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, January 05, 2015

The Village of North Pelham Celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its Incorporation During Festivities in 1946

On August 29, 1946, the Village of North Pelham held a magnificent celebration of the Golden Jubilee anniversary of the incorporation of the village fifty years earlier.  Village police distributed a beautiful jubilee celebration booklet to every household in the village.  Every store and building along Fifth Avenue was festooned with flags and bunting.  Thousands and thousands of colorful lights were strung along the street.  The Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York, Joe Hanley, attended and spoke.  There was a massive parade, athletic events, a soapbox derby, a traditional Pelham "fatte calf" ceremony, a family picnic, a fireworks display, a street dance with full orchestra and vocalists, and more.  A portion of the celebration was broadcast by radio station WFAS, 1230 on the am dial.  

Perhaps most significantly for the tiny little village, there was a bond-burning ceremony.  The Village of North Pelham had successfully retired the entirety of its bonded indebtedness and chose its golden jubilee celebration as the occasion to burn retired bonds as a symbol of its complete freedom from all bonded debt.

Even the newspaper of the City of Mount Vernon, The Daily Argus, joined in congratulating the Village of North Pelham.  A host of articles about the celebration appeared the day before in the August 28, 1946 issue of the newspaper.  Those articles, and one photograph that appeared with them, are set forth below.

"Colorful Festivities To Mark North Pelham's Golden Jubilee

Sports, Parade, Costume Ceremonies Planned; Lieut.-Gov. Hanley To Speak Tomorrow Night

NORTH PELHAM -- This village is decorated like a Christmas tree and gay with flags and bunting in readiness for its all-day celebration tomorrow of the 50th anniversary of its incorporation.

Lieutenant Governor Joe Hanley will be the principal speaker, and several thousand visitors from neighboring Westchester communities are expected to attend.

Tomorrow North Pelham also will commemorate the retirement of the last of its bonded indebtedness, making it debt free.

Every store on Fifth Avenue, the village's main street where the festivities will take place, is hung with flags and bunting.  Thousands of vari-colored lights have been strung up across Fifth Avenue at Town Hall and at Fire Headquarters by Theodore French, chairman of lighting.  The exterior of Town Hall has been freshly painted and the erection and decoration of a speakers' stand in front of it has been completed.  

The celebration will begin at 1 P. M. with a soap box derby and other athletic events for the children, until 3 P. M.  Athletic directors at the various village playgrounds and day camps will be in charge of the events.  Carl Schilling of Hutchinson School Playground, Richard Lacey of the Pelican Day Camp, and Earl La-

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North Pelham 

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Barre of the Pelham Hobby Club comprise the committee headed by Fred Kennett.

To Give 'Fatted Calf'

At 3:30 P. M. the ceremony of the presentation of the fatted calf by the City of New Rochelle will take place.  This is the revival of a custom that dates back to 1689 when the Huguenot refugees from France purchased the site of the present City of New Rochelle from Sir John Pell, Lord of the Manor, where Pelham now stands.  As part of the contract for purchase of the land, the Huguenots agreed to a provision:  'forever yielding and paying unto John Pell, his heirs and assign one fatte calf on every four and twentieth day of June yearly and every year forever, if demanded * * * '

Mayor Stanley W. Church of New Rochelle will bring the calf in an old farm wagon and present it to Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham.

Mayor Church will be accompanied by a group of New Rochelle citizens garbed in Huguenot costumes.

From 5 to 7 P. M. a family picnic will be held on the grounds of the Town Hall.  Mrs. W. Wallace Downes is chairman.  Refreshments will be sold from booths, and proceeds will go to the churches in charge.

Dinner for Hanley

Lieutenant Governor Hanley will be met at the town's boundary line at 6 P. M. and escorted by a motorcycle escort composed of patrolmen from each of the three Pelhams to the Pelham Country Club, where he will be guest of honor at a dinner.  Invitations have been extended to County Executive Herbert Gerlach, William F. Bleakley, former County Executive; Town Supervisor George Lambert, the mayors of the three Pelhams, and trustees and officials of North Pelham. 

At 7 P. M., Lieutenant Governor Hanley will review a gala parade in which most of Pelham's civic and fraternal organizations will take part.

The day's formal exercises will begin at 8:45 P. M. at the speakers' stand in front of Town Hall, when Lieutenant Governor Hanley will make an address.  He will be introduced by Frank W. Shober, chairman of the steering committee of the celebration.

The ceremony of the burning of the village bonds will be featured at this time.

Fireworks Show at 10 P. M.

At 10 P. M. an elaborate fireworks display will be held under the direction of Fire Chief Irving J. Wallach.  Dancing on the street, and entertainment by Joe Downing and his orchestra and a number of vocalists will continue until midnight.

Auxiliary police will assist local police during the festivities.  Mayor Amato has proclaimed the day a holiday, and stores will close at noon.

The program from 830 to 930 P. M. will be broadcast over WFAS, 1230 on the dial.  This will include the bond burning ceremony and Lieutenant Governor Hanley and other speakers.  The broadcast is being donated by the Pelham Branch of the First National Bank of Mount Vernon."

Source:  Colorful Festivities To Mark North Pelham's Golden JubileeThe Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1946, p. 1, cols. 5-6 & p. 9, cols. 5-6.

Dominic Amato (left) will be hosts tomorrow to Lieutenant
Governor Joe R. Hanley (right), who will speak in the evening
after a day of colorful festivities."  Source:  Colorful Festivities To Mark
North Pelham's Golden Jubilee, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY],
Aug. 28, 1946, p. 1, cols. 5-6.

"Anniversary Program

The program for the 50th anniversary observance of North Pelham tomorrow follows:

1 to 3 P. M. -- Athletics; course, Fifth Avenue starting from Second Street.  Box race at Station Plaza down First Street.

3:30 to 5 P. M. -- Ceremony of Fatted Calf at Town Hall, Fifth Avenue.  Calf presented by Mayor Stanley W. Church of New Rochelle.

5 to 7 P. M. -- Family picnic on grounds of Town Hall under direction of Congregational Church, St. Catharine's Church and Church of the Redeemer.

7 to 8:30 P. M. -- Parade, with Frederick M. Wirth grand marshal.  Line of march starts at Station Plaza.  

8:45 to 9:45 P. M. -- Address by Lieutenant Governor Joe R. Hanley, with introduction by Frank W. Shober, chairman of the 50th Anniversary Committee.

9:45 to 10 P. M. -- Burning of North Pelham's bonds in Town Park, signalling the end of the village's bonded indebtedness.

10 P. M. -- Fireworks at Third Street and Fifth Avenue under direction of Fire Chief Irving J. Wallach.

10:15 P. M. -- Dancing and entertainment under direction of George Usbeck.  Joe Downing and orchestra, and vocalists."

Source:  Anniversary ProgramThe Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1946, p. 9, cols. 6-7.

"No. Pelham Dates Its Identity As Village As Far Back As 1825

NORTH PELHAM -- The actual identity of the Village of North Pelham, which tomorrow will hold a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of its incorporation, can be said to have begun around 1825, according to Lockwood Barr of Pelham Manor, town historian, who has made a hobby of Pelham history and tradition.  

The earliest maps of Pelham date back to 1711, showing an Indian trail parallel to and east of the Hutchinson River from City Island up to what is now the tip of North Pelham.  Out of this trail developed the modern highways of Split Rock Road, Wolf's Lane, Fifth Avenue and Pelhamdale Avenue North.

Mr. Barr's research shows that the first mention in the archives of that tract of land which is now Pelham Heights and North Pelham was in 1727 when Thomas Pell, the third Lord of the Manor, sold a tract of land to one 'Edward Blagge of New York, Gentleman.'  It was the tract from Hutchinson River east to the New Rochelle line and north of the Old Boston Road, now Colonial Avenue, up to the point of the present North Pelham.  The Pell family regained the tract in 1732 when Blagge resold the tract to Thomas Pell, Jr., son of the third Thomas, Lord of the Manor.  This tract was broken up into several large properties in the hundred years up to 1825.

Town Established in 1825 [sic]

By 1825 the Town of Pelham had been established as a political entity, covering the present township and also a large area of what is now the East Bronx, including Pelham Bay Park, and City Island, which was the chief village.  The seat of government was nearer the latter place, with the Town Hall on Shore Road, close to what is now the road to Orchard Beach.  During this era there came into being a settlement known as Pelhamville.  In 1848, when the main line of the New Haven Railroad was constructed, Pelhamville was important enough to be designated as a site for a station.  Old maps show that the proposed line was to bisect Pelhamville.  

Mr. Barr's research shows that this railroad also cut in two a parcel of land indicated on the map as a 'race field,' adjacent to the Hutchinson River.  

The first survey map of the land records go back to the original grant to Lord Pell.

Map Shows Land Records

Land records in North Pelham date only as far back as what is known as the 'Bryson Map,' dated 1851, but prior to this time there had been organized a group known as the Pelhamville Village Association, whose purpose was to develop a certain tract of land lying north of the proposed railroad line, and east of the Hutchinson River.  The association had purchased the Wolf farm and had laid out streets and residential plots and a business district.  That plan has been continued as the present plan of the Village of of North Pelham.

Pelhamville's station was a bleak building, the only remaining symbol of which has been memorialized on the seal of the Village of North Pelham.  It was a plain two-and-a-half story building situated on the north side of the tracks on the site now occupied by the Pelham Post Office.  It also housed the Post Office, established there in 1878, and it and the Town Hall -- relocated in Pelhamville in 1896 when New York City annexed City Island and other areas west of the river -- were the center of local interest.

Big Wreck at Depot

Pelham station was the scene of one of the worst wrecks in early New Haven Railroad history on Christmas night, 1898 [sic], when the locomotive and tender of the Boston Flyer left the rails and plunged down the embankment just west of the station building, killing one and injuring several persons.  The wooden platform had been blown over the tracks by the severe storm, and the locomotive crashed into it.  

Pelhamville's first school was opened sometime before 1866, near the site of the present Hutchinson School.  The late Isaac C. Hill was principal for more than 40 years.  In an article published Dec. 20, 1913, he told of his transfer to the school from the old Prospect Hill Scchool in Pelhham Manor, in January, 1878.  Pelhamville, he said, was 'a little hamlet of 48 houses.'  The school was a small frame building containing two classrooms and accommodated 50 pupils.  The original Hutchinson School was opened in January, 1890. 

In 1859 the Church of the Redeemer was established in Pelhamville as a chapel under the direction of Christ Church on the Shore Road in Pelham Manor.  It was under the direction of Miss Bolton of Pelham Priory.  St. Catharine's was established January 11, 1896, and the Congregational Church in July, 1919.

The late Jacob Heisser, first president of the Village, is authority for the statement that 'the population of Pelhamville in 1862 was fifty persons and in 1877 it jumped to 245.'

Four Train Stops

Four trains stopped at Pelhamville station, if you flagged them, and you paid your fare of 50 cents to New York, on the train.  In 1872 the ticket office was opened and trains made regular stops.  

Agitation for incorporating the village grew during the years, and early in 1896 there was action.

Among those credited as being sponsors were Mr. Heisser, Otto Stroetzel, John H. Young, C. A. Barker, Alex Kennedy, G. I. Karbach, James W. Penny, George Glover, George Pearson, August Godfrey, Mrs. Broege, Seth T. Lyman, Louis C. Young, W. J. Evert, M. J. Woods, William Edinger, Isaac C. Hill, John Case, S. Gregoor, J. A. R. Greer and S. E. Field.

The referendum for incorporation was carried by a margin of only two votes, 67 affirmative and 65 negative."  

Source:  No. Pelham Dates Its Identity As Village As Far Back As 1825, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1946, p. 9, cols. 2-4.  

"Village Issues 2,500 Copies Of Souvenir Program

NORTH PELHAM -- More than 2,500 copies of a souvenir program of the golden jubilee celebration of the incorporation of the Village of North Pelham were distributed this week to every householder in this village by local police.  Copies were also mailed to all out-of-town contributors to the fund for the celebration which totals, $1,891.25.

The booklet, which consists of 22 pages, includes an article on the history of the village, illustrated with photographs of all its presidents and mayors since it was incorporated in 1896.

'The Birth of A Village,' by J. Gardner Minard, a resident of North Pelham for more than 50 years, gives personal recollections of the historical development of the village, including the first industries and businesses.  It is illustrated with old photographs of the village.  

The names of the more than 200 sponsors of the celebration who contributed funds are listed.  A poem in honor of the jubilee written by D. J. Kennedy, oldest living village official of North Pelham, is included in the booklet.

The cover is adorned with a drawing by F. P. Schall, showing bonded debts burning in the flames of a torch.  The cost of the program was donated by the Pelham branch of the First National Bank of Mount Vernon.  

Gordon Miller was chairman of the souvenir program committee."

Source:  Village Issues 2,500 Copies of Souvenir ProgramThe Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1946, p. 9, col. 4.  

"Hussey Congratulates Village On Jubilee

NORTH PELHAM -- Mayor Amato today received the congratulations of May William H. Hussey of Mount Vernon on the 50th anniversary of the founding of North Pelham, which the village is celebrating tomorrow.  

Mayor Hussey's letter follows:

'In behalf of the citizens of the City of Mount Vernon and myself I extend most cordial greetings to you and your residents on this occasion of your fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Village of North Pelham.

'I wish also to congratulate you upon your attainment of the enviable position of having your village free from debt.  Few cities, towns and villages can boast of this achievement.

'You have a truly fine village.  I have always admired the friendly, neighborly and cooperative community spirit that exists among your inhabitants.  

'May your village prosper for many years to come, just as it had prospered since its incorporation.'"

Source:  Hussey Congratulates Village on JubileeThe Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 28, 1946, p. 9, col. 5.  

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