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, October 28, 2016

The Old Stone House Has At Least One More Ghost -- The Ghost of Mrs. Parrish is Not Alone

There is, as noted yesterday, a handsome ancient stone house located at 463 First Avenue in today's Village of Pelham.  The home was one of the earliest constructed in the hamlet then known as Pelhamville (later known as North Pelham) in the early 1850s.  Today we know the legend of the famous "Old Stone House" and the ghost known as the "Elegant Lady of the Old Stone House" as a tale of romance, robbery, riches, and specters.  It is the most widely-recounted ghost stories of Pelham.  It turns out, however, that the "Elegant Lady of the Old Stone House" is not alone.  There is at least one additional specter that wanders the home, if not two more!


A man named Alexander Diack built the Old Stone House in the early 1850s. On October 15, 1855, a man named James Parrish purchased the beautiful home. 

As the legend goes, James Parrish had a business in which he employed a truckman named Adams.  Parrish and Adams supposedly began an express business “as a sideline”.  The business did well.  But, James Parrish died.  His wife supposedly received dividend payments thereafter from the business, paid in gold. 

Masked men who seemed to know that the dividends were paid in gold soon robbed Mrs. Parrish. Many news reports of the day confirm that Mrs. Parrish was, indeed, robbed in a brutal version of what is referenced these days as a "home invasion."  According to the legend, Mrs. Parrish began to hide the gold she received as dividends from Adams Express somewhere on the property of the Old Stone House. 

The Ghost of the Elegant Lady of the Old Stone House

According to Lockwood Barr’s popular history of Pelham published in 1946: 

"it is said that a million dollars in gold is hidden in the house, or buried in the gardens. Search has been made of the house, and grounds excavated, but without result. However, underneath a hearthstone in the basement kitchen, a hundred small coins of early date were found by one of the owners – but no pot of gold." 

Many now say that the ghost of Mrs. Parrish may be seen about the house, even in daylight, dressed in elegant clothes of her period, searching for her misplaced gold. There also is a story recounted by Lockwood Barr that a well-known actor who supposedly was a descendant of Mrs. Parrish, Edward Everett Horton, once visited the Old Stone House, heard the ghost stories and said that the descriptions of the apparition resembled a daguerreotype he had seen of one of his great grandmothers.  

I and others have written about the paripatetic ghost of Mrs. Parrish.  Today's article, however, may or may not be about her famous ghost.  It tells an intriguing story that makes clear -- for the first time ever -- that North Pelham's "Old Stone House" certainly has more than one ghost.  The Ghost of the Elegant Lady of the Old Stone House is not alone in the Old Stone House.  

There Are More Ghosts in the Old Stone House

Dorothea Jewell Snyder and Frank Miles Snyder owned the Old Stone House at 463 First Avenue in the Village of North Pelham during the 1920s and 1930s.  For many years, Dorothea told a strange story about her house.

According to her story, one morning shortly after she and her husband first moved into the Old Stone House, she was scurrying busily about the upstairs during the broad daylight of an early morning.  She looked up and was "surprised to see a lovely lady" in a doorway of the the hallway ahead of her.  According to a newspaper account, the lovely lady was "dressed in richly brocaded velvet, with poke bonnet, and pantallettes."  

For those Pelhamites well versed in the ghost stories of Pelham, neither we nor Mrs. Snyder should have been surprised.  The Old Stone House long has been associated with the ghost of an elegantly-dressed woman believed to be the spirit of Mrs. Parrish.  Surely, Mrs. Snyder's sighting of the lovely lady "dressed in richly brocaded velvet" in the hallway ahead of her was merely another sighting of the elegant ghost who longed to find the gold she once hid in her beloved home.

Things, however, were different this time.  First, the elegantly-dressed apparition "carried a huge sheaf of golden chrysanthemums."  Second, the elegant apparition was accompanied by another specter -- that of a young girl.  That young specter was "dressed in the same quaint manner" as the elegantly-dressed apparition.  Perhaps most significantly, the elegant young spectral girl bore "a marked resemblance to the older woman."  

As one might expect, things did not quite register immediately in the mind of Dorothea Jewell Snyder.  She wondered, at first, that it might be a joke played by her new neighbors.  She stepped forward, moving toward the woman and the child she saw in the doorway.  Both were smiling.  Both began to bow graciously.

Dorothea Snyder was not frightened.  She strode forward, but the apparitional pair backed away from her toward a stairway behind them.  They backed "down the stairway, around a corner and into nothingness."  

It seems that Dorothea Jewell Snyder had, for a moment in time, happened upon something in the Old Stone House other than the ghost of Mrs. Parrish.  It seems that she came upon another ghost, this one with a huge sheaf of golden chrysanthemums, who had a youngster who looked like her, both elegantly dressed.  Who might this spectral pair be?  

Only time will tell. . . . . . 

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Below is the text of a newspaper article that forms a basis for today's article.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.  

"Legend Gathers About Old Stone House Landmark For 85 Years In No. Pelham
Georgian House, Occupied by Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Snyder, Unique in Village, Attracts Many Visitors.

One of North Pelham's most interesting landmarks is the 'Old Stone House,' located on the corner of First avenue and Sixth street, as the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Miles Snyder, is usually called.  For many years the handsome old house which stands in marked and pleasant contrast to its neighbors of wood and stucco, of a much more prosaic vintage, has attracted visitors and passers-by.  Already legend gathers around it.

Eighty-five years may be a mere drop in the bucket as far as real antiquity goes, but the old Georgian house, built of undressed Tuckahoe marble with its cut-out large board, reminiscent of the Elizabethan period, its solid four-square look and pleasant gardens, belongs to another era of living more gracious, more leisured and somehow permanent.

The Old Stone House still testifies to the homesickness of the Scotchman named Diack who built it, modeled on his old home in Dundee, Scotland.  It has some 13 rooms, walls of an astounding thickness, built to last, boasts a charming entrance with gracious 18th century air, a secret staircase, discovered during interior alterations, its secret never revealed, 8 fireplaces and a plot of ground 100x100 feet square.  Originally the tract of land extended from the Hutchinson river to Fifth avenue.  

Members of the Diack family, descendants of the builder of the house, make their hoe now in Pelham Manor.  Among the many visitors who have seen the house has been Edward Everett Horton, actor, a relative of the family.  

Mrs. Snyder who seems to fit in remarkably well with the old-world air of the house, was born in the northern part of Ireland and with her blue eyes, white hair and fresh color makes a charming mistress for the house.  Long a collector of antique silver, glass, china, etc., the house is filled with these beautiful objects, at home in an appropriate setting.  

Mrs. Snyder tells a strange story about the house.  One morning soon after she moved into the place, she was surprised to see a lovely lady, dressed in richly brocaded velvet, with poke bonnet, and pantallettes, standing in the doorway, smiling and bowing.  The visitor carried a huge sheaf of golden chrysanthemumsm and was accompanied by a young girl, dressed in the same quaint manner and bearing a marked resemblance to the older woman.  As Mrs. Snyder realized this was not a joke on the part of her neighbors, she moved toward the two visitors who merely continued to smile and bow graciously.  They backed away from her, eventually down the stairway, around a corner and into nothingness.  They have never been seen or heard from since.

'Just welcoming you, perhaps,' the reporter suggested tentatively.  And it was all on a bright Summer's morning!

Rich in memories of this kind the old house also boasts legends of hidden treasure.  During the residence of a family named Parish [sic], a burglar scare is said to have occurred and as a result Mrs. Parrish was reported to have hidden money and other valuables in various parts of the house and grounds.  The legend of the hidden wealth still lingers and coins have been discovered under a hearthstone, while Mrs. Snyder found a silver comb and a gold ring (later lost) while digging in the garden.  The old well still on the grounds is considered a likely place for possible hidden treasure.  

Mr. Snyder who is an architect by profession, designed the Parish House of the Church of the Redeemer on Fifth avenue, one of the handsomest of buidlings in the community."

Source:  Legend Gathers About Old Stone House Landmark For 85 Years In No. Pelham -- Georgian House, Occupied by Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Snyder, Unique in Village, Attracts Many Visitors, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 23, 1935, p. 3, cols. 1-2.  

House -- Circa 1852 By John M. Shinn"
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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I have collected ghost stories and legends relating to the Town of Pelham for more than fifteen years.  To read more examples that now total in the several dozens, see

Bell, Blake A., Pelham's Ghosts, Goblins and Legends, The Pelham Weekly, Oct. 25, 2002, p. 1, col. 1. 

Bell, Blake A., More Ghosts, Goblins of Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 43, Oct. 29, 2004, p. 12, col. 1. 

Bell, Blake A., Archive of HistoricPelham.com Web Site:  Pelham's Ghosts, Goblins and Legends (Oct. 2002). 

Bell, Blake A., Bibliography of Pelham's Ghost Stories and Legends (Oct. 2002).

Fri., Oct. 28, 2016:  The Old Stone House Has At Least One More Ghost -- The Ghost of Mrs. Parrish is Not Alone.

Thu., Oct. 27, 2016:  Did Google Maps Camera Capture the Ghost of the Elegant Lady of the Old Stone House at 463 First Avenue?

Wed., Oct. 26, 2016:  The Ghost of the Murdered Traveler Who Wanders the Bartow-Pell Grounds.

Tue., Oct. 25, 2016:  The Suicidal Specter of Manger Circle.

Mon., Oct. 24, 2016:  The Fiery-Eyed Phantom of Pelham Heights.

Mon., Sep. 19, 2016:  The Dark Spirit of the Devil and His Stepping Stones: A Pelham Legend.

Fri., Oct. 30, 2015:  The Shrieking Ghosts of Execution Rocks: Yet Another Pelham Ghost Story.

Thu., Oct. 29, 2015:  The Apparition of Wolfs Lane:  Another Pelham Ghost Story.

Wed., Oct. 28, 2015:  The Shadowy Specter of James Street:  A Pelham Manor Ghost Story.

Tue., Oct. 27, 2015:  The Ghostly Gardener of Bolton Priory:  A Pelham Apparition.

Mon., Oct. 26, 2015:  The Ghostly Matron of the Manor Club:  Even a Ghost Whisperer's Nightmare!

Fri., Oct. 31, 2014:  Ghosts in Pelham! Yet Another of Many Accounts of the Haunted Cedar Knoll.

Mon., Sep. 08, 2014:  In 1888, The "Ghost of City Island" Upset the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 17, 2014: The Phantom Bell Ringer of Christ Church in Pelham Manor.

Fri., Jan. 30, 2009:  Article Published in 1901 Detailed Ghost Stories and Legends of Pelham.

Mon., Feb. 19, 2007:  Another Manor of Pelham Ghost Story: The Whispering Bell.

Fri., Aug. 18, 2006:  The Ghost Gunship of Pelham: A Revolutionary War Ghost Story.

Wed., May 03, 2006:  Another Pelham, New York Ghost Story.

Thu., Oct. 13, 2005:  Two More Pelham Ghost Stories.  

Wed., Oct. 14, 2009:  1879 News Account Provides Additional Basis for Some Facts Underlying Ghost Story of Old Stone House in Pelhamville.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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