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, December 27, 2016

Stage Coach Days In Old Pelham

Due to the influence of Hollywood, many associate stage coaches with the Wild West in 19th century America.  For nearly 125 years, however, stage coaches rumbled through Pelham on the Old Boston Post Road (today's Colonial Avenue), the Boston Turnpike (today's Boston Post Road), and on Shore Road and City Island Road (a portion of which includes today's Orchard Beach Road).  I have written before about the stage coach days in old Pelham.  See, e.g.:

Fri., Mar. 11, 2016:  How Did Pelhamites Travel To and From Nearby New York City in 1857?

Fri., Sep. 05, 2014:  Post Card Image of Bartow and City Island Stage Coach With Driver.

Wed., Aug. 13, 2014:  The Nineteenth Century Stage Coach Presented to Local Boy Scouts by Famed Illustrator Edward Penfield During the 1920s.

Fri., Aug. 08, 2014 1894:  Pelham School Budget Vote:  Stage Coach Authorized To Transport Pelham Students in Days Before Autos and Buses.

Fri., Jul. 25, 2014:  Stage Coach Accident in Pelham in Early 1883

Fri., Mar. 21, 2014:  Examples of Very Early Merchant Advertisements in the Town of Pelham

Mon., Apr. 12, 2010:  New York Athletic Club Stage Coach Accident Leads to Death of Pelham Manor Man.

Wed., Mar. 03, 2010:  1879 Advertisement for Robert J. Vickery's City Island Stage Line, A Predecessor to the City Island Horse Railroad

Mon., Oct. 26, 2009:  Pelham Was a Principal Station on the Stage Coach Route of Dorance, Recide & Co. Which Carried Mail Between New York and Boston.

Thu., Sep. 24, 2009:  Brief Newspaper Account of the January 1, 1883 Annual Meeting of the Pelham Manor Protective Club (article includes account of an accident involving one of Vickery's stages). 

Tue., Jan. 27, 2009:  Biography of William Vickery, a 19th Century Resident of City Island in the Town of Pelham.

Mon., Mar. 21, 2005:  Pelham Was A Station Stop for the Stage Coach That Carried Mail from New York To Boston in the Early 19th Century.

In 1813, New York City newspapers published announcements of the opening of another new stage coach line:  the New-York & Boston New Line Diligence Stage running from New York City to Boston by way of New Haven, Hartford, and Providence.  

Including the phrase "Diligence Stage" within the name was no accident.  A "Diligence Stage" (known as a "Dilly" for short) was a solidly-built stage coach typically drawn by four (or more) horses.  The Dilly was associated with a successful public stage coach conveyance system in France that was mimicked in other European nations including Germany and Spain.  In Europe, a "Dilly" could be a long, bus-like coach with many rows of seats, pulled by many horses.  It could be something that looked more like a modern bus than Hollywood-influenced images of stage coaches.  

On August 16, 1813, the New-York & Boston New Line Diligence Stage departed at 2:00 a.m. and rumbled quickly through Pelham along the Boston Turnpike (today's Boston Post Road).  The stage made it to Hartford where passengers spent the "night."  Within a short time of arrival, the Dilly departed Hartford at 6:00 a.m. proceeding to Providence and Boston during the day.  

At the same time (2:00 a.m.) each day (except Sundays), a Diligence Stage started toward New York from Hartford.  It stopped at "Mr. Butler's Hotel at New Haven" for breakfast, then rumbled down Boston Post Road through Pelham and on to New York City where it arrived in the evening each day.  

The Boston Turnpike section that ran through Pelham at the time was about a decade old.  Built to shorten the route toward Boston in the area, the Boston Turnpike was a more direct route than the winding route up to the Old Boston Post Road crossing of the Hutchinson River at today's Colonial Avenue and East Sandford Boulevard.  

It seems nearly impossible today to imagine that stage coaches once rumbled up and down a dusty, unpaved Boston Post Road through Pelham several times each day.  Yet, for nearly 125 years, various stage coach lines ran such conveyances through Pelham nearly every day.

An advertisement announcing the opening of the New York & Boston New Line Diligence Stage with an image of a stage coach drawn by four horses appears immediately below.  It is followed by a transcription of its text to facilitate search as well as a citation and link to its source.

1813 Newspaper Advertisement Announcing the
Opending of the New-York & Boston New Line
Diligence Stage that Traveled Through Pelham on
Today's Boston Post Road.  Source:  NEW-YORK
[Advertisement], New-York Evening Post, Sep.
8, 1813, p. 1, col. 4.  NOTE:  Click on Image To
Enlarge.  Text Transcribed Below to Facilitate Search. 


BY the way of New-Haven, Hartford and Providence to Boston, will commence running on Monday the 16th day of August, to start from New-York every morning at 2 o'clock, (Sundays excepted,) and arrives at Hartford the same night to lodge, will leave Hartford at 6 o'clock, A.M. and arrive at Providence and Boston at the usual time.  The New Line Diligence Stage will start from Mr. Bennett's Hotel at Hartford, every morning at 2 o'clock (Sundays excepted) breakfast at Mr. Butler's Hotel at New-Haven, and arrive at New-York the same evening; -- where passengers can be accommodated with Seats to Proceed on in the Regular Southern Stages to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington City.  Stage fare and baggage as usual.  All baggage at the risk of the owner thereof.  For Seats in the New Line Diligence Stage, apply to THOMAS WHITFIELD at the Stage office, No. 1 Courtlandt-Street, corner of Broadway, New-York; -- at Mr. BUTLER'S HOTEL, New-Haven; at Mr. BENNETT'S Hotel, Hartford; at Mr. E. MACOMBER'S and Mr. E. FOSTER'S, Providence; -- at Mr. BOYDEN's Market-Square and Mr. J. TRASK's Bloomfield-Lane, Boston.

The Proprietors of the New Line Dilligence [sic] Stage, respectfully inform the Public that they have spared no expense in providing New Stages, able Horses and careful drivers and every thing necessary for the Comfort and Accommodation of Passengers that may please to favour this Line with their custom.  This Line travels on the best Turnpike Road through the principal Towns between New-York and Boston.


N.B. Extra Carriages Furnished, and Expresses sent to any part of the United States, by THOMAS WHITFIELD, No. 1, Courtland Street, New-York.

Aug 12"

Source:  NEW-YORK & BOSTON NEW LINE DILIGENCE STAGE [Advertisement], New-York Evening Post, Sep. 8, 1813, p. 1, col. 4.

Postcard Image of "Bartow and City Island Stage Coach Line"
Postmarked Sep. 6, 1910.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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