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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Adele Bolton, a Founder of Grace Episcopal Church and Administator of the Priory School for Girls

Adele Bolton was one of the children of Reverend Robert Bolton (1788-1857), founder of Christ Church and builder of the Priory in the Village of Pelham Manor, and his wife, Anne Jay Bolton (1793-1859).  For many years Adele assisted her older sister, Nanette Bolton, with administration of the Priory School for Girls that operated in the Priory for nearly forty years during the mid-19th century.  

Adele was born in Hennley-on-the-Thames, England in about 1830.  Before the age of six, she and her family came to this country and settled briefly on a farm in today's Village of Bronxville.  In about 1838, her father and members of the Bolton family began building the family home in today's Pelham Manor, naming it the Priory.  

Reverend Robert Bolton's efforts to educate his children in the family home evolved into an institution to educate young women that became known as the Priory School for Girls.  At first Adele Bolton was educated in the institution that her father founded.  Later, she joined her sister Nanette (who became the headmistress of the school) in the administration of the institution.  

By all accounts Adele Bolton was a gentle, patient, and pious woman.  She became very involved in the religious work of Christ Church, founded by her father on a plot of land adjacent to the Priory estate donated to the church by her father.   

As a young woman during the mid-19th century, Adele Bolton became involved in missionary work and established a mission of the church on City Island in the Town of Pelham which, at the time, had no church.  According to tradition, perhaps as early as 1849, Adele Bolton began rowing a little boat across the waters off Rodman's Neck to City Island to bring the Gospel to inhabitants of City Island.  Cornelius Winter Bolton, one of Adele's brothers, preached when he could to the City Islanders.  Soon, Adele began traversing back and forth between her mission work on City Island and the Priory on the mainland, often traveling by the rope-drawn ferry boat operating in the years before the first City Island Bridge opened.  

Adele nurtured the mission and guided its evolution into Grace Episcopal Church to serve the residents of City Island.  Indeed, in 1862 the Reverend M. M. Dillon, then pastor of Christ Church, reported that "a church is in the process of erection" on City Island (its total cost being $3,000, including contributions from the "young ladies of Pelham Priory" and City Island residents and $944 collected by Adele Bolton herself).  The church, of course, was Grace Episcopal Church.  I have written about Adele Bolton's efforts in this regard on a number of occasions.  See:

Thu., Oct. 02, 2014:  Brief History of Grace Church on City Island in the Town of Pelham Published in 1886.

Fri., Apr. 04, 2014:  Death During Evening Service: The Shocking Death of Rev. Joshua Morsell of Grace Episcopal Church in the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 5, 2007:  The Early Years of Grace Church, City Island -- Once a Church in Pelham

Once the Bolton family sold the Priory and family members dispersed and died, Adele moved from Pelham to New Rochelle.  She continued with charitable work for as long as her health permitted.  On Tuesday, January 24, 1911, Adele Bolton died in her home located t 220 Pelham Road, New Rochelle.  Her funeral service was held in Christ Church on Saturday, January 27, 1911.  She was buried in Beechwoods Cemetery in New Rochelle the same day.  

After her death, the congregation of Grace Episcopal Church on City Island dedicated a marble memorial tablet inscribed in gold in her honor on April 25, 1912.  It was installed on a wall of the church where it remains today.  It reads:  

JANUARY 24, 1911.

Adele Bolton in an Undated Nineteenth Century Photograph.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Memorial Tablet Dedicated to Memory of Adele Bolton
Installed on Wall Within Grace Episcopal Church, City Island.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Before her death, Adele Bolton became the owner of a number of valuable paintings from the Bolton family collection once displayed in the Priory.  For example, she became the owner of a famous painting of John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress, by an artist named Limner painted in about 1692 and that once hung in the Priory.  She also was the owner of a valuable painting referenced as "Oval Portrait of a Woman" that once hung in the Priory and purportedly was painted by Thomas Gainsborough.  After her death, the painting became the subject of a dispute that gained widespread attention.  The story regarding the Gainsborough painting is a story for another day -- specifically, tomorrow. . . . . . 

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A 200-Year-Old Painting of the Author of Pilgrim's Progress on Show.

NEW YORK, March 6. -- Thomas Whittaker, the book publisher, has on exhibition in his establishment an original portrait of John Bunyan, which was painted probably two hundred and four years ago.  The picture was first the property of the Rev. George Whitefield, the great preacher, and is now the property of Miss Adele Bolton, of Pelham Priory, West Chester.

This portrait has an interesting history, and is the one from which the various engravings of the author of 'Pilgrim's Progress' have been made.  As to the painting of the picture, Dr. John Brown of Bedford says in his life of Bunyan:  'Charles Doe, 1692, says 'his effigie was cut in copper from an original paint, done to the life by his very good friend, a limner,' ' but who this limner was the writer does not tell.

The portrait is 14 inches long by 14 inches wide, nd is set in the original frame, which was once of gilt, but little of the bright appearance remains today in the time-stained moulding.  The painting, which had become dim from age, was restored in 1890 and is in excellent condition."

Source:  PORTRAIT OF BUNYAN -- A 200-Year-Old Painting of the Author of Pilgrim's Progress on Show, The Topeka State Journal, Mar. 6, 1896, p. 8, col. 5.  


Pelham Manor.  Jan. 25. -- Miss Adele Bolton, daughter of the late Rev. Robert Bolton, of the Bolton Priory, and sister of the late Rev. Cornelius Bolton, who for many years, was rector of the Church of the Redeemer in North Pelham, died last night, in her 81st year, at her home in New Rochelle.  She was the last surviving member of the older generation of the Bolton family living in this country, and is survived by a sister, Miss Frances Georgianna Bolton, who lives in England.  The funeral services will be held from Christ Episcopal church in Pelham Manor, Friday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock, and the interment will be in Beechwood cemetery.  

Miss Bolton formed the Grace Episcopal church on City Island, which grew out of a mission established by her in the early fifties.  For a number of years she went back and forth from Pelham Manor to City Island in a ferryboat, which was pulled between the two points by means of a rope attached to a small craft.  She worked in this mission for some fifteen years.  In 1863 the church was organized and built.  Miss Bolton was an earnest worker in the Episcopal church for a great many years, and was well known in the town of Pelham and in various parts of Westchester county.  

She was born in 1830 in Henley-on-the-Thames and came to this country with her parents, the Rev. Robert and Mrs. Bolton, when she was six years old.  She was educated at the old Bolton Priory, which was established by her father.  She has been living in this locality for 74 years.  Rev. Robert Bolton, the historian, was her brother."

Source:  MISS BOLTON DEAD AT NEW ROCHELLE, The Daily Argus [Mt. Vernon, NY], Jan. 25, 1911, p. 2, col. 2.  


Miss Adele Bolton, daughter of the late Rev. Robert Bolton, who founded the old Bolton Priory at Pelham Manor, and sister of the late Rev. Cornelius Bolton, for many years rector of the Church of the Redeemer, at North Pelham, died last night at Pelham Manor.

She was born in Henley-on-the-Thames, England, in 1830, and when six years old came to this country with her parents.  She was educated in the institution her father founded and at an early age became engaged in religious work.  She formed the present Grace Episcopal Church, in City Island, in the 50's from a mission which then existed there.

The only near relative who survives her is Miss Frances Bolton, a sister, who lives in England.  The funeral will be held in Christ Church, Pelham Manor, to-morrow, at 3:15 p.m.  The burial will be in Beechwood Cemetery."

Source:  MISS ADELE BOLTON, New-York Tribune, Jan. 26, 1911, p. 7, col. 6.  


After a residence of seventy-five years spent mostly in New Rochelle and Pelham, Miss Adele Bolton, daughter of the late Rev. Robert Bolton, who founded the old Bolton Priory, at Pelham Manor, and sister of the late Rev. Cornelius Bolton, for many years rector of the Church of the Redeemer of North Pelham, died Tuesday at her late home, 220 Pelham Road, after a long illness.

Deceased was born in Hennley-on-the-Thames, England, eighty-one years ago, and when only about six years of age came to this country with her parents.  She was educated in the institution that her father founded and at an early age became engaged in religious work.  She was at one time one of the most prominent workers of Christ Church, Pelham, as well as showing much activity in Trinity Church, this city.  Through her efforts the Grace Episcopal Church at City Island was changed from a mission into a church in the fifties.  Miss Bolton was also very active in charitable work while her health permitted.  Her father, Rev. Robert Bolton, was the originator of 'Bolton's History of Westchester County,' [sic] and the work of revising the same was taken up after his death by his brother Rev. C. W. Bolton and completed.  It is considered one of the best histories of the county.  A nephew of the deceased, Lieutenant Edward C. Bolton, who held the position of Military Governor of Bavao, Phillipine [sic] Islands, was killed at that place several years ago by a native.  His body was brought to New Rochelle and buried with military honors in the family plot in Beechwoods Cemetery.

The death of this lady removes one of our most estimable and highly honored residents.

Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon in Christ Church, Pelham, and were largely attended.  The services were conducted by the Rev. A. F. Tenney, rector of that Church.  Burial was made in the family plot in Beechwood Cemetery."

Source:  DEATH OF MISS ADELE BOLTON -- AT AGE OF EIGHTY-ONE SHE PASSES AWAY PEACEFULLY -- WAS SISTER OF THE LATE REV. CORNELIUS BOLTON, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 28, 1911, Vol. 1, No. 43, p. 1, col. 6.  See also OBITUARY -- Miss Adele Bolton, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 28, 1911, Vol. 52, No. 44, p. 8, col. 3. (Essentially the same text).  

"Obituary Notes. . . . 

Miss Adele Bolton died last night at her home, No. 220 Pelham road, New Rochelle, in her eighty-first year.  Her father, the Rev. Mr. Robert Bolton, was the founder of the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor, which he and his brothers [sic] built in 1838.  Miss Bolton was born in Henley on the Thames, England."

Source:  Obituary Notes, New York Herald, Jan. 26, 1911, p. 9, col. 1.  

BOLTON. -- At New Rochelle, N.Y., Jan. 24, 1911, ADELE BOLTON, daughter of Rev. Robert Bolton, of Bolton Priory, Pelham Manor, N.Y., in her 81st year."

Source:  Died -- BOLTON, The Yonkers Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Jan. 26, 1911, p. 8, col. 4.  


Pelham Manor, Jan. 28.  -- Many persons gathered in Christ Episcopal church yesterday afternoon to pay their last tribute of respect to the memory of Miss Adele Bolton, daughter of the late Rev. Robert Bolton of the Bolton Priory, who died at her home in New Rochelle Tuesday night.  The interment was in Beechwood cemetery.  The Episcopal service was observed by the rector of the church, the Rev. Alfred F. Tenney."

Source:  FUNERAL OF MISS BOLTON, The Daily Argus [Mt. Vernon, NY], Jan. 28, 1911, p. p.4, col. 7. 


On April 25th a memorial tablet was consecrated in Grace Church, City Island, to the loving memory of Adele Bolton, originator and founder of the little church and its Sunday School, about 1865.  Rev. Dr. Forbes, present rector, Rev. A. F. Tenney and Rev. C. F. Canedy presided.

Mr. Pell, of Bronxville, delighted all with his music.  Mrs. Abbott, a Sunday School teacher, with Adele Bolton, unveiled the tablet.  Dr. Canedy gave a beautiful address and interesting data of the history of Grace Church and the workers on the Island, who with Adele Bolton, mde the labor possible and under God's blessing a success.

Later refreshments were served at Mr. and Mrs. Abbott's attractive home."

Source:  MEMORIAL CONSECRATED, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 27, 1912, p. 8, col. 1.  

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More on Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, more than 15,400 bottlers operated throughout North America.  According to one expert on antique soda and beer bottles, these 15,400 firms produced more than 29,950 different types of soda and beer bottles with more than 34,725 variants of such bottles.  See von Mechow, Tod, Soda & Beer Bottles of North America (visited Mar. 19, 2016).  The vast majority of such firms were "Mom and Pop" shops in localities like the tiny litte settlement of Pelhamville, New York.  Thus, researching small bottlers can be like researching a local country grocery store or a local drug store that existed for only a few years at a time when records for such businesses were scant and are nearly impossible to find today.

Bottler David Lyon and the Vernon Bottling Works

I have written before about Pelham bottlers.  See Fri., Jul. 11, 2014:  Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries.  Among the bottlers about whom I wrote in that article was David Lyon.  Regarding Lyon, I wrote:  

"David Lyon was a Civil War veteran who lived in Pelham on Third Avenue between Second and Third Streets.  He established the first carbonated beverage establishment in Pelham and named it the "Vernon Bottling Works".  His establishment was in the rear of his residence and was instituted before 1898. It is not now known if this "Vernon Bottling Works" later became the "Vernon Bottling Works" of Mount Vernon or if the Mount Vernon business later used the same name. 

The Lyon family was quite prominent in Pelham in the late 19th century. One Lyon homestead stood at Colonial Avenue and Wolfs Lane.  It stood on the site of the old First Church of Christ which became today's Pelham Public Library.  The first butcher in what is today's Village of Pelham was Frank M. Lyon whose father -- David Lyon of "Vernon Bottling Works" fame -- built a butcher shop adjoining his home on Third Avenue.  See Souvenir Program - Golden Jubilee Celebration of Village of North Pelham Westchester County, New York, p. 17 (Village of North Pelham, Aug. 29, 1946)."

Recently I was able to acquire from an eBay seller for $10 an example of a so-called "Blob Top" soda bottle manufactured by, or for, David Lyon of Pelhamville.  An image of the bottle appears immediately below.

Aquamarine Embossed Blob-Top Soda Bottle.  Embossed
Center Medallion Reads:  "DAVID LYON  REGISTERED
1889  PELHAMVILLE"  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

The bottle, on its face, suggests that David Lyon was a bottler operating in Pelhamville earlier than previously believed.  Although the "REGISTERED 1889" reference does not necessarily establish with certainty that Lyon was operating as a bottler as early as 1889, it certainly is strong circumstantial evidence to that effect.  The bottle further suggests that Lyon operated as a bottler for some period of time before he established the "Vernon Bottling Works" at some time prior to 1898.  

Henry Straehle and Straehle's Bottling Works in the Old Wolf Homestead

As I previously have written, in about 1898, Henry Straehle bought the old Anthony Wolf homestead located at Fifth Avenue and Third Street.  (Wolfs Lane is named after Anthony Wolf and his farm).  Straehle opened a competing bottling business in the old Wolf homestead that he initially named the "Straehle Bottling Co." (occasionally referenced as "Straehle Bottling Works").

The company was billed as "soft drink dispensers."  The office and plant of the firm were in the Wolf homestead with the bottling equipment in the basement of the home.  For some period of time around 1909-1910, Henry Straehle and his wife operated a hotel / boarding house in the structure as well.  Once Straehle opened his competing bottling business, David Lyon apparently threw in the towel and liquidated his business.  It is possible that he sold his bottling business to Mr. Straehle, although that is still somewhat unclear and has not been established.  The only evidence to support this presumption is the reported existence of bottles marked "Straehle & Lyon."

Anthony Wolf Farmhouse in an Undated Photograph, Site of
Straehle's Bottling Works Operated by Henry Straehle in the
Basement of the Home.  Photograph Courtesy of The Office
of the Historian of the Town of Pelham.  NOTE:  Click on
Image to Enlarge.

Recently I located an advertisement for "Straehle's Bottling Works" that sheds interesting new light on Henry Straehle and his bottling business.  An image of the advertisement appears immediately below, followed by a transcription of its text to facilitate search and, thereafter, a discussion of its significance.

1911 Advertisement for "Straehle's Bottling Works, North Pelham, N.Y."
Source:  Straehle's Bottling Works [Advertisement], The Pelham Sun,
Sep. 30, 1911, Vol. 2, No. 26, p. 8, col. 2.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

To facilitate search, the text of the advertisement immediately above reads as follows:

"Straehle's Bottling Works
North Pelham, N.Y.
Dealer in and Manufacturer of
David Mayer Brewing Co.  High Grade Lager Beer, Ale and Porter.
Tel. Call 1647-R Pelham
Works:  6th Ave. and 3rd Street, 
North Pelham."

The Straehle advertisement is significant in several respects.  By 1911, Straehle and his wife had moved the old Wolf homestead from its original site around the corner to 210 Sixth Avenue near Third Street.  (The home was moved to make way for the Fifth Avenue Station and the tracks of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway built in 1910 through the Town of Pelham.)  The 1911 advertisement provides the address of "Straehle's Bottling Works" as "6th Ave. and 3rd St.," thus establishing that Henry Straehle continued to operate his basement bottling works in the old Wolf homestead even after the home was moved from its original location at Fifth Avenue and 3rd Street around the corner to 210 Sixth venue.  

Secondly, the advertisement reaffirms that Henry Straehle was both a dealer and a manufacturer of mineral and carbonated beverages and that he also delivered lager beer, ale, and porter brewed by the David Mayer Brewing Company.  (The David Myer Brewing Company operated from 1882 until 1920.  The brewery was in New York City at 1650 Third Avenue at 168th Street.)


Though researching small 19th century bottles like David Lyon and Henry Straehle is difficult, it is not impossible.  The historic record likely will continue to divulge more of its secrets regarding these two local businesses that once operated in the tiny settlement of Pelhamville and, later, the Village of North Pelham.  

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Photographs of, and More Biographical Information About, Pelham Heights Founder Benjamin L. Fairchild

Benjamin Lewis Fairchild was a principal founder of the area known today as Pelham Heights.  He was instrumental in the development of the neighborhood as well as its incorporation as the smallest village in the State of New York known as the "Village of Pelham."  (That Village merged with the Village of North Pelham in 1975 to become today's Village of Pelham.)

Benjamin L. Fairchild was born in Sweden, New York (part of Monroe County near Rochester) on January 5, 1863.  His father, also named Benjamin, was wounded badly during the Civil War in the Wilderness Campaign.  His father's poor health and financial straits after the war required the family to move to Washington, D.C. where Benjamin L. Fairchild attended the public schools and a business college.  

From 1877 until 1879, Fairchild worked in the draftsman division of the United States Patent Office and then took employment in the draftsman division of the United States Patent Office where he worked from 1877 until 1879.  During the early 1880s, Fairchild attended what then was called the "law department of Columbian University" (now known as George Washington University Law School) and graduated with an LL.M. in 1885.  He was admitted to the Washington, D.C. bar in 1885, but shortly thereafter moved to New York City and was admitted to the New York bar in May, 1886.  He entered the law office of Ewing & Southard in New York City and became a member of the firm in 1887, under the firm name of Ewing, Southard & Fairchild.

On August 28, 1889, Fairchild was a tourist on a trip to Alaska on the Pacific Steamship Company’s steamer “Ancon.”  That day the Ancon cast off from the little village of Loring located on Naha Bay in Alaska.  Within minutes disaster struck. The steamer ran on the rocks nearly amidships.  Within a short while, it broke apart.  Fairchild was among the passengers who scrambled off the stricken vessel onto shore where they later were rescued by a ship named the "George W. Elder."  When Fairchild later developed much of the land that became Pelham Heights, he named several of the streets based on his shipwreck experience:  Ancon Avenue (after the steamship Ancon), Loring Avenue (after the place where the Ancon wrecked), Monterey Avenue (after Monterey, California which he visited on his ill-fated trip), Corona Avenue (after another steamship on the route) and Elderwood Avenue (after the steamer George W. Elder which rescued him and the other passengers of the Ancon).

Fairchild was married in February, 1893 to Miss Anna Crumbie (who died nine years later in 1902).  The couple moved to the Town of Pelham the same year where Fairchild began to assemble tracts of land in the area known today as Pelham Heights.  Shortly after moving to Pelham, Fairchild was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-fourth Congress and served from March 4, 1895 until March 3, 1897.  He lost his seat in the next election to Democrat William L. Ward.

While a member of Congress, Fairchild was instrumental in gaining the incorporation of Pelham Heights as a village.  Although the population of Pelham Heights was too small to permit its incorporation as a village, Congressman Fairchild was instrumental in getting passage of special legislation to authorize incorporation of the tiny little area as the smallest village in the State of New York.  When incorporated in 1896, the village had about twenty residents and only about 14 eligible voters.  

After losing his seat in Congress, resumed the practice of law in New York City.  He later ran for Congress again and was elected to the Sixty-fifth Congress where he served from March 4, 1917 until March 3, 1919.  He lost the seat in the next election but was again elected to the Sixty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1921-March 3, 1923). 

While serving as a member of Congress during the Sixty-seventh Congress, Fairchild married a second time.  He married Elinor Parsons on April 21, 1922, in Washington, D.C. (See photograph taken on day of their marriage below.)

Fairchild yet again lost his Congressional seat in the next election, but was subsequently elected to that Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James V. Ganly.  Fairchild was reelected to the Sixty-ninth Congress and served from November 6, 1923, to March 3, 1927.  He lost the election seeking to return to Congress during the Seventieth Congress and resumed the practice of law in New York City. 

Fairchild died in Pelham on October 25, 1946.  He was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York City.

I have written before about Benjamin Lewis Fairchild.  For a few of the many examples, see:

Mon., Oct. 05, 2015:  A Brief History of the Founding of Pelham Heights, Once the Village of Pelham.

Thu., Jun. 11, 2015:  Two Pelham Brothers Lost Their Only Sons in Eerily-Similar Early Aviation Incidents.  

Thu., May 14, 2015:  When School Board Balked, Pelham Heights Resident Donated a School, Furnishings and Paid Teachers With His Own Money.

Wed., Mar. 11, 2009:  Benjamin L. Fairchild's Congressional Campaign in 1894

Fri., Dec. 7, 2007:  Another Biography of Congressman Benjamin Fairchild of Pelham, a Founder of Pelham Heights

Tue., Aug. 15, 2006:  Another Biography of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights.

Fri., Apr. 22, 2005: Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights -- A Notable Pelham Personage

Bell, Blake A., Pelham and The 1889 Wreck of the Steamship Ancon, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIV, Issue 7, February 18, 2005, p. 10, col. 1.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog publishes a few interesting photographs of Benjamin Lewis Fairchild and transcribes the text of two more biographies of this notable founder of today's Pelham Heights.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

Benjamin Lewis Fairchild in Photograph Published in 1912.
Source:  Smith, Henry T., Westchester County In History Manual
History -- 1683-1912, Vol. II, Plate Between pp. 120-21 (White Plains, NY:
Henry T. Smith, Publisher, 1912).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Benjamin Lewis Fairchild in Photograph Taken on December 31, 1916.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Benjamin Lewis Fairchild and His Wife, Elinor Parsons, in
Photograph Taken on April 21, 1922, the Day of Their Wedding.
U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,
Digital ID npcc.06137.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Benjamin Lewis Fairchild, a former Representative in Congress, was born on January 5, 1863, in Sweden, Monroe County, N. Y., a son of Benjamin and Calista (Schaeffer) Fairchild, and is of English and German descent.  The Fairchilds originally settled in Connecticut at an early period, the family name spreading throughout the country from that point.  The American ancestor on the maternal side came over in Wolfe's army in revolutionary days, settled and married in New York, had one child, a son, who also had but one son, Jacob Schaeffer, the grandfather of Benjamin L. Fairchild.  The latter's father at the outbreak of the Civil War, enlisted as a private and served through the entire war, at the close of which he had suffered the loss of both property and health.  He was severely wounded during the campaign of the Wilderness.  This change in circumstances at the close of the war necessitated the removal of the family to Washington, D.C., where Ben, then two years of age, the youngest of three children, was reared and educated.  At the age of thirteen he had finished the course in the public schools.  For nine years following until 1885 he was employed in Government departments, during which period he completed a business college course.  After graduating from the business college, he entered the law department of Columbian University, graduating in 1885 with the degree of LL.M., having previously received the degree of LL.B.; he then resigned his position in the Treasury Department, and was admitted to the Washington Bar.  

Desiring a broader field he removed to New York in 1885; after spending a year in the office of Henry C. Andrews, he was admitted to the New York State Bar, in May, 1886.  Entering the law office of Ewing & Southard, he became a member of the firm in 1887, under the firm name of Ewing, Southard & Fairchild; General Thomas Ewing, and Hon. Milton I. Southard, the senior members of the firm, being former Representatives in Congress from Ohio; in 1893 Gen. Ewing retired and the firm name became Southard & Fairchild.  Mr. Southard having died, Mr. Fairchild is now alone in his law practice, with offices in New York city.

In 1893 he became a resident of Pelham, in this County, where he yet resides and where he owns a considerable quantity of land.  To him more than to any other person, probably, Pelham owes its present development into a delightful residential section of the County.  Under his immediate supervision home parks were laid out and paved and macadamized streets were constructed, mak- [Page 120 / Page 121] ing the town inviting to people seeking choice country homes near New York city.

In 1893 he was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention; he carried Westchester County, but the Democratic majority in the New York city annexed district was too great to be overcome.

In 1894 he was nominated by his party for Representative in Congress.  Though the district was normally Democratic, he carried it as a Republican by fifty-five hundred majority over a popular opponent, who was elected two years previously by a majority of sixty-five hundred.  His career in Congress reflected honor upon his constituents as well as upon himself, and it was generally regretted when he retired from public life to devote his time solely to his chosen profession.

In the chapter relating to 'Members of Congress,' commencing on page 94, 97-8-9, reference is made to Mr. Fairchild.

Mr. Fairchild's legal practice at present requires all his time, leaving him not even 'spare moments' of relaxation to enjoy the game of politics.  Recently the interests of clients called him to Europe, and frequently he is called to serve his clients in all parts of the country.

He was married in February, 1893, to Miss Anna Crumbie, who died in 1902, daughter of the late James and Ann E. Crumbie, an old New York family, and has one child, a son, Franklin Crumbie Fairchild."

Source:  Smith, Henry T., Westchester County In History Manual and Civil List Past and Present -- County History Towns, Hamlets, Villages and Cities -- Truly This People Can Say, We Have Made History -- 1683-1912, Vol. II, pp. 120-21 (White Plains, NY:  Henry T. Smith, Publisher, 1912).  

"BENJAMIN L. FAIRCHILD, Lawyer and Congressman of 149 Broadway, New York City, was born Jan. 5, 1863, in Sweden, N.Y.  He received the degrees of LL.B. and LL.M. from George Washington University.  He was employed in the Patent Office at Washington, D.C.; and in 1879-85 as a clerk in the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.  He represented the Sixteenth Congressional District of New York in the Fifty-fourth Congress; and was elected a member of the Sixty-fifth Congress from the twenty-fourth district of New York City for the term of 1917-19."

Source:  A Thousand American Men of Mark of To-Day Twentieth Century Edition De Luxe -- Edited From Biographical Works and Original Sources -- The Founders, Makers, and Builders of Our Great Republic -- Progressive Living Men of America Who Have Attained Some Prominence in our Social, Commercial and Industrial Affairsp. 353 (Chicago, IL:  American Men of Mark, 1917).  

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Pelham Heights Really Pulled a Fast One on Pelhamville in 1896 -- Again!

In 1896, United States Congressman Benjamin L. Fairchild was engaged in efforts to develop Pelham Heights as a residential neighborhood.  Congressman Fairchild, together with the few early residents who lived in the Heights at the time, pulled a fast one on the adjacent settlement of Pelhamville.  

The ruse was simple.  During the winter of 1895/1896, a rumor began circulating throughout Pelhamville that the area was about to incorporate as a village as had Pelham Manor only a few years before.  At the time, the area north of the New Haven line railroad tracks, often referenced as Pelhamville, had about six hundred fifty residents and two hundred voters.   The area just south of the New Haven line railroad tracks was being newly-developed and only had about 20 residents. That area was known, informally, as "Pelham Heights" or "The Heights." 

Shortly after the rumors of incorporation began to circulate throughout Pelhamville, two petitions "mysteriously" began circulating throughout Pelhamville to change the name of the United States Post Office to Pelham and to change the name of the New Haven line railroad station to Pelham Station.  Pelhamville residents gladly signed the petitions because, as one article put it, "[r]esidents felt a new pride in their village, as it bore one of the oldest names in Westchester county, and they dreamed of incorporation, and many improvements that would be possible under a village government."  Indeed, Pelhamville residents were proud and happy when word came that both petitions had been granted and both the post office and railroad station would hence be known as "Pelham." 

Pelhamville residents, however, failed to see the train rumbling down the tracks (pun intended).  The tiny little development of "Pelham Heights," led by real estate developer and United States Congressman Benjamin L. Fairchild, stole a march on Pelhamville and incorporated as the "Village of Pelham."  The area did not have enough residents to incorporate as a village under New York law, but Congressman Fairchild was able to secure special legislation to incorporate "the smallest village in the State of New York" and to name it the "Village of Pelham."  Pelhamville residents were shocked and angry. They believed they had been duped.

I have written before about the fast one pulled by Congressman Fairchild and residents of Pelham Heights.  See Tue., Jul. 01, 2014:  Why Do We Call It the Village of Pelham Instead of Pelhamville?  Because We Were Duped!  See also Fri., Apr. 15, 2005: How Pelhamville "Lost" Its Name!  I have not, however, written before about another element of the stunt pulled by Congressman Fairchild and residents of the Heights.

It turns out that despite rumors that had circulated for months that the tiny settlement of Pelhamville planned to incorporate, when Congressman Fairchild and residents of the Heights incorporated the new "Village of Pelham," they made certain that the boundaries of the new village encompassed all property of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company.  Thus, the boundary of the Heights, incorporated as the Village of Pelham, lay north of the tracks of the New Haven line.  This, of course, meant that the valuable properties belonging to the railroad were situated entirely within the new Village of Pelham.  Thus, the railroad would pay property taxes to the new Village of Pelham -- not to Pelhamville (once it incorporated as the new Village of North Pelham).

Pelhamville residents howled when they learned that crafty Congressman Fairchild and the twenty or so residents of Pelham Heights had pulled another fast one at the expense of Pelhamville.  Congressman Fairchild came under intense pressure and quickly promised to secure legislation to re-draw the boundary line as a line dividing the tracks that passed through Pelham into two equal parts with one half in the Village of Pelham and the other half in the Village of North Pelham.

On Wednesday, May 5, 1897, at an adjourned regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Westchester County, the Supervisor of the Town of Pelham, John Shinn, presented a petition to the members of the Board signed by one-half of all the electors (i.e., eligible voters) at the time who resided in Pelham Heights -- a grand total of seven people including three members of the Fairchild family.  The petition is quoted in full immediately below, followed by a transcription of the record of the Board's decision based upon the petition.

"To the Board of Supervisors of the County of Westchester:

Sirs:  We, the undersigned, one-half of the electors resident within the village of Pelham, liable to be assessed for the ordinary and extraordinary expenditure of such village, do hereby petition that all that portion of the territory now included within said village shall be excluded that line northerly of a line commencing at a point at the easterly line of said village, half way between the two centre rails of the tracks of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, thence running westerly half way between said two centre rails and parallel therewith, to the westerly line of said village.  Said property here petitioned contains no electors resident therein, and this petition is executed by one-half the electors resident within said Village of Pelham liable to be assessed, in accordance with Chapter 332 of the Laws of 1897.

Dated Pelham, May 4, 1897.


Mr. Shinn presented the following preamble and resolution:

Whereas, A petition signed by more than one-half of the duly qualified persons residing in the Village of Pelham, Westchester County, N.Y., has been received by this Board in accordance with Chapter 332 of the Laws of 1897, relating to diminishing of the village boundary; now therefore be it

Resolved, In accordance with said petition, that the boundaries of said Village of Pelham be and they are hereby diminished as follows, to wit:  All that part of said village shll be excluded from its boundaries which lies northerly of a line commencing at a point at the easterly line of said village, half way between the two centre rails of the tracks of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad; thence running westerly half way between said two centre rails and parallel therewith, to the westerly line of said village.

The question was taken upon the adoption of the new preamble and resolution, which were declared adopted, a majority of all the members of the Board voting in favor thereof, as follows:

Ayes -- Messrs. Baxter, Bigelow, E.K. Brown, G.H. Brown, Burns, Couch, Dusenberry, Forsyth, Frazier, Gray, Haight, Kear, Lane, Lawrence, Lent, Lewis, Percival, Purdy, Robinson, Ruscoe, Sackett, Schirmer, Secor, See, Shinn, Stewart, Teed, Tompkins, Turner, Whlen and Chairman -- 32.

Nays -- None."

Source:  Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of Westchester County, N.Y., Session of 1897 Together With Proceedings of Adjourned Regular Meetings, Held May 5, May 14, May 24, May 27, May 28, June 5; and Special Meeting July 19, 1897,  pp. 7-9 (White Plains, NY:  Press of the Westchester County Reporter, 1898).  

With the May 5, 1897 decision of the Board of Supervisors, the Village of Pelham (already the smallest village in the State of New York) became even smaller.  Its newly-incorporated neighbor, the Village of North Pelham, was still angry with its new neighbor, but the additional property tax revenue it would receive from the railroad certainly helped ease the pain.

1868 Map of Settlement Known as Pelhamville.
Source: Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity
from Actual Surveys By and Under the Direction
of F.W. Beers, Assisted By A.B. Prindle & Others,
pg. 36 (NY, NY: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1868) (Detail from
Co., N.Y. (With) Pelhamville").  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text from an additional resource related to the subject of today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.


The Assessment Rolls.

The legislation whereby the village receives half of the property of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company within its boundaries, has been completed, and the assessors have included all that part of the railroad on the north side of a line dividing the tracks into two equal parts, in this year's assessment roll.  It will be remembered that when the Village of Pelham was incorporated it contained the entire railroad property.  Ex-Congressman Ben L. Fairchild promised North Pelham however that he would endeavor to have half of it given to the latter village.  Through his efforts this has now been accomplished.  

The Board of Assessors met Saturday night and completed the compiling of the assessment roll.  Some properties have been assessed higher than last year and certain land which formerly came under the head of acreage was assessed as improved."

Source:  PELHAM AND WOODLAWN . . . The Assessment Rolls, The Chronicle [Mt. Vernon, NY], May 21, 1897, p. 3, col. 3.  

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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