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, April 09, 2018

Earliest Known Use of "Pelhamite" to Reference Residents of Pelham, New York

Recently, Historic Pelham asked (and attempted to answer) the following:

"Why are we called Pelhamites? Why not "Pelhamanians," "Pelhamians" or "Pelhamers?" Perhaps even "Pelhamaniacs!" How long have we been known as "Pelhamites?" Actually, just what is a Pelhamite? What do the residents of such communities as Pelham, New Hampshire and Pelham, Georgia call themselves? Will we ever really know the answers to such earth-shaking questions as these?"

Source:  Mon., Jul. 13, 2015:  What is a "Pelhamite" and For How Long Have We Been Called That?

That article documented the then-earliest-known use of "Pelhamite" to reference residents of our little town of Pelham, New York. It noted that on October 8, 1910, The Pelham Sun used the term as follows:

"The Town of Pelham, although one of the smallest in the county, did itself proud, for a Pelhamite, Col. F. J. Hoyle, of Pelham Manor, was made permanent chairman of the [Westchester County Democratic] convention, and later our Supervisor, Edgar C. Beecroft, was unanimously chosen as the candidate for District Attorney amid thunderous applause." 

Source: THE COUNTY DEMOCRATS SELECT A GRAND TICKET, The Pelham Sun, Oct. 8, 1910, Vol. 1, No. 27, p. 1, cols. 1-2 (emphasis supplied)

Clearly Pelhamites of Pelham, New York have referred to themselves as such for more than a century. In doing so, however, we may not be as special and unique as we otherwise might have believed. Virtually every other community in the world named "Pelham" also seems to use the demonym "Pelhamite" for its citizens. It seems, therefore, that the term may originate simply from the ease with which it flows as a shorthand reference to someone from Pelham. Indeed, the term certainly seems to flow from the tongue more easily than "Pelhamaniacs."

We now can say with certainty that the earliest use of the term Pelhamite to reference Pelham, New York citizens can be moved back more than thirty years earlier to December 5, 1877.  Indeed, sharp-eyed students of Pelham history may already have noticed this fact.  

In the most recent Historic Pelham article published on Friday, April 6 about the formal installation of Rev. Dr. Henry Randall Waite as the first permanent pastor of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church, a newspaper report about the event published that date noted that after the installation ceremony clergymen and other "visitors were entertained by the hospitable Pelhamites at their homes."  See  A HUGUENOT INSTALLATION -- THE NEW CHURCH THAT HAS BEEN ERECTED AT PELHAM MANOR, N. Y. Herald, Dec. 5, 1877, No. 15,080, p. 4, col. 4.

It appears, dear Pelhamites, that we have been referred to as Pelhamites for at least 140 years and likely much longer than that.  Hopefully additional research will push that date back even more!

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