Historic Pelham

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fascinating Summary of Organizations and Clubs in the Pelhams on the Eve of the Great Depression

In 1927, the Roaring Twenties were well underway.  The Town of Pelham was in the midst of a massive real estate boom and a population boom.  Indeed, between 1920 and 1930 the population of the town more than doubled from 5,195 to 11,851.

As the town grew, so did the number of fraternal, social, civic, and patriotic organizations that served the town.  Thus, on the eve of the Great Depression, there were dozens and dozens of such organizations each with hundreds of members.  These organizations, of course, form an important part of the history of the little Town of Pelham.  

On January 19, 1927, a lengthy article entitled "PELHAM KNOWN AS ATTRACTIVE SOCIAL CENTER" listed dozens of such organizations and provided information and, at times, a little history on each.  The article, with no byline, most certainly was a real estate puff piece intended to attract attention to, and interest in, the growing town of Pelham, New York.  Nevertheless, the article provides a fascinating glimpse of a time in Pelham's history when Pelhamites had fewer demands on their time and fewer entertainment alternatives.  This may explain why the town had so many such organizations with so many members and why so few of those organizations have survived to the present day.

Among the organizations addressed in the article are:  the Men's Club (with 600 members), the Manor Club (with membership limited to 500 members), the Winyah Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Winyah Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons, the Fellowcraft Club, the Comfort Society, the Degree of Pocahontas, the Iroquois Tribe 476 of the Independent Order of Redmen, the Parent-Teacher Association, the Pelham Chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Pelham Branch of the Red Cross, the Young Men's Republican Club, the Democratic Club, Post 50 of the American Legion (and its women's auxiliary), the Walsh-Marvel Post of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a variety of Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations.  The article did not even attempt to address church-related organizations and other small social and philanthropic groups throughout the Town.  

The article is a quick read and provides fascinating insight into a variety of Pelham organizations, what they did, who led them, and when they were founded.  It should be required reading for students of Pelham history.

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Numerous Fraternal, Social, Civic and Patriotic Organizations In the Town Are Active
Manor Club's Work Gains Wide Recognition -- Has Interesting Groups
Political Associations Progress, Too -- Many Church Societies in Three Villages

There are enough fraternal, social, political, or patriotic organizations in the Pelhams to appeal to everyone.  The mere enumeration of these -- the Men's club, the Manor club, Winyah chapter, O. E. S., Winyah lodge, F. and A.M.; Fellowcraft club, Comfort society, Degree of Pocohantas [sic]; Irokuois [sic] Tribe 476, Independent Order of Redmen; the Parent-Teacher association, league of Women Voters, Pelham branch of the Red Cross, Young Men's Republican club, the Democratic club, Post 50 American Legion and its auxiliary, Walsh-Marvel post, Veterans of Foreign Wars -- is sufficient to give one an idea of the wide range of activities covered by these groups.

No account is made here of the other small groups or church organizations, including young people's societies and women's organizations of various kinds which contribute much to the social and church life of the Pelhams.

600 in Men's Club

One of the largest and most representative men's organizations in this section is the Men's club of Pelham, which has a membership approaching 600.  Non-sectarian and non-political, this draws Pelhamites from virtually all walks of life into its membership.  Its only goal is neighborliness and co-operation, and at any of the monthly meetings of the organization, this spirit is as refreshing as are the arranged programs of diversion and entertainment.  Well known speakers address the monthly meetings, and there is usually an exceedingly meritorious program of music.  Once or twice a year, there is a ladies' night, such as was recently held when the Princeton musical clubs gave a concert under the auspices of the club.  The Men's club first started as a small group organized by the Rev. Herbert H. Brown, of the Church of the Redeemer, but it was later reorganized as a non-sectarian social club which because of its large membership and real spirit of camaraderie is unique.  The officers of the Men's club are:  Ralph C. Angell, president; Lockwood Barr, vice president; Kenneth C. Ogden, secretary; Thomas F. Diack, assistant secretary; Elliot C. House, treasurer; and George Kirch, jr., assistant treasurer.  Meetings are held in the Memorial High school auditorium on the evening of the second Tuesday of each month.

The executive committee includes the Rev. Herbert H. Brown, William L. Chenery, A. F. Decker, Col. Charles S. Haight, William W. Hawkins, Ralph Hess, Walter H. McIlroy, Frank Mann, Earl Newsom, J. H. Redding, Robert H. Shaw, Milton Towne, Stacy Wood, Arthur Van de Water, and Theodore C. Young.

Manor Club Widely Known.

The largest social organization of women in the Pelhams, and one of the most widely known in the county, is the Manor club, which includes in its membership, women of fine taste and talent in virtually every field of art.  The membership of the club is limited to 500.  Mrs. James F. Longley is president.

The clubhouse, a charming and most artistic structure, is located on the Esplanade, near Penfield Place, in Pelham Manor.  A theatre and a large reception hall are features of the building.

Art, music, drama, gardening, literature, and other activities are included in the doings of the members of the club.  Each of these subjects is taken up by a special section of the club, which conducts a regular program of activities during the club season.  The art section, of which Mrs. George N. Hersey is chairman, meets regularly at the club or at the residence of one of the members, and a discussion of art and the history of art is held.  Several noteworthy exhibitions of the arts and crafts are held at the Manor club for the public during the season.  

The music section, of which Mrs. Carroll B. Haff is chairman also meets regularly for a musica [sic] or for a study of classic or modern music.  A special feature of the musical activities at the club is the formal concert given by the choral.  While several informal recitals or musicales are given at the club on occasions, the big work of the choral consists in the regular rehearsal of the big concert which winds up the season.

Another activity which hundreds are interested in at the Manor club is that of the garden section, which makes a study of horticulture in its relation to the beauty of the home.  Planning of gardens, and the study of various forms of flower and shrub for home decoration are included in the business of the garden section.  There is also the annual flower show, in which many take part, and in which prizes are awarded.  Last fall, the garden section successfully staged its first fall flower show.  Mrs. J. E. Ackland is chairman of this section.  

One of the most active sections in the club is the drama section.  This group, in addition to making a study of drama in an academic way, stages several plays during the season, the most recent production being 'The Road to Yesterday,' which was staged at the Manor club two evenings.  A special afternoon performance was also given for the children of the community.  The drama group also takes part, with honors in the annual Little Theatre tournament held each year in Westchester county.  Histrionic talent of much merit is displayed by the members.  The chairman of the drama section is Mrs. G. Munro Hubbard.

Literature Section

Original poems and short stories comprise the most interesting feature of the work done by the literature section, the chairman of which is Mrs. H. G. K. Heath.  At regular meetings, conducted at the residence of the chairman or at the club, special literary programs are arranged for the afternoon.  A study is also made of modern writing and the classics, and book reviews are also made by members of the section.  One of the interesting events during the season is the gathering of original short stories or poems written by the members for what is called the 'Unpublished Magazine.'  These articles are read by the authors at a special gathering of the club.  During the latter part of the season, prior to the closing the club activities, a series of porch readings is conducted at the clubhouse.

Mrs. James F. Longley, the president of the club, is assisted by the following staff of officers in the management of the club activities:  Mrs. Edward C. King, vice-president; Mrs. Henry E. Day, second vice-president; Mrs. H. Washington Fairfax, treasurer; Mrs. Harry D. Wright, secretary; Mrs. William B. Shaw, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Robert C. Black, honorary chairman of the board of directors; Mrs. Edwin C. King, chairman of the house committee; Mrs. Walter B. Parsons, chairman of the program committee; Mrs. G. B. Davies, chairman of the press and printing committee; Mrs. Stanley D. Pearce, chairman of the junior committee; Mrs. Northrop Dawson, chairman of the social committee, and Mrs. William B. Randall, custodian of records.

The Manor club, of which Mrs. James F. Secor, honorary president, was for many years the leader, is the scene of many activities in addition to those enumerated.  One of these is the holding of a series of interesting lectures each season, on current world politics.  These are open to the membership at large and are a prominent feature of club activities.

Junior Committee

The junior committee of the club, under the chairmanship of Mrs. Stanley D. Pearce, has as its function the providing of a series of dances for the young people of the Pelhams.  These are most enjoyable functions and are attended by hundreds.  The largest event arranged by the junior committee is the Christmas dance staged at the clubhouse during the holiday season, this function drawing upon the hundreds of young people home from prep schools and colleges for the Christmas vacation.

Masonic organizations include Winyah chapter, F. and A. M.; the Fellowcraft club of Winyah lodge, and Winyah chapter, Order of Eastern Star, the latter having been lately granted a charter.

These organizations stage their social functions and meetings in the Masonic temple in Sixth avenue, North Pelham, and are among the most active groups in the Pelhams.  Meetings of Winyah lodge are held on the first, third and fifth Tuesdays.  The following new officers were just installed on the evening of January 4:  Uel R. Piersall, master; Benjamin W. Hobson, senior warden; Walter B. Robinson, junior warden; John M. Shinn, treasurer; Harry Hamilton, secretary.  The Fellowcraft club is composed of members of the Masonic order in Pelham, and was organized recently to take care of the recreational activities of the Masons.  Sidney C. Smith is president, and Benjamin W. Hobson, secretary, of the Fellowcraft club.

Winyah Chapter Active

An active organization in the social life of the Pelhams, is Winyah chapter, Order of Eastern Star, which was organized on March 10, 1925, and instituted on November 10 of that year.

Under the leadership of its founder and present matron, Mrs. Elfreda M. Schminke, the organization has grown from a membership of 32 to 68.  Dances, card parties, children's parties, and other activities occupy the season of the chapter.  During the past summer, the members of the chapter staged several delightful parties for the children of the Pelhams.  Among the most interesting of these being outdoor parties for the children at the North Pelham school playground.

The officers, installed on January 5 last, include the following:  Mrs. E. A. Schminke, worthy matron; John P. W. Ceder, worthy patron; Mrs. Grace L. Rice, associate matron; Mrs. S. Anna Lyon, treasurer; Mrs. Adella M. Wirth, secretary; Mrs. Reine M. Donzel, conductress; Mrs. Louisa M. Berle, associate conductress; Mrs. Luisa J. Weser, Mrs. Charlotte Payne, and George N. Rice, trustees.

Organized during the World War for the entertainment of wounded war veterans, the Pelham Comfort society has continued to be a source of happiness and cheer for hundreds of convalescent veterans who are still in government hospitals in this section.  The society was founded by Mrs. Edwin L. Adair, who remained its president for seven years.  Mrs. Minnie Godfrey Oden, now president, has been in office for two years.  While the organization was in the presentation of the 'Pelham Follies,' given at the High School during the presidency of Mrs. Adair.  Mrs. Oden has continued the activities of the society in a capable manner, and during her reign, many theatre parties and dinners have been held, the latest being the annual Christmas entertainment, which was held for 400 men at the Kingsbridge hospital last month.

The present officers of the Pelham Comfort society are:  Mrs. Minnie G. Oden, president; Mrs. Adam Berle, vice-president; Miss Charlotte Kurtze, recording secretary; Mrs. Grace Logan Lyon, corresponding secretary; Miss Dorothy Kurtze, treasurer; executive committee, Mrs. Godfrey Keller, Mrs. E. Schaefer, Mrs. Jennie Pickard, Mrs. Joseph Carraher, and Mrs. Mathew Herman; sick committee, Mrs. Frank Chaloux, Miss Lucia Mannberger, and Miss Margaret Merian.

Parent-Teacher Association

The Pelham Parent-Teacher association, of which Mrs. Charles H. Stewart is president, was organized several years ago to secure cooperation between parents and teachers, toward the full development of the child along educational, and healthful lines.  The staff of officers are now doing fine work in the Pelham school activities, sponsoring among other things, a school playground, and a study of the needs of the child in the school and at home.  Interesting and instructive talks are enjoyed by the members of the Parent-Teacher association at their meetings.  The association is also divided into several groups, which take up separately the study of health in the home and at school; child psychology and home economics.  

General meetings of the Parent-Teacher association are held at the public schools, mainly at the Pelham Memorial High school, on third Wednesday afternoon of each month.  Mrs. Stewart has as her staff of officers, Mrs. Clarence Campbell, first vice-president; Mrs. E. G. Clemenson, second vice-president; Mrs. Edwin Van Riper, treasurer; Miss Katherine Ensign, recording secretary.  The chairman of the various committees are:  Mrs. Ralph Towle, social; Mrs. Walter Parsons, program; Mrs. Robert Adams, membership; Mrs. Frederick B. Davies, publicity; Mrs. L. B. Louis, playgrounds; Mrs. T. P. Stevenson, study groups.  The sub-chairmen of the study groups are:  Mrs. J. A. Migel, psychology group 1; Mrs. Benjamin Robinson, psychology group 2 (sex); Mrs. D. H. Grant, health; Mrs. R. H. Smith, economics; Mrs. Roy Sterne, librarian.

Iroquois tribe, 476, Independent Order of Red Men, is one of the active fraternal organizations in the Pelhams.  Meetings are held regularly at the North Pelham fire hall.  The order is headed by Henry Velon, sachem; James L. Caffrey, jr., senior sagamore; William Timbers, junior sagamore; Robert Penfield, chief of records; Louis Kurtze, keeper of wampum; John Rogaveen, prophet; and Ezra Daggett, trustee.

A sister organization to this is Nyods council 207, Degree of Pocohantas, which meets at the fire hall in North Pelham on the evenings of the second and fourth Thursdays.  The following officers were installed last Thursday:  Miss Johanna Milck, Pocohantas; Mrs. William Hamilton, winonah; Miss Anna Booth, prophetess; Mrs. M. Herman, collector of wampam; Mrs. M. G. Oden, keeper of wampum; Miss Charlotte Kurtze, keeper of records; Henry Velon, Powhatan.

Three Political Bodies

There are three political organizations in the Pelhams, namely:  The Pelham branch of the League of Women Voters; the Young Men's Republican club, and the Democratic club.

The woman's organization, of which Mrs. Henry E. Dey of Pelham Manor has been the leading figure, has just concluded a successful campaign to double its membership, under the leadership of the following officers:  Mrs. Henry E. Dey, chairman; Mrs. Carl D. Jackson, vice chairman; Mrs. I. Balch Louis, secretary; Miss Eleanor Seed, treasurer; Mrs. Frank Chaloux, publicity chairman.  While classed here as political, the organization is not associated with any one party.

The present Democratic club is a recent organization, which is at present occupied in building up a strong body for the town political activities in the fall.  At a recent organization meeting, Morgan Mann was elected chairman; Charles J. O'Reilly, vice chairman; Edward F. Campbell, treasurer; James Connolly, secretary.  The town democratic committee includes J. T. Kallenberg, Remington Schuyler, Edgar J. MacGregor, F. H. Allen, John F. Larkin, Frederick T. Head, George Walsh, Harry E. Kuhlman, Charles J. O'Reilly, John T. Fenlon, Morgan M. Mann, John T. Brook, John F. Shields, Joseph Ryan, Stephen Ryan, Edward F. Campbell, Richard Orchard, James Carroll, Ed. Browne, William McBride, C. W. Gaylor, M. J. Murphy, Edmund Von Hasein, Joseph McCarthy, Harry Tierney, and George P. Breckenridge.  

In February, 1926, the sentiment in Pelham seemed to favor the organization of a Young Men's Republican club.  Sponsored by Elmer S. Davis and Harry C. Jackson, meetings were held in the town and an organization was perfected, known as 'The Young Men's Republican club.'  During the year 1926 monthly meetings were held at the town hall.  

The members elected Elmer S. Davis first president of the Young Men's Republican club, and elected Harry C. Jackson, Walter Burnell and Harry Mela vice-presidents; and Robert Mullins, secretary and treasurer of the club.  A constitution and by-laws were adopted and the club functioned efficiently during the entire year.  At the monthly meetings of the club, speakers of prominence were in attendance.  Among those were Judge David A. L'Esperance, Judge Charles E. Rice, jr., Judge Anthony M. Menkel, Honorable Charles M. Miller, David L. Gorfinkle and other notables.  The membership grew from a small body to a membership of one hundred in the short period of a year.  The club served the Republican committee at the fall elections by providing workers at each of the five districts and providing automobiles for getting out the voters in all of the five districts on Election Day.

At the election of officers to succeed the initial officers of the club, President Elmer S. Davis, refused to continue as president, and Charles A. Hollister was duly elected to succeed him as president for the year 1927.  Other officers are:  Vice presidents, Harry C. Jackson, Sylvester Powers, A. P. Walker, jr.; secretary, J. Fisher, jr.; treasurer, Robert Mullins; committeemen, Fred Herzberg, Elmer S. Davis, chairman, Max Stoller, James B. Lawrence and Burgess B. Fields.

Looking back over the year 1926 the officers and members of the Young Republicans club of Pelham feel satisfied with the formation of the organization and the work they accomplished during the year.  They feel that the work accomplished is an acknowledgment of a need of such an organization and a need of aid to the Republican men in the town.  The new president, Charles A. Hollister, is admirably suited for the office to succeed the retiring president, Elmer S. Davis, as he has been in close touch for some time with the local political association.

Military Organizations

Military organizations in the Pelhams include Walsh-Marvel post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Pelham Post 50 of the American Legion, the latter being assisted in its activities by a women's auxiliary.

Walsh-Marvel post has in the past taken an active interest in the patriotic celebrations held in the town from time to time, and has cooperated in the setting up and care of suitable war memorials in the town.  Meetings are held at regular intervals, with county officers as the guests, at the North Pelham fire hall.  The officers include Gardner Minard, commander; Gorham B. Head, quartermaster; and A. M. Telford, adjutant.  

Pelham Post 50, American Legion, began the year 1926 with Commander Raymond C. Smith succeeding himself as commander of the post for the second consecutive year.  The legion post functioned monthly in the same manner that it functioned the previous year.  Monthly meetings were held at which increasing attendance of legionaires [sic] was noted and a spirit of co-operation shown, which spoke volumes in behalf of the legion.  The legion cooperated with the village and town officers during the year in the holding of patriotic and memorial services throughout the town.  Commander Smith and Adjutant Elmers Davis during the year 1926 were among the hardest working legion officers of the post, and to Commander Smith is due the credit of upholding the standards of the legion post during the year.  

In October, 1926, new officers of the Legion Post 50 were elected:  Commander, Richard L. Gulatsi; vice commander, Sidney C. Smith; vice commander, Maxwell Nesbit; vice commander, F. B. Fahrbach; adjutant, Russell Clegg; treasurer, Frederick Wirth.

Commander Gulatal appointed strong committees for the ensuing year and for the remainder of 1926 held exceptionally fine meetings.  Notables in the Legion world and business world and official worlds were obtained as speakers for the balance of the year, and meetings attended by over one hundred members.  Commander Gulatsi started the new year 1926-1927 with a vim that bespeaks a wonderful year for Pelham Post 50.

Post 50 was recognized in the county organization in the election of Elmer S. Davis, as second vice commander, which position, due to unforeseen circumstances, made him acting county commander for some time.  The Pelham post had much mention in the press and in the Pictorial Review for its three meetings for the end of 1926.  The outlook for 1927 for Pelham post 50 is brighter than ever before in its history and with Commander Gulatsi at its head, many meetings of interest are looked forward to.  

The post is assisted by the Ladies' auxiliary, which recently elected officers as follows:

Mrs. G. G. Fahrbach, president; Mrs. Richard Gulatsi, vice president; Mrs. Kneeland B. Durham, jr., treasurer; Mrs. Raymond Smith, secretary; Mrs. Jacob Wirth, chaplain; Mrs. George W. Rice, historian; Miss Anna Clegg, sergeant-at-arms; Mrs. J. W. Caffrey, Mrs. Clyde F. Howes, and Mrs. J. D. Kennedy, executive committee; Mrs. D. J. Kennedy and Mrs. J. W. Carey, county delegates.

Branch of Red Cross

Among other organizations is the Pelham branch of the Red Cross, which has served the community on many occasions.  Mrs. Edward H. Townsend is chairman, Mrs. Joseph C. Wilberding, honorary chairman; Mrs. Raymond H. Smith, vice chairman; Mrs. Morton R. Cross, treasurer; Mrs. Mary S. Sills, secretary; Miss Mills, chairman of the roll call division; Mrs. R. C. Smith chairman of the production committee.

Boy Scout organizations are one of the interesting features of life in the Pelhams for the younger generation.  Girl Scouts are also active in many fields of work in Pelham.  An interesting part of their work locally is to take care of children, when mothers attend meetings of the Parent-Teacher association, while of course the conduct other forms of scoutcraft."

Source:  PELHAM KNOWN AS ATTRACTIVE SOCIAL CENTER, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, p. 11, cols. 1-8.  

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