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, August 11, 2014

Excerpts of January 8, 1889 Remarks Dedicating a New School Building in Pelhamville

In 1910, The Daily Argus of Mount Vernon, New York published an important history of the schools of Pelhamville.  Included in the article were discussions of the early records of the Pelham Union Free School District No. 1 as well as excerpts of January 8, 1889 remarks delivered at the dedication of the new school house in Pelhamville that replaced the original "Little Red School House" on the site of today's Hutchinson School.  The brief article provides a wealth of information about the early history of Pelham schools and is quoted in its entirety below, followed by a citation to its source.

Supervising Principal Isaac C. Hill.


North Pelham, Reb. [sic] 9.—The development of the school system in Pelham during the past fifty years has been as pronounced as the growth of the town itself.  When one considers that in I860, there was only one school in the town and that was located on Prospect Hill, Pelham Manor, while now there are three schools and a modern high school building is in the course of construction which will be occupied in September, an idea of the progress that has been made may be had.

The name of Supervising Principal, I.C. Hill is closely linked with the history of the schools of the town.  Mr. Hill has been teaching here for the past 33 years and became principal of the North Pelham school on January 7, 1878, succeeding Principal Clark.  Three years ago, he was promoted to the position of supervising principal.  Mr. Hill recalls well when he began to teach In the old Prospect Hill school In Pelham Manor. He was then a young man and says that he had under him pupils who were even older than he.  Some days he would have as many as fifteen pupils and then on other days, he says, "I would look up and down the street to see if anybody waa coming."  Mr. Hill was at the head of this school three months and then became principal of the North Pelham grammar school.

When Mr. Hill first came to the town of Pelham there were not more than fifty pupils attending the two schools in North Pelham and in Pelham Manor.  Now there is the following enrollment in the three schools:  North Pelham, 162; Pelham Heights, 60; Pelham Manor, 61.  It will thus be seen that there are 263 pupils in the three schools, while there are 50 boys and girls attending high schools and other educational Institutions outside of the town.   When the high school building [NOTE:  this is a reference to Siwanoy]  is completed, these scholars will come back to Pelham, making the total enrollment over 300.  It was on Monday, January 8. 1889, that the present school building in North Pelham was dedicated.  On that occasion. William Allen Smith, president of the board of education, delivered the address and told about the inception and the growth of the school system In the village of North Pelham.  The following are excerpts from this address, showing the history of the North Pelham school. 

"This has been a Union Free School district beyond the memory of the oldest Inhabitant.  Three years ago, the board of education attempted to find the record of the meeting at which It was voted by the inhabitants to form such a district The record is missing, no copy of it could be found either in the archives of the town, the county or the state.  But the fact that the district has for thirty years been recognized as a Union Free School district is conclusively established and there is no question of the legality of the constitution district.  The full records now well preserved for future reference, reach back nearly 23 years, beginning February 26, 1866.  The earliest known document relating to the history of the district is the deed of the lot of ground on which we stand today.

"This deed is dated November 19,1860, and it from Lewis C. Piatt, of White Plains, Henry Marsden, of Brooklyn, trustees of Pelhamville Village Association to William S. Coffey, William S. McClellan, James Hinman, John M. Lockwood, Edward A. Campbell and J. W. Tavina, the board of education of school district No. 1 of the town of Pelham; and the consideration was one dollar for the lot of land, 250 by 150 feet, on which the present edifice stands.

"It was a barren rock on which nothing but ideas would grow.  The old building or rather the main part of it, was erected in the following year, 1861.  This small building filled the needs of the locality until 1873, when on April 14, a committee of the board of education was appointed to consider building an addition for a primary department, but the contract for this addition was not awarded until March 29, 1875, and the addition was built by Henry Engle, the following summer.  Twelve years elapsed and Pelhamville again needed larger school accommodations.  December 20, 1887, the board of education, after hearing reports of committees and making a thorough investigation, decided that the old building was inadequate to the growing needs of the locality. 

"A special meeting of the voters of the district was called and was held at the Prospect Hill school house May 8, 1888, at which the appropritation of $6,000 was voted for the erection of a new school building at Pelhamville.  A building committee was appointed May 15, 1888, and the result of their labors is before us today.  The people of the district, expecially the residents of Pelhamville, are to be congratulated on the completion of this beautiful and convenient edifice standing like a city on a hill which cannot be hid; a masterpiece of architectural symmetry and adaptation.  The thanks of all are due to the untiring labors of the building committee, consisting of Robert C. Black, E. H. Gurney and Henry N. Babcock."

In his address, the speaker went on to name those who had taught in the North Pelham school and continued:  "The school was opened in September, 1861, with Miss Lillian McClellan as its first teacher.  She remained two years and was followed by Watson E. Knox, Amos Towle and Mr. Gore.  Orin Baxter was the fifth teacher, he was transferred to the Prospect Hill school in February, 1867, and was succeeded by Edward Gallagher, who resigned January 28, 1869.  The minutes show that on February 8, 1869, 'a teacher by the name of Mr. Bartlette was engaged at $700 per year, as long as he suits the board of education.  October 27, 1869, we find that Jared Barhite was the teacher of the school; he resigned February 23, 1870, and received a vote of thanks from the board for the 'moral improvement of the children under his charge.'  March 9, 1870, a committee of the board was appointed to furnish a teacher for Pelhamville school.  An appointment was evidently made, as we find that the teachers of both schools resigned July 27, 1870.  November 21, 1879, a free night school was established with F. A. Lafferty as teacher.  This continued through February, 1871.  Mr. Lafferty was appointed teacher of the school in October, 1871, and in November again began a night class in addition to the day school, which continued 100 nights.  Mrs. Agnes Lafferty was at the same time appointed assistant teacher.  October 5, 1872, Chales J. Carlisle was appointed teacher, and April 15, L. Reynolds; he resigned November 10, 1873, and was succeeded by Thomas Clark, who taught the school until his resignation, December 31, 1877.  I. C. Hill, who had previously taught the Prospect Hill school, was then appointed.  Mr. Hill took charge January 7, 1878, and we are thus adding to our other exercises the celebration of Mr. Hill's tenth anniversary.  The recent assistant teachers have been:  Miss S. H. Sparks, appointed February, 1876; Miss E. Case, appointed February, 1877; Miss Katie Donon, appointed October, 1878; Miss Addie Case, appointed October, 1883; Miss Case resigned, September 1888, and has been succeeded by Miss Julit L. Wilson."

From this address it will be seen that Mr. Hill has been in charge of the North Pelham school thirty-three years, and whereas he only had one assistant after he took charge, he now has the following assistants:  Misses Anna E. Risley, F. Hazel Curtis, Anna A. Coleman, Elizabeth J. McCormick, Marion J. Raynes and Mrs. C. M. Barker, who has charge of the kindergarten department.

Ten years ago, the present attractive brick school house in Pelham Heights was built.  It contains four rooms, two on each floor.  The principal of the school is Miss Clara E. Beaudray and her assistants are:  Miss Edith Granger, Miss Alice B. Cozine, while Miss M. B. Tripp has charge of the kindergarten work.

The Pelham Manor school has three rooms, one upstairs and two downstairs and does not meet the present needs.  The principal is Miss Charlotte M. Lamson and her assistants are Miss Edith Turner and Miss N. M. Evans.

The new high school is now in the course of construction in Pelham Manor, and it will be a graded school for Pelham Manor, and Pelham Heights will also have a high school section.  The cornerstone of this building was laid last November and the address was delivered by Judge G. F. C. Wahle."

Source:  THE SCHOOL SYSTEM OF PELHAM, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 9, 1910, p. 14, cols. 4-5.

Architectural Rendering of the Original Siwanoy School,
a High School and Grammar School.
The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY],
Feb. 9, 1910, p. 14, cols. 4-5.

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