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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold: Don't Mess With a Pelham Fireman

It was 1914.  The First Fire District had just purchased a new "automobile fire truck."  Pelham volunteer firefighter Hans Gruber was appointed by the Fire Commissioners as driver and caretaker of the new fire engine.  One day in autumn, Gruber drove the new fire truck through Pelham Heights.

Frances Van Schaick lived in Pelham Heights at 116 Corlies Avenue.  She did not like the new "automobile fire truck."  She did not like it at all.  In fact, the exhaust it belched and the noise it made as it rumbled over the roads of the Heights bothered her so much that she filed a civil action against poor Hans Gruber and had a summons served on him to appear in village court to answer her lawsuit alleging he disturbed her with the vehicle.

Hans Gruber, it seems, did not like being hauled into court for doing his job driving the fire truck.  He did not like it at all.

Frances Van Schaick, it seems, must have been a rather difficult lady.  Shortly before filing her action against Hans Gruber, she had been in a dispute with a local taxicab operator and refused to pay the fare.  The taxicab operator filed his own civil action in village court against Mrs. Van Schaick seeking payment of the disputed fare.  Justice Stires authorized a summons directing Mrs. Van Schaick to appear at a civil trial to answer the claim and gave the summons to Constable King to serve on Frances Van Schaick.

Constable King did not know Mrs. Van Schaick.  As fate would have it, the day before the annual firemen's inspection, Constable King asked his friend, Hans Gruber, if he happened to know Frances Van Schaick.  As one news report put it, at that moment, Gruber "saw his opportunity to 'get even'' with Mrs. Van Schaick.  He hatched an elaborate plan with Constable King to achieve his revenge.

The following day, Pelham firemen gathered in the evening for their 21st annual parade and inspection.  Among those marching in the parade with the firemen were the Town Constables, including Constable King.  Tucked inside Constable King's pocket was the summons requiring Mrs. Van Schaick's appearance in court to answer the civil claim filed by the taxicab operator seeking payment of his fare.  Hans Gruber was in the driver's seat of the new "automobile fire truck."

Hans Gruber had made sure that the firemen's parade would include a march along Corlies Avenue where Frances Van Schaick lived.  As the parade passed 116 Corlies Avenue, there stood Mrs. Van Schaick in her front yard, cheering the parade!  The moment the new "automobile fire truck" passed the home, Hans Gruber turned the vehicle's searchlight onto Mrs. Van Schaick and held it steady, lighting up the cheering woman in front of the parade marchers.

Gruber had plotted with Constable King to train the spotlight on Mrs. Van Schaick if she was found outside so that the Constable would know who she was and could serve her with the summons for the taxi fare case.  While Gruber kept the searchlight on Mrs. Van Schaick (and while the entire parade procession watched), Constable King left the parade line, served a surprised Mrs. Van Schaick with the summons in the bright glare of the searchlight, and returned to the parade ranks as the parade continued.

According to one account, when Frances Van Schaick appeared in court pursuant to the summons, she "spent most of the evening protesting against the manner in which she was served" so that the trial had to be rescheduled for the following week!

116 Corlies Avenue Where Hans Gruber Turned the Fire
Truck Searchlight on Mrs. Frances Van Schaick During
the Annual Firemen's Inspection Parade in 1914.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text of a news article on which today's Historic Pelham article is based, followed by a citation and link to its source.

"North Pelham
Revenge Is Sweet.

It will be remembered that Mrs. Frances Van Schaick, of 116 Corlies avenue, summoned Hans Gruber to court several weeks ago because he was operating the new automobile fire truck in the Heights.  At a civil trial Friday evening it was learned that Hans Gruber had evened up the score.  Constable King had been given a summons by Justice Stires to serve upon Mrs. Van Schaick in a civil action brought by John Cammerano to recover for taxicab hire.  Constable King did not know who Mrs. Van Schaick was and asked Hans Gruber the day before the firemen's annual inspection.  Gruber then saw his opportunity to 'get even for his arrest [sic].  He arranged with Constable King that when the firemen's parade passed rs. Van Schaick's house that the searchlight would be played upon her if she happened to be in view.  The parade passed the house and there stood Mrs. Van Schaick cheering the firemen.  Hans Gruber from the automobile engine seat turned the searchlight upon Mrs. Van Schaick and held it there.  Constable King left the line and served the paper and then returned to the ranks.  Friday evening, when the case was called, Mrs. Van Schaick spent most of the evening protesting against the manner in which she was served.  The case will be tried next Friday evening by Justice Stires."

Source:  North Pelham -- Revenge Is Sweet, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 12, 1914, p. 11, col. 2.

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Below is a list of prior Historic Pelham Blog postings that touch on firefighting and the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2017:  Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold:  Don't Mess With a Pelham Fireman.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2017:  Six of Pelham's Earliest Firefighters Marched in the 36th Annual Fire Inspection Parade in 1930.

Tue., Dec. 06, 2016:  An Account of the Tragic Vaughan Livery Stable Fire in Pelhamville in 1907.

Wed., Nov. 16, 2016:  More on the 1889 Fire that Destroyed the Hunter House on Travers Island.

Tue., Oct. 04, 2016:  Harry R. King, Fire Chief of the First Fire District From 1911 to 1913.

Wed., Jun. 15, 2016:  Organized Volunteer Fire Fighting in Pelhamville Began as Early as 1885.

Tue., Jun. 14, 2016:  The First Annual Inspection of Pelhamville Fire Fighting Units in 1894.

Tue., Jun. 07, 2016:  When Did Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Acquire its First Fire-Fighting Steam Engine?

Mon., May 16, 2016:  Fatal Fire in 1902 at One Fifth Avenue Burned Down the Post Office and Pharmacy.

Fri., Apr. 29, 2016:  Famous Meyers Mansion in Pelham Manor Burned Down in 1897.

Thu., Apr. 28, 2016:  Pelham Manor Dutifully Extinguished a Fire That Nearly Burned Down its Hated Wooden Train Station in 1896.

Mon., Jan. 04, 2016:  Pelham Manor Voters Voted to Disband the Pelham Manor Fire Department in 1928.  

Mon., Dec. 14, 2015:  Early History of the Village of Pelham Manor Fire Department.

Fri., Dec. 11, 2015:  Evidence of An Early Independent Firefighting Unit in Pelham Named "Indians."

Thu., Dec. 10, 2015:  Grand Fire-Fighting Competition and Parade Held in the Town of Pelham in 1891.

Wed., Dec. 09, 2015:  Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Built a New Fire House on City Island in 1894.

Mon., Dec. 07, 2015:  The Code Used on the City Island Fire Bell in the Late 19th Century Used for Fire Alarms.

Mon., Nov. 30, 2015:  Another Detailed Account of the 1901 Fire that Destroyed the Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.

Fri., Nov. 20, 2015:  Account of 1894 Fire in One of Pelham's Earliest Newspapers.

Wed., Sep. 30, 2015:  Was it Arson that Destroyed the Prospect Hill School at Jackson and Plymouth Avenues in 1917?

Thu., Sep. 17, 2015:  An Account of the February 28, 1925 Fire at Pelhamdale, A Home on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fri., Jun. 12, 2015:  The Tumultuous Reign of Pelham Manor Fire Chief J. Louis Cunningham in the Early 1900s.

Tue., Jun. 09, 2015:  Reminiscences of Firemen Who Served From 1893 Until 1923 in North Pelham.

Wed., Jun. 03, 2015:  The Bell in Firemen's Memorial Park at First Street and Wolfs Lane.

Tue., Jun. 02, 2015:  Important Early Images of the Pelham Fire Department.

Fri., May 22, 2015:  History of Pelham's Beloved "Nott Steamer" Known as "Jim Reilly's Boiler."

Thu., Mar. 26, 2015:  Fire Destroyed the Old Pelham Manor Post Office in 1945.

Fri., Mar. 20, 2015:  Fire in 1932 Devastated the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor.

Tue., Feb. 17, 2015:  More on the Early History of Organized Firefighting in the Settlement of Pelhamville.

Mon., Feb. 16, 2015: The Great Furniture Fight of 1896: Company of Pelhamville Firemen Resigned En Masse.

Thu., Feb. 12, 2015: Rare 19th Century Image of Pelhamville Firemen Who Served in Relief Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.

Fri., Dec. 12, 2014: Parade and Housewarming Hosted by Pelhamville Fire Department in 1894.

Thu., Dec. 11, 2014:  Pelhamville's First Attempt to Create a Fire Department in 1893 Failed Due to a Legal Technicality.

Thu., Jul. 24, 2014: Dedication of the New Fire Headquarters in the Village of Pelham on December 29, 1927.

Wed., Jul. 02, 2014: Election Shenanigans Involving Fire Commissioner Election in 1898.

Thu., Apr. 24, 2014: Information About the History of Fire Departments in the Town of Pelham Published in 1927.

Thu., Jan. 30, 2014:  The Night Pelham's Town Hall Burned.

Fri., Jan. 24, 2014: Early Days of Organized Fire Fighting in Today's Village of Pelham.

Thu., Jan. 23, 2014:  Another Account of the Devastating Fire that Destroyed the Travers Island Clubhouse of New York Athletic Club in 1901.

Wed., May 12, 2010:  Fire Partly Destroyed Pelham Town Hall in 1908.

Fri., Jan. 15, 2010: Photograph of Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department in 1913.

Thu., Jan. 14, 2010: 1913 Report of the Firemen's Benevolent Association in Pelham.

Thu., Dec. 10, 2009: More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References.

Tue., Dec. 08, 2009: The Darling Triplets: Three Brothers Among Pelham's Earliest Firefighters.

Thu., Oct. 08, 2009: Firefighting Units on City Island in Pelham During the Early 1890's.

Fri., Sep. 04, 2009:  1901 Newspaper Article About Fire that Burned New York Athletic Club Clubhouse on Travers Island.

Mon., Aug. 31, 2009: Contest in 1891 To Determine Which Steam Fire Engine Company Could Throw a Stream the Greater Distance.

Fri., Aug. 28, 2009: Reorganization of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in February, 1891.

Thu., Aug. 06, 2009: Brief History of the Fire Department in the Village of North Pelham Published in 1913.

Wed., Aug. 05, 2009: Pelham Manor Fire Chief Pleads for Taxpayers to Authorize Purchase of Village's First Fire Engine.

Wed., July 15, 2009: Liberty Hose Company Election in 1898.

Thu., Feb. 19, 2009:  The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2006: Pelham Manor's Earliest Fire Fighting Equipment.

Wed., Jan. 18, 2006:  Newspaper Report of the Infamous Vaughan's Livery Stable Fire in North Pelham in 1907.

Mon., Oct. 17, 2005:  The Firemen's Memorial of the Pelham Fire Department.

Mon., Aug. 01, 2005: An 1896 Inspection and Drill of the Fire Department in Pelham.

Tue., May 31, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part I of II).

Wed., Jun. 01, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part II of II).

Fri., May 06, 2005:  The Great Furniture Battle at Pelhamville's Relief Hook and Ladder Company in 1896.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A History of Trap Shooting in Pelham, Including Amateur National Championships

Countless news stories (too many to quote them all below) describe or reference elaborate "pigeon shoots" in the Town of Pelham during the 19th century, particularly on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.  Shotgunners competed to kill live pigeons released into the air and, later, glass and clay targets, for cash prizes, silver trophies, and more.  In one year alone during the 1880s, more than 15,000 live pigeons were shot and killed on the grounds of the Country Club that once stood along today's Shore Road in Pelham.  Spectators and shotgunners bet on the outcomes of the competitions.  Pelham sportsmen, it seems, were avid participants in one of the oldest shotgunning games:  trap shooting.

According to one authority:

"Trap shooting has been around for a long time, maybe hundreds of years.  An early printed mention was in an English publication called 'Sporting Magazine.'  In 1793, an article stated that trap shooting was already 'well established' in England.

"Early trap shooters used live pigeons for targets.  Birds were held in a box or 'trap' until the shooter 'called for the bird.'  An assistant would then pull a string to open the trap's lid.

"The first known records of organized trap shooting in the U.S. are probably those contained in the 1831 records of the Sportsman's Club of Cincinnati, Ohio.  In 1866, Chs Portlock of Boston, Massachusetts, introduced a glass ball to American target shooters.  The balls met with limited success because the levers used to propel them were so inadequately matched to the glass that many balls shattered when they were launched.

"Glass ball shooting declined when George Ligowsky invented the first clay pigeon and a machine to throw it effectively in the 1880s.  This was significant for shotgun games because Ligowsky's disc-shaped clay pigeon simulated the flight of a live bird, whereas the glass balls were simply lobbed into the air.

"Ligowsky's pigeons were made of clay and baked in an oven.  They were apparently quite hard and it took a precise shot to break one.  Today's clay targets are made primarily of pitch and are easier to break.  The use of live birds gradually fell into disfavor in the 20th century."

Source:  Sapp, Rick, The Gun Digest Book of Trap & Skeet Shooting, 5th Edition, p. 17 (Gun Digest Books, 2009).

The sport of trap shooting seems to have progressed in Pelham consistently with the history of the sport.  There are countless references to live pigeon shoots with later references to competitions involving glass target balls and "clay pigeons."  By the early 20th century, there was a trap shooting range and a "Trap Shooters' Lodge" on Travers Island that operated for many, many decades.  

Early pigeon matches, as they were called, were interesting affairs.  In the earliest days wooden boxes were placed on the ground in front of the shotgunner, each holding a pigeon.  They were called box "traps," hence the name of the modern sport of trapshooting.  Each box trap had a long cord attached to a door on the trap.  When the shooter called for a bird, a participant pulled a cord that sprang open the door allowing the bird to escape into flight to be shot.  

Chromolithograph Entitled "Pigeon Match" from Work
by Henry Thomas Aiken.  A Wooden Box Trap May Be
Seen on the Right From Which the Pigeon Has Just
Been Released.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

During much of the 1880s and early 1890s, live pigeon shoots were held in Pelham at Bartow Station and in an area near the border of Pelhamville and Eastchester.  By 1884, the Country Club located near Bartow on both sides of Shore Road held live pigeon shoots as well as clay pigeon matches on its grounds.  On October 4, 1884, for example, shotgunners faced off in a clay pigeon match.  The men were presented with twenty clay targets apiece, presented as singles.  The clay targets were sprung from five traps hidden by a screen with each trap throwing in a different direction.  J. L. Breese and W. Kent ended the day with the two highest scores.  Breese shot 18 of the 20 clay pigeons.  Kent shot 17.  

At the height of the popularity of live pigeon shoots in Pelham, more than fifteen thousand pigeons a year were shot and killed on the grounds of the Country Club along today's Shore Road.  When a reporter for the New York Herald visited the clubhouse of the Country Club in 1888, he later wrote:

"Within the office [of the clubhouse] was a heap of gun cases, which led to the remark on the part of the young man in charge that the last pigeon match of the winter season was shot off last Saturday.  Do they have many matches?  Well, they kill about fifteen thousand pigeons in a year.  And so it readily appeared, for the grassy plot without for about a quarter of an acre was enclosed with a netting fence, within whose confines were the traps and other paraphernalia necessary to such sport. . . ."

Other news items indicate that during the mid-1880s, Pelham sportsmen shot live pigeons, glass ball targets (the predecessor to clay pigeons), and also clay pigeons.  For example, an item published on November 28, 1884 stated:

"There was a big time at Secord's, Bartow yesterday.  There was an interesting pigeon match, between Messrs. Weeks and Malnatt, and plenty of clay pigeon and glass ball shooting. . . ."

As the sport of trap shooting progressed, the traps did as well.  So-called plunge traps became fairly standard.  The plunge trap, invented by Parker and in use by 1874, was an early effort to "launch" a pigeon rather than simply open a box and wait for the pigeon to emerge.  With box traps, the door would be opened and it might be some time before a wary and reticent pigeon might attempt a flight escape -- a reason for the intentionally unpredictable delay in the release of a clay target once it is called for in modern trap shooting.  A plunge trap had a platform on which the bird was placed with spring doors that closed like a pyramid above the platform.  When the cord was pulled, the doors fell away from the platform which "plunged" upward to force the pigeon into the air.

MERIDEN CONN."  This 1893 Trade Card Shows a Pigeon
Match Underway.  Four Parker Plunge Traps Are Visible on
the Ground to the Right With Cords Extending Back to The
Handler Standing to the Left of the Shotgunner.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

Though it seems a certain recipe for disaster, such pigeon matches occasionally involved copious amounts of whiskey.  Indeed, occasionally the nasty results were predictable.  One odd event involved whiskey at a pigeon match near an Eastchester tavern called Forkle's on the border of Eastchester and Pelhamville on New Year's Day, 1886.  (Forkle's, owned by William Forkle, was sometimes referenced as in Pelham and other times as in Eastchester.)

Two men from the settlement of Bartow in Pelham, John Secord and W. J. Elliott, faced off against two men from the Village of Westchester, Hiram Hoffman and Joseph Whitney.  The four men loaded up on "Forkle's whiskey" during the match.  According to one account, "[d]uring the afternoon, while the boys were feeling the effects of Forkle's whiskey, to a considerable extent, someone fired a shot through Forkle's door."  

Mr. Forkle had Joseph Whitney arrested, claiming he fired the shot.  Whitney was tried and found not guilty.  Forkle next had Whitney arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.  Whitney refused to appear for trial and was fined $20.  Not yet satisfied, a "meddler" claimed W. J. Elliott of Pelham was actually the one who fired the shot.  Nearly three weeks after the pigeon match, Forkle had Elliott arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.  The case was tried before Justice Farrington and a jury on the evening of Tuesday, January 19, 1886.  According to an account of the trial:

"On the trial that took place there was not a scintilla of evidence against Elliott, as the counsel for the prosecution remarked, 'the witnesses would not swear as they had talked.'  The result was a verdict by the jury of 'not guilty.' The action of Forkle in this matter, to say the least, is reprehensible.  He issues an invitation broadcast for a pigeon shooting, a violation of law; he then sells his guests whiskey, and when it takes effect and they get hilarious, he has them arrested for disorderly conduct."

Many of the pigeon shoots were held in and around the settlement known as Bartow that once surrounded Bartow Station along the New Haven Branch Line near the head of today's Orchard Beach Road.  

Glass target balls and the new "clay pigeons" were being used in Pelham by at least late 1884, occasionally in conjunction with live pigeon matches.  Indeed, in late 1885, John S. Secord of Bartow arranged a sports day on Christmas Day to have "a pigeon match, clay pigeon shooting and shooting for poultry.  

By at least August, 1895, shootists in the little settlement of Pelhamville (actually the spanking new Village of North Pelham) took a more humane approach.  By then they seem to have been shooting exclusively clay pigeons rather than live pigeons.  New York State banned live pigeon shoots, although other states such as Pennsylvania continued to allow such competitions as late as the 1960s. 

Many of today's Pelhamites can actually remember the sounds of trap shooting emanating from Travers Island by members of the New York Athletic Club and their guests.  Trap shooters shattered clay pigeons on the island for more than eighty years.  Indeed, there was a "Trap Shooters' Lodge" on the island maintained by the NYAC Trap Shooting Department.

Beginning in 1906, the New York Athletic Club began sponsoring an annual trap shooting "Amateur Championships of America."  Travers Island became the mecca for the most outstanding trap shooters in the United States.  Indeed, excepting the latter years of World War II, the annual championships attracted the nation's best amateur trap shooters for many, many decades.  In some years up to 300 trap shooters, both men and women, gathered to fire thousands of shells at clay pigeons on Travers Island.

Perhaps one of the most interesting Amateur Championships of America held at Travers Island was the 49th annual championship held in early May, 1958.  Seventy-year-old Ben Higginson won the National Singles Trap Shooting Championship by breaking 197 out of 200 targets.  Higginson thus became a three-time national champion in the event, having won the same event on Travers Island 52 years previously and also in 1949.  

Rufus A. King of Witchita, Texas, Winner in the
Class A Doubles Trap Shooting Event and the
Preliminaries Singles Event in the Amateur
Championships of America Held in Early May,
1939.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Image Shows Competitors on Two Trap Shooting
Platforms on Travers Shooting Clay Pigeons onMarch 22, 1911.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge. 

In early 1994, the Long Island Soundkeeper Fund and the New York Coastal Fishermen's Association filed a lawsuit against the New York Athletic Club alleging violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. and the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq.  The plaintiffs claimed that the club's trap shooting activities involving shooting clay targets from shoreline concrete platforms and breaking those targets over the waters of Long Island Sound were polluting the waters of the Sound.

On March 22, 1996, Federal District Court Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr. ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.  The Court concluded that the New York Athletic Club either had to apply for a Federal permit to pollute (in essence) or cease shooting immediately.  The club decided to end its century long shooting tradition on the island rather than seek the required permit.  See Long Island Soundkeeper Fund, Inc., et uno v. New York Athletic Club of the City of New York, No. 94 Civ. 0436 (RPP), 42 E.R.C. 1421, 1996 WL 131863 (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 22, 1996).

The long tradition of trap shooting in the Town of Pelham thus ended.

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"City Island. . . . 

A pigeon match will take place at the Tally Ho Hotel, Bartow Station, between Charles Johnson and Wm. Pell, for $25 a side, on September 4, 1880; also sweepstake shooting at one hundred birds.  The shooting will take place in the meadow at the rear of the hotel. . . ."

Source:  City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 27, 1880, Vol. XI, No. 571, p. 3, col. 2.  


There will be a pigeon shoot, at Secord's, Bartow, on Wednesday next. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 12, 1883, Vol. XV, No. 734, p. 3, col. 3.  


A pigeon match is to be shot at Seacord's [sic] Hotel at Bartow Station, on the 22d inst., between Benjamin May and Willard [illegible] for $50 and at ten birds each.  Sweepstakes shooting at sparrows will follow the pigeon match."

Source:  CITY ISLAND AND BARTOW, New Rochelle Pioneer, Feb. 9, 1884, Vol. XXIV, No. 46, p. 3, col. 7.  


THE COUNTRY CLUB. -- A clay pigeon match was held at Bartow-on-Sound Oct. 4 at thee grounds of the Country Club -- 20 birds each, 21 yards rise, singles, with 18 entries.  The birds were sprung from five traps hidden by a screen, each trap throwing in a different direction.  The following are the two best scores:

J. L. Breese........1 1 1 1 0    1 1 1 1 1    1 1 1 1 1     1 1 1 1 0 - 18
W. Kent...............1 1 1 1 1    1 1 1 1 1    0 1 1 1 1     1 0 1 0 1 - 17"

Source:  SPIRIT OF THE FIELD, Spirit of the Times, Nov. 15, 1884, p. 499, col. 3.  


Everything is in readiness for the first fall meeting of the Pelham Country Club, which is to take place at Pelham, to-morrow afternoon. . . .

The club has been very actively managed, and all through the Summer there have been any number of tennis, polo and pigeon shooting matches. . . ."

Source:  COUNTRY CLUB MEETING, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 17, 1884, Vol. XVI, No. 787, p. 2, cols. 3-4.  

"PELHAM. . . .

There was a big time at Secord's, Bartow yesterday.  There was an interesting pigeon match, between Messrs. Weeks and Malnatt, and plenty of clay pigeon and glass ball shooting. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 11, 1884, Supplement, p. 1, cols. 2-3.  


Mr. J. S. Secord, of Bartow, having given way on Thanksgiving, to all those who usually arrange sports on holidays, has decided to have a pigeon match, clay pigeon shooting and shooting for poultry, on Christmas Day, and to that end is making extensive preparations for a big time.  John never does things by halves, and a fine day's sport may be confidently looked for."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 11, 1885, Vol. XVII, No. 847, p. 3, col. 4.  

"LOCAL NEWS. . . . 

While a pigeon match was in progress at Forkle's, Eastchester, on New Year's Day, Joseph Whitney, a colored man of Westchester, is charged with having fired the contents of his gun through the door of Mr. Forkle's house, after otherwise conducting himself in a riotous manner.  Upon complaint of Forkle, Justice Edmonds issued a warrant for the arrest of Whitney.  The same was adjourned from Saturday to Monday on application of the defendant to get witnesses, and on Monday the principal witness for the people not being present the case was further adjourned until last night. . . ."

Source:  LOCAL NEWS, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 8, 1886, Vol. XVII, No. 851, p. 3, cols. 1-2.  

"LOCAL NEWS. . . .

As previously announced in these columns there was a pigeon match at Eastchester on New Year's day, at Forkles, and among those in attendance were W. J. Elliott and John Secord, of Bartow, and Hiram Hoffman and Joseph Whitney, of Westchester.  During the afternoon, while the boys were feeling the effects of Forkle's whiskey, to a considerable extent, someone fired a shot through Forkle's door.  The act was charged upon Whitney and he was arrested, tried and found not guilty.  He was then rearrested on a charge of disorderly conduct and disturbing the public peace and for not appearing for trial was fined $20.  Not yet satisfied or as was intimated by the complainant Forkle, at the instigation of a meddler, nearly three weeks after the pigeon match, he, Forkle, caused a warrant to be issued for the arrest of Elliott, whom he charged with disorderly conduct, and the trial took place before Justice Farrington and a jury last Tuesday evening.  On the trial that took place there was not a scintilla of evidence against Elliott, as the counsel for the prosecution remarked, 'the witnesses would not swear as they had talked.'  The result was a verdict by the jury of 'not guilty.'  The action of Forkle in this matter, to say the least, is reprehensible.  He issues an invitation broadcast for a pigeon shooting, a violation of law; he then sells his guests whiskey, and when it takes effect and they get hilarious, he has them arrested for disorderly conduct."

Source:  LOCAL NEWS, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 22, 1886, Vol. XVII, No. 853, p. 3, cols. 1-2.  


Benj May, Jr., of Bartow, shot a pigeon match, at Forkle's, last Monday, with Harry Force, of Harlem, at seven birds each.  May won, by killing three to his opponent's one. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Mar. 5, 1886, Vol. XVII, No. 859, p. 1, col. 5.  


A number of gentlemen, some from Mount Vernon, assembled at Elliott's Grand View Hotel, Pelham Bridge last Tuesday and as there were no pigeons or glass balls to shoot at, amused themselves shooting at bottles, and they got lots of fun out of it too. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 17, 1886, Vol. XVII, No. 916, p. 1, col. 6.


The noted wing shot from Long Island, Ike Hyde, competed last Thursday against John Hall of England at Bartow-on-the-Sound, in a pigeon match under Hurlingham rules, thirty yards rise, for $500  Hyde killed seventeen out of his eighteen birds, while his opponent only killed thirteen out of the same number.  The Englishman's friends are said to have had lost considerable money on the result."

Source:  PIGEON SHOOTING, The Newtown Register, Feb. 17, 1887, p. 2, col. 3.  


Handy-cap Pigeon Match. -- Americanized Hurlingham Rules. -- From Five Traps. -- For a Sporting Trophy, will be shot at J. S. Secord's Hotel, Bartow Station, on Thursday next, December 8th.  Conditions of the match:  at 11 birds each, from five traps [illegible] entrance fee, $3.00.  The above trophy is a solid silver cake basket of very unique design and specially appropriate, being supported on three guns between which, on the base stands a dog, at point. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 8 1887, Vol. XIX, No. 1043, p. 2, col. 4.  


There was a pigeon shoot at Secord's, Bartow, last Monday, during which the tie for the silver trophy, between Messrs. McCourt and Trott, was shot off, and in the contest which followed, there was another tie between Messrs. McNicholl and Elliott.  As a result, there will be another match to-morrow. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 13, 1888, Vol. XIX, No. 1054, p. 3, col. 2.  



The Country Club!  Who has not heard of it?  It is a landmark for all the villages around, as was attested by Blacksmith Burns' remark to a policeman at New Rochelle, when Mr. Lynch drove by in his buckboard, with his broad brimmed hat fluttering in the breeze.  He said, 'That little roan horse is the toughest in Westchester county.  He can keep up that three minute gait from here down to the Country Club.'  What a wholesome sound is there to the name, 'The Country Club?'  It seems to ring with rural music -- the baying of hounds, neighing of hunters, crack of guns, snapping of whips and shouts of stable boys.

Within the office was a heap of gun cases, which led to the remark on the part of the young man in charge that the last pigeon match of the winter season was shot off last pigeon match of the winter season was shot off last Saturday.  Do they have many matches?  Well, they kill about fifteen thousand pigeons in a year.  And so it readily appeared, for the grassy plot without for about a quarter of an acre was enclosed with a netting fence, within whose confines were the traps and other paraphernalia necessary to such sport. . . ."

Source:  WITH THE COUNTRY CLUB, New York Herald, May 6, 1888, p. 10, col. 3.  

"LOCAL NEWS. . . .

About 10 a.m. Thanksgiving day there will be a grand pigeon match at Forkle's Pelham.  Several crack shots of our village will take part."

Source:  LOCAL NEWS, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 22, 1889, Vol. XXI, No. 1248, p. 3, col. 1.  


A large and jolly crowd of the town men attended the pigeon match at William Forkel's, Eastchester, on Thanksgiving day.  It was one of the finest displays of marksmanship that has taken place in this vicinity for some time.  The first was a sweepstakes in which John Secord, of Bartow; John Elliott, of Pelham Bridge and Wm. Hoffman, of Westchester, entered.  The distance was 30 yards and it was nip and tuck between them, but John Elliott captured the prize.  Next one had 6 entries -- William McCourt, Peter Magee, John Secord, John Elliott and Wm. Hoffman.  This was a tan-teaser as one of the boys remarked; not a bird escaped, and in the shoot off the sweep was won by William McCourt.  Several other sweeps were indulged in equally as interesting; then John Elliott gave an exhibition of his skill, killing 17 out of 18 birds. They will attend the tournament to-day at White Plains.  Five better marksmen with a gun will be hard to find.  Zoo Zoo."

Source:  PIGEON MATCH, (EASTCHESTER.), The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Dec. 3, 1889, Vol. XXI, No. 1251, p. 3, col. 3.  


The Wauregan Gun Club will shoot matches and sweepstakes at Pelhamville on the 12th inst.  The principal match is a four-handed one -- W. Harris and W. H. Auckner against J. Fay and T. Kerker -- 25 birds each, 28 yards rise and $100 a side. . . ."

Source:  SPORTING NOTES OF INTEREST, New York Herald, Aug. 2, 1892, No. 20434, p. 8, col. 5.  


Owing to the inclemency of the weather on Saturday, Jan. 14th, the pigeon match which was advertised to take place at Percy Pell's is postponed until Saturday, Jan. 21st, at the same time and place.  All entries stand."

Source:  CITY ISLAND, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 18, 1893, Vol. 1, No. 244, p. 1, col. 5


How is it that Percy W. Pell, could not shoot one bird out of five at the recent pigeon match for the gold medal, but when he entered into the 'sweepstakes' shoot a week later he succeeded in killing ten straight.  That is easy enough.  May be Percy was a little off on the medal, and was in perfect trim for the sweepstakes. . . ."

Source:  CITY ISLAND, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 5, 1894, Vol. 2, No. 564, p. 1, col. 6.

Pelhamville. . . .

At the pigeon-match held Friday afternoon last, the first prize was awarded to Mr. Munzer of New York, second prize to Mr. William Brickner of the same city, third to Mr. Silverhorn and the fourth to Mr. Jarvis of New Rochelle. . . ."

Source:  OUR NEARBY NEIGHBORS -- Pelhamville, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 19, 1894, Vol. XXV, No. 1633, p. 4, col. 1.  

"Clay Pigeons Shoot at Pelhamville.

Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock a shooting match at clay pigeons took place at Pelhamville Hotel, now under the management of Michael Kelly, formerly of this city.  The match was between Daniel Kelly and M. F. Brickner versus Michael Kelly and George Stanley, 15 birds each.  Kelly and Brickner shot 12 birds each.  Michael Kelly 10 and G. Stanley 11.

After this the party shot at clay pigeons placed upon poles, distance 150 feet.  Daniel Kelly shot 6, Brickner 4, Michael Kelly 5 and Stanley 2.  Brickner and Daniel Kelly were declared the winners.  There was a large and interested crowd present."

Source:  Clay Pigeons Shoot at Pelhamville -- GEORGE STANLEY AND MICHAEL KELLEY VANQUISHED, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 21, 1895, Vol. XIII, No. 1034, p. 1, col. 3.  


The Country club of Westchester had an all day shoot at live birds yesterday at its grounds, overlooking Pelham bay.  Three cup events and a dozen sweepstakes made up the programme and among the cracks present were George Work, Fred. Moore, J. Seaver Page, W. Gould Brokaw, W. S. Edey and Colonel Butler.  The firset cup event, at five birds, was won by P. H. Adee, a 27 yard man.  Fred. Moore won the second event and Colonel Butler the third.  In the sweepstake events Moore, Work, Page, Gilbert, Brokaw and Butler divided the honors."

Source:  COUNTRY CLUB XMAS SHOOT, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 26, 1896, Vol. 56, No. 357, p. 5, col. 5.  


Joe Hiestand, the farmer of Hillsboro, Ohio, regarded as the greatest shotgun marksman of all time, with a straight run trap record of 1,191 clay targets will be the stellar attraction in the 34th annual tournament for the Amateur Championship of America which will start the 1939 trapshooting season on  national scale at the New York Athletic Club's Travers Island field tomorrow.  

Hiestand, who made his phenomenal record in the Grand-American at Vandalia, Ohio, last August, will try to shatter his own mark this season.  His entry in the New York A.C. meeting will be his first appearance in national competition this year.  He won the Amateur Championship of America at Travers Island in 1935, tying the record score of 199x200, again in 1936, and expects to repeat.

The stiffest kind of competition confronts him.  Roger Fawcett, New York, the defending champion who also shares the record for this event, Walter Beaver, Berwyn, Pa., and Steve Crothers, Chester Hill, Pa., both former title holders twice, will be on the firing line.  In addition to Beaver, several other former Grand American Handicap winners are entered including Rufus King of Wichita Falls, Texas, and F. G. Carroll, Brecksville, Ohio.

On account of the World's Fair, the Travers Island meeting this year is expected to be larger than ever before.  At least 200 of the nation's leading scatter-gun marksmen will shoot, plus a Canadian detachment of twenty under the leadership of Sam Vance.

The tournament will start tomorrow morning with a preliminary 100-target event followed by the Amateur Championship of America at doubles targets in the afternoon.  Hiestand, Beaver and Crothers have alternated in capturing this event for the past six years.  The Amateur Championship is scheduled for Saturday, 200 targets at 16 yards.  The 100 Targets Distance Championship will be fired on Sunday.  This was won last year by Z. G. Simmons, Jr., Greenwich, Conn., with a score of 98-100 at 22 yards."

Source:  SHOTGUN STAR TO COMPETE IN NYAC TITLE TEST, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 4, 1939, p. 24, col. 3.  

"Trap Shooting Title Taken By Ohio Ace

PELHAM MANOR -- With most of the major titles already claimed by victorious contestants, competition in the 37th annual national amateur clay target championships resumed today at the New York A.C. traps at Travers Island here.

Joseph Hiestand of Hillsboro, Ohio, won the doubles title for the fourth time yesterday when he managed to turn back a challenge by John D. Rowland of New Brunswick, N.J., in a shoot off.  Hiestand and Rowland scored 95 each in the regular competition, leading a field of 65 contestants, but in the shoot-off the former blasted 20 birds to Rowland's 18.

Top award in Class A competition, for which Hiestand and Rowland became ineligible when they placed one two in the doubles, went to Walter S. Beaver of Conahohocken, Pa., who won the title on five previous occasions and who scored a 94 yesterday.  W. H. Miller of Cleveland and Donald Tullock of Wilmington, Del., took first prizes in Classes B and C, respectively.

Earlier in the day Beaver, B. M. Higginson of Newburgh and Roger Fawcett of Larchmont all posted perfect scores in a preliminary singles event at 16-yard targets.  In a shoot-off, Higginson won a toss of the coin to settle the deadlock, and Fawcett received second prize.

Heading the B, C and D divisions respectively were A. L. Cornwell of Brookfield, Conn.; N. J. White, Hamilton, Ont., and Mrs. I. Andrews of Spartansburg, S. C."

Source:  Trap Shooting Title Taken By Ohio Ace, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 2, 1942, p. 6, col. 7.  


PELHAM MANOR, NY, May 13 (AP) -- The 47th annual national trap shooting championships came to a close today at the New York athletic club's Travers Island range when Dr. Harry Whiteford, a Mountain View, N.J., dentist, won the handicap title by breaking 97 out of 100 targets."

Source:  TRAPSHOOT CHAMP, Schenectady Gazette, May 14, 1956, p. 21, col. 2.  

"Trapshoot Champ Retains Crown

New York -- Walt Ostrom of Orangeburg, N.Y., successfully defended his national singles crown yesterday in the forty-eighth annual National Trap shooting Championships at the New York Athletic Club's Travers Island range.

Ostrom broke 192 of 200 targets to defeat George Newmaster of Lebanon, Pa., and C. H. Ziegler of Vernfield, Pa., by two.  It was the champion's third national singles victory in six years as a trapshooter."

Source:  Trapshoot Champ Retains Crown, The Sunday Press [Binghamton, NY], May 12, 1957, p. 15, col. 7.

"Veteran Wins In Trapshoot

PELHAM MANOR, May 10 (AP) -- Ben Higginson, 70-year-old veteran of the firing line, won the National Singles Trap-shooting Championship today at the New York Athletic Club's Travers Island range by cracking 197 out of 200 targets.

Higginson, who won the same title 52 years ago, and again in 1949, outshot a field of 125 of the nation's top on his way to his latest success.

The Newburgh contractor finished two targets in front of Walt Ostrom of Orangeburg, the defending champion; Howard Lewis of Frenchtown, N.J., and C. H. Ziegler of Vernfield, Pa.

John H. Larocque of Harrison, 16-year-old prep school junior, won the Junior Championship in a shoot-off with John Campbell of Oyster Bay by breaking 21 out of 25.

The Ladies Championship was won by Mrs. Mary Christopher, a 40-year-old Bristol, Pa., widow, at 184."

Source:  Veteran Wins In Trapshoot, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 11, 1958, p. 6B, col. 2.

"National Trap Shoot At N.Y.A.C.


One of the largest and strongest fields ever to enter a trap-shooting tournament have filed entries to compete in the fifty-fourth annual National Trap-shooting Championships scheduled for the New York Athletic Club's Travers Island range next week-end.

Shooting will get under way on Friday with the shooting of the doubles event in which a field of over 300 marksmen and women will set aim at 50 pairs of double targets.

Five championships will be decided on Saturday.  Sharpshooters from the United States and Canada will try for titles in the singles, ladies, seniors, junior and immediate family events.

The eight-event program will be completed on Sunday with the shooting of the handicap and overall events.

Included among the title defenders who have filed entries are Walt Ostrom, singles; Ruth Conover, ladies; Ben Higginson, seniors; Daniel O'Neil, juniors; Dan Orlich, doubles; Dr. Robert Silva, handicap and C. J. and R. B. McArthur, immediate family.

Higginson, the dean of New York A. C. trapshooters, will be attempting to win the senior title for the sixth successive year, a feat never before accomplished in trapshooting.  The Newburgh, N.Y. veteran is also a former three-time winner of the singles title."

Source:  National Trap Shoot At N.Y.A.C., The Daily News [Tarrytown, NY], May 4, 1963, p. 22, col. 4.  

"'Southern' NY Next For Frank

Frank Little of Endicott continues his accelerated preparation for U.S. Olympic trap-shooting trials this weekend when he competes in a New York State championship held 200 miles south of here.

Little was one of the three U.S. trap entries in the 1964 Olympics at Tokyo and is an automatic qualifier for the July trials in San Antonio.  He was an alternate on the U.S. team in last year's world meet in Italy after twice shooting in previous world meets.

The IBMer has competition scheduled every weekend from now till fall.  On Sunday he took three trap titles in the New York Athletic Club's Amateur Championships of America, held at Travers Island, and this weekend it'll be pigeon-shooting, held in Philadelphia because [it's] banned in New York State.  

Yesterday's Press erroneously listed Little's first name as Fred and said his Sunday wins were in Endicott."

Source:  'Southern' NY Next For Frank, Press [Binghamton, NY], Apr. 2, 1968, p. 3-C, col. 5.

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