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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Was This the Town of Pelham's Largest Foreclosure Sale Ever?

On Hunter's Island during the 19th century, John Hunter created one of the grandest estates and mansions in the northeast.  Hunter died in 1852 and Hunter's Island, The Twins, and a rocky islet near The Twins called "Catbriar's Island" passed out of the Hunter family when it was sold in 1866 for $127,000 to Ambrose Kingsland who served as Mayor of New York City from 1851 to 1853.  See Westchester County Records of Land Conveyances, Liber 611, p. 374.  Barely two years later, Kingsland sold Hunter's Island, The Twins, and Catbriar's Island to Alvin Higgins of New Rochelle for $180,000.  See id., Liber 695, p. 220.  Higgins was a proprietor of the Neptune House, a famous hotel on Neptune Island originally built by Isaac Underhill in 1837 as a summer resort.

Lithograph of Neptune House and Neptune Island Created
by N. Currier.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

In 1879, as the U.S. economy was beginning to emerge from the so-called "Long Depression" (1873-1879), Hunter's Island changed hands again.  Higgins sold it to Gardiner Jorden, at a substantial loss, for $100,000.   See id., Liber 961, p. 89.  Jorden, however, may have had difficulty meeting his financial obligations in acquiring Hunter's Island, The Twins, and Catbriar's Island.  Within a short time, the islands were subject to foreclosure and were offered for auction at a foreclosure sale conducted at the county courthouse in the Village of White Plains at 11:00 a.m.  A legal notice of that foreclosure sale appears below, followed by a transcription of its text and a citation and link to its source.

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Notice of Foreclosure Sale of Hunter's Island with Text
Transcribed Below.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.


On TUESDAY, May 25, 1880,
At 11 o'clock A.M., at the Court-house in Village of White Plains, Westchester County, the following described property will be sold at auction, viz:

HUNTER'S ISLAND and the connecting TWIN ISLANDS, at New Rochelle [sic], fronting on Long Island Sound, most beautiful and complete suburban residence in America; ancient and lordly mansion of stone; gas, water, &c.; located in park of 250 acres of beautifully diversified woodland, meadow, and water front; its natural advantages are unsurpassed; location most prominent on the Sound; buildings are very complete; place is connected to mainland by a stone causeway, and has an imposing entrance; two miles from New Rochelle, eight miles from Harlem Bridge; 40 minutes from Grand Central Depot; very accessible; 10 trains daily by New-Haven Railroad, also branch from Fulton Ferry; one mile from depot.  For particulars inquire of FREDERICK DeP. FOSTER, Plaintiff's Attorney, No. 10 Wall st., New-York, or of HOMER MORGAN, No. 2 Pine-st., or RICHARD V. HARNETT, No. 111 Broadway."

Source:  REAL ESTATE AT AUCTION -- FORECLOSURE SALE, N.Y. Times, May 20, 1880, p. 6, col. 5.  

Detail from 1905 Map Hunter's Island and The Twins.  Source:
"Index [Map] to the Topographical Survey Sheets of the Borough
of the Bronx Easterly of the Bronx River" (1905) (Lionel Pincus and
Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library). NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

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I have written before about John Hunter and Hunter's Island on many, many occasions.  A few are listed below.  See, e.g.:

Fri., Jun. 03, 2016:  More Newspaper Accounts of President Martin Van Buren's Visit to Pelham in 1839.

Thu., Nov. 03, 2005:  President Martin Van Buren's Visit to Pelham in July 1839.

Fri., Dec. 15, 2006:  References to John Hunter of Pelham Manor in the Papers of President Martin Van Buren.

Tue., Nov. 21, 2006:  John Hunter Loses a Debate in the State Senate During the Winter of 1841.

Mon., Aug. 28, 2006:  John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Obtained Special Tax Relief in 1826..

Mon., Aug. 14, 2006:  An Early Account of a Visit to Hunter's Island and John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham.

Thu., Apr. 27, 2006:  Burial Place of John Hunter (1778 - 1852) of Hunter's Island.

Wed., Dec. 14, 2005:  New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham.

Fri., Dec. 2, 2005:  John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham, New York.

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