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, January 25, 2010

Another Account of the 1879 Home Invasion Robbery of the Old Stone House in Pelhamville

I have written before of the traumatic 1879 home invasion robbery of Mrs. Mary Parrish in the Old Stone House that still stands at 463 First Avenue in the Village of Pelham (photo below).  See Wed., October 14, 2009:  1879 News Account Provides Additional Basis for Some Facts Underlying Ghost Story of Old Stone House in Pelhamville.  The robbery forms a part of the ghost story that long has been told about the home.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes another local newspaper article published in 1879 about the robbery at the Old Stone House.


A rather mysterious burglary took place Wednesday morning in Pelhamville.  The circumstances are so peculiar as to puzzle most of the inhabitants of that village.  The victim of the crime is Mrs. Mary Parrish, a widow about seventy years old, 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 at least $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. Parish [sic], according to her own statement, awoke at one o'clock Wednesday 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 probably 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 all as rather small in stature, but further than that fact 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 2 [sic].  The others repeated that they did not wish to harm her; they only wanted her money.  Then they commanded her to rise up 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 possessed any bonds, 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 anyone, excepting herself.  In the dining room the carpet was taken up, the drawers of the buffet and tables were forced open and the closets were ransacked.  The other rooms in the house were visited by them, with herself as an unwilling companion, and they were left in the direst confusion.  She was repeatedly questioned, with profane threads, 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 her bedroom.  Here they laid her upon the bed and tied her limbs to the bedposts.  They told her to beward 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 the house Mr. and Mrs. Pearson were met at the door by Mrs. Clark, the 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 as 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.

Simultaneously with the discovery of the robbery of Mrs. Parrish it was learned that the Episcopal church had also been robbed. The thieves took a roll of a hundred yards of carpet that had just been presented by Pelham Priory of which this church is a mission.  The ladies of the church had just completed the weary task of sewing this carpet preparatory to putting it down.  The school room was also broken into, but nothing was taken.  Whether the robbers of the church and of Mrs. Parrish are the same is not known.  The church is in an opposite direction from that which the robbers took when they left Mrs. Parrish's house, but possibly they robbed the church before they went there."

Source:  Burglaries in Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Fri., July 18, 1879, p. ?, col. 1 (newspaper page does not have a page number printed on the page).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site.
Located at
Click Here for Indext to All Blog Postings

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home