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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Contest in 1891 To Determine Which Steam Fire Engine Company Could Throw a Stream the Greater Distance

A brief, but interesting item appeared in the August 1, 1891 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer.  It announced a contest to determine which steam fire engine company could throw a stream of water the greater distance.  The event included an offer of interesting prizes.  The entire item is quoted immediately below.

"To Contest for Silver Trumpets.

The proprietor of Belden's Point, City Island, has offered as prizes two silver trumpets and a silver cup, to any local steam fire engine company throwing a stream the greater distance through 1,000 feet of hose.  The contest will take place next Monday afternoon, at 3 o'clock at this resort:  The following companies have decided to compete:  Minneford, City Island; Relief, New Rochelle; Steamer Company, No. 1., Mt. Vernon."

Source:  To Contest for Silver Trumpets, New Rochelle Pioneer, Aug. 1, 1891, p. ?, col. 3 (the page number is not printed on the page).

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Reorganization of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in February, 1891

I continue my efforts to document some of the earliest efforts to develop organized fire fighting units in the Town of Pelham.  I recently ran across one of the earliest references yet involving the "re-organization" of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in the Town of Pelham in 1891.  The brief reference is quoted immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

"--The Minneford Engine Co. last Friday evening [apparently Feb. 20, 1891] re-organized as an independent company, with the following officers:  Jerome Bell, President; C. W. Bell, Secretary; Geo. W. Guest, Foreman; Thomas Keller, 1st Assistant; Anderson Wilson, 2nd Assistant; Jacob Smith, Engineer; Daniel Piepgras, 1st Assistant.--Mt. Vernon Record."

Source:  The Minneford Engine Co., New Rochelle Pioneer, Feb. 28, 1891, p. 3, col. 2.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

October 19, 1898 Report that the Tracks of the Toonerville Trolley Line Had Been Laid in Pelham

Occasionally I have written about the "Toonerville Trolley" and its ties to Pelham.  For a few examples, see:

Wed., March 25, 2009:  Another Brief Account by Fontaine Fox Describing Trolley in Pelham Manor as Inspiration for Toonerville Trolley Comic Strip.

Mon., March 5, 2007: An Ode to the Toonerville Trolley and Its Skipper Published in 1921.

Wed., November 15, 2006: Another Letter by Fontaine Fox Describing How the Pelham Manor Trolley Inspired Him to Create the Toonerville Trolley.

Tue., September 19, 2006: Toonerville Trolley Cartoons Available For Free Viewing Online

Wed., August 9, 2006: The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley"

Tues., October 11, 2005: The Toonerville Trolley Pays its Bills -- Late!

Tues., September 20, 2005: Pelham's "Toonerville Trolley" Goes To War

Fri., June 17, 2005: "Skipper Louie" of Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley

Tue., April 19, 2005: Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line

The trolley line in Pelham that ultimately inspired Fontaine Fox to create his epic comic strip was built in two phases.  The first phase involved the laying of tracks from Wolf's Lane near the Pelham Train Station toward Colonial Avenue, then eastward on Colonial Avenue to Pelhamdale Avenue, then southeastward on Pelhamdale Avenue to a location near the intersection of today's Grant Avenue and Pelhamdale Avenue.  The second phase of the construction extended the line along Pelhamdale Avenue to today's Shore Road near the New York Athletic Club facility on Travers Island.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes brief item that appeared in the October 19, 1898 issue of the Mount Vernon News reporting that the first phase of the construction had been completed.

"Trolley Tracks Laid in Pelham.


The Westchester Electric Railway Company, or Third avenue road, has completed the laying of its tracks along Pelhamdale avenue as far as the Pelham Manor depot.  There is now a complete line of tracks between the Pelham and Pelham Manor stations.  How soon cars will be in operation still remains a matter of conjecture, although this will doubtless not be until the extension is completed to New Rochelle."

Source:  Trolley Tracks Laid in Pelham, Mount Vernon News, Oct. 19, 1898, p. 2, col. 1.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fed Up with the Notorious White Hotel, Pelham Authorities Took Action in 1899

 Yesterday I wrote about two major crimes committed at the White Hotel in Pelham in August, 1899.  The first involved a Secret Service agent on an undercover operation who was beaten and left for dead in the hotel by so-called "green goods men".  The second crime involved a gang of con artists who robbed a Texas merchant of nearly $1,000.  As a consequence of the crimes -- and likely the notoriety of the events that embarrassed the Town's authorities -- Pelham decided to take action against the White Hotel.

Below is an article that appeared in a local newspaper a week later, followed by a citation to its source.

Authorities of Pelham Will Take Action Regarding the Place Where Robberies Occured [sic].

The residents of fashionable Pelham Heights are aroused over the crimes committed by greengoods [sic] , who have been operating with almost open impunity in the village of Pelham.  On last Friday night the trustees, after hearing of the murderous assault which was made on Detective John Whittaker at the White Hotel, held a meeting, at which the affair was discussed.  Lincoln Pierce, secretary of the Board, and a well known resident of the Heights, said Saturday night concerning the result of the meeting:  'We are going to take strong action, but we want to be sure where we are at first.'

The Board decided to employ Jabez Holmes, Jr., a New York lawyer, who is a resident of Pelham Manor, to collect evidence on which to begin legal proceedings.  It is understood that M. J. Kelly, proprietor of the White Hotel, denies the charges which have been made against his hotel.  He told United States Inspector King that he did not know that the men who attacked Detective Whittaker were bunco men until after the affair was over and they had made their escape.  He denies all knowledge of the robbery of Edward Lewis, the Texas merchant, who was buncoed out of $1,000, and Edward White, the farmer who came from Jackson, Mich., and after losing $250 is alleged to have been chased away by men with revolvers.

The police, however, believe from the description given by both of these men of the place in which they were robbed that it must have been the White Hotel.  The hotel is in a part of Pelham which is wedged between New York, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, but in which the police of neither of these cities have any jurisdiction.  The village, which is the smallest in the State, has no police force.  It is run on such an economical basis that it was said Saturday night that the taxes collected a year ago will be sufficient to defray the expenses of the local government until next year, when another levy for village purposes will be made.  The only police officers employed are two constables, who receive no salary aside from the fees allowed for making arrests.  Under these conditions, they are not overvigilant, although they have managed to break up the Sunday baseball nuisance which existed for some time, to the disgust of the better class of residents.

Pelham is reached by a labyrinth of trolley roads, over which the greengoods men have been in the habit of conducting their customers until they became confused, and imagined they were still in Mount Vernon or Yonkers, and made the complaints to the police of those cities.  They were then directed to the constables, who for lack of what they considered conclusive evidence were backward in making an arrest.  While these proceedings were going on the confidence men had plenty of time to escape.

It has been pointed out that the greengoods operators of Pelham have adopted improved methods over those hitherto known to the fraternity.  It was formerly the custom to exhibit a roll of good money to the intended victim, and to allow him to feast his eyes upon it for a minute, at least.  Then the money was placed in a valise on a revolving table, and while his attention was distracted the table was turned, and the victim picks up a duplicate valise, which contained a roll of ordinary wrapping paper, covered with counterfeit bills.

This was what John Whittaker thought would take place, and he went prepared to hold up the bunco men when they displayed their roll and carry it away.  But they had been through several costly experiments in this line and instead of exhibiting the roll of cash used a large bundle of paper wrapped in a few bills and labelled 'Greengoods' in letters big enough to be conspicuous all over the room.  When Whittaker drew his revolver and tried to put the men under arrest, three confederates, who had been in hiding in the hall sprang on him from the rear, and after clubbing him nearly to death kicked him under a table and made their escape.  Since their experience with Whittaker the gang has not even had the courtesy to show its customers the roll of blank paper.

Farmer White, who came on from Jackson, Mich., last week, expecting to go hom rich, was taken into a room, and while gazing about at the pictures on the wall, waiting for the roll to be displayed, suddenly had two revolvers thrust in his face and was relieved of $250 and drive away from the place, with the threat that if he caused any trouble he would be shipped to his family a corpse.

The residents of Pelham have little sympathy for the victims of the bunco steerers.  They say that they came on for the purpose of being able to return and swindle their neighbors, and that they should be treated with as much severity as is inflicted on the real culprits.  They are, however, anxious to clear the name of their village, and say that they will spend any amount of money necessary to accomplish this result.  As to the White Hotel, they admit that it will be a difficult matter to get sufficient evidence to implicate the proprietor, but they expect to attack him on the excise law, which they allege is being violated constantly at his place."

Source:  After the White Hotel, Mount Vernon News, Aug. 31, 1899, p. 8, col. 1.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crimes Committed at the Notorious White Hotel in Pelham in 1899

I have written before about the notorious White Hotel that was finally shut down in the earliest years of the 20th century.  The building later was split in two in order to create two "cottages".  The north half became 307 Wolfs Lane.  The south half became 303 Wolfs Lane.

In 1899, some of the most alarming events involving the hotel took place, ensuring its eventual shut down.  In one instance, a U.S. Secret Service agent investigating a "green goods scam" at the hotel was nearly beaten to death by "green goods men". 

The "green goods scam" was popular in the 19th century.  Con men would claim to have high quality counterfeit U.S. currency that they were willing to sell for pennies on the dollar based on the face value.  A victim would be shown a bag containing large sums of genuine currency and would be told that the money was counterfeit.  Once distracted, the con men would switch the bag containing the currency with an identical bag containing green paper, sawdust or the like and would "sell" the worthless bag to the victim for a substantial sum.  Victims reportedly would rarely go to authorities because purchasing counterfeit currency was a crime.

In a second instance, a merchant from Texas visiting the New York City area to purchase goods, was robbed of $1,000 at the hotel by a bunco man he met on a train.  A lengthy pair of articles about the events appeared in the August 24, 1899 issued of the Mount Vernon News.  The articles are quoted below.

Green Goods Men Nearly Kill Detective Whittaker.
Whittaker Was Left for Dead.--When He Came To, Gang Had Fled.
The Police and Government Detectives are just now devoting considerable attention to what is known as the 'White Hotel' of Pelham, which is located just across the Hutchinson River bridge on East Third Street.  A government detective was assaulted and nearly killed in this place last Saturday by a gang of green goods men, and a few days before that a merchant from Austin, Texas, was inveigled there by probably the same gang and robbed of $1,000 that he had brought with him to purchase goods with in New York City.

A desperate fight between green goods men and a United States Secret Service detective took place in Pelham Saturday.  John Whittaker, said to be one of the most clever detectives in the United States Secret Service nearly lost his life at the hands of a gang, which he had been detailed to arrest.

The affair was kept quiet by the officers of Pelham until Monday.  They explain their motive for secrecy by saying that the government men cautioned them to say nothing concerning it.  They are Chief Post Office Inspector King of Washington, Detective Whittaker and three other secret service men.

For several months Inspector King has known that a gang of green goods men have been operating in Westchester County, and recently he got into communication with them and arranged a meeting.  To Detective Whittaker the Inspector assigned the duty of impersonating a farmer and meeting the crooks.

Saturday was the time set for Whittaker to leave his rural home and meet his supposed benefactors who were to give him $2,000 in counterfeit bills for $150 of good money.  Under the name of 'Hiram Jones, of Coldenham,' in the Catskills, the detective took a train in Poughkeepsie, and arrived in Yonkers about noon.  He was accompanied by Inspector King and the three other detectives, who kept in the background.  Whittaker was to meet a man who had signed his name as 'Lloyd' at a Yonkers hotel.  When the train stopped at Yonkers, Whittaker alighted.  He carried a small satchel and a faded umbrella.  He had looked about the railroad station but a moment when he was acosted by two flashily dressed men.  One of them said:

'I suppose you're Mr. Jones of Coldenham.  Are you looking for your friend?'

Whittaker, who played his part well, said:  'Yes.  I reckon I am.  He promised he'd meet me here to-day and we'd go out and see the fire parade.'

Lloyd then handed Whittaker his card and said:  'I guess we are the men you are looking for.  Let's go and have a drink, and then we will walk out and transact our business.   You'll have plenty of time to see the parade and get home after you get your money.'

After having a drink, the green goods men walked Whittaker through the back streets until they reached the outskirts of the city.  After a short rest, they continued their journey to the Pelham Manor station, a distance of six miles, from which they went to Kelly's White Hotel in Pelham, which was evidently the place that had been selected for the transaction.  Inspector King and the other detectives followed by trolley, but not knowing the exact location of the headquarters of the green goods men, distributed themselves in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, expecting to be able to join Whittaker in one of those cities and assist him in making the arrest.

Whittaker was taken up to the third story of the hotel and thence through a dark hallway to a small room.  Here they found a man in disguise sitting at a table with several big packages of green goods before him.  Whittaker was to get $2,000 for $150 and little time was required to count it out.  When the money was ready the detective took it, and was about to thrust it in his bag, when one of the men cried:

'Hold on, there.  Don't you touch that money until you put up your cash.' 

Whittaker, who had less than two dollars in his pocket at the time, saw that the game was up, and drawing his revolver, he leveled it at the green goods men and shouted.

'Hands up, you are all my prisoners.'

The detective by an oversight had left  ---- (Continued on page 8)  [Page 1 / Page 8, col. 1]

Detective Battered in White Hotel.
(Continued from 1st page.)

the door of the room unlocked after he had entered, and he was standing with his back to it when he threw aside his disguise and attempted to make the arrest.  Suddenly one of the gang gave a low whistle, and an instant later he heard a rush in the hall.  Before he could turn about the door flew open and three men entered.  As he turned to see who they were he received a tremendous blow on the arm from a black jack and his revolver fell from his grasp.  The crooks then closed in on him.  Whittaker, although a giant in stature, stood no chance in the unequal fight and was chocked and knocked senseless as the blows from the black jacks rained down on his head.  He was given a terrible beating, after which his assailants kicked him under a table, locked the door to the room and fled through the woods.  In their hurry to get away the men left two big rolls of green goods behind them.

It was two hours before Whittaker became conscious.  After several vain efforts to get to his feet, he crawled to the door and found it securely bolted.  Then he went to the window and shouted for help, but nobody about the place seemed aware of his presence.  Gradually, however, his strength retuned and he finally succeeded in breaking open the door.

On reaching the office of the hotel he inquired the way to the home of the nearest officer and was directed to Constable R. H. Marks, to whom he related his experience.  Marks accompanied him back to the hotel, where Inspector King and the other detectives had already arrived.  They had missed Whittaker, and having become suspicious, started out to find him.  Inspector King at once put Kelly, the proprietor of the hotel, under close examination, and later questioned an employe [sic] named Arthur Lawrence.

Lawrence, it is said, had asked Constable Marks to arrest Detective Whittaker as a disorderly person.  Both men pleaded ignorance of the affair, although it is said that the green goods men have been stopping at the hotel for several weeks.  The officers took the green goods and putting Whittaker on the train, returned to New York.  The injured man considers his escape from death as miraculous.  He said that when the men discovered that he was an officer he head on of them say:

'Let's shoot him, he looks like the fellow that spoiled the game before.'

'No, don't shoot,' exclaimed another.

'I guess the black jack has done the work.  Anyway he's out of business for awhile and won't tackle us again soon.' 

Then tyey took the detective's revolver and fled down the stairway, locking the door after them."

Source:  Merchant Robbed; Detective Battered in Pelham's White Hotel, Mount Vernon News, Vol. VII, No. 343, Aug. 24, 1899, p. 1, col. 2.

Merchant Lewis, of Texas, Robbed of $1,000.
Introduced Himself as Acquaintance Who Met Lewis at Carnival.

Mr. Lewis, a prominent merchant of the city of Austin, Texas left his home a few days ago for New York which he visited annually to purchase stock for his store.

He had nearly a thousand dollars in cash with him when he started from his home.  His trip was without special incident until the train on which he was a passenger reached Newark N.J., when the remarkable series of adventures which befel him began.

Mr. Lewis was sitting in the smoker as the train pulled out of Newark and he was about to light a fresh cigar when some one placed a hand familiarly on the merchant's shoulder and said 'Why hello Lewis, old man; how are you?'

Mr. Lewis turned, and saw a fine looking man about forty years of age standing over him.  He looked at what was a strange face to him, which was adorned with a fine flowing moustache.  A silk hat, white vest and diamond stud also formed part of the apparel of an apparently properous man of the world.

Lewis said:  'You have the best of me sir.  I cannot place you.'

The cordial stranger then went on to tell Mr. Lewis where he had met him at the carnival in New Orleans.  He mentioned incidents of that event which Mr. Lewis remembered perfectly and the latter thought he was indeed lucky in meeting such an affable acquaintance whom he must have forgotten in the crowds he had met in New Orleans. 

Meanwhile as they were chatting the train had reached Jersey City.

The agreeable stranger insisted on taking his friend to his hotel to lunch.  So he called a hansom on the New York side and drove to a fashionable uptown hotel, where Mr. Lewis' new found acquaintance introduced him to a friend of his. 

During lunch the two New Yorkers proposed that their Texas friend must be weary after his long journey, that they go up to their club house in the suburbs and recuperate for a day or two.

Mr. Lewis, thinking he had fallen in with two Northerners who were fully as hospitable as his own people in the South, accepted the invitation and in the afternoon the party set out for the 'club house in the suburbs.'

Several times Mr. Lewis pulled out a roll of bills to pay for drinks and car fares but the men whose 'guest' he was refused to allow him to dispose of any of his money in this manner.

After a journey of several hours by trolley and steam road in which transfers were frequent, they, just as it was growing dark, reached a quiet little spot in a rather picturesque neighborhood which the strangers told Mr. Lewis was the 'club house.'

After a hearty dinner and a smoke on the piazza, they went to a private room and sat down to a game of cards.  They had several drinks and at midnight Mr. Lewis with his roll somewhat larger as a result of the card game, went to his room in a good humored and contented frame of mind.

The next morning, before Lewis had awakened the friend he had met on the train rushed into his room and called out:  'Lewis, there's been burglars in the house.  They went through my clothes las night and got my watch and pistol and $300.'

Lewis jumped up, reached for his vest, and found his wach [sic] was safe.  Before he had time to look for his money, his friend had hurried down the stairs.  The merchant then discovered that every dollar he had brought with him was gone.  He was desperate.  For the first time, the truth dawned on him that he had been victimized and robbed by a gang of bunco steerers.  Mr. Lewis' Southern blood began to boil.  As soon as he got his clothes on he rushed down stairs and found both his transient friends had disappeared. 

He appealed to the man he supposed was proprietor and another man there, and got no satisfaction.  He asked a woman who stood by where he could find the police.  As soon as he had the words out of his mouth he says, he was set upon and clubbed; the men claiming he had insulted the woman.  They chased him out into the street; Mr. Lewis running for his life.

The plundered merchant finally got back to New York and went to the wholesale house he had been dealing with and told his story.  One of the firm called in the head detective of the store and he came out to Pelham with Mr. Lewis.  A thorough investigation was made, but they could get no satisfaction.

Mr. Lewis and the detective then called on Chief Foley of this city and told him what had happened.  The chief told him the place was outside of his jurisdiction, and if the local authorities of Pelham could no nothing they had better see the sheriff.

The detective said when he left Chief Foley, that he considered Kelly's hotel 'the rottenest hold in the state.'"

Source:  Merchant Robbed; Detective Battered in Pelham's White Hotel, Mount Vernon News, Vol. VII, No. 343, Aug. 24, 1899, p. 1, col. 2.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

1878 Advertisement for Services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville

Below is a brief advertisement for services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville published in the Friday, May 31, 1878 issue of The Chronicle distributed in Mount Vernon, New York.   

The item is followed by a citation to its source.

THE UNION SABBATH SCHOOL SOCIETY of Pelhamville, will hold SABBATH SERVICES, every Sabbath in June, at the Pelhamville Depot, at 7:30 o'clock P.M.  Preaching services as follows:  June 2d, Rev. Dr. Hiscox, of Mount Vernon.  June 9th, Rev. Dr. Waite, of Pelham Manor.  June 16th, Rev. A.C. Bowdish, of Mount Vernon.  June 23d, Rev. M. H. Hutton, of Mount Vernon.  Services of Song the first half hour.  Singing from Moody and Sankey books.  Sabbath School Concert June 30.  Several Sabbath-school workers will be present and address the school.  The sabbath school connected with this Society will be held every Sabbath afternoon at 3 o'clock.  We give a cordial invitation to all to attend these free services."

Source:  New Advertisements:  Union Gospel Services, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 31, 1878, p. ?, col. 6 (page number not printed on newspaper page).

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Pelhamville's Independence Day Celebration in 1894

The Chronicle of Mount Vernon, NY, published a lovely account of Independence Day celebrations in Pelhamville in 1894.  The account is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


The Chronicle may be obtained in Pelhamville and vicinity from Master Fred L. Anderson who will deliver it at residence.

The success which accompanies every enterprise in Pelhamville was again made manifest by the celebration held there Wednesday--Independence Cay.  This was due to the cheerfulness and promptness with which the citizens contributed their money and labor, and to the indefatigable energy of the Major-domo of the occasion, Mr. John H. Young, and his assistants.  The firing of guns and the joyous peal of bells from engine house, school and churches announced that the sun was making its appearance over the horizon and that our Nation's natal day was fully ushered in.  At 10.30 A.M. the people met at the school-house, and were called to order by Mr. I. C. Hill.  All united in singing our National anthems.  The Declaration of Independence was read, and an eloquent and patriotic address made by Mr. Benjamin F. Fairchild.  Mr. E. C. Rosevelt [sic] was also expected to address the meeting, but a telegram was received from him announcing his inability to be present.

At 2.30 P.M. a series of athletic games took place under the supervision of Messrs. Charles S. and Harry Roberts, with the following results:

One hundred yards run, won by Robert Castor; shoe race for boys, won by Fred L. Anderson; bicycle race, won by Charles Boss; running broad jump, won by Thomas O'Brien; potato race, won by 11. Roberts; 200 yard run (boys), won by Harry Raymond; wheelbarrow race, won by Charles Prior; three-legged race, won by C. Meager and J. Hughes; obstacle race, won by J. Hughes; special 200 yards run, won by R. Castor.

At 7.30 P.M. a concert was rendered by the New Rochelle Cornet Band, and as soon as it was sufficiently dark a magnificent display of fireworks was seen on the school grounds under charge of Judge G. I. Karbach.

At 10 o'clock Prof. E. Mager's orchestra provided the incentive for the devotees of Terpsichore.  These exercises were under the ministration of Mr. Frank M. Lyon, and took place on the green, where platforms had been erected for that purpose by Builder S. E. Lyon and his corpos of assistants, who did this work free gratis.

The platforms and grounds were beautifully illuminated by hundreds of Japanese lanterns.  Fully eight hundred ladies, gentlemen and children participated in the festivities, and Pelhamville is to be congratulated, for the occasion was marked by universal harmony and good feeling, no angry or loud words being heard throughout the proceedings.

On many of the houses could be seen the proudly waving stars and stripes, or other decoration in bunting, and many at night were illuminated with countless lanterns.  Among the most noticeable was the residence of Chief of the Fire Department B. F. Crewell.

At the meeting of the Board of Excise last week two licenses were granted, one to James Murdock and the other to Robert Brown of City Island. 

A set of resolutions were passed providing for the prosecuting of all saloon keepers who made no applications for licenses.  In conversing with a Chronicle representative, one of the members of the Board stated that the Board of Excise had fooled with rum shop proprietors long enough, and had now resolved to discontinue it.

Mr. G. K. Perry has recently moved into his new residence on Loring avenue, Pelham Heights.

Among the numerous and distinguished festivities held on our Nation's birthday in Pelhamville was a grand dinner party given by Mr. and Mrs. John H. Young at their pretty residence on Second avenue.  The front of the house was covered with flags and bunting en masse, which were illuminated at night by the light from Chinese lanterns.  It is needless to say that the collation was very fine; the exquisiteness and grandeur of the dressing of the table being especially noticeable.  Among the guests present were Mr. and Mrs. Finkennau and Mr. Finkennau, Jr., Mr. Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz and Miss A. Downing, all of New York City, and Mr. and Mrs. I.C. Hill and Miss Hill of Pelhamville, and Mrs. P. Mellon of Newark, N.J.

On July 6th, at the residence of the bride's mother, Miss Charlotte M. Taylor was married to Mr. Francis X. Govers of New Rochelle.  Mrs. Govers was formerly teacher of the primary department of the Pelhamville school.

Mr. W. A. McGalliard is at Peekskill with the 71st Regiment, Company H.

At an auction held here last Saturday Mr. George W. Bard sold one of his houses on Second avenue to Frank N. Glover, Esq. of Mount Vernon, and one on Sixth street to Mrs. M. Patterson of Lincoln avenue, New York City.  Mr. and Mrs. Patterson are already ensconced in their new home.

Mrs. William A. McGalliard is visiting relatives at Darien, Conn.


Pelham Manor.

Hook and Ladder Co., No. 1, held a reception at the club house last Tuesday evening.  The affair was eminently successful.  Among those present were:  Mr. and Mrs. Rich, Mr. R. C. Black, Messrs. J. and A. Gunneri, Albert Beecroft, Edgar Beecroft, Dr. Parker, T. and C. Turner and James Burnett."

Source:  Our Nearby Neighbors, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 12, 1894, p. 6, col. 4.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

List of Trolley Lines in the Town of Pelham in 1918

Trolley tracks once criss-crossed the Town of Pelham and connected the Town with the entire New York metropolitan area.  A report published in 1918 detailed, among other things, trolley lines in the Public Service Commission First District owned by The Westchester Electric Railroad Company.  Among those lines were those located in the three Villages within the Town of Pelham:  the Village of North Pelham, the Village of Pelham and the Village of Pelham Manor.

The information below appeared in a set of five columns entitled as follows:

Second track
Sidings and turnouts
All running track


Wolf's lane, N. Pelham line to Colonial avenue.... .567 .... ---- .... ---- .... .567 .... ----

E. Third street, Mt. Vernon line to Wolf's lane.... .122 .... ---- .... ---- .... .122 .... ----

Colonial avenue, Pelham line to Pelhamdale avenue.... .266 .... .266 .... .012 .... .544 .... ----


Fifth avenue, Pelham line to Mayflower avenue.... .851 .... ---- .... .037 .... .888 .... ----

Fifth avenue, Mayflower avenue to Hutchinson river.... .181 .... ---- .... ---- .... .181 .... ----

Fourth street, Mt. Vernon line to Eighth avenue 14 .... .340 .... ---- .... ---- .... .340 .... ----
[Footnote 14 reads:  "14 Unused by respondent."]

Fourth street, Eighth avenue to New Rochelle line 14 .... .138 .... ---- .... ---- .... .138 .... ----
[Footnote 14 reads:  "14 Unused by respondent."]


Pelhamdale avenue, Colonial avenue to Shore road .... 1.462 .... .471 .... .062 ..... 1.995 .... ----

Boston turnpike, Pelhamdale avenue to Pelham town line .... .376 .... .376 .... ---- .... .752 .... ----

Boston turnpike (formerly town of Pelham) .... .023 .... .023 .... ---- .... .046 .... ----"

Source:  Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York One Hundred and Forty-First Session 1918, Vol. V. No. 9, Part 2, p. 1000 (Albany, NY:  J. B. Lyon Company, Printers 1918).

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pelhamville Rejected Gas Lighting in 1895 Amid Allegations of Questionable Dealings

In the mid-1890s, efforts were underway to bring gas lines to certain areas of Pelham to permit the installation of gas lights.  At the time, Benjamin Corlies was trying to develop a large tract of land near the new train station that had been built in 1893.  When he tried to arrange for gas lines in the area, he ran into opposition. Charges flew amid allegations of questionable dealings involving Congressman-elect Benjamin Fairchild and James Secor of Pelham who wanted to force the Gas Company to buy a company in which the pair allegedly had an interest. The article below details the incident.

Eastchester Gas Company Refused Permission to Lay Mains in Pelhamville.

The Eastchester Gas Light Company some while ago made a contract with Mr. Benjamin Corlies, who owns a large tract of land near the Pelhamville depot, which he is improving and laying out into villa plots, to lay a certain amount of supply mains.  The extension was to continue from the city line at Hutchinson's Bridge along the property owned by the Pelhamville Land Company and thence to the property of Mr. Corlies.

Pelhamville not being a city or village its highways are controlled by the Highway Commissioners in the town of Pelham.  Through the road which the company intended to lay its mains is a few hundred feet of gas mains, said to be the property of a company in which Congressman-elect Fairchild is interested, and which he wished to force the local gas company to buy at a high figure.  As the gas company had no use for this high priced plant, it refused to purchase.  Thereupon the Highway Commissioners, at the probable instigation of Messrs. Fairchild and Secor, the latter having some invisible interest in the sale of the old mains, refused to let the company proceed with the laying of its mains.  It is said an action may be brought restraining the Highway Commissioners from interfering with the work. -- Mt. Vernon News."

Source:  They Don't Want Light, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 5, 1895, p. 4, col. 2.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New York Athletic Club Board of Governors Decided to Mortgage Travers Island in 1895

In late 1894, the Board of Governors of the New York Athletic Club decided to mortgage Travers Island for $70,000.  A brief article about the decision appeared in the January 5, 1895 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer.  An excerpt of the article appears below.

"To Mortgage Travers Island.

The Board of Governors of the New York Athletic Club, through its attorneys, Messrs. Hoyt and Schell, made application to Judge Cullen, of the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Thursday of last week [December 27, 1894] to mortgage Travers Island, the summer home of the organization, for $70,000.  The application was granted.

The Board of Governors was authorized to take this action at a meeting of the club a month ago.  When the present city club house of the Mercury Foot organization, at Fifty-fifth street and Sixth avenue, was erected in 1885 the club issued $100,000 of eight per cent bonds and sold them at seventy-five cents on the dollar.  Since then $49,000 worth of bonds have been called in.  When the bonds were issued the club had an agreement with the purchasers that it could retire them after fifteen years, with the option of doing so in ten years.  On next Tuesday ten years will have elapsed since the bonds were issued, and the club proposes to call them in.  In order to do this it first had to mortgage Travers Island for $70,000.  This means a big saving for the club, as the Travers Island mortgage will be at five per cent. . . . "

Source:  To Mortgage Travers Island, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 5, 1895, p. 4, col. 1.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Efforts by Pelham Landowners in 1900 to Halt Construction of a Trolley Line on Shore Road

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, small transportation companies raced to lay trolley tracks throughout the New York metropolitan area.  Suburban residents often fought such efforts.  I previously have written of the unsuccessful efforts of Pelham Manor residents to fight construction of the Pelham Manor trolley line that eventually became quite beloved after it inspired Fontaine Fox to create the Toonerville Trolley that appeared in his long-running comic strip "Toonerville Folks".  See:  Wed., April 19, 2005:  Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a brief article published in 1900 about the efforts of a different set of Pelham Manor landowners who opposed construction of a trolley line along today's Shore Road (then known as Pelham Road).


Assemblyman Cooley has introduced a bill to prevent the construction of a trolley road in any part of Pelham Road, in the village of Pelham Manor or the city of New-Rochelle, except with the consent in writing of a majority of the owners of property along the thoroughfare.  A similar bill offered last year was adopted in the Assembly and failed in the Senate.

Assemblyman Cooley, it is understood, is acting on behalf of a number of prominent people who live in the road and desire to save it from being destroyed by the construction of a surface railroad.  One of the results of the measure, if it be adopted, will be to prevent the New-York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, or P. H. Flynn syndicate, from reaching Glen Island."

Source:  To Keep Trolley Off Pelham Road, New-York Daily Tribune, Mar. 6, 1900, p. 10, col. 2. 

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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Consecration of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel at Christ Church in Pelham Manor on April 28, 1887

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The oldest church building in the Town of Pelham is the picturesque structure built of hand-hewn granite that serves The Parish of Christ The Redeemer. Known as Christ Church, the gothic-inspired building with lancet windows and lovely doorways coined in red brick looks like a country parish that might be found in the ancient English countryside.

In July 1884, one of the most beloved members of the Parish died: Nanette Bolton. She was a daughter of the founder of the church and had worked actively for the parish for forty years. She also founded and served as head mistress of the famed Priory School for Girls located in the Bolton Priory, her family’s home next to Christ Church.

Former pupils of the Priory School and members of the parish decided to express their love with a memorial building to expand the facilities of the little parish. Thus, in 1885 and 1886, the parish raised funds and built the Nanette Bolton Memorial Building immediately adjacent to Christ Church. See Haight, J. McVickar, Historical Sketch of Christ Church Pelham 1843-1919, p. 14 (Privately Printed Pamphlet 1919; hereinafter “Haight”) (unnumbered pages).

On April 28, 1887, Episcopal Bishop Henry Potter consecrated the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel. I previously have written about the consecration of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel Building.  See:  Wed., September 21, 2005:  The Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel Building at Christ Church in Pelham Manor.

The completion of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel was a significant enough event to warrant one of the earliest extant photographs taken in Pelham.  It shows more than sixty people standing in front of the new building in two groups on each side of a memorial stone embedded beneath the windows. The stone is inscribed “Nanette Bolton Memorial”.  The photograph appears immediately below.

 HTML clipboardIn the photograph, members of the congregation are gathered around the little chapel, standing aside so the photograph will show the carved stone memorial tablet embedded in the building.  A photograph of that carved stone memorial tablet appears immediately below.

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Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes another article about the consecration that appeared in the May 3, 1887 issue of The Chronicle, published in Mount Vernon, NY.


The Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel at Pelham, erected in memory of Miss Bolton, for many years Principal of Pelham Priory and well known as an earnest Christian worker and educator, was consecrated last Thursday by Bishop Potter.  The memorial was built largely from funds contributed by members of Christ Church, to which it will be an adjunct, being used for the Sunday School and for Lenten services.  The chapel is a gem of architecture, built in the early English style entirely of stone.  It is 48 1/2 feet long by 32 feet broad.  Its total cost was $4,125, the land being furnished by Mrs. A. L. Stevens, present owner of the Priory, and the plans being the gift of the architect, F. C. Merry, of Pelham Manor.  There is a memorial window in the north side, the gift of Mr. Thomas Denton.  An inscription upon the south side of the chapel, 'Lo, I am with you always,' was given by the children of the Sunday School.

The consecration service was the Episcopal ritual for the occasion of opening a new place of worship and was conducted by Bishop Potter, assisted by the Rev. W. S. Coffey, of St. Paul's, Eastchester, a friend of Miss Bolton; the Rev. Chas. F. Canedy, of Trinity Episcopal, New Rochelle, the Rev. Mr. Winsor, of Grace Church, City Island, the Rev. Dr. Mallory, and the Rev. Chas. Higbee, Rector of Christ Church.  Before the service of consecration Bishop Potter confirmed 20 persons in the church.

Bishop Potter in his address referred to what he regarded as one of the most promising signs of the age, the apparently wide-spread tendency to memorialize the dead, not as of old with laudatory and possibly affected sculptures, but with beautiful buildings, or portions of them.  He spoke also of Nanette Bolton as one who had done much in her education of women to advance the sex to its rightful position.  He also referred to Miss Catharine L. Wolfe as one of the few who remembered their stewardship over riches, and as one whose character had been largely formed by Nanette Bolton, whose pupil she had been.  Many well known people from New York, attended the services."

Source:  Memorial Chapel Consecration, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Vol. XVIII, No. 981, May 3, 1887, p. 1, col. 4.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

History of Bolton Priory Published in 1910

Bolton Priory is a lovely residence on the National Register of Historic Places located in Pelham Manor.  There are many wonderful stories and unusual facts regarding the structure. 

In 1910, the New Rochelle Pioneer reprinted a brief history of Bolton Priory that originally appeared in the Pelham Sun.  Below is an early photograph of Bolton Priory, followed by the text of that article.

Famous Far and Wide for Its Interesting History.--Antique Furniture and Fixings of Great Value.

To see the exterior of the celebrated Priory in Pelham Manor is inspiring, to behold the interior produces a feeling akin to awe; the furniture and fixings are so overwhelmingly massive, the antique character of the whole ensemble so overpowering, that a visitor dreams himself back in time a couple of centuries.

The priory was built as a private residence by the Rev. Robert Bolton in 1838, for his wife and thirteen children.  It was modeled after their ancestral home in Lancashire, England.  The house is of stone with two towers, and is surrounded by woods.  A pond lies in one meadow, at one side of which is a well built of stone and named St. Mary's Well; above was a rustic wooden bridge leading to a hermit's cave.  In one of its two rooms was a stuffed figure reading at a table.  The stone door being ajar, many a delighted child gazed in mysterious fear at this silent old hermit -- his hour glass and books -- seldom venturing inside.  Beyond on the hill, overlooking the water, was a summer house with thatched roof, rock floor, a perfectly delightful picture to gaze upon the blue waters and Long Island beyond.

The house was surrounded by flower beds and arbors, the same as it is now, leading through various shaded walks to the vegetable gardens and stables beyond.

The interior of the house is a hall straight through from garden to front driveway.  The centre room being a hall called the armory.  There you find three suits of armor, life size, and a collection of ancient spears, swords and shields; also several old cabinets and curious chairs of old Tudor days, and a table too large to ever be removed from the room.  This table was presented by Washington Irving.  The mantlepiece was brought from Venice and is beautifully carved, over an unusually large fireplace, with a seat on each side of the logs.  A curious chair carved in oak attracts your attention.  It was found in Dorchester, near Oxford, England, and bears date of 1639.

In the library were paintings of the Bolton family, among others a portrait of Robert Bolton, merchant of Savannah, Georgia, whose great wealth gained for him the sobriquet of 'King.'  He died in 1802.  He is represented dressed in a dark blue coat, yellow vest and cocked hat.  There is also a portrait of his wife, in high cap and stiff cambric handkerchief and light brown silk bodice, painted by Sir Walter Robertson in 1797.

Amongs other portraits is one of the late Robert Bolton and his wife, Anne Jay, with their oldest children, Robert and Anne, painted by the celebrated William Etty, of the Royal Academy of England, and very interesting is an original portrait of John Bunyon, author of 'Pilgrim's Progress.'  The portrait was in the possession of Rev. George Whitefield, the great preacher, and given to Cornelius Winter, and by him again to Robert Bolton, merchant, of Savannah, Georgia, and to his son, who built the Priory.  This portrait is held now by his daughter who is desirous to sell it either for a private library, a college or a museum.

The old rocking stone near the church is an English and American sign of ancient worship; they were consulted in various ways be the Druids; they originated in the time of Moses:  'Behold this stone shall be a witness.'  Ancient history mentions their existence in various places.

On the ground in the woods Rev. Robert Bolton built Christ Church, with a family vault; windows done by two of his sons and tablets bearing the names and dates of death of his household.  At one end of the property he built a stone house, Gothic style, called the Roadside School.  As there were no public schools in those days, the people had free education there.  Later it was turned into a rectory and again later into a parish house for all meetings.

About ten years after the Priory was built by the Rev. Robert Bolton deeded [sic] it to his eldest daughter, Nanette Bolton, and she opened the well known Pelham Priory School and kept it going until 1882.

In 1884 Mrs. Stevens, who by that time had come into possession of the Priory, married Duc de Dion and took up her residence in France.

At the marriage of her daughter, Adele Livingston Stevens, in 1892, to Frederick H. Allen, the Duchess presented the Priory to her as a wedding present.  Mr. Allen, who is a well known lawyer and holds the position as Chairman of the Democratic County Committee of Westchester, still lives at the Priory, and it is he with his five children to be seen in the foreground on horseback.

When a reporter visited the Priory Mr. Allen pointed out the ruins of Ann Hutchinson's house, which can be seen on the grounds.  Miss Hutchinson died in 1643. 

Mr. Allen also showed the ivy growing up around the towers; this ivy was brought from Kenilworth Castle by Washington Irving and planted by him. -- Pelham Sun."

Source:  Pelham Manor's Old Priory, New Rochelle Pioneer, May 7, 1910, p. 3, col. 3.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pelham Manor Vegetable Thief Sent to Prison in 1888

In 1888, James Morgan of Pelham Manor leased the Jessup Farm on today's Shore Road (then called Pelham Road) to farm vegetables.  Soon he realized that much of his crop seemed to be missing.  A thief was harvesting "large quantities" of his crop.  One day, he observed the thief walking along New Rochelle Road carrying vegetables in bags that had been stolen from his farm.  What happened next was quite interesting.  The news story below published in 1888 recounts the events that led to the imprisonment of the thief.

"Caught in the Act.

Mr. James Morgan, of Pelham Manor, who has leased the Secor place in Pelham, and the Jessup place on the New Rochelle road, has for the last two months been greatly troubled with thieves who stole large quantities of vegetables from the latter place.  On Wednesday last he observed Dan Cashin, a notorious thief, who has served several terms in Sing Sing and in the Penitentiary at Albany, walking on the New Rochelle road with two bags in his possession belonging to him.  He accosted Cashin, and said:  'What are you doing with my property?'  Dan said, 'They belong to Mrs. Havard of New Rochelle; come and see.'  They started for New Rochelle, when after going a short distance, Dan ran away.  Mr. Morgan had an interview with Mrs. Havard, who said that Cashin had told a falsehood.  She knew nothing about the bags.  Several gentlemen in Pelham advised Mr. Morgan to go to Justice Edmonds of Mt. Vernon and state the case to him.  The Justice told him if he would pay the costs in the case he would work it up, as the town of Pelham had four justices and he would not allow the taxpayers of the town of Eastchester to pay any police business of another town, unless it was a felony.  He paid the costs and Constable Shute arrested Cashin in Drake's lane, and brought him before Justice Edmonds.  He was committed to the cells.  About 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon a person called on the Justice and asked for a warrant for John Fox and John Cody and remarked that Dan Cashin was innocent.  He wanted to see Cashin.  He first gave the name of McCormack, afterward that of Gleason.  Justice Edmonds recollected the man's face, told him to sit in the office a short time, and when Constable Shute came in he would go with him to the lockup.  The Justice sent for Shute, told him to get a reliable man, put him in the next cell to Cashin and hear the conversation between McCormack alias Gleason, who was no other than Jim Cashin, a brother to Dan.  Jim said:  'I've fooled the Judge; say you found the bags on the road.  I have accused Jack Fox and Cody of the theft.'  Jim had a large blank note book like reporters use.  He came back in the court room politely thanked the Justice and bowed himself out.  Dan Cashin was tried on Saturday night, found guilty and was taken to Albany Monday morning, and is now working at his old bench in the shoe shop where he will stay for six months. -- Mt. Vernon Argus."

Source:  Caught in the Act, New-Rochelle Pioneer, Sep. 18, 1888, p. ?, col. 5 (page number not printed on the newspaper page).

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

News of Pelham Manor and City Island Published on July 14, 1882

The Chronicle, a newspaper published in Mount Vernon, NY, periodically included news from the Town of Pelham (including City Island, at the time).  On July 14, 1882, the newspaper reported news of Pelham Manor and City Island.  There were a number of interesting reports regarding the Pelham Manor Depot on the Branch Line.  The news items are transcribed below in their entirety.


The telegraph office at Pelham Manor will be open hereafter daily (Sundays excepted) from 6 A.M. till 8.45 P.M.

Messrs. Cochran & Mulvey, the former the [sic] telegraph operator, have opened a grocery in the depot building.  The young men have put in a nice stock of selected groceries, and are deserving of liberal patronage.

A week ago last Sunday night, the ticket office at Pelham Manor and the residences of Mr. W. E. Barnett and Mrs. Graham were broken into.  From the ticket office 126 tickets were stolen, but a little cash and the baggage were not disturbed.  At Mr. Barnett's the articles taken were of a trifling character, and at Mrs. Graham's the thieves were caught while in the cellar.    They proved to be Edward and Joseph, two sons of James Morgan, of Pelham Manor.  The tickets have been recovered and the boys are to be sent to the Catholic Protectory.



A soiree was given at Flynn's pavilion on Wednesday evening last. 

Capt. Samuel Dayton has sold his sloop E. H. Dayton, to a gentleman of Staten Island for $1,800.

One of Benj. Barstow's children aged about two years died on Monday last of Cholera Infantum.  Three others of the family are seriously ill.

While hauling out the schooner Sam'l S. Thorpe on the large railways at Carll's on Monday afternoon, the chain broke.  The vessel was however held in place by a capstan.  The schooner Minnie Griffin is hauled out for overhauling.  The schooner W. H. Baily is expected at the yard for repairs."

Source:  Pelham Manor / City Island, The Chronicle, Jul. 14, 1882, p. ?, col. 4 (no page number is printed on the newspaper page).

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Report on State of the Village of North Pelham by President Peter Ceder Published in 1913

President of North Pelham, Peter Ceder, prepared a "State of the Village" report that appeared in an issue of The Pelham Sun published in 1913.  The report provides an interesting description of the state of the Village at a time when it was beginning to experience explosive growth that continued until the Great Depression.  The entire report is transcribed below.

"Pres. Ceder on North Pelham

The progress in North Pelham the past few years has been rapid, substantial and systematic.  The mud-hole streets that distinguished the village as a back-woods municipality only three short years ago, are no more.  Instead, the main thoroughfares now present substantial and permanent pavements that will stand the test of time and traffic.

North Pelham is the largest village in the town in population, containing between 1,400 and 1,500.  It is a third-class village, while the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor are still in the fourth class.

As a third class village the law permits us to have a President and four Trustees.  For fourth class villages the law provides for a President and only two Trustees.  But the law does not make it mandatory upon the part of a third class village to elect four Trustees.

I have been so closely connected with the past few years' municipal history in North Pelham that my optimism about the future of the little village may, perhaps, be a bit exaggerated.  But even so, I am happy to retain my firm conviction that ere long my home village will advance from the third to the second class.

Why shouldn't it?

Our transit facilities excel those of most other villages in the county.  At the south end we have the main New Haven road; in the centre of the old part of the village we have the Fifth avenue station of the New York, Westchester and Boston road; a little further east we have the Clifford avenue station of the same line, and up at the north end people can be handsomely accommodated by the Chester Heights station of the Westchester road.  We also have a chance to use the nearby East Lincoln Avenue station.  And only 30 minutes to 42nd street.

We have trolley car service every fifteen minutes, with the right to transfers in all directions.  The trolley now runs to the further north end of our village and to the east boundary line.  I think that the extension of the trolley line up Pelhamdale avenue, and the attendant increase in car service, together with the pleasing transfer privileges obtained, is one of the most noteworthy achievements of the village administration of which I have had the pleasure to be a part.  Transit facilities are the forerunners of increased population and the consequent increase in property values.

Those whose memory is in good working order have not forgotten how our streets looked a couple of years ago.  Those who are not blind and are willing to see cannot fail to comprehend the tremendous change our permanently improved streets have worked in the village.  Those who have occasion to use our concrete sidewalks will say that walking in North Pelham is just fine.

A little statistics will not be out of place. 

The village has 65,475 lineal feet or 12.44 miles of streets; it has 9.22 miles of sewer; it has 7.4 miles of flag sidewalks; it has 6.17 miles of concrete sidewalks.  Of the nearly 13 miles of streets 6,191 lineal feet are paved with Bithulitic on concrete foundation, 750 feet are paved with Tarvia pavement, 11,855 feet are macadimized and 53,620 feet are dirt roads.

There are 8,960 feet of trolley track within the village limits. 

The dirt roads have been greatly improved by the use of oil, which serves both as a road improver and as a dust exterminator -- a double purpose.

Our street lighting system could and should be improved.  The open flame gas lamps are antiquated and give an inferior illumination compared with the modern street lights now in use in nearly all up-to-date municipalities.

We enjoy good police protection at the hands of our little force of four men.  Robberies and burglaries are rarely heard of and general good order is maintained night and day.

I fail to see why our little village should not grow rapidly, for it contains all the essential elements necessary to make an ideal suburban community for the middle class. 

In conclusion I wish to impress upon the minds of my fellow taxpayers in North Pelham the fact that they should exert themselves a little more than they now do to induce that rapid but sound growth the village is entitled to by reason of the many inducements it can hold out to purchasers of moderate means.  Be boosters, and not knockers.

Pres. Village North Pelham"

Source:  Pres. Ceder on North Pelham, The Pelham Sun, 1913, p. 11, col. 6 (undated newspaper page in the collections of the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, NY; digital copy in author's files).

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Description of 19th Century Politics in the Town of Pelham Published in 1913

The Town of Pelham was largely unpopulated and was spread over a vastly larger area of land in the 19th century as compared to today.  Three principal population centers fought for political control of the purse strings throughout that time:  Pelhamville, Prospect Hill and City Island.  City Island usually won the battle because it had the largest population of the three population centers.

Below is a brief description of politics in Pelham published in The Pelham Sun in 1913.

"Ye Olde Pelham Days

In the early days when North Pelham was Pelhamville, Pelham Manor was Prespect [sic] Hill and City Island was the chief village in the town, there were rare old times political in the Pelhams.  Spring election was the principal dissipation with an occasional school election as a side show.  In the early spring when the mud roads were almost impassable and the patience of the people at its lowest ebb, electing a new road commissioner was the strict order of all good citizens.  Of course, other Town officers were elected from time to time, but the road commissioner was the 'man of the hour.'

The 'caucus' was always held at City Island, and on a Saturday night, so the men could rest up next day, and it was dawn Sunday before the rival factions returned, shouting in the joy of victory, or sullen and silent in defeat.  It took some time to prepare for the 'caucus.'  A couple of stout teams had to be procured, the farm wagons made read, and extra boards stretched across the wagons for seats.  The voters gathered at certain points along the way and were picked up by the wagons as they went through.  When they reached the 'thank you ma'ams' of Secor Lane the man who forgot to hold on, fell off, and when Pelham Lane was reached all alighted and helped the horses turn the wheels of the wagons, as the mud was hub deep and the strongest horses could not pull a load through it.  Woe to the unlucky man who was not on time on the return trip.  He walked home, cursing his fate and doubly cursing the roads over which he was walking. 

Election[s] were held at the old Town Hall, the little stone building at Bartow Station which the Park Commissioner has preserved as a landmark.  Here the men of the town gathered [to] vote and swap yarns while awaiting the result.  Gouverneur Morris, John Monroe, Peter Roosevelt, John Marshall, George Adee and other prominent residents of the town, exchanged courtesies with each other and chatted with their humble neighbors over crops, weather, planting and like interesting topics.  During the day a vote was taken on appropriations for the year, and the more money they voted, the more mud they got for their money.  No one thought of a better way to make roads than to clean the ditches on either side, pile the mud high in the centre and build an occasional 'thank you, ma'am' on the hillsides until the late eighties when a proposition was made to bond the town for $100,000. [to] build one good macadam road through the town and spend the remainder on the next important streets.

'Pelhamville' was willing, ditto Prospect Hill, but the conservative taxpayers of City Island could not see the use of contributing toward bettering the condition of their inland neighbors, and murmurs of disapproval were heard.  Nothing was thought of this, however, until the day for voting arrived.

The meeting was held at the old brick school on Jackson avenue and a large crowd of people gathered there to vote, but they reckoned without the women.  Up from City Island they came, women in wagons, carts and gigs, women in sunbonnets and women in silks.  They stalked grimly into the hall, cast their votes in the negative, and parted with sniffs of disdain at the 'backwoods farmers' who presumed to try to 'put one over' on the 'fishermen' when they were not on the alert.  That settled good roads in the 'Pelhams' until the villages of North Pelham, Pelham and Pelham Manor were incorporated and gradually built the beautiful roads that are the pride of Westchester County. 


Source:  Ye Olde Pelham Days, The Pelham Sun, 1913, p. 12, col. 4 (undated newspaper page in the collections of the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, NY; digital copy in author's files).

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Brief History of the Fire Department in the Village of North Pelham Published in 1913

In 1913, The Pelham Sun published a report on the state of the First District Fire Department prepared by Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners.  The report included a little on the history of the Fire Department.  The text of the report is transcribed below.  A photograph of the fire house that accompanied the article appears immediately below.

"First District Fire Department

The First Fire District of the Pelham Fire Department consists of all that part of the Town of Pelham lying north of the boundary line of Pelham Manor, and was authorized by a Special Act of the Legislature in 1893.  In March of that year two companies were organized, the Liberty Hose and the Relief Hook and Ladder Companies.  They were each allowed thirty men, and a small hand-drawn hook and ladder truck and hose wagon were purchased.  The truck was kept in the Town Hall and the hose wagon in Barker's barn, and with this apparatus the companies successfully fought many fires for fifteen years. 

In 1894 a small fire house was built on the present site to house the apparatus.  In 1907 the taxpayers, realizing that the firemen were seriously handicapped in their efforts by the old antiquated apparatus, voted a bond issue to build the present Fire Headquarters, consisting of a large apparatus room and five stalls for horses on the first floor and a hall 40 x 70 feet above for entertainments.  The old quarters were moved to the rear of the lot and joined to the new house.  This old building is now used for company rooms upstairs and on the first floor are located the commissioners' office and the room for the fire alarm system and motors.  This bond issue also furnished a steam fire engine and team of horses and a horse-drawn hook and ladder truck.  The companies were then enlarged to fifty members each.  Two years ago a third company was formed in the Heights, limited to twenty members, and they were given a small house, hose reel and 750 of hose.

Prior to 1912 an alarm of fire was sent to the Fire House by telephone or by messenger, and some one would then ring a large bell at the Fire House and all the firemen would report a[t] headquarters to find out where the fire was and go from there to the fire.  This all took time and the fire made great headway before the men finally arrived there.  After the Rosenheimer fire the commissioners asked for a bond issue to install an up-to-date alarm system, and, on this being approved, installed the Gamewell system, which is considered the best in the world.  This system works automatically, the horn at Fire Headquarters calling off the number as the lever in the fire-box is pulled; thus informing everyone where the fire is, and enabling the firemen to go direct to the fire instead of reporting first at headquarters.

This year the department ruined two horses, due to their pulling the engine, which weighs over two tons up the steep hills.  The commissioners looked into this matter very carefully and found that by selling the horses and getting an automobile equipment, they could reduce the fire tax considerably.  They therefore in November of this year appealed to the taxpayers for a bond issue to purchase a triple combination pumping auto engine and an automobile hook and ladder truck.  The first proposition was voted upon favorably, but the automobile truck was defeated by ten votes.  The contract for the former will be given out within a week.  This year our budget has been reduced about $500.

Quite a number of the original members of the Fire Department still doing duty, joined when the company was first organized.  The firemen of this department are doing splendid work and are rated as among the best of the State.  They have been thoroughly trained and are absolutely fearless.  A few years ago there were a number of so-called jury-dodgers among the members, but this has been eliminated and now every member is a worker.  Since the organization of the department there have only been three lives lost in Pelham, one at the Lyman fire and two at the Vaughan fire.

I would like to, and hope to, see in the near future one fire department for the town, with the fire alarm system extended to Pelham Manor and an automatic bell striker placed in the Heights and another in the Manor, which will work automatically with the horn on the headquarters in North Pelham.  The main apparatus, consisting of an automobile pumping engine and hook and ladder truck, should be kept in North Pelham, as we will always have to reply upon the men in that section for a greater part of our help, their business requiring most of them to be there at all times.  In the Manor and in the Height I would like to see a small automobile hose car, large enough to carry 750 feet of hose and a chemical tank.  With a company formed in the Manor, similar to Hose Company No. 2 in the Heights, we should be able to handle any fire in the town without outside aid.  By combining the three villages we could reduce the fire tax materially, as there would then be practically no expense except in case of fire.

In conclusion I would say that too much praise cannot be given to the firemen of our department, when we realize that they give their time and services and risk their health and lives at each fire and are receiving no remuneration whatever.

Pres. Board of Fire Commissioners."

Source:  First District Fire Department, The Pelham Sun, 1913, p. 2, col. 1 (undated newspaper page in the collections of the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, NY; digital copy in author's files).

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pelham Manor Fire Chief Pleads for Taxpayers to Authorize Purchase of Village's First Fire Engine

In 1913, The Pelham Sun carried a report prepared by George S. Chappell, Chief of the Pelham Manor Fire Department, in which the Chief noted that the Villages of Pelham and North Pelham had purchased a "motor driven" fire engine although the taxpayers of Pelham Manor had refused in two votes to authorize the Pelham Manor Fire Department to purchase a motorized fire engine.  The text of the report appears below.

"The Manor Fire Department
The Pelham Manor Fire Department is made up of three companies, covering the three main divisions of the village, namely:  Pelham Manor, Pelham Heights and the Secor Hill section.  The two latter divisions are very restricted as to equipment and really constitute only an emergency apparatus in the shape of a hose reel for immediate use in case of necessity, having depended hitherto for all serious calls upon the activity of No. 1 Company, whose headquarters are at the Pelham Manor Village Hall. 

In all companies, however, active drills and meetings are held monthly, and the organization is as effective as the limited equipment will allow.  At the Village Hall the department has now a rather out-of-date ladder truck drawn by a horse, and a hose reel or jumper.  This equipment while kept in first class condition is, of course, hopelessly inadequate when it comes to fighting a really serious fire.  The truck is equipped with four Babcock extinguishers, axes, ladders, etc., and the hose reel is relied upon to supply the necessary amount of water.

Upon two occasions an attempt has been made to induce the taxpayers of the Manor to vote the necessary appropritations to cover the cost of some kind of an automobile engine, but the project has as yet failed to receive the necessary number of votes.  It would seem self-evident that the present equipment is hopelessly inadequate even though maintained and operated with the greatest possible faithfulness and energy.

Now that the Villages of Pelham and North Pelham have progressively gone forward and purchased a motor driven engine it is hoped that in the near future the Manor will follow their example and supplement the Pelham equipment with an additional motor driven machine of such a character as may be most desirable.  This brings up the question of a closer cooperation between the departments of the other Pelhams and Pelham Manor, which is most desirable.  With the increased speed of the automobile engine the present splendidly equipped fire house in Pelham would answer all requirements and it certainly would greatly facilitate the care, maintenance and operation of the engines if they could be housed under one roof.  Needless to say the expense of operation thus divided would be materially reduced for all concerned.

Chief of Fire Department."

Source:  The Manor Fire Department, The Pelham Sun, 1913, p. 2, col. 2 (undated newspaper page in the collections of the Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham, NY; digital copy in author's files).

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