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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Little Mothers Aid Association and its Use of Hunter's Mansion on Hunters Island in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

In late 1890 or early 1891, a woman named Alma Calvin Johnson founded a charity based in New York City called The Little Mothers Aid Association.  The charity recognized that there were many young girls in the tenements of New York City who were forced to serve as the principal caregivers for their siblings while their parents toiled away at jobs to make ends meet.  Alma Calvin Johnson founded the charity to allow such tiny caregivers to visit the countryside outside New York City and enjoy a time to play and to celebrate the joys of youth.  

When first created, the charity worked to identify young caregivers, described as "little, bent-backed girls, always with a baby in their arms and half a dozen tugging at their skirts," and to provide them with a day in the country to enjoy being little girls for at least a day during the summer months.  In the early years, the charity focused on young caregivers between the ages of six and twelve years old.  By the last years of the 19th century, the age range was expanded to include young girls as old as fourteen sixteen.  Later, girls as old as sixteen were included and they were given jaunts in the country up to a week long.

By the mid-1890s, the Park Commissioner granted the charity the right to use the old Hunter Mansion in Pelham Bay Park on Hunter's Island and the surrounding estate for the benefit of the "Little Mothers."  The organization named the mansion "Holiday House" and transported girls from New York City on the New Haven Branch Line to Bartow Station from which they were taken by carriage to Hunter's Island.  

The program grew immensely popular.  As young girls who benefited from the charity grew into young women, they formed an alumni "club" the members of which volunteered their time to help with the charity program.  The club was known as "X.L.M." which signified "Ex Little Mothers" and the members referred to themselves as "X.L.M.'s."  The club maintained a "fine large club-room in Holiday House" with weekly meetings on Saturdays for those who could attend.

The July 4, 1897 issue of the New York City newspaper The World contains a fascinating description of a day at Hunter's Mansion for the "Little Mothers."  The account is quoted in its entirety at the end of today's article.  According to the article, more than forty "Little Mothers" gathered at East 129th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan where they boarded a train headed along the Branch Line to Bartow Station.  There were three adult chaperones and a physician to examine the girls.

A special car on the train was reserved for the group.  The railroad carried them for half the usual price to Bartow Station.  Once seated in the railroad car, the adults provided the girls with "a big basket full of bread-and-butter sandwiches and bottle after bottle of delicious milk."  

Upon arrival at Bartow Station and transport to Hunter's Island, the girls were lined up in the great hall of Hunter's Mansion where each child was given a flag.  Accompanied by an adult pianist, the girls then sang a patriotic song, the "Red, White and Blue," and then marched in procession to the dining room of the mansion where they were seated at "long snowy tables" and recited grace.  Following grace, the girls recited the motto of The Little Mothers Aid Association:  

"To do all the good we can,
In every way we can,
In every place we can."

A grand and merry luncheon followed.  As soon as finished, the children were told "they may do just as they please."  The young girls played on swings, rested in hammocks, picked wildflowers, and played in nearby fields.  

At the sound of a horn, the girls returned promptly to the Mansion to prepare for a "sea bath" -- that is, a swim in Long Island Sound.  Each girl was loaned a bathing suit and was examined by the physician "so that no one shall take the ocean bath whose frail little body is not able to stand the shock of the salt, cool water."  The girls then scampered away to the bath houses and then to the water.  The entire time "vegetables, oceans of milk and a delicious rice pudding" were available for the girls to enjoy.  

Once the swimming in Long Island Sound was over, there next was a luscious dinner back in the dining room of the mansion.  According to the account published in The World, the young girls came out of the water "all too reluctantly" to prepare for dinner.

Following dinner, the girls were allowed to play outside again until it was time to gather for the trip home, a "little tired flock" with each member nearly staggering "under her burden of flowers" carried home to remember the day in the country on Hunter's Island.  

Exterior of Front of John Hunter's Mansion on Hunters Island, 1882.
Embedded Image Not Copied to the Historic Pelham Blog so If the
Image is Removed by its Owner or the Link to it is Changed, It Will
No Longer Display Here. Source:  Digital Version of Albumen Print in
Collections of the Museum of the City of New York, No. X2010.11.10134.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text of a number of newspaper articles describing The Little Mothers Aid Association and its use of Hunter's Mansion on Hunter's Island.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

Taken from the Care of Babies in Tenements for a Frolic in the Country.

IN New York's garland of charities there is no fairer blossom than 'The Little Mothers,' which was organized six or seven years ago by Mrs. Alma Calvin Johnson.  Human nature is quick to respond to an appeal so touching as Mrs. Johnson's first prayer for the Little Mothers, who were, as she said, children of the tenements, never having tasted the sweets of childhood themselves -- little girls from six upward, whose whole existence has been one of sombre drudgery.  It is not pleasant to think how long these little children were forgotten, how generations of them have lived and died, never having known the bliss of one careless, childish, happy day.

The Little Mothers' Society, when first organized, was simply intended to give a day once a week to the children whose whole lives are passed in taking care of the younger ones.  They are practically countless -- these little, bent-backed girls, always with a baby in their arms and half a dozen tugging at their skirts.  The scheme prospered, and throughout the long, hot summer once each week the little mothers were gathered together and transported to country fields where they were absolutely free to romp and enjoy themselves for one long, delicious day.

One law alone was enforced in selecting little mothers eligible for Mrs. Johnson's society -- they positively could not bring a baby with them.  Singularly enough, this one provision was the most difficult to enforce.  Mothers of the little mothers could not find a day for the poor little willing slaves -- they begged to bring the babies with them -- but Mrs. Johnson was determined and with the other women interested in the work she labored with the parents until she gained the days of rest for her proteges.

The first of the Little Mothers' excursions for the summer of 1897 took place last week.  At 9 o'clock a troop of happy little maids waited at One Hundred and Twenty-ninth street and Third avenue for the train which was to take them to Holiday House at Bartow on the Sound.  There were forty or more Little Mothers -- such white-faced, undergrown little women as they were -- but oh, so happy!  It was like a song of praise to look at them as they waited eagerly for the steam cars.

Miss Slocum, the head chaperon, was in charge of her joyous band.  Two other chaperones also were on duty.  The society's doctor was there and the Little Mothers clung to her skirts as they answered her various inquiries for the babies of the family.

A special car was reserved for the Little Mothers, who are taken for half the usual price to Bartow, and no sooner were they seated than the fun began.  Miss Slocum produced a big basket full of bread-and-butter sandwiches and bottle after bottle of delicious milk.  The Little Mothers were hungry and drank great draughts of the cool milk with deep-drawn sighs of satisfaction.

Holiday House is  fine old historic mansion, situated on the Sound, about three-quarters of a mile from the station.  It is owned by the city of New York, and with the eighteen acres of ground belonging to it has been donated for the use of the Little Mothers during the summer season.

The first thing the children do when they arrive at Holiday House is to form in procession in the big old hall, each child is given a flag, and Miss Olmstead at the piano strikes the familiar chords of the 'Red, White and Blue.'  The Little Mothers sign with all their mmight and main, and, led by the oldest, they go through a march with much skill and bring up in the dining-room, where luncheon is awaiting them.

The Little Mothers seat themselves at the long snowy tables, the flags are collected, by the chaperons and, with hands devoutly folded, the Little Mothers repeat in unison a most touching grace.  Then Miss Olmstead asks for the Little Mothers' motto and a small, white-faced prematurely old-looking little mite rises and says:

'Our motto is:

'To do all the good we can,
In every way we can,
In every place we can.'

And then there is a clatter and the merriment begins in earnest.

After luncheon the children are told they may do just as they please.  There are swings and hammocks.  The children are enjoined not to be selfish, but there is really no need for the warning.  Nature has no rivals with the Little Mothers, and in a moment they rush away to the fields that are a mass of blooming daisies and buttercups.  For an hour or more these little liberated slaves roll and toss and tumble in the sweet clover and grass.  They hear the sound of the horn and come gayly back to Holiday House, fairly staggering under their flowery burdens.

Now comes a sea bath.  A kind friend has provided suits.  The doctor listens carefully to the heart-beat of each Little Mother, so that no one shall take the ocean bath whose frail little body is not able to stand the shock of the salt, cool water.  All happily pass inspection and scamper away to the bath-houses and then to the water.

There are no swimmers among the little maids, but vegetables, oceans of milk and a delicious rice pudding -- and how the little maids do eat!  

Now comes the substantial dinner of roast beef, original Little Mothers into young women and who come out of the bath all too reluctantly.

After dinner away they go again until time to turn the little tired flock homeward.  Each Little Mother fairly staggers under her burden of flowers and, arriving home, tells of the glorious day at Holiday House to her intimates of the alums for days and weeks after it has become a memory.

On Saturdays Holiday House receives all summer long a deputation from the X., L., M.'s -- in other words, the ex-Little Mothers -- girls who have grown from the original Little Mothers into young women and who have formed the X., L., M. Club.  They have a fine large club-room in Holiday House."

Source:  A DAY WITH THE "LITTLE MOTHERS" -- Taken from the Care of Babies in Tenements for a Frolic in the Country, The World [NY, NY], Jul. 4, 1897, p. 20, cols. 4-6 (paid subscription required to access via this link).  

"The Little Mothers' Party.

The Little Mothers are about to give a party.  With The Little Mothers' Aid Association, they will entertain their friends at Holiday House, Hunter's Island, on Friday afternoon and evening, June 17.  It is to be a mutual benefit party, visitors paying $1 for their tickets.  The Little Mothers provide the entertainment.  Trains on the Harlem Branch of the New Haven Railroad from One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Street and Third Avenue will leave at a quarter before each hour for Bartow and Pelham Manor stations.  Stages and carriages will convey the Little Mothers and their friends to the 'Holiday House.'"

Source:  The Little Mothers' Party, N.Y. Times, Jun. 15, 1898, p. 3, col. 2 (paid subscription required to access via this link).  

Mrs. A. B. Caldwell Tells of the Parks and Pleasant Places.

NEW YORK, July 20, 1898. -- . . . A large stone house on Hunter's Island, which is part of the [Pelham Bay] park, was given by the park commissioners to be used as a holiday house for the 'Little Mothers.'  These are little girls from 6 to 12 years who are kept at home to take care of younger children while their mothers go out to work.  It was my good fortune to be invited to ride up to the island one fine morning to see a delegation come up from the city for a day's outing.  They were  very quiet and subdued lot, prematurely old, and their behavior would do credit to any well-regulated family.  One little girl kept snuffing and snuffing till a chaperone reproved her.  'Oh, but it smells so nice,' she said and she went on snuffing as if to get all the fresh, sweet air she could while there was a chance.  Inquiry revealed the fact that she had been in a cellar and her mother had died of ulcers.  At their headquarters in New York the little mothers are given sewing and cooking lessons, as well as well as other instructions.  This is only one of the innumerable charities for which New York is justly famous. . . ."

Source:  Caldwell, A. B., NEW YORK IN SUMMER -- Mrs. A. B. Caldwell Tells of the Parks and Pleasant Places, The Hutchinson News [Hutchinson, KS], Jul. 26, 1898, p. 6, cols. 3-4 (paid subscription required to access via this link).

"A New Convalescent Home.

The Hunter's Mansion, which in times of peace has done duty as a holiday house for the children known as the Little Mothers yesterday was changed into a convalescent home for the Eighth New York Volunteers.  These soldiers have been the guests of Miss MacVicar of Pelham manor during the vacation of her school, but not being sufficiently recovered to return to their regiment they have become the guests of the Little Mothers Aid Association.  The children who would have spent the next few weeks at the mansion will be otherwise taken care of and provided with amusement."

Source:  A New Convalescent Home, N.Y. Times, Sep. 22, 1898, p. 3, col. 3.  

The Little Mothers of New York.-- At Happy Day Holiday House, on Hunter's Island, Pelham Bay, the Little Mothers of the east side tenements of New York lately celebrated their anniversary of Happy Days.  The celebration took the form of an entertainment, which was attended by a large number of patrons and friends of the Little Mothers' Aid Association.  It was given for the purpose of raising funds to defray the cost of the weekly excursions of Little Mothers to Hunter's Island.  

Little Mothers to the number of about fifty officiated as hostesses, and served refreshments.  Tables were set for luncheon in the dining room, on the wide verandalis and on the lawn, and during the afternoon the guests entertained themselves with boating, lawn tennis, and croquet.  In the evening and entertainment of recitations, songs, &c., was given.

During the rest of the summer, parties of about fifty of these little ones, between the ages of six and fourteen, will weekly enjoy an outing at Holiday House.  Ladies go from tenement to tenement selecting little girls upon whom has devolved the care of the family baby, and arrange that for once in the year, at least, these 'little mothers' shall enjoy the delights of a day in the country and absolute freedom from the care of their little charges, who, during their absence, are cared for by regular nurses, employed by the Little Mothers' Aid Association.

The work of this excellent charity was begun by Mrs. J. H. Johnston at her home, but it soon grew until any friends became interested, and permanent headquarters were established in East Twenty-first Street."

Source:  UNITED STATES NOTES -- The Little Mothers of New York, The Church Weekly [London, England], Jul. 7, 1899, p. 5, col. 4 (paid subsciption required to access via this link).

Little Mothers on Hunter's Island -- The Dignity of Hunter House -- The Man Who Shot the Son of Boswell.

Some scores of children from the tenement districts of New York are occupying, this summer, under the auspices of the organization known as the Little Mothers, one of the most interesting of several historic mansions in Pelham Bay Park.  Fronting the great park highway that leads past Travers Island to Pelham Manor stand two imposing stone gate posts, each bearing in deeply graven letters, the words 'Hunters Island.'  The stonecutter, for some reason, ommitted the sign of the possessive case.  A wooden sign board near one of these gate-posts bears the legend 'Little Mothers' House.'  A drive leads over the bridge connecting Hunter's Island with the mainland, and past the little porter's lodge to the Hunter House, set on the highest  point of the island, and overlooking many miles of sea and shore.

The house is a great gray structure of native granite, with little architectural pretence, and that mainly found in two brick Ionic pillars of questionable taste.  But high set as it is, amid a lawn edged with noble forest trees, and massive as it stands, with high doorway and deeply embrasured windows, it has a peculiar dignity and charm.  Each part of a great double front door has a curious old brass knocker of a pattern still popular fifty years ago, but now seldom seen.

Since Hunter's Island became part of the city's system of parks, the old mansion has had a rapid succession of tenants.  In the days of the man whose family gave name to the island, the house was the scene of a wide hospitality.  James Stuart, the democratic Scotchman who fled to this country in the third decade of the present century after having shot in a duel, the son of James Boswell, Dr. Johnson's biographer says in his book on America that a favorite walk from New Rochelle was that along the shore to Hunter's Island.  Taking that walk himself, Stuart was invited by the hospitable John Hunter to come in and partake of refreshment, aan invitation which he declined, though he afterwards became familiar with the house, and found comparatively little to admire in the Hunter collection of pictures, most of them imported from Europe.  A part of that collection was a portrait of the Hon. Caleb Heathcote, Lord of the Manor of Scarsdale, in the county of West Chester.  Others were works of Poussin and Watteau, men whose paintings were then little known, and rarely seen in America.

The exiled Joseph Bonaparte was a frequent visitor at Hunter's Island, and he offered a large sum for the place before he bought his country seat at Bordentown, a much less lovely estate.  Hunter's Island might well have attracted a deposed King, for it looked and still looks like a little principality, with its varied landscapes in [illegible], its dignified entrance, its private approach, and its own bridge.

When Joseph Bonaparte knew the island it was in the possession of John Hunter, member of Congress, a man of taste and culture, the owner it was then said of 30,000 acres of land in the Catskills.  The island, 250 acres in area, together with a small adjoining tract on the mainland, came to him by purchase.  It was owned in 1743 by Joshua Pell, grandson of John Lord Pell, the most famous grantee of the region.  From the Pells it went to the Hendersons, and from the latter to the Hunters.  It was once called Appleby's Island, from an early owner, and during  the Henderson ownership it was called Henderson's Island.  It was famous for its fishing shores.  A thousand pounds of fish were taken off the coast of the island in a byke net one morning.  

John Hunter was surrounded by a group of interesting neighbors.  Almost opposite his park gates was the residence of Mrs. Elizabeth De Lancy, daughter of Elias Des Brosses Hunter.  Hard by was Bolton Priory, built by the American Boltons upon the model of their ancestral home in Lancashire, England, and furnished in antique fashion.  It still remains one of the most interesting houses in the suburbs of New York.  Just across an armm of the Sound was the house of Elbert Roosevelt, a lineal descendant of the original Roosevelt immigrant.  All of these places were in view from the lofty seat of the Hunter house.

Even the policy of neglect which characterizes the management of the houses within the great parks of New York has not sufficed to destroy the charm of the Hunter house and its surroundings.  The stables and other out-buildings still remain in part, there are the picturesque ruins of a walled garden, the trees, great oks and elms and beeches hve been suffered to grow unharmed of the axe.

A road which the Park Department is even now improving leads along the south western shore of Hunter's Island, and is near the great pasture that stretches down to the water to a bridge and causeway adjoining to Twin Island, a small but beautiful island of wood and rock 

Source:  POOR CHILDREN IN A MANSION -- Little Mothers on Hunter's Island -- The Dignity of Hunter House -- The Man Who Shot the Son of Boswell, The Evening Post [NY, NY], Jul. 29, 1899, p. 18, col. 5.


Through the efforts of Park Commissioner Moebus the Little Mothers' Aid Association has obtained the use of the holiday house on Hunter Island, in Pelham Bay Park, for another summer.  One of the objects of this association is to give the children of the tenements an outing in the country. . . ."

Source:  HARLEM AND THE BRONX, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 31, 1900, p. 12, col. 7 (paid subscription required to access via this link).  

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A lawn party will be given at the Holiday House on Hunter Island, Pelham Bay Park, where the Little Mothers -- the poor city children under 16 years of age who take care of the younger members of the family while the mothers go out to work -- are having an outing, to-morrow afternoon and evening.  Among the attractions will be a concert by the Columbia College Banjo Club and an amusing comedy by the Idle Players, followed by music and dancing. . . ."

Source:  HARLEM AND THE BRONX, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jun. 15, 1900, p. 15, col. 7.

What Is Planned for Pelham Bay in New York.
Commissioner Schmitt Believes the Parks Are Intended to Be Something More Than Merely Places to Look At -- Does Not Take a Sacred View of Lawns -- Condemns Rowdyism at Baseball. . . . 

Closely associated with the broadening of the scope of Pelham Bay Park is the commissioner's turning over of Twin and Hunter Islands for the use of the children of the lower districts of New York under the auspices of the Jacob A. Riis Society and Little Morthers' Society.  To these societies the commissioner says he will extend all the aid he can consistently give.  For children who cannot find accommodations on the two islands tents will be erected, and on Sunday afternoons a band concert is to be given.  Bathing facilities will be steadily expanded as the public needs require them, in accordance with Mr. Schmitt's desire to give everybody a chance for a dip. . . ."

Source:  PARK AS PLAYGROUND -- What Is Planned for Pelham Bay in New York -- MOST COMPLETE IN AMERICA -- Commissioner Schmitt Believes the Parks Are Intended to Be Something More Than Merely Places to Look At -- Does Not Take a Sacred View of Lawns -- Condemns Rowdyism at Baseball, The Washington Post, Sep. 4, 1904, p. 3, cols. 6-7 (paid subscription required to access via this link).  

Two Lost in the Sound -- Four Others and Two Young Men Rescued.

Jeannette Meehan, fifteen years old, of 427 East Seventeenth Street and Katherine Collins, fourteen years old, of 408 East Twentieth Street, two of a party of twenty-five young girls sent to Hunter's Island, in Long Island by the Enterprise Chapter of the Little Mothers' Aid Association of 236 Second Avenue for a week's vacation, were drowned about noon yesterday in the Sound off Hart's Islnd.

Four other girls from the same party and two young men from New Rochelle who had taken them rowing had narrow escapes from a similar fate.  One of the girls, Jennie Flynn, sixteen years old, of 626 East Fourteenth Street was rescued in an unconscious condition, and half an hour's work was necessary to resuscitate her.  The bodies of the drowned were not recovered.  

On Saturday the party went to Hunter's Island for a week's vacation, being sent by the association of which Mrs. Clarence Burns is the President.  William Shaw and Charles Brooks, both of New Rochelle, and friends of many of the vacation party, went over to the island.  They quickly made up a party of six girls and started out in the Sound for a row.  In a narrow, bound-bottomed skiff with Brooks were the Meehan and Collins girls, Jennie Flynn who had such a narrow escape, and Gertrude Willis of 293 High Street and Grace Brown of 516 East Sixteenth Street.  Both boats were of the type known as St. Lawrence skiffs.

At the time of the accident the party was in what is known as 'Middle Ground,' about half wy between Hart's Island and David's Island, on which is Fort Slocum.  The thirty-foot naphtha launch Clytie, with Capt. Castrop in command, was anchored off Hart's Island, about a quarter of a mile away, with a small fishing party on board.

The boats had drifted about two hundred feet apart by the time Capt. Castrop neared them.  He says that he saw one of the girls floating in the water apparently unconscious.  He headed the launch toward her, and as it drew alongside, Edward McGlory of 124 East Eleventh Street reached and grasped her by the hair, just as she was sinking.  This was Jennie Flynn.  She was hauled toward the launch nd placed unconscious in the bottom.  Then Capt. Castrop started toward the skiff, where Gertrude Willis, Mary Smith, Grace Brown, and Brooks and Shaw were taken aboard the Clytie.  

After getting them all on the launch, Capt. Castrop asked if the party was all safe.  He was told everybody was there, and started at full speed for Jordan's Hotel, City Island.  While nering there the rescued got the better of their excitement and fright sufficiently to recall that Jeannette Meehan and Katherine Collins were missing.  Proprietor Jordan said that one of the girls declared that the fault was all due to Brooks having tried to dive from the skiff.  Mr. Jordan said he did not know which one of them it was that made the accusation.

Brooks denied this story, and said that the swell from the Starin Line steamboat Glen Island tipped his skiff over, throwing the four girls and himself into the water, and that the two boats were so close together at the time that the girls in clutching to save themselves caught the side of the skiff in which were Shaw and the other two girls, capsizing it also.  

Afterward Capt. Castrop and Superintendent Prout sent the Clytie all around the scene of the accident in a vain search for the missing bodies."

Source:  "LITTLE MOTHERS" DROWNED -- Two Lost in the Sound -- Four Others and Two Young Men Rescued, N.Y. Times, Sep. 5, 1904, p. 3, col. 4 (paid subscription required to access via this link).  See also Two Young Girls Drowned, The Washington Post, Sep. 5, 1904, p. 1, col. 8 (paid subscription required to access via this link).

Search Being Made To-Day for Bodies of Aid Association Members Who Lost Their Lives Near Glen Island.
Boats Overturned by Swell of Big Ship, and Victims Are Left to Fate -- Four Rescued by Launch.

Efforts are being made to-day to find the bodies of two young girls, members of the Little Mothers' Aid Association, who were drowned by the upsetting of two rowboats in Long Island Sound, near Glen Island.

The drowned girls were Catharine Collins, fourteen, of No. 408 East Twentieth street, and Jeannette Meehan, fifteen, of No. 427 East Seventeenth street.  

Jennie Flynn, sixteen, of No. 626 East Fourteenth street, was rescued from the water in an unconscious condition, and was worked over a full hour before she was revived.

Grace Brown, fifteen, of No. 516 East Sixteenth street; Emma Smith, fifteen, of No. 325 East Twenty-fifth street, and Georgina Willis, sixteen, of No. 293 High street, Brooklyn, were also rescued.

On Their Vacation.

All the girls were members of the Enterprise Chapter of the X. L. M. Club, a branch of the Little Mothers' Aid Association, the headquarters of which is at No. 236 Second avenue, and which maintains a summer home for girls in Pelham Bay Park, on Hunter's Island.  They belonged to a party of forty-one daughters of hard-working mothers living on the east side of the city, who went to the country home last Saturday to enjoy two weeks' rest.  

Near the home is a little pier where two rowboats are kept.  These are of frail build and are built like canoes.  

The girls who met with the accident went to the pier yesterday and were joined by Charles Brooks, twenty-one years old, of No. 238 Main street, and William Shaw, New Rochelle, a friend of one of the girls.  It is said that he persuaded them to go rowing.  Georgina Willis, Emma Smith and Grace Brown were with Brooks, the other girls and Shaw taking the other boat.  

They had reached a point about half a mile from the south end of Glen Island, the two boats being about one hundred feet apart, when the Starin line steamboat Glen Island rounded the point.  

Billows Upset Boat.

Brooks made his boat ride the waves made by the steamer.  The girls in the other boat became frightened and upset it.  

The big billows caught the cockleshell boat broadside, one rolled it completely over, flinging the three girls into the water.  Jeannette Mechan and Shaw, who could swim, caught the upturned boat and assisted their companions to get hold of it.  Meantime the occupants of the other boat became wildly excited.  

Although Brooks made an effort to pull to the rescue of the drowning girls he had not pulled many strokes when his own boat capsized, and the entire party was struggling in the water.

The survivors say the Glen Island steamer's crew made not the slightest effort to rescue them, the boat going on her course, although hundreds of persons on its deck must have seen the catastrophe.

Anchored off Hart Island, a quarter of a mile away, was the naphtha launch Clytie, owned by Henry C. Casprot, of City Island.  Those aboard, members of a fishing party, heard the cries for help, and Captain Casprot weighed anchor and hastened to the scene.  Brooks and Shaw were clinging to the side of the boat, and doing their best to hold up the three girls.  Two girls were holding on to the farther boat, but one girl was floating face downward and apparently unconscious.  

Launch to the Rescue.

The launch was steered to her first, and as it drew alongside Edward McGlory, one of the fishing party, dragged her into the launch.  This was Jennie Flynn, who had been with the two drowned girls in their boat.

Then the Clytie made for the boat to which the others were clinging, and they were rescued.

In the excitement none saw Jennie Meehan and Katie Collins lose their hold on the boat.  The launch sailed around the boat, and the crew made an effort to right it, but no trace of the two girls could be found.

Jennie Flynn was taken to City Island, where Dr. F. E. Lawrence, of Fordham avenue, City Island, and James Prout, head of the life-saving station there, worked over her a full hour before she regained consciousness.  Other survivors of the accident were taken to the Home in Pelham Bay Park.

Jeannette Meehan lived with her widowed mother and elder sister.

At Katie Collins's home only a younger sister remained to keep house."

Source:  TWO YOUNG GIRLS DROWN IN SOUND -- Search Being Made To-Day for Bodies of Aid Association Members Who Lost Their Lives Near Glen Island -- EXCURSION STEAMER UPSETS SKIFFS -- Boats Overturned by Swell of Big Ship, and Victims Are Left to Fate -- Four Rescued by Launch, The Evening World, Sep. 5, 1904, p. 10, col. 7 (paid subscription required to access via this link).   


Afternoon at the Orpheum Hugely Enjoyed by Guests of Mr. Williams.

About thirty-five of the members of the sewing class of the Brooklyn Branch of the Little Mothers Association were the guests of Percy Williams at the Orpheum Theater on Tuesday afternoon.  Attendance at the theater is a very rare treat for these little girls and they enjoyed it hugely.  Colonel Williams of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit sent his personal check to cover the carfare of the children.

It was through a teacher of the class, Mrs. Marguerite Koelsch, that the invitation was extended by Manager Williams.  Mrs. Koelsch also secured quite an amount of cash contributions, which she sent to the home at Christmas time.  She was assisted on Tuesday by Mrs. J. A. Solar of Flatbush.  Cash contributions, clothing, etc., are always acceptable and may be sent to the home, 84 Morton street."

Source:  LITTLE MOTHERS ENTERTAINED -Afternoon at the Orpheum Hugely Enjoyed by Guests of Mr. Williams, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 14, 1912, p. 28, col. 3 (paid subscription required to access via this link).

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I have written about Hunter's Island, also known as Appleby's, Applebee's, and Henderson's Island, John Hunter, Hunter's Mansion, and Hunter family members on numerous occasions.  For thirty three such examples in addition to today's article, see:

Tue., Apr. 12, 2016:  Famed Scotsman James Stuart Visited John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham on November 16, 1829.

Thu., Mar. 10, 2016:  The Auction of the Magnificent Art Collection of John Hunter in January 1866.  

Thu., Feb. 04, 2016:  Did Joseph-NapolĂ©on Bonaparte, Elder Brother of Napoleon and Once King of Spain, Try to Buy Land in Pelham?

Tue., Jan. 26, 2016:  1807 Offer to Lease Alexander Henderson's Farm on Henderson Island in the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jun. 26, 2015:  John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Campaigned for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in 1832.

Tue., May 12, 2015:  The Old Stone House That Stood on Hunter's Island Near John Hunter's Mansion.

Friday, April 17, 2015:  Lawsuit Over the Will of John Hunter of Hunter's Island.

Thu., Mar. 19, 2015:  Article About Hunter's Island Published in 1903.

Tue., Mar. 10, 2015:  Pelham Reacted to Rumors of the Establishment of a Cholera Hospital on Hunter's Island in 1892.

Wed., Jan. 28, 2015:  Pelham Manor Resident Pushed for Removal of the Causeway from Shore Road to Hunter's Island in 1902.

Mon., Jan. 26, 2015:  Hidden Treasure that Once Belonged to the Father of John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Found in a Discarded Chest in the 19th Century.

Mon., Nov. 10, 2014:  Obituaries And Notice of Art Auction Published Upon the Death of John Hunter of Hunter's Island in 1852.

Fri., Oct. 2, 2009:  Failed Efforts in 1900 to Build a Golf Course on Hunter's Island Rather than on the Mainland in Pelham Bay Park.

Thu., Feb. 19, 2009:  The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.

Thu., Jan. 17, 2008:  A Little More Information About John Hunter of Hunter's Island.

Fri., Aug. 17, 2007:   Advertisement Offering Alexander Henderson's Island Estate To Let Published in 1807.

Thu., Aug. 2, 2007:  Biography of Arthur Middleton Hunter of Pelham, A Descendant of John Hunter of Hunter's Island.

Wed., Apr. 11, 2007:  1774 Notice of Public Sale of Applebee's Island, Later Known as Hunter's Island, in the Manor of Pelham.

Fri., Dec. 15, 2006:  References to John Hunter of Pelham Manor in the Papers of President Martin Van Buren.  

Tue., Nov. 21, 2006:  John Hunter Loses a Debate in the State Senate During the Winter of 1841.

Mon., Aug. 28, 2006:  John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Obtained Special Tax Relief in 1826.

Mon., Aug. 14, 2006:  An Early Account of a Visit to Hunter's Island and John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham.

Tue., Aug. 8, 2006:  The 'Old Stone House' on Hunter's Island.

Tue., June 13, 2006:  Sketch Showing Hunters Island Mansion in 1853.

Thu., Apr. 27, 2006:  Burial Place of John Hunter (1778 - 1852) of Hunter's Island.

Thu., Apr. 6, 2006:  Alexander Bampfield Henderson: "Lone Lord of the Isle".

Fri., Mar. 31, 2006:  Text of 1804 Will of Alexander Henderson, Owner of the Island Later Known as Hunter's Island.

Tue., Mar. 14, 2006:  A Potentially Significant Advertisement - Is This Hunter's Island?

Fri., Feb. 24, 2006:  Notice of Settlement of the Estate of Alexander Henderson of Pelham in 1805.

Tue., Jan. 17, 2006:  John Pugsley, An Early Owner of Appleby's Island Later Known as Hunter's Island.

Wed., Dec. 14, 2005:  New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham.

Fri., Dec. 2, 2005:  John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham, New York.

John Hunter of Hunter's Island, Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 42, Oct. 22, 2004, p. 12, col. 1.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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