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, February 26, 2010

1913 Decision of Public Service Commission to Allow Reorganization of City Island Horse Railroad for Electrification


Recently I have been writing about the "horse railroad" that ran from Bartow Station to City Island when the area was part of the Town of Pelham.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article published in 1913 describing a decision by the Public Service Commission to allow reorganization and electrification of the line.  The decision sounded the death-knell for the City Island horse railroad.  Horse cars ceased running on the line a little more than a year later.


"NEW 'L' STATION IS ORDERED AT 99TH STREET
-----
Public Service Commission Instructs Interborough on Behalf of Upper West Side Residents.
-----
FIVE CENT FARE ALSO TO CITY ISLAND.
-----

A new elevated railroad station for which residents within a radius of five blocks of Ninety-ninth street and Columbus avenue have been clamoring for months was made a certainty by the order of the Public Service Commission to-day which directs the Interborough Rapid Transit Company to construct the new station and have it completed and in service by December 1 of this year.

At present the 'L' line on Columbus avenue makes a jump of eleven blocks without a station from Ninety-third street to 104th street.  This has caused residents in this section to walk several blocks to the station, and many petitions have been sent to the Service Board for a change.  A little more than one year ago a new station was built at the order of the Commission at Eight-sixth street and Columbus avenue, breaking the run from Eighty-first to Ninety-third street without a stop.

The Public Service Commission to-day also authorized the reorganization schem of the Pelham Park Railroad Company and the City Island Railroad Company, by which a new concern to be known as the Pelham Park and City Island Railroad Company is to rebuild the present lines and run electric cars from Bartow Station in Pelham Park to Belden Point, City Island, for one five cent fare.

Two fares are now charged, one on the monorail line of Pelham Park, and one on the horse car line of the City Island line.  The new company is authorized to issue $117,000 bonds for the purchase of roadbed and reconstruction."

Source:  New "L" Station is Ordered at 99th Street, The Evening Telegram - New York, May 27, 1913, p. 7, col. 1.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Photograph of Patrick Byrnes and Article About His Retirement as Operator of the City Island Horse Car in 1914


As I noted in yesterday's posting, I have written extensively in the last year about the horse car that once ran from Bartow Station on the New Haven Branch Line to City Island when the area was part of the Town of Pelham.  See, e.g.:

Wed., February 24, 2010:  Attempted Suicide of City Island's Long-Time Horse Car Driver

Wed., February 3, 2010:  Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Tue., February 2, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset

Fri., January 22, 2010:  1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

Tue., September 1, 2009:  Pelham News on February 29, 1884 Including Talk of Constructing a New Horse Railroad from Bartow to City Island

Wed., December 2, 2009:  Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

 Thu., December 31, 2009:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company

Mon., January 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island


Patrick Byrnes retired as the operator of the horse car in 1914 after twenty-five years of service.  The Evening Telegram - New York published a lovely article about his years of service and included a photograph of Mr. Byrnes.  That photograph appears immediately below, followed by the text of the article that it accompanied.


"City Island's Last Horse Car Driver To Lose His Job Soon
-----
Philosopher of Ancient Transit System Ready to Retire Before Modern Progress.
-----
HAS HELD HIS POSITION FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.
-----

Horse cars in the Bronx are doomed at last, and Patrick Byrnes, the man who put the 'rap' in rapid transit on City Island, will soon be out of a job.  For the last twenty-five years Mr. Byrnes drove the star 'run' from Belden Point to the Bartow station of the New Haven Railroad.

The late Henry D. Purroy, Louis M. Haffen, formerly Borough President, and, in fact, all the leading politicians in the Bronx, at some time or other have been passengers on Byrnes' car, of which he was both driver and conductor.

'Talk about your pay-as-you-enter cars in New York,' said Byrnes to an EVENING TELEGRAM reporter, who found him seated inside his car the other day, 'why, man alive, we have had pay-as-you-enter cars here on City Island for the last twenty-five years.

'Yes, sir, and don't you forget it, they all paid as they got on.  In those days the fare was ten cents, and when the coin was dropped in the box as I was driving along I could easily tell by the sound of a coin whether it was a nickel or a dime.

Carried the Mail.

'The mail and the newspapers were also carried by me, and besides the newspapers I had to carry neews, for all the islanders would rely on the car driver to know all the 'goings on' on the island.  I was expected to know this, that and the other thing, and if I didn't know it, it wasn't worth knowing in City Island.'

'Did you ever have an accident?' the reporter inquired.

'Never in my life; I can truthfully say I never hurt any one on or off this old car,' Byrnes replied.

'Pat,' as he is familiarly known to every man, woman and child on City Island, praised the enterprise of Edward A. Maher, vice president of the Union Railway, who will soon run dry battery cars along City Island avenue, and contented himself by saying that his neighbors on the island needed faster service now than he had been giving with his horses for the last twenty-five years.

'When I came up here from Actorsville, known to-day as Port Morris in the Bronx, twenty-five years ago to go to work for Henry Carey, then the owner of the line, there were about 1,300 inhabitants on the Island.  To-day there are 3,000 in the summer season , and I'll bet you I saw most of them grow up around here,' Mr. Byrnes continued.  'When the population increased another horse was added to the car and now we've had two instead of one for the past six or seven years.'

'Did the car always run on schedule time?' he was asked.  'Oh, of course, there were delays now and then, such as a stray cow or a fallen tree, and then sometimes the car would jump the track; but that wasn't often and if there were not enough passengers in the car to get out and lift it back again, why we just had to stay there until help arrived.'

Byrnes lives at No. 121 Pell street, City Island, with his wife and two daughters.  The latter two were born on the Island.

Popular as Story Teller.

The last horse car to carry passengers on City Island is No. 69.  It came from the old Broadway line many years ago, when cable power forced horse drawn cars to the barn.  During Byrnes' twenty-five years driving on City Island he became popular as a story teller, and very often his advice was sought and his wisdom heeded.

Before the reporter left him, Mr. Byrnes said:--'And now, son, come here till I tell you something.  Never borrow money.  Take care of your job, and if you don't like it, quit it quick, and get another one.  Keep your expenses within your earning power and save a dollar for a rainy day, but don't spend it all the first day it rains.  Try to do more work than will satisfy your boss, for there's no telling when you may be the boss yourself.  Let your neighbors settle their own quarrels; don't 'but in' [sic] -- you will make enemies on both sides.  Go home early at night and don't forget to come to City Island as often as you can, the air up here keeps a man feeling young.'"

Source:  City Island's Last Horse Car Driver To Lose His Job Soon,The Evening Telegram - New York, Jul. 19, 1914, p. 9, col. 3.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings
.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Attempted Suicide of City Island's Long-Time Horse Car Driver


I have been working hard for the last year or so to document the history of the "horse railroad" that ran from Bartow Station to City Island during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  For a few examples of Blog postings transcribing just a little of my research, see::

Wed., February 3, 2010:  Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Tue., February 2, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset

Fri., January 22, 2010:  1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

Tue., September 1, 2009:  Pelham News on February 29, 1884 Including Talk of Constructing a New Horse Railroad from Bartow to City Island

Wed., December 2, 2009:  Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

 Thu., December 31, 2009:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company

Mon., January 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island


Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a sad article published in 1916 describing the attempted suicide of Patrick Byrns, the man who operated the City Island horse car for about 30 years.

"GRIEVING OVER WIFE'S DEATH, HE GASHES THROAT
-----
Patrick Byrnes, Who for Years Drove Only Car on City Island, Prisoner in Hospital.
-----
SURGEONS FEAR HE WILL DIE FROM WOUNDS.
-----

Brooding and grieving over the death of his wife two ago is believed to have caused Patrick Byrnes, fifty-seven years old, of No. 121 Pell street, City Island, to attempt suicide to-day.  He  is a prisoner in Fordham Hospital with an ugly wound in his neck and throat.  It is not believed he will recover.

When Byrnes' son John, twenty-two years old, awoke to-day he heard groans coming from his father's room.  He found his father lying on the bed with a gash in his neck and a razor lying near by.

Policeman Neggersmith, of the City Island station, was informed and took Byrnes, a prisoner, to Fordham Hospital.  Dr. Conboy, the ambulance surgeon, stated that he did not believe Byrnes would survive.

Byrnes for the last thirty years was the best known man on City Island.  Every man, woman and child on the Island knew him, for he was the driver and conductor on the lone horse car which connected City Island with the Bartow station on the New Haven Railway. 

A year ago, when the line was electrified, he went into the express business on the Island.  Two months ago his wife died, and his son to-day told the police that Byrnes had been grieving over her death ever since."

Source:  Grieving Over Wife's Death, He Gashes Throat, The Evening Telegram - New York, Aug. 10, 1916, p. 4, col. 2. 

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Brief History of the Development and Unveiling of Parkway Field in 1955 -- Known Today as Glover Field

  • "May the activities on this field promote courage, self-reliance, fair play, spirited competition, good sportsmanship, and physical fitness for all who participate here.  May such activities help to develop the highest qualities of American citizenship in the youth of today and tomorrow."

    Source: 
    Dedication Brochure for "Parkway Field" -- Today's "Glover Field" -- October 15, 1955.


The image immediately above is taken from the first page of the program issued on the occasion of the dedication of "Parkway Field" -- today's "Glover Field" -- on October 15, 1955.


The field known today as "Glover Field" took many years -- and one failed school bond vote -- to build.  When first created, the field was known as Parkway Field.  It stood next to the Hutchinson River Parkway.  At the time, the field stood near the Hutchinson River Parkway toll booths.  Tens of thousands of drivers each year tried to avoid the tolls on the Parkway by driving through the streets of Pelham.  (Consequently, Pelham residents detested the Hutchinson River Parkway.)

The story of today's Glover Field is not quite as pretty or romantic as one might hope.  For decades, sewerage was collected, processed and treated in the area and then passed into Eastchester Creek (known as the Hutchinson River).  Over time, the large, rocky area became known as "Stink Field".  One can only imagine why.

Originally, Pelham Memorial High School had a spectacular set of athletic fields on its grounds.  However, as the Town's population (and families' educational objectives) grew, the original high school building became entirely inadequate.  By 1935, additions to the original High School complex required the School Board to cannibalize the athletic fields.  Thereafter, the High School had no varsity sports fields whatsoever as the Great Depression roared. 

For years, Pelham varsity teams played most games "away".  Occasionally, they played "home" games.  (That meant that they played on fields in Mount Vernon.)  Additionally, varsity teams had to practice in Mount Vernon.

The Board of Education seems to have realized the gravity of the situation before the Town's general population.  After years of trying to find, develop and support facilities that were inadequate for the Town's varsity athletes, the Board of Education came up with a plan that might seem surprising today.  The Board decided to propose a bond issuance to support the construction of a massive sports complex on the grounds of the Prospect Hill Elementary School in Pelham Manor. 

The proposal proved to be a lightning rod.  Town residents split into two rival camps and the bond referendum was easily defeated.  As one reference puts it, however, the defeat of the referendum "paradoxically proved to be the springboard for eventual success".  The School Board regrouped and made another effort.  

To its credit, the Board decided to reach out to the entire community -- well beyond those interested only in athletics.  The School Board developed a "Citizens' Advisory Committee".  That Committee included  at least a handful of representatives of each of the following Town organizations:  American Legion, Board of Trade, Boy Scouts, Citizens' Committee, Daughters of the American Revolution, Girl Scouts, Junior League, Junior Section of the Manor Club, League of Women Voters, Lions Club, Manor Club, Men's Club, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Pelham Manor Association, Pelhamwood Association, Realty Board, Recreation Commission, the School Board, School Board Executive Committee, Rotary Club, Town Board, Representatives of the Public Schools, Members at Large, and others.  Members of those groups, of course, reached out to family, friends and colleagues. 

With the weight of so many members of the community behind it, the School Board offered another bond proposal for vote on October 29, 1953.  The largest number of Pelham taxpayers up to that time voted on the referendum and endorsed the bond proposal by an overwhelming 6 to 1 margin.  The referendum authorized $350,000 to develop an athletic complex out of an area once described as a "barren, hilly strip of land with a 'field' which exuded rocks and broken glass -- a 'field' which became a swamp after heavy rains".

For the next two years, the School Board worked feverishly to plan and construct what was then considered to be a world-class athletic facility.  Perhaps most importantly, thousands and thousands of hours of labor were donated -- free of charge -- by Pelham citizens considered at the time to be true experts in their fields of athletics, construction, bureaucratics, lobbying, finances, accounting and more. 

The effort was amazingly successful.  At the successful conclusion of the community's massive project, the 16-1/2 acre facility included:  (1) a regulation, varsity football field; (2) a regulation, quarter-mile cinder track plus facilities for field events; (3) a standard baseball diamond; (4) a softball field; (5) four tennis courts; (6) practice fields for football and other sports; (6) a "playfield for smaller children"; (7) a 3-1/2 acre wooded picnic area; (8) a parking area; and (9) a state-of-the-art field house. 


Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 22, 2010

1911 Village of North Pelham License for Operation of One-Horse, Two-Horse or Automobile Taxis


Little, it seems, can remind us of times long gone than the image below.  It is a taxi license form issued by the Village of North Pelham in 1911 for use by those applying to operate taxis consisting of one-horse vehicles, two-horse vehicles or automobiles or other vehicles.  The license form is in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.  The image of the license appears below, followed by a transcription of its text, to facilitate search. 


"Vehicle License No. _______
VILLAGE OF NORTH PELHAM, N.Y.
IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN ORDINANCE ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, JUNE 5, 1911.

THIS LICENSE PERMITS
__________________________

TO DRIVE OR HAVE DRIVEN A -

ONE-HORSE VEHICLE,
TWO-HORSE VEHICLE,
AUTOMOBILE OR OTHER VEHICLE,

Carrying passengers for pay, within the limits of the village of North Pelham, during the year ending _________ subject to the regulations of the Police Department.

Infringement of such regulations, disorderly conduct or disturbance of the peace may cause the revoking of the license.

This license must be shown when required by the police or by any village officer.

This license is issued by authority of the Board of Trustees.

__________________

__________________
Village Clerk.

__________________"

Source:  Collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 19, 2010

1909 Newspaper Advertisement for the New Development of Pelhamwood


In 1909, Clifford B. Harmon & Co. bought from the Winyah Park Realty Company a one-hundred acre tract of land just north of the Pelham train station. The company began development of a lovely residential neighborhood that it named "Pelhamwood".

Periodically I have written about Clifford B. Harmon and Pelhamwood. For a number of such examples, see:

Thu., October 11, 2007:  Biographical Data and Photographs of Clifford B. Harmon Who Developed Pelhamwood.

Tue., July 10, 2007: An Early Event in the History of Pelhamwood.

Thu., June 21, 2007: Information About "Aeronautic" Exploits of Clifford B. Harmon Who Developed Pelhamwood in Pelham.

Thu. August 10, 2006: The New Development of Pelhamwood Gets Approval for its Proposed Sewage System in 1912.

Tue., November 15, 2005: Plaque Dedicated at the Historic Pelhamwood Clock Tower.

Mon., September 12, 2005: Pelhamwood Association Celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 1942.

Thu., May 12, 2005: Clifford B. Harmon, Developer of Pelhamwood.

Bell, Blake A., The Early Development of Pelhamwood, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 37, Sep. 17, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

On April 10, 1909, a nearly full page advertisement for the new development of Pelhamwood appeared in The Evening Telegraph published in New York City.  An image of the advertisement appears below.  The advertisement shows a couple playing tennis in the new development and emphasizes the convenient commute:  "You May Leave Your New York Office at 5 P.M. and Play Tennis at Pelhamwood by 6 P.M."  The entire text of the lengthy advertisement is transcribed below the image to facilitate search and is followed by a citation to its source.


"PELHAMWOOD
Office, 5:00 P.M.
Pelham Station 5:51 P.M.

A beautifully wooded, restricted property, in a high class residential district, within easy access of New York.

LIVING'S WORTH WHILE WHEN YOU KNOW HOW TO LIVE!
You May Leave Your New York Office at 5 P.M. and Play Tennis at Pelhamwood by 6 P.M.

HTML clipboard Why did 50,000 New Yorkers move to the new suburbs last year?  Because they were tired of merely existing -- and wanted to LIVE!

HTML clipboard They were tired of high rents, cramped quarters and vitiated air -- and out they went, where the big broad country remedied every evil.

HTML clipboard You can LIVE at Pelhamwood -- you have practically every city convenience, combined with the wholesomeness of the country -- you can get to or from New York in 33 minutes -- you can buy at once -- then build -- and all you need to start is ten dollars --

$10 Down Secures Any Plot  Prices $440 and Upward.  Balance 1% Monthly.

HTML clipboard Last Sunday we ran our first free inspection train to Pelhamwood -- and sold $122,872 worth of property.  Those who came believed in Pelhamwood's present no less than its future -- knew that it was destined to be the most wonderful investment and home suburb near New York.  And if YOU see, you, too, will believe.

HTML clipboard We want you to come to Pelhamwood to-morrow -- and bring your wife.  Spend Easter Sunday close to nature.  You are not obligated to us in any way -- all we want is for you to come and SEE!  Then you'll spread the good news!

BE OUR GUEST TO-MORROW

Our Free Inspection Train Leaves Grand Central at . . . 2 P.M. and Stops at the 125th Street Station 10 Minutes Later.

Get tickets at our office or ask our representative at either station half an hour before train time.

'Pelhamwood is the place to dwell, Between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.'

CLIFFORD B. HARMON & CO., INC. AT 42nd ST. AND MADISON AVE.  OFFICE OPEN EVENINGS.

For 22 years Mr. Harmon has had a large share in the development and success of more than 100 suburbs in the big Eastern cities, and his customers have shared in his success.

[Text Below is from the left column of the advertisement.]

Wise Restrictions

Our property is high class and we wish it to remain so; therefore some restrictions are necessary.

No buildings shall be allowed for any purpose offensive to a high class residential section.  The cost of homes will be restricted according to location, the minimum being $4,000; in the larger portion of the property, restrictions are $6,000 and $7,000.

High Class Improvements

Substantial cement walks will be laid in front of lots.  Streets will be graded and macadamized.  Water and gas and electric lights will be installed at our expense.  Police and fire protection.

Title Insured

To us, and our title will be acceptable to all Trust Companies.

$24,500 in Gold

To stimulate building, cash prices are offered:--

.............................................................................Each
First 10 villas costing not less than $10,000............$500
First 10 villas costing not less than $8,000..............$400
First 10 villas costing not less than $6,000..............$300
First 10 villas costing not less than $4,500..............$200

To come under this offer houses must be started before September 1, 1909, and completed before February 1, 1910.

Free Car-Fare for One Year to the head of each family who begins building before June 1, 1909, and completes before January 1, 1910.

Free Deed in case of death.  Our contract protects your wife and children.  No taxes for one year.  12% discount for cash 30 days; 10% discount for cash 60 days.

No Dirt -- No Smoke

No dust; no cinders; no strap hanging; no overcrowding; seats for all.

[Text Below is from the right column of the advertisement.]

Accessible from City

On the main line of the New Haven Road.  Fifteen miles from Grand Central Depot; thirty-three minutes by electric train.

The Growth of New York

Has always been northward.  WHY?  Because it lies in the line of least resistance -- no ferries, no bridges.  There is nothing to retard the northward growth.

The Completion of the Subway

Added thirty-one millions of dollars to values in the Bronx alone.  The electrification of the New Haven Road is causing values in the vicinity of Pelhamwood to increase in proportion.  NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY.

50,000 People

Moved from Manhattan into the Suburbs last year, and the largest number went northward into Westchester County.  You should follow in their footsteps.

Pelhamwood

Now has electric train service and is as close in tim as the upper section of New York city.  You have none of the inconveniences of city travel.

Trolley Connections

From New York City and to Long Island Sound, one mile away, and all parts of Westchester County.

You Will Never

Get rich by saving.  Fortunes have been made by the wise purchase of Real Estate.  Prices will never be lower and the opportunity will never be greater than now.  See our property at once."

Source:  Pelhamwood [Advertisement], The Evening Telegraph - New York, Apr. 10, 1909, p. 16, col. 1.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1869 Advertisement for Auction of Portion of 175 Acres in Town of Pelham Owned by P.L. Rogers

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.


Shortly after the Civil War, one of the largest tracts in the Town of Pelham that fronted Long Island Sound belonged to P.L. Rogers.  The tract was immediately south of today's boundary between Westchester and Bronx Counties.  It overlooked Hunter's Island, from the mainland.  Upon the owner's death, much of the tract was offered for sale by auction in 1869.  

Below is an image of a newspaper advertisement offering potions of the holdings in an auction.  Beneath the image is the text of the advertisement, followed by a citation to its source.
"Auction Sales of Real Estate.
--------
AT AUCTION.  
PEREMPTORY SALE OF 
VILLA LOTS IN WESTCHESTER, 
SATURDAY, April 3, at 12 o'clock.
To be sold at Mott Haven Railroad Depot, the first station across Harlem River.

By direction of 
GERARD M. STEVENS, ESQ., REFEREE.

A PORTION OF 175 ACRES, 
OF THE ESTATE OF P. L. ROGERS, DECEASED.

This desirable property is situated at Pelham, adjoining Hunter's Island, and fronting on the Sound.
Is distant eight miles from Harlem Bridge, and on the line of the Harlem and Portchester Railroad.  

Within two minutes' walk of Pelham Depot.
The new Boulevard from West Farms to New-Rochelle passes through the property.  

Will be sold in villa sites to salt puchasers.

Buyers and  capitalists will see this an advantageous investment, in view of the projected improvements being carried out in that neighborhood.

For maps and particulars inquire of CHARLES D. MOTT, No. 25 Pine-st.; and Fourth-ave., corner of One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth-st."
Source:  At Auction.  Peremptory Sale of Villa Lots in Westchester [Advertisement], New-York Daily Tribune, Apr. 3, 1869, Triple Sheet, p. 9, col. 2.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776


For more than a century, conflict has raged over how many British soldiers were killed and wounded during the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  British records suggest losses far smaller than purported eyewitness accounts from British deserters at the time of the Battle.  Some have suggested that the British numbers do not truly reflect the Battle losses because the numbers do not include the German troops who fought alongside the British troops.

Below is a transcription of one such record, followed by a citation to its source.

"An abstract of the return of the killed, wounded and missing, belonging to the army under the command of Gen. Howe, from Sept. 17. to Nov. 16. inclusive.  Dated Dec. 8, 1776.

In the action at Pelham Manor, Oct. 18, and in previous skirmishes from Sept. 17, inclusive.

BRITISH.

17th reg. light dragoons, 1st and 2d batt. light infantry, 2d batt. grenadiers, 4th, 27th, 28th, 38th, 55th, 57th, and 71st regiments and royal artillery, -- 2 serjeants, 11 rank and file killed; 1 field-officer, 1 captain, 1 subaltern, 3 serjeants, 1 drummer or trumpeter, 40 rank and file, wounded; 1 drummer, 3 rank and file, missing; -- including a serjeant and 3 rank and file, royal artillery, drowned in East river by the oversetting of a boat, Oct. 12, returned killed which was the whole loss of that corps.

Names of the officers killed and wounded.

1st batt. light infantry.  Capt. Evelyn, of the 4th reg. mortally wounded, and dead; Lt.-Col. Musgrave, of the 40th and Lieut. Archibald Rutherford of the 22nd reg. wounded." 

Source:  "America:  Operations of the Army Under Gen. Howe" in The Scots Magazine MDCCLXXVI, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 646 (Edinburgh, Scotland:  A. Murray and J. Cochran, Printers 1776). 

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York


Given my love, for the game, I continue to document every reference I find about baseball played in Pelham during the 19th century.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog publishes for the first time the only known photograph of a 19th century women's baseball team in Pelham. 

For some of my many, many prior postings about 19th century baseball in Pelham, see:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009:  Baseball Games Played by the City Island Beldenites and the City Island Rivals in 1884

Monday, December 14, 2009:  Baseball Games Played by the City Island Shamrocks in 1889

Friday, December 11, 2009:  Earliest Reference Yet to Baseball Played in Pelham

Thursday, December 10, 2009:  More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References

Wednesday, November 25, 2009:  Even More Early References to Baseball Played in Pelham.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009:  Yet Another Reference to Early Baseball in Pelham.

Monday, November 23, 2009:  Additional Brief Accounts of Baseball Played in Pelham in the 19th Century.

Friday, November 20, 2009:  More Accounts of Early Baseball Played in Pelham.

Thursday, November 12, 2009:  More Early References to Baseball Played in Pelham.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009:  Score of June 1, 1887 Baseball Game Between the Country Club and The Knickerbocker Club.

Friday, March 20, 2009:  Another Reference to 19th Century Baseball in Pelham.

Monday, November 26, 2007: Box Score of a Baseball Game Played on Travers Island in Pelham Manor in July 1896.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007: Baseball on Travers Island During the Summer of 1897.

Friday, July 20, 2007: Account of Early Baseball in Pelham: Pelham vs. the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island in 1897

Friday, November 10, 2006: The Location of Another Early Baseball Field in Pelham

Monday, October 9, 2006: Reminiscences of Val Miller Shed Light on Late 19th Century Baseball in Pelham and the Early Development of the Village of North Pelham

Thursday, March 23, 2006: Baseball Fields Opened on the Grounds of the Westchester Country Club in Pelham on April 4, 1884

Tuesday, January 31, 2006: Another Account of Baseball Played in Pelham in the 1880s Is Uncovered

Thursday, October 6, 2005: Does This Photograph Show Members of the "Pelham Manor Junior Base Ball Team"?

Thursday, September 15, 2005: Newspaper Item Published in 1942 Sheds Light on Baseball in 19th Century Pelham

Thursday, February 10, 2005: New Discoveries Regarding Baseball in 19th Century Pelham

Bell, Blake A., Baseball in Late 19th Century Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 17, Apr. 23, 2004, p. 8, col. 2.

Women athletes, it seems, were as excited about playing the national pastime as the men.  Students at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor had a baseball team in the mid-1890s. Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls, known as "Pelham Hall", opened in 1889.  It became one of the finest girls’ schools in the country before it closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year.  The photograph immediately below depicts the members of the Pelham Hall baseball club in about 1896.

The photograph was taken by "W. Knowlton" of "NEW YORK AND ASBURY PARK".  It is in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.


Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Early History of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor


Today's Manor Club, located at 1023 Esplanade in the Village of Pelham Manor, is a cultural, civic and social club for women. Although it had its beginnings in the 1870s, it was not organized formally until January 10, 1882. The clubhouse that stands today is not the original clubhouse. Today's clubhouse opened in 1922. On July 23, 1910, the New Rochelle Pioneer reprinted from the Pelham Sun a brief sketch of the early history of the Manor Club located in the Village of Pelham Manor.

I have written before about the Manor Club.  See, e.g.:

Bell, Blake A., Early History of the Manor Club, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 20, May 14, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.  

Tue., December 13, 2005:  The Manor Club's First Clubhouse Built in 1887-1888.

Wed., December 28, 2005:  The Mystery of the "Manor Club Girl" That Set Pelham Tongues Wagging in 1913.

Fri., August 4, 2006:  Early Images of the Original and Current Clubhouse Structures of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor, New York

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the above-referenced article describing the early history of the Club that appeared in the New Rochelle Pioneer.

Image of the Manor Club's First Clubhouse Published in 1892

"THE FINE OLD MANOR CLUB
-----
Pelham Manor Social Organization Nearly Forty Years Old.

The Manor Club, the subject of this sketch, is situated at the corner of Highland avenue and the Esplanade, Pelham Manor. 

The history of this successful Club dates back to the seventies, when a number of residents banded together and formed it.  Among the earliest workers were Thomas Dewitt and Henry W. Taft, brother of President Taft.  In these early days they met in the homes of the members, but so large became the membership that very few private residences could accommodate them all on festive occasions.

Hence the need for a building to be used exclusively as a club house.  Mrs. Robert C. Black donated the ground upon which the building stands, her condition being that no intoxicating liquors should ever be used at the club house.

In 1883 the Manor Club was duly incorporated by Messrs. Robert C. Black, George H. Reynolds, John H. Dey, G. Osmar Reynolds and W. R. Lamberton.  The objects for which the corporation was formed were as follows:  For social, musical, dramatic and literary purposes.

During Henry W. Taft's term as president of the club the club house was erected.  The membership totals about 150 at the present time, the annual fee being $12.  Once a month a ball is given and every Saturday night entertainments of music, dancing, etc. take place.

The club house has fine bowling alleys, billiard rooms, card room, and reading room.  Greatly enjoyed and much used are the four tennis courts erected upon the grounds. 

The present Board of Directors consists of:  W. K. Gillette (president), C. F. Roper (secretary), W. B. Randall (treasurer), Edgar C. Beecroft and J. F. Longley. 

The club is self-sustaining and is quite a factor in the social life of Pelham Manor.--Pelham Sun."

Source:  The Fine Old Manor Club, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jul. 23, 1910, p. 6, col. 1. 

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Documentation of the Creation of the Building Association Known as Prospect Hill Village Association on August 11, 1852


Yesterday I posted an item related to the development of Prospect Hill Village in Pelham Manor during the 1850s and a subsequent title dispute that arose over residential properties located in the area.  See Thu., February 11, 2010:  Prospect Hill Landowners Face Loss of Their Properties in 1900 Due to Allegedly Defective Deeds.

I have written before about Prospect Hill Village.  See, e.g.:

Bell, Blake A., The Founding of "Prospect Hill Village" in the Early 1850s, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XV, Issue 25, Second Section, Jun. 23, 2006, p. 13, col. 1.

Thu., October 15, 2009:  19th and Early 20th Century Newspaper Notices Relating to the Prospect Hill Village Association.

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 posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides more information about the Prospect Hill Village Association, a building association created under New York law, that facilitated development of the area.  Below is a brief excerpt from a report of the New York State Assembly prepared and published in 1856 in connection with an investigation of such building associations.  In the report, there is a reference to the date that the certificate of creation of the Prospect Hill Village Association was filed -- August 11, 1852.

"SCHEDULE A.

I, Richard B. Connolly, clerk of the city and county of New-York, do hereby certify that the following building associations have filed certificates of their association in my office, in conformity with the statute in such cases made and provided, viz:  . . .

Prospect Hill Village Association; filed August 11, 1852. . . .

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed [L.S.] my seal, this 17th day of December, A.D., 1855.

RICHARD B. CONNOLLY, Clerk."

Source:   State of New-York No. 46 In Assembly, Jan. 29, 1856 - Report of the Special Legislative Committee on Building Associations in the City of New-York in Documents of the Assembly of the State of New-York, Seventy-Ninth Sesssion - 1856, Vol. III, No. 13 to No. 100, pp. 11-14 (Albany, NY:  C. Van Benthuysen, Printer to the Legislature 1856).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Prospect Hill Landowners Face Loss of Their Properties in1900 Due to Allegedly Defective Deeds


I recently ran across an odd, yet interesting, little item published in 1900.  It indicates that heirs of a landowner who once owned the Prospect Hill area of today's Pelham Manor planned in 1900 to file suit to recover the entire area under a theory that the property owner's deeds were defective.  The article is transcribed below in its entirety, followed by a citation to its source.

"PELHAM MANOR NEWS.
-----
Townsend's Heirs Will Sue to Prove They Own the Entire Manor.

Residents of Pelham Manor are interested in a suit to be brought in the Supreme Court of Westchester County to recover practically the whole of the manor for the heirs of John E. Townsend, who owned the property in 1819, and died intestate.  The property consists of ninety acres, used for residential purposes.  The value of this is said to be about $350,000.

Those heirs who are about to begin suit to recover are poor.  They live in Brooklyn.  They are Andrew E. Townsend and Herman Fischer.

Townsend is employed in the Navy Yard, and lives at No. 653 Metropolitan avenue.  Fischer is an electrical worker, and lives with his wife and two children at 287 Bleecker street.

Fischer is a grandson of the original owner of the Pelham Manor property, John E. Townsend.  The other contestant is an uncle of Fischer.

John E. Townsend sold the property to Andrew J. Conselyea, who made a contract with the Prospect Hill Village Land Association to sell it.  No deed was given to the association, it is held, therefore the titles to all the property, which it afterward disposed of in villa sites, are said to be defective.

The association went out of existence in the early seventies.

Some heirs of Andrew Conselyea have joined their claims with those of Fischer and Townsend.  The latter have retained Henry Bonowitz, a lawyer of Brooklyn.

The whole of the disputed Pelham property is occupied by handsome residences."

Source:  Pelham Manor News -- Townsend's Heirs Will Sue to Prove They Own the Entire Manor, New Rochelle Pioneer, Feb. 24, 1900, p. ?, col. 2 (newspaper page contains no printed page number).


Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Train Station Safe at Pelham Manor Depot Was Blown Open with Dynamite Yet Again on April 24, 1902


The Pelham Manor Depot and the little Pelham Manor Post Office once stood near the eastern end of today's Esplanade, across the branch line railroad tracks from today's Manor Circle.  Poor local residents repeatedly had to suffer through massive dynamite explosions as burglars repeatedly cracked the station safe and the post office safe.  I have written about one such incident in 1894.  See Fri., March 6, 2009:  Burglars Blow the Safe at the Pelham Manor Post Office in 1894

In April, 1902, burglars used dynamite to blow open the Pelham Manor Depot safe twice in quick succession.  The crafty thieves realized that if they left the red-hot stove in the station as they blew the safe, the resulting fire likely would prevent them from collecting their loot.  Thus, they carried the red hot stove outside into the roadway so it would not be upset inside the station.

An article about the burglaries appeared in the April 26, 1902 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer.  The text of that article appears below.

"BURGLARS USE DYNAMITE
-----
Second Visit Within a Month of Robbers at Pelham Manor.
-----
DISCOVERED BY A WATCHMAN.
-----

For the second time in a month Pelham Manor was visited by safe blowers on Tuesday night.  On a former visit the gang blew open the safe in the Post Office, and in order to avoid setting fire to the building carried a redhot stove out into the middle of the road.  Tuesday night [April 22, 1902] they blew open the safe in the office of the Pelham Trading Company, but obtained only some insurance papers, as the company's money had been deposited in the afternoon in one of the banks of this city.

The cracksmen then went to the suburban station of the New Haven Railroad, where they attempted to blow open the safe with dynamite, but failed in the first attempt because the charge was not heavy enough.  A second charge was then prepared, but as the men were ready to light the fuse they were discovered by a watchman and fled.  There were four of the burglars, the watchman says, each wearing a mask and heavily armed.  They escaped by jumping on a passing freight train, and it is believed that they are now in Connecticut.

The charge of dynamite was still in the safe, and the employees were afraid to go near it.  The safe contained all the tickets and commutation books and several hundred dollars in cash.  The station agent sent word to the officers of the company at New Haven for an expert who removed the dynamite."

Source:  Burglars Use Dynamite, New Rochelle Pioneer, Vol. 44, No. 6, Apr. 26, 1902, p. 1, col. 1.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

1755 Census of Slaves Older than Fourteen in the "Mannour of Pelham"



On June 8, 2007, I presented a paper to attendees at the 28th Annual Conference on New York State History entitled  “Slavery in the Manor of Pelham and the Town of Pelham During the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries".  Among the many, many resources on which I relied in the preparation of that paper was a census of slaves older than fourteen in the "Mannour of Pelham" prepared by John Pell on April 12, 1755.  I have transcribed the text of that brief census below.


"MANOR OF PELHAM.
A True List of all the Slaves both Male & Female in the mannour of Pelham above the Age of Fourteen Years according to Report to me made in Submission to the present Malitia Act of General Assembly of this province

....................................................................................Numb,
Joshua Pells numbr males 2......................................... 2
Caleb Pells numbr males two Femals two.................. 4
Philip Pells numb males two Femals two.................... 4
Samll Rodmans number Males two Femals two........ 4
Bernard Rylanders males two Femals one................. 3
Phebe Pell wd Jos. pell Deed one male one Femal...2 
Executive of Isaac Contine Deed males one...............1
for my own possession males three, Female 1.......... 4
................................................number of the Whole.    24 

From your Honnours Most Humble Servant
JOHN PELL, Captain
of the Mannor of pelham.

Aprill the 12th 1755"

Source:  O'Callaghan, E.B., ed., The Documentary History of the State of New-York Arranged Under Direction of the Hon. Christopher Morgan, Secretary of State, Vol. III, p. 854 (Albany, NY:  Weed, Parsons & Co., Public Printers 1850).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 08, 2010

Fifth Anniversary of the Unveiling of the Historic Pelham Blog



Today is the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the Historic Pelham Blog. Publication of the Blog began on February 8, 2005. Virtually every Monday through Friday since that date, a brief "article" about Pelham history has been posted to this Blog. A mirrored archive containing copies of each and every such Blog posting is also available on the Historic Pelham Web site located at www.historicpelham.com.

Since February 8, 2005, nearly 1,200 articles on the history of The Town of Pelham were researched, prepared and posted to the Historic Pelham Blog. The Blog serves as an important set of "research notes" that document ongoing efforts to document local history.  A single index of all the items posted to date may be accessed by clicking here

The 26 items posted so far this year exemplify the wide range of topics addressed on the Historic Pelham Blog. What follows is a list of the 26 most recent items posted to the Blog:


February 2010
Fri., February 5, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Manor Water Works Published in 1892

Thu., February 4, 2010:  Successful Appeal of Order Dividing the Union Free School District No. 1, Town of Pelham, Into Two School Districts in 1916

Wed., February 3, 2010:  Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Tue., February 2, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset

Mon., February 1, 2010:  Obituary of Richard B. Ferris of Pelhamwood
January 2010
Fri., January 29, 2010:  News of Pelham, City Island and Pelhamville Reported on September 5, 1884

Thu., January 28, 2010:  News About Pelham Manor and Pelhamville in 1895 - Lighting Districts, Gas for the Village, Baseball and More

Wed., January 27, 2010:  Photographs of Exterior and Interior of 146 Third Avenue in Pelham During the 1890s or Early 1900s

Tue., January 26, 2010:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company

Mon., January 25, 2010:  Another Account of the 1879 Home Invasion Robbery of the Old Stone House in Pelhamville

Fri., January 22, 2010:  1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

Thu., January 21, 2010:  Another Brief Account of the January 1, 1883 Annual Meeting of the Pelham Manor Protective Club

Wed., January 20, 2010:  Pelhamville Bicentennial Celebration in 1894

Tue., January 19, 2010:  Pelham to New York City in 1888:  "You Should Pay Taxes!" 

Mon., January 18, 2010:  Photograph of Town Hall on Fifth Avenue Published in 1913

Fri., January 15, 2010:  Photograph of Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department in 1913

Thu., January 14, 2010:  1913 Report of the Firemen's Benevolent Association

Wed., January 13, 2010:  Celebration to Lay the Cornerstone of the New Pelham Memorial High School Building on October 18, 1919

Tue., January 12, 2010:  Architectural Rendering of the Fifth Avenue Station of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad in North Pelham Published in 1913

Mon., January 11, 2010:  The First Pelham Country Club's Plans for a July 4, 1898 Opening of its New Nine-Hole Golf Course Accessible by a New Trolley Line

Fri., January 8, 2010:  Pelham Manor Police Officer Catches a Burglar Red-Handed on Monterey Avenue in 1910

Thu., January 7, 2010:  Pelham Manor Police Establish Speed Traps on Shore Road in 1910 to Catch Those Traveling Faster than Fifteen Miles Per Hour

Wed., January 6, 2010:  1909 Public Notice Regarding the Pelham Manor Trolley Line that Inspired the Toonerville Trolley of the Toonerville Folks Comic Strip

Tue., January 5, 2010:  More on the Extension of the Pelham Manor Trolley Line in 1910 -- The Toonerville Trolley Line

Mon., January 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island

Fri., January 1, 2010:  1886 Dynamite Explosion in Baychester Kills Four and Shakes Residents of Bartow-on-the-Sound in Pelham

Hopefully, the Blog will continue for another five years or longer.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Information About the Pelham Manor Water Works Published in 1892


Immediately upon incorporation of the Village of Pelham Manor in 1891, efforts were undertaken to secure a more reliable water system for the growing population of the area.  A brief report contained in the 1892 edition of "The Manual of American Water-Works" sheds light on the efforts to secure such a water source.  The entry is quoted in full below, followed by a citation to its source.

"140.  PELHAM MANOR, Westchester Co. (Pop. of town in '80, 2540.)  History.--Construction begun Mar. 1, '91, by Pelham Heights Co., in connection with sewers and street improvements; to be completed by Nov. 1, '92.  Engrs., J.F. Fairchild and G.H. Eldridge.  Contrs., Fogg & Scribner, Mt. Vernon.  Supply.--New Rochelle Water Co.'s works.  Distribution--Mains.  8 to 4-in. c. f., about 6 miles; from R. D. Wood & Co., Philadelphia.  Hydrants, 35.  Financial.--Corp. stock:  authorized, $350,000.  Management.--Prest., Benj. Fairchild, Pelhamville.  Secy. and Treas., Paul Gorham, 155 Broadway.   Report by C. E. Fogg, July 31, '91."

Source:  Baker, M.N., ed., The Manual of American Water-Works Compiled from Special Returns Containing the History, Distribution, Consumption, Revenue and Expenses, Cost, Debt and Sinking Fund, etc. etc., of the Water-Works of the United States and Canada with Summaries for Each Statet and Group of States, and Classification by Size of Towns Having Works - 1891, Vol. 3, p. 86 (NY, NY:  Engineering News Publishing Co. 1892).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Successful Appeal of Order Dividing the Union Free School District No. 1, Town of Pelham, Into Two School Districts in 1916


In 1916, a group of Pelham taxpayers appealed an order by School Superintendent Samuel J. Preston that divided Pelham's school district into two districts, leaving the Village of North Pelham in a school district by itself.  The order resulted from a "lack of harmony" between parents of high school students who attended the Siwanoy high school from Pelham Manor and parents of those who attended the high school from North Pelham. 

Sectionalism long has been part of the history of the Town of Pelham.  This little skirmish in the war between the Village of Pelham Manor and the Village of North Pelham is oddly reminiscent of the 19th century political and tax-based battles between the "fishermen" of City Island in the Town of Pelham and the "mainlanders" of Pelham Manor and Pelhamville.  With the annexation of City Island by New York City in the mid-1890s, the "mainlanders" turned upon each other in analogous, sectional skirmishes.

The School Superintendent's order eventually was reversed.  Below is a report of the decision reversing that order.

"Education Department . . . . .

In the Matter of the Appeal from an Order Dividing UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, Town of Pelham, and Forming a New District out of a Part of the Territory Thereof.

Case No. 345

(Decided December 5, 1916)

The interests of the children of the entire district are the State's first concern and on this basis under the facts here shown the appeal herein is sustained.

Union free school district No. 1, town of Pelham, Westchester county, as now constituted, included that town and includes the villages of North Pelham, Pelham and Pelham Manor.  Samuel J. Preston, the district superintendent of schools of the first supervisory district of Westchester county, made an order to take effect April 5, 1916, dividing the district so as to leave the village of North Pelham a district by itself.  Appellants are residents and tax payers of union free school district No. 1, town of Pelham, and appeal upon the ground that the order is against the educational interests of the old district.  There is no proof or suggestion of proof that the children of Pelham and Pelham Manor will receive additional opportunities by the creation of the new district.  The change also creates other disadvantages.  Appeal sustained.

Harry A. Anderson, attorney for appellants.
Albert R. Palmer, attorney for respondent.

FINLEY, Commissioner.--Union free school district No. 1, town of Pelham, Westchester county, comprises all of such town and embraces within its limits the incorporated villages of North Pelham, Pelham and Pelham Manor.  Samuel J. Preston, district superintendent of schools of the first supervisory district of Westchester county, executed an order, dated March 8, 1916, to take effect April 5, 1916, dividing such union free school district and forming out of a portion of the territory thereof a new district to be known as school district No. 2, town of Pelham.  Such new district, as so established, was to include substantially all of the territory within the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor, leaving the village of North Pelham as a district by itself.  The order directed that the bonded indebtedness of the district and the value of the school property be apportioned equitably between the two districts.

The appellants are residents and taxpayers of union free school district No. 1, town of Pelham, four of them residing in the village of North Pelham, two in the village of Pelham and one in the village of Pelham Manor.  Their appeal is based upon the grounds, among others, that the order is opposed to the educational interests of the district as constituted before such order was executed and that it discriminates against and is unjust to the taxpayers and residents of the village of North Pelham.  Many of the residents of the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor are against the attempted division of the district, it being insisted forcibly upon the argument that if a vote of all the qualified electors of such villages were taken upon the question it would appear that a majority were in favor of retaining the existing district.  But notwithstanding the apparent diversity of opinion among the residents of such villages as to the advisability of a division of the district, it is obvious that the real controversy is between the residents of such villages who favor the establishment [Page 617 / Page 618] of a new district and the residents of North Pelham who oppose the change. 

A determination of the issues raised on the appeal necessitates a consideration of the local situation.  As has already been noted, union free school district No. 1 comprises all the town of Pelham so that for tax and other purposes the town is the school unit.  The district lies between the cities of Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, and borders upon the city of New York.  It is almost entirely a residential community, the greater portion of the inhabitants having business in the city of New York.  The population of the district according to the last State census is 4,470, of which North Pelham has 1,900, Pelham 1,090 and Pelham Manor 1,480.  There are two grammar or elementary schools and a high school maintained in the district, viz., the Hutchinson school at North Pelham, and the Siwanoy and high school at Pelham Manor.  There were 621 pupils registered in attendance at such schools during the school year ending in June, 1915, of which 311 attended the Hutchinson school, 224 the Siwanoy school and 86 the high school.  More than one-half of the pupils in the high school reside in the village of North Pelham, and of the graduates from such school during the past three years a majority were from North Pelham.  The assessed valuation of the taxable property in North Pelham is $1,621,423, of that in Pelham, $1,819,180, and of that in Pelham Manor, $3,371,754.  By dividing the district as proposed in the order, the North Pelham district would have a valuation of $1,621,423, while that of the new district would have a valuation of $1,621,423, while that of the new district would be $5,190,934.

Ordinarily the presumption would be in favor of the reasonableness and educational propriety of an order of a district superintendent dividing a district and establishing a new district out of the territory thereof.  The order appealed from contravenes the established policy of the Department, which has the general support of authorities in school administration and has been sustained by legislative enactment, in respect to the elimination of duplication of school control when feasible, and the concentration of the teaching and supervision forces so that school facilities may be organized more economically and advantageously for the benefit of as many pupils as may avail themselves conveniently of such [Page 618 / Page 619] facilities.  In view of the circumstance it must appear that the conditions under which the order was executed are such as to render it impossible to maintain the schools of the district under one management without affecting injuriously the educational welfare and interests of the children of the district.

There is no proof, or suggestion of proof, adduced by those favoring the division that the children of the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor will receive additional or improved educational opportunities or advantages by the establishment of a new district, or that they will be able to attend school with less difficulty or inconvenience if the change is made.  The Siwanoy school and the high school are in the village of Pelham Manor, conveniently accessible to the children in the new district, and the division is not contemplated with a view of changing the location or increasing the facilities of such schools.  The only obvious effect of the division will be to deprive the pupils in North Pelham of the privilege of attending the high school in Pelham Manor, which has been erected and maintained by the aid of the taxpayers of North Pelham so that their children may have the advantage of secondary instruction within their own district.  The loss thus occasioned may be supplied only by the establishment and maintenance of a high school in connection with the elementary school now maintained in that village.  The effect would be to have two small high schools, each with forty or less pupils, in place of the present comparatively strong high school.  Such a change would result in a substantial weakening of the local school organization and materially lessen the school advantages of more than a majority of the children of the community.  The proposed division of the district will not improve school conditions.  The interests of the children of the entire district are the State's first concern, and in this view of the situation it seems clear that the 'educational interests of the community' described in the respondent's order do not require the organization of a new district out of the territory of the present district.

It may not be doubted that the district superintendent acted in good faith and for what seemed to him to be for the benefit of all concerned, in ordering the organization of  a new district.  [Page 619 / Page 620] There was evident lack of harmony between the patrons of the school residing at Pelham Manor and those at North Pelham.  The respondent states in part explanation of his position.  'Sectionalism does exist.  It is not a theory, but a condition.  It may be regretted, but the fact remains.  Independent investigation has established this fact to my entire satisfaction, etc.'

The proof adduced, the arguments and assertions of interested parties, the briefs of attorneys, and communications on file in this Department disclose forcefully enough that there was conflict between the two sections of the district, based presumably on differences of social conditions and environment.  It is unnecessary to comment upon this aspect of the case other than to note its influence upon the district superintendent.  He conceived it of sufficient importance to justify the summary separation of the contending localities, and his views of the situation are entitled to respectful consideration.  I am unable, however, after careful and thoughtful consideration, to come to his conclusion. 

Half the children and one-quarter of the taxable property are left by the order in the North Pelham district, while three-quarters of the wealth of the district is chargeable with the education of the remainder of the children of the district.  This adjustment imposes an inequitable financial burden upon the portion of the district having smaller resources and greater obligations.  The individual wealth of the residents of Pelham and Pelham Manor is far greater than that of the residents of North Pelham.  None of the former have been heard to say that they are not willing that the children of their North Pelham neighbors should share equally with their own in the superior school facilities and advantages which their greater wealth will enable them to provide.  They could not expect the district superintendent or the Commissioner of Education to sustain a contention that the district should be divided for the reason that they desired to afford their children certain educational advantages or opportunities which were not suitable for other children in the district.  Such a contention strikes at the basis of our public school system, which demands that our schools be free, with equal privileges, to all.  [Page 620 / Page 621]

The district as it now exists has sufficient financial resources to furnish exceptional school facilities and appropriate instruction, whether vocational or otherwise, to all children in the district, regardless of their environment or their social status.  If conflicting notions as to the needs of the children of the district result in sectionalism and dissension, retarding school development and seriously injuring the educational interests of the children of the district, the Department, in the exercise of its supervisory control of the schools of the district, will endeavor by appropriate action to bring about a settlement of the controversies.  But lack of harmony or incompatibility between sections of a district ought not to be regarded as a justification for a separation of the contending portions, especially if it appears, as in this case, that a majority of the children of the district may be deprived by the division of substantial educational privileges.

'The appeal is sustained.

It is hereby ordered that the order executed on March 8, 1916, by Samuel J. Preston, district superintendent of schools of the first supervisory district of Westchester county, organizing a new school district to be known as school district No. 2, town of Pelham in such county, out of a portion of the territory of union free school district No. 1 of such town, be and the same hereby is set aside and declared of no effect."

Source:  Department Reports of the State of New York Containing the Decisions, Opinions and Rulings of the State Officers, Departments, Boards and Commissions and Messages of the Governor, Vol. 9, pp. 616-21 (Albany, NY:  J.B. Lyon Co. 1916).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,