Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Preparations for Annual Country Club Race Ball Held in Pelham in 1887


The Country Club that opened in Pelham in 1884 was the site of many Steeplechase and other horse races.  Members of the Club held an annual "Race Ball" that formed the centerpiece of a region-wide celebration of the opening of the Races at the Country Club.  Below is a brief article published in 1887 describing preparations for one such ball.

"RURAL DELIGHTS.
-----
PREPARATIONS FOR THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL.
-----
Mrs. De Forest's House Party - A Morrisania Musicale - An Uptown Wedding - Social Miscellany.

The annual Country Club race ball will be given to-night at the club house, Bartow on the Sound, and the members of the club who have country seats near by will all have their houses full of parties coming up from town for the occasion.  The lady patronesses who will receive the guests are Mrs. James M. Waterbury, Mrs. Frank de R. Wessman, Mrs. Marion Story, Mrs. Frederic W. Jackson, Mrs. Howard N. Potter, Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, Mrs. W. H. Sands and Mrs. Alfred Davenport.  The decorations of the club house will be of fall flowers and foliage, and emblems of the hunt and race will be used.  Mr. Tom Howard will be present to lead the cotillon.  Among the guests who are expected to be present are Colonel and Mrs. De Lancey Kane, the Misses Iselin, Miss Mabel Wright, Miss Annie Cutting, Mr. and Mrs. James L. Breest, Mr. and Ms. S. S. Sands, Jr., Mr. Hamilton Cary, Miss Cary, Mr. Charles A. Munn, Miss Romaine Stone, Messrs. Brockholst and William Cutting, Mr. A. de Navarro, Mr. Center Hitchcock, Mrs. John Zerega, Miss Charlotte Zerega, Miss Edith Newcomb, Miss Van Auken, Mr. Stanley Mortimer, Mr. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pelham Clinton, Mr. Foxhall Keene, Mr. and Mrs. James Low Harriman, Miss Paget and Mr. Aimerie Paget. . . . "

Source:  Rural Delights - Preparations for the Country Club Ball, The Evening Telegram-New York, Oct. 21, 1887, p. 2, col. 3. 

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Books of Town Supervisor "Honest John Shinn" Turned Up Short in 1906


More than a century ago, the outgoing Supervisor of the Town of Pelham, John M. Shinn, was embroiled in a nasty dispute that eventually led to litigation.  Questions arose over the Town accounts during his tenure.  Ironically, the Republican Town leader was known as "Honest John" Shinn.  To make matters worse, Shinn was elected to office immediately after Pelham Town Supervisor Sherman Pell forged the Town Clerk's name to $100,000 worth of bonds, sold them to Wall Street Investors and abscounded with the funds reportedly living out his remaining years in South America.

I have written of this matter, and of John Shinn, before.  See, e.g.:

Mon., February 16, 2009:  Outgoing Town of Pelham Supervisor Embroiled in Dispute Over Town Accounts in 1906.

Thurs., October 4, 2007:  Biography of John M. Shinn, Pelham Town Supervisor in Late 19th Century.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes yet another newspaper article about the matter.  The text appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"'HONEST JOHN SHINN' SHORT.
-----
Ex-Supervisor of Pelham's Accounts out $17,971.

The books of ex-Supervisor John M. Shinn of Pelham, for two terms Chairman of the board in Westchester County, and known as 'Honest John,' Pelham's 'Little Giant,' show a shortage of $17,971.37 in his accounts, according to the statement of experts who have been examining them.  The shortage covers a period of eleven years, and is said to be due to bad bookkeeping.

Mr. Shinn has turned two of his houses in Pelham Manor over to the New Rochelle Trustee in a joint deed, which will be held to make good the deficiency.

For many years Shinn ran the Republican politics in Pelham.  He started life as a painter and studied at night until he became a school teacher.  He held this place for years.  He was very fond of landscape painting, and some of his works brought him in considerable sums of money.  Not satisfied with this, Shinn studied law, and was admitted to the bar about ten years ago.  When Sherman Pell, Supervisor of Pelham forged the Town Clerk's name to $100,000 worth of bonds and sold them in Wall Street and embarked for South America, John Shinn was chosen at a taxpayers' meeting to fill the office.  Pell is said to have died in South America a few years later, a penniless tramp.  Shinn held the Supervisorship until last Fall, when he was defeated by Louis C. Young, a scenic artist, by 16 votes.  Shinn says that there was no attempt on his part to defraud the taxpayers, and that his shortage is due to careless bookkeeping.  He will reimburse the town for every penny.  No effort will be made to have Shinn indicted.  Republicans and Democrats alike are expressing profound sympathy for Shinn who is very popular in the town."

Source:  "Honest John Shinn" Short, N.Y. Times, Jun. 20, 1906, p. 1, col. 2.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Article About the June 10, 1888 Opening of Travers Island Facility of the New York Athletic Club


The New York Athletic Club opened its Travers Island facility in Pelham Manor on June 10, 1888.  A brief article about the opening appeared in the magazine "Outing".  The article is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

"ATHLETES' SUMMER HOME.

THE New York Athletic Club took possession of its new summer home on Travers Island, Sunday, June 10.  Travers Island, named after W. R. Travers, the man who did more than any other member of the club to make it what it is, is beautifully situated in Long Island Sound, and is within easy distance of the city.  When all improvements have been completed it is doubtful if there is another spot of the kind in the world to equal it.  Last January the club decided that a country home would be a pleasant adjunct, and purchased the island.  It was then known as Hog Island.  This delightful retreat for weary athletes is situated between Glen Island and the mainland.  It has been known as Emmett Island, Sedgwick Island, Sedgmere and Hog Island, and was last occupied by Arthur Hunter.  In March last Thomas Crimmins, who is also a member of the club, undertook the contract for converting the comparative barren strip of land into a pleasant place.  Although much has yet to be accomplished, all the members of the club are loud in their praises of the spot.  The island consists of about seventeen acres of land, in addition to which the club has purchased about eight acres on the mainland.  The latter property is designed to be sold to members for the erection of villa residences for the summer.

On the island are two old-fashioned but comfortable frame houses, looking very cheerful and bright in their new coats of red and olive-green paint.  The larger of the two is, for the time being, the club-house proper, abounding with quaint closets and nooks, and a fine old chimney-piece in the entrance hall.  On the ground floor are dining-rooms, library and offices, while the upper floors are devoted to bedrooms.  To the latter purpose the whole of the second house is given up.  Alongside this second house is the site for the new and handsome club-house, which the club has decided to erect.  Workmen are already engaged on this, but it is not expected that it will be finished for occupancy before next spring.  What was formerly an apple orchard and a ridge of rocks directly in front of the present club-house, has been leveled, and made into a beautiful lawn, while the site of Mr. Hunter's kennels has been converted into an excellent tennis lawn.  On that side of the island which faces Glen Island, piers have already been built to support a commodious boat-house.  The committee in charge of the improvements at Travers Island consists of Eugene H. Pomeroy, Jennings S. Cox, Walter G. Schuyler, Otto Ruhl, Arthur Sullivan and R. W. Rathbone."

Source:  Athletes' Summer Home, Outing, Vol. XII, p. 463 (Aug. 1888) (published in Outing An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Recreation, Vol. XII, Apr. - Sep. 1888 (NY, NY:  The Outing Company, Limited 1888)).

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mystery "Touring Car" Crash on Pelhamdale Road in Pelham Manor in 1904


An odd and mysterious accident occurred on Pelhamdale Avenue in Pelham Manor in 1904.  A number of articles about the accident appeared in New York City newspapers.  One such article appeared in the November 18, 1904 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune.  The Pelham Manor police were less interested in the mystery than they were with getting the vehicle removed from the side of the roadway before it frightened the horses of the village. 

The text of the article appears below, followed by a citation to its source.

"A TOURING CAR MYSTERY.

------

Wrecked Machine Is Abandoned -- Women Hurt in It.

There is mystery concerning the ownership of a big black, double-tonneau touring car which was found wrecked and abandoned in Pelhamdale-ave., in Pelham Manor, yesterday morning.  The car, which is a French machine worth about ten thousand dollars, is said to have contained six men and women on their way to the Travers Island home of the New-York Athletic Club.  It struck a willow tree at 2 o'clock yesterday morning, climbed half way up the tree and then fell over on its side.  Both of the big searchlights were knocked off, the front axle is bent out of shape, and there is not a quart of gasolene [sic] left in the tanks.

Two women of the party were so badly hurt that Dr. Washburn, of Pelham Manor, was sent for to dress their injuries.  Dr. Washburn says that he knows little about the accident except that a man muffed in a big fur coat got him out of bed at 2:20 o'clock and begged him to go with him to attend some women who, he said, had been thrown out of an automobile and hurt.  The physician found the women in a little signal house of the Harlem River Railroad station groaning with pain.  They told him that they feared that their legs were broken, but he found that they had suffered only from bruises.  Dr. Washburn dressed their injuries and returned home.  He says that the people seemed reticent about the accident and did not give him their names and addresses.

No one appeared to claim the automobile yesterday, and the Pelham Manor police are wondering what they had better do about it as they cannot leave it along the roadside without the danger of frightening horses.  The machine bears the number 9,114, New-York.  Beneath one of the cushions were found several cards of the Blossom Heath Inn, a roadhouse at Larchmont."

Source:  A Touring Car Mystery, New-York Daily Tribune, Nov. 18, 1904, p. 4, col. 4.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Pelham Was a Principal Station on the Stage Coach Route of Dorance, Recide & Co. Which Carried Mail Between New York and Boston

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It seems hard to grasp in this Internet age of instant communication, but mail between New York City and Boston once traveled by stage coach.  In the 1830s, stage coaches of Dorance, Recide & Co. ran the line which included a station stop in Pelham.  A long article about the stage coaches appeared in the May 9, 1880 issue of The New York Times.  The text of that article appears below.



The Mail Stage and Slow Freight on Old Boston Post Road
From Article Published in Scribner's in 1908.

"BEFORE THE LOCOMOTIVE

THE WAYS OVER WHICH THE STAGE-COACH RUMBLED.

FORMIDABLE PREPARATIONS FOR A JOURNEY -- THE BOSTON MAIL -- A FAMOUS HOSTELRY AND THE WAYSIDE INN -- NEWSPAPER ENTERPRISE.

The days when the old stage-coach was in fashion in the land are fast fading from the recollections of men.  Those who lived in that remote period are disappearing, and soon all we shall have left of those times will be the stirring reminiscences handed down to us by tradition.  Those were slow, but vigorous and hearty, times, when a journey required a brave heart, and was contemplated and prepared for weeks, and even months, before departure.  The man of business arranged his affairs, provided himself with different kinds of money to pay his expenses in the various States through which he was to pass, then bade his weeping family adieu and set off on his journey.  A man who had penetrated the country to Syracuse was regarded among his sober-minded townsmen as a traveled prodigy, and one who had returned in safety from Buffalo was looked upon with awe.  It was a journey to be made but once in a lifetime.  Then it took a New-York merchant 30 hours to reach Albany, and the commercial city of Boston was separated from the Metropolis by a journey of 56 hours.  One going to Philadelphia had to cross the North River at night to be ready to start the next morning in the early coach, which it took all that day and night and half the following day to reach.  The fare to Albany was $12, and it cost $15 to ride to Boston, Cleveland and Cincinnati were considered almost unattainable on account of fare and distance, and Chicago and St. Louis were just a few miles this side of 'the jumping-off place.'  The stages were always full, nine inside and two on the box, and were pulled by four strong horses.  The relays were usually about 15 miles apart, and, once started, the traveler rode night and day until he reached his destination.

A few New-Yorkers still remember the old stages of Dorance, Recide & Co., which used to carry the United States mails between this City and Boston.  Fifty years ago two stages started from the corner of Bayard-street and the Bowery every morning.  One of them was an especially fast stage.  It carried the mails and never booked more than six passengers, and when the mails were unusually heavy no passengers were allowed at all.  'Six passengers only allowed inside,' was the announcement contained in the words painted on the panels of this nimble vehicle, which legend many a time carried dismay to the hearts of impetuous business men who arrived at the stage office only to find the last seat taken.  The slow stage carried nine passengers inside and two upon the box.  These two stages always left the hotel in company and proceeded up Third-avenue.  They crossed Harlem bridge and stopped for dinner 28 miles out.  The mail stage usually arrived at Boston half a day in advance of its companion coach.  The principal stations on the route were East Chester, West Chester, Pelham, New-Rochelle, Port Chester, Horse Neck, Stamford, Norwalk, Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester.  The distance was somewhat over 200 miles, which is the only feature of the route that time has not changed.  Mr. Gideon T. Rynolds is said to have been the first man who drove a four-horse stage across the Harlem Bridge.  That was in 1828 or thereabout, according to the best stage chronologers.  Reynolds finally became a contractor, and carried the mails and passengers between New-York and Boston for many years.  His son, Gideon T. Reynolds, Jr., followed the same business for many years.  He died recently at Greenwich, Conn., at the age of 71 years, regretted by those who were familiar with the old stage road.  Some of his old drivers are now engaged on the various street car lines in this City.  But few of them survive, and these speak of the old stage days with a sigh.  Among these are M. L. Putnam, Peter Hill, and Samuel Whepley, veterinary surgeon at the Park-avenue stables.  The Reynolds line of stages ran through White Plains and North Castle, and crossed the Housatonic river at Lewisburg, as it is now called.  There Reynolds lived, and many of the old-timers still have lively recollections of him and his stages.  Abraham Davenport succeeded Dorance, Recide & Co. as United States mail contractors, and ran the Boston coaches for many years. 

The old hotel at the corner of Bayard-street and the Bowery, the point from which these stages took their departure, was the centre of life and activity.  The agents for the line, business men, passengers and employes [sic] congregated there.  The arrival of the coach in the evening, with its load of passengers, its packages of valuables, and its heavy mail-bags containing advices from other cities, always drew together an eager crowd.  Forty years ago, George Hall kept this hotel, and country merchanges visiting this City to buy goods, stock-dealers, travelers, and countrymen with farm produce for sale, were always domiciled there.  Every morning pigs, poultry, and vegetables were exposed for sale on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, and attracted crowds of buyers, the market adding a decidedly picturesque feature to the scene.  Mornings, each stage with its four prancing horses, swept around from the stables, and took its position before the hotel door, and the trunks and packages were strapped on the roof or stowed away in the boot.  The passengers mounted to their places, and the clumsy, swaying vehicle finally rolled heavily off, amid the clamor of geese and pigs, the farewells of friends, and the cries of the crowd about the hotel and the market.  The North American Hotel, as this hostelry was then called, was considered a place of unusual magnificence, and doubtless many a countryman returned to his home in the interior, after having spent a few days under its hospitable roof, with his imagination glowing with a recollection of its splendors.  A visit to the locality to-day shows us that those splendors have passed away.  The hotel itself is reduced to insignificant proportions when contrasted with the palatial buildings now devoted to the entertainment of the public.  The market, with its pigs and geese, and piles of 'garden sass,' and heavy stagees and noisy crowds, has also disappeared from the street, and the neighborhood has assumed the aspect of a more or less sober business locality, with ragged chimneys, battered walls, and dingy gables.  The citizens who now pass there are as unconscious of the former scenes as if those had never been.

Soon after the stages crossed Harlem bridge they came into a wild and woody country, and not infrequently were they robbed in this locality.  There were 'road agents' in those days as well as now, and the mail coaches were protected by a guard, who occupied a perch on the roof over the boot, and was armed with a blunderbuss.  This weapon was considered somewhat deadly in those days.  It had a funnel-shaped barrel, a flint-lock, and took about half a pint of buckshot for a charge.  It was capable of destroying a whole band of robbers at one discharge.  But it took an expert gunner about 15 minutes to load it, or for other reasons, it seems not to have been very successful in extermnating stage robbers, for they have continued to increase in numbers and boldness from that day to this, and the gun has gone out of fashion.

The inns aong a stage-route were usually cheerful places at which to stop.  They gave the traveler a more genial welcome than the most luxurious hotels do now.  After a long ride on a cold wet day, the wide fireplace with its blazing logs, the bar with its pure distilled liquors and genial companionship, and the table with its abundance of fresh products from the farm and the dairy, were a delightful recompense to a hungry and dispirited traveler.  Doubtless there are some still living who remember Aunt Hannah Fisher's 'Wayside Inn' at East Chester.  Daniel Webster has toasted his feet there and drank [sic] at the bar in his time.  Aunt Hannah was a stalwart maiden lady six feet high, who had the reputation of being able to whip any man on the route from New-York to Boston.  Sometimes, it is said, those who were not acquainted with Aunt Hannah's muscular prowess presumed on making too free in her establishment, after sundry indulgences at the bar.  When such parties became troublesome she quietly picked them up and threw them over the half-door of the bar-room into the street, where they were left to recover from their potations and their astonishment.

Forty years ago, Baker & Walker ran two stages a day each way between New-York and Albany, on the east side of the river.  These stages left New-York at 8 o'clock in the morning, from the Howard House, at the corner of Broadway and Maiden-lane, and arrived in Albany at 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the next day.  The stations at which horses were changed and passengers got refreshment and stretched their legs going up the river were Yonkers, Sing Sing, Peekskill Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Clermont, Hudson, and Kinderhook.  The mail stage returning always left Albany in the night.  In Winter the snow was often very deep and the weather remarkably cold.  Sleighs were then used, and it was not an exceptional occurrence for passengers to have to pull the sleigh over the tops of the highest snow-banks, while the driver took the horses around over stone walls and through fences.  An old driver on this route, named M. L. Putnman, now driving a street car, recollects seeing the light of the great fire in New-York, in the Winter of 1835, at Poughkeepsie, 80 miles distant.  The Highlands were rough and dangerous.  During that time Winter Putnam tipped his stage over at Annsville, in the Highlands, in a mill-pond, nearly drowned his passengers through a hole made in the ice, broke some arms and legs and a collar-bone, at an expense to the stage company of several hundred dollars.  The Governor's Message was sent by express in those days to the New-York newspapers the day after it was read to the Legislature.  The messenger was authorized to take one horse from each relay station and push forward as rapidly as possible.  The President's Message was forwarded over the stage-route in the same manner.  The Message was received at the printing-offices, put in tye by the waiting printers, and published in an extra edition, no matter at what time of the day or night it was received.  'Old Put,' as the old stage-driver is called, recollects being the bearer of one or more of these Messages.  Thurlow Weed used to ride with him often, and is still regarded as a familiar acquaintance, and he recollects having Martin Van Buren for an 'inside, back seat, on one or more occasions.  The old man still follows driving, but the railroads have destroyed the business of staging, and he has changed his place on the box with four horses at his command to the humble platform of a street car.  The change is a sad one for the old man, who never ceases sighing for the freedom and freshness of those old times, but he is comforted in the time of his fallen fortunes by the reflection that even Apollo became the keeper of swine."

Source:  Before the Locomotive - The Ways over Which the Stage-Coach Rumbled, N.Y. Times, May 9, 1880, p. 10.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Trumbull Farm in Pelham Sold To Satisfy Foreclosure Judgment in 1880


I can recall researching and considering the location of the Trumbull Farm in Pelham.  Last night I ran across a brief item published in 1880 about the sale of the farm to satisfy a foreclosure judgment.  I have not yet been able to locate my research on the location of the farm.  Thus, I am transcribing the item below to document it for further work.

"The Trumbull farm, in the Town of Pelham, containing 105 acres of land, was sold at the Courthouse, in White Plains yesterday, to satisfy a foreclosure judgment obtained by the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New-York against Charlotte Coburn, individually and as Executrix of the will of James M. Coburn and other defendants.  William H. J. Hurst of New-York, was the purchaser for $20,700."

Source:  Westchester County, N.Y. Times, Feb. 29, 1880, p. 12.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dynamite Explosion in 1890 Breaks Windows and Shakes Residents of Bartow-on-the-Sound in Pelham


On April 5, 1890, a massive explosion at a dynamite works in Baychester killed two workers and shook the countryside.  In nearby Bartow-on-the-Sound, a hamlet located in Pelham, windows were broken and residents were shaken.  A brief article about the event appeared on April 7, 1890 in a Syracuse, New York newspaper.  It is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


"A terrific explosion which shook the building and broke the window panes in many homes at Bartow, City Island and Pelham Bridge occurred Saturday.  The building known as the running house at Dittmar's dynamite works in Baychester had blown up, killing James H. Kelmeir and Max Schultz.  Schultz had come to the works to pay a friendly visit to Kelmeir.  In the engine house, about 100 feet away, the engineer was badly stunned by the shock.  His escape from death is miraculous.  Kelmeir and Schultz were blown to atoms.  The explosion left a hole six feet deep and twenty feet long where the building stood.  How the dynamite came to explode is a mystery that will probably never be solved.  The railrad station, a quarter of a mile from the scene of the explosion, was badly damaged by the shock."

Source:  A Terrific Explosion, The Syracuse Daily Journal, Apr. 7, 1890, p. 1, col. 3.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Apparent Effort in 1884 to Develop Portions of Pelham Neck as "Villa Sites"


Shortly before efforts increased to develop a new "Pelham Bay Park" using lands located within the Town of Pelham in the 1880s, there were a number of initiatives to develop residential hamlets in the area.  Perhaps the best-know such area was Bartow-on-the-Sound.  Other developments were planned as well, though.

One such development that never got off the ground due to the new Park lands was a development on Pelham Neck (today's Rodman's Neck).  A very brief advertisement that appeared in an issue of The New York Times published in 1884 provides clues to the development plans.

"FOR SALE -- AT PELHAM NECK, near the village of Westchester, several fine VILLAS and VILLA SITES, having frontage on Eastchester Bay, and commanding extensive views of land and water.  The neighborhood is excellent, and access to the city by water convenient and pleasant.  The new Portchester and New-York Railroad [i.e., the New Haven Branch Line] will run adjacent to the property.  Terms favorable; prices very reasonable.  Apply at 16 Chambers-st."

Source:  For Sale -- At Pelham Neck, New-York Daily Tribune, Apr. 12, 1872, p. 3, col. 2.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Manager of Pelham Manor Golf Links Committed Suicide Over Debt to Club in 1899


A sad article appeared in the December 7, 1899 issue of The New York Times.  It recounted the suicide of Frederick B. Russell, manager of the Pelham Manor Links.  It is somewhat unclear as to whether the reference to "Pelham Manor Links" is a reference to "The Pelham Manor Golf Club" organized by Mrs. John Cunningham Hazen and Miss Edith Cunningham Hazen in 1895.  It would seem that The Pelham Manor Golf Club never became thoroughly established.  Its records appear to have disappeared and there is little written about it after the summer and fall of 1895 during which "golf fever" supposedly struck Pelham Manor.  To read more, see Bell, Blake A., The Early Days of Golf in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 36, Sep. 10, 2004, p. 12, col. 2. 

If the reference in the article transcribed below relates to The Pelham Manor Golf Club, it sheds some light on two issues:  (1) the Club appears to have operated for at least four years; and (2) the death of the manager, Frederick B. Russell, may have played some role in the end of the Club.

Below is the article, followed by a citation to its source: 

"GOLF CLUB MANAGER'S SUICIDE.

-----

Frederick B. Russell of the Pelham Manor Links Shoots Himself.

NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y., Dec. 6. -- Frederick B. Russell, manager of the Pelham Manor golf links and formerly a real estate broker, with an office at 19 Liberty Street, Manhattan, shot and killed himself to-day in Alderman Daniel D. Brady's hotel here.  He had been connected with the golf club about two months.  He had a room of a relative at 451 South Seventh Street, Mount Vernon.  Business troubles are supposed to have led to the suicide.

According to Henry Dreyfus, proprietor of the Dreyfus House, who made a statement to the police, Mr. Russell was worried over his inability to raise $65, which he desired to pay to the club.

Mr. Russell was about forty years old, and had been employed with Davis, Collamore & Co., glassware, up to about three years ago.  William C. Findlay, attorney for the Russell family, said that Mr. Russell had not been well of late, and he knew of no reason for the suicide unless ill-health had brought about despondency.  Mr. Russell came originally from Hudson, N. Y."

Source:  Golf Club Manager's Suicide, N.Y. Times, Dec. 7, 1899, p. 2, col. 3.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Polo at the Country Club in Pelham in 1887


Regular readers of the Historic Pelham Blog know that during the 1880s, New York City and Westchester County residents developed the "Country Club" in Pelham near the hamlet known as "Bartow-on-the-Sound".  There, the affluent enjoyed steeplechase races, tennis, baseball, riding to the hounds, and other such recreational activities.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of an article published in 1887 describing a polo match played at the Country Club.  The article is followed by a citation to its source.

"WON BY THE VISITORS.

ORANGE (N.J.) POLO PLAYERS BEAT THE COUNTRY CLUB TEAM.

A match game of polo for a silver cup was played yesterday afternoon on the grounds of the Westchester Country Club, near Bartow, on the Sound, by the junior teams of the Country Club and the Essex County Club, of Orange, N.J.  Mr. E. C. Potter captained the Country Club team, which included Messrs Major Cooley, Percy Chubb, and Howard Potter.  R. F. Potter was substitute.  All these gentlemen wore bright red shirts, white duck trousers, and shiny riding boots adorned with massive spurs.  The men from Orange wore orange-colored shirts, but their trousers and boots were like those worn by their opponents.  The Essex County team consisted of Capt. Powers Farr, W. W. Tucker, C. Pfizer, Jr., and Douglas Robinson, Jr., with Robert Sedgwick, substitute.  Mr. H. L. Herbert was referee.

The game was ended in an hour's time, and was played in two innings of 20 minutes each with an intermission for rest between them.  The red shirted champions of the Country Cub won the first goal in 13 minutes mainly through the intrepid playing of Percy Chubb, who managed his black pony very cleverly.  Major Cooley and Edward C. Potter, who guarded the goals for the Country Club, also did some very clever work in the way of back hits and short stops.

The the Orange team went to work and won the second goal in 20 minutes by the headlong velocity of Douglas Robinson, one of the half backs. 

The third goal was hotly contested, both teams doing some splendid riding and sharp hitting.  For upward of five minutes it was anybody's game, and the dripping ponies looked as if they wished it would very soon be somebody's.  Then Capt. Powers Farr captured the ball, about midway between the goals, and with a sharp thwack sent it bounding toward Orange and victory, and finally between the stakes, thus securing the day for Orange by a score of 2 to 1.

After the match all hands adjourned to the comfortable clubhouse of the Country Club and had dinner.  Among those who witnessed the sport were Mr. and Mrs. James M. Waterbury, Mrs. Howard N. Potter, Mrs. John Zerega and Miss Zerega, Mr. and Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, Mrs. and the Misses Havemeyer, Miss Belloni, the Misses Thorn, Mrs. Lorillard, Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Dyer, Miss Helen Iselin, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon McDonald, Mr. Jackson, and many others."

Source:  Won by the Visitors, N.Y. Times, Jul. 10, 1887, at p. 3.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Famed "California Ramblers" and the "Ramblers Inn" that Once Stood on Shore Road


Yesterday I received an inquiry regarding the location of the "Ramblers Inn" that once stood along Shore Road inside Pelham Bay Park just beyond Pelham's border with the Bronx.  The inquiry prompted me to jot a note summarizing some of what I have learned about the "Ramblers Inn" also once known as the "California Ramblers Inn".  The story is an interesting one.
The Morris family once owned an estate with a lovely home that stood slightly north of today's Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum along Shore Road opposite today's Pelham Bay Golf Course (part of today's Pelham Bay and Split Rock Golf Courses).  During the 1880s, the forerunner to today's New York City Department of Parks & Recreation arranged the acquisition of the property including the home on behalf of the City.  The red arrow on the map detail below shows the location of the Morris home in 1868.


At some point, a man named Shanley leased the property, renovated and changed the home, then turned it into a roadhouse called the "Pell Tree Inn".  Click here to see a post card image showing the exterior of the structureClick here to see a post card image showing an interior view of one room of the Inn

By the 1920s, the business had changed hands and was known as "Ramblers Inn". In those years, of course, jazz bands played in many of the local roadhouses. Among those who played at Ramblers Inn were members of a group that included Red Nichols, Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey.  To see an undated picture of the group, please click on this linkTo read a little about the background of the band, please click on this link.

Tradition has it that the group became so successful so quickly, that they named themselves the "California Ramblers".  They supposedly took the name of the Inn where they became famous and changed the name slightly to add the panache of a name that included a reference to the sun-drenched state on the West Coast.  One thing is certain, however.  During the 1920s, the group became one of the most successful of their day.  The group recorded hundreds of successful jazz tunes on many record labels including Columbia Records throughout the 1920s.  One of the oddest "facts" about the band is that it recorded under a very, very large number of "pseudonyms" during the 1920s.  One fan has attempted to assemble a list of nearly 100 such pseudonyms.  Please click on this link to view that list.

By the early 1930s, the business had changed hands once again and was known as the Hollywood Gardens.   Paul Whiteman and his orchestra played to large crowds at the Hollywood Gardens until Robert Moses ordered the structure razed in the mid-1930s while work was being done to destroy the bungalows at old Orchard Beach. 

Reviews of old newspapers reveal that the Inn was often referred to as "California Ramblers Inn".  Searches of such materials can be annoying because there were many institutions throughout the area (and the country) known as "Ramblers Inn".

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

19th and Early 20th Century Newspaper Notices Relating to the Prospect Hill Village Association

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Prospect Hill Village was one of the two principal real estate developments from which today's Village of Pelham Manor evolved. The other, of course, was the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association organized on June 3, 1873 by Silas H. Witherbee, Henry C. Stephens, Robert A. Mitchill, Charles J. Stephens, Charles F. Heywood and other local landowners.

On August 11, 1852, a man named William Bryson filed a development map entitled "Map of Prospect Hill Village, Town of Pelham, Westchester County, New York." The map encompassed a prime area described by Lockwood Barr as "on the crown of the ridge near the Boston Post Road, bounded by what are now Highland, Prospect, Esplanade, New Haven Branch, Washington and Old Split Rock Road."  Barr, Lockwood, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as The Lordshipp & Mannour of Pelham Also the Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, p. 123 (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946).


Juxtaposition of Detail from Plate 35 of the 1868 Beers Atlas Showing
Prospect Hill (On Left) with a Satellite Image of the Same Area in Today's Pelham.


I have written previously about the history of Prospect Hill Village and the Prospect Hill Village Association.  See:

Bell, Blake, The Founding of "Prospect Hill Village" in the Early 1850s, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XV, Issue 25, Second Section, Jun. 23, 2006, p. 34, col. 1.

Wed., March 30, 2005:  Prospect Hill Village -- Yet Another Early Hamlet Within the Town of Pelham.

Mon., November 21, 2005:  Prospect Hill and Pelhamville Depicted on the 1868 Beers Atlas Map of Pelham:  Part I

Today's Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a number of important legal notices involving the Prospect Hill Village Association that appeared in New York City newspapers between 1852 and 1906.  A number of these notices were referenced in the 2006 article about Prospect Hill Village published in The Pelham Weekly.  Each notice below is transcribed in full and each is followed by a citation to its source.


July 26, 1851 Notice of Regular Meeting of Association and Advertisement of Sale of Lots

"Prospect Hill Village Association. -- The next regular meeting will be held at American Hall, corner of Grand-st. and Broadway, on MONDAY EVENING, July 28, at 8 o'clock, for the purpose of receiving subscribers to acre and half acre plots.  This delightful spot requires no puffing, it only wants to be seen to be admired.  The public are invited to attend, get the prospectus of the Constitution free, and if they like it, join and get a good home at the agricultural price.  Full plots, 200 feet square, $2 per week; half plots, 100 feet front by 200 fee deep $1 per week.  For further information, apply to ALFRED S. PEACE, President, 161 Third-av., or of WM. PARKER, 192 Canal-st., Secretary."

Source:  Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Tribune, Vol. XI, No. 3205, July 26, 1851, p. 1, col. 1. 


August 6, 1851 Announcement of Visit to Prospect Hill in Special Train to View Lots

"Prospect Hill Village Association. -- The members and friends of this Society will meet at the Canal-st. Station at 11 o'clock on THURSDAY MORNING, August 7th, for the purpose of proceeding to Pelhamville Station, and from there to view land.  All persons desirous of accompanying the officers are requested to attend.  The books will be open for subscribers on the ground.  N.B.  The special train of cars will be in readiness.

ALFRED S. PEACE, President.

WM. PARKER, Sec'y."

Source:  Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Daily Tribune, Vol. XI, No. 3214, Aug. 6, 1851, p. 1, col. 1. 


September 8, 1851 Advertisement for Sale of Lots and Upcoming Meeting of Association

Prospect Hill Village Association!  One of the most desirable spots in Westchester County, has been secured for village purposes, to be divided into acrea and half-acre plots, and paid for by weekly installments.  A few more members will complete the required number.  Applications may be made at the next regular meeting to take place on MONDAY EVENING, Sept. 8, at American Hall, at 8 o'clock, corner of Broadway and Grand-st., or of ALFRED S. PEACE, President, No. 161 3d-av., or of WM. PARKER, 192 Canal-St., Secretary, where Prospectus and Constitution may be obtained free.

N.B. -- This Association is chartered by the State Legislature."

Source:  Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Daily Tribune, Vol. XI, No. 3242, Sep. 8, 1851, p. 1, col. 2.


October 6, 1851 Notice of Meeting of Association Urging Payment of Back Dues

Prospect Hill Village Association. -- The next regular Meeting of this Association will be held at American Hall, corner of Broadway and Grand-st., MONDAY EVENING, Oct. 6, at 8 o'clock.  Every member is requested to be present.  Those who have not paid up their back dues, please come up.  Room for a few more members.

WM. PARKER, Secretary,
No. 192 Canal-st."

Source:  Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Tribune, Vol. XI, No. 3266, Oct. 6, 1851, p. 2, col. 1.

 
January 6, 1852 Notice Seeking Bids for Grading Prospect Hill Lands

"PROSPECT HILL VILLAGE ASSOCIATION. -- Proposals will be received for grading the land of the Association until the 10th day of January, 1852.  Plans and specifications to be obtained of the President, with whom all proposals must be left, marked 'Estimates for grading Prospect Hill Village.'

ALFRED S. PEACE.  President, No. 151 3d-av.
WM. PARKER, Sec'y, No. 192 Canal-st."

Source:  Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 6, 1852, p. 2, col. 3.




May 4, 1852 Notice of Meeting of Association to Address "Business of Great Importance"

"Prospect Hill Village Association. -- A Special Meeting of this Association will be held TUESDAY EVENING, May 4, at No. 103 Bowery.  As business of great importance will be presented, members are particularly requested to attend.  By order.

BENJAMIN L. HANNAH, Rec. Sec."

Source: Prospect Hill Village Association, New-York Tribune,  Vol. XII, No. 3,446, May 4, 1852, p. 3, col. 2.


April 1, 1854 Notice that Members in Arrears Will Forfeit Their Lots to the Association

"NOTICE. -- PROSPECT HILL VILLAGE ASSOCIATION. -- All members of this Association, over twelve weeks in arrears for dues, are hereby notified, that their lots will be forfeited to the Association, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws of said Association, unless the same is paid within six weeks from the date of this notice.  The books may be found at the office of the Financial Secretary, No. 1 Ann-st., from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. daily; or at the house of THOMAS SPOTTEN, No. 116 Bowery, from 7 A.M. to 9 P.M., until further notice.  By order of the Trustees, OSCAR F. BENJAMIN, Financial Secretary.

NEW-YORK, March 18, 1854."

Source:  Notice - Prospect Hill Association, New-York Daily Times, Apr. 1, 1854, p. 3, col. 6.


1906 Legal Notice Regarding Action to Affix Seal to Unsealed Deed Filed in 1854


"LEGAL NOTICES.
------
SUPREME COURT.  NEW YORK COUNTY. -- 

In the matter of the petition of DANIEL F. TIEMANN.

To Prospect Hill Village Association:

Gentlemen:  Please take notice that upon the petition of Daniel F. Tiemann, duly verified April 30, 1906, and the affidavit of Thomas Kilvert thereto annexed, duly verified the 30th day of April, 1906, filed in the office of the Clerk of New York County, May first, 1906, and upon all the proceedings in this matter a motion will be made at Special Term, Part One, of this Court, to be held at the County Court House, in the City of New York, on the first Monday of July, 1906, at 10:30 A.M., for an order of this Court appointing the Register of Westchester County, State of New York, as a suitable person to complete the execution of an unexecuted trust imposed upon William Dally as a trustee for the Prospect Hill Village Association, to the extent of directing him to affix a seal to the execution and attestation clause of a certain deed of conveyance of real estate from said William Dally as said trustee to Philip Bruckman, recorded as an unsealed deed in said Register Office, Liber of Deeds 288, Page 450, Sep. 29, 1854, and to amend the said record to conform to his said act of affixing such seal.

This notice of motion is published and served pursuant to an order of this Court made by Hon. Joseph E. Newburger, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, duly entered in the foregoing entitled matter in the Clerk's office of New York County on the first day of May, 1906.  Yours, etc.

PORTER & KILVERT,
Petitioner's Attorneys,
No. 154 Nassau Street.  New York.
Dated New York, May first, 1906."

Source:  Legal Notices - Supreme Court New York County - In the Matter of the Petition of Daniel F. Tiemann, N.Y. Times, June 9, 1906, p. 7, col. 5.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1879 News Account Provides Additional Basis for Some Facts Underlying Ghost Story of Old Stone House in Pelhamville


With another Halloween approaching, it is time to turn to legends of ghosts and goblins in Historic Pelham.  Today's Blog posting raises a spooky possibility.  There seems to be a hint of truth to at least part of the legend surrounding the ghost of Mrs. Parrish that supposedly inhabits the old Stone House located at 463 First Avenue in the Village of Pelham (photo below).  As I have reported below, according to that legend, a man named Alexander Diack built the home in the early 1850s. On October 15, 1855, a man named James Parrish purchased the home. As the story goes, James Parrish had a business in which he employed a truckman named Adams. Parrish and Adams supposedly began an express business “as a sideline”. The business did well. When James Parrish died, his wdow, Mrs. Mary Parrish, supposedly received dividend payments from the business paid in gold.





Masked men reportedly robbed Mrs. Parrish. She began to hide the gold she received as dividends somewhere on the property. According to Lockwood Barr’s popular history of Pelham:

"it is said that a million dollars in gold is hidden in the house, or buried in the gardens. Search has been made of the house, and grounds excavated, but without result. However, underneath a hearthstone in the basement kitchen, a hundred small coins of early date were found by one of the owners – but no pot of gold."

Some say the ghost of Mrs. Parrish can be seen about the house, even in daylight, dressed in elegant clothes of the period, searching for misplaced gold. There is also a story that a well-known actor who is a descendant of Mrs. Parrish, Edward Everett Horton, once visited the home, heard the ghost stories and said that the descriptions of the apparition resembled a daguerreotype he had seen of one of his great grandmothers. 
 
To read a little more about the legend, see:
 
Fri., March 17, 2006:  1854 Advertisement for the Sale of the Old Stone House at 463 First Avenue in Pelham
 
Bell, Blake A., Pelham's Ghosts, Goblins and Legends.
 
There is a factual basis to portions of the underlying story.  Alexander Diack did build the home in the early 1850s.  James Parrish did subsequently acquire the home.  Parrish did have a business known as Adams Express.  Parrish died and his widow did continue to live in the Old Stone House.  Additionally . . . . . .
 
There are a number of news accounts at the time reporting that masked men burst into the widow's home, ransacked it looking for valuables and left Mrs. Parrish tied up after the robbery.  One such account is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.
 
"ALMOST ANOTHER HULL CASE.
-----
Singular Circumstances of a Masked Burglary - An Old Lady Tied to Her Bed as Was Mrs. Hull - Daring Villain.
-----
N.Y. Herald, 17.
 
A rather mysterious burglary took place yesterday morning in the village of Pelhamville, which is situated on the New York and New Haven Railroad, in Westchester county.  The circumstances are so peculiar as to puzzle most of the inhabitants of that quiet suburb.  The victim of the crime is Mrs. Mary Parrish, a widow about seventy years of age, who lives entirely alone in a stone house, and is reputed to be the possessor of a considerable sum of ready money.  Quite recently she had $600 in her purse.  Whether this was still in her possession at the time of the burglary cannot be ascertained.  It is known that she had a large amount of Adams' Express stock.  Putting this and that together the residents of Pelhamville infer a good deal in the way of conspiracy and interested motives.
 
Mrs. Parrish, according to her own statement, awoke at one o'clock yesterday morning, in her bedroom, on the first floor of her house, to hear a sound of prying at her door, which speedily opened, revealing the form of a strange man, who wore a mask.  She was utterly alone, and knew that, although the nearest neighbor was not more than a hundred yards distant, it would be fatal to her to cry out.  The burglar held up a warning hand and said, in a hoarse whisper, 'Now, keep quiet, old lady; don't be afraid; we're not going to hurt you so long as you don't give no alarm.'  Then he stepped into the room and two other men followed him.  She describes them as rather small in stature, but further than that she remembers nothing of their appearance, terror seeming to be the only impression of the affair remaining upon her mind.  All their faces were masked.  She heard them address each other by the numbers 1, 2, and 3.  The others repeated that they did not wish to harm her; they only wanted her money.  Then they commanded her to rise from her bed and proceeded to rip it open.
 
'You have some bonds,' asked the man who seemed to lead the party; 'where are they?'
 
Mrs. Parrish strenuously denied that she posssessed any vonds, but without convincing the robbers, who told her to go with them into the dining room.  Meanwhile one of them had seized a satchel which she kept in her room and had torn it open, not even attempting in his eagerness or haste, to unlatch it, although it was not locked.  His manner led her to believe that he knew she was in the habit of using it as a receptacle for some of her valuables.  He was not disappointed, for he found there $100 in money and several documents.  The latter, however, were of no use to any one, excepting herself.  In the dining room the carpet was taken up, the drawers of the buffet and the table were forced upon and the closets were ransacked.  The other rooms in the house were ransacked by them, with herself as an unwilling companion, and they were left in the direst confusion.  She was repeatedly questioned with profane threats in regard to her bonds, but she steadfastly denied that she had any securities of that character.
 
'Have you a Bible!' they then asked her.
 
'Yes,' was her response.
 
'Then get it,' said the leader.
 
The Bible was produced, and the villains administered to her in the very words of the court form an oath to the effect that, in declaring she had no convertible securities, she told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  She could not be shaken in her denial.  The robbers, evidently much disappointed, led her back to the bedroom.  Here they laid her upon the bed and tied her limbs to the bedposts, just as Chastine Cox did those of Mrs. Hull [a then-recent crime that led to the death of the female victim].  They told her to beware of making any noise, and threatened to return immediately if she gave an alarm before they had been gone a sufficient time to render certain their escape.
 
The time which they spent in the house was about two hours.  They made their exit through the front door, locking it and throwing the key away.  It was found in the morning underneath an evergreen shrub in the yard.
 
Early in the morning, Mrs. George Pearson, a neighbor, received a message from Mrs. Parrish that she desired to see her.  On going to her house Mr. and Mrs. Pearson were met at the door by Mrs. Clark, wife of the postmaster of the village.  They entered and found Mrs. Parrish in a most excited state.  When asked how she had gotten loose from her bonds after the departure of the burglars.  Mrs. Parrish said she did not know, and nothing at all could be learned from her on this point.  This reply was so inconsistent with her statement that she had been tied by the burglars that it has caused a good deal of wonder among her neighbors.  Many of them, however, seize the occasion to declare that they have for a long time suspected her of being unsound in mind on certain subjects, and that she has of late read and talked a great deal about the murder of Mrs. Hull.  They hint, therefore, that the whole occurrence as related by her may be an illusion, the result of monomania.  Not only does the circumstance of the binding remind one strongly of the Hull tragedy, but a candle, half consumed, which was found in her room and which, according to her, was used by the robbers, forms another singular coincidence.  On the other hand, another burglary which took place on the same night at Pelhamville points to an organized plan of plunder on the part of a band of thieves, who were very well acquainted with the locality.  An hour or so earlier than the robbery of Mrs. Parrish the Episcopal church was entered, and a large and valuable carpet was taken away.  Several dogs belonging to neighbors barked warningly, but did not cause alarm."
 
Source:  Almost Another Hull Case, Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser, Vol. 54, No. 169, p. 1, col. 3 (July 18, 1879) (reprinted from July 17, 1879 issue of N.Y. Herald).
 
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Film of the Westchester Model Club, Inc.'s Model Railroad in the Pelham Manor Depot Before its Demolition

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During the 1920s, six men in New Rochelle whose spouses objected to their model train sets taking up too much space formed the Westchester Model Club.They pooled their equipment in one of their member's attics, but soon ran out of space.  They moved to a loft but, once again, ran out of space.  In 1934, a tremendous opportunity presented itself.  With the end of passenger service on the New Haven Branch Line that passed through Pelham Manor, the beautiful Pelham Manor Depot designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert sat unused.  The Club leased the space.  It designed and built one of the nation's largest and most famous model railroads centered around a miniature Pelham Manor Depot station identical to the structure within which the Club was housed.  The Club remained in the station house until shortly before the structure was torn down to make way for I-95 during the 1950s. 

Many articles appeared in print publications throughout the nation as the club became more famous.  Significantly, a film of the model railroad was created.  The film seems to have been created in the early 1950s.  Sterling Films released thea film entitled "Model Railroad", an S. J. Turell Production written by Norman Ober and narrated by Carl King.  The film was directed by Emil E. Brodbeck with the cooperation of the Westchester Model Club, Inc., Pelham Manor, New York.  The movie is available as part of the Prelinger Archives founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger.  In 2002, the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division acquired the 60,000 films that then existed in the archive.  Various of the archive films including the film "Model Railroad" are offered by Rick Prelinger and The Internet Archive to all for free downloading and reuse and for the creation of derivative works. 

The image below, from the film, shows the model of the Pelham Manor Depot.




The film may be accessed immediately below by clicking on image to begin the film in MPEG4 format.  Please wait a moment for the file to load before it begins.



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Monday, October 12, 2009

More Evidence that John Pell Died Well After 1702 or 1703 When Some Say He Died in a Boating Accident on Long Island Sound


As I have noted before, there long has been confusion regarding the date of death of John Pell, the nephew of Thomas Pell of Fairfield, who inherited the Manor of Pelham following the death of his uncle in late September, 1669.  Pell family members long have claimed that John Pell drowned in a boating accident during a storm on Long Island Sound in 1702 or 1703.  See, e.g., Pell, Robert T., Pelliana:  Pell of Pelham, p. 25 (Privately Printed, 1934).  For more on the issue, see

Wed., November 7, 2007:  A Secondary Source To Follow Up On Regarding When John Pell, Nephew of Thomas Pell, Died.

I have located one of the resources that I recalled but could not locate at the time of my November 7, 2007 posting referenced above.  The resource contains two pertinent abstracts of Westchester County deeds reflecting conveyances of property by John Pell, Sr. in the Manor of Pelham after 1702-03.  The abstracts are quoted below, each followed by a citation to its source.

"P. 17:  John Pell, Senr., of the Manor of Pelham, Proprietor of ye same, to son Thomas Pell, land in ye Manor aforesaid, May 3, 1712." 

Source:  Bristol, Theresa Hall, ed., Westchester County, N.Y., Miscellanea in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. LII, p. 74 (NY, NY:  The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society 1921) (citing p. 17, Liber E, Land Records, Westchester Co., N.Y.).

"P. 210:  John Pell, Senr., Esq., of Peham Manor, to son Thomas Pell; 1719."

Id., p. 78 (citing p. 210, Liber E, Land Records, Westchester Co., N.Y.).

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Eight Illustrations Showing Views Of Pelham During the 1880s





In 1887, John Mullaly published a book on the new parks being developed beyond the Harlem including the park known as Pelham Bay Park.  The lands in that area were, at the time, still within the Town of Pelham.  Mullaly's book included eight illustrations showing views of the area during the 1880s.  Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting includes those eight illustrations as well as citations to their respective sources.

During the 1880s, John Mullaly helped found the New York Park Association.  He pressed for the creation of green space for the expanding City of New York.  He is known as the father of the Bronx parks system.  In 1887, only three years after passage of the New Parks Act that authorized the acquisition of lands including lands located today in Pelham Bay Park for use as New York City Parks, Mullaly published an influential book that promoted the notion of the proposed parks.  The book included thirty illustrations, eight of which showed views within the Town of Pelham on the lands that New York City planned to acquire for the creation of Pelham Bay Park.  Here is a full citation to the work:

Mullaly, John, The New Parks Beyond the Harlem with Thirty Illustrations and Map - Descriptions of Scenery - Nearly 4000 Acres of Free Playground for the People.  Abundant Space for a Parade Ground, a Rifle Range, Base Ball, Lacrosse, Polo, Tennis and All Athletic Games; Picnic and Excursion Parties, and Nine Miles of Waterfront for Bathing, Fishing, Yachting & Rowing (NY, NY:  Record's Guide 1887) (hereinafter "Mullaly, The New Parks").

 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 119.  View of Pelham Bay
Park from Pelham Bridge, Looking Southerly.
 

 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 125.
Pelham Bay Park - Prospect Hill, Looking Westward.

 

 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 129.
Pelham Bay Park - From Hunter's Island, Looking South.

 


 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 135.
Pelham Bay Park - From Bartow's Looking South.

 
 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 141.
Pelham Bay Park - Hunter's Island, Looking Easterly.


 
 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 147.
Pelham Bay Park - East Chester Bay - South of Pelham Bridge.


 
 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 153.
Pelham Bay Park - View of Upland.


 
 
 
Mullaly, The New Parks, at 157.
Pelham Bay Park - Picnic Point.





 

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Firefighting Units on City Island in Pelham During the Early 1890s

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 For decades, Pelham's Town Historians have confined their research on the development of fire fighting units in Pelham to those units that evolved in Pelhamville and in Pelham Manor.  However, a number of volunteer fire fighting units arose in the early 1890s on City Island which was part of the Town of Pelham at the time.


I have undertaken an effort to research these early City Island volunteer fire fighting units.  Although I have only begun the effort, so far it appears that there is very little that is easily available regarding their histories.


Catherine A. Scott, who authored "Images of America:  City Island and Orchard Beach" (Great Britain:  1999, Reissued 2004), included a little information on the units in her book first published in 1999.  The information is included as a caption beneath a photograph said to depict firefighters from the Minneford Engine House.  The caption suggests that three volunteer fire fighting companies arose in City Island before the area was annexed by New York City in the mid-1890s:  Minneford Engine Company, Minneford Hose Company and the City Island Hook & Ladder Company.  The caption for the photograph reads as follows:


"Firefighters from the Minneford Engine House, a volunteer fire company on Fordham Street between William Avenue and City Island Avenue, pose c. 1900.  This was one of three volunteer fire companies protecting City Island.  The others were the Minneford Hose Company and the City Island Hook & Ladder.  In 1893 the three companies acquired a steamer fire engine, nicknaming it the 'Minneford.'  The men sponsored picnics to raise money for churches and other benefits."


Source:  Scott, Catherine A., Images of America:  City Island and Orchard Beach, p. 31 (Great Britain:  1999, Reissued 2004).  


Unsourced information in the history section of the unofficial Web site devoted to the New York City Fire Department roughly supports the references made by Catherine Scott.  The site asserts that three volunteer fire fighting units on City Island were disbanded on August 1, 1899, several years after New York City annexed the area.  According to the site, those units were:  "City Island Ladder 2", "Minneford Engine" and "Minneford Hose".  See Boucher, Mike, Bronx Volunteer Fire Departrents [sic] Information Compiled and Donated to The FDNY Home Page by Mike Boucher Dispatcher 350 SI Co. (visited Oct. 8, 2009).


Much more research must be done.  The information above, however, is a start.


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