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, April 15, 2015

The Secor Estate in the Village of Pelham Manor

James Francis Secor was born on July 13, 1816.  He was a son of Francis Secor (b. 1776, d. 1863) and Hannah Carpenter (b. 1782, d. 1861).  In 1846 he married Anna Maria Ely who was born May 12, 1819 and was a daughter of Moses Benjamin Ely and Anna Lawrence.  James Francis Secor and Anna Maria Ely Secor lived for many years in a home in the fashionable Murray Hill section of Manhattan located at 5 West 38th Street.  Anna Maria Ely Secor died in the couple's residence in Pelham Manor, New York, on October 5, 1898.  James Francis Secor died in his residence at Pelham Manor on December 27, 1904.  

The couple had five children:

1.  James Francis Secor, Jr., born 1847, married Joan Elizabeth Klink in 1880.
2.  Thomas Ely, born 1848.
3.  Anna Amelia, born 1851.
4.  Clara Gonzalez, born 1853, married Frank Dickerson in 1877.
5.  Isla Virginia, born 1855.

See Vanderpel, George B., ed., The Ely Ancestry, p. 336 (NY, NY:  The Calumet Press, 1902).

The father of the elder James Francis Secor, Francis Secor (b. 1776, d. 1863), was a shipbuilder who reportedly was associated with Robert Fulton in the construction of the first steam vessel.  James Francis Secor followed in the footsteps of his father, Francis Secor, and became a prominent shipbuilder during the Civil War who built several naval vessels.

According to tradition, the Secors bought a 150-acre estate in Pelham Manor and built a grand summer home on the grounds.  The family alternated between their fashionable Murray Hill residence and their grand summer home in Pelham Manor until they suffered a major financial setback and lost a large portion of the family fortune.  At that time, they gave up their New York City residence and moved to the Pelham Manor home where they lived thereafter.

Detail from Photograph Showing the Main Secor
Residence in 1915.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Photograph Showing an Interior View of the Main House
on the Secor Estate in 1915.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Detail from 1867 Map Showing Location of the Home
of "F. Seacor," the Secor Home Near the Intersection
of Wolf's Lane and the Boston Post Road.  Source:
Westchester Co., N. Y." in Beers, Frederick W., Atlas
of New York and Vicinity From Actual Surveys by and
Under the Direction of F. W. Beers, p. 7 (Philadelphia, PA:
1867).  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Detail from 1868 Map Showing Location of
"F. Secor Est." Near Intersection of Wolfs
Lane and Boston Post Road.  Source:  Beers,
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 (Philadelphia, PA:  1868).
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Detail from 1881 Map Showing the "F. Secor Est."
Source:  Bromley, George W., "Town of Pelham,
Records)" in Atlas of Westchester County, New York.  From
Actual Surveys and Official Records by G. W. Bromley &
Co., Civil Engineers, pp. 56-57 (Washington, D.C.:
G. W. Bromley & Co., 1881).  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Detail from 1914 Map Showing "Anna M. Secor Est." and
Location of Main House and Service Buildings and Also
Showing Beginning of Development of Portions of the Estate.
Source:  Bromley, George W., "Pelham Manor" in Atlas of
Westchester County, N. Y. Pocket, Desk and Automobile
Edition, Vol. 1, pp. 128-29 (NY, NY:  G.W. Bromley & Co., 1914).
NOTE:  Click Image To Enlarge.

During the 1930s, the Secor family intensified efforts to sell off portions of the Secor estate for development.  With the death of Secor matriarch Anna M. Secor in 1939, the end of an era was at hand.  The Secor family that once had controlled 150 acres of lovely rural land in the Village of Pelham Manor had ended its reign. 

*          *          *          *         *
"OBITUARY. . . . 

James Francis Secor.

James Francis Secor, a well known resident of Pelham Manor, died Tuesday night aged 90 years.  The funeral services will be held from the residence on Friday morning at 11 o'clock, and the interment will be made in Woodlawn cemetery."

Source:  OBITUARY. . . . James Francis Secor, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 28, 1904, p. 5, col. 6. 


Miss Anna A. Secor, 87, member of one of Pelham Manor's oldest families died at her home No. 4577 Boston Post Road, on Friday afternoon after a short illness.  Miss Secor was one of the founder members of the Manor Club and was for many years actively associated with the Pelham Home for Children.  Miss Secor was born in the Eastchester section of Mount Vernon in the neighborhood of the old St. Paul's Church.  She was a descendant of Jacques Francois Sicquard, one of the original Huguenot settlers of Westchester County.  Her father was the fourth to carry the name of the early settler, which was changed to the English James Francis Secor.  Her mother was Anna M. Ely Secor.

James F. Secor Sr. was a prominent shipbuilder during the Civil War period and built several naval vessels.  Sixty years ago the family undertook the development of its extensive property in Pelham Manor in which is now known as Secor Hill.  The Secor homestead was at Wolf's Lane near the Boston Post Road, and is now the residence of Mrs. Julius Manager.  The family was prominent in the early affairs of the village.

Miss Secor was a member of the Huguenot Memorial Church and in its early days was prominent in its women's organization work.  In recent years Miss Secor made her home with her nieces, Miss Isla Cockle and Mrs. Enos Booth.

The funeral service was conducted at the Burr Davis Mortuary in Mount Vernon on Monday morning.  The Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary, former pastor of the Huguenot Memorial Churcch officiating.  Interment will be at Woodlawn.

Surviving are her sister, Mrs. Frank Dickerson, of Long Island, and several nieces and nephews."

Source:  MISS ANNA SECOR, OLD RESIDENT, DIED ON FRIDAY, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 14, 1939, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 3, col. 6.


The death of Miss Anna Secor at the age of 83 marks the passing from Pelham Manor of a family inseparably bound up with the formative years of the growth and development of this village.  Descendants of Jacques Francois Sicquard, one of the original Huguenot settlers, who achieved fortune as a shipbuilder in the early days of American history, the Secors came to Pelham Manor and purchased a tract of 150 acres upon which they built a summer home, as apart from their New York establishment.  Subsequently a large part of the family fortune was lost during the period of Civil War and the Secors removed from the fashionable Murray Hill section of New York in which lived the merchant prince, Arnold Constable, and came to Pelham Manor.  When the Secor estate came into possession of the father of Miss Anna Secor its financial strength was ample to gain social leadership.  Then James F. Secor Jr. invested largely in the McAdoo tunnel, the first to pierce the terrain beneath the Hudson River.  An English contractor, Westman Pearson, afterward Lord Cowdray, who had successfully constructed the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames River, was engaged for the larger operation under the Hudson River.  The capital of the construction company proved inadequate and the company failed.  It was successful after reorganization, but the Secor fortune was washed out during the process.  James Secor was a member of the Pelham Board of Education and a very familiar figure in the Pelhams until the late 1920's but it was to his wife, Mrs. Joan Secor, that Pelham owes much of its cultural development.  She was president of the Manor Club for 25 years.  A charming personality, she possessed excellent judgment and infinite tact.  She was a leader of great resourcefulness, amazing energy, and was beloved of every member of the Manor Club.  Subsequently she removed to California and passed away there.  On the walls of the Manor Club hangs her picture, a grand painting by George Brehm, but in the history of the Manor Club her name will forever be associated with its ideals of culture and her accomplishments will ever be inseparable with its success.  Joan Secor was beloved and wore her many honors with the dignity of a queen.

History turns it pages as time passes on, and the Secor name changes from an active, vital, living force for idealism among Pelham women to a gravure on a tombstone, a memory to be revered, a force for culture and integrity to be remembered well and truly.  To them all, requiescat in pace."

Source:  THE LAST OF THE LINE, The Pelham SunApr. 14, 1939, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 2, col. 2.  

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