Ogden Philip Pell, a Grandson of David Jones Pell of Pelham Manor
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Ogden Philip Pell was a son of Stephen Sneden Pell and a grandson of Revolutionary War hero David Jones Pell who once owned the Pell farmhouse now incorporated into the home known today as Pelhamdale at 45 Iden Avenue and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He spent his youth in Pelham, but left and became a very successful man. Today he would be described as a venture capitalist and start up specialist. He was involved in a fascinating array of successful ventures including partnering with George Chorpenning in one of the earliest Pony Express mail lines, constructing the eastern end of the Panama Canal, building railroads, establishing the first subway line in New York City, the creation of the first successful steamship line between New York and Galveston, Texas to run from the end of the Civil War blockade of Galveston, and much more.
Ogden Philip Pell was born in what was known as as the old Ogden House that once stood on what once was part of the Secor estate near Boston Post Road and Wolfs Lane. The Ogdens sold their farm to to Francis Secor in 1836, a year after Ogden was born. The family later lived in the old homestead of James Pell nearby.
At the age of seventeen, Ogden Pell left Pelham abruptly. According to one account, he left due to a personal "tragedy."
It seems that as a teenager, Ogden Pell fell in love with young "Jennett Hay," a daughter of James Hay who had purchased, and lived in, Pelhamdale -- once owned by Ogden's grandfather, David Jones Pell. Ogden Pell spent several years "in the company of Jennett Hay." The pair, in fact, had a special place where they spent time together. It was the lake that once stood on the Henry Iden, Jr. property on Wolfs Lane. I have written before of that lovely lake. See Wed., Jul. 15, 2015: The Henry Iden, Jr. Property on Wolfs Lane -- An Ice Skating Paradise. The pair loved the lake and strolled its grounds, where children sailed their model boats during warm months and skated on the pond ice in the winter.
Jennett Hay, it seems, fell in love with another. According to an account told in the 1920s, she married a member of the Lord family of Lord & Taylor fame. According to a story purportedly told by Ogden Pell himself, the day Jennett Hay married, Ogden left Pelham for the South. Soon, according to one account, he: "prospered, and developed cotton plantations in Louisiana, owning at the time of President Lincoln's famous "Proclamation of Emancipation' over one thousand slaves. After which event the slaves refused to work and his plantations were ruined." This account, however, may be apocryphal. According to another account:
"At the age of 22, Mr. Pell began his business career with the old house of Treadwell & Co. who supplied all sorts of goods to southern planters during the early prosperous days of the South. In 1862, Mr. Pell succeeded the firm of Treadwell & Pell, who conducted the business of machinery and other supplies of that character until the close of the war, the affairs of the firm being liquidated in 1867."
Even before the liquidation of Treadwell & Pell in 1867, Ogden Pell started the business of H. Blagg & Co. in 1865. The business involved transportation of goods between Texas and New York. According to a brief biography of Pell:
"They loaded the first vessel that entered the port of Galveston when that port was still under blockade at the close of the war. The business proving highly successful was followed up by establishing the Pioneer Merchant Steamship Company between New York and Galveston, now the Mallory line."
In about 1879, Ogden Pell joined with a group to organize the Mining Exchange, later known as "the Consolidated of New York." He became Secretary of the New York Mining Exchange. He also:
"promoted with the Slavens of San Francisco, Cal., the American Contracting & Dredging Company, which company built the eastern end of the Panama Canal between Colon and the mountains, and later, in the year 1889, he became and is still largely interested in promoting and building railroads and other public improvements in the island of San Domingo."
At the age of 84, Ogden Pell moved to the "Home for Old Men and Aged Couples," also known as the "Episcopal Home" located at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. He lived there for nine years. While living there on October 18, 1927, fewer than five months before his death, Ogden Pell was honored as the grandson of David Jones Pell when a historic marker for his grandfather's home known today as "Pelhamdale" was placed on the Hutchinson River Parkway near the home located at 45 Iden Avenue. See:
Wed., Feb. 01, 2017: Pelham Historic Marker Placed on Hutchinson River Parkway in 1927.
Tue., Jun. 24, 2014: Story of Pelhamdale, the Old Stone House by the Bridge, Once Owned by David J. Pell.
On March 1, 1928, Ogden Philip Pell suffered a devastating stroke. Though he rallied briefly, he suffered a second stroke and died on Monday, March 12. The Manor of Pelham had lost another native son. . . .
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Below is the text of news stories, obituaries, and a brief biography of Ogden Philip Pell, as well as an image of him. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"Ogden Philip Pell, secretary of the New York Mining Exchange, was born in the year 1835 in Pelham, Westchester county, New York. The Pells were one of the first English families who settled in the state in the state of New York, locating, as early as 1864 [sic], in that portion of Westchester county which, at that time, comprised the towns of New Rochelle, Eastchester, and what is known now as Pelham Manor, 'Pelham being a Saxon word -- 'Pell,' family; 'Ham,' remote. At the age of 22, Mr. Pell began his business career with the old house of Treadwell & Co. who supplied all sorts of goods to southern planters during the early prosperous days of the South. In 1862, Mr. Pell succeeded the firm of Treadwell & Pell, who conducted the business of machinery and other supplies of that character until the close of the war, the affairs of the firm being liquidated in 1867. In 1865, Mr. Pell started the house of H. Blagg & Co. He was the special of the firm, and resident partner in New York. Their business was the Texas market. They loaded the first vessel that entered the port of Galveston when that port was still under blockade at the close of the war. The business proving highly successful was followed up by establishing the Pioneer Merchant Steamship Company between New York and Galveston, now the Mallory line, and about the year 1879, Mr. Pell was instrumental, with others, in organizing the Mining Exchange, now the Consolidated of New York. Following this, Mr. Pell promoted with the Slavens of San Francisco, Cal., the American Contracting & Dredging Company, which company built the eastern end of the Panama Canal between Colon and the mountains, and later, in the year 1889, he became and is still largely interested in promoting and building railroads and other public improvements in the island of San Domingo. As will be seen, a large part of Mr. Pell's business career has been devoted to the promoting of large enterprises, both in the form of business firms and incorporated companies, and most of his undertakings in that line have proved successful ventures to himself and associates, and his last undertaking in connection with the Mining Exchange will doubtless prove equally successful.
In 1875 Mr. Pell advocated the Rapid Transit Underground system, known as the depressed movement, to connect the City Hall with the Grand Central Depot by a route through Fourth avenue, via Lafayette Place, paralleling Broadway, to City Hall. This system is the one advocated and commended by ex-Mayor Hewitt as the most practical solution of the rapid transit problem."
Source: Paton, Thomas B., ed., "The New York Mining Exchange" in The Banking Law Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 2, pp. 117-18 (NY, NY: February, 1896).
"HONEST! THIS MILLIONAIRE LIVES ON 50 CENTS A DAY
Wall Street Wonders How Ogden P. Pell Does It, but He Hasn't Lived 78 Years for Nothing -- System Simple; He Just Signs Checks.
All the men of the Wall street district who have known Ogden P. Pell ever since they were kids are chuckling over the notoriety which has come to the seventy-eight-year-old youngster since he made the statement in supplementary proceedings Friday that all he needs to live on is 50 cents a day, and that borrowed money.
Mr. Pell is a well known man of affairs, a member of the prominent New York family of that name, a lineal descendant of Lord Pell, who married an Indian Princess [sic]. At the age of twenty two he began an eventful career by inheriting $1,500,000. The pamphleteers of that period spoke of him as the richest young man in the United States.
For many years he and Roger Foster, the lawyer, have been close friends. Some time ago Foster represented Pell in legal proceedings and the two men of wit couldn't agree on the value of services rendered. They have been having a friendly controversy over it, and as both are vigorous fighters the claim finally reached the courts. Foster himself put Pell through the usual questions and forced him to admit that he could live on 50 cents a day, and that he even had to borrow that.
How Does He Do It?
And then the word was passed around that Ogden P. Pell, one of the best-known brokers in New street, member of the Belle Harbor Club, honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati and leading citizen of Richmond Hill, was living on fifty cents per day. Because of the present agitation over the high cost of living everybody wanted to know how Pell could do it. In order to avoid inquiries Pell could do it. In order to avoid inquiries Pell took to his private yacht, the Queen City, and remained out of town over Sunday.
A World reporter called on him yesterday at his office to learn how to manage living expenses. Mr. Pell laughed and said:
'If I didn't like Roger Foster and didn't need him in some pretty important litigation I'd get his goat for giving out this yarn.
'But,' he continued, 'If you want to see how I do it come with me.'
Mr. Pell then became the host in a prominent restaurant of the 'street,' and with the vigor of a college student set the following menu before his guest:
Some Bronx Cocktails and then some.
Little Neck Clams.
Green Turtle Soup. Imperial Brut (plenty).
Broiled Bonefish with Butter Sauce.
Porterhouse Steak with Mushrooms.
Potatoes au Gratin. Fresh Asparagus.
Escarole Salad. Peaches with Ice Cream.
Cigars imported for private use.
Simply Signs Check.
'You see,' said Mr. Pell after he signed the check. 'I haven't spent a cent yet.'
Mr. Pell admitted during the conversation that he had accomplished a few things in his reckless career of seventy-eight years. He has built a few railroads and signed a $35,000,000 contract with Dr. Lesseps over the luncheon table in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco which involved digging the section of the Panama Canal from Colon to Gatun. Mr. Pell's company was going right ahead with the canal when the bottom fell out of the old French canal company. It was a subsidiary company which changed the course of the Chagres River.
'I have never been sick a day in my life,' he said, 'and the only time I ever needed a doctor was when I had a boil on my neck two years ago. After the doctor fixed it up he told me I was good for twenty-five years more.'"
Source: HONEST! THIS MILLIONAIRE LIVES ON 50 CENTS A DAY -- Wall Street Wonders How Ogden P. Pell Does It, but He Hasn't Lived 78 Years for Nothing -- System Simple; He Just Signs Checks, The New York World, Thrice-A-Week Edition, Jul. 12, 1911, Vol. LII, No. 6138, p. 3, cols. 6-7.
"Pioneer In Pony Express Dies at 93
New York, March 13 (AP). -- Ogden Pell, 93, a partner in one of the earliest pony expresses to carry mail across the continent, and an organizer of the first steamship company to operate boats between New York and Galveston; died Monday in a home for the aged where he had lived for nine years.
He was born in Pelham where his grandfather had been one of the founders of the settlement, now one of the most exclusive in the metropolitan area, and left there as a young man to begin a varied and colorful career.
He was associated with a man named Chopenning [sic; George Chorpenning] in organizing a pony express, and was once connected with a New York banking firm which obtained land concessions from the government of Liberia. These lands are now controlled by the Firestone Rubber company."
Source: Pioneer In Pony Express Dies at 83, El Paso Herald, Mar. 13, 1928, p. 8, cols. 7-8 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
"Pony Express Pioneer Dies in New York City
NEW YORK, March 12 (AP). -- Ogden Pell, 93, a partner in one of the earliest pony expresses to carry mail across the continent, and an organizer of the first steamship company to operate boats between New York and Galveston, died today in a home for the aged where he had lived for nine years.
He was born in Pelham, where his grandfather had been a founder of the settlement, now one of the most exclusive in the metropolitan area."
Source: Pony Express Pioneer Dies in New York City, Schenectady Gazette, Mar. 13, 1928, p. 8, col. 4.
"Died in Poverty
New York, Mar. 14 -- Ogden Pell, grandson of one of the first settlers of Pelham, organizer of the first steamship line to Galveston, partner in the first pony express, one of the promoters of the first subway, and winner of the first land concession from the government of Liberia, is dead without funds, as an inmate of the Home for Old Men and Aged Couples."
Source: Died in Poverty, Rochester Times-Union, Mar. 14, 1928, p. 5, col. 5.
"OGDEN PHILIP PELL
1835 -- 1928
By William R. Montgomery
Pelham lost its oldest son, when Ogden P. Pell passed away in his ninety-fourth year on Monday, March 12, 1928, at the 'Home for Old Men and Aged Couples' in New York. This institution though termed 'home' is in reality a club with all the comforts and conveniences of a rich man's residence.
Mr. Pell suffered a stroke on March 1st. He rallied, but succumbed to a second attack on Monday. Funeral services were held yesterday.
Mr. Pell was born February 20, 1835, in the old Ogden House, that once stood directly in front of the well on the lawn of Mr. Julius Manger's estate at Boston Post road and Wolf's Lane, formerly the property of the Secors. Later he lived in the old homestead of James Pell nearby, when the Ogdens sold their farm to Francis Secor in 1836.
Mr. Pell left Pelham about 1852 and had not returned until October 17th of last year, when the D. A. R., Bronx Chapter, unveiled the New York State marker on the Hutchinson Parkway at Iden avenue.
This tablet marks the old homestead of Mr. Ogden P. Pell's grandfather, Colonel David J. Pell, and the birthplace of his father, Stephen S. Pell.
There is rather an interesting story, though a tragedy connected with Mr. Pell's sudden departure from Pelham. When he approached 'Pelhamdale' last October he anxiously inquired about the brook and the pond. The pond that he was interest in was, in those days, a beautiful lake, near Wolf's Lane and Colonial avenue, now covered by a dozen or more homes. On this lake the children sailed their boats in the summer time, and skated in the winter. It was here that he spent several years in the company of Jennett Hay, the daughter of James Hay, who had purchased Mr. Pell's grandfather's place, 'Pelhamdale' in 1827, now the property of Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Wagner.
He told the story himself, of his love for Jennett, and of her promise, and of the day he left Pelham, for it was on that day Jennett Hay married Mr. Lord, one of the founders of the firm of Lord & Taylor.
Ogden Pell went South, prospered, and developed cotton plantations in Louisiana, owning at the time of President Lincoln's famous "Proclamation of Emancipation' over one thousand slaves. After which event the slaves refused to work and his plantations were ruined.
Later, he opened up various steamship lines for the transportation of cotton. He developed a line of steamships that became known as the Mallory Line."
Source: Montgomery, William R., OGDEN PHILIP PELL -- 1835 -- 1928, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 16, 1928, p. 3, cols. 4-5.
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