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, September 05, 2014

Post Card Image of Bartow and City Island Stage Coach With Driver

Stage coaches once provided an important means of transportation in and around the Town of Pelham.   Perhaps the most famous regular stage line within the Town of Pelham was Robert J. Vickery's Stage Line that operated the short distance between City Island and Bartow Station on the New Haven Branch Line.  Vickery's stage coach met all the trains that stopped at, and departed from, Bartow Station.  

I have written about Robert J. Vickery, his father (William) and Robert J. Vickery's stage line on a number of occasions.  For examples, see

Fri., Jul. 25, 2014:  Stage Coach Accident in Pelham in Early 1883.

Fri., Mar. 21, 2014:  Examples of Very Early Merchant Advertisements in the Town of Pelham

Wed., Mar. 03, 2010:  1879 Advertisement for Robert J. Vickery's City Island Stage Line, A Predecessor to the City Island Horse Railroad.

Thu., Sep. 24, 2009:  Brief Newspaper Account of the January 1, 1883 Annual Meeting of the Pelham Manor Protective Club (article includes account of an accident involving one of Vickery's stages).

Tue., Jan. 27, 2009: Biography of William Vickery, a 19th Century Resident of City Island in the Town of Pelham.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog reproduces an image of the obverse of an undated post card showing a stage coach of the Bartow and City Island Stage Line pulled by a pair of horses with an unidentified driver on the seat holding the reins. 

"Bartow and City Island Stage Coach Line."
Obverse of Undated Post Card Issued by Artino Post Card Company.

The image is quite fascinating.  There is no explicit indication of precisely where the image was taken.  It is likely that the image shows the stage pulled over to the side of the roadway that forms a part of today's Orchard Beach Road.  There is a partial curb built of various stones along part of the roadway.  There do not appear to be any passengers in the stage which seems to have a rear entrance.  The tail of the white horse is bobbed (a bobtail).  The stage coach is right-driven and there appear to be carriage lights to be lit in the darkness on both sides of the front of the coach.  There are rails on the top of the coach presumably for securing baggage since the coach ran back and forth between Bartow Station and City Island, meeting all trains.  The driver seems to be seated on a blanket or cloth that extends along a portion of the driver's seat.

Care must be taken in assessing this image.  Although it might seem that this image most likely shows Robert J. Vickery handling the reins on one of his stage coaches that ran between Bartow Station and City Island until about the late 1880's, there is evidence that stage coaches ran after the Vickery Brothers retired by early 1890  The post card itself gives no indication as to who the driver may be or who owned this line.  Although the post card likely was printed between about 1905 and 1915, it is at least possible that the image may be from that time or from an earlier time.  

A detail from the image reflected on this post card appeared in the following book:  Flood, Allen  & Mullen, Robert, City Island History - Legend and Tradition - Yachting, pp. 42-43 (City Island, NY:  Allen Flood, 1949).  The caption that appears with the detail from the image of the post card in that book indicates that the image shows one of Vickery's stage coaches.  It states:  "Stagecoach once running between Bartow Station and City Island from the 1870's to 1884.  Vickery Brothers were the owners of the coach line."  For reasons stated above, it simply is not certain to this author whether the stage coach shown is one that belonged to Robert J. Vickery.  

If nothing else, this lovely image shows an important example of a critical means of transportation at an earlier time in the Town of Pelham -- a time when horses ruled the dirt roads and pathways that wound through the region and "mass transit" consisted of horse-drawn stage coaches.

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