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, October 07, 2015

The Week that Was in 1896: Pelham Press News of Pelham, November 19, 1896 to November 25, 1896

The year was 1896.  The Town of Pelham was a very different place.  There was, of course, no Internet.  There were no smart phones, radios or televisions.  There were no news anchors, talking heads, video pundits or YouTube stars. Most Americans depended on their neighbors for news.  Those in the know, however, depended on newspapers for news; that is, of course, unless they could afford access to the telephone, telegraph, telegram, or anything else named with the prefix "tele" (much like anything named today as with the prefix "cyber"). . . . . . 

The number of local community newspapers across the United States exploded in the late nineteenth century to feed the insatiable hunger of Americans for news -- any news, not just local news.  Communities as small as the Town of Pelham, bordering New York City with easy access to what were then some of the leading newspapers in the country, hungered for local news not reported in the city papers.

One local paper, about which I have written before, sprang up in Pelham.  It was the "Pelham Press."  The Pelham Press was founded on March 1, 1896.  The manner in which the tiny little newspaper was founded was undoubtedly unique.  According to one account:

"During the winter of 1895-96, the late Mark A. Hanna, chairman of the Republican National Committee was forcing the presidential nomination of Governor William McKinley, of Ohio. There was much opposition to McKinley and Hanna with his millions was purchasing the support of certain newspapers. There lived in Stamford, Conn., a tall old gentlemen [sic] by the name of John T. Trowbridge. He resembled Charles Evan Hughes with his flowing beard. Trowbridge saw that Hanna was proceeding with a very expensive program and getting audience with the political leader unfolded the scheme which brought the Pelham Press into being, as well as several other weekly newspapers along the Long Island Sound shore from the Bronx to Milford, Conn. 

These newspapers were to sponsor the McKinley cause. A representative in each city, town and village would edit his particular sheet. All the papers would be printed alike with the exception of the heads, and subheads on the editorial page. Each group of news would be printed under the heading of the locality where it was to be circulated. The papers were printed in New York City and delivered in the various communities by train. The only expense to the editor was the fifty cents express charges. 

Mr. Trowbridge came to Pelham hoping to establish a link of his chain journalism here. I was recommended for the position as editor and I accepted the very flattering offer. 

It was never intended that these newspapers should survive the election, but the Pelham Press had made its mark and when the time for suspension came, the circulation list was rather substantial, and although I pocketed everything, Trowbridge continued to supply me with papers".

Source:  Minard, J. Gardiner, MANY NEWSPAPERS HAVE ENTERED PELHAM FIELD SINCE PELHAM PRESS WAS PUBLISHED IN 1896, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 5, 1929, p. 9, cols. 1-6. 

Pelham's first printed newspaper, however, had a short life due to the Spanish-American War.  When that war began in 1898, the newspaper's editor, reporter, janitor, and chief bottle-washer, J. Gardiner Minard, "resigned" from all positions to enlist in the infantry to fight in the war.  As Minard put it later, "So the Pelham Press may therefore be regarded as killed in action".  

Almost no copies of the Pelham Press exist.  Pelham is fortunate, however, because its citizens were so interested in history that, for many years well into the 20th century, the successful local newspaper known as The Pelham Sun had a relationship with J. Gardiner Minard and printed the content of a number of his newspapers printed in 1896 and 1897 as "30 Years Ago" stories.  Thus, of course, we have important documentation of portions of the history of our little town.  

One such instance of documentation tells us what happened in Pelham in late November, 1896 that was thought to be important enough to report in the expensive medium of a print publication:  the Pelham Press.  Transcribed below is the news of The Week that Was in 1896:  November 19-25.  The quaint local news printed that week provides a lovely reminder of the tiny rural town that Pelham once was.

(From the Pelham Press, November 25, 1896)

Miss Beula Crewell, daughter of village treasurer and Mrs. Baltis F. Crewell of North Pelham, and Eugene Penfield of Mount Vernon, were married a week ago last Sunday.  The young couple surprised their friends with the announcement this week.  They will reside in New York city.
Wolf's lane is being put in passable condition, a much needed improvement.  First street in Pelham Heights is also being paved by Smith Bros., the local contractors.
Leland T. Powers of Boston, Lectured on the ndw play 'Lord Chumbley,' at the Hazen Seminary for young ladies Monday.

Frank M. Lyon has purchased the [illegible] the Young block, Fifth avenue and Fourth street, and will take possession the first of December, consolidating his present business with Beyel's.  Mr. Beyel will move his family to New York City on that date.

The Baptists will hold a prayer meeting at the chapel. Fourth avenue near Third street, Friday evening.  The Rev. William A. Granger, pastor of the First Baptist church, Mount Vernon, will conduct the meeting.

P.P, de Arozarema of Pelhamdale avenue, Pelham Heights, will raffle a Spanish donkey, 7 years old, two sets of harness, saddle and bridle and donkey cart, at Lyman's drug store tomorrow afternoon.
Benjamin F. Corlies of Pelham Manor, while driving through North Pelham last Friday morning in front of the station, the 8:49 express passed through scaring the horse so that it bolted, throwing the rider.  Mr. Corlies was not badly hurt.  The animal was caught by Hill Allen, coachman for Ralph K. Hubbard, of Loring avenue, Pelham Heights.
Miss Lizzie Morrelly of Third avenue, employed at the Cors Print works, caught her fingers in a paper cutter injuring them badly.  Dr. Walter S. Fleming of Mount Vernon, was called and dressed the wounds.  She will be unable to use the hand for some time.
Dennis A. Walsh cut a deep gash in his hand while trimming a wick for a lamp at the Pelham A.C. headquarters Thursday evening.  He hurried to Lyman''s drut store where the injury was dressed.
Last Thursday the New York police broke up a dangerous gang of thieves who proved to be the ones who have been operating in this section.  One of the men was wearing the hat taken by them from Mr. Bertine of Pelham Manor, when the Pelham man was driving with his daughter on the Split Rock road two weeks ago.  Among the goods recovered was a quantity of loot taken from the Hazen Seminary in Pelham Manor several weeks ago.  Mr. Bertine identified his hat but was unable to identify any of the men.
Mrs. M.A. Bowden, mother of George Bowden, of Ninth avenue, died at her home in New York City last Saturday in her 88th year.  The funeral services were held from her late residence, 361 West Fifty-first street, yesterday.
Last night the town hall was filled with an enthusiastic audience to witness one of the finest plays given here yet.  It was a two-act drama entitled 'Above the Clouds,' and was given under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. I. C. Hill.  The scenery was loaned by Paul Mellon of the Bon Ton Theatre, Jersey City.  Charles C. Kneen was stage manager and Dr. Charles A. Barker was electrician.  The case was as follows:L  Philip Ringold, 'Crazy Phil' (a mountain hermit), I. C. Hill; Alred Thorpe, a city nabob, Chalres Kneen; Amos Gaylord, a country gentleman, Charles Ward:  Howard Gaylord, his son, James Greer:  Titus Turtle, a Gourmand, Elmer Kavanaugh; Curtis Chipman, 'Chips'' in the rought, Bertrand Burnett:  Nat Taylor, Thorp's protege, Elwood Clarke:  Grace Ingalls, a young artist, Miss Ida E. Hill:  Hester Thorne, Gaylord's housekeeper, Mrs. Ezra Daggett:  Susie Gaylord, Gaylord's daughter, Miss Louise Furber; Lucretia Gerrish, 'So Romantic,' Miss Mary E. Jennings:  song (selected), William Williams.  The proceeds will go to the church of the Redeemer."

Source:  PELHAM 30 YEARS AGO (From the Pelham Press, November 25, 1896), The Pelham Sun, Nov. 26, 1926, p. 12, cols. 1-4.  

Pelham Town Hall Where the Two-Act Drama
"Above the Clouds" Was Staged on November
24, 1896.  NOTE:  Click Image To Enlarge.

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

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