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, February 28, 2018

New Clubhouse for the Iroquois Tribe No. 476 of the Improved Order of Redmen in North Peham in 1929

On Thursday, November 4, 1909, three hundred members of the various Lodges of the Improved Order of Red Men from Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Port Chester, and Mamaroneck gathered in Firemen's Hall in the local firehouse on Fifth Avenue in the Village of North Pelham for a solemn, yet grand occasion.   That evening, the Lodge from Port Chester formally installed a new Lodge in the Village of North Pelham:  Iroquois Tribe No. 476 Improved Order of Red Men.  

The Improved Order of Red Men is a fraternal and charitable organization established in 1834.   Its rituals and regalia reportedly are "modeled after those assumed to be used by Native Americans."   Although membership in the organization reached a high of about half a million in 1935, its membership today reportedly has declined to "a little more than 15,000."

I have written before about the early history of this fraternal and charitable organization established in the Village of North Pelham.  See Fri., Oct. 21, 2016:  Iroquois Tribe No. 476 of the Improved Order of Redmen in the Village of North Pelham

By the end of the Roaring Twenties, in 1929, the ranks of the Iroquois Tribe No. 476 Improved Order of Red Men had swelled to 90 members.  Additionally, the group began a membership drive to expand its membership to 150 members.  It was time for the group to acquire a clubhouse.

Only a week or two before the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 that began on October 24, 1929, the group formed a corporation named the Iroda Building Corporation, obtained a certificate of incorporation from the New York Secretary of State, and purchased a residential property located at 20 Third Avenue for renovation to create a new clubhouse.  (The home that stands at that location today is not the same structure, having been built in 1945.) 

The Iroda Building Corporation had a capitalization of $20,000 in $10 shares.  Its directors were North Pelham residents Louis Kurtze, Irving J. Wallach, and George Lambert.  

In early December, the organization announced that it expected to have its new clubhouse ready for occupancy "in about a month."  The building committee planning the work was led by Irving J. Wallach of North Pelham.  Renovation work was scheduled to begin in mid-December to turn the second floor of the structure into a meeting hall.  Plans for the first floor included rest rooms, a parlor and a reading room.  A "modern kitchen" was planned for the basement. 

The clubhouse was completed as planned.  Meetings, dinners and events were held there throughout the 1930s.  By at least 1941, however, the Red Men were holding their meetings in the local Masonic Temple and, by 1945, another residence was built on the site of the structure that once had served as their clubhouse.

Once again, the face of Pelham was changing.

 Example of 1889 Membership Certificate of the Improved Order
of Red Men. NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Certificate of incorporation was issued this week by the Secretary of State for the Iroda Building Corporation of North Pelham.  This organization recently purchased a dwelling house at No. 20 Third avenue, which will be used as a clubhouse for Iroquois Tribe, Order of Redmen and Degree, of Pocahontas.

Capitalization is $20,000, in $10 shares.  Directors are:  Louis Kurtze, No. 518 Fifth avenue; I. J. Wallach, No. 212 Fifth avenue; and George Lambert, No. 52 Sixth street."

Source:   CORPORATION WILL OWN REDMEN'S CLUBHOUSE, The Pelham Sun, Oct. 18, 1929, p. 5, col. 3.

Purchase Jackson Residence for Pelham Quarters

The Iroquois tribe of Red Men of Pelham will have its new home ready for occupancy in about a month.  The building purchased by the Pelham Red Men recently, was formerly the Jackson residence at 20 Third avenue.  Work will be started next week on the alterations and additions necessary to convert it into a modern club house. 

The second floor will be turned into a meeting hall.  On the first floor will be rest rooms, a parlor and a reading room.  A modern kitchen will be fitted up in the basement.  Irving J. Wallach is chairman of the building committee.

A membership drive has been launched by the Pelham tribe under the direction of membership chairman, Louis Kurtz.  The present membership of 90 will be swelled to 150 if the plans of the tribe are realized.  The Pelham Red Men will hold their next meeting on Thursday night when reports will be heard on membership and on the progress of the building committee."

Source:   RED MEN WILL HAVE NEW HOME -- Purchase Jackson Residence for Pelham Quarters, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 3, 1929, p. 12, col. 3.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Police Raided a Storefront Still and Bootlegging Operation in a Fifth Avenue Store in 1926

North Pelham, it seems, was excited at the prospect of yet another new business on Fifth Avenue in 1926.  On July 1, 1926, Italian immigrant Joseph Leoni took possession of a storefront with a rear apartment located at 317-319 Fifth Avenue.  He opened what everyone believed was a wholesale business in imported Italian olive oil.  Everyone was wrong.

The business certainly looked convincing.  Empty olive oil cans filled the show windows of the little business.  Any passerby who peered inside through those show windows saw packing cases entirely consistent with a busy little wholesale olive oil import business.  Yes, it looked like Joseph Leoni was building another successful Pelham business during those flapper years of the Roaring Twenties in our little Town.

Leoni had only been in his new digs for two weeks when another tenant on the second floor of the building glanced out of a window at the back of the building and noticed water trickling out of a window on the lower floor.  Worried that a leak might be damaging the stores and living quarters on the first floor, the tenant called landlord Irving J. Wallach, owner of the building at the time.  

Wallach hustled to the site and tried to roust Joseph Leoni.  No one was in the premises, so Wallach used a passkey to open the door and slip inside to inspect the premises.  Nothing seemed amiss in the front rooms of the store -- packing cases and empty olive oil cans were stacked neatly.  When Wallach entered the rear apartment of the building's first floor, however, he was shocked.  A massive still stood on cinder blocks in the center of the room with a gas-fed flame below it, bubbling away as it distilled illegal corn mash whiskey.  Wallach quietly and quickly backed out of the room and exited the building.  He headed straight for the North Pelham Police Department where he alerted Police Captain Michael J. Fitzpatrick.

Storefront at 317-319 Fifth Avenue Where Illegal Still and
Bootlegging Operation Was Raided by North Pelham Police
on July 14, 1926.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

 At 7:30 p.m. that evening -- Wednesday, July 14, 1926 -- Captain Fitzpatrick accompanied Irving J. Wallach to the premises and entered.  Leoni at first refused to allow the pair to enter the rear rooms of the premises protesting that he was "only boiling a little water" in the back.  Captain Fitzpatrick and Irving Wallach forced their way past Leoni.

A mad rush ensued.  Leoni grabbed a five-gallon can filled with alcohol and tried to empty it into a sink.  Captain Fitzpatrick grabbed him, placed him under arrest, and hauled him off to the lockup at police headquarters, together with "three five gallon cans, one two gallon can, and a two gallon bottle, all of which were said to contain alcohol."

Thereafter, closer inspection of the premises revealed an amazing operation.  Inspection of one of the five-gallon cans by Captain Fitzpatrick, North Pelham Village President Thomas J. James, and North Pelham Trustee Harder revealed that it was constructed so that it could be capped within and a small amount of olive oil could be stored within so that the can, filled with alcohol, would appear to be a can of olive oil when inspected. 

There were three rooms at the rear of the premises on the first floor.  In one room was a single bed and a "large wardrobe trunk."  In two adjoining rooms, there were nineteen barrels arranged around the walls filled with corn mash in the process of fermentation.

In the kitchen at the rear of the building was the still.  A two-inch hose had been connected illegally to the building's natural gas supply, circumventing the gas meter, to keep a fire burning beneath the still that was propped up on cement blocks.  Another hose led from the giant cooling vat to the window where water appeared to leak through the window -- prompting the complaint from the tenant above that led to discovery of the still.  Next to the still were two additional fifty-gallon barrels of mash.  All in all it was a very compact and nifty setup.

The following day, Pelham authorities dismantled the still and poured the fermenting corn mash down local sewers.  Joseph Leoni was turned over to Federal Prohibition authorities who indicated that a motion for deportation would be made.

Thereafter the little Town of Pelham would continue its stand against demon rum, battling to enforce the Volstead Act. . . . . . .  

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"Police Capture Bootlegger and Still In Full Blast
Joseph Leoni Was Operating Fifty-Gallon Plant in Fifth Ave. Apartment When Discovered -- Had Occupied Premises Only Two Weeks
Over a Thousand Gallons of Mash Fermenting in Barrels in Back Rooms of a Store

More than two thousand gallons of corn mash in twenty-one barrels, twenty gallons of alleged alcohol, a whiskey still of fifty gallons capacity, and all the accompanying paraphernalia of a distillery were uncovered by the police and the landlord at the store and apartment, Nos. 317-319 Fifth avenue, North Pelham at 7:30 Wednesday evening.

Joseph Leoni, who leased the store from Irving J. Wallach, the owner, was arrested by Police Captain Michael J. Fitzpatrick and after being lodged in jail overnight was turned over to the Federal authorities on Thursday charged with a violation of the Volstead Act.

Leoni had occupied the store just two weeks, taking possession July 1st, ostensibly for the purpose of conducting a wholesale business in imported Italian olive oil.

The discovery of the still came about when Wallach was notified by a resident of one of the apartments over the store that water was running from a window of one of the back rooms on the lower floor.  The landlord entered with the aid of a passkey, and on finding evidence of a still being in operation quietly withdrew and notified the police.  Police Cap-

(Continued on page 8)

Police Capture Bootlegger and Liquor Still
(Continued from page 1)

tain Michael Fitzpatrick entered the store with Wallach.  Leoni at first refused them entry to the rear rooms, claiming that he was only boiling a little water.  When the police captain and Wallach forced their way, Leoni attempted to empty a five gallon can of alleged alcohol into the sink.  

He was placed under arrest, and taken to headquarters together with three five gallon cans one two gallon can and a two gallon bottle, all of which were said to contain alcohol.

One of the five-gallon cans had a capped tube in it.  Thus when the can was filled with alcohol and sealed the tube could be filled with olive oil and capped.  Anyone inspecting the can would remove the cap and be misled into thinking that the can contained only olive oil.

Following the arrest, Village President Thomas J. James, and Trustee Harder inspected the premises where the still was in operation.  The store was vacant save for some packing cases.  Empty olive oil cans filled both the show windows.  In a room behind the store was a single bed and a large wardrobe trunk.  In the two rooms adjoining, nineteen barrels, all filled with corn mash in process of fermentation, were ranged around the walls.  In the kitchen at the rear of the building the still was found, propped up on cement blocks.  A two inch hose had been connected to the gas supply, so that the gas being consumed did not register through the meter.  It was the hose leading from the cooling vat which was responsible for the leaking of water through the window and caused the complaint to be made to the landlord.  Beside the still, two more fifty gallon barrels of mash were found in the kitchen.

Police Captain Fitzpatrick would not hazard a guess as to the value of the liquor and still, but it is believed to be worth many thousand dollars.

Investigation by the Federal Prohibition department revealed that Leone under the alias Natale Rosa, was arrested in New Rochelle, on July 7 and charged with transporting and selling alcoholic liquor.  The case is still pending.  Leone was released under bail.  It is believed that he made the liquor in North Pelham and sold it through New Rochelle.

The still was dismantled yesterday and the mash dumped into the sewer.  

Leone left in custody of the Federal officers yesterday.  It is believed that a motion will be made for his deportation."

Source:  Police Capture Bootlegger and Still In Full Blast -- Joseph Leoni Was Operating Fifty-Gallon Plant in Fifth Ave. Apartment When Discovered -- Had Occupied Premises Only Two Weeks -- Over a Thousand Gallons of Mash Fermenting in Barrels in Back Rooms of a Store, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 16, 1926, Vol. 17, No. 20, p. 1, col. 1 & p. 8, col. 5.

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I have written extensively about Pelham's struggles with Prohibition and the enforcement of the unpopular laws that it spawned. See: 

Wed., Feb. 21, 2018:  Massive Prohibition Raid in 1927 Netted Four Bootleggers and 225 Kegs of Beer.

Tue., Jan. 30, 2018:  Visit to the Wrong House Uncovered Massive Pelham Manor Bootlegging During Prohibition.

Wed., Jan. 03, 2018:  The Massive Illegal Still Discovered at 137 Corlies Avenue During Prohibition in 1932.

Wed., Jun. 21, 2017:  The Infamous Ash Tree Inn of Pelham Manor and its Prohibition Violations During the 1920s.

Thu., Feb. 02, 2017:  Bootleggers Began to Feel the Heat in Pelham in 1922.

Mon., Dec. 26, 2016:  Pelham Stood Alone in Westchester When It Voted to Go Dry in 1896

Mon., Aug. 22, 2016:  Pelham, It Seems, Became a Hotbed of Bootlegging and Illegal Stills During Prohibition.

Mon., Jul. 06, 2015:  Police Raided a Massive 300-Gallon Illegal Liquor Still on Corlies Avenue in 1932.  

Fri., Jun. 19, 2015:  More Liquor Raids in Pelham During Prohibition in the 1920s.

Wed., Jun. 17, 2015:   Prohibition Rum-Runners Delivering A Boatload of Booze Were Foiled in Pelham in 1925.

Fri., Apr. 24, 2015:  The North Pelham "Speakeasy Section" Created Quite a Stir During Prohibition.

Tue., Nov. 18, 2014:  More Bootleggers and Speakeasies Raided in Pelham in 1929 During Prohibition.

Fri., May 23, 2014:  How Dry I Am -- Early Prohibition Efforts Succeed in Pelham in 1896.

Thu., Apr. 03, 2014:  The Prohibition Era in Pelham:  Another Speakeasy Raided.

Tue., Feb. 18, 2014:  Pelham Speakeasies and Moonshiners - Prohibition in Pelham: The Feds Raid the Moreau.

Thu., Feb. 07, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2006:  The Beer Battle of 1933.

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am: Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm

Bell, Blake A., The Prohibition Era in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 25, June 18, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Dynamite Used to Blast at Hutchinson School in 1926 Caused Problems

In the mid-to-late 1920s, Pelham schools were bursting at the seams with too many students in facilities that were too small.  The Hutchinson School in the Village of North Pelham was among the most over-stretched.  

In 1926, the Board of Education was engaged in a major initiative to remodel and expand the Hutchinson School by building a new wing on the east side of the school.  Construction of the new wing, however, was badly delayed when work on the foundation revealed that a huge amount of rock would have to be blasted away.

The contractor responsible for the excavation work was Smith Brothers Contracting Company of North Pelham.  Smith Brothers selected a blasting expert named Mariano Di Luccia to perform the work.  

As one might expect, the work was difficult and required extreme care.  Dynamite charges had to be placed with care and covered with tree trunks (known as "covering logs" and steel mats that were chained to protect against stray debris that might do damage in the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The first indications of a problem occurred during a blast early in the week of July 12, 1926.  Di Luccia exploded a charge at the site.  A rock hurtled through the veranda roof of a house on Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue).  Another struck a home on Third Avenue.  

Then, on Wednesday, July 14, 1926, Di Luccia exploded another charge.  The blast was so violent that it "broke in two" a trolley standard that stood at Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue) and Third Avenue and "sent rocks flying two and three hundred feet in all directions."  Members of the Village Board met with Lawrence Smith of Smith Brothers Contracting that day and extracted promises that greater care and more effective covering mats would be used to complete the work.  

A further blast on Thursday, July 15 was the last straw.  The huge blast "sent rocks, covering logs, steel mats and chains hurling across Third Avenue to the lawn in front of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Keller.  The sidewalk was broken and steps of the veranda damaged."  Village of North Pelham Trustees shut down the work pending selection of a different contractor to complete the work.

By the following week, a new dynamite handler had been selected and blasting resumed with no further damage to the surrounding neighborhood.  Yet, on Tuesday, July 20 another frightening event occurred.

Little Buddy Wood, five-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Stacy Wood of 69 Sixth Street in North Pelham was playing among rocks in the neighborhood.  He noticed a strange round package, picked it up, and carried it home to his Mother.  He walked into the family home and proudly presented the horrified woman with a ten-inch-long stick of dynamite.  Mrs. Wood took the dynamite and contacted her husband who, upon his return home, carried the dynamite to the Village of North Pelham police for "safe keeping."  

A tragedy, it seems, had been averted.  According to the local newspaper, it was believed "that the dynamite was some of the stock used by contractors working in the vicinity, and had either been mislaid or carried to the place among the rocks by other children playing in the neighborhood."

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Blasting Work at Hutchinson School Sends Rock, Tree Trunks and Mats Hurtling Against Keller Home on Third Avenue

The permit to blast rock at Hutchinson School on Fourth street, North Pelham, granted to Smith Brothers Contracting Co., has been revoked until such time as some other individual than Mariano Di Luccia conducts the work of blasting.

Yesterday afternoon a huge blast sent rocks, covering logs, steel mats and chains hurling across Third avenue to the lawn in front of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Keller.  The sidewalk was broken and steps of the veranda damaged.  Mrs. Keller, who was warned of the impending blast was nevertheless greatly frightened.

Wednesday afternoon a blast broke in two a trolley standard, at Fourth street and Third avenue, and sent rocks flying two and three hundred feet in all directions.  A few days ago a rock hurtled through the veranda roof of a house on Fourth street.  Another struck a home on Third avenue.  

Residents in the vicinity of the school are expressing grave fears for their own personal safety and are urging that something be done to eliminate the danger from the flying rocks which follow the blasts.

Village President Thomas J. James and Trustees Edward Dillon and Edward Harder after hearing complaints on Wednesday interviewed Lawrence Smith, member of the contracting company and demanded that greater care be observed.  Smith promised to provide heavier covering and mats.

When these proved ineffectual yesterday the village trustees refused further permission to carry on the work until another contractor is engaged for the blasting."

Source:  DYNAMITE CHARGE DAMAGES HOME; CONTRACTOR'S PERMIT REVOKED -- Blasting Work at Hutchinson School Sends Rock, Tree Trunks and Mats Hurtling Against Keller Home on Third Avenue, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 16, 1926, Vol. 17, No. 20, p. 1, cols. 6-7.

"Exercise More Care In Blasting Rock At Hutchinson School
New Dynamite Handler Directing Blasts.  No Complaints of Damage During Week

With a new dynamite handler on the job, the blasting operations at the Hutchinson School have been conducted with less danger to the surrounding territory during the week.  Following the hurling of missiles on the porches and roofs of dwelling houses in the vicinity of the school following the explosions the North Pelham Village Board demanded that the dynamite handler employed by Smith Bros., Contracting Co., who are doing the excavation work, be removed before blasting continued.  

Saturday morning Village President Thomas J. James, Trustee Edward J. Dillon, Attorney George Lambert and Engineer John F. Fairchild, in company with Lawrence Smith of the contracting company inspected the scene of the blasting and were informed another licensed blaster would do the work.

They watched the blasting work made ready and approved of the change.  There have been no complaints of danger during blasting operations this week.

'We don't want to delay the construction of the school building,' said President James, 'but it is most important that the citizens of the village be protected from injury from flying rock and timber."

Source:  Exercise More Care In Blasting Rock At Hutchinson School -New Dynamite Handler Directing Blasts.  No Complaints of Damage During Week, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 23, 1926, Vol. 17, No. 21, p. 1, col. 1.  

"Dynamite Found By Youngster While At Play
Five Year Old Buddy Wood Picks Up Ten Inch Stick of Dynamite on Sixth Street
Believed to Have Been Explosive Mislaid by Contractors Blasting in Neighborhood

A ten-inch stick of dynamite found among rocks blasted on Sixth Street fell into the hands of a five year old on Tuesday.  Disaster was averted, however, when the youngster brought the explosive into his home to show his mother, who quickly took it away from the child.

While playing opposite his home little Buddy Wood, five year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Stacy Wood of 69 Sixth Street, found a queer looking round package among the rocks.  Childlike, the youngster attracted by the strange article, picked it up and carried it away with him.  When he went into his house he showed his find to his mother, who recognized the paper wrapped package as dynamite, and she took it away from the child.

Mr. Wood, on returning home that night, took the explosive to North Pelham police headquarters where it was placed in safe keeping.  It is believed that the dynamite was some of the stock used by contractors working in the vicinity, and had either been mislaid or carried to the place among the rocks by other children playing in the neighborhood."

Source:  Dynamite Found By Youngster While At Play -- Five Year Old Buddy Wood Picks Up Ten Inch Stick of Dynamite on Sixth Street -- Believed to Have Been Explosive Mislaid by Contractors Blasting in Neighborhood, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 23, 1926, Vol. 17, No. 21, p. 1, col. 1.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Toonerville Trolley Accidents in Pelham Manor

To this day Pelhamites chuckle fondly when they reminisce about the tiny little Pelham Manor Trolley that met all the trains and that inspired cartoonist Fontaine Fox to create the "Toonerville Trolley" that also met all the trains as part of the long-running comic "Toonerville Folks."  Though the Pelham Manor trolley made its final run in 1937, more than eighty years later most residents of Pelham know of the trolley and the role it played in inspiring Fontaine Fox.

It seems quaint to think of a little rattle-trap of a trolley car bouncing along light rails down Pelhamdale Avenue on its way to the Pelham Manor Depot and, then, to Shore Road before it returned all the way back to the Pelham Train Station meeting all trains at both stations.  Truth be told, however, the trolley was a massive rail car plowing down the center of Wolfs Lane, Colonial Avenue, and Pelhamdale Avenue on dozens of trips a day with horse and buggy, pedestrian, and automobile traffic vying for parts of the same roadway and jockeying with the trolley for position.  Accidents were bound to happen -- and they did.

I have written about some such accidents before.  See, e.g., Fri., Jul. 24, 2015:  The Day the Brakes Failed on the Pelham Manor Trolley, Inspiration for the Toonerville Trolley.  As one might expect, there were other accidents involving the Pelham Manor Trolley including at least one additional accident involving failure of the trolley's brakes.  Today's Historic Pelham article provides information about such additional accidents.

One of the earliest serious accidents involving the Pelham Manor Trolley -- as opposed to trolleys that ran in North Pelham, on Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue) between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, and on Boston Post Road into New Rochelle -- was one that occurred on the evening of June 30, 1899.  The Pelham Manor Trolley was in its infancy.

The President of the Pelham School Board, John Beecroft, and his wife were returning from a school event at the Hutchinson School late in the evening in their horse-drawn carriage.  As they proceeded their horse shied and backed into the path of a Pelham Manor Trolley car approaching from the opposite direction.  The trolley struck the carriage and destroyed it, throwing the Beecrofts into the roadway.  Mr. Beecroft was knocked unconscious and received a severe cut to the head.  Mrs. Beecroft suffered a dislocated shoulder.

A few years later, on February 14, 1918, the little Pelham Manor Trolley was involved in another serious accident.  A large tank truck belonging to the "Texas Company," a predecessor to Texaco, collided with the trolley, shoving it off its tracks.  The truck was being driven by Charles McCarthy of New Rochelle.  It carried two passengers:  Morris Johnson of New Rochelle, agent for the Texas Company, and Bert Nelson, bookkeeper for the company.  The two passengers were injured, suffering lacerations and broken arms.  Miraculously, none of the passengers on the trolley car was hurt. 

On December 5, 1920, an odd "accident" involving Pelham's Toonerville Trolley occurred.  As the trolley proceeded on Wolfs Lane there was a loud crash.  Passengers were showered with broken glass.  The motorman stopped the trolley, jumped out and demanded to know who had thrown the rock that smashed a glass window of the trolley car.  Witnesses pointed to a man who had climbed aboard the trolley after the window was broken.  It turned out he was trying to catch up with a woman on the car and had been running alongside the car tapping on its windows, unbeknownst to the motorman.  The man finally grabbed a rock, said he would pay for the window and smashed the glass for attention, stopping the car.  Oddly, a news account suggests that once the unidentified man was identified by the motorman, all was forgiven and the trolley proceeded.

In mid-June, 1921, Pelham's Toonerville Trolley suffered yet another brake failure.  As the trolley car approached the end of its line where Pelhamdale Avenue intersects Shore Road, the motorman tried to apply the brakes to no avail.  Thankfully, a Pelham Manor police officer was on duty at the intersection and observed the car hurtling toward the intersection without slowing.  The officer, Officer Murphy, "saw the danger and held up autos approaching."  The trolley car left the tracks and missed one car "by six feet."  Two trolley car passengers, Mrs. and Mrs. Moran of 20 St. Joseph Street in New Rochelle, were "slightly shaken up," but apparently unhurt.

Barely a year later, on July 23, 1922, the Pelham Manor Trolley was involved in another crash.  Paul Deglinno of 10 South Sixth Avenue in Mount Vernon was driving a Ford Touring Car on Pelhamdale Avenue near Bolton Avenue.  A passenger, Camelia Strolle of 34 Fourth Avenue in Mount Vernon, was riding with him.

Deglinno was stuck behind the rattling trolley as it bounced along Pelhamdale Avenue.  He decided to pass the trolley being operated by motorman Edward Galzier.  Deglinno gunned the engine and tried to pass.  He misjudged the maneuver and struck the rear of the trolley car so violently that he launched his passenger through the glass windshield of the touring car, cutting her chin badly.  

The accident was witnessed by Pelham Manor police officer Philip Atkinson who assisted Deglinno to drive the injured woman to New Rochelle Hospital where she received stitches.  

There were other such accidents involving Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley during its forty-year span.  Those described today merely demonstrate a few of the many when trolleys once rattled along tracks in the streets of the tiny little Town of Pelham.

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A Wound on Head and a Dislocated Shoulder

North Pelham, N. Y., July 1st -- This village was the scene of another trolley accident last night which occurred on Fifth avenue near Fourth street only a few feet from where little Ray Godfrey was hit and severely injured three weeks ago.

John R. Beecroft, President of the Board of Education, was returning to his home in Pelham Manor, with his wife, from the closing exercises at the North Pelham school over which he presided.  It was shortly after ten o'clock and as the carriage reached Third street on the way up Fifth avenue the horse shied and backed into a Pelham Manor trolley car coming from the opposite direction.  Mr. and Mrs. Beecroft were thrown out and the carriage completely wrecked.  

Mr. Beecroft was unconscious but escaped with a cut on his head and several bruises.  Mrs. Beecroft had her shoulder dislocated.

They were taken to the home of John Case and Drs. Fleming and Washburn summoned who set Mrs. Beecroft's shoulder and dressed her husband's wounds.  The motorman was arrested but later released."

Source:  EXTRA -- TROLLEY ACCIDENT AT PELHAM -- JOHN BEECROFT AND WIFE INJURED -- A Wound on Head and a Dislocated Shoulder, Mount Vernon Daily Argus, Jul. 1, 1899, Vol. XXIX, No. 2,227, p. 1, col. 4.

"Pelham Manor
Accident Case Adjourned.

The case of Charles McCarthy, of New Rochelle, the chauffeur who drove the big tank motor truck of the Texas company, Thursday morning, when it collided with and pushed a Pelham Manor trolley car off the track on Pelhamdale avenue near Bolton avenue, came up yesterday morning before Justice of the Peace Ralph Rogers in the local court and was promptly adjourned until next Wednesday evening at 8 o'clock.  The two men who rode with McCarthy at the time of the accident Morris Johnson of New Rochelle, agent for the Texas company and Bert Nelson, the bookkeeper for the concern, are at the New Rochelle hospital where they were taken following the accident.  Their condition is reported as much improved and as no internal injuries of consequence have developed their condition is not serious.  The injuries are lacerations of the heads and each have a broken arm.  They will be able to leave the hospital in a few days.  None of the passengers who were in the trolley car have as yet reported injuries."

Source:  Pelham Manor -- Accident Case Adjourned, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 15, 1918, p. 9, col. 5.

"North Pelham. . . . 

The Pelham Manor trolley car had just left the Pelham station and was headed for the Manor at 7:15 o'clock last evening, when in front of Jeker's garage, there was a crash and a shower of falling glass.  The car stopped in front of the Pelham police headquarters and the motorman jumped off and asked who threw the stone through the window.  All rushed to the spot where two autos filled with people stood and asked the question there.  The autoists leaned forward and said:  'Do you see that man and woman who got on the car after it stopped?  Well, that man ran alongside the car and was tapping on the window.  The motorman did not hear or see him, so he said he would stop him and threw a stone through the glass, remarking at the time that he would pay for the window.'  There wass a stretching of necks to see who the man was, a chorus of 'Oh's' and the motorman remarked 'It's all right, never mind,' and the car was off."

Source:  North Pelham, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 6, 1920, p. 7, col. 5.

"Pelham Manor. . . .

The brakes on the Pelham Manor trolley car failed to work just as it was approaching the end of the line at the shore road, and ran across the shore road to the approach to the New York Athletic club.  Officer Murphy, who was on duty there at the time, saw the danger and held up autos approaching.  The car missed one auto by six feet.  Mr. and Mrs. Moran of 20 St. Joseph street, New Rochelle, were on the car and slightly shaken up. . . ."

Source:  Pelham Manor, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 18, 1921, p. 10, col. 4.  

"Woman Badly Cut When Auto Strikes Trolley
Is Thrown Through Windshield By Impact.  Eight Stitches Taken In Chin At Hospital

Thrown through the windshield of a Ford touring car, when it collided with the Pelham Manor trolley car.  Sunday afternoon, Miss Camelia Strolle, of No. 34 Fourth Avenue, Mount Vernon, received a deep gash in her chin, in which eight stitches had to be taken, by a surgenon at New Rochelle Hospital.

Miss Strolle was riding in the touring car which was operated by Paul Deglinno, of No. 10 South Sixth Avenue, Mount Vernon.  The couple in the automobile were going south on Pelhamdale Avenue, behind the trolley car, which was operated by Edward Galzier, Deglinno tried to pass the trolley car, but misjudged the clearance and crashed into it.

The force of the impact threw Miss Strolle forward, and her head struck the windshield, breaking it, and as her head passed through the broken pane of glass the jagged edge cut a deep gash in her chin.

Officer Philip Atkinson, of the Pelham Manor police department, witnessed the accident, and with Deglinno, drove the injured woman to New Rochelle Hospital.  There she received treatement and was removed to her home later.  There was no one else injured in the accident.  There was no damage done to the automobile than the broken windshield."

Source:  Woman Badly Cut When Auto Strikes Trolley -- Is Thrown Through Windshield By Impact.  Eight Stitches Taken In Chin At Hospital, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 28, 1922, Vol. 13, No. 22, p. 1, col. 5.

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Below is a bibliography including links to a few of my many previous postings dealing with the topics of the "Toonerville Trolley," horse-drawn railroad cars, electric trolleys and other trolley-related information pertinent to Pelham, New York.

Bell, Blake A., Pelham and the Toonerville Trolley, 82(4) The Westchester Historian, pp. 96-111 (Fall 2006).

Bell, Blake A., Pelham and the Toonerville Trolley, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 11, Mar. 12, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.

Thu., Feb. 22, 2018:  More on the 1916 Trolley Strike That Brought Violence to Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 06, 2017:  Has One of the Most Enduring Pelham History Mysteries Been Solved? The Mystery of Charles A. Voight!

Thu., Sep. 15, 2016:  Pelham Manor Residents Complained of Awful Service on the Toonerville Trolley Line as Early as 1899.

Fri., May 27, 2016:  Was Max "Maxie" Martin the Man Who Was the Skipper on the Pelham Manor Trolley the Day Fontaine Fox Rode the Line and Was Inspired?

Thu., Sep. 10, 2015:  Pelham Manor Citizens Voted to Reject Bus Service and Keep Their Toonerville Trolley in 1936.

Fri., Jul. 24, 2015:  The Day the Brakes Failed on the Pelham Manor Trolley, Inspiration for the Toonerville Trolley.

Tue., Jan. 06, 2015:  Extension of the Toonerville Trolley Line in Pelham Manor in 1910.

Wed., Mar. 19, 2014:  Another Confirmation the Famous "Toonerville Trolley" was Inspired by the Pelham Manor Trolley in 1909.

Wed., Mar. 05, 2014:  Trolleys Came to Pelham in the 1890s.

Tue., Jan. 05, 2010:  More on the Extension of the Pelham Manor Trolley Line in 1910 -- The Toonerville Trolley Line.

Wed., Dec. 30, 2009:  Opening of the Extension of the Pelham Manor Trolley Line in 1910 -- The Toonerville Trolley Line.

Wed., Dec. 23, 2009:  Attack on the Toonerville Trolley Line by Strikers in 1916

Thu., Aug. 27, 2009:  October 19, 1898 Report that the Tracks of the Toonerville Trolley Line Had Been Laid in Pelham.  

Mon., Aug. 17, 2009:  Efforts by Pelham Landowners in 1900 to Halt Construction of a Trolley Line on Shore Road.

Tue., Sep. 19, 2006:  Toonerville Trolley Cartoons Available For Free Viewing Online.

Tue., Sep. 19, 2006:  Toonerville Trolley Cartoons Available For Free Viewing Online.  

Wed., Aug. 9, 2006:  The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley"

Thu., Jul. 06, 2006:  Who Was the Skipper on the Pelham Manor Trolley the Day Fontaine Fox Rode the Line and Was Inspired?

Thu., Mar. 09, 2006:  Photographs of the H Line and A Line Trolleys on and Near Pelhamdale Avenue.

Tue., Oct. 11, 2005:  The Toonerville Trolley Pays Its Bills -- Late!

Tue., Sep. 20, 2005:  Pelham's "Toonerville Trolley" Goes To War.

Fri., Jun. 17, 2005:  "Skipper Louie" of Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley

Tue., Apr. 19, 2005:   Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

More on the 1916 Trolley Strike That Brought Violence to Pelham

All was ready.  Screens had been installed around the motorman's vestibule in the trolley car to protect the operator from stones and broken glass.  A police officer was on board with the few passengers brave enough to chance a trip between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle through Pelham.  The trolley strike of 1916 was underway.  There had been threats of violence.  

The little car began its trip that day, Saturday, October 21, 1916, down Fifth Avenue in the Village of North Pelham and onto Wolfs Lane in the Village of Pelham Heights.  As the trolley car bounced along Wolfs Lane, a crowd of fifty to seventy-five strikers could be seen in the distance.  As soon as the crowd appeared, the police officer reportedly leaped off the trolley car and fled across vacant lots to safety.  It was an ominous forshadowing of the violence about to befall the trolley car and those within it.  What happened that day?

Though difficult to imagine today, for a brief time during the Great Street Car Strike of 1916, the little Town of Pelham was the center of a maelstrom of violent labor unrest.  Trolley line workers throughout the region were on strike when management decided to break the strike with loyal company employees and non-union employees. Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Pelham, and New Rochelle were at the center of this maelstrom of violence that resulted in injuries to trolley car riders in Pelham and even a pitched battle with police on the Pelham and New Rochelle border. 

I have written before about the Great Streetcar Strike of 1916 and the violence that occurred in Pelham.  See Mon., Oct. 19, 2015:  Rioting Strikers Attacked Pelham Trolley Passengers and Fought With Pelham Police in the Great Streetcar Strike of 1916See also Wed., Dec. 23, 2009:  Attack on the Toonerville Trolley Line by Strikers in 1916.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog tells a little about the effects of the Great Streetcar Strike of 1916 and the violence that resulted in the little Town of Pelham.  Presented below is the text of an extensive article that appeared in The Daily Argus of Mount Vernon, New York detailing violence that occurred in Pelham during the lengthy strike on Saturday, October 21, 1916.  It makes fascinating reading for students of Pelham history.

Trolley car that ran from Pelham Station along Wolf's Lane
with a short stint on Colonial Avenue then along the length of
Pelhamdale to Shore Road where it turned around and
repeated the trip. The two trolley operators standing in front
of the car were Skippers Dan and Louie.

*          *          *          *          *

Strikers From New Rochelle Descend There on Saturday -- Trolley Company Insists That the Police There Gave no Protection and Insinuates Cowardice -- It is Said One Jumped.
Cars Stone -- Chief Marks of Pelham Manor is Said to Have 4 or 5 Men -- No Arrests Made Despite the Violence -- Trolley Company Will Not Resume Traffic Until Assured of Adequate Police Protection.

Pelham Manor, Oct. 23. -- A mob of between 50 and 75 striking trolleymen from New Rochelle made good their threat to stop street car traffic between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle on Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock.  While the police of Pelham Manor, headed by Chief Marks, who claimed the trouble was taking place in Pelham Heights and therefor he had no authority to interfere, witnessed their tactics, the crowd savagely attacked the cars and their crews, hurling stones through the windows.

The Pelham Manor police who up to that time had been riding on the cars got off and gave no protection, it is alleged.  Passengers on the cars were in a shower of splintered glass and it was reported that Roberta Manning and Mrs. E. Wright, both of 15 Glendale Place, Brooklyn, were cut, but the Westchester Electric Railroad denied this later.

The railroad company accuses the police of neglect of duty and insinuates cowardice.  One policeman is alleged by the company to have jumped off the car he was detailed to guard and to have left the scene via vacant lots when he saw the crowd of strikers approaching.  The company had not decided today, pending detailed reports and affidavits from the crews, as to what action would be adopted.

Not only were two Mount Vernon - New Rochelle cars stoned, but the Pelham Manor car was damaged.  All three cars were discontinued in service.  With the motormen behind the screened vestibules, the cars were finally run through the gauntlet of stones and sticks into Mount Vernon, a sanctuary.

Since then no cars have been run between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, but the company announced today that it is ready to resume their operation as soon as adequate police protection is supplied.  The Pelham Manor line also has not been in service cince Saturday afternoon.

No arrests were made here, altho the trolley company officials claim that Chief Marks and four or five men, as well as Chief Holden of, of Pelham Heights with one other policeman, were witnesses of the happenings.

After leaving here the crowd of strikers returned to New Rochelle, where on Mayflower avenue the men at 5:15 o'clock bombarded a Webster avenue car, breaking six windows and denting the car.  The crowd evidently was after William Smith who had remained faithful to the company, but Smith came through unhurt.  Three New Rochelle policemen drew their guns and started after the crowd, but the strikers ran away.  As the police were pursuing them, they saw another crowd approaching the car from the opposite direction and had to give up the chase to protect the company's property.

In Saturday's demonstration by the strikers, the three cars were on Colonial avenue at the same time.  One car was bound from Mount Vernon to New Rochelle.  It had been escorted safely to the village line, where it ws boarded by a Pelham Manor policeman in accordance with the agreement made by Chief Marks to furnish protection from the city line of Mount Vernon to the city line of New Rochelle.  Colonial avenue is a continuation of Sixth street, Mount Vernon.

Coming in the opposite direction on a return trip from New Rochelle was another car, on which was also a Pelham Manor Policeman.  The Pelham Manor car which was being run thru Pelham Manor and Pelham Heights during the day had turned from Wolf's lane into Colonial avenue.  It also carried a Pelham Manor cop.  The crowd of strikers had come from 'church corner' in this village, seeking the trolley cars which the men had learned were being run thru here between the two cities.

The crew of the car from Mount Vernon, consisting of Motorman McGrath and Conductor Gavin, claimed
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(Continued from page one)

that when the policeman with them saw the crowd coming he alighted and left, across lots.  Motorman McGrath run [sic] the car through the crowd and continued on his way to New Rochelle with a number of broken windows as the result of the rocks thrown from the crowd.

The crowd gathered around the two other cars, threatening the crews.  One of the conductors was Martin Woodbee, a striker who had returned to work.  Motorman Clough, on the other New Rochelle, was also an ex-striker, and the crowd was 'after' them.

When the Pelham Manor police stood still and refused to lift a hand to check the disorder, Leonard Monroe, chief clerk of the trolley company, went in an automobile for Chief Holden, of Pelham Heights.  Holden is alleged to have asked:  'What can I do with only one policeman?' and it was with reluctance and only after he had been told that rioting was in progress in his own village that he finally went with Monroe.

Even with another police chief on the scene the disorder continued and finally Monroe ordered the crews to run their cars across the Mount Vernon line, and they obeyed.

Chief Marks said today that the trouble happened in Pelham Heights and he was without jurisdiction.  He said there were 75 strikers in the crowd, and that they had been driven out of New Rochelle.  He met them at the 'church corner,' near the village line, and ordered them to keep on moving, he said, and they finally went into Pelham Heights.

'That is a lie,' said Chief Marks, in referring to the report that one of his men had deserted a car.  'A window had been broken on Pelhamdale avenue, near Witherbee avenue, and he jumped off the car to see if he could find the person who threw the stone.  Then he went back on the car.  It was Officer Ring, and he did not run away.'

An effort was made to communicate with Chief Holden, but without success."

Source:  MOB STOPS THE TROLLEY CARS IN TOWN OF PELHAM, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 23, 1916, No. 8197, p. 1, col. 1 & p. 6, cols. 4-5.