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, June 09, 2014

News Report Published in 1888 Indicates Opening of Sparks Avenue Prompted a Mini-Real Estate Boom

During the 1880s, the Town of Pelham did not have its own newspaper.  Entrepreneurial newspaper publishers in surrounding communities filled that void by including news of Pelham and City Island in many editions.  One such newspaper was The Chronicle, published in Mount Vernon.  

The January 13, 1888 issue of The Chronicle included news of Pelham and City Island.  The news report noted that the opening of the new road named Sparks Avenue "from Wolf's lane to Eastchester Creek" caused a mini-real estate boom.  Two homes were quickly erected on the road and a third had been begun by the time of the report.  

Detail of 1893 Map Showing Sparks Avenue on Left
with Two Homes Owned by Members of the Sparks Family.
Source:  Atlas of Westchester County, New York, p. 3
(NY, NY:  Julius Bien & Co., 1893) ("Towns of
Westchester and Pelham (With) Villages of Westchester
and Unionport.  (With) Village of Pelhamville.").

The entire report is transcribed below to facilitate search and is followed by a citation to its source.


On the 19th inst., the Unity Club of Mount Vernon, assisted by the Galaxy Glee Club, will repeat, in Gurney's Hall, Pelhamville, the concert recently given in Fuller's Hall.  Proceeds for the benefit of Church of the Redeemer.

The marriage of Cecilia C., only daughter of Mr. George W. Sembler, to Mr. S.S. Hall of Locust Valley, N.Y., was the leading social event on City Island, last week.  A large number of guests witnessed the ceremony, which was performed by Rev. W. P. Eates.

The opening of the new road, very properly named Sparks avenue, from Wolf's lane to Eastchester Creek, has boomed real estate somewhat.  Two houses have already been put up on the new avenue, and another is begun.  

There was a pigeon shoot at Secord's, Bartow, last Monday, during which the tie for the silver trophy, between Messrs. McCourt and Trott, was shot off, and in the contest which followed there was another tie between Messrs. McNicholl and Elliott.  As a result, there will be another match to-morrow.

'BARTOW !  change cars for City Island.'  The above is the way the brakemen on trains of the Harlem River Branch Road notify passengers that they are at Bartow.  The 'change cars' means from steam to horse-cars of the Pelham Park Railroad, which runs to City Island.

At Secord's hotel, Bartow, there is quite a curiosity.  It is a patchwork quilt, 5 feet 3 inches square, in which there is said to be 25,000 pieces.  We take the number for granted, as we did not take the time to count.  The pieces are all of uniform size, and were put together by an old lady, somewhere in the neighborhood, and the quilt is to be raffled for her benefit, as soon as 100 chances are taken, at 25 cents a chance.

It is exceedingly dull just now, in the City Island shipyards.  Robinson & Waterhouse are laying the keel for a tug, beyond which they have little or no work.  There is almost a standstill at Piepgras's.  Wood & Sons have some small work; but theirs is of a class that keeps them usually busy.  They have a steam launch 30 feet long, well under way, for Mr. Cyrus D. Pell.  A little matter worthy of note is the fact that a large rowboat, built by them, nearly five years ago, for a firm at St. Thomas's, West India Islands, has been sent on here for repairs.

The cars of the Pelham Park Railway are being repainted.  The officers of this road believe in keeping rolling stock in order; and as for their horses -- well, we would like to have the managers of some of our country horse railroads take a look at them.  They look like well kept coach horses from some gentleman's stable, and it is really a pleasure to ride in the cars, so smoothly do they run, without any apparent jar or jolt, and with an utter absence of that incessant rattle so common, especially on the Mt. Vernon horse-cars.

An effort will be made at the present session of the county legislature, to have the salary of keeper of Pelham Bridge increased.  It seems to us that there would be justice in an increase, provided it be a reasonable one.  The present salary, $300, certainly appears inadequate when the traffic is taken into consideration.  Years ago, the keeper of Pelham Bridge received double the compensation now paid, and the traffic was not half.  Of late years considerable ground in Eastchester Bay and the creek, inside the bridge, has been devoted to oyster planting, and this in itself necessitates the frequent opening of the draw for sloops; besides, the rapid growth of Mt. Vernon has increased the consumption of coal accordingly, and the towing of brages up the creek, in open weather, is almost of daily occurrence, to say nothing of the traffic by small sailboats.

Mrs. Samuel Graham, daughter of Captain Joshua and Phebe Ann Leviness, departed this life on the evening of January 5th, after an illness of about ten days.  Her sudden departure is sincerely mourned by a large circle of relatives and loving friends.  She was an amiable christian lady whose life was devoted to deeds of tender and loving kindness.  City Island is genuinely in mourning.  The above is not the only case of bereavement on City Island, within the past few days.  On the same day as occurred the death of Mrs. Graham, also occurred the death of Mrs. Graham also occurred the death of Mr. Nicholas Smith, of pneumonia.  He leaves a widow and eight children.  Deceased was a member of Pelham Lodge, F. & A. M., which organization took charge of the interment.  On the same day, the infant of Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Vickery died of membranous croup.  On Saturday last, Daniel Donnelly, aged 18 years, grandson of the late Hugh Morris, died of heart disease, at the residence of his grandmother, with whom he resided, near Bartow.  The funeral took place on Tuesday, and was attended by a large concourse of young friends of deceased, by whom he was greatly admired.

As soon as the new year was ushered in, the politicians of Pelham began preparing for the spring campaign.  Among the aspirants for the supervisorship is said to be Mr. John F. Adema; but be that as it may, a Democratic club was recently organized at Bartow, ostensibly as an anti-Pell club.  This is denied by some who seem to know the 'true inwardness' of the movement.  There is no disguising the fact, however, that Mr. Pell incurred the displeasure of some members of his party last spring, when he voted, in town board, for Mr. Robert H. Scott, a Republican, for one of the Board of Auditors.  How he could have conscientiously done otherwise, we fail to see, and we can but admire the stand he took, even in the face of his party opposition.  The town of Pelham is Democratic, by a bare majority, and the Town Board is a Democratic board, but this does not give them the right to totally ignore the common courtesy of giving the Republicans a representative in the Board of Auditors.  Mr. Pell realized this, and acted accordingly, and his fairness will doubtless be remembered in his next candidacy."  

Source:  Pelham and City Island, The Chronicle [Mt. Vernon, NY], Jan. 13, 1888, Vol. XIX, No. 1054, p. 3, col. 2.  

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