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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

News Reported by the Pelham Press on February 13, 1897

For a brief time in the late 1890s, Pelham had its first local newspaper named the "Pelham Press."  I have written before of the founding of that little newspaper and have quoted the following account of its creation written by J. Gardiner Minard of the Village of North Pelham:

"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.

Although copies of the Pelham Press no longer exist, The Pelham Sun periodically published the contents of the tiny little newspaper in the late 1920s as a column entitled "Pelham 30 Years Ago."  By republishing the news of the day thirty years previously in such a fashion, The Pelham Sun created a series of tiny, written time capsules that are the only record of certain happenings in Pelham during 1896 and 1897.

In its February 11, 1927 issue, The Pelham Sun published the Pelham Press news of the week ended February 13, 1897.  Much of the news summarized developments relating to the local fire department including election of leaders of the Relief Hook and Ladder Company as well as an upcoming special election of voters to approve the fire fighting budget for the ensuing year.  

The reports also remind us of a simpler time when the ice man made horse-drawn deliveries of large blocks of ice for placement in wooden "ice boxes" in nearly every home, forerunners of modern refrigerators.  The reports mention the ice houses that once stood near First avenue to store harvest of ice blocks cut from the Reservoir.  

The news of Pelham for the week ended February 13, 1897 offers a fascinating and entertaining glimpse of the nature of our Town shortly before the turn of the 20th century.  Below is the news of that week.

(Pelham Press February 13, 1897)

Prof. Van Buskirk of River avenue, North Pelham, for whose benefit a show was given at the town hall last Saturday night, moved with his family to New York City last Monday.


Willis Morse, a young lad living on Loring avenue, Pelham Heights, has placed on sale at Lyman's pharmacy a number of 'Cuba Libre' buttons with a miniature Cuban flag.  The money derived from the sale of them will be devoted to the assistance of the sick and wounded patriots.


The Christian Endeavor Society of the Church of the Covenant held a very enjoyable social at the church on Second avenue last Wednesday evening.


Monday night a party of North Pelham men suddenly decided to have a good time, so they engaged two large sleighs in Mount Vernon for a straw ride; telephoned Thomas McMahon, proprietor of the Neptune house on Shore road for a beefsteak supper and dance.  'Aunt Jane' Burnett of Prospect Hill was asked through a messenger to collect about twenty dancing partners for the men for a dance to follow at the Burnett residence.  A long drive began at 8 o'clock which led through New Rochelle and landed the party at McMahons at 9 o'clock where a fine supper was awaiting.  After eating the party continued to Aunt Jane's where the dancing partners were waiting and dancing was kept up until 2 a.m.  It was unanimously voted a complete success.


At the regular meeting of Relief Hook and Ladder company held at the fire house last Monday, James W. Penny was nominated for chief and Walter Barker was nominated for assistant chief.  Louis Epple was elected a member and William Edinger, who resigned last year was re-elected to membership.


Notices have been posted for a special election of the taxpayers of the first fire district to be held at the fire house next Monday evening to vote upon the following proposition for the maintenance of the department for the ensuing year:  $50 for a new hose rack on which to dry the hose; $50 for premium on the fire insurance policy which is now due; $50 for lighting and heating the fire house; [illegible] for bills now due and overdue, and $75 for running expenses and repairs.


The ice houses on First avenue having been filled with the last big crop from the reservoir and the prospects for another crop good, Lawrence B. Holler has started work on a second building to immediately adjoin the present structure.


The U.S. Senate on February 9th confirmed the reappointment of Mrs. Katherine L. Merritt as postmaster at the Pelham station.  The local station is at present fourth class and the postmaster is dependent upon the number of stamps and postal orders sold for salary, so all residents are urged to buy at the Pelham office.


Both Democrats and Republicans will hold their annual spring primaries for the nomination of town officials next week.


The Pelham Social club has tickets out for a Calico Hop to be given at the court house on February 25.


William H. Cars and family of Sixth avenue and Third street, moved last Monday to the Hiawatha-Evangeline apartments and store on the corner of east Third and Fourth streets, Mt. Vernon.  Mr. Cars also moved all his machinery from the Gurney hall and will re-establish his printery at the new location.  All the labels used by the Fleischmann Yeast company are printed at this plant.  Mr. Cars possesses a patent gum which causes paper to stick to tin foil."

Source:  PELHAM 30 YEARS AGO -- (Pelham Press February 13, 1897), The Pelham Sun, Feb. 11, 1927, p. 11, cols. 1-2.  

Detail of 1910 Map Showing Pelham Reservoir,
Filter Beds, and Area Where Ice Houses Once
Stood.  Source: Bromley, George W.
& Bromley, Walter S., Untitled Map Bounded by
Town of East Chester, City of New Rochelle,
Pelham Station, Clarefmont Avenue and Central
Boulevard in Atlas Of Westchester County, Vol. One,
p. 17 (Philadelphia, PA: G. W. Bromley & Co., 1910).
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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