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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hit and Run Accident Between Two Horse-Drawn Wagons on Fifth Avenue in 1906

The morning of Tuesday, May 29, 1906 was a lovely spring morning.  At 8:00 a.m., Fifth Avenue already was bustling with activity.  The Lyman Pharmacy Building and U.S. Post Office at One Fifth Avenue at First Street was near the center of all that bustle.  

Neither Fifth Avenue nor First Street was yet paved at that time.  The pharmacy of the growing Village of North Pelham stood at this dusty dirt road intersection with its own sidewalk that began and ended on the building's own lot.  A solitary gas lamp stood in front of the front entrance of the little pharmacy which was located, oddly, right on the corner of the building.  At the time, it was not yet established whether the principal commercial stretch would extend along Fifth Avenue or along First Street.  The building's architect, Arthur G. C. Fletcher of Pelham Heights, apparently addressed that uncertainty by placing the front entrance at the corner of the building, visible and accessible from either street.

Seth T. Lyman's little pharmacy was an unofficial emergency room for the Village of North Pelham.  Indeed, there are countless news stories published in the early 20th century describing how injured Pelhamites were carried or transported to the pharmacy for emergency care at a time when hospitals were distant and ambulances were still horse-drawn.  

Charles Max was a driver for Straehle's Bottling Works in North Pelham.  Henry Straehle opened his bottling works in the old Anthony Woolf homestead located at Fifth Avenue and Third Street in about 1898.  The company was billed as "soft drink dispensers" although advertisements published in 1911 stated that the company was a dealer and manufacturer of "mineral and carbonated beverages" and sold "High Grade Lager Beer, Ale and Porter."  The drinks were bottled in the basement of the old Woolf Homestead.  To learn more about Straehle and his bottling works, see, e.g.:  Wed., Mar. 30, 2016:  More on Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries; Fri., Jul. 11, 2014: Bottlers Who Operated in the Pelhams in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

From the time of its founding in about 1898, the Straehle Bottling Works did brisk business on City Island.  That is where wagon driver Charles Max was headed when he left the bottling works and proceeded down Fifth Avenue on the morning of Tuesday, May 29, 1906.  He was handling a team of horses that pulled a large wagon loaded with cases of bottled beverages.

As Charles Max reached Lyman's Pharmacy on Fifth Avenue at about 8:00 a.m., another horse-drawn wagon from the Berkshire Ice Company, based in Williamsbridge, approached Max from behind.  The ice wagon was traveling too fast.  The ice wagon apparently tried to pass the Straehle Bottling Works wagon to the left but misjudged the maneuver.  The right front wheel of the passing ice wagon struck the left rear wheel of the wagon driven by Charles Max and shattered the Straehle wagon wheel all the way down to the hub of the wheel.

As the Straehle wagon's left rear wheel shattered, the left rear of the wagon collapsed to the ground and threw Charles Max violently to the roadway.  The driver of the ice wagon took off for parts unknown, leaving Charles Max in a heap on the ground.  Max suffered severe bruises and a "bad cut" on one knee.  The cases of bottles carried in the wagon were not thrown out of the vehicle, but a number of bottles were smashed.  

We may never know whether Charles Max pulled himself together and went into Lyman's Pharmacy for first aid.  Though it seems likely, no extant account indicates whether he did or not.  We do know, however, that the plucky driver for Straehle Bottling Works went back to the Woolf Homestead, got another team and wagon, and resumed his delivery of bottled beverages to City Island despite his injuries.

There is no indication whether the hit and run driver -- perhaps the first ever in the little Town of Pelham -- was ever brought to justice.  We are left to wonder. 

1910 Postcard View of One Fifth Avenue, the Lyman Pharmacy and
U.S. Post Office, Designed by Architect Arthur G. C. Fletcher.  This
Shows the Pharmacy As It Looked At the Time of the Hit-and-Run
Accident in 1906.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

Vehicle of Straehles Bottling Works and an Ice Cart Had a Smashup

North Pelham, May 29. -- There was a smashup this morning in North Pelham between one of Straehle's bottling works wagons and a heavy ice cart from Williamsbridge, which resulted in Charles Marx, the driver for Mr Straehle, being hurled to the ground and the wagon badly damaged.

The accident happened about eight o'clock.  Mr. Marx was driving down Fifth avenue with his wagon, well loaded with cases of bottles, and was on his way to City Island.  When opposite Lyman's drug store a wagon from the Berkshire Ice Company, of Williamsbridge, came along from the rear and smashed against the rear wheel of the wagon driven by Marx.  The driver must have been hurrying his horses, for the impact was so pronounced and so severe that the left rear wheel was broken off at the hub.

As the wagon went down, Marx was thrown out heavily on his right side and sustained severe bruises, while his knee was badly cut.  The cases were not spilled out of the wagon.  Several bottles were, however, broken in the smashup.

The driver of the ice cart id not stop to inquire about the extent of the damages of which he was the cause.  Marx pluckily resumed work after the accident and in another team went to City Island."

Source:  WAGONS IN A COLLISION AT NORTH PELHAM -- Vehicle of Straehles Bottling Works and an Ice Cart Had a Smashup -- DRIVER WAS HURT BUT PLUCKILY KEPT AT WORK, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 29, 1906, Whole No. 4329, p. 1, col. 4.

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