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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wonderful Description of Coaching to Pelham on the Tally-Ho's First Trip of the Season on May 1, 1882

I have posted many items to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the spectacle of "coaching to Pelham" in four-in-hand horse-drawn carriages during the 1870s and 1880s. Colonel Delancey Kane began the practice during the 1870s.  Many followed in his footsteps. To read a little about the curious fad, see the lengthy list of previous articles and postings at the end of this article.

In 1876 a horse-drawn road coach known as “The Pelham Coach” began running between New York City’s Hotel Brunswick and the “Pelham Manor” of yore.  This road coach was not a simple hired coach that ferried passengers from New York City in the days before Henry Ford mass produced his Model T.  Rather, this road coach was driven by Colonel Delancey Kane, one of the so-called “millionaire coachmen,” who engaged in a sport known as “public coaching” or “road coaching” as it sometimes was called.  The purpose of the sport was to rush the carriage between designated points on a specified schedule and to maintain that schedule rigorously.

Colonel Delancey Kane became quite famous for his handling of The Pelham Coach, a bright canary yellow coach that was cheered along its route from the Hotel Brunswick in New York City to Pelham Bridge in the Town of Pelham.  The iconic image that appeared on song sheets, in etchings and engravings distributed throughout the United States shows The Pelham Coach.

Colonel Delancey Kane and The Pelham Coach
During a "Coaching to Pelham" Excursion.

Colonel Kane and The Pelham Coach, later known as the "Tally-Ho," were known near and far.  Numerous songs were written devoted to the topic of coaching to Pelham.  At least one toy was inspired by coach, a mechanical toy known as the "Tally-Ho" released in 1885.  The toy, a rare cast iron mechanical toy between 27 and 28 inches long depicts Colonel Kane's canary yellow "Tally Ho."  One example of the rare toy has sold at auction for $86,000.00.

1885 Carpenter Cast Iron Mechanical Toy.
The "Tally Ho," Between 27 and 28 Inches Long.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article published in the May 2, 1882 issue of the New York Herald.  The article describes in lovely detail what it was like to ride the Tally Ho to Pelham Bridge on May 1, 1882, the opening day of the 1882 coaching season.  The article does an excellent job of describing the pageantry, the route and even the sounds of the ride that day.

The Tally-Ho's First Trip Through Freshening Country.
Colonel De Lancey Kane's Lively Spin from New York to Pelham.

A glorious May morning, cloudless, bright, crisp and sunshiny, for the first trip of the Pelham Coach.  It was the quintessence of a coaching day.  There was a snap in the air.  There was cheer in the sunlight.  The dust was laid and the road was open.

At half-past ten o'clock sharp the Tally-Ho stood in front of the Brunswick.  Spick-and-span [sic] looked the canary drag, and right smart was Colonel Delancey Kane as he took the ribbons and Fownes, the guard, as he flourished the horn, both in their new English coaching coats and yellow favors.  Mrs. Delancey Kane took the box seat.  Mr. Frederick Bronson and Mr. Robert Hone sat next, with Mrs. Colonel Jay and Mrs. Hugo Fritsch.  On the back seats were Mr. C. O. Beach with Mrs. Frederick Bronson and Mrs. Adrian Iselin, Jr.  A throng stood around the door of the Brunswick.  Faces peered from windows across the way.  An equipage or two flashed in the glittering vista of the avenue.  All ready for Pelham!  So crack whip, wind horn and away.  Colonel Kane shook out the ribbons.  The leaders plunged forward, and then with a hurrah from the onlookers, a waved adieu from a cloud of handkerchiefs and a cheery note from the guard, the Tally Ho rolled off upon its opening trip.

A light chestnut, Nora, was the near wheeler; a dark chestnut, Countess, the off wheeler.  Spider, an iron gray, and Gamecock, a light chestnut, were the near and off leaders.  Away they went over the stones of the avenue, between the long line of brown stone houses from which hands were waved and faces smiled.  The way was clear.  Not a dozen carriages were abroad.  The canary coach rolled straight along without swerving.


And now the wheels crunch on the gravel of Central Park, and the trees nod on either side, and the green turf, just freshening at the touch of the springtime sun, sweeps away over the hills and hollows.  The sky is a delicate blue.  White clouds scud across it like strayed revellers [sic] hurrying from the light.  The fresh, clear air of morning is puffed full in the faces of the coaching party.  It is delicious.  Whoever is astir hurries after the Tally-Ho.  Here a Park keeper, gray as his uniform, salutes it.  There a nurse and her little charge gaze at it open-mouthed.  Cheery salutes are wafted from vehicles going by, and now with a great clamor and clapping of hands a flock of children gone merry-making leave the May-pole rigged on the green and come flying down helter-skelter to greet the bright colored drag rolling by them.  They chase it, clap their hands gleefully and throw childish responses after the handkerchiefs waved to them from it.

An open space, a cheer up above and the coach sweeps past the gray stone needle of Cleopatra pointing skyward, with an irreverent cluster of moderns at its base frantically tossing their hats.  Presently it is out of the Park altogether and draws up at the Point View House, at 110th street to change horses, Gray Fenian and Bay Lorillard are the near and off wheelers now; Gray Ginger and Bay Cockade the near and off leaders.  The horn winds, the whip cracks and they are off skimming along the boulevard.  they wheel into 123d street, pass Mount Morris Park, swing about into Fifth avenue and so on up to 129th street, where they cross to Third avenue.  The music of the guard's horn rings through the thickly peopled streets.  The windows are full of faces.  There are gaping clusters on the street corners.  In a twinkling more the wheels awake hollow echoes from the Harlem River Bridge, and the Tally Ho rolls out upon the Southern Boulevard.

What a day it is there!  The horizon is steel blue.  The gloomy profiles of the institutions on the Island are sharply defined against it.  And the round circle of the sun glows over them like an escaped spirit glorying in its release.  Away swings the coach at a rattling pace, whip cracking, horn winding and hoof-beats ringing musically below.  Between the side stretches of grass land sweeping up to the hills, through reaches of wood where the trees stand thick and fast and the gray of winter is not thawed from their holes and branches, between nicely clipped lawns bordered with box, or quaint old lodges with fantastic gateways, past stately gray mansions upon heights and far off villas peeping through the trees, it rocks and sways; now the cynosure of a lot of wayside eyes, now alone and unnoticed and again hailed and pursued by cheery hurrahs.  From one or two taverns by the way are pictures of the coach itself suspended with flags and bunting about it.  Groups of rustic-looking people came out to see it.  Men in the fields stop their work to wave it a greeting.


And now low-lying Casanova and the Hoes and the Simpsons' estates all passed the Tally-Ho rolls up a hill, wheels around and comes slap-dash into the heart of West Farms.  There it is 'Hurrah!' from the window.  'Hurrah!' from the door.  The shopman steps out and waves his hand.  His customers crowd after him and do likewise.  Children bawl themselves hoarse.  Dogs bark.  The sleepy town awakes in a clamor and chased by its merry noises the coach rolls on and crosses the Bronx.  This is the first time it has gone over it here.  The direct road to Pelham from the southern Boulevard is being macadamized, the bridge is under repair and a detour of a mile and a half has had to be taken in consequence.  Up hill now and down dale through that heavy road from West Farms.  The trees shut in the view on either side.  Pools glimmer by the way.  The hoarse croaking of frogs comes from the marshes.  Over another hill, and now the great red front of the Catholic Protectory suddenly bursts out in the sunlight upon its bare plateau like the geni-begotten palace of Aladdin.  The coach plunges past it, past its factories and outhouses, rising around so spruce and bright and cleanly, and then the horn rings out and the horses bring up before the Swan Inn, at Unionport.  Now two bays, Major and Olly, are the leaders.  Brown Jumbo is the off wheeler and Tom, a light bay, the near wheeler.  The whip cracks.  'Tooty-too-too' goes the horn and away they sweep again.  The coach has been expected here.  Every one knows the bright yellow drag.  Old men hobble to the doors to wave big bandannas.  Old women shake aprons and shawls.  Little bits of toddlers stand dumbfounded with eyes like saucers, and a batch of children just out of school run themselves out of breath after it.  The water of Westchester Creek shimmers under a yellow flood pouring full from the zenith.  The lands beyond are bright as they can be.  The coach posts along bravely, for it must be close on time.  Over a bright level stretch of green are Hunter's Racing Stables.  The acres of the Waterbury estate come down to the stone wall at the road side, where the young of the family are stationed afoot and on ponyback to greet the Tally-Ho.  Lorillard's place comes next, with the old Arcularius Hotel, once the stopping place of the coach, now given over and standing on the hill without its old life and bustle.  It is high noon by the sun.  The horses, touched by the whip, forge ahead.  The harness rings.  The wheels turn up the dust.  The coach sways and bounds, and shoots ahead.  In the purple haze before it something is shining.  It is water -- the water of Pelham Bay.  And just beside it, gay with flags and streamers, and festooned with bunting from roof to doorway, is the Pelham Bridge Hotel.  Fownes toots merrily, a lot of onlookers hurrah and the horses merrily, a lot of onlookers hurrah and the horses, brought up on their haunches, stand at the door, whence Landlord Robert Spurge comes to bid all welcome.


Landlord Spurge, who kept Colonel Kane's old stopping place, the Huguenot House, at New Rochelle, has come down to Pelham Bridge now, and his hotel is to be the terminus of the Tally Ho's route hereafter.  It is reached on this opening trip a few minutes after noon, as that space was devoted to making the detour occasioned by the repairing of the old Pelham road.  But all is ready here.  The house is in gala dress to honor the occasion.  The neighbors are around all smiling and agape.  And having rested, the party are marshalled by Landlord Spurge into the dining room.  What a quaint bit of a room it is! -- the room of all rooms for a coaching party.  There are odd old pictures on the walls; curious and antique looking pieces of furniture are scattered around; grotesque, old-fashioned plates and bowls are tucked in racks and shelves.  There are stuffed birds, with legends hitched to them, and a general flavor of homely, sociable ease about it all that eminently befits the occasion.  Dinner is served.  And such a dinner!  Nothing with foreign names and tastes.  Not a bit of it.  Robust, hearty fare fit for the road and roadsters.  Rare, juicy beef, fowl done to a nicety, mellow strawberries and cream, with such an atmosphere and such surroundings as would make a glutton of the veriest dyspeptic.

There was a rest after dinner.  The coach is scheduled to leave Pelham at 3:45 P. M.  Meantime the party scattered about the spot which, with its inlet sweeping off Soundward, its green fields and remote woodland patches, is as lovely a scene as Westchester county contains.  Mr. Oliver Iselin, sweeping by with his equipage, made a flying call upon the party.  Another friend dropped in and then the road home was taken.

Once the Tally-Ho had passed the people living by the way knew it was soon to return and they awaited it.  The rumble of the canary drag and the note of the guard's horn were everywhere the signal for the good folk of the neighborhood to swarm out of doors and wave their good wishes.  Troops of little children had plucked bunches of flowers and tossed them into the flying vehicle or pursued it in hopes to hand them to the guard.  What with flowers and music Fownes had his hands full for a long time.  And now up the road something flashes and gleams in the sunlight, and borne on the crisp air come the notes of instruments and the rattle of drums.  As the coach nears its stopping place, the Swan Inn, it is explained.  The juvenile brass band of the Catholic Protectory have come down to serenade the coaching party in broad daylight, and as the horses are being changed the little fellows blow and finger cornet and trombone right knowingly and sturdily thump the drums.  The proficiency of the little band is a surprise, and their music floats after the Tally-Ho as it sweeps homeward with bay Dandy at the near wheel, dark brown Guardsman at the off one, and two chestnuts, Billy and Pelham, leading.  It goes spinning along the Southern Boulevard, and all is gay and pleasurable till the coach approaches the track of the freight car-road running down to Port Morris.


It has capped a hilly rise and is going down upon the rail when a sudden spout of steam rises over a knoll on the right and the ominous snort of a steam engine is heard.  The horses have full headway and are making for the track.  And now the locomotive shows its grim, dark length moving steadily down upon the carriage way.  It is a trying moment.  But Colonel Kane is equal to it.  He gives the horses their head, lays on the whip and like a flash the rail is cleared and the Tally-Ho goes rolling on while the steam engine, with the driver standing startled at the valve, drags past far behind it.  There is a noisy reception at Harlem, cheers along the road and the coach rolls through the Central Park, which is swarming with equipages.  There are salutes for it on every side, greetings for it everywhere, and through the crowd and jingle and murmur of Fifth avenue it passes up to the door of the Brunswick, where, at a quarter past five P. M., Fownes' horn blows the last note of the opening trip of the Pelham coach for the season of '82."

Source:  AGAIN ON THE ROAD -- The Tally-Ho's First Trip Through the Freshening Country, N.Y. Herald, May 2, 1882, Quadruple Sheet, p. 10, cols. 1-2.  

*          *          *          *          *

Below is a list of articles and blog postings that I previously have posted regarding the subject of "Coaching to Pelham."  

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach" (Sep. 2003).

Wed., Apr. 14, 2010:  Col. Delancey Kane Changes the Timing and Route of The Pelham Coach in 1876.

Tue., Sep. 08, 2009:  1877 Advertisement with Timetable for the Tally Ho Coach to Pelham.

Mon., Mar. 23, 2009:  The Greyhound and the Tantivy-- The Four-in-Hand Coaches that Succeeded Col. Delancey Kane's "Tally-Ho" to Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 16, 2009: The Final Trip of the First Season of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" in 1876.

Thu., Jan. 15, 2009:  The First Trip of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" on May 1, 1876.

Thu., Mar. 06, 2008:  Auctioning the Tantivy's Horses at the Close of the 1886 Coaching Season.

Wed., Mar. 05, 2008:  Coaching to Pelham: The Tantivy Has an Accident on its Way to Pelham in 1886.  

Thu., Jan. 24, 2008:  An Account of the First Trip of Colonel Delancey Kane's Tally-Ho to Open the 1880 Coaching Season.

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008: Brief "History of Coaching" Published in 1891 Shows Ties of Sport to Pelham, New York

Thursday, August 3, 2006: Images of Colonel Delancey Kane and His "Pelham Coach" Published in 1878.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005: Taunting the Tantivy Coach on its Way to Pelham: 1886.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005: 1882 Engraving Shows Opening of Coaching Season From Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge.

Thu., Jun. 09, 2005:  Coaching to Pelham: Colonel Delancey Astor Kane Did Not Operate the Only Coach to Pelham.

Fri., Feb. 11, 2005:  Col. Delancey Kane's "Pelham Coach", Also Known as The Tally-Ho, Is Located.

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach", The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XII, No. 38, Sept. 26, 2003, p. 1, col. 1.

Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."  

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