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, September 03, 2014

The Merry Ten Social Club of City Island in the Town of Pelham During the 19th Century

Recently an unusual Pelham-related item popped up on eBay.  It was a ticket for a "GRAND FANCY DRESS AND MASQUERADE BALL" held in Leviness Hall on City Island on Thursday, February 22, 1872.  An image of the ticket appears immediately below.

City Island, On Thursday Eve'g, Feb. 22d, 1872.  TICKETS,
or Lady admitted on the floor, unless Fancy Dressed and
Masked, until after intermission.  J.M. FLYNN, President.
JOHN ADEMA, Sectretary.  M. KNAPP, Vice-President.
R. L. LINCOLN, Treasurer."

The "Merry Ten" was a social club based on City Island in the Town of Pelham during the latter part of the nineteenth century.  It seems to have been active from at least the early 1870's through at least the mid 1880's and, indeed, was described in one article published in [1882] as "an old organization of City Island."  (See article excerpt below.)  In 1893, the highly-successful social club spawned a spin-off social club for the younger set known as "The Merry Ten, Jr." 

The name "Merry Ten" was associated with unaffiliated social clubs throughout the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Social Clubs named "Merry Ten" can be found in San Francisco, Yonkers and even Lowell, Massachusetts.  There even was a dime novel story written by Harvey King Shackleford entitled "The Merry Ten; or, The Shadows of a Social Club. A Temperance Story."

There are countless newspaper items referencing the "Merry Ten" social club of City Island and its activities that cover a period of years.  See, e.g.:  

CITY ISLAND NOTES, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jul. 8, 1882, Vol. XXIII, No. 13, p. 3, col. 3 ("CITY ISLAND NOTES -- The Merry Ten will hold a hop at Flynn's Pavilion on Wednesday evening, July 12.  Music will be furnished by Prof. Foster.").  

[Untitled], New Rochelle Pioneer, Aug. 12, 1882, Vol. XXIII, No. 18, p. 3, col. 2 ("The Merry Ten held a hop at Flynn's Pavilion, City Island, last Wednesday evening.").  

CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer, May 24, 1884, p. 3, col. 6 ("The 'Merry Ten Club' of City Island, have issued invitations to attend the first annual May Ball, to be given at Von Leihns Pavillion, on the evening of Decoration Day.  Music is to be furnished by Mr. Jerome May, the champion banjo player of this County.  A good time is guaranteed to those who attend.").

PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 30, 1884, Vol. XV, No. 767, p. 3, col. 4 ("Last evening, the Merry Ten, an old organization of City Island, gave a complimentary ball, at Von Liehn's Hotel.").  

CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer, May 31, 1884, Vol. XXV, No. 9, p. 3, col. 7 ("The first annual May ball of the Merry Ten Club was given at Von Leihn Pavilion on Thursday night, and proved a grand success, as was anticipated.  Mr. Von Leihn spared neither trouble nor expense in preparing his pavilion for the occasion, and the effect was pleasing in the extreme.  The company was large and included among the number many prominent citizens of this place.  Mr. Hyatt and his friends are to be congratulated on the complete success of their first May ball.").  

PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 1, 1884, Vol. XV, No. 776, p. 3, cols. 4-5 ("The Merry Ten Social Club of this place, will have an excursion to Roton Point, by steamer Florence and barge Geraldine, on Wednesday, August 13th.  They will leave City Island dock at 8 30 A.M.").  

PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer, Aug. 2, 1884, Vol. XXV, No. 18, p. 3, cols. 5-6 ("The Merry Ten Social Club intend to have a grand excursion to Roton Point, on Wednesday, the 13th of August.  The steamer, C. Meyers, and the double deck barge, Geraldine, have been engaged for the occasion and everything will be done by the arrangement committee to make the affair an enjoyable one.").  

[Untitled], New Rochelle Pioneer, Feb. 14, 1885, p. 3, col. 7 ("The ball at VonLiehn's [sic] Hotel was not as well attended as was expected.  The weather was not as favorable as could be hoped, and the 'Merry Ten' and their friends did not come out.").  

CITY ISLAND, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 26, 1893, Vol. 2, No. 531, p. 5, col. 4 ("The first annual ball of the Merry Ten, Jr., held at Von Liehn hall, on Wednesday evening, December 20th.  The hall was handsomely decorated with flags and bunting.  Stretched across the stage was the original flag owned by the old Merry Tens, a swell organization in Westchester county, 20 years ago.  The music, which was excellent, was furnished by Prof. Rebe, of the annexed district.  Among those present were:  Mr. Edward Leviness and lady, Alfred Booth, Peter Lyman ,Captains Lambert and Walters, Adam Fennel, John Hogan, Edward Rosenberg, Horace Hall, George Hall, Gus. Lyman, Jeff Ross, William Rice,, Robert Crepper, Mr. and Mrs. George Banta and a hundred others, too numerous to mention.").  

The 1872 Merry Ten "Grand Fancy Dress and Masquerade Ball" referenced in the ticket that appears at the outset of this posting was held at Leviness Hall.  Leviness Hall was built by the Leviness family of City Island and was located at the corner of Prospect and Main Street.  See NEWS FROM OUR ENVIRONS -- CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 19, 1895, p. 4, col. 3.  See also map detail immediately below:

Detail from 1868 Beers Map of City Island Showing
Leviness Hall Slightly to Left of Center of the Image.
Source:  Beers, F. W., City Island, "Pelham Township,
Westchester Co., N.Y. (With) Town of Pelham,
Westchester Co., N.Y." in Atlas of New York and Vicinity
from Actual Surveys by and Under the Direction of F.W. Beers,
Assisted by A. B. Prindle & Others, p. 35 (NY, NY:
Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868).

The days of the "Merry Ten" social club of City Island hearken back to a much simpler time when socials, excursions, parties and masquerade balls were one of the principal forms of entertainment in the Town of Pelham.  Despite the social importance of the "Merry Ten" social club for nearly two decades, however, little is known of the organization or its members.  A research mystery remains regarding the Club, with the prospect that somewhere in dusty archives its flag and its records still exist. . . . . . . 

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