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 23, 2014

How Dry I Am -- Early Prohibition Efforts Succeed in Pelham in 1896

Long before The National Prohibition Act of 1919; long before Congress implemented the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and long before the Anti-Saloon League rose in power and fell from grace, Pelham implemented its own form of prohibition.  In an election held in 1896, the Town of Pelham voted to go dry and to ban the sale of liquor with one exception:  pharmacists could sell it "on a physician's prescription."  

The movement was led by Pelham resident John F. Fairchild who used scare tactics to convince Town residents that if saloons were not closed in Pelham, "hoodlums" from New York would ride the trolleys into Town and commit acts of mayhem.  The movement expanded into what came to be known as the "Prohibition Ticket" in Pelham in later elections. 

I have written before of the pre-Prohibition dry movement in Pelham.  For examples, see:

Thu., Feb. 07, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am: Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm.

I also have written of the Prohibition period in Pelham and the Pelham speakeasies and moonshiners that arose in response.  For examples, see:

Thu., Apr. 03, 2014:  The Prohibition Era in Pelham: Another Speakeasy Raided.  

Tue., Feb. 18, 2014:  Pelham Speakeasies and Moonshiners - Prohibition in Pelham: The Feds Raid the Moreau Pharmacy in Pelham Manor in 1922.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2006:  The Beer Battle of 1933

Bell, Blake A., The Prohibition Era in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 25, June 18, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a brief article about the election in 1896 in which a majority of voters voted to make the Town of Pelham "dry" beginning in 1897.  The article, followed by a citation to its source, appears below.

Stills Discovered by Pelham Manor Police During Prohibition.
From the February 3, 1928 Issue of The Pelham Sun.

"Pelham Township 'Dry.'

The town of Pelhamville [sic] will be dry next year.  The no license people carried their point Tuesday by twenty-five majority.  Judge Karbach was defeated for Justice of the Peace by McGalilard who was elected by two votes.  Mr. Young, Democrat; R. J. Beach, Democrat, and John R. Beecroft, Republican, were the other Justices elected.  Beecroft does not take his seat until next year.

James Caffery will be the next Town Clerk.  He beat John Case, Republican by six votes.

The vote was so very close on all the candidates that it was very late before it was known who had pulled through.  

Four tickets were voted on the license question.  They were for selling liquor to be drunk on the premises where sold, for selling liquor not to be drunk on the premises where sold, for selling liquor as a pharmacist on a physician's prescription, for selling liquor by hotel keepers.  

Every proposition was voted down except the one to allow druggists to sell liquor on a physician's prescription.  

To John F. Fairchild belongs the credit of winning in the no license issue.  He worked hard to influence his neighbors against the saloons and appealed to them through a circular letter to down the saloons, as he claimed New York 'hoodlums' would come up on the trolley if the Pelham saloons were allowed to do business.  Pelhamville people remembered the hordes that used to make a Bedlam of the town on Sundays last summer, and voted no license. -- Sentinel."

Source:  Pelham Township "Dry," New Rochelle Pioneer [New Rochelle, NY], Apr. 4, 1896, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, p. 4, col. 3.  

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