"The King of Pelham" -- Pelham's Most Ornery Bull That Chased Pelhamites and, in the End, Killed His Owner
He was called "The King of Pelham." He was big. He was mean. He was an ornery bull that ruled the pasture located on the property of Colonel Richard Lathers, the property known today as Pelhamwood. The story of The King of Pelham is a tragic one that reminds us of days of yore when large farms dotted the North Pelham countryside.
During the 1890s and the earliest years of the 20th century, Colonel Richard Lathers of New Rochelle owned a 72-acre triangular tract of land in North Pelham that eventually became the development known today as Pelhamwood. He leased a portion of the property to an Irish immigrant named Patrick Walsh who, with his sons, operated a small farm and dairy on the property. Walsh had immigrated to America in about 1850 and, eventually, settled in North Pelham where he and his family operated his dairy farm.
The Walsh family supplied butter, milk, and other dairy products to residents of North Pelham, Pelham Manor, and New Rochelle. The dairy farm included a large pasture and cattle barn. The pasture was enclosed by stone walls and, in some parts, by a wire fence.
Patrick Walsh followed a daily routine. Each morning he opened his cattle barn and drove his cattle into the pasture to graze. Every afternoon he went to the pasture and drove the cattle back to the barn.
The King of Pelham, however, was a different matter. He was so mean and ornery that Patrick Walsh had to keep him chained while in the pasture. Walsh often kept the old bull tethered to a forty-feet long chain for his own protection and that of his family. According to a report in the New-York Tribune published on July 14, 1900, said "the bull had a reputation in the neighborhood for being vicious" and that "it was a menace to the neighborhood."
The reputation of The King of Pelham seems to have been well deserved. For example, on September 4, 1898, Mrs. Frank Dodge of North Pelham and a friend who was visiting her, Miss Edith Fairchild (an actress from New York City) accompanied Frank Dodge to the Pelham Train Station to see him off to New York City. After Mr. Dodge departed on the train for the city, the two women left the train station to return to the Dodge home in North Pelham.
The two women took a shortcut across Winyah Park, the property owned by Colonel Richard Lathers, and entered the pasture. The two women had made it about halfway across the property before they realized that The King of Pelham had snapped his chain and was not tethered.
The bull charged, dragging most of the forty-feet of chain behind him. The women fled for their lives. With the bull gaining on them, they reached a stone boundary wall that was so high, they could not climb it. In a panic, the women ran along the wall with the bull chasing them. As the bull gained on the fleeing women, providence extended its hand.
The bull's chain snagged in bushes, slowing the fearsome charge of The King of Pelham. With the fierce bull only "a few feet" behind them, the two women reached a wire fence. According to one account: "Mrs. Dodge crawled through the fence, ruining her clothing, and Miss Fairchild climbed it with equally bad results . . . in getting off the fence, [she] fell and cut her face."
The women had escaped. Mrs. Dodge promptly fainted and had to be carried to a nearby house where she was revived. Thereafter, she was "confined to her room from nervous prostration."
The King of Pelham certainly had reinforced his reputation as a mean critter. His owner, Patrick Walsh, soon discovered just how mean a critter the ornery old bull actually was.
On the morning of July 13, 1900, farmer Walsh went to his pasture to milk some of his cows. As he neared the old bull, the animal lowered its horns and charged him. Walsh sidestepped the mad bull and took refuge behind a nearby stone wall.
Infuriated with The King of Pelham, farmer Walsh went to the barn, grabbed a pitchfork, and returned to the pasture "to punish the bull." The farmer and his bull began to battle with the bull wielding his horns and the farmer jabbing the animal in the face with his pitchfork. By the time the battle was over, the bull had torn the farmer's pants and the farmer had stabbed the bull in the face with the pitchfork several times until the bull gave up and retired to a distant corner of the pasture. This time, it was the bull who was infuriated.
Later that day, farmer Walsh boasted to neighbors that he had bested the beast in an epic battle and that he had "whipped the bull until it was as tame as a cat." As he boasted, a storm came up and Walsh left in a hurry to get back to the pasture and drive his cattle to the barn for shelter. When Walsh reached the pasture, The King of Pelham was waiting at the gate, angrier than ever. "Fearing trouble," Walsh grabbed the pitchfork again and entered the pasture. According to a rather gruesome account:
"The creature lowered its huge head and made for the farmer with the speed of a train. The farmer tried to keep it off by jabbing it again in the face with the pitchfork, but this time the animal was so maddened that it did not seem to mind it. It kept on coming, and, catching its victim in the back with its horns, tossed him about twenty feet. Mr. Welch [sic] had just risen to his knees, and before he could defend himself the bull was upon him again. There was a cry of agony, and the fight was over. One of the animal's sharp horns had caught the man in the temple and penetrated the brain. Mr. Welch's [sic] nose was also broken. A man on an adjoining farm who saw the fight ran to the pasture. The farmer was dead, and his clothing was saturated with blood."
Walsh left a widow and family. His funeral was held at St. Catharines on July 15, 1900. His sons reportedly killed The King of Pelham, admitting it was a menace to the neighborhood.
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I have written about The King of Pelham on two previous occasions, both of which contain the text of some of the articles referenced in today's posting. See:
Tue., Apr. 06, 2010: Well-Known North Pelham Farmer Patrick Walsh Killed by a Bull in 1900.
Tue., Feb. 12, 2008: He Fought the Bull and the Bull Won: Mad Bull Killed North Pelham Farmer in 1900.
Immediately below is the text of an article referenced above that sheds additional light on the ornery bull known as The King of Pelham.
"TWO WOMEN CHASED BY A BULL.
They Got Through and Over a Wire Fence Just in Time.
MOUNT VERNON, N. Y., Sept. 5. -- Mrs. Frank Dodge of North Pelham and Miss Edith Fairchild of New York, her guest, had an exciting experience with a bull yesterday. They had gone to the railway station to see Mr. Dodge start for New York, and, while walking home, took a short cut through the woods of Winyah Park, the property of Col. Richard Lathers. One portion of this property is let out for pasturage, and among the animals there was the King of Pelham, the property of Patrick Walsh. He had broken his chain.
The two women were halfway across the park when they discovered the bull was not tethered. The bull chased them and they fled, but on reaching the boundary found a high stone wall which they could not climb. They fled along the wall with the bull after them. They say the animal would have caught them had not the chain, about forty feet of which was dragging after the animal, caught in some bushes. As it was, they reached a place where there was a wire fence, only a few feet ahead of the bull.
Mrs. Dodge crawled through the fence, ruining her clothing, and Miss Fairchild climbed it with equally bad results, but in time to escape the bull. Mrs. Dodge fainted and was revived at a near farmhouse. Miss Fairchild, in getting off the fence, fell and cut her face. To-day Mrs. Dodge is confined to her room from nervous prostration."
Source: TWO WOMEN CHASED BY A BULL -- They Got Through and Over a Wire Fence Just in Time, N.Y. Times, Sep. 6, 1898, p. 7, col. 3 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
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Below is the text from a number of articles about the death of Patrick Walsh in addition to those I previously quoted in earlier articles about the incident. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"THE BULL REMEMBERED
And Gored His Enemy To Death When He Got a Chance.
While attempting today to punish an angry bull, Patrick Welch [sic], a well known farmer of North Pelham in Westchester county, was gored to death says an exchange.
This morning when Mr. Welch went to his pasture the bull made for him. It plunged at him with its head lowered, but he avoided it by taking refuge behind a stone wall. He then went to the barn, armed himself with a pitchfork and returned to punish the bull. In the scrimmage that followed the farmer had his trousers torn, but he managed to jab the bull several times in the face and it finally retired to another part of the field.
Mr. Welch afterward told some of his neighbors that he had whipped the bull until it was as tame as a cat. While he was talking a storm came up and the farmer hastened back to the pasture to drive his cows to shelter. He found the bull waiting for him at the gate. Its face was swollen from the wounds inflicted upon it in the morning. When the beast saw the farmer it set up an angry bellowing. Fearing trouble, Mr. Welch again seized the pitchfork. His victory in the morning made him confident and he opened the gate and walked toward the big creature without hesitation. This added to the bull's fury.
The creature lowered its huge head and made for the farmer with the speed of a train. The farmer tried to keep it off by jabbing it again in the face with the pitchfork, but this time the animal was so maddened that it did not seem to mind it. It kept on coming, and catching its victim in the back with its horns tossed him about 20 feet. Mr. Welch had just risen to his knees and before he could defend himself the bull was upon him again. There was a cry of agony and the fight was over. One of the animal's sharp horns had caught the main in the temple and penetrated the brain. Mr. Welch's nose was also broken. A man on an adjoining farm who saw the fight ran to the pasture. The farmer was dead and his clothing was saturated with blood."
Source: THE BULL REMEMBERED -- And Gored His Enemy To Death When He Got a Chance, El Paso Herald [El Paso, TX], Jul. 19, 1900, p. 4, col. 2 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link.).
"KILLED BY A BULL.
North Pelham Farmer Gored to Death by an Enraged Animal Last Night.
Patrick Welsh [sic], 56 [sic] years old, a farmer living at North Pelham, was gored to death by a bull in the yard [sic] of his home last night. For some time past the bull had been very vicious and last evening while Welsh was chastising it, the brute made a dash for him. Welsh grabbed a pitch fork and plunged it into the bull's side [sic].
The brute turned suddenly and before Welsh could get out of the way he was tossed about twenty feet into the air. By this time the bull had become thoroughly enraged. He made a second rush for his victim who had regained his feet. This time the bull thrust one of his horns into Welsh's head, penetrating the brain and he died instantly."
Source: KILLED BY A BULL -- North Pelham Farmer Gored to Death by an Enraged Animal Last Night, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jul. 13, 1900, p. 1, col. 2 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link.).
"GORED TO DEATH BY A BULL.
Farmer Tried To Discipline the Animal and Was Attacked.
MOUNT VERNON, N. Y., July 14. -- Patrick Welsh [sic], fifty-six years old [sic], a farmer living at North Pelham, was gored to death by a bull in the yard [sic] of his home last night. For some time past the bull had been very vicious. Last evening Welsh went into the field and drove the animal into the yard. There he began to chastise it. The brute made for Welsh. Welsh grabbed a pitchfork near the barn door and plunged it into the bull's side [sic]. The brute turned suddenly, and before Farmer Welsh could get out of the way he tossed him about twenty feet into the air. By this time the bull had become enraged. He made a second rush for his victim, who had regained his feet. This time the bull stuck one of his horns in Welsh's head, penetrating the brain. He died instantly. Coroner Benning of Mount Vernon was notified and took charge of the case. Welsh leaves a widow and family."
Source: GORED TO DEATH BY A BULL -- Farmer Tried To Discipline the Animal and Was Attacked, The Scranton Republican [Scranton, PA], Jul. 16, 1900, p. 7, col 5 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link.).
"Gored to Death by a Bull.
New York, July 13. -- Patrick Welch [sic], 56 [sic] years old, a farmer living at North Pelham, was gored to death by a bull in the yard [sic] of his home last night. For some time past the bull had been very vicious and Welch was chastising the brute when the animal stuck one of his horns in Welch's head."
Source: Gored to Death by a Bull, Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester, NY], Jul. 14, 1900, p. 1, col. 6 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link.).