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, May 14, 2010

1885 Article on Alleged Failure to Develop Pelham Manor Said the Development "At Best Resembles the Collapse of a Wild Cat Land Scheme"

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I have written much about the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Regular readers may recall that I have published quite a number of blog postings on the topic, including:

Wed., November 11, 2009:  1874 Evening Telegram Advertisement for Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Development.

Monday, March 2, 2009:  1884 Advertisement Placed by Charles J. Stephens of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association Offering Home for Rent.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006:  Mystery:  A Lawsuit Filed Against the Dissolved Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1915.

Monday, June 12, 2006:  Early Deed of Land to the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006: Prospectus Issued by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1874

Thursday, December 22, 2005: Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873

Monday, March 20, 2006: Charles J. Stephens and Henry C. Stephens of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Monday, March 27, 2006: 1057 Esplanade: One of the Original Homes Built by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Monday, May 8, 2006: Edmund Gybbon Spilsbury Who Served as Engineer for the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Wednesday, May 10, 2006: Horace Crosby, the Civil Engineer Who Laid Out the Chestnut Grove Division for the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in the 1870s

Friday, May 26, 2006: The 27th Conference on New York State History Will Include Presentation of Paper on Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association

Today's Historic Pelham blog posting transcribes a newspaper article published in 1885 detailing the financial and other difficulties faced by Silas H. Witherbee and others as they tried to develop the area that became the Village of Pelham Manor.  The text of the article is followed by a citation to its source.


The White Plains Standard publishes the following relating to the financial difficulty of the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association:

'Pelham Manor is in trouble.  It has gone into the hands of a receiver, and the affairs of the corporation that owned it are to be wound up.  A man named Silas H. Witherbee, and several associates, bought the land where Pelham Manor now stands about twelve years ago, and organized themselves into a corporation bearing the high sounding name of 'Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association.'  Then they elected Witherbee president, and began the erection of handsome villa cottages which were rented and sold to uninvestigating city people looking for summer dwellings.  The houses were surrounded by forest trees, mosquitoes and malaria, but that made no difference to the man who went out on a fine day to look after country property.  He saw only the beautiful home in the country among the green trees.  But when he moved up there and heard the bullfrog warble from the birth place of the mosquito and the hiding place of malaria, and felt the sharp sting of the aforesaid pestilential insect, discovered malaria stealing into his system, and met the dirty tramp face to face in his front yard, morning, noon and night, looking for something to steal, he said to himself 'I'll get out of here.'  He went.  Others came and went, and finally, Pelham Manor got up a reputation.  It has it yet.  The company could not pay its debts.  Judgments were obtained and all of the property belonging to the corporation must be sold.  Pelham Manor at best resembles the collapse of a wild cat land scheme.'

While a portion of the above statement contains some truth the most of it is an unwarranted stretch of imagination.

Now this is not only unjust but unfair.  The manor consists almost entirely of high ground where the bullfrog has no desire to linger, but being surrounded by forest trees is the chosen abode of the tree toad, the warble of which the editor of the Standard doubtless mistook for the bullfrog.  As for mosquitoes and malaria, we have yet to learn that they are any more prevelent [sic] than in other country areas, and as to the ever-present tramp, in justice to the Manor we shall have to meet the assertion with a flat denial.  While they may have cautiously lingered on the outskirts, they never dared show their dirty faces within the borders, for there is a reward of $50 placed upon the head of every one, alive or dead.  As a place of residence it is one of the pleasantest in the county, and nearly all the inhabitants are there to stay.  What swamped the association, was the fact that they acquired more territory than they could carry."

Source:  Trouble for Pelham Manor, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Vol. XVI, Issue No. 816, May 8, 1885, p. 1, col. 3.

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