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, May 13, 2015

Accounts of Village Police Departments of Pelham Manor and Pelham Published in 1925

In 1925 the local newspaper, The Pelham Sun, published nearly a full page of articles and photographs about the police departments of the Village of Pelham Manor and the Village of North Pelham.  The artices included a little about the histories of the two departments, the personnel who had served the departments over the years, and crime statistics for the late teens and early twenties of the 20th Century.

I have written about the various police departments that have served Pelham residents over the years.  For examples, see:

Wed., Sep. 10, 2014:  An Account of the Pelham Manor Police Department in 1906.

Wed., Apr. 30, 2014:  Gun Battle on Witherbee Avenue in 1904 Results in Wounded Pelham Manor Police Officer.

Mon., Apr. 21, 2014:  Early History of the First Years of the Pelham Manor Police Department.

Fri., Jan. 08, 2010:  Pelham Manor Police Officer Catches a Burglar Red-Handed on Monterey Avenue in 1910.

Thu., Jan. 07, 2010:  Pelham Manor Police Establish Speed Traps on Shore Road in 1910 to Catch Those Traveling Faster than Fifteen Miles Per Hour

Thu., Feb. 12, 2009:  1910 Obituary of William Henry Sparks Who Served as Police Justice in the Town of Pelham for Sixteen Years.

Wed., Aug. 09, 2006:  The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley".

Wed., May 04, 2005:  Philip Gargan, Chief of Police of Pelham Manor, New York

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog includes photgraphs and text from the December 18, 1925 issue of The Pelham Sun providing a great deal of information about the early years of the police departments of the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham Manor.

First row, top, left to right:  Julius E. Joeschker,
Motorcycle Officer:  Michael Spillane, Lawrence
Fowller and Harold F. Bliss.  Second row:  Edward
G. Skiff, Motorcyle Officer; Michael J. Murphy, Edward
B. Eayrs, James McKenna.  Third row:  Arnt H. Arntsen,
Sergeant James D. Burnett, James A. Butler, John
McCormick, Thomas J. Fagan, Michael J. Grady,
Motorcycle Officer; William H. Hamilton, Sergeant James
McCaffrey, John Moore.  Fourth row:  Village Attorney
Edgar C. Beecroft, Village President Henry H. Fox,
Chief Philip Gargan, Village Trustee Elliot C. House,
and Dr. A. C. McGuire, Village Registrar of Statistics
and Department Surgeon."  Source:  Pelham Manor Police
Force Effective Unit, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 18, 1925,
p. 4, cols 1-3.

"Pelham Manor Police Force Effective Unit
History of Police Force Shows Great Progress Under Command of Chief Gargan

The present Pelham Manor police force started to make a name for itself soon after Phillip Gargan, the present Chief of Police took office.  Previous to becoming Chief, Gargan had served 10 years as a patrolman.  He received leave-of-absence in 1916 to go down to the Mexican border with the 69th N. Y. infantry of the 165th regiment.  He enlisted in the same regiment during the World War and saw action, his war medals with five bars bearing testimony.

During 1918, Chief Marks resigned his post, and although Gargan was over seas, he was promoted to the position of Chief.  On his return, he took the Civil Service examination and passed with flying colors.  Through his war service he gained the military idea of fearlessness, and trustworthiness, and the ability to instill it into his men.

Soon after his appointment as chief, he started to gather a force tath would come up to the standard of the modern forces of the large cities.  Four policemen were appointed and with them came the first motorcycle to be installed in the police forces of the Pelhams.  The Post Road had become a widely traveled highway and speeders were increasing so another motorcycle was purchased to patrol the road and stop speeding.  The motor squad now consists of three motorcycles which have, so far, aided in the capture of three burglars.  A Ford touring car has lately been added to the squad and showed its value a few days later by aiding in the capture of a burglar who was making a 'grand cleanup' in this section of Westchester County.

Pelham Manor's police force now consists of 19 men, who have served as follows:  Chief Philip Gargan and James Buter, 19 yearws, Sergeant James Burnett, 9 years; James McCormick, 8 years; Sergeant James McCaffrey, 7 years; Motorcycle officers, Michael J. Grady, Julius Joeschker, and Edward Skiff, 5 years, Michael J. Murphy, William Hamilton, James McKenna, ,also 5 years, Arnt Arnstonand James Generazzo, 3 years, [illegible] 

Since Philip Gargan has been Chief, the police station has changed from a wooden building into a modern stucco building which stands on the site of the former station.  The rooms resemble those of a city station with a rest room for the men an up-to-date court room, sanitary cells for the prisoners, and a main office.

"PHILIP GARGAN Head of Manor Police Force"
Unit, The Pelham Sun, p. 4, cols. 1-3.

The Manor department is equipped with their own rogues gallery which contains pictures of prisoners arrested in the Manor in the last six years.  A finger-print system is also kept with the record of the prisoner.  Records are kept showing the work of each officer since he has been appointed to the force.  A system is maintained whereby an officer performing of work out of the ordinary receives a vacation of so many days, considering the value of the work performed.  This serves to keep the officers awake to their duty, and makes them eager to perform some feat which will entitle them to the honorable vacation.

The following will give one an idea of what Pelham Manor police force has performed in the past six years.  Sixteen burglars arrested, eight cases of grand larceny, 45 cases of petty larceny, 4 cases of attempted larceny 1 fugitive from justice captured, 1 case of Harrison narcotic law, 1 carrying burglar tools, 6 caputred with concealed weapons, 8 cases of unlawful breaking and entering, 8 cases of unlawful entry, 36 cases of assault, 7 cases of malicious mischief, 3 deserters from the army captured and returned, 38 violators of the Volstead act captured, and 4 missing persons found.

Stolen property recovered amounted to $62,487 and lost property found amounted to $3,000.  The stolen property recovered consisted of automobiles, bicycles, auto tires, jewelry, merchandise and other articles.  Nine burglars caught in Pleham Manor since May 1919 were sentenced to a total of 83 years in Sing Sing prison.  Three were committed to the Elmira Reformatory, and one was committed to the Auburn State prison for a period of 45 years.  Nineteen years and 15 days was the total time to be served by fifty-five prisoners sentenced to the Westchester County Penitentiary.  Eighteen prisoners were placed in protection for a total of 14 years and 9 months.

Thousand of other arrests have been made for traffic violations which are placed under the Village and state highway laws.  Most of the cases have been tried before Judge David A. L'Esperance who has been acting as magistrate since 1921.  At the present time only two members of the original Pelham Manor police force remain, Chief Gargan and Desk Sergeant James Butler.  Both men have served an equal length of time and have greatly added to the force from their knowledge of police work.

The Pelham Manor police force is one which the residents can well be proud of.  It is headed by a chief who co-operates with his men, and never sets them to do a task which he would not perform himself.  The Chief made the remark the other day that 'A good policeman is worth his weight in gold.'  His statement is correct, and his force is valuable and through the co-operation of patrolmen and Chief they are gaining an enviable record thruout the county of Westchester."

Source:  Pelham Manor Police Force Effective Unit, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 18, 1925, p. 4, cols. 1-3.  

Top row, left to right:  John Cullen, Lester Champlion,
John Lomax and George Vander Roset.  Center row, left
to right:  Louis Rees, James Murphy, Harry Duelfer and
Michael Lenshan.  Front row:  Sergeant Bruce T. Dick,
Captain Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Village President Thomas
J. James, Village Attorney George Lambert, and Sergeant
James Whalen, motorcycle officer.  Source:  Capt. Fitzpatrick
And Sergt. Dick Have Long Service, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 18,
1925, p. 4, cols. 5-7.

"Captain Fitzpatrick And Sergt. Dick Have Long Service
Police Force of North Pelham Is Effective in Preventing Lawbreaking

From an original force of two town constables, Dennis Walsh and William Robinson, North Pelham's police force has grown from a small country town department into a force that would do justice to any modern town.  The force at present is headed by a man who is both trustworthy and fearless, and who is known to be a leader of men, Captain Michael J. Fitzpatrick.  The two original members of the force are no longer in service, Walsh being part owner in a fleet of taxi cabs in Pelham.  Robinson, who resided in Pelham up until a month ago has moved to Brooklyn.

The Village of North Peham was incorporated in 1898 [sic], at which time the first police force was established with only two officers.  Its headquarters were in the old Town Hall, a wooden structure which stood on the site of the present building.  In 1908, this building burned to the ground [sic] and a year later saw work started on the new Town Hall which now gracces the sight [sic] of the former building.  Soon after the completion of the new Town Hall in 1909, police headquarters were established in it.  

Pelham's population had been increasing in leaps and bounds, and in 1911 the village found it necessary to have better police protection so four men were placed on the force, among them being Michael J. Fitzpatrick and Bruce Dick, two members of the present police force.  Nine years later, after serving faithfully as a patrolman, Fitzpatrick was promoted to the rank of captain.  A year later saw the promotion of Bruce T. Dick to the rank of Sergeant.  Both Captain Fitzpatrick and Sergeant Bruce Dick have served fourteen years on the force.  Sergeant James Whalen, motorcycle officer of the force, has served for five years and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in May of 1924.  Officer John Lomax is the next longest in service, having been on the force for five years also.  He is one of the most sincere officers in enforcing the laws of the village.

Head of North Pelham Police Force"
And Sergt. Dick Have Long ServiceThe Pelham Sun, Dec. 18,
1925, p. 4, cols. 5-7.

When Captain Fitzpatrick first came into command of the North Pelham force, it consisted of six men.  The department now consists of eleven men, one captain, two sergeants, and eight patrolmen.  Four rooms in the Town Hall comprise police headquarters, a main office, the cell room, the court room, and a rest room.  The squad or rest room was donated to the department this year through the efforts of Village President Thomas James.  Each officer is provided with a locker which is kept in the squad room.  The department has one motorcycle, which is necessary in curbing the speeders who would otherwise menace the village.  Three motorcycles have been used by the department since the first one was introduced during the administration of James Reilly as village president.

Following is the list of policemen and the time they have served on the North Pelham force:  Captain Michael Fitzpatrick and Sergeant Bruce Dick, 14 years; Sergeant James Whalen and John Lomax, 5 years each; Lester Champlion, James Murphy and Louise Rees, 3 years; Harry Duelfer and John Cullen, 2 years; George Vander Roest and Michael Lenahan, 1 year.

From the year 1915 there have been 1,360 arrests made for such things as violation of village ordinances, burglary, petit larceny, grand larceny, unlawful breaking and entering, felonious assault, assault in the third degree, and intoxication.  This record alone shows that the arm of the law is a well filed piece of machinery in the village of North Pelham, and that the residents of the village have a police force of which they cannot seak too highly."

Source:  Capt. Fitzpatrick And Sergt. Dick Have Long ServiceThe Pelham Sun, Dec. 18, 1925, p. 4, cols. 5-7.

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At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Sallie Lomax Etzold said...

Thank you for the 1925 photo from the Pelham Sun showing the North Pelham Police Department. I was able to identify my great uncle,John Lomax, who was greatly respected by my father. My own son will soon reside in Pelham- a full circle after about 100 years. Your work is appreciated.


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