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.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Pelhamville Improvement Association

During the early to mid-1880s, the residents of the tiny little hamlet known as Pelhamville created an organization named the "Pelhamville Improvement Association."   The organization seems to have been Pelhamville's answer to the community improvement efforts of the Pelham Manor Protective Club.  Both organizations contributed mightily to the improvement of our community and bettered the lives of those Pelham citizens who lived in our Town more than 130 years ago.  

I have written about the Pelhamville Improvement Association on a number of occasions.  For examples, see:  

Mon., Apr. 19, 2010:  Early Talk of Moving the Pelhamville Train Station from its Original Location.  

Fri., Jan. 29, 2010:  News of Pelham, City Island and Pelhamville Reported on September 5, 1884

Thu., Dec. 03, 2009:  Pelham News on May 30, 1884 Including Allegations of Oyster Larceny and Meeting of the Pelhamville Improvement Association.   

Since no records of the Pelhamville Improvement Association have yet been located (unlike the Pelham Manor Protective Club), its history is somewhat murky.  The Pelhamville Improvement Association existed as early as 1884 and, perhaps, earlier.  See Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 5, 1884, Vol. XVI, No. 782, p. 3, col. 5. The organization existed until at least 1890 and may well have existed until the Village of North Pelham was incorporated in 1896 (or even later).  It seems to have raised money for its projects and activities through "entertainments" open to the community where it charged admissions and fees.  See Pelham and City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], June 3, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 990, p. 3, col. 2.

During the mid-1880s, meetings of the Association were held in the homes of its members.  Additionally, the Pelhamville residents who served as officers of the Pelhamville Improvement Association read like a who's who of Pelhamville Founders and early settlers.  According to one newspaper account published in May of 1884:

"A regular meeting of the Pelhamville Improvement Association was held on Monday evening, May 26th, at the residence of Mr. C. H. Meritt. After the transaction of some routine business and the adoption of a constitution and by-laws, the following officers were unanimously elected for the ensuing year. Messrs E. H. Gurney, Pres; John Bos, Vice-pres.; C. H. Meritt, Treas., Lieut. Delcombie, Sec. All further elections and appointments were left over till next meeting. The next regular meeting of the association will be held on the last Wednesday of June."

Source:  Pelham And City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon], May 30, 1884, Vol. XV, No. 767, p. 3, col. 4.  

Another newspaper account published in three years later in June of 1887 indicates that the officials of the organization had changed somewhat:

"The following are the officers elect of the Pelhamville Improvement Association: President, John Bos; Vice-President, W. T. Standen; Secretary, I.C. Hill; Treasurer, A. Anderson; Executive Committee, John Britton, C. W. Bolton, David Lyon, John T. Logan, W. H. Sparks."

Source:  Pelham and City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], June 3, 1887, Vol. XVIII, No. 990, p. 3, col. 2.

As its name suggests, the Pelhamville Improvement Association was involved in a wide variety of projects intended to improve the lives of Pelhamville citizens.  For example, in 1884 it was involved in planting trees throughout the village donated by Colonel Richard Lathers who owned a large swath of land part of which eventually became today's Pelhamwood.  See Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 5, 1884, Vol. XVI, No. 782, p. 3, col. 5.  A little earlier than that, the Association was involved in erecting street lamps that burned oil to light the roads and walkways of the tiny little village.  Id.  

Map of Pelhamville Published in 1868.
Source:  Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity from Actual
Surveys By and Under the Direction of F.W. Beers, Assisted By
A.B. Prindle & Others, pg. 36 (NY, NY:  Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868)
(Detail from Page 36 Map Entitled "Town of New Rochelle, Westchester
Co., N.Y. (With) Pelhamville).

The remainder of today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes several 19th century newspaper articles that mention the Pelhamville Improvement Association and the work it performed on behalf of the citizens of Pelhamville.


A special meeting of the Pelhamville Improvement Association, will be held on Saturday evening, Nov. 1st, at the residence of Mr. W.H. Penfield.

The Cleveland and Hendricks Club of Pelhamville, will parade on Friday night, in Mount Vernon, under the command of Capt. A.P. Delcambie, of the 8th Regt., New York, N.G.

The petition, of Mr. Delcambie, which has been in circulation some time, to obtain the signatures of the residents, of the town of Pelham, for the purpose of having the New Haven Railroad Co. place and maintain safety bars at the Pelhamville Railroad crossing, was presented to Supervisor Hyatt, on last Monday.  We hope before long to see them in operation, a thing long needed, this crossing being considered one of the most dangerous on the road.

The Pelhamville Improvement Association intend, during the coming month, to place six more lamps, around the village and also to finish the remainder of plank walk as soon as the obstructtions are removed."

Source:  PELHAMVILLE, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY],Oct. 31, 1884, Vol. XVI, No. 789, p. 3, col. 4.  


Through the efforts of the Pelhamville Improvement Society, the State Board of Health have set to work draining all the low and marshy lands in and around the above place.

The residents of Pelhamville have not, this winter, to plow [sic] knee deep through the snow, as of yore, for arrangements have been made to have the snow cleaned from the sidewalks, as occasion requires.  A few live men can make a wonderful change in any place, not even excepting Pelhamville."

Source:  PELHAMVILLE, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 2, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 798, p. 3, cols. 3-4.


Lyman T. Morgan has been appointed gateman [for the manual train crossing gates across Fifth Avenue] at Pelhamville.

The Pelhamville Improvement Association will hold a meeting at the residence of Mr. Bos, this evening.  

The four year old child of Mr. James Murdock, which swallowed a kernal [sic] of corn one day last week is not expected to live.  The grain of corn lodged in the larynx and all efforts to remove it has [sic] proved unavailing.

A regular quarterly session of the County Lodge of Good Templars was held in the chapel at Pelhamville on Tuesday of this week.  The attendance of delegates was quite flattering, about sixty representatives being present.  The afternoon was occupied with the usual business of such sessions; reports of committees, discussions etc., after which refreshments were served to the visitors.  In the evening there was a puplic [sic] installation of officers of the Pelhamville Lodge, followed by an entertainment of music, recitations, readings, etc."

Source:  PELHAMVILLE, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 14, 1885, Vol. XVI, No. 830, p. 3, col. 3.


Mr. and Mrs. I.C. Hill will give a children's concert at Association Hall in Mount Vernon on the 21st of February next at 8 p.m.  It will be an operetta, of the heroes of infancy, dressed in original fashion, and will be given under the auspices of the Universalist Society of Mount Vernon.

The Pelhamville Improvement Association will meet next Wednesday evening.  At the last meeting the Road Commissioners were requested to fill up an excavation at the corner of First avenue and First street.  The matter is now in a fair way of being attended to.  The nuisance has existed some two years.

It is rumored that Mr. Charles Barker has recovered $800 damages from the Western Union Telegraphy Company, for injuries sustained by driving into a telegraph pole in Pelham Manor.  It appears that the post had been planted in the road-bed, and the company had been notified to remove it.

We do not know what has become of the Pelhamville Brass Band.  Up to last November it had great vitality.  What has become of it?

Mr. F. W. Lambert has just returned from a trip to Europe.

Mr. J.T. Ford has taken possession of his new house.

Mr. B. F. Corlies has offered to donate a plot of land to the Railroad Company if they will build the new depot to the south side of the track.  Ground will be broken on his purchase, in the spring.

Col. Lathers is laying a sewer through Winyah Park, to connect with the New Rochelle sewers.

Mr. Gregor will break ground in the spring for a new house on Second avenue.  Mr. Madorn will also break ground for a new house at the same time.  

Messrs. Heron and Kuntz have bought the Buxton property.

Mr. Robert Penfield expects to start for Albuquerque, N.M. about the 20th inst.

Mr. J. Bos, artist, was recently married to Miss Smith, sister of Lieut. Col. Smith of the 7th Regiment of New York city."

Source:  Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 4, 1890, Vol. XXI, No. 1,269, p. 3, col. 3.  

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