rifle Range located in Pelhamville during the 1870s.  See:  Tue., July 28, 2009:  Account of Christmas Shooting Matches in 1875 at the Glen-Drake Rifle Range in Pelhamville.  I have previously written about the rifle range.  See:

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

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

Wed., April 22, 2009:  1877 Account of Competition for DePeyster Medal at the Glen Drake Range in Pelhamville.

Only Known Image of Glen-Drake Rifle Range, Published in 1876.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a very brief excerpt of an article describing plans for shooting matches to be held at the Glen-Drake Rifle Range on George Washington's birthday in 1876.


The American Rifle Association announces a programme of matches to be shot at Glendrake Range, Pelhamville, on Washington's Birthday.  The matches are three in number, and will be contested at 300 yards' distance.  Should the association be favored with pleasant weather, an interesting tournament may be expected. . . ."

Source:  Military Gossip, N.Y. Times, Feb. 20, 1876, p. 9.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Account of Christmas Shooting Matches in 1875 at the Glen-Drake Rifle Range in Pelhamville

I have written previously about the "Glen-Drake" Rifle Range located in Pelhamville during the 1870s.  See:

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

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

Wed., April 22, 2009:  1877 Account of Competition for DePeyster Medal at the Glen Drake Range in Pelhamville.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article describing shooting matches held at the Glen-Drake Rifle Range in Pelhamville on Christmas Day, 1875.

Only Known Image of Glen-Drake Range, Published in 1876


A number of short-range marksmen from this City, visited Glendrake Range, Pelhamville, yesterday, to participate in a series of matches arranged by the American Rifle Association.  During the early part of the day a dense fog hung over the swale which separated the firing-point from the targets; but shortly after noon the fog lifted, and a light rain commenced to fall.  This did not seriously impede the shooting, as the targets in use were of canvas, stretched on wooden frames, and were improved rather than injured by the rain.  The contest opened with a 'subscription,' and an 'all-comers' match, which were shot simultaneously at 300 yards, position standing; five shots in the former, and seven in th latter.  The prizes in the all-comers match were five in number, and consisted of a silver fruit dish, card-receiver, chow-chow cruet, butter-dish, and napkin-ring, ranging in value from $15 to $3.  In the subscription match one-half the entrance fees constituted the prizes, which was divided equally between the makers of the three highest scores.  The balance was retained by the Association.  Following these competitions was a 'ladies' match, in which the champions entered in the names of their lady friends, none of whom were present, however.  Several prizes were offered, comprising toilet sets, perfumery, and other articles.  The conditions were similar to those in the previous matches.  The fourth competition for the 'De Peyster' badge, open only to members of the National Guard in uniform, terminated the day's sport.  Following is a summary of the shooting:

Sergt. Backofen.............................3 3 5 3 4 4 4 - 26
A. E. Brown..................................3 4 4 3 4 5 3 - 26
A. W. Peck...................................5 3 4 4 3 4 3 - 26
M. Cochrane.................................4 4 4 3 3 3 3 - 24
Capt. Barger..................................3 4 4 4 2 3 4 - 24
Lieut. Morie...................................4 4 4 3 0 2 3 - 20
A. W. Bradley...............................0 4 2 3 4 2 3 - 19
J. A. Gee......................................3 3 3 0 4 2 3 - 19

 S. Backofen.................................4 4 3 4 5 - 20
J. A. Gee......................................3 5 4 3 3 - 18
A. W. Bailey.................................3 4 3 4 4 - 18
A. G. Brown.................................3 4 4 3 4 - 18
W. S. BeVan................................3 5 3 3 3 - 17
W. H. Brownell............................3 2 4 5 3 - 17
Edward Baraer.............................4 2 3 3 3 - 16
T. Duke........................................2 2 4 4 2 - 14
Lieut. Morie..................................4 2 4 3 0 - 13
A. W. Peck..................................3 3 0 3 3 - 12

A match, open only to members, will be contested by members next Saturday, from 10 A.M., until 3 P.M., for a silver trophy valued at $28.

 H. Fisher.....................................4 5 3 3 3 - 18
G. H. Thompson..........................3 3 3 3 4 - 16
H. Fisher......................................3 2 3 4 4 - 16
G. Williams..................................2 4 3 3 3 - 15
J. A. Gee.....................................4 3 0 4 4 - 15
M. Cochrane...............................4 4 0 4 3 - 15
T. Duke.......................................3 0 4 2 4 - 13
W. S. Bevan................................2 2 2 3 4 - 13
W. H. Brownell...........................3 2 2 2 3 - 12
Lieut. Morie................................0 3 2 3 4 - 12
Edward Barker...........................4 4 2 2 0 - 12
S. Backofen................................2 3 0 2 4 - 11
Col. Underhill..............................3 2 4 0 2 - 11
P. Crookspier.............................3 0 3 4 0 - 10
A. W. Peck................................2 3 0 2 3 - 10

W. S. Bevan...............................2 4 4 4 4 4 4 - 26
Edward Barker...........................4 5 4 2 5 3 3 - 26
T. Duke......................................3 4 3 5 4 0 5 - 24
Lieut. Morie................................4 2 3 3 4 3 4 - 23
S. Backofen................................3 3 4 2 3 5 3 - 23
H. Fisher.....................................3 3 0 5 3 2 3 - 19
G. H. Thompson.........................3 4 3 0 4 3 2 - 19
A. W. Peck................................0 3 0 3 4 3 5 - 18
Col. Underhill.............................2 2 0 4 4 4 0 - 16
W. H. Brownell..........................0 3 0 0 0 5 2 - 10
J. A. Gee....................................2 0 0 3 3 2 0 - 10"

Source:  Christmas Sports - Rifle-Shooting at Glendrake - Four Well Contested Matches, N.Y. Times, Dec. 26, 1875, p. 7.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Fascinating 1728 Map of Northeast Coast Showing Pelham Area

An English sea chart published in London in 1728 provides a fascinating glimpse of the area that includes today's Pelham.  Immediately below is a detail from the map, followed by an overall image of the same map with an arrow indicating the area from which the detail was taken.  Beneath the images are bibliographic information and a discussion of the significance of the map as it relates to the area that includes today's Pelham.

Detail from 1728 Sea Chart by Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley.

1728 Sea Chart by Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley.

Below is bibliographic information for the sea chart:

A Chart of the Atlantick Ocean from Buttons Island To Port Royall by Map Makers Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley (London:  1728) (23 x 20 inches; sea chart "Atlas Sheet" originally included in the Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis).

The detail from the map shows the area around New York City.  North of the Throggs Neck area to the right of the "Bergen Co." reference is "Wasquaskeck".  This is a fascinating reference that harkens back to the mid-17th century.  Early Dutch and English records indicate that the Dutch and English referred to a Munsee-speaking band or group as "Wiechquaeskecks".  The group seemed to range in an area on the mainland north of Manhattan from the Hudson River to the Long Island Sound, well north toward today's Connecticut border and, perhaps, a little beyond.  The area included most, if not all, of the lands acquired by Thomas Pell in 1654.  I have found more than fifty different spellings of the label used in early records for this Munsee band.  I follow the custom of more recent scholarship including that of Dr. Paul Otto by referring to the group as "Wiechquaeskecks".

Immediately beneath the "Wasquaskeck" reference on the sea chart are a number of references that read, from left to right, as follows:  Frodam [Fordham], Col. Morris [likely a reference to Col. Lewis Morris who received the land grant that became Morrisania and surrounding areas], Westchester, East Chester, Stonebrook [Stony Brook, the stream that separated Thomas Pell's Manor of Pelham from the lands of John Richbell of Mamaroneck], Mamereck [Mamaroneck] and Rye.

In the Long Island Sound beneath these references, today's City Island is clearly visible.  Next to the island is the reference "Spectacle".  This seems to be a somewhat confused reference.  At the time, City Island was most commonly known as "Greater Minneford Island".  Next to it lies today's Hart Island.  At the time, Hart Island was known as "Lesser Minneford's Island" or, occasionally, "Spectacle Island" because it originally was two mounds separate by an isthmus. 

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Late 19th Century Photos of Students with Tennis Rackets at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor

During the late 1880s, The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York had a star teacher. Her name was Emily Hall Hazen. A few Pelham Manor landowners coveted the teacher’s talents and experience. They still were trying to develop the remnants of the subdivision planned by the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association founded in the early 1870s.

To attract “upper class buyers”, a Pelham Manor landowner named Silas H. Witherbee recruited Mrs. Hazen to open a girl’s preparatory school in Pelham Manor. According to one account, “although Mrs. Hazen was urged to locate elsewhere, she yielded to the persuasion and promise of support given by the residents of Pelham Manor.” In 1889 the little school opened, only to become one of the finest girls’ schools in the country before it closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year.

I have written before about Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.  See, e.g.:

Fri., October 14, 2005:  A Reunion of Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls

Tue., August 22, 2006:  Early Advertisements for Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor

Wed., Sep. 6, 2006:  Pelham Hall Shelter, a "Refuge for Erring Girls", Founded by Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor

Thu., July 12, 2007:  The Infamous Burglary of the Girls of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor in 1905

Mon., March 3, 2008:  1891 Advertisement May Reflect Summer Rental of One of the Dormitories of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls

See also Bell, Blake A., Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls:  Pelham Hall, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 40, Oct. 8, 2004, p. 12, col. 1.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog publishes two undated photographs of students of the school gathered with tennis rackets on the school grounds.  The photographs are in the collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.  I have scanned them in high resolution, but have reduced the file size of the files posted to this blog for practical purposes.  The photographs are mounted on the original card stock provided by the photographer.  At the foot of the card stock appears the following:  "KNOWLTON, PHOTOGRAPHER," and "1162 BROADWAY, NEW YORK."

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worries Over the Region's Water Supply in 1891

As the populations of Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle grew in the 1880s and early 1890s, worries about the region's water supply also grew, particularly given the rather crude sewerage treatment technologies of the day.  A lengthy editorial about the water supply problem appeared in the September 8, 1891 issue of The Chronicle published in Mount Vernon.  The editorial is transcribed below in its entirety.

"Our Water Supply.

The Board of Trustees are to meet next Wednesday evening, the 9th inst., at eight o'clock, to consider our water supply.  On that occasion it is probable that the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company and the New York and Westchester Water Company will be represented.  The former now furnishes, or tries to furnish Mount Vernon with water, the latter desires an opportunity to do so.  The present is therefore a fitting moment for a statement of what Mount Vernon wants and what the Water Company which serves us must supply. 

1.  We must have an abundant supply of water.

2.   It must be pure and wholesome.

3.  It must be furnished at reasonable rates.

4.  We must have a storage reservoir sufficient to supply us in any period of drought which is likely to occur.

Let us test the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company by these standards.

First.--It has not an abundant supply of water.  The New Rochelle Water Company owns the headwaters of Hutchinson River, down to and below Duryea's Mill Pond, so that all the water therefrom which the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company receives can be cut off at any moment.  To make bad worse the New York and Westchester Water Co. own the Hutchinson River below Duryea's Mill Pond down to and south of Glen Drake, so that all the water of the Hutchinson River nnorth of Glen Drake can be cut off at any time.

From Glen Drake to the reservoir of the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company is a distance of a mile; from the source of the Hutchinson River to Glen Drake is four miles.  How small a part of the watershed of the Hutchinson River is left to the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company, these figures show at a glance.  Moreover, we do not known how soon portions of this little strip of watershed may be bought up by rival companies. 

It is evident therefore that our supply of water from the Hutchinson River is likely to grow small by degrees and beautifully less, as the village increases in population.  We are informed that most of the water furnished in our village comes from artesian or driven wells.  The failure of these wells lately shows their insufficiency; artesian wells are not affected to any material extent by droughts. 

How much water recently acquired, Huguenot Lake will furnish we know not; but we do know that although the pipe therefrom to the reservoir has been laid for more than two weeks, and during those two weeks it has rained frequently, the water in the reservoir up to last Saturday, had not risen two feet.  The number of customers the company has is about 1,700.  As there are an average five to a family, about 8,000 people in Mount Vernon use the water.  They use about 60 gallons per haed.  Our Water Company should have a supply for at least 35,000 people -- that is three times the number it now supplies.  It has nothing of the sort.

2.--The quality of water.  That which comes from the artesian wells is, we believe, excellent, but that which comes from the Hutchinson River is not.  On its watershed are Pelhamville, Chester Park, Highland Parg and the Wartburg and Infant Asylums.  Guard these as you will, their sewerage will to some extent leak into the river; and as these places grow the leakage will be greater.

Hence the sooner the Hutchinson River is abandoned by us as a water-supply, the better.


These are excessive when compared with those in New York City and in our other neighbors.  If the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company desires to keep the patronage of Mount Vernon, it must, like Capt. Scott's coon, come down.


We must have a new storage reservoir and it should not be where it is.  It is immaterial where the water comes from as long as the location of the reservoir is unchanged.  The purest of water, if pumped into it, will be contaminated with the impurities and sewage which find their way into the river.

The reservoir holds only 30,000,000 gallons or thereabouts when full.  It barely holds a month's supply for Mount Vernon to-day; and it will not be a fortnight's supply two years hence.  The New Rochelle reservoir holds 130,000,000 gallons.  It is therefore almost six times as large as ours, although the population is not half as numerous.


Now if the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company will remedy all these defects, it should be preferred to any other company.  If it will not, then any other company which will give us a better supply should have our patronage.


The New York and Westchester Water Company propose to get most of their water from the Pocantico River.  This is a small stream that flows into the Hudson River at Tarrytown.  How much of its watershed the company owns we know not.  How many gallons a day it supplies we know not.  How pure the water is we know not.  Neither do we know what rates the company proposes to charge, nor the size of its storage reservoirs."

Source:  Our Water Supply, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 8, 1891, p. ?, col. 1 (page number not printed on newspaper page). 

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Report of Investigation of Pelham Sewage Disposal Plant Prepared in 1921

In the early 20th century, as the population of Pelham continued to grow, the Town of Pelham struggled to ensure its residents had the basics -- clean water, sewage disposal, adequate housing, and more.  Among the most difficult problems faced by the Town was the proper treatment and disposal of sewage.

The Town constructed a sewage disposal plant on the eastern bank of the Hutchinson River in an area near today's "Glover Field" (which once was known, as a consequence, as "Stink Field").  An investigation by State authorities in 1921, however, concluded that the plant was not being maintained or run properly.  The report, which provides an interesting glimpse into the mechanisms for sewage disposal at the outset of the Roaring '20s, is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


An investigation was made by Mr. A. I. Howd of this Department on June 1, 1921, of the sewage disposal plant of the town of Pelham, Westchester county. N. Y.

The town of Pelham is situated in the southcentral part of Westchester county a short distance north of New York city between the city of Mount Vernon on the west and the city of New Rochelle on the east. The incorporated villages of Pelham, North Pelham and Pelham Manor comprise the town. They are provided with a water supply furnished principally by the New Rochelle Water Company, practically all of the residents being supplied. The town has a population of about 5,000.

The sewage disposal plant for the town is located in the village of Pelham Manor on the east side of the Hutchinson river. The disposal works consist of a screen and grit chamber, settling tanks, pumping plant, dosing tank and sprinkling filters. Previous inspections of the operation of the plant have been made by this Division in 1914 and 1918.

The whole of the village of Pelham and all of North Pelham are served by sewer systems tributary to the Pelham sewage disposal plant except a small area of about 30 acres, comprising about one-tenth of the area of North Pelham, the sewage from which is discharged into the Mount Vernon sewer system. The sewage from a small area in the southern part of Pelham Manor is discharged into a series of so-called liquefying tanks, the effluent from which is discharged into Long Island sound. The sewage from about 35 per cent of the area of the village of Pelham Manor flows by gravity to a pumping station, known as the Mt. Tom pumping station, from which it is pumped through 2,000 feet of force main to a point on Pelhamdale [Page 309 / Page 310] avenue where it empties into a sewer which carries it by gravity to the Pelham sewage disposal plant. The remainder of the village is served by a gravity system which conducts the sewage to the main sewage disposal plant.

The sewage from the different sections of the town flows through three main trunk sewers to a manhole outside the sewage disposal plant. There is a by-pass from this manhole through which r:aw sewage may be discharged direct into the creek. The by-pass is provided with a valve which will prevent sewage being discharged into the creek except at the discretion of the operator of the plant, but which does not prevent water from the creek backing up into the sewage disposal plant at times of high water.

The sewage enters the disposal plant through a screen and grit chamber located under the floor of a building which also houses the settling tanks, pumping plant and dosing chambers. The screens, which are of the bar type, were so clogged at the time of the inspection that the sewage was running over the top of the screens. It was learned from the attendant at the plant that the screens had not been cleaned for a considerable time and that the grit chamber was cleaned about two months previous to the inspection. According to the attendant, the grit chamber is cleaned about every three months, the cleanings being buried near the plant. The clogging of the screens caused the sewage to back up in the sewers approaching the plant, a manhole 300 or 400 feet from the plant being virtually filled' with sewage.

The settling tanks are divided into four units, the two northerly units being in operation at the time of the inspection. The capacity of the two units is about 78,600 gallons which provides 'an average detention period for the sewage of about 2 hours. These units had been in continuous use for about two months. A considerable portion of the sewage in the tanks was covered with a thick, crusted brown scum. The tanks not in use were filled with water. The sludge is emptied from the tanks from time to time and was said by the attendant to be buried in the ground near the plant.

The dosing tanks and automatic siphons were not operating properly at the time of the inspection. The dosing tanks were not emptied in rotation and the periods of dosing and resting of the filters were irregular.
Observations were made about noon which indicated at that time that Bed No. 1 was being dosed for a period of about one minute and was resting for about two minutes between doses. Bed No. 3 was being dosed for periods ranging from 15 seconds to 1 minute 20 seconds and was resting from 1 minute 45 seconds to 2 minutes 40 seconds. Bed No. 2 was not dosed during the observations. Later in the afternoon observations were continued. Bed No. 2 dosed for 5-1/2 minutes evidently for the first time in several hours. About one-half hour later Bed No. 3 was dosed for 6-1/4 minutes and near the end of the dose Bed No. 1 began to dose and was dosed for nearly 9 minutes. The beds were not dosed again during the remainder of the observations, Bed No. 2 having rested for an hour.

The sprinkling filters were being operated at an average rate of about 1,670,000 gallons per acre per day. It appeared at the time of the inspection that the center unit was operating considerably below this rate and the other two units considerably in excess of this rate. Several of the sprinkler nozzles in the center unit were clogged and in need of cleaning.

The effluent from the sprinkling filters was somewhat cloudy but apparently free from large particles of suspended matter. The stream into which the sewage is discharged is grossly polluted and the black muck on the banks of the creek presents a very unsightly appearance at low tide.

It was evident at the time of the inspection that the sewers were receiving excessive amounts of ground water and probably large quantities of storm water. This condition was plainly noticeable at a manhole on Pelhamdale avenue where sewage empties from the force main from the Mt. Tom pumping station into the gravity system. The sewage was quite clear and at the time free from any large particles.

It was impossible at the time of the inspection to make satisfactory observations as to the distance from the plant at which odors might be [Page 309 / Page 310] detected. While the inspection was being made at the plant, the wind was in the east carrying any odors that might arise across the river toward Mount Vernon. An attempt was made during the afternoon to observe odors from the Mount Vernon shore but before any satisfactory observation was made the wind shifted to the west.

It is evident as a result of the inspection that the sewage disposal plant of the town of Pelham is not being satisfactorily operated and several conditions should be immediately remedied.

The by-pass to the river from the manhole on the main sewer leading to the plant and located just outside the main building, should be removed or satisfactorily sealed. Its existence and use defeats the purpose for which the sewage disposal plant was constructed and is being operated, and furthermore, the discharge of raw sewage into the Hutchinson river through this by-pass is a violation of the public health law. This Department has recommended a number of times in the past that this by-pass be removed or sealed.

The screens in the screen and grit chamber should be cleaned several times a day or as often as is necessary to prevent sewage flowing over screens and so that they may be used for the purpose for which they were intended. The screenings should be removed and disposed of in a satisfactory sanitary manner. Under no condition should the screenings be pushed or discharged into the channel leading to the settling tank or be discharged into the Hutchinson river.

The discharge of sewage from the pumps into the dosing tanks should be more evenly regulated. It appeared at the time of the inspection that the middle dosing chamber received less sewage than the other chambers, since the middle sprinkling filter unit discharged less often than the end filter units. This lack of uniformity of distribution of sewage to the dosing tanks might possibly be corrected by increasing or decreasing the size of the openings from the distribution channel to the various dosing tanks.

The siphons, particularly those serving Bed No. 1 and Bed No. 3, should be overhauled and put in a proper operating condition so that all the sewage in the dosing tank shall be discharged in one dose and not allowed to dribble intermittently for several minutes.

In a report dated July 23, 1921, the following recommendations were made:

1. That the by-pass allowing raw sewage to pass directly to the Hutchinson river be entirely sealed up or removed and if any overflow is deemed necessary, that an overflow be provided for the effluent from the settling tanks to be used only in case of emergency such as the breaking down of the pumps.

2. That the screens be cleaned regularly and as often as may be necessary to prevent their clogging.

3. That provision be made for the disposal of the screenings in a sanitary manner.

4. That the openings in the distribution channel discharging settling tank effluent into the dosing chamber be so modified that uniform distribution of the settling tank effluent over the sprinkling filters may be effected.

5. That the clogged sprinkling filter nozzles or risers be cleaned.

6. That a competent sanitary engineer be employed to design and prepare plans for a sludge drying bed for the proper disposal of sludge from the plant.

7. That the town authorities in charge of the sewage disposal plant employ a competent sanitary engineer to have charge of the operation and maintenance of the sewage disposal plant.

8. That the town authorities provide for a comprehensive survey of the town to determine from what sources water from catch basins, drains, or roof leaders may enter the sewer system and require the immediate disconnection of all such sources.

Copies of the report were sent to the local boards of health of the town of Pelham and the village of Pelham Manor, to the sanitary supervisor of the district and to the board of sewer commissioners of Pelham."

Source:  State of New York - Forty-Second Annual Report of the State Department of Health for the Year Ending December 31, 1921, Vol. I, pp. 308-10 (Albany, NY:  B. Lyon Company, 1922) (Legislative Document (1922), No. 27).

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Order Approving Proposed Extension of North Pelham Trolley Line to New Rochelle in 1913

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In the early 20th century, companies worked hard to cover the region with trolley tracks to improve mass transit.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an order entered by the New York Public Service Commission, Second District, on September 22, 1913, approving extension of a trolley line in the Village of North Pelham to the New Rochelle border.

"[Case No. 3823]


At a session of the Public Service Commission, Second District, held at the Capitol, Albany, on the 22nd day of September, 1913.



In the matter of the Petition of THE WESTCHESTER ELECTRIC RAILROAD COMPANY under section 53 of the Public Service Commissions Law as to construction of a single track extension of its railroad.

A petition under section 53 of the Public Service Commissions Law having been filed with this Commission by The Westchester Electric Railroad Company for permission to construct a single track extension of its street surface railroad on Pelhamdale avenue in the village of North Pelham, and in the city of New Rochelle; and a public hearing on said petition, after notice, having been held by Commissioner Sague of this Commission in the city of New York, at which petitioner was represented by its vice-president and its secretary, and the Village of North Pelham was represented by Peter Ceder, village president; and it appearing that the proposed single track extension is to be operated by the overhead electrical trolley system; and this Commission hereby determining from the papers and evidence at the hearing that the construction of the single track extension in question is necessary and convenient for the public service,

Ordered:  That this Commission, under section 53 of the Public Service Commissions Law, hereby permits and approves construction by The Westchester Electric Railroad Company of a single track extension of its street surface railroad, beginning at and connecting with the existing single track of said company at or near the intersection of Pelhamdale (sometimes known as Fifth) avenue with Willow avenue or Mayflower avenue in the village of North Pelham, and extending through Pelhamdale or Fifth avenue to the boundary line of the village of North Pelham und the city of New Rochelle at the middle of Hutchinson's river, and crossing such other streets and avenues as may be encountered on said route, and upon so much of the bridge crossing Hutchinson's river as may be owned by the Village of North Pelham or the City of New Rochelle; provided that deviations and additional turnouts, switches, and crossovers may be constructed in accordance with the provisions of the contract hereinafter mentioned; and hereby permits and approves the exercise of a franchise for such construction, which franchise is in the form of a contract dated August 12, 1913, between the Village of North Pelham, the City of New Rochelle, and The Westchester Electric Railroad Company, copy of which contract, certified by the assistant secretary of The Westchester Electric Railroad Company, is on file with this Commission with the papers in this case."

Source:  State of New York Seventh Annual Report of the Public Service Commission Second District for the Year Ended December 31, 1913, Vol. I,  p. 220 (Albany, NY:  J.B. Lyon Company 1914).

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Early Automobile Accident and Explosion on Shore Road Near Travers Island in 1902

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an article that appeared on the front page of the April 26, 1902 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer that described an early automobile accident and explosion near the entrance to the New York Athletic Club facility on Travers Island.  The area later became notorious for speeding and serious automobile accidents.  This is one of the earliest documented instances of such an accident.  Perhaps appropriately, as transportation was evolving in the area rapidly at the time, there was a horse involved in this accident.

To Avoid Collision with Horse and Carriage Auto Collides with a Pole.

An automobile which bore the initials J.A.R. and is said to belong to Mr. Roach of New York City, exploded Saturday evening on the Shore Road, near the New York Athletic Club's Country home, in Pelham Manor.  Two men who were in the vehicle were severely injured.  The machine which was operated by gasolene [sic], took fire after the explosion and was almost burned up.  The prompt arrival of a watering cart from Pelham Bay Park saved it from complete destruction.

The machine was being driven at a rapid rate down Roosevelt's Hill, between Pelham Bay Park and the New York Athletic Club country place, and one of the men in it, it is said, was down on his knees repairing a part of the mechanism, when his companion saw that the machine was frightening a horse.  The horse was plunging and side stepping, and, in order to give the man who was driving more room, the automobile was turned out of the roadway.

It struck a telegraph pole with a crash and a loud explosion followed.  An instant later the machine took fire from the gasolene [sic], and was soon enveloped in flames.  The two men were thrown about twenty feet down the hill, and received many cuts and bruises.  Their clothing was badly torn, and was spattered with the burning gasolene [sic]. 

Jacob Schwind, proprietor of the Hunters Island Inn, was driving toward the Pelham Golf links with a party of New York people.  He and his guests hurried to the assistance of the injured men, and sent a hurry call to the Park Department for a sprinkling cart to put out the fire.  After the fire had been put out the men and their machine were taken to the Hunters Island Inn.  Mr. Schwind and the people at the inn wanted to send for a doctor, but the men begged them not to, saying that they were not badly hurt, and would try to fix themselves up, as they did not want any publicity.

After their wounds had been dressed, Mr. Schwind took the men to the Bartow station of the New Haven road, where they took a train for New York City.  They were so much afraid that their names might get into print that they declined to allow any one to accompany them, although they were still very weak when they got on the train.  The wrecked machine was left at the inn, but was taken away later."

Source:  Two Hurt in Explosion, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 26, 1902, Vol. 44, No. 6, p. 1, col. 1.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Brief Biography of William B. Randall of Pelham Manor Published in 1900

William B. Randall was a noted resident of Pelham Manor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He had a house that stood between today's Beech Tree Lane and Park Lane near the Village border with Pelham Bay Park.  The house no longer stands. 

Below is a brief biography of Randall published in 1900.  The text is followed by a citation to its source.

"RANDALL, WILLIAM B. -- Banker, 66 Broadway, New York City; residence Pelham Manor.  Born in South Lee Berkshire Co., Mass., Oct. 2, 1859.  Educated at Prospect School, Bridgeport, Conn. (Married.)  Trust officer Knickerbocker Trust Co.  Treasurer Southern States Lumber Co.; treasurer and director Gorham Coal Co.; secretary and director Laguna Valley Co., and Hampton Roads Hotel Co.; secretary Ashtabula Water Co.; director Suburban Land Improvement Co.; trustee village of Pelham Manor.  Member National Arts Club."

Source:  Biographical Directory of the State of New York 1900, p. 391 (NY, NY:  Biographical Directory Co. 1900).

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Village of Pelham Trustees Grant Franchise Necessary for the Pelham Manor Trolley that Inspired the Toonerville Trolley

Below is the text of an article published in 1898 describing a decision by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Pelham (i.e., Pelham Heights, not today's Village of Pelham) to grant a franchise to the Union Electric Railway Company to operate a trolley line through the village.  Based on the specified roads, the franchise grant clearly relates to the Pelham Manor Trolley Line that inspired Fontaine Fox to create the Toonerville Trolley that appeared in his famed "Toonerville Folks" comic strip for nearly a half century.  Beneath the text is a citation to its source.

"A Franchise Granted in Pelham.

The Board of Trustees of the Village of Pelham held a meeting last Saturday evening [March 5, 1898] at the residence of Mr. Ralph K. Hubbard on Pelham Heights.  The most important business transacted was the granting of a franchise to the Union Electric Railway Company to operate an electric road from the corner of Wolf's Lane and Third street, (where its route at present turns to go to North Pelham down Wolf's Lane to the Boston Post Road and up the Boston Post Road as far as Pelhamdale avenue.  For the balance of the Post Road the Union Company has a franchise from the Pelham Manor authorities.

The conditions of the franchise are that the tracks shall be laid and cars running within six months and that cars shall meet all the trains on the New Haven Railroad at Pelham and all those on the Harlem River Branch at Pelham Manor station.

Messrs. I.C. Hill and Alexander Kennedy, the Citizens' Committee on trolley extensions appointed by the North Pelham trustees, attended the meeting.  Mr. John Maher, president of the Union Road, was also present and stated that he thought if it were found feasible to do so, the line of the company would be extended to the northern to the northern boundary of North Pelham in the near future."

Source:  A Franchise Granted in Pelham, The Chronicle, Mar. 11, 1898, p. 3, col. 3.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Liberty Hose Company Election in 1898

I have worked for many years to document the earliest histories of the various fire fighting units that operated in Pelham during the late 1800s.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides information about the election of officers in the Liberty Hose Company in 1898.  The text of the article is transcribed below followed by a citation to its source.

"Liberty Hose Company Officers.

Liberty Hose Company held an election of officers on Monday evening, the following being chosen:  foreman, James W. Penny; assistant foreman, H. Prindle; secretary, Thomas R. Scott; treasurer, Alexander Kennedy.  Upon the request of the members of the company who have recently received exempt certificates, they were released from active membership and their names were ordered placed on the honorary list."

Source:  Liberty Hose Company Officers, The Chronicle, Mar. 11, 1898, p. 3, col. 3.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Successful Fundraiser for the Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road

I have written before about the Pelham Summer Home.  See, e.g.:  Thu., April 14, 2005:  The Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road.  An image of the structure appears immediately below.

Post Card View of the Pelham Summer Home in About 1908.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of a brief article published in 1907 describing a successful fundraiser held for the benefit of the Pelham Summer Home.  The text of the article is followed by a citation to its source.

"Lawn Fete Highly Successful.

A special meeting of the members of the Pelham Summer Home was held on Monday, June 3, at the residence of Mrs. R. C. Black, Pelham Manor, for the purpose of listening to the reports of the several committees in charge of the lawn fete held on May 25th.  The fete was the largest and most important function ever given by the Pelham Summer Home, and was a brilliant success.  The net proceeds were $1700.

As the Home has been recently enlarged so as to accommodate twice as many children as formerly, it has been found necessary to supplement the regular income of the Society by making a special effort of this kind. 

The Society is very happy to take this opportunity of thanking the members of committees who were untiring in their work and also of thanking the business firms and the friends from Pelham Heights, Pelham Manor, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and New York, who supported their efforts so generously."

Source:  Lawn Fete Highly Successful, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jun. 8, 1907, p. ?, col. 4 (newspaper page does not have page number printed on it).

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