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, August 01, 2014

Obituary and Photograph of R. Clifford Black, a Prominent Pelham Manor Resident in the Early 20th Century

R. Clifford Black, a son of Robert C. Black who was a founder of the Village of Pelham Manor, was a prominent resident of the Village of Pelham Manor in the early 20th century.  R. Clifford Black and his father, Robert C. Black, were affiliated with the great jewelry house of Black Starr & Frost together with another Pelham Manor resident, Cortlandt W. Starr.  I have written previously about members of the Black family in Pelham Manor and about Cortlandt W. Starr.  See, for example:

Wed., Jun. 27, 2007:  Dissolution of Firm of Black, Starr & Frost and Reconstitution of the Firm as Corporation After Robert Clifford Black's Death.

Thu., Sep. 28, 2006:  A Brief Biography of Mary Grace Witherbee Black of Pelham Manor

Tue., Apr. 11, 2006:  April 20, 1875 Marriage Certificate of Robert C. Black and Mary Grace Witherbee Black

Thu., Feb. 9, 2006:  Cortlandt W. Starr of Black Starr & Frost

Thu., Jun. 7, 2005:  Obituaries of Robert C. Black and His Wife, Mary Grace Witherbee Black

Wed., Apr. 13, 2005:  "The Dogwoods" - The Estate of Robert Clifford Black of Pelham Manor.

R. Clifford Black died on January 26, 1931, shortly before his 54th birthday.  A lengthy obituary with his photograph appeared in the next issue of the local newspaper, The Pelham Sun.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of that obituary and includes the photograph of R. Clifford Black included with the obituary.   

Came to Village with His Parents Fifty Years Ago When Pelham Manor had But Four Houses -- Was Active in Development Work as Official of Realty Corporations -- Business Activities Mainly Identified with Black, Starr & Frost, Diamond Merchants of Fifth Avenue.

Pelham Manor was deeply stirred on Monday when it became known that R. Clifford Black had passed away during the early hours of the morning in Doctors' Hospital, New York City.  He had entered the hospital for a minor operation during the previous week.  An attack of arthritis during the convalescing period caused his death at 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Funeral services were held at Huguenot Memorial Church on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., followed by a short service attended only by members of the immediate family.  Rev. Willard P. Soper, pastor of the church, and Rev. Dr. Lewis G. Leary, former pastor for twenty years, officiated.  Knight McGregor sang, 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing,' and 'Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.'  Honorary pallbearers included Jonathan Bulkley, Everett E. Risley, Charles T. Ellis, Dr. G. B. Webb, R. Chauncey Seaver, Albert Hopkins, Langdon H. Roper, William Crawford, Dr. Henry W. Titus, Kenneth Mygatt and Horace D. Taft.  Interment took place at Woodlawn.

The church was filled to capacity, the profusion of floral offerings being so great that chancel, altar walls and windows were utilized to receive them.  After the services such flowers as could be cut were sent to hospitals, the remainder being sent to the public monuments in Pelham and New Rochelle.

Robert Clifford Black.
The Pelham Sun, Jan. 30, 1931, p. 1, cols. 1-2.

Robert Clifford Black was born at 228 Madison avenue, New York CCity, 53 years ago.  He would have reached his 54th birthday next month.  The family moved to Pellham Manor in his boyhood days.  His grandfather, Silas H. Witherbee, had purchased a large tract from the Pell estate and the Blacks and Witherbees became identified with the first residents of Pelham Manor and developed much of the land into high-class residential property.

Mr. Black received his early education at Taft School and Browning School, and afterward at Williams University, from which he was graduated in 1900.  At college he was a noted athlete, playing center

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on the champion Williams team of 1900, and being favorably mentioned for the All-American team.  Tennis was his favorite sport.

On leaving college he began his business career with Black, Starr and Frost, the noted silversmiths and jewelers.  His grandfather founded the firm more than 100 years ago.  Clifford Black was actively identified with that firm during his entire business career, being vice-president at the time of his death.  His brother, Witherbee Black, is president of the firm, having succeeded his father, the late Robert C. Black.

In the development of Pelham Manor Mr. Black was a factor in maintaining high standards.  He was treasurer of Witherbee Real Estate and Improvement Company and Robert C. Black Realty Company, with big holdings in Pelham Manor realty.

He was interested in all proposals that had for their object the preservation of zoning laws and their enforcement so that Pelham Manor's reputation as a high-class restricted residential community could be maintained.  He was active in the reorganization of the Pelham Country Club when its activities were enlarged and the golf course was added to the tennis courts for the enjoyment of its members.  He was a member of the Men's Club, and had been for many years a trustee of Huguenot Memorial Church.  He was one of the members of the original board of directors of Pelham National Bank, resigning a few years ago when it became necessary for his wife to go to Colorado for her health.

He was vitally interested in the progress of the educational system of the Pelhams, and although one of the largest taxpayers in the school district, lent readily and active support to all proposals to better the educational facilities of the township.

Until two or three years ago he was a noted tennis player, being vice-president of the National Tennis Association and for many years chairman of the Tennis Umpires' Association of Forest Hills.  He officiated at many of the championship tournaments.

He was a member of the Union League Club University, the Automobile Club of America, the New York Athletic Club, Pelham Country Club, Clovelly Rod and Gun Club, and the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity of Williams University.

During the war he was Chairman of the Westchester County Chapter American Red Cross Society.  

Surviving him are his wife, the former Beatrice Cluett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George B. Cluett of Troy, N. Y.; and four children, Robert C. Black III., Deborah Black, Judith Black, and Andrews Dimon Black.

At the meeting of the Pelham Manor Village Board of Trustees on Monday night, Mayor Lawrence F. Sherman expressed the official sentiment of the village relative to the death of Mr. Black.  

'It is fitting at this time that we note the passing of Mr. R. Clifford Black, one of Pelham Manor's outstanding citizens,' said Sherman.  'The entire villlage expresses sympathy with his family and we greatly regret the death of this great citizen.'"

Source:  R. CLIFFORD BLACK SUCCUMBS; PROMINENT MEMBER OF FAMILY IDENTIFIED WITH PELHAM MANOR, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 30, 1931, p. 1, cols. 1-2 & p. 4, cols. 6-8.

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