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, August 31, 2015

Seyseychkimus, The Native American "Chief" and Signer of 1649 Indian Deed Encompassing Pelham

The earliest so-called "Indian Deed" yet discovered conveying lands that later became Pelham was a deed signed on July 14, 1649.  See Wed., Aug. 12, 2015:  Significant Research on the First "Indian Deed" Reflecting the Dutch Purchase of Lands that Included Today's Pelham.  That deed conveyed to the Director General and Council of New Netherland lands identified as "Wiequaes Keck" on the east bank of the Hudson River between the Byram and Mianus Rivers along Long Island Sound.  These lands encompassed all of today's Town of Pelham.  The deed was signed by several Native Americans including one named Seyseychkimus who was designated as "the chief" and who signed the deed as "witness."

Who was Seyseychkimus?

Seyseychkimus was a Munsee who, specialists believe, first appeared in colonial records in 1637 with his name spelled as "Heyseys."  He appeared as "one of two Mareychkewikingh (Marechkawieck) sachems in the July 16, 1637 sale of two islands in the Hell Gate between Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx (Book GG:28-29).  The Marechkawieck inhabited the downtown Brooklyn area."  Grumet, Robert Steven, "ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCK" in The Bulletin and Journal of Archaeology for New York State, No. 83, p. 4 (Spring 1982).  

Seyseychkimus was considered a "lower River Indian leader" who spoke the Munsee dialect, not the Mahican language.  Grumet, Robert S., The Munsee Indians:  A History, p. 296 - Notes to Page 14, n.16 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).  According to Grumet, the Marechkawieck sachem who resided on Long Island in the Brooklyn area in about the mid-1630s sold all of his remaining Brooklyn lands to the Dutch in two separate deeds dated September 10, 1645 (a deed that later was canceled) and November 1, 1650.  See supra, Grumet, ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCK, p. 4.  

Clearly Seyseychkimus was an important Munsee leader in the lower Hudson River area.  He appears to have departed Brooklyn at about the time of the sale of his Brooklyn lands and next was located, apparently, in the Wiechquaeskeck region on the mainland northeast of Manhattan -- an area that included today's Town of Pelham.  On July 14, 1649, he witnessed the Indian Deed that conveyed lands including today's Pelham and Northeast Bronx to the Dutch.  (For a full transcription of a translation of that deed, see below.)

As further evidence of the prominence of Seyseychkimus as a Munsee leader in the region, only five days after witnessing the July 14, 1649 Indian Deed, Seyseychkimus "participated as Seysegeckkimus in the treaty that ended hostilities between the Dutch and unreconciled elements of the Wiechquaeskeck and Raritan groups who did not sign the August 30, 1645 treaty ending the Governor Kieft War."   See supra, Grumet, ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCKp. 4 (citing "NYHM(4):607-609)").  Seyseychkimus was among the only representatives not assigned to a specific group at the time the treaty was executed.  Although we will never know why, we can speculate that his recent move from the Marechkawieck section in Brooklyn to the Wiechquaeskeck region on the mainland northeast of Manhattan left his designation -- but not regional prominence -- somewhat in question.

By 1651 (three years before English settler Thomas Pell acquired much of the same lands conveyed to the Dutch on July 14, 1649), Seyseychkimus seems to have moved northward to, or to have asserted his influence as far north as, northwestern Connecticut.  He "signed a deed to land in northwestern Connecticut as Sasskum on February 15, 1651 (Bolton 1848(1):392) and was mentioned as Sasse in an incomplete manuscript dated March 25, 1652 (NYCM(5):32)."  See supra, Grumet, ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCKp. 4.  

After analyzing the various deeds, the treaty, and the incomplete manuscript mentioning Seyseychkimus, Robert S. Grumet summarizes as follows:

"The collective weight of this documentation supports the identification of this man as a Marechkawieeck chief from Brooklyn who moved to the mainland east of the Hudson River following the sale of his land holdings on Long Island.  These data would thus place both Sesekimu and Seyseychkimus in Westchester and Fairfield Counties."  See supra, Grumet, ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCKp. 4. 

The colonial documentation seems to provide a partial glimpse of the life of the Munsee leader of the lower Hudson River region known as Seyseychkimus.  Seyseychkimus, a Marechkawieck sachem who resided on Long Island in the Brooklyn area in about the mid-1630s, apparently exercised influence over or served as a Munsee sachem representative in connection with lands extending from Brooklyn through today's Westchester and Fairfield Counties.  For about a sixteen-year period from 1637 until 1652, Seyseychkimus participated in successive sales of lands located successively northeastward as local Native Americans slowly deeded their lands to Dutch and, later, English settlers.  In at least one such instance he was designated as "chief" and also participated in an important treaty with the Dutch by which "unreconciled elements of the Wiechquaeskeck and Raritan groups who did not sign the August 30, 1645 treaty ending the Governor Kieft War" ended their hostilities with the Dutch. 

View of Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, 1651.  Note
The Native Americans in a Variety of Canoes.  Source:
Hartger, Joost, Befchrijvinghe Van Virginia, Nieuw Nederlandt,
En d’Eylanden Bermudes, Berbados, en S. Christossel
(Amsterdam, 1651) (Original in The Lenox Library, The
New York Historical Society, The Andrews Collection).
NOTE:  Click on Image To Enlarge.

Below are transcriptions of a wide variety of research items relating to the identity of, and the life of, Seyseychkimus.  Each is followed by a citation to its source.  Given that some materials are available only in print format, links are provided only when available.  Research so far has revealed a variety of spellings of the name "Seyseychkimus."  Those are listed immediately below, followed by some of the research on which this brief article is based.  



*          *          *          *          *

Seyseychkimus was considered a "lower River Indian leader" who spoke the Munsee dialect, not the Mahican language.  Grumet, Robert S., The Munsee Indians:  A History, p. 296 - Notes to Page 14, n.16 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).

"Originally from Long Island, Seyseychkimus moved to Wiecquaesgeck and later farther upriver to Wappinger country after selling his lands in Brooklyn."  Id.

"This brings us to the primary Haverstraw sachem and the problem of the identification of the Rechgawawanck sachem Sesekemu.  A man named Sessikout was identified as the sachem of Haverstroo and the brother of an Esopus leader in a document dated March 15, 1664 (NYCD (13):363-364).  If saccis was Sessikout, then he signed the January 30, 1658 sale of the Bayonne Peninsula as Saghkaw (Liber 1:34) and the May 19, 1671 conveyance of the Palisades to the south of Haverstraw, New York as Saghtow (Liber 1:115-116).  He was far more recognizable as Sessikout when he appeared as the signatory Seskiguoy in the June 8, 1677 sale of land to the west of the Palisades (Liber 1:254(85-253)86).  Next listed as Sakaghkemeck, 'Sachem of Averstraw' in the July 13, ,1683 conveyance of land directly south of the Hudson Highlands and the Catskill Mountains as Sackewagzein, 'Sachem of Heardstroo' (Liber N:  folio 86-88:23).  These documents strongly support the assertion that Sessikout was the most important Haverstraw sachem of the period.  They themselves do not, however, establish that Sesekemu was Sessikout.

The most likely candidate for that role is a man name[d] Seyseychkimus.  He first appeared as Heyseys, one of two Mareychkewikingh (Marechkawieck) sachems in the July 16, 1637 sale of two islands in the Hell Gate between Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx (Book GG:28-29).  The Marechkawieck inhabited the downtown Brooklyn area.  He was next mentioned as Sassian in a document dated September 11, 1642 (NYHM(3):325-326).  He subsequently sold his remaining land holdings in Brooklyn as the chief Seysey on September 10, 1645 (Book GG:60) and as Sasham on November 1, 1650 (MacLeod 1941).  He evidently moved to the mainland to the east of the Hudson River sometime before 1649.  On July 14th of that year he appeared as Seyseychkimus, a chief who witnessed the sale of land identified as Wiequaes Keck on the east bank of the Hudson River between the Byram and Mianus Rivers along Long Island Sound (Book GG:323-324).  Five days later, on July 19, 1649, he participated as Seysegeckkimus in the treaty that ended hostilities between the Dutch and unreconciled elements of the Wiechquaeskeck and Raritan groups who did not sign the August 30, 1645 treaty ending the Governor Kieft War (NYHM(4):607-609).  Although not listed as such, it can be inferred that he represented the Remahenonck at these proceedings, as both he and the latter group were the only individuals or groups not assigned leaders or corporate identities in the document.  He subsequently signed a deed to land in northwestern Connecticut as Sasskum on February 15, 1651 (Bolton 1848(1):392) and was mentioned as Sasse in an incomplete manuscript dated March 25, 1652 (NYCM(5):32).  The collective weight of this documentation supports the identification of this man as a Marechkawieeck chief from Brooklyn who moved to the mainland east of the Hudson River following the sale of his land holdings on Long Island.  These data would thus place both Sesekimu and Seyseychkimus in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.  They would also support the possible location of the Remahenonck in the same area.  Together by themselves they would seem to validate Ruttenber's assertion that the Rechgawawanck lived along the east banks of the Hudson River.  Data contained within the May 15, 1664 treaty ending the Esopus Wars seriously challenges this assertion."

Source:  Grumet, Robert Steven, "ON THE IDENTITY OF THE RECHGAWAWANCK" in The Bulletin and Journal of Archaeology for New York State, No. 83, p. 4 (Spring 1982).

Seyseychkimus was consanguineal or blood kin of Mamanuchqua, the prominent female Esopus leader who appeared among sachems representing the Mahicans, Catskills, and Esopus in July 1682 in Albany to hear complaints against them, to renew the famed "Covenant Chain bonds," and to present a beaver pelt "in token of a promise to travel farther westward beyond Maryland and Virginia when again 'going out a hunting beaver.'"  

Source:  Grumet, Robert S., First Manhattans:  A History of the Indians of Greater New York, pp. 128-30p. 130 Figure 4 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2011).

"Mattano tried to manipulate suspicions that divided rival Dutch and English claimants to Indian lands in Brooklyn.  His first efforts to exploit this rivalry in Brooklyn met with limited success.  The Dutch claimed what amounted to nearly all his people's lands on Long Island under the terms of both Tackapousha's broad conveyance of November 13, 1643, and Seyseychkimus's later cancelled September 10, 1645, deed to the most westerly portion of lands within the bounds covered by the 1643 deed.  A small patch in this latter area was also claimed by yet another group of New England exiles led by Lady Deborarh Moody, who settled at Gravesend with Dutch permission during Kieft's War.  After the war, English settlers there secured their claim in a sale, again arranged with Dutch approval, concluded with Seyseychkimus and Mattano's father, Emerus, on November 1, 1650. 31  [Footnote "31" states in part as follows:  "Emerus signed the first state of the November 1, 1650, deed in the GTR Patent Book 1:15 as Arremathanus, perhaps the fullest transcription of his name; later states of the same deed (in GTR Patent Book 1:43, 45, and 47) spell the name as Arremackanus; Seyseychkimus's name is the last in the list of sachems, appearing in the form of Sasham, a variant of Sassian, Seiseis, and other forms documented in transactions concluded on Long Island."].

Source:  Grumet, Robert S., The Munsee Indians:  A History, p. 100 & p. 338 n.31 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).

"Two deeds came out of these get-togethers.  The first, bearing a date of April 13, 1671, gave Bedloe and De Harte title to all land between the Hudson River and Overpeck Creek 'on the north side of the Sir Governor Philip Carteret's' from Hespatingh in present-day Jersey City to Tappan.  The second, finalized on May 19, 1671, gave De Harte a still larger tract taking in all lands north of the April purchase line from Tappan to Haverstraw between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers.  Together, these deeds turned the whole of the Palisades into the property of buyers from New York, who promptly registered their new purchases, written in Dutch, in Manhattan. [Footnote omitted]

As they had in Staten Island a year earlier, New Yorkers had purchased land coyly referred to in both deeds as 'under the jurisdiction of the province of New Jersey,' but not necessarily within its charter borders.  With patience and perhaps some well-placed payoffs, De Harte and Bedloe might use these deeds to help Lovelace extend New York's sovereignty over the desired land.  They certainly seemed to have the support of the Indians.  The list of sachems who signed the deeds for the New Yorkers included leaders from every major Indian community between the lower Hudson and upper Delaware rivers below the Highlands.  The primary signatory was Aroohikan, who identified himself in both documents as a Tappan sachem.  Like Seyseychkimus, whose interest in land at Haverstraw was represented in the May 19, 1671, deed, Aroorhikan was another expatriate from Brooklyn.  New York's faithful ally Pierwim also signed both deeds.  Tomachkapay put his mark on the April 13 conveyance as sachem of Minisink.  Among other signatories were Memshe, Waerhinnis Couwee, and a man  new to colonial records, who had a talent for languages named Towakhachi (Munsee for 'Mudpuppy'). [Footnote omitted]"

Source:  Grumet, Robert S., The Munsee Indians:  A History, p. 126 (Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 2009).


On this day, the date underwritten, appeared before us, the Honorable Lords, the Director-General and Council, Megtegichkama, Oteyochque, and Wegtakochken, the rightful owners of the land located on the east bank of the North River of New Netherland called Wiequaes Keck; extending in breadth through the woods until a stream called Seweyruc [Byram River], with a boundary line running north and south from Greenwich on the East River to a stream called Kechkawes [Mianus River].  This same land is located between the two streams, dissecting the woods between the North and East River, so that the western half remains with the aforesaid owners; while the other eastern half, which is divided by a north-south line through the woods, the aforesaid owners acknowledge in the presence of the chief Seyseykimus and all the remaining friends and blood relatives to have sold the aforesaid parcel of land to the honorable Petrus Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherland, for a certain amount of merchandise, which they acknowledge to have received  and accepted before approval of this document, namely 6 fathoms of duffels, 6 fathoms of seawant; 6 kettles, 6 axes; 6 adzes, 10 knives, 10 awls, 10 corals, 10 bells, 1 gun, 2 staves of lead, 2 lbs. of powder; 2 cloth coats.  

Therefore, the aforesaid owners transfer, cede and convey the aforesaid land to the Lord-General or his successors in true and lawful ownership, renouncing for themselves and their descendants now and forever all claims thereon, and resigning herewith all rights and jurisdiction, transferring it to the aforesaid Lord-General and his successors, to do with as they please, without being molested by them, the conveyors, or anyone of them, whether it be person or property.  It is further agreed that the western most half may be purchased for the same amount as above whenever the Director-General desires to pay for it; and they, the grantors, promise to sell the part still in their possession on the North River for that price and not to sell it to anyone without informing the Director-General.  They further promise to maintain and uphold this conveyance firmly and inviolably under the penalty prescribed by law.  Thus was this signed in the presence of the witnesses below on 14 July 1649 at New Amsterdam in New Netherland.

This is the mark


of Pomipahan, made himself.

This is the mark


of Meytehickhama.
This is the mark


of Wegtakachkey.

This is the mark made by


the chief, Seyseychkimus, as witness."

Source:  Gehring, Charles T., ed. & trans., New York Historical Manuscripts:  Dutch Volumes GG, HH & II Land Papers, pp. 62-63 (Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1980) (Published under the direction of The Holland Society of New York).

For another earlier translation of the same record, see:   

O'Callaghan, E. B., ed., History of New Netherland; Or, New York Under the Dutch, Vol. II, pp. 96-97, n. 1 (NY, NY:  D. Appleton and Company, 1848) (citing "Book of Patents, G. G. 507.").

"What with its hills and dales, once covered with dense woodlands, time was when Ward's Island, on the hither side of Hell Gate, was one of the loveliest spots in America, and it is yet so beautiful as to compel  the praise of all visitors.  It was called Tenkenas when Wouter Van Twiller bought it from the Indian chiefs Heyseys and Numers, and giving it the name of Great Barent's Island, convereted its two hundred and forty acres into a pasturage for his cattle."

Source:  Wilson, Rufus Rockwell, New York:  Old & New - Its Story, Streets, and Landmarks, Vol. II, pp. 354-55 (2d Edition - Philadelphia & London:  J. B. Lippincott Co., 1903).  

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Friday, August 28, 2015

North Pelham Blacksmith James Reilly Was Known as "Honest Jim Reilly" for a Reason

Honest Jim Reilly, who served as President and Mayor of the Village of North Pelham for ten years, was a village blacksmith who became a North Pelham resident whose personality was larger than life.  A political lightning rod, his escapades and deeds were the stuff of legend during the earliest years of the 20th century.  I have written about Honest Jim Reilly on a number of occasions.  See:

Mon., Jun. 08, 2015:  Was "Honest Jim Reilly" Really So Honest? Blacksmith and, Later, Politician in the Village of North Pelham Died in 1937.

Fri., May 22, 2015:  History of Pelham's Beloved "Nott Steamer" Known as "Jim Reilly's Boiler."

Fri., Feb. 27, 2009:  More on the 1906 Village of North Pelham Elections in Which the Village Blacksmith Surprised Republicans and Democrats Alike and Won

Fri., July 8, 2005:  How Did a Village Blacksmith Win the 1906 North Pelham Election by Cornering the Market on Sleighs? 

Wed., Aug. 17, 2005:  More on the Village Blacksmith Who Won the 1906 North Pelham Election by Cornering the Market on Sleighs.

In 1929, long-time North Pelham resident J. Gardiner Minard, a friend of James Reilly, wrote an article for the local newspaper, The Pelham Sun, in which he recounted two fascinating anecdotes, one of which affirmed Honest Jim Reilly's honesty.  Both articles shed light on what North Pellham and Pelham Heights were like when horses ruled the roads and the local blacksmith was essential to functioning local transportation. 

Honest Jim Reilly at the Age of 72 in 1935.
The Pelham Sun, Dec. 6, 1935, Vol. 26, No. 35,
Second Section, p. 1, cols. 3-5.
NOTE: Click Image To Enlarge.

Immediately below is J. Gardiner Minard's entertaining article, followed by a citation and link to its source.  

Another Story Of Early Pelham.  How An Unscrupulous Coachman Attempted To Use the Village Blacksmith To Further His Own Financial End, But He Reckoned Without Reilly
By J. Gardiner Minard

Last month I told the story of the fire department snap harness and how George P. Robbins of Pelham Heights contributed $25 towards its purchase.  Mr. Robbins lived in the large residence which is now the Cole apartment on Pelhamdale avenue, near First street, Pelham Heights.

In the rear, which has also been converted into an apartment called the Highbrook Arms, was his immense barn and stables.  He had a string of twleve very fine coach, carriage and saddle horses which were his pride.  His harness room resembled an exhibition with its dazzling rows of single and double sets of brass, nickel and silver mounted harness.  The coach room had open and closed carriages of all descriptions, including a tally-ho.  These skyscrapers on wheels, which had almost disappeared in these parts until recently revived, are practically unknown to the younger generation.  Two or three times a week the residents of Pelhams were aroused by the bugle notes and rushed to windows and doors to view with pride the Robbins family and guests dashing along with their tally-ho drawn by four spirited horses.  Robbins and the coachman were on the front seat and the guests with Mrs. Robbins in the other two seats, while on a step in the rear, was the footman.

This footman's name was Wellman, a short, fat Englishman who was a thypical John Bull in dress as well as stature.  He wore a short top hat, yellow breeches and top boots.  He even wore the mutton chop side whiskers.  It was his duty to toot the horn.

Away they go about the streets of the town and then a spin a few miles to some road house for a meal, after which they would return to Pelham.  Their departure and return was a rival attraction to the fire company responding to an alarm.

The most fashionable event in the county was the annual horse show of the Westchester County elite, which was held at the old fair grounds at White Plains, and the people of Pelham persuaded Mr. Robbins to enter the tally-ho contest.  The Pelhamites were always looking for new worlds to conquer and felt sure Robbins would capture the trophy.  Little did he know that to do this he must compete with such experienced drivers as William K. Vanderbilt, Harry Payne Whitney, Mrs. Kernoghan, Hamilton Fish, Foxhall Keene and Herman Gelrich, but he entered his name.

There was a goodly attendance from Pelham when he entered the arena, but trouble developed.  Scattered all over the place were artificial barriers, fences, gates, trees, hedges, boxes, barrels, etc., and he was expected to worm his horses and trap around them without colliding.  Driving through the streets of the Pelhams was easy, but this was another matter, and after he had knocked down everything in his way he was ordered out of the ring before he could complete the work of demolition.

In concluding with the following anecdote, let the reader banish all thoughts of politics and consider only the moral contained therein.  In those days, James Reilly had a blacksmith and horseshoeing shop on Fifth avenue on the site of the present Westchester and Boston station.  He had a shock of coal black hair and long moustache, neither containing a single gray hair.  It was a hard struggle in those days to pay rent for both hoe and shop and at the same time raise his little family, and he worked often late into the night by the light of a dingy central burner kerosene lamp which was suspended from a brace in the roof.  The price for shoeing a horse all around in those days was $1.50, out of which the coachman expected to receive a quarter for bringing the trade.  It took a lot of shoeing to earn a decent day's pay.

Any blacksmith can nail shoes on a horse, but not all can do it properly.  You have often seen a horse with raw sores on the ankle.  This is caused by the ankles rubbing together and is called 'interfering.'  Improper shoeing is generally the reason for this and the ordinary horseshoer would advise the owner to buy leather boots to prevent the ankles chafing.  You have also seen a horse trotting along the street and heard a constant click, click.  This is called over-reaching and is the shoe on the descending hind foot striking the shoe on the rising front foot.

Now Reilly was more than a horseshoer and blacksmith.  He was a farrier; [NOTE:  "Farrier" is a British term for a formally-trained blacksmith.] and in the old country where he learned the trade, it was first necessary for the apprentice to master the anatomy of a horse's foot, Reilly knew as well what was inside the foot as outside.  He could cut or burn out a corn; treat a thrush; he knew how to trim the frog and how much of the hoof should be removed.  By shifting the weights on the shoes he could stop interfering and over-reaching.  Robbins was very particular about his horses and insisted every one be shod all around each month, regardless the amount of work the animal had done or the condition of the shoes.  As an extra inducement for special attention he paid $2.50 each, or $1 extra for each horse.  This made Robbins a customer that any horse shoer would fight for.  Reilly did all his shoeing.

One summer the Robbins family left for a six weeks' sojourn in Europe.  A month passed and the Robbins family did not put in an appearance at the shop.  Reilly wondered at this but knowing of the absence of the family decided that instructions not to have the horses shod must have been given.

Three days before Robbins was scheduled to return, the footman dressed in the latest style, strutted into the shop.  Reilly was shoeing William Barry's white horse and was holding the rear foot between his knees and rasping the hoof.  'Jim,' he said sharply.  'Robbins will be home on the steamer Saturday and I want you to make out a bill for shoeing the horses last month and when you get the check turn it over to me.'

Reilly looked up from his work and said:  'the horses were not here last month.'

'Never mind; do as I tell you,' replied Wellman impatiently.

Reilly put the horse's foot on the floor and straightened up and, walking up to Wellman said, 'now let's get this thing right; Robbins' horses were not here last month, but you want me to make out a bill for shoeing them all and when Robbins sends me the money, you want me to give it to you?'

'Precisely,' replied Wellman.

'Well, you can go to hell!' exclaimed Reilly.

'All right:  I will take the horses away from here,' replied Wellman angrily.

I was in the shop at the time and told Reilly to see Robbins when he returned and tell hime what had happened, but Reilly replied, 'No; if he wants to hire a thief, let him find out for himself.'

True to his threat, when Robbins returned he informed hi that Reilly was not shoeing the horses properly and was told to take them to some other shop.

Now let us see what followed.  A short time later there came a crash in Wall Street and Robbins' fortune was wiped out.  Mrs. Robbins, who had a fortune of her own, turned it over to him to help wipe out the debts and they lost everything.  About two years later Robbins died, broken in health and spirit. Wellman died soon after and Mrs. Robbins, as brave a little woman as ever lived, gave music lessons on the violin to raise money to support her two children.  If ever a smiling face covered an aching heart, it was here, for she never lost her sunny disposition.  She, took died recently.  But Reilly prospered and since the event has served ten years successively as president and mayor of North Pelham.  Here at least is one instance where honesty paid."

Source:  REILLY AS VILLAGE BLACKSMITH LOVED THAT HONESTY IS BEST POLICY -Another Story Of Early Pelham.  How An Unscrupulous Coachman Attempted To Use the Village Blacksmith To Further His Own Financial End, But He Reckoned Without Reilly, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 26, 1929, p. 12, cols. 1-4.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

More About Anthony Wolf of Wolfs Lane Fame Who Built the Wolf Homestead that Once Stood in Pelhamville

Yesterday I posted a brief article about the Anthony Wolf homestead that once stood in Pelhamville just north of Third Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.  See Wed., Aug. 26, 2015:  Stories About The Old Wolf Homestead in Pelhamville, Told by J. Gardiner Minard.  That article prompted so many emails and private messages asking for more information about Anthony Wolf after whom today's Wolfs Lane is named that I decided to put together a quick article on the subject for today's posting.  

"Anthony Wolf" is the Anglicized version of the name of the man who was born as John Anthony Woolf.  That, of course, begs the question of why today's Wolfs Lane is not named "Woolfs Lane."

We know much about J. Anthony Woolf and his wife, Sarah, because the couple were among the first Mormons in the country to flee persecution and trek across the wilds of North America to arrive in today's Salt Lake City.  They were among the first Mormons to make that trek and to establish the settlement that became the center of the Latter Day Saints movement founded by Joseph Smith.  

John Anthony Woolf was born July 31, 1805 in Westchester County, New York.  He was the eighth child of John Anthony Woolf (b. 1761; d. 1829 and also known as "Anthony") and Phoebe Weeks (b. 1765; d. ?, sometimes "Phebe").  John Anthony Woolf Sr. was a naturalized American citizen who arrived in America for service among the German troops who fought for Great Britain during the Revolutionary War.  After the war, John Anthony Woolf Sr. became an extensive landowner and a farmer in Westchester County.  

Although little is known about John Anthony Woolf's early years, in addition to learning to farm he also was taught a trade.  He became a skilled shoemaker who served the "well-to-do in the city of New York."  At the age of 26, on April 30, 1831, he married Sarah Ann DeVoe of Westchester County, a daughter of John DeVoe Jr. (b. 1778; d. 1864) and Sarah Weeks (b. 1781; d. 1864), both of Pelham, New York.  

John Anthony Woolf After Whom Today's
Wolfs Lane in the Town of Pelham is Named.
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Sarah Ann DeVoe Woolf, Wife of John
Anthony Woolf After Whom Today's
Wolfs Lane in the Town of Pelham is Named.
NOTE:  Click Image To Enlarge.

It is not known with certainty when John Anthony Woolf and Sarah Ann DeVoe Woolf moved to Pelham.  Nor is it known when they built their house that became known as the Wolf Homestead.  Genealogical information regarding the birth of their children, however, indicate that the couple lived in Pelham at least as early as 1832.  It seems likely that at least shortly before the birth of their first child, Absalom, on February 4, 1832 at Pelham, the couple was ensconced in the newly-constructed Wolf Homestead.  

Wolf Homestead in an Undated Photograph.
Photograph Courtesy of The Office of The Historian
of the Town of Pelham. NOTE: Click Image to Enlarge.

It is hard to imagine today what it was like when the couple first built and moved into the Wolf Homestead.  It was, in effect, in the middle of nowhere.  The railroad had not yet been built through Pelham.  That came in 1851.  No streets had yet been laid out anywhere in today's Village of Pelham or today's Pelham Heights.  Indeed, the closest roadway was the winding dirt road known as the Old Boston Post Road (today's Colonial Avenue).  There were no other residences or structures in the area that became Pelhamville.  

There was, however, a winding dirt path that extended from the Boston Turnpike (today's Boston Post Road) and ran parallel to and inland from the Hutchinson River.  The path was ancient; it was carved by local Native Americans well before Thomas Pell acquired the region from local Native Americans.  As John Anthony Woolf traversed that little pathway back and forth over the years, it became today's Wolfs Lane and a portion of today's Fifth Avenue extending from the Boston Turnpike to the Wolf farmhouse.  

A map published in 1853, two years after the coming of the railroad and shortly after some roads had been laid out and residences built as part of the efforts to develop and sell lots in Pelhamville, shows the Wolf Homestead.  In the detail from the map that appears immediately below, the Wolf Homestead is the structure depicted between the letters "M" and "V" in the word "PELHAMVILLE."

Detail from 1853 Map Showing Pelhamville.
Source: M. Dripps & R. F. O. Conner, Southern
Part of West-Chester County N. Y. (1853).

John Anthony Woolf in An Undated Photograph.
Caption:  "Born July 31, 1805.  Came to Utah
Oct. 6, 1847, Edward Hunter Company.  Pres. of
Seventies.  Bishop's Counselor, Farmer and Stockraiser."
Source:  Esshom, Frank, PIONEERS AND PROMINENT
UT:  Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913).

In 1841, John Anthony Woolf and his wife joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Sarah was baptized by James G. Devine on May 20, 1841.  Anthony was baptized two months later by C. Wesley Wardle on July 20, 1841.  Anthony soon became president of the church branch in New Rochelle.  According to one biographer:

"John and Sarah Ann both possessed a deep religious feeling, and investigated the beliefs of the different denominations. In the year 1834, 2 Mormon Elders visited the locality in which they lived and after hearing them preach, Sarah Ann joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was baptized 20 May 1841 by James G. Devine, John Anthony often praised her for having seen the light about a year before he did. Sarah Ann never tired of telling how she had met the Elders and how thankful she was that they had found her. John was baptized by C. Wesley Wardle on July 20, 1841, and in 1842 he was made President of the branch of New Rochelle, New York. During the time they lived in New York they had six children as follows: Absalom, Sarah Ann, James, Hannah Eliza, Isaac, and John Anthony II."

In 1843, John and Sarah packed up their family, joined with other members of their Church and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, traveling by canal boat, river steamboat and wagon to get there.  The group traveled to Nauvoo to join with Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement.  They purchased a farm near Smith's home.  According to another biographer who has studied the couple's lives:

"The Woolf Family arrived in Nauvoo in the spring of 1843. 'Nauvoo the Beautiful,' or 'Nauvoo, the City of the Saints' was the home of the prophet Joseph Smith; it was already the largest city in Illinois and rapidly growing–a city where righteousness was to abound, and the blessings of the Lord were to be made manifest in abundance. Missionaries were going out and missionaries were returning. Saints were arriving from England and from the Eastern States. The temple was under construction, and new organizations were being formed as needed to perform the functions of a rapidly-growing church and a rapidly-growing city. There was much for the Woolf family to do. A temporary home must be found, a farm purchased and cultivated, new contacts and acquaintances made, and church work done. All this fortunately left little time for John and Sarah Ann to brook over the dear friends and scenes of childhood they had left far behind or to nurse the deep hurt in their hearts over the estrangement that had sprung up between them and their beloved close relatives on the occasion of their joining the church of their choice. 

The spring of 1843 found Nauvoo in perhaps its most enjoyable era. The efforts of the Missourians to harass the Saints in Illinois had borne little fruit, and the Illinois persecutions had not yet matured. John Anthony purchased a lovely farm 2 miles east of the city, thus preserving the pattern of a rural home, but near a city where its commercial and cultural advantages could be obtained. What pleased John and Sarah even more was the fact that their farm adjoined that of the Prophet Joseph, with whom they became intimately acquainted and whose humanity, simplicity, and intelligence as a friend seemed wholly compatible with his profile as a prophet."

Within a short time, the so-called "Illinois Persecution" of the Mormons began.  "The Prophet," Joseph Smith, was murdered in Illinois on June 27, 1844.  The persecuted Mormons, including J. Anthony Woolf and Sarah Ann DeVoe Woolf, began fleeing Nauvoo and trekked across the continent.  The couple, traveling with the Edmund Hunter Company, arrived in Salt Lake City on October 6, 1847.  

According to another biographer of the couple:

"John built an adobe house in the old fort to house his family, and assisted others with their building. They survived the winter by eating the oxen that had pulled their belongings across the plains. They remained in Salt Lake 5 years, after which time they were called by Brigham Young to help settle Iron Co. In the early spring of 1852, John Anthony left for Iron County, where he planted crops and built a house. Due to pests and other adverse conditions, he harvested only 44 bushels of grain. Nevertheless, he returned to Salt Lake for his family in the autumn. At an early encampment on the Jordan River on the return journey with his family, thieves drove away their cattle. So much time was lost in finding and retrieving them that is was impossible to reach Iron Co. Before the winter storms, so John built a house for the winter on the Provo River. But now Indian trouble broke out; Indians stole most of the cattle and sheep. On advice from others, John moved his family to Nephi, returning only to tear down his house, which the Indians were using as a cover from which to shoot at passerby. 

John Anthony built a new home for his family within the fort in Nephi and lived there during the years 1856-60 inclusive. Indian troubles and drought sapped their strength and discounted their efforts. In 1855 John was set apart as a Pres. Of the 19 Quorum of Seventies. While the family was hard-pressed materially, they were blessed spiritually and enjoyed unity and good health. In March 1858, their youngest child, Wallace, was born; he was their 12 . th Because the family was now so large and the material rewards of their labor insufficient to maintain their family (because of Indian trouble, drought, and pests), they moved North in 1861 to Cache Valley, settling in the community which became known as Hyde Park, named after its first bishop and leading citizen, William Hyde. There was virgin land here, a plentiful water supply, and while there were some Indian problems, they were less consuming of the settlers’ time 

John Anthony and Sara Ann started all over again, as they had done so many times before, to build a home for themselves and their children. It was now just 20 years since they had joined the Church in New York. They were 20 years older and 20 years wiser, poorer in goods of this earth but blessed with a family of healthy, able and obedient children. Herein was their treasure. Because of the children, the Lord had not let them labor those 20 years in vain. 

Farming requires back-breaking labor even on a cultivated farm. It is much more difficult on a new farm where sagebrush has to be removed, fences built to keep the owner’s cattle in and stray cattle out, ditches surveyed and excavated, head gates installed, the land plowed, leveled, cultivated, seeded and irrigated. A farm house has to be built, corrals made, barns and sheds erected and a garden plot prepared and seeded. John and Sarah Ann, with their children, some of whom were now old enough and experienced enough to help, faced this colossal task with courage and with as much vigor as their age would permit. Within a few years, they had another home, a flowing well, barns, pens and pastures, horses and cattle. John introduced a new breed of horses into the community known as the Woolf Stock, a medium-sized horse of great strength and good action what was ideal as an all purpose horse on western farms and ranches. 

The family was expert and ingenious in making the most of what could be raised on the land or be had in the local area. They made soap and lye from wood ashes, molasses from red beets; they carded and spun wool, and from the yarn made knitted clothing and stockings. From cow and horse hides they made ropes, bridles, harnesses, and, of course, shoes. John was a reliable source of shoes wherever he lived. His granddaughter, Orilla, tells of having many times held a candle for him at night after a hard day’s work while he cut miniature wooden pegs foir tacking on the soles of shoes. They made preserves and jam from berries, from small fruits, and even from vegetables. They maintained a good vegetable cellar and made a smokehouse, where they could smoke dry meats. By their ingenuity and labor they always seemed to manage to have some food on hand. The needy were never turned away empty-handed. Their house was a beehive of activity and a gathering place for their children and their children’s friends. 

John was spared to enjoy his new home for 20 years. He died 7 Nov. 1881 at 76 years–50 years after his marriage, and 40 years after joining the church. Sarah Ann lived to age oif 90. She passed away 19 March 1905."

Grave Site with Head Stones of Sarah Ann DeVoe Woolf
and John Anthony Woolf Located in Hyde Park Cemetery,
Cache County, Utah, Plot at Section 3, Row 6, Position 3.
Photograph by Linda Ames, 2009.  Source:  FindAGrave.com.

Much has been written about J. Anthony Woolf and Sarah Ann DeVoe Woolf, after whom today's Wolfs Lane in Pelham is named.  Below is a transcription of a brief biography of J. Anthony Woolf as well as links to additional resources regarding the couple.

*          *          *          *          *

"WOOLF, JOHN ANTHONY (son of John Anthony Woolf and Phoebe Weeks of Westchester County, N.Y.).  Born July 31, 1805.  Came to Utah Oct. 6, 1847, Edward Hunter company.  

Married Sarah Ann Devoe 1831 in Westchester county, N. Y. (daughter of John Devoe and Sarah Weeks of Pelham, Westchester county).  She was born April 10, 1814 and came to Utah with husband.  Their children:  Absalom, m. Harriet Wood, m. Lucy Hamitlon; Sarah Ann, m. Homer Brown; James, m. Malinda Bradley, m. Emma Hurren; Hannah Eliza, m Homer Brown; Isaac, m. Ellen M. Hyde, m. Melissa Ashcraft; John Anthony, m. Mary Lucretia Hyde, m. Celia Ann Hatch; Andrew; William Henry, died; Phoebe Elizabeth, m. William Gibson; Harriet, m. William Gibson; Homer, m. Lolla Bates; Wallace, died.  Family resided Salt Lake City, Mona, Nephi and Hyde Park, Utah.

Married Mary Ann Atkins in 1872, Salt Lake City (daughter of William Atkins and Lucy Heert), who was born Dec. 20 1815, Hockley, Essex, Eng.  Came to Utah Sept. 26, 1862, James Wareham company.

Member 49th quorum seventies; counselor to Bishop William Hyde of Hyde Park; president of branch in New Rochelle, N. Y., in 1842; ordained president 49th quorum of seventies of Nephi 1855.  Justice of peace Hyde Park, Utah.  Farmer and stockraiser.  Died Nov. 7, 1881, Hyde Park."

Source:  Esshom, Frank, PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN OF UTAH COMPRISING PHOTOGRAPHS - GENEALOGIES - BIOGRAPHIESp. 96 (Salt Lake City, UT:  Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913).

For additional reading, see:

Woolf Family History:  John Anthony Woolf Jr. and Sarah Ann DeVoe (visited Aug. 26, 2015).

FindAGrave.com - John Anthony Woolf, I (visited Aug. 26, 2015).

FindAGrave.com - Ann Devoe Woolf (visited Aug. 26, 2015).

WOOLF JOHN ANTHONY 1805-1881 MS 7028 Church Historical Department - Brigham Young University (visited Aug. 26, 2015).

Biography of JOHN ANTHONY WOOLF JR. Typed by Kathleen J. Woolf Oct. 2002 - Brigham Young University (visited Aug. 26, 2015).

Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak." 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stories About The Old Wolf Homestead in Pelhamville, Told by J. Gardiner Minard

For many years there stood in Pelhamville a house built by Anthony Wolf.  It stood on the north side of Third Street between today's Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.  The home was said by many to be the oldest home in the Village of North Pelham.  It stood along a dirt pathway barely wide enough for a single horse and cart.  That simple, unpaved roadway followed a pathway once carved into the countryside by local Native Americans that ran parallel to the Hutchinson River.  The pathway extended from the Boston Turnpike (today's Boston Post Road) all the way to the little house built by Anthony Wolf.  Today we know that little country lane as Wolfs Lane and Fifth Avenue.  

In about 1898, Henry Straehle, Sr. and his wife took possession of the Anthony Wolf home.  They redesigned the interior and converted the home into a boarding house.  Henry Straehle also installed bottling equipment and, later, refrigeration equipment in the basement.  He operated a soda bottling business from the basement for about a decade.  Straehle sold and delivered his bottled sodas along a route that covered mostly City Island and Mount Vernon, although he had some soda bottling business customers in Pelham.  I have written about Henry Straehle, Sr. and his bottling business before.  See Fri., Jul. 11, 2014:  Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries.

Anthony Wolf Farmhouse in an Undated Photograph.
Photograph Courtesy of The Office of The Historian
of the Town of Pelham.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

In 1908 or 1909 (J. Gardiner Minard believes it was 1909), the Wolf homestead was moved to make way for the Fifth Avenue Station and the tracks of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway that once passed through the Village of North Pelham.  The home was moved around the block to 210 Sixth Avenue.

J. Gardiner Minard was a former Pelham newspaperman who became one of the oldest residents of the Village of North Pelham.  He once boarded at the Wolf Homestead while it was operated by Mrs. Straehle as a boarding house.  Periodically Minard wrote about his reminiscences of Pelhamville and the early days of the Village of North Pelham.  In 1938 and 1939, he published in The Pelham Sun a three-part series in which he recounted anecdotes about the old Anthony Wolf Homestead.  The text of each of those three articles, followed by citations and links to their sources, appear immediately below.


In another column of The Pelham Sun is a legal ad that will probably be noticed by about one reader in a hundred; and about one in ten of those will read it through with interest.  It is a foreclosure sale of the house and lot on the east side of Sixth avenue between Fourth and Third streets.  More properly it may be identified as 210 Sixth avenue.  It is the Wolf homestead.  The oldest house in North Pelham, it stood originally on an acre of ground on the north side of Third street from Fifth to Sixth avenues.  In 1909 the property was sold to the new Boston and Westchester and the house moved to its present location.  The house has a peculiar interest to me for it was the house that I gave as my home when I enlisted in 1917 and it so appears in my enlistment papers.

But here is another story; in 1908 on a bright June morning I was seated on the front porch when my attention was attracted by a short, stout man:  almost bald, with ruddy face and snow white moustache.  He was coming up the driveway, his eyes sweeping the entire front of the building and smiling broadly.  He greeted me cordially and said:

'I am Andy Wolf; the last of the tribe.  I was born in this house and a short time ago a notion occurred to me to find out whether the house was still standing and, if so, to see it once more before I die.  I wrote a friend to that effect and he replied that the house was still standing so I have come all the way from California to see it.'

I called Mrs. Straehle who gave him a hearty greeting and after explaining that she was very busy, asked me to show him over the house.  We first went down the stone steps to the basement and his eyes danced with joy as he identified the flat slabs of sandstone with which the areaway was paved and remarked that his father laid those stones.  He chuckled upon entering the kitchen in the basement and remarked that his family also had used the basement for a kitchen but the wood burner had given way to a coal range and there was no hot water boiler then.  We entered the cellar but he was not so sure of himself as now it was filled with bottling machinery and and a big ice box had been built there; but he showed some excitement when he pointed to the girder and floor beams overhead which showed the marks of the adz.  These timbers, he explained, were all hewn by hand from trees felled on the spot.  We now went up the same cellar stairs that he had ascended as a child and he again registered joy as he found the dining room unchanged and the old fireplace still there.  The pantry was now Mr. Straehle's office.  

His eyes glistened as he stood in his old bedroom which had not been divided into two rooms, as were two other bedrooms.  We now went down to the front door and first opened the two glass doors in the panels and pointed to the iron grill covering it from the outside.  This, he explained, was for the purpose of identifying anyone who came knocking at the door at night.  You carried the lamp to the door and opened one of these little doors and asked the caller to come close so you could see who he was.  Again he registered happiness when he beheld the old original door bell.  You pulled a handle and it drew a wire and started the bell on the end of a spiral spring jingling.  Again and again he pulled the knob and told how as a child he liked to ring it and was often scolded for it.

He stood on the porch and waved his hand toward Lather's woods (Pelhamwood) and said 'The woods extended right down to the river.  My father and grandfather cleared it and where all these houses and stores are now was the farm lands and pasture.  There was a lane that began at the Boston Turnpike and came right up to the front door.  I noticed a street sign the other side of the track showing they still call it Wolf's Lane.'

What lucky star directed Andy Wolf to the house in 1908?  A year later he would have found it in a different location and he most certainly would never have derived the same amount of satisfaction."

Source:  Minard, J. Gardiner, THE OLD DAYS By J. GARDINER MINARD, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 4, 1938, p. 10, cols. 6-7.

 Tales of the Old Wolf Homestead No. 2

While cleaning up the pile of rubbish in the pavilion, Jack Pellicci, who was giving me a hand, called out, 'Hey!  What do you call this?' and held in his hand what looked like a cross on a long pole.  At sight of it my memory went back to a mid-Summer day in 1899.  The Straehles had taken possession of the old Wolf homestead in November, 1898.  Directly across the street, where the Boston & Westchester station now stands, was Reilly's blacksmith shop.  Mrs. Straehle came from the County Clare, Ireland, and spoke Gaelic fluently.  Reilly also spoke the language, but as he had no one to converse with for years, he was somewhat rusty in its use.  It did not take him long to discover Mrs. Straehle's familiarity with it and he spent much time there brushing up on his Gaelic.  In those days Reilly's shop was a favorite meeting place for all the famous characters of the 'Pelhamville' era.  

Being a news gatherer, I put in about an hour a day absorbing the village gossip.  A dime spent for a growler of beer was good for a column of news.  Reilly was welding old horseshoes together and showing much enthusiasm over it.  This evoked my curiosity, and when we were alone he confided to me that he was making an old-fashioned Irish pike such as the Irish in olden times used in opposing the attacks of the English soldiers.  It was to be a present for Mrs. Straehle.  He hammered out a spear head and across the shank one side soon had a long narrow axe like blade and on opposite side a hook.  When it was completed he went to Jake Heisser's store where you could buy anything from a pound of butter to a plow.  He purchased a long rake handle which he fitted in the pike head.

Learning from him the approximate time it would be ready for presentation.  I sat with a group in the bar room when Reilly entered with his pike.  Smiling broadly, he glanced about and taking a position in the middle of the floor where all could see, he held it up before Mrs. Straehle who was behind and asked, 'Did you ever see one of those, Mrs. Straehle?'

'I did not, Jim,' she replied.

'You're a fine Irishman,' he growled.  Let me state here that Jim Reilly in those days did not carry an ounce of fat.  He was slightly stoop-shouldered and his hair, eyebrows and flowing moustache were coal black.  Taking a half-squatting position, he held the pike firmly in his hands and with the lethal end up at an angle of 45 degrees, explained that the English soldiers, mounted, were charging the Irish who are afoot.  The glint of battle was in his eye as he watched his victim approach.  With a sudden lunge forward and a sweep of the arms he yelled, 'You take the hook and hook the bridle of his horse and break the reins -- that makes him lose control of the horse.  Now, (another hook in the air and yank) you hook him by the neck and drag him off the horse to the ground.'  Before the astonished soldier was aware just what had happened, Reilly sprang forward and placing a foot on the helpless victim brought the spear down.  'Then you drive the spear through his heart,' he explained.  Reilly now seized the handle with both hands near the end and gave an imaginary tug to withdraw the spear and jumping to one side he made a chop with the axe and said 'then you cut his head off.'

Having finished a good job, he turned in triumph to Mrs. Straehle whose face registered horror.  'And did he kill him, Jim?' she asked.  Reilly regarded her with disgust for a second.  Gentle reader, this is a family paper and I cannot repeat Mr. Reilly's exact words, but they implied that the Englishman was really dead.

*     *     *     *

In the pile of rubbish in the center of the floor I found an Irish blackthorn.  When Reilly completed his first term as Village President, he returned to Ireland, his first visit since coming to this country during the 80's.  Returning, he brought with him a half dozen blackthorns and this one he had presented to Mrs. Straehle.  [NOTE an "Irish Blackthorn" is a wooden walking stick and club or cudgel typically made with a large knob at the top.]  What strikes one forcibly is with all the time, labor, material and expense to which people go to give pleasure to others, the articles become junk when the principals die."

Source:  Minard, J. Gardiner, THE OLD DAYS By J. GARDINER MINARD -- Tales of the Old Wolf Homestead No. 2, The Pelham Sun, May 12, 1939, p. 12, cols. 6-8.  

Tales of the Old Wolf Homestead No. 3

I put a catch on the window of the bedroom at the southwest corner of the upper floor.  To my knowledge there has been no lock on that window in 45 years and I doubt if there ever was one, as no screw marks show.  That window has a little story of its own.  When the Straehle's took possession in 1898, Mrs. Straehle decided to take in boarders and had that room divided so as to increase the number of bedrooms.  The corner room was a spare and the adjoining one was occupied by Henry, Jr., better known as 'Son.'  I often used the spare room.  Straehle established a soda bottling plant in the basement and had two large routes; one in New Rochelle and the other in City Island.  He had a smaller route in Pelham.

During the busy season the bottling machines had to be operated all day.  Son was a pretty good bottler, but he could not be gotten out of bed before noon.  This necessitated the hiring of a bottler.  In vain his father and step-mother tried to get him out of bed in the morning and would appeal to me as to whether they should get a doctor for him inasmuch as they thought he always retired early.  I knew what was the matter but kept it secret.  Son loved to dance and attended dances every night.  He knew just where the next one would be held, whether in New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Tuckahoe, etc.  He would start for bed at night, noisily undress, shake the bed and then quietly get dressed, sneak out that window, creep over the piazza roof and climb down the corner post and away.  After the dance he would return and get in the same way.  When I occupied this room it was necessary for him to pass through.

Around the top of the piazza is a row of heavy wooden fancy ornaments, one over each post.  The one on the corner he would put his arm about in order to swing over the gutter.  One morning while returning, this ornament broke loose and both came tumbling to the ground, hitting the tub of water below for watering the horses and dumping it over him.  He gave a yell that aroused the household.  I explained that he was walking in his sleep.  This satisfied Mrs. Straehle, but when his father could talk to me alone he winked and said, 'It's a good think the Missus didn't smell his breath.'"

Source:  Minard, J. Gardiner, THE OLD DAYS By J. GARDINER MINARD -- Tales of the Old Wolf Homestead No. 3, The Pelham Sun, Jun. 2, 1939, p. 4, cols. 1-2

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