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.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Report on the Previous 25 Years of Progress in Pelham Published in 1913

The year was 1913.  Pelhamites were proud.  They were supremely proud of the progress of the previous twenty-five years.  They were proud of the technological progress that prompted construction of trolley service to connect Pelham with surrounding Villages, Towns, and Cities.  They were proud of their three "artistic" railroad stations:  the Pelham Station, the Pelham Manor Station, and the Fifth Avenue Station of the New York, Boston and Westchester Railway.  Pelham also was proud of its new high school, the first ever opened in the little Town.  We know that school today as Siwanoy Elementary School.  Pelham was especially proud of its new sewage disposal plant.

The local newspaper, The Pelham Sun, was not yet three years old.  It clearly saw its mission not only to report the news, but also to extol the virtues of the growing Town of Pelham, still in its infancy.  As the newspaper sought to gain its footing, it relied heavily on articles of interest prepared by local residents.  

On December 20, 1913, The Pelham Sun published an article by James Francis Secor, Jr., one of Pelham Manor's most notable early residents.  The article extolled the progress in the Town of Pelham during the previous 25 years.  It was a rightly prideful article that also was optimistic for the future.  Today, the article sheds light on Pelham of yore and the efforts of those who came before us to make Pelham what it is today:  a community of note.  

James Francis Secor, Jr. was born in 1847.  He married Joan Elizabeth Klink in 1880.  Joan Elizabeth Klink Secor became President of the Manor Club and served in that capacity for decades.  She was a social force in Pelham and is still esteemed by members of the club she nurtured.  She also is remembered by those who appreciate the history of the little Town of Pelham.  

At the time, the Secors owned a large swath of land adjacent to Boston Post Road.   Eventually, they began to subdivide and sell the property.  In 1913, of course, James F. Secor certainly understood the need to extol the virtues of his little Town, particularly if he planned to subdivide and sell his lands. . . . . 

The report on 25 years progress in Pelham published in 1913 provides us today with a fascinating glimpse of the things about which Pelhamites were proud.  The entire report prepared by Mr. Secor appears below.   

PAST 25 YEARSThe Pelham Sun, Dec. 20, 1913,
p. 9, cols. 4-5. NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the report written by James F. Secor on the previous 25 years of progress in Pelham published on December 20, 1913.  The text is followed by a citation and link to the source.  

"Progress in Pelham Township

The advance made in Pelham Township during this period will certainly bear comparison with that made in other localities.  To begin, only a very small part of the town was settled.  In Pelham Manor between the Boston Turnpike and the Pelham Manor station there were but a few houses.  In 'Pelhamville,' now North Pelham, the number was greater.  The section now known as Secor Hill, Fowler Hill and Pelham Heights, contained not more than six houses.  The section between the Pelham Manor station and the Sound contained (including the 'Priory' and church) but three houses.  City Island and Pelham Bay Park were part of the town.  The small stone building on the Shore Road near Bartow Station was the Town Hall, where votes were cast at all elections, and where town meetings were held.  City Island, having the largest population, controlled the election, and hence the appropriations.  The 'Main Land,' as our part of the town was called, received but a small sum for the improvement of roads, although our part of the taxes.  What changes have taken place in twenty-five years, the foregoing statement, contrasted with the present condition, will show, New York City has annexed City Island and Pelham Bay Park.  The latter has been improved with fine roads, a golf links, and bathing beaches established, of which residents of the town have the same privileges as city residents.

Our town now has its own town government.  We have three separate villages -- North Pelham, Pelham and Pelham Manor -- also a portion still unincorporated, bordering on the Village of Pelham Manor and New York City.  Since the elimination of City Island we have by the fortunate selection of our town and village officials secured large amounts of money for improvements, also its honest and efficient expenditure, the result showing in our well paved streets of brick, asphalt and macadam, cement and flagstone sidewalks, sewers, water, gas, with electricity in our streets, and the lighting of the same.

We now possess a trolley service through the town and to neighboring cities, also transportation to New York City by trolley, or electric railroad, giving frequent service to Grand Central Station, and Third Avenue Elevated Railroad, from the three comfortable and artistic stations.  The town owns a fine Town Hall, situated in the village of North Pelham, also a sewage disposal plant.  The Villages of North Pelham and Pelham ('Pelham Heights') have a modern and well equipped fire department and an efficient police force.  The town has one Free School District, and through liberal appropriations has erected three modern school buildings in which are maintained a fully graded grammar school at North Pelham, a fully graded grammar school and high school at Pelham Manor, a building at Pelham Heights (not in use at present) and in addition the old brick school building with with one acre of land in Pelham Manor.  We also have in Pelham Manor an influential private school, known as 'Pelham Hall.'

The Township also has within its borders the new Pelham Country Club, the Manor Club, the New York Athletic Club at Travers Island, and an artistic building in North Pelham, housing the Masonic Lodge.  We also have five churches, the Priory (Episcopal), Huguenot Memorial (Presbyterian), Congregational, Catholic and Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal).

Contrast all these comforts and conveniences as factors of civilization with the former conditions of dirt roads, no sidewalks, no gas, no electricity, no running water, no sewerage, few trains, no trolleys, inadequate school buildings, no telephones, -- and it is most apparent that Pelham has progressed along material lines very greatly during the past twenty-five years.


Source:  Progress in Pelham Township DURING PAST 25 YEARS, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 20, 1913, p. 9, cols. 4-5.

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