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, March 08, 2010

"Water Famine" in the Town of Pelham in 1886

Local newspapers published in the 19th century provide and interesting and quaint view of the Town of Pelham as it developed slowly from a rural community to a New York City suburb.  One issue of The Chronicle published in Mount Vernon in 1886 makes clear how difficult life could be during a drought since most residents of the Town of Pelham obtained their water from wells.  The news column quoted below describes the need to cart water in barrels and dig new wells as a "water famine" struck in the vicinity of Bartow Station that year.


The School Board is having the school house painted.

A supper and entertainment for the benefit of the Mission Chapel, was held at Reinbold's hotel, Wednesday evening.

There is a literal water famine in the vicinity of Bartow Station.  There is not a well with water in it, and the residents are obliged to cart water in barrels.

To-night, the 'Gleaners' of Grace Church will hold a bazar [sic], in Leviness's Hall.  There will be, besides articles on exhibition and for sale, ice cream and oysters.

Health Officer M'Crosson paid a visit to Pelhamville, last Monday, in response to a request from the President of the New York and Mount Vernon Water Company, to have the water closet on John Whalen's property moved further from the reservoir.  The Health Officer ordered its removal, and the order will be complied with.

An artesian well is being bored on the premises of Mr. Belden, at the lower end of City Island.  It is six inches diameter, and over 75 feet deep.  The hole has to be cased all the way, as no rock has yet been struck.  About 30 feet down, the drill went through a stratum of oyster shells, and the last few feet has been a very soft limestone, almost a milk white.  When mixed with water, it has the appearance of white mortar, which the masons use in plastering.  The well is as yet perfectly dry.

Some of the citizens on City Island, particularly that class who are fond of innocent amusement and practical jokes, had a pile of fun Monday night.  A sort of variety show visited the island, erected a tent and proceeded to give their exhibition.  They had a good audience, but the boys were bent on having some fun, and they had it, mainly at the expense of the fellow who allowed them to throw a baseball at his head.  As everything was taken in good part, alike by performers and audience, it was carried to quite an extreme, and resulted in breaking up the show."

Source:  Pelham and City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 29, 1886, p. 1, col. 6.

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