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, September 02, 2016

The Pelham Industrial School Established in 1884 by a Daughter of United States Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase

In about 1884, Pelham residents seem to have begun a free "industrial school" initiative for the benefit of local boys and girls.  I have written before about an initiative in 1884 to offer local girls a "Home Garden School" (an early form of Home Economics class) in the Sunday School Room of Christ Church.  The initiative was sponsored by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin and used a "trained teacher from New York City" who taught a large class of young girls every Saturday afternoon "in the details of household work."  See Thu., Mar. 27, 2014:  The "Home Garden School" Hosted by Christ Church in 1884.

With the blessing and cooperation of Reverend Charles Higbee, the Rector of Christ Church at the time, the Home Garden School met in the Sunday School room of Christ Church.  Each student was furnished with a textbook and a "set of miniature household and kitchen furniture."  The young women were taught through "actual manipulation" of the miniature furniture "how to set table, make beds, build fires and such domestic operations in the most approved and scientific manner."  

Recent research has revealed a second, more-extensive initiative to offer free "industrial education" to local boys and girls in Pelham.  Although different sources ascribe different dates of origins for the program, it appears that in early 1884, a local woman named Nettie Hoyt leased a property on Pelham Road in the area once known as DeVeau Town.  DeVeau Town was the area along Pelham Road at Pelham Manor's border with New Rochelle.  Mrs. Hoyt fitted out the property to serve as a small "industrial school" for boys and girls.  

Mrs. Hoyt, a resident of Bartow-on-the-Sound in Pelham, was widely known.  Her full name was Janet ("Nettie") Ralston Chase Hoyt.  She was the youngest daughter of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase.  She was the wife of Mr. W. S. Hoyt and was often referred to as "Mrs. W. S. Hoyt" as was common at the time.   

At the time, public schools did not offer classes in mechanical trades or decorative arts.  Mrs. Hoyt envisioned a charitable free school where boys and girls could be taught such tasks as carpentry, furniture-making, leather preparation, tooling, and stamping, embroidery, silk manufacture from cocoons, plaster and clay modeling, tapestry work "and various other useful and ornamental branches."  The purpose of the school was to engage in the "fuller education" of local youngsters.

The institution was small.  A report published in 1885 said that there were nine pupils.  Because the school was free for those pupils, there were constant fund-raising initiatives.  Newspaper reports at the time indicate that there were such fund-raising events to benefit the school as a theater program in New York City, an exhibit and sale of the students' handicrafts in New York City, special holiday classes (for a fee) offered to local children who were not students at the school, and more.  Local institutions and residents bought the works created by the students.  One report notes that the "Country Club" once located on Shore Road in today's Pelham Bay Park bought furniture for its clubhouse from the school and that Mrs. Hoyt actually furnished portions of her home with furniture made by her students.  

An advertisement published on June 28, 1884 indicates that Rev. Charles Higbee, Rector of Christ Church, and Mrs. Richard J. Emmett (a resident of 145 Short Road very near Mrs. Hoyt's Industrial School) were involved with the venture.  

Research has not yet revealed how long the Pelham Industrial School operated.  It seems from newspaper reports that it operated for at least five years and, perhaps, longer.  It is, however, yet another example of the importance attributed by Pelham residents to the education of their youth, a long tradition in the Town of Pelham.

Detail from 1881 Bromley Map Showing DeVeau
Town Area Near Border of Pelham Manor and
New Rochelle.  Source:  "Town of Pelham
Walter S. Bromley, 1881)" in Atlas of Westchester
County, New York, From Actual Surveys and
Official Records by G. W. Bromley & Co., Civil
Engineers, pp. 56-57 (NY, NY: Geo. W. & Walter
S. Bromley, 1881).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

Below is the text of a number of newspaper articles that reference Mrs. Hoyt's School in Deveau Town.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"The Pelham Industrial Society.

A really important institution has appeared in DeVeautown [sic].  Our generous hearted neighbor, Mrs. W. S. Hoyt, has rented and fitted up a house in the above hamlet, where boys and girls will be taught in mechanical and decorative trades.  This is a kind of instruction for which there is no public provision.  It is finding its way into the public schools in some parts of the country.  It is believed that this school of Mrs. Hoyt's will be a centre of influence, of which our schools will in time get the benefit.  And that this school will be the beginning of very useful things to this community.  All those who are interested in the fuller education of the young, will be well repaid for a visit to the Industrial school in DeVeautown, when it comes into full organization and operation.  In the mean time let the variety store be well patronized, by the public who may walk or drive in the direction of Pelham."

Source:  The Pelham Industrial Society, New Rochelle Pioneer, May 24, 1884, p. 3, col. 5


-- Instruction in carpentering and other industries will be given at the Pelham Industrial School during the holidays, to all young gentlemen who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity.  The proceeds are for the benefits of the free school in those industries.  For terms etc., see advertisement. . . . . 



During the holidays paid classes for the support of the Free Classes being held at the Pelham Industry, on Pelham Road, in carpentry and other industries.  Terms:  One dollar for three days.

For further particulars apply to:

Rev. Charles Higbee,
Mrs. Richard Emmet, 
Mrs. W. S. Hoyt, Bartow-on-Sound."

Source:  LOCAL INTELLIGENCE [and] HAND EDUCATION, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jun. 28, 1884, Vol. XXV, No. 13, p. 3, cols. 1-3 & col. 7.

"The industrial school at Pelham bids fair to be a success, and the boys and girls of that vicinity will have an opportunity to learn something to help themselves during the coming winter."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer Supplement, Vol. XXV, No. ?, Jul. 19, 1884, p. 4, col. 6.  

"PERSONAL. -- . . . Mrs. W. S. Hoyt, daughter of the late Chief Justice Chase, pleasantly known and remembered in this city, has successfully established an industrial school at Pelham Manor, near New York where furniture carving, clay and plaster modeling, tapestry work, etc., are taught to girls and boys. . . ."

Source:  PERSONAL, Evening Star [Washington, D.C.], Nov. 6, 1884, p. 5, col. 5 (NOTE:  Access via this link requires paid subscription).  

"Personals. . . . 

-- Mrs. W. S. Hoyt, the youngest daughter of the late Chief Justice Chase, is the founder and patron of an industrial school at Pelham Manor, near New York, which [is] a remarkable success. . . ."

Source:  Personals, The Yonkers Statesman, Nov. 18, 1884, Vol. II, No. 315, p. 1, col. 3.  


Quite out of the common will be the amateur theatricals and tableaux vivants which are to be given to-night at the house of Mrs. William C. Whitney for the benefit of the Pelham Industrial Schools.  The tableaux are entitled 'A Gallery of Shakespeare's Heroines,' and include Titania, Katherine, Perdita, Portia, Ophelia, Anne Page, Juliet, Hermione, Beatrice and Cleopatra.  Then comes a little comedy by Georges Ohnet, author of the 'Maitre de Forges;' and here Mrs. James Brown Potter will shed the radiance of her beauty over the scene and Mrs. H. V. Lemaistre will display his dramatic and elocutionary gifts.  Last will be played 'Fair Weather and Foul,' a new version of Gozian's 'La Pluie et le beau semps,' interpreted by Mrs. Sebastian B. Schlesinger, Mrs. Clarence C. Rice, Mr. Edward Fales Coward and Mr. Henry Gallup Paine.  When it is known that the version is from the pen of Mrs. Burton Harrison the privileged persons who will form the audience may may expect keen literary enjoyment.  Mr. Belasco directs the stage."

Source:  MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC NOTES, N.Y. Herald, Feb. 4, 1885, p. 5, col. 5.


The front room of the building occupied by the Associated Artists, at No. 115 East Twenty-third-st., looked yesterday as if several dealers in bric-a-brac had gone into the country for the summer and stored their goods there.  But such was not the case.  It was simply a display of articles manufactured by the scholars of Mrs. Hoyt's Pelham Industrial School.  Chairs whose appearance gave rise to the suspicion that they were made in the days of the Spanish Inquisition, but which on trial proved to accommodate themselves to the human form as well as their stuffed and cushioned brethren of the furniture store, were scattered about among tables of cherry wood, that were guiltless of veneer and plaques and panels of various designs.  There were specimens of wonderful embroidery of the kind over which the great-grandmothers of this generation spoiled their eyes, and there were cabinets curiously carved out of dark, heavy wood, showing the skill of the pupils with knife and chisel and looking as if they might outlast a dozen generations.  Nearly all the chairs were covered with stamped leather, upon which Mrs. Hoyt's designs have been wrought out by her scholars.  This is fastened on with brass nails with overgrown heads.  Some of the leather had been treated with a preparation that gave it a bronzed effect.  On a large double screen were reproductions of Saint George of England and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, the latter turning demurely away before the glance of his English saintship.

This school has been established about nine years.  At present there are nine pupils.  All the work is done by hand, the legs of the tables and chairs being furnished ready turned.  The preliminary steps toward introducing silk culture have been made, and among the exhibits was a chart showing the progress of the worm from the egg to the cocoon.  Although the exhibition only began yesterday at noon, several articles have been sold.  It will remain open to-day and tomorrow."

Source:  PELHAM INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL EXHIBITION, New-York Daily Tribune, May 20, 1885, p. 5, col. 1.  

"Pelham Industrial School Work.

The sale of the work of the Pelham Industrial School, which has been in progress for three days at the rooms of the Associated Artists, closed Thursday.  The articles exhibited were unusually admired and much surprise was expressed that children as young as those in Mrs. Hoyt's school should have become so skilful [sic] in decorative work.  Some of the specimens of stamped leather were remarkably well executed.  The fines of these was a screen, on the two wings of which were represented figures that seemed to have stepped out of the pages of some illuminated missal.  The coloring of the piece was exquisite.  Other pieces of stamped leather were tastefully arranged as book covers to prevent the wear and tear to which paper bound novels of the day fall such easy prey.  Still other specimens were used as coverings for the artistic furniture which had been produced in the boy's work shop.  This furniture was tastefully carved and solidly constructed.  Mrs. Hoyt will soon issue a report of the work done in the Pelham Industrial School."

Source:  Pelham Industrial School Work, New Rochelle Pioneer, May 23, 1885, p. 2, col. 2.  See also Pelham Industrial School Work, New-York Daily Tribune, May 22, 1885, p. 5, col. 1 (same text).  


Mrs. W. S. Hoyt, daughter of the late Chief Justice Chase, has successfully established an industrial school at Pelham Manor, where boys and girls are taught furniture carving, plaster and clay modeling, tapestry work and various other useful and ornamental branches."

Source:  FOR AND ABOUT WOMENThe Buffalo Evening News, Jul. 27, 1886, p. 3, col. 3.

A Noble Charity for Westchester Boys and Girls.

'LET your light so shine,' is not the text that heeds fullest amplification in a time when private affairs enjoy easy publicity, writes Mary Gay Humphreys in one of her New York letters to the Chicago Inter Ocean.  The exercise of charity which may be regarded now almost as a fashionable diversion is a matter of report, like other fashionable diversions.  But it would be very untrue to intimate that it is only a fashionable diversion.  The sense of responsibility toward the less fortunate has never more deeply and widely penetrated a generation.

There is scarcely a woman of fashion in this city who is not enrolled and in active service.  In fact, it is not so much charity as charitable methods that are a matter of concern, zeal having a tendency to overrun discretion, and its coming rival opportunity is already in the field.

But there are women of individuality who carry into their well-doing a certain uniqueness which is as piquant and interesting as it is suggestive and profitable.  Generally this has come about by doing the thing that fell under their eyes, and that needed to be done.

An instance of this was the work done by Mrs. W. S. Hoyt at Pelham.  It will not detract from the interest in it to add that Mrs. Hoyt was once better known to the country as Janet Chase, the daughter of the Chief Justice, and sister of Mrs. Kate Chase Sprague.  

In the neighboring village of Westchester there was a number of boys whom the trades unions, limiting the number of apprentices, excluded from learning anything except that which they acquired on the cracker boxes and salt barrels about the groceries.  For these boys, Mrs. Hoyt, interesting her neighbors, set up a carpenter shop and a forge.  She then formed them in classes, under the supervision of masters of the plane and hammer.  The girls dropped in and took to modeling and wood carving.  Silk-worms were introduced, and presently their sprung up a knot of village industries where there had been idleness and shiftlessness.  Among these Mrs. Hoyt infused her own artistic enthusiasm.  The carpentry work especially flourished finely.  The best old models were procured, and Mrs. Hoyt's own house and the country club house are filled with admirable pieces of hand work executed by these boys, and in a manner that would renew the despondent hopes and courage of Mr. Ruskin, if he could know how nearly it approaches his own ideas of handicraft.  No modern makeshift of glue was tolerated.  The parts are joined as they were centuries ago, the carving was wrought in the solid blocks in the old-fashioned way.  There were no jig-saws in Westchester."

Source:  MRS. HOYT'S TRAINING SCHOOL -- A Noble Charity for Westchester Boys and Girls, The Monroeville Breeze [Monroeville, Indiana], Oct. 17, 1889, p. 7, col. 1 (NOTE:  Accessing via this link requires paid subscription).  See also MRS. HOYT'S TRAINING SCHOOL -- A Noble Charity for Westchester Boys and Girls, The Daily Republican [Monongahela, PA], Oct. 19, 1889, p. 3, col. 2 (same text) (NOTE: Accessing via this link requires paid subscription).

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