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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pelham Responds to the Financial Panic of 1857; Steps to Alleviate Plight of the Poor of the Town

On August 24, 1857, the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, an Ohio Bank, failed.  The failure of the bank focused attention on the financial state of the overextended railroad industry and the inflated real estate markets associated with the railroad industry.  Financial confidence quickly waned and, on October 13, 1857, a financial panic gripped the New York Stock Exchange.  By the time the panic settled, hundreds of banks had failed.  Individual investors were ruined.  Although the financial crisis began to level off and the U.S. economy began to stabilize by 1859, a true recovery was not felt until after the American Civil War.  

Source:  Harper's Weekly, Oct. 31, 1857, Vol. I, p. 692.  NOTE:  This
Engraving Shows an Unruly Crowd Outside a Seamen's Bank Shoving
and Gesturing.  A Ragpicker Can Be Seen Picking Up Worthless Stock
Certificates and a Pickpocket Can Be Seen Working the Crowd.

The brief entry quoted below is from an account of the Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Westchester following the Board's annual session in late 1857.  During that session, Pelham Town Supervisor George Washington Horton of City Island offered a resolution that was adopted by the Board authorizing the Town to raise $50 "for the temporary relief of the poor in said town" and to assess taxes to raise, among other sums, $20 "to defray the expenses for house for town paupers."  The entry suggests that, like many small communities in the New York region, only weeks after the panic the Town of Pelham was struggling to assist citizens who had been affected by the Financial Panic of 1857 and the subsequent financial downturn.

The pertinent entry appears immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Board:

Towns.             Names. . . . .

Pelham............George W. Horton. . . . 

Mr. G. W. Horton presented the Abstract of Town Accounts of the town of Pelham; and thereupon presented the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved.  That the Accounts of the town of Pelham, as audited by the Board of Town Auditors, Nov. 5, 1857, amounting to $247, be levied, assessed, and collected, in said town.

Mr. G. W. Horton offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, that the sum of $50 be raised in the town of Pelham, for the temporary relief of the poor in said town, pursuant to a resolution passed by the Board of Town Auditors.

Mr. G. W. Horton also offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That there be levied and assessed upon the real and personal property in the town of Pelham the sum of $2,020, of which sum $20 was voted to defray the expenses for house for town paupers; $500 which was voted to be raised for working roads and building bridges in said town; also $1,500, which was voted according to the Act of the last Legislature, for the purpose of building a Town Hall for the town of Pelham."

Source:  Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors -- Annual Session, November 1857, Eastern State Journal [White Plains, NY], Dec. 18, 1857, Vol. XIII, No. 32, p. 2, cols. 6-7.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.
Home Page of the Historic Pelham Blog.
Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home