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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yet Another Attempt in 1894 to Resurrect the Glory Days of Coaching to Pelham

Yesterday I posted an item to the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the spectacle of "coaching to Pelham" in four-in-hand carriages during the 1870s and 1880s.  Col. Delancey Kane began the practice during the 1870s and many followed in his footsteps. Here is a link to yesterday's post:  Mon., Jul. 29, 2014:  Wonderful Description of Coaching to Pelham on the Tally-Ho's First Trip of the Season on May 1, 1882.  To read more 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 sport, conducted pursuant to the published rules of The New York Coaching Club, has been described as follows: 

“Public coaching, as it was called when it was a flourishing anachronism in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, is . . . now quite forgotten. It was one of those curious but artificial customs that suddenly drop into oblivion. . . . [Records of the sport] furnish a droll and flickering insight into the lives of that very small group of Americans, born and bred to wealth and leisure, whose influence on the nation’s social and economic life was so disproportionate to their numbers.”

The Pelham Coach was not the only coach that ran to Pelham.  Over years, there were various efforts to extend the sport of public coaching.  After Delancey Kane stopped running the Pelham Coach and, later, the coach named "Tally Ho", others attempted to resurrect the sport in the New York metropolitan area.  As I previously have written (see below), other such coaches that ran after Delancey Kane ended his public coaching to Pelham career included the Tantivy and the Greyhound.   

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides information about efforts in 1894 to resurrect the sport of public coaching.  J. Clinch Smith began running a four-in-hand coach named "Tempest" from Hotel Brunswick to the Westchester Country Club.  The Tempest did not, however, run between the Hotel Brunswick and Pelham.  By 1894, after New York City created Pelham Bay Park, the Westchester Country Club had moved to nearby Throgg's Neck.  Still, the story of the Tempest provides a fascinating glimpse of the closing years of the 19th century when some tried to resurrect the spectacle of the sport of public coaching brought to the United States by Delancey Kane who began running his Pelham Coach between Hotel Brunswick and the Arcularius Hotel at Pelham Bridge in 1876.  

Below is an image and the text of an article about the first successful run of the Tempest on April 16, 1894.  The article recounts the glory of the original Pelham Coach that inspired the Tempest's journey.  

Showing the Tempest in front of the Hotel Brunswick.
Apr. 17, 1894, p. 9, cols. 1-2.

The Tempest Makes Her First Regular Trip to the Country Club in Fine Shape.
A Full List of Passengers Was Taken Out and Back and All Were Enthusiastic.

IT is a pretty well established fact that history repeats itself -- sometimes pleasantly and at other times unpleasantly.  Under the former head should certainly be put any revival of the grand sport of coaching.  It is a sport nowadays, but let us not forget there was a time not so many years ago either, when it was, so to speak, quite as stern a reality as is a Pullman car to-day and as little tinged with romance.

We can't get away from coaching, however.  It may seem to lag for a while, but invariably 'bobs up serenly,' and well it is, particularly in our rushing New York, where most folks live far too much on a machine-made principle. 

As I stood in front of the Brunswick yesterday and watched the start of Mr. J. Clinch Smith's coach Tempest on the first of the regular daily trips -- Sundays excepted -- it is to make from now until June 1, between the hostelry named and the Country Club at Westchester, my mind drifted back to a fine spring morning -- May 1, 1876 -- when Colonel De Lancey Kane, the pioneer of road coaching in this country, pulled out from the same spot with his Pelham coach on its inaugural trip.


Every one knows that the Pelham Coach ran successfully for several consecutive seasons.  It is doubtful if a country club at West Chester had even been dreamt of then, so the destination was the old Arcularius Hotel at Pelham Bridge, where lunch was served.  The time schedule was about the same as that now arranged by Mr. J. Clinch Smith for the Tempest.  

The Pelham coach was abandoned after a few seasons, but a few years later the Tantivy was put on the road by Mr. Frederic Bronson and Mr. J. Roosevelt Roosevelt.  This coach ran every spring until four years ago.  Since then there have been one or two rather lukewarm efforts to put on a public coach between New York and different adjacent points, but without much success.

The prospects are, however, that the Tempest will be liberally patronized.  Mr. J. Clinch Smith and Mr. Francis T. Underhill are to be the coachmen and the former has furnished an excellent road coach and several teams of the first quality.

The start yesterday was made promptly at eleven o'clock.  It was an ideal spring day, and by half-past ten there had gathered in front of the hotel many promising coaching men.  Among these were the Messrs. De Lancey A. Kane, Frederic Bronson, Perry Belmont, Frederick Gebbard, De Courcey Forbes, W. R. Travers, William Eldridge, Leonard Jacob, Hamilton Cary and Ashton Lemoine.

Mr. Francis T. Underhill was coachman out and Mr. J. Clinch Smith back, and the passengers were Mr. Francis Watson, who had the box seat; Merrs. George de Forest Grant, J. G. Follansbee, M. N. R. Davis, Robert W. Stuart, W. R. Hoyt, J. S. A. Davis, J. Hopkinson Smith, Charles Coster, Eben Wright and De Forest Manice.


As told inSaturday, the route is through the Park and by Seventh avenue to 135th street, thence to and up St. Nicholas avenue, to Washington Bridge, across the bridge and past the Berkeley Oval to Jerome Park Corners, thence through Fordham and West Chester villages and past Morris Park to the Country Club.

A stop was made at the Plaza Hotel.  Teams were changed at 136th street and St. Nicholas avenue and at Jerome Park Corners.  

The Tempest arrived at the club at five minutes to one o'clock, schedule time.  Luncheon was immediately served.  The return journey was begun at twenty minutes to four o'clock and the Brunswick reached at half-past five.

Everything went as smoothly as could be desired, barring a slight mishap in front of the Brunswick.  One of the leaders was struck by an omnibus and lost his footing for a moment.  

All told, however, the first regular trip was pronounced if possible even more successful than the trial.  In the interval after luncheon and before starting home there was some informal pigeon shooting.  Three sweepstakes were contested for, the winners being the Messrs. Oliver Iselin, George de Forest Grant and Eben Wright.

The party to-day will include, among others, Messrs. George H. Mairs, Eben Wright, Roland W. Smith and Alexander M. Griswold.

Mr. F. M. Vermilye has the coach for Thursday.  Messrs. Center Hitchcock and Robert A. Osborn for April 20 and 21.  Mr. Stanford White has taken the whole coach for April 26 and Mr. J. W. A. Davis has booked as far ahead as May 30, when he will have the entire coach."

Source:  ROAD COACHING IN EARNEST, N.Y. Herald, Apr. 17, 1894, p. 9, 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).

Mon., Jul. 29, 2014:  Wonderful Description of Coaching to Pelham on the Tally-Ho's First Trip of the Season on May 1, 1882.

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.

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