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.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

1884 Engraving of Winner of the Great Pelham Steeplechase, Barometer, and His Owner and Rider, J. D. Cheever

Periodically I have written about the Steeplechase Races held at The Country Club in Pelham during the 1880s.  See, for example:

Bell, Blake A., The Pelham Steeplechase Races of the 1880s, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIV, Issue 12, March 25, 2005, p. 10, col. 2.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009:  September 1884 Advertisement for The Country Club Steeplechase.  

Interestingly, I have now run across an engraving of the winner of the great Steeplechase Race held on October 18, 1884.  It appeared on the front page of the October 25, 1884 issue of The Spirit of The Times.  The engraving depicts the winner of the race, Barometer, and his owner and rider, J. D. Cheever.  At present, this is the only known image of a participant in the races of which I am aware.  The image appears immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

Source:  Barometer, Winner of the Great Pelham Steeplchase, Owned and Ridden by J. D. Cheever, Esq., The Spirit of the Times, Vol. 108, No. 18, Oct. 25, 1884, p. 409, col. 1.

Below is the text of the article that accompanied the image:


WITH more favorable weather there can hardly be a doubt that the steeplechase meeting of the Country Club at Pelham, Saturday last, 18th inst., would have been the occasion of drawing together one of the largest attendances seen at a race meeting during the past season.  October is certainly the queen of months in this latitude, and the present autumn had been so open and genial as to warrant the expectation of a pleasant day for the races.  The morning broke beautifully warm and bright after a white frost, but at eleven o'clock huge clouds which had been gathering in the west descended in the form of a severe shower, and the air and temperature at unce underwent a complete change, for it became intensely cold with high winds, and there were still ominous-looking clouds hovering over the northwest.  This put an effectual damper upon the long cherished plans of the numerous array of fashionables who had looked forward to the day with the keenest delight, and it is safe to say more than two-thirds of those who had fully intended being present, abandoned the trip.  Still the special trains from the Grand Central Depot, and also from the Harlem River branch were filled, and, after another shower about one o'clock, the sky cleared, but the day was so keen and blustery as to render it rather uncomfortable to any one not constantly in motion.  

Pelham is one of the oldest and most aristocratic of the old Westchester towns.  It was first settled in 1640 by the Hutchinsons, who sought a refuge from the Puritan intolerance of Massachusetts, only to fall victims of Indian barbarism.  The country at the time was in the possession of the Siwonay [sic] band of the Mohegan Indians, whose territoryextend from Norwalk to the Harlem River.  But in 1654 Thomas Pell, of Fairfield, Connecticut, obtained a grant from the Indian proprietors which covered from the Bronx River to the Sound, and became lord of the manor of Pelham.  'The name is of Saxon origin pel meaning remote, while ham signifies a mansion, and the former being the surname of its owner, afforded a good reason for its adoption in connection with the last.  Here also settled several of the most influential Huguenot families, among them the family of Herteaut, which has since been corrupted into Bartow, one of the ladies of which family became the wife of Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States.  The Lawrences, the Pinckneys, the Prevosts, the Morrises, Roosevelts, and the Hunters all settled here also.  The neighborhood is rich in historic lore, for here it was at Pell's Point that in October, 1776, the British forces were landed, and a severe engagement was fought, which was followed ten days later by the memorable battle of White Plains. 

The neighborhood is also not without its turf history.  About a mile to the north, and in site of the spire of the old Eastchester Church is the broad heath which, in the past generation, was known as the Race Field.  Here it was that nearly a century since the Pells, the Morrises, the Delanceys, and others of the old Westchester families tested their thoroughbreds.  Racing had a well-defined existence even at that early day, as many of the settlers had brought with them their fondness for the sport.  But in more recent years the neighborhood has played its part on the theatre of the turf.  Near by is Annieswood, the estate of Mr. John Hunter, where Kentucky and Leamington stood, and where Alarm and Rhadamanthus were foaled.  It was here that Leamington held his court the year 1871, when he sired Olitipa, Rhadamanthus, Aris ides, Milner, James A., Bob Woolley, and Katie Pearce.  At Throgg's Neck, near at hand, Mr. Francis Morris for years upheld racing in the East, and bred Ruthless, Remoseless, Relentless, Regardless, and Battle Axe.  Here, too, Eph Snedeker, the famous trainer, first saw light and still resides.  Near by Messrs. Pierre and George Lorillard were bred and born, and the elder Lorillard first founded the great tobacco factory on the Bronx, which has developed into the greatest of its kind in all America.  The racing spirit is inherent in the soil, and Mr. Pierre Lorillard, Jr., has recently sought to revive it on his ancestral acres, where he is collecting a select stud, at the head of which is the English stallion Siddartha (son of Pero Gomez and The Pearl), by Newminster, grandam the famous Caller Og, the St. Leger heroine of 1851.  The soil is of a limestone nature, and admirably adapted to the breeding of thoroughbreds, as the breeding of Messrs. Hunter and Morris has proved, for, barring Erdenheim, it has produced more good race-horses than any section of the East.

The grounds of the Country Club are pleasantly located within a [Page 409 / Page 410] mile of Pelham Bridge, occupying a broad plateau of pasture land flanked on every side by ancient forests of nut and oak, interspersed with grassy glades, and from the club-house a magnificent view of the valley and adjacent country can be obtained, with the meanderings of the Aqueanouncke, on its way to the Sound.  The roads for miles had been well billed with 'This way to the Pelham Races,' and at noon were crowded with the country people en route with their families.  Riding parties of ladies and gentlemen were numerous, and from the gates of the lordly country residences of the opulent Cestreans the stately four-in-hand drags rolled forth, to the cheerful note of the horn, filled with gay parties bound for the tryst of sport.  The hotels at Pelham were crowded with driving and riding parties, partaking of luncheon, whle the wind whistled rather mournfully outside, rendering the wood-fire in the grate exceedingly comfortable.  The road leading from the railroad depot and Westchester Village was choked with vehicles and pedestrians.  One of the first we encountered was the familiar form of Eph Snedeker with his family.

'Hallo, Eph, thought you were in Baltimore,' we called out.

'No, hadn't anything to take.  Duchese is turned out, and you know we couldn't get 'the Saint' ready' he returned.

'If you had Loftin and Louisette wouldn't have taken the stakes, eh?'

'No, sir; that's my luck, you know.  But I thourht you were in Baltimore, Mr. 'Vigilant.'  This is a strange country to you, ain't it?'

'Not much:  I have relatives lying in the church-yard yonder.  But that's a grave subject -- no pun -- tell me what will win the big event?'

'Charlemagne, I guess; Pat Maney's going to ride him, so they tell me.'

Arrived at the grounds, the scene was picturesque in the extreme.  The grand stand was packed, and the members' boxes presented a bewildering array of beauty and fashion, while to the south the four-in-hands were drawn up in regal style.  Away to the left there was a vast gathering of equipage.  The field was crowded, and along the edges, by the side of the stone walls, and under the trees, the good country people had assembled in holiday attire, and having brought their luncheon with them, partook of it with relish, under the influence of keen air.  The whole ensemble of the grounds had the pastoral appearance of an English country fair, recalling to the recollection of many travelers 'Merry Carlisle' or Newcastle on a Cup day, while the mounted parties of ladies and gentleme, moving constantly about the vedettes, gave it a brightness and animation peculiarly pleasant.  But horsemen there were plenty.  Sir Roderick Cameron was there, showing as much interest as in the days of yore.  Mr. Withers was in the judges' stand, looking profoundly, as usual, as if he were resolving in his mind some abstruse point of racing law.  Capt. Connor saluted us with his cheery 'Hell, 'Mr. Vigilant,'' and points us out among the crowd a short, thick-set gentleman, and for the first time we set eyes upon General Beauregard, the Rupert of the Confederate army.  Mr. Lawrence is one of the judges, and hob-nobs with Mr. Larry Jerome.  Here is Jacob Pincus, always social, but as non-commital as an oyster, and Billy Donohue, spick and span 'just from Baltimore, Mr. V.''' as he begs to inform us.  Then comes Mr. Waterbury, president of the club, and doing the honors of the occasion, while the young Lorillards, Mr. Cheever, Mr. Mortemer, Mr. Thorn, Mr. Foxhall Keene, and Mr. Belmont Purdy made up the coterie of gentlemen riders as they group together in all the glory of silk and top-boots discussing the prospects of the day.

We would that we could record a series of splendid contests, but to do so would be very far from recording the truth, for, apart from the great event of the day, the races were poor affairs, although there is no doubt that, to the non-professional element, they gave plenty of amusement, if not satisfaction.  The opening race for farmers' horses to be ridden by farmers or their sons, brought out a motley group of screws, and Billy Donohue's face was a study as he gazed at the 'colors of the riders.'  Bed flannel was the excellent substitute one of these worthy young men chose for silk, while another wore paper muslim in lieu of satin, while still another wore a self-evident base-ball suit, including long hose in place of boots.  Still the eyes of the neighborhood were upon them, and from the shouts of approval that went out to meet them as they indulged in 'the preliminary canter,' each evidently felt quite' as big a man as old McLaughlin,' despite the fact that the race-course element guyed them unmercifully.  Each had evidently torn a leaf out of McLaughlin's book about starting, for at the first attempt they broke away and despite the fact the flag had not fallen they raced away for dear life, amid wild yells of delight from the crowd, but the winner had the chagrin to be ordered back to the post, and Pete won the race after an exhibition of finishing which set the stand in a roar.

The pony race was a tame affair, Mr. Thorn winning as he liked with Wild Tom.  The light-weight steeplechase was a roaring farce.  Vampire refused at the outset, and all refused the double, to the intense delight of the crowd.  Then Ivy had a winning lead, only to bolt at the water jump, leaving Kitty in the lead.  She looked like a winner, but at the double fell, throwing Mr. Thorn and campering away, pursued by a band of mounted police, who were cheered on by an army of small boys, and in their desperate endeavors one of the guardians of the peace was thrown and badly hurt.  The outcome was that the Canadian mare, Ivy, won, with Mr. Foxhall Keene and Fleurette second.  The pony steeplechase was a tame affair.  Mr. Thorn winning handily with Puck.  Then came the heavy-weight steeplechase, in which all fell, and after an exhibition of ground and lofty tumbling, during which each of the contestants in turn looked a winner, Mr. Sands steered Dundee in ahead.

Now came the concluding race and the event of the day in the Great Pelham Steeplechase.  Charlemagne and Disturbance alternated as favorites, but Echo and Rose were well backed, and Trombone had quite a following among those in the secret, that at home he had given Hobson's Choice 20 lbs. and beaten him a quarter of a mile.  Mr. Thorn was to have ridden him, but as he had ridden in nearly all the day's events, he resigned in favor of the reliable Blute, who had ridden the colt in all his races at Monmouth, but which meant 7 lbs. more weight.  The horses presented a very pretty picture as they marshalled at the post, just as the sun was sinking behind the Westchester hills.  It was quite a sectional contest.  Disturbance represented Amsterdam, N.Y.:  Rose, Charlemagne, and Echo were from Canada:  Paris represented the Elkridge Hunt of Baltimore:  Trombone the Meadowbrook Hunt, of Hempstead (Long Island), and Barometer the Rockaway Hunt Club.  Dungeon and Peanuts sported the 'lemon and red cap' of the Myopia Hunt of Boston, and Response represented the Essex County Hunt, of New Jersey.  Echo and Rose led for a distance.  Dungeon was far away the best jumper, but he was wholly wanting in pace, for, though he took his jumps like an Irish steeplechaser, he could not rate with the others.  Charlemagne fenced well, as did Barometer, but Trombone showed the most speed, and was rushing to the lead, was never headed, for Mr. Cheever brought him home a winner, to the wildest cheering from his many friends, as it was a popular victory, being that of an amateur over the professional element.  Pat Maney brought Charlemagne up in great style at the head of the stretch, but the 39 lbs. difference was too much to overcome.  Response finishted third, but as his jockey neglected to weigh in, he was disqualified, and third money reverts to the club.  It was the old story of Rockaway, the light weight won, with the heavy weight next, and there is hardly any room for doubt that Barometer had been overlooked in the handicap, while Echo and Response got rather the worst of it.  Thus ended a very agreeable day's sport, and one which will be repeated next season.  The evening was most agreeably spent at the club-house, where dancing continued until a late hour.

PELHAM, N.Y., Oct. 18.--Steeplechase meeting of the Country Club of Westchester County.  Weather cold and windy.

First Race.

Purse $100; $25 to second; entrance free; for horses used for farming purposes, owned and ridden by farmers or their sons residing in Westchester County; catch weights; half a mile.

M. Galvin's b h Pete, 4 yrs...............................(Dunn) 1
W. Callaghan's b g Bright Boy, aged.................(Stout) 2
J.B. Colford's br h Charlie C., aged....................(-------) 3

W. Callaghan's ch m Baby, 5 yrs (Walton); M. Colford's ch g Disowned, aged (Colford), and L. Bernard's br g Dutch Charlie, aged (Owner), ran unplaced.

Betting:  Even money agst Pete, 8 to 5 agst Charlie C., [illegible] to 1 agst Baby, 5 to 1 agst Bright Boy, 8 to 1 agst Disowned, 10 to 1 agst Dutch Charlie.  French mutuels paid $26.60.  To a false start five horses rand the full course.  Baby finished first, Dutch Charlie second, and Bright Boy fell.  They were immediately sent to the post, when Charlie C. took the lead, followed by Dutch Charlie.  Pete waited till the straight, when he came away and won by five lengths, followed by Bright Boy, four in front of Charlie C. and Baby.

Second Race

Handicap polo pony sweepstakes; $25 each, h. f.; added to a cup presented by Mr. L. L. Lorillard; second to save entrance; for polo ponies owned by members of any recognized polo club, and qualified under the rules of the Westchester Polo Club; 9 subs.; about half a mile.

W.K. Thorn, Jr.'s b g Wild Tom, 4 yrs. [illegible] 5 lbs......(Owner)  1
H.B. Richardson's b m Tomboy, 5 yrs. [illegible] 5 lbs.....(Stevens) 2
F.P. Keene's b g Jacko, aged, 150 lbs...........................(Owner) 3

J. M. Waterbury's rn g Dude, aged [illegible] lbs. (N.G. Lorillard); P. Lorillard, Jr.'s ch m Bounce, aged, 140 lbs (Mr. Harwood); J. M. Waterbury's b g Cuddy, aged, 155 lbs. (Mr. Beresford); G. A. Saportas' br g Harry Herber, aged, 150 lbs. (Owner), and C. Pfizer, Jr.'s b m Olinda, aged, 150 lbs. (Mr. Holmes), ran unplaced.

Betting:  Even money agst Wild Tom, 2 to 1 agst Tomboy, 3 to 1 agst Bounce, 7 to 1 agst Olinda, 8 to 1 against Jacko, and 10 to 1 each Harry Herbert, Cuddy and Dude.  French mutuels paid $16.90.  Jacko led, but before they had run a hundred yards Mr. Thorn led with Wild Tom, and, although Tomboy came with a rush at the cords, Wild Tom held the lead to the end, winning by two lengths, with Tomboy eight in front of Jacko.

Third Race.

Lightweight steeplechase sweepstakes, for hunters:  $25 each, p. n., added to a cup presented by the club; minimum weight, 140 lbs.; thoroughbreds, 15 lbs. extra; winners in 1884, 10 lbs. additional; 7 subs.; about three miles.

S. Penniston's ch m Ivy, aged, by Judge Curtis, 150 lbs. (Owner) 1
Queen's County Stable's b m Fleurette, aged, 150 lbs. (F. P. Keene) 2

J. D. Cheever's Liholiho, aged, 150 lbs. (Owner); G. Work's b g Vampire, 5 yrs. 155 lbs. (Mr. Harwood), and W.K. Thorn, Jr.'s, blk m Kitty, 6 yrs, 150 lbs. (Owner), did not go the course.

Betting:  7 to 5 agst Ivy, 2 to 1 agst Vampire, 5 to 2 agst. Fleurette, 6 to 1 agst Liholiho, 8 to 1 against Kitty.  French mutuels paid $9.70.  Vampire refused at the first jump and was out of it.  The others continued on to the double, which all refused.  Kitty led, followed by Ivy.  In the run round the last turn of the course Ivy took the lead and led past the stand by eight lengths.  She retained the advantage, but bolted at the water.  Kitty showed the way until reaching the double, when she fell, and, throwing Mr. Thorn, galloped away.  Meantime, Mr. Penniston had go Ivy over the water, and keeping on to the double he cantered the remainder of the course alone and won by nearly half a mile, Fleurette second.

Fourth Race.

Pony steeplechase sweepstakes; $15 each, p. p. added to a cup presented by Mr. Pierrepont Edwards, for poines 14.01 or under; weight 150 lbs., with an allowance of 7 lbs for each inch under the standard; winners in 1884 to carry 5 lbs. extra; 4 subs.; about one mile.

W.K. Thorn Jr.'s, b g Puck, aged, 150 lbs., carried 158 lbs., (Owner) 1
H.B. Richardson's b m Tomboy, 5 yrs, 150 lbs. (Mr. Latrobe) 2
F. P. Keene's gr g Fox, 150 lbs.......................(Owner) 3

G.A. Saportas' br g Harry Herbert, aged, 150 lbs. (Owner), refused at first jump.  Betting:  7 to 5 agst Tomboy, 2 to 1 agst Fox, 3 to 1 agst Puck, and 5 to 1 each agst Harry Herbert and Buttercup.  French mutuals paid $15.15.  Puck led.  There was no change to the end.  Puck winning by so scant length and a half, with Tomboy a dozen lengths in front of Fox.

Fifth Race.

Heavy-weight steeplechase sweepstakes; $25 each. p. p., added to a cup presented by the President of the club, for half-bred hunters; minimum weight 170 lbs.; winners in 1884 10 lbs. extra; 4 subs.; about three miles.

Queens County Stable's ch g Dundee, aged. 180 lbs., including 10 lbs. penalty............(Mr. Sands) 1
S. Penniston's ch g Pilot, 180 lbs., including 10 lbs. penalty.......................................(Owner) 2
S. Mortimer's br g Hobson's Choice, aged, 180 lbs., including 10 lbs. penalty...............(Owner) 3

C. Pfizer, Jr.'s gr m Gray Bonnet, aged, 170 lbs. (Mr. Holmes), fell and did not go the course.

Betting:  5 to 4 on Hobson's Choice, 7 to 5 agst Pilot, 2 to 1 agst Dundee, and 4 to 1 agst Gray Bonnet.  French mutuels paid $21.90.  Gray Bonnett took the lead, but at the second jump was passed by Hobson's Choice, who with a big lead showed the way to the third jump, where Pilot fell, but was quickly on his feet again.  Hobson showed the way over the double, followed by Gray Bonnet and Dundee.  At the seventh jump Gray Bonnet fell.  Hobson's Choice continued in the lead, followed by Dundee, Pilot third.  At the double Hobson's Choice fell, and Dundee went to the front, but fell at the next jump.  Mr. Sands remounted, however, and was able to continue on and to win by nearly a quarter of a mile from Pilot and Hobson's Choice, Mr. Mortimer remounting.

Sixth Race.

Great Pelham Handicap Steeplechase, for all ages; $50 each, h. f.; $10 if declared by Oct. 15:  $2,000 added; $500 to second; $250 to third; professionals to carry 7 lbs. extra; closed with 18 subs., of which 6 declared; three miles.

Rockaway Stable's b g Barometer, aged, by Bonnie Scotland - Blondin, 135 lbs.........(Mr. J. D. Cheever) 1
J.P. Dawes' ch g Charlemagne, aged, by Pat Malloy - Alice Buford, 174 lbs...............(P. Maney) 2

F. C. O'Reilly's b g Response, 4 yrs, 142 lbs. (Alfred); Irving Stable's ch g Disturbance, aged, 157 lbs. (McGrath); H. Drysdale's ch g Echo, aged, 150 lbs. (Mr. Penniston); Myopia Hunt Club's blk g Dungeon, aged, 142 lbs. (Jennings), and A. Brown's ch g Paris, aged, 142 lbs. (Mr. Harwood), ran unplaced.  S. Mortimer's b c Trombone, 4 yrs., 157 lbs. (Blute); Myopia Hunt Club's ch g Peanuts, aged 142 lbs. (Gifford), and J.P. Dawes' ch m Rose, aged, 146 lbs. (Mr. Purdy), did not go the course.

Betting 7 to 5 agst Disturbance, 2 to 1 agst Charlemagne, 3 to 1 agst Echo, 7 to 1 each agst Rose and Trombone, 10 to 1 each agst Peanuts and Barometer, and 15 to 1 each agst Dungeon, Response, and Paris.  French mutuels paid $24.40.  Echo was the first to show, taking the lead at the first jump.  The others were close up, however.  At the double Echo led, closely followed by Response, Charlemagne, Barometer, and Disturbance, and they held it between them in the run round the east turn, with its three jumps, the order as they passed the stand being Echo first, with Charlemagne and Disturbance well up, followed by Trombone, Barometer, Response, and Dungeon.  In the run round the west turn Trombone ran up, and showed the way over the water half a length in front of Barometer, he the same in front of Charlemagne, with Echo fourth, several lengths back, attended by Disturbance and Response.  In the run round the east turn, the reverse way of the course, Barometer took the lead, and securing a big lead.  Mr. Cheever was able to take a steady pull and thus to jump the several obstacles without rushing at them.  At the bank next the double Trombone, in taking the lead, fell, which left Charlemagne to go on and catch Barometer, and although he got within three lengths at the last jump, the weight enable Mr. Cheever to win by three lengths.  A dozen lengths behind Charlemagne was Response, followed at intervals by Disturvance, Echo, Dungeon, and Paris.  Value to winner $1,810."

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