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.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hutchinson River Parkway Detritus Was Used to Fill Much of the Pelham Reservoir in 1925


There is a lovely lake in Pelham.  Known as the "Pelham Reservoir," it long served as one of the principal sources of drinking water for our Villages.  By the mid-1920s, however, all of Pelham grew increasingly concerned with the quality of the water sourced from Pelham Reservoir.  As Pelham Manor, Pelham, and North Pelham worked on finding alternative water sources, construction began on the new Hutchinson River Parkway that cut through the small valley through which the Hutchinson River flowed.  

The New Rochelle Water Company had been working for years to bring Catskill Mountain water to Pelham Manor by connecting to the aqueduct system that carried that water through the Hudson Valley. Indeed, in November, 1928, the New Rochelle Water Company installed new pumping equipment that enabled it to draw Catskill water and deliver it to Pelham Manor. Barely a month later, the new pumping equipment began giving trouble and had to be repaired. 

During the repairs, Pelham Manor had to revert to consuming reservoir water during a prolonged drought. Once the pumping equipment was repaired, use of the reservoir water had drawn water levels to such a low that the repaired pumping equipment had to be deployed to refill the reservoir to ensure its availability during a water emergency rather than using it to move Catskill water to Pelham Manor.

To make matters worse, in late 1925 as construction crews excavated the landscape for the new Hutchinson River Parkway, they needed somewhere to deposit the dirt and debris.  In late November, for example, two steam shovels were stationed near today's Lincoln Avenue and were digging out about 1,000 cubic yards of material daily to get the river valley ready for the roadbed.  

According to a report in The Pelham Sun:

"The old Pelham reservoir north of the New Haven railroad tracks is now being slowly filled in with the material excavated north of East Lincoln avenue and although 100,000 cubic yards of material will be available in that way, it will be necessary to haul in from other places 96,000 cubic yards of dirt and gravel.  The reservoir extends from First street to Fourth street and is from 60 to 150 feet wide.  I has been cut in two by a dam and the filling is being done from the south end at present."


Detail of 1910 Map Showing Pelham Reservoir and Filter
Beds. Source: Bromley, George W. & Bromley, Walter S., Untitled
Map Bounded by Town of East Chester, City of New Rochelle, Pelham
Station, Clarefmont Avenue and Central Boulevard in Atlas Of Westchester
County, Vol. One, p. 17 (Philadelphia, PA: G. W. Bromley & Co., 1910).
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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Wed., Mar. 11, 2015:  Research Regarding the History of the Pelham Reservoir in Today's Willsons Woods Park.

Wed. May 27, 2015:  A Portion of the Pelham Reservoir Dam Was Destroyed in 1896 to Save the Filter Beds.

Tue., May 26, 2015:  1921 Report of Inspection of the Pelham Reservoir Water Supply System.

Mon., May 04, 2015;  Pelham Manor's Efforts to End Use of the Pelham Reservoir for Drinking Purposes.

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"Steam Shovels on Parkway Through By Next Summer
-----
Contract Calls for All Excavation Work to be Through by July, 1926
-----

The excavation work on the Hutchinson River Parkway will be completed by July 1, 1926 from New Rochelle Road to Boston Post Road, according to Superindent James O'Flannagan who is in charge of the work.  Two steam shovels are now stationed near East Lincoln avenue and First avenue and are digging out about 1000 cubic yards of material daily, in an effort to get the river valley ready for the roadbed of the boulevard.  The road will wind and thread its way along-side the channel of the Hutchinson River and will make an ideal drive on a crisp autumn day.

The old Pelham reservoir north of the New Haven railroad tracks is now being slowly filled in with the material excavated north of East Lincoln avenue and although 100,000 cubic yards of material will be available in that way, it will be necessary to haul in from other places 96,000 cubic yards of dirt and gravel.  The reservoir extends from First street to Fourth street and is from 60 to 150 feet wide.  I has been cut in two by a dam and the filling is being done from the south end at present.  

Superintendent O'Flanagan reports that the most serious difficulty has been encountered so far has beeen the 200 yards of solid rock found north of East Lincoln avenue.  It has also been difficult to relocate 500 feet of 10-inch water main, but an acetylene torch has been used to cut up the water main into lengths convenient for transference.

Besides steam shovels, compressed air drills and dynamite will be called into service and work will continue all winter on the Parkway.  There is 5000 cubic yards of rock to blast out, most of which is found near Boston Road and just north of East Lincoln avenue."

Source:  Steam Shovels on Parkway Through By Next Summer -- Contract Calls for All Excavation Work to be Through by July, 1926,The Pelham Sun, Nov.. 27, 1925, p. 3, col. 2.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Celebrations Throughout Pelham in 1925



I awoke this morning with a devout thanksgiving
for my friends, the old and the new.  Shall I not
call God the Beautiful, who daily showeth himself
to me in his gifts?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Friendship" in Essays, First Series (1841).

Happy Thanksgiving dear Pelham!

Pelham may have been a very different place 92 years ago in 1925.  Yet, were we to be transported back in time to November 26, 1925, we would recognize the warm and sincere giving of thanks and the many celebrations of Thanksgiving held in our little Town that Thanksgiving week.  Indeed, Pelham's Thanksgiving celebrations of today remain rich with tradition and look much like the Thanksgiving celebrations of Pelham in 1925.

College students flooded into Pelham to gather with their families for the holiday.  Pelham families hosted out-of-town guests for the celebration.  A surprising number of Pelhamites attended the Army-Navy football game at the Polo Grounds Thanksgiving weekend.  Some Pelhamites traveled elsewhere to spend the holiday with out-of-town families and friends.

Throughout Thanksgiving week there were grand gatherings and parties, particularly on Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday, Nov. 25, 1925).  For example, that Wednesday night, the Liberty Engine and Hose Company hosted a massive "fancy dress carnival" attended by 400 people at the firehouse on Fifth Avenue.  Prizes for best costumes included, among other things, a fifteen-pound turkey.  A six-piece orchestra provided music for a ballroom dance until midnight when the costume party attendees were unmasked.  Then, three additional musicians helped provide music for continued dancing that lasted until 3:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

At the same time on the same evening, the Pelham Country Club hosted its own Thanksgiving dinner and dance.  Neighbors and friends reserved tables together and enjoyed a massive Thanksgiving celebration.

Even Town Justice Anthony M. Menkel got into the Thanksgiving spirit on that Thanksgiving Eve in Pelham.  He held a Town Court session that evening.  When Thomas Grivffre of Mount Vernon appeared in Court to answer for an unspecified infraction, the Judge fined him $10.  When the poor fellow emptied his pockets, he only had $8.  Judge Menkel, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, reduced the fine to $8.  

The Manor Club, in turn, hosted its annual "Thanksgiving Feast" on the evening of Friday, November 27, 1925.  The annual Manor Club Thanksgiving celebration was the hottest ticket in town each year.  Seating was limited to 150, so tickets had to be bought for the event.  The Manor Club clubhouse was decorated in "Harvest" decorations for the traditional turkey dinner and the grand dance that followed.

Thanksgiving celebrations began as early that week as Sunday, November 22.  For example, that day the Young People's Society of the local Congregational Church hosted a lecture by Catharine Garber on the subject of "Thanksgiving Day" in which she "contrasted the spirit in which it was first celebrated and the way we celebrate it today."  Additionally, Dr. William Milton Hess explained to the audience "the difference between the Pilgrims who came to America for complete religious independence and the Puritans who came later and founded Massachusetts Bay Colony although they were not determined to entirely separate from the English church. . . ."

Thanksgiving Day in 1925 dawned bright and brisk.  The Young People's Society of the Congregational Church sponsored a pre-Thanksgiving dinner hike.  The group and guests hiked to Scarsdale and back before sitting down to their tables for a turkey feast.

At mid-day, Pelhamites throughout the Town sat down to their own turkey feasts with family and friends.  It was the height of the Roaring Twenties and the price of turkeys was up that year.  The Pelham Sun reported as follows:

"Pelham residents were just as anxious to buy their gobblers for the annual feast despite the fact that the price was about 5 to 10 cents higher [per pound] than last year.  Most of the turkeys came from Maryland and Ted's Market, People's Market and Pelham Heights Market reported that the price ranged from 40 to 65 cents per pound.  Although the majority of Pelham people wanted the usual Thanksgiving delicacy all markets reported a brisk demand for ducks and geese.  The prices for cranberries and the rest of the makings were correspondingly higher this year but that fact apparently made little effect on the Thanksgiving buyers."

The Pelham Sun lamented what it viewed as a decline in the nature of the Thanksgiving holiday spirit.  In an editorial that week, the newspaper stated:  

"[W]hen the first bountiful harvest came and a few of the Indian savages showed their friendship, [the Pilgrims] were certain that God had smiled on their religious venture and they hastened to give thanks.  The tables were heaped high with game from the forests and corn from the fields.  All feasted that day in a manner befitting a people who recognized the fact that their God had seen fit to treat them well.  Today this holy day has degenerated into little more than a mechanical holiday and the true fervor of the Thanksgiving spirit is experienced by few.  It is a day of rest and amusement from the tasks of the previous weeks instead of a day of prayer for the escape from dangers past."

Pelham, it seems, celebrated Thanksgiving in grand style in 1925 just as it is doing this day, ninety-two years later.





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"Good Turkeys Were Higher This Year
-----
Demand for Ducks and Geese in Advance of Last Year's and Higher in Price
-----

Pelham residents were just as anxious to buy their gobblers for the annual feast despite the fact that the price was about 5 to 10 cents higher [per pound] than last year.  Most of the turkeys came from Maryland and Ted's Market, People's Market and Pelham Heights Market reported that the price ranged from 40 to 65 cents per pound.

Although the majority of Pelham people wanted the usual Thanksgiving delicacy all markets reported a brisk demand for ducks and geese.  The prices for cranberries and the rest of the makings were correspondingly higher this year but that fact apparently made little effect on the Thanksgiving buyers."

Source:  Good Turkeys Were Higher This Year -- Demand for Ducks and Geese in Advance of Last Year's and Higher in Price, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 3, col. 2.  

"THE MANOR CLUB. . . . 

THANKSGIVING FEAST

One of the most important, and certainly one of the most enjoyable social events of the Manor Club season is the Thanksgiving Feast which will take place tonight at the club house.  The attendance has been limited to 150 and that number of tickets is reported as having been sold for some time past.  Each year the club members look forward to this event, when a feast is served in the old-fashioned way and followed by music and dancing to bring in the modern note.  The club will be attractively decorated in Harvest atmosphere and those of the members who are fortunate will enjoy one of the most delightful affairs that the Manor Club program has to offer. . . . 

AT THANKSGIVING FEAST OF MANOR CLUB
-----

One of the tables at the Thanksgiving feast at the Manor Club this evening will be occupied by Mr. and Mrs. William Currie, Mr. and Mrs. Julius A. Migel, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph C. Angell, Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood Barr, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Hull, Mr. and Mrs. Herber Elliott, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hess, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Cutting and Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Tuttle and Mr. and Mrs. Theodore H. Dauchy."

Source:  THE MANOR CLUB, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 7, cols. 4-5.  

"Four Hundred at Annual Ball of Liberty Hose Co.
-----

Over four hundred attended the annual dance and fancy dress carnival of Liberty Engine and Hose Company at fire headquarters on Wednesday night.  Mrs. Jennie Pickard won first prize, a silk umbrella, for her Santa Clause costume.  Miss Katherine Tully was awarded a silver compact for her costume.  William Heisser won a fifteen-pound turkey.

A six-piece orchestra supplied music until midnight when the unmasking took place.  After midnight the orchestra was augmented by three extras and dancing kept on until 3 a.m."

Source:  Four Hundred at Annual Ball of Liberty Hose Co., The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 1, col. 7.

"CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH Y. P. S.

Catharine Garber gave a talk on the subject of 'Thanksgiving Day' Sunday night at the meeting of the Young People's Society at the Congregational Church in which she contrasted the spirit in which it was first celebrated and the way we celebrate it today.  Dr. William Milton Hess explained the difference between the Pilgrims who came to America for complete religious independence and the Puritans who came later and founded Massachusetts Bay Colony although they were not determined to entirely separate from the English church. . . ."

Source:  CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH Y. P. S., The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 7, col. 3.

"HIKED TO SCARSDALE FOR THANKSGIVING APPETITE

The annual Thanksgiving hike of the Young People's Society of the Congregational Church was held Thursday morning when a small band of determined spirits walked ten miles in the bracing autumn air before coming back to attack the gobbler and fixings.  Dr. William M. Hess was with the party and they got as far as Scarsdale before turning back."

Source:  HIKED TO SCARSDALE FOR THANKSGIVING APPETITE, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 1, col. 5.  

"Judge Reduces Fine on Account Of Thanksgiving

Judge Anthony M. Menkel gave Thomas Grivffre of Mount Vernon something to be thankful for Thanksgiving eve at Town Hall where Grivffre's fine was reduced from $10 to $8.  When the fine of $10 was first announced, Grivffre searched his pockets and was able to gather only $8.  Judge Menkel thereupon declared the fine $8."

Source:  Judge Reduces Fine on Account Of Thanksgiving, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 4, col. 4.

"THANKSGIVING

'A solemn day set apart wherein we return glory, honor, and praise with all Thanksgiving to our good God' -- that was the first Thanksgiving Day according to that redoubtable religious leader of Massachusetts, Governor John Winthrop, who wrote down this interesting commentary in his diary in 1623.  In those days it was a heartfelt giving of thanks, for hostile Indians lurked in the shadowy forests and it was with great difficulty that the little hands of the settlers raised enough food to last through the long and bitter winters.  Plague and pestilence combined with the savages and grim hunger to make their lives a hard and disappoint trial.

Consequently, when the first bountiful harvest came and a few of the Indian savages showed their friendship, they were certain that God had smiled on their religious venture and they hastened to give thanks.  The tables were heaped high with game from the forests and corn from the fields.  All feasted that day in a manner befitting a people who recognized the fact that their God had seen fit to treat them well.

Today this holy day has degenerated into little more than a mechanical holiday and the true fervor of the Thanksgiving spirit is experienced by few.  It is a day of rest and amusement from the tasks of the previous weeks instead of a day of prayer for the escape from dangers past."

Source:  THANKSGIVING, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 1925, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 2, col. 1.

"NEWS AND PERSONALS

Miss Edith Jackman of 545 Fowler avenue, Pelham Manor, will be home for Thanksgiving vacation from Russell Sage College, Troy, New York.

Miss Winifred Leo of Benedict Place had several out-of-town friends as her guests at the Thanksgiving dinner-dance at the Pelham Country Club on Wednesday evening.  Her guests were Miss Elizabeth Stirling, of Montclair, N. J., and Mr. Monroe Dreher and Mr. Charles Durr, of Newark.

Mr. and Mrs. William Currie of the Esplanade will attend the Army-Navy game on Saturday.

Mr. James F. Wilkinson, of Rochester, N. Y., was the guest of Mrs. Washington Cockle and Miss Anna Secor at their home on the Boston Post Road over the holiday.

Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Junker and family, formerly of Mount Vernon are now residing in Pelbrook Hall.

Robert and Lloyd Brook are spending the Thanksgiving recess with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. John T. Brook, of Monterey avenue.  They arrived from Amherst on Wednesday.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Coulson of Witherbee avenue entertained at the dinner-dance at the Country Club on Thanksgiving Eve.  Their guests were Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Shipman, and Mr. William B. Warner of Pelham, Mr. Lewis Calder, of Greenwich, Conn. and Miss Mary Berke and Mr. Charles Lovering, of New York City.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lyon, Jr. formerly of New York City, have taken up their residence in Peldean Court.  

Mrs. R. Rice of the Esplanade is in Elmira, N. Y. for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Miss Mary Beutell of the Esplanade returned today from The Castle, Tarrytown-on-the-Hudson, to spend the week end with her family.

Mr. and Mrs. J. Odell Whitenack of Monteret avenue are in Washington, D. C., where they are spending the holidays with their daughter, Janet, a student at National Park Seminary.

One of the tables at the dinner-dance at the Country Club on Wednesday evening was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Maxwell, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Dodge, and Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Passmore.

Miss Winifred Leo of Benedict Place will attend the Army-Navy game tomorrow at the Polo Grounds with a party of friends from Washington, D. C.

Miss Katherine King, of the Esplanade, is home from Wells for the holiday season and will attend the Army-Navy game on Saturday with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. King, and her brother, Seymour.

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis J. Kennedy, formerly of New York City, now made their home in The Peinord.

Miss Elizabeth Doherty has returned to her home in East Orange, N. J. after spending a few days as the house guest of Mrs. Walter Browne, of Pelham Manor.

Mr. and Mrs. Dwight E. Wheeler and Mrs. E. L. Wheeler of Storer avenue left on Wednesday to spend the holidays in Trenton, N. J. with their children, Miss Dorothy and Mr. Clarence Wheeler.

Mr. and Mrs. William L. Bradley of Elderwood avenue have as their house guests Major and Mrs. William E. Larned of Watervilet Arsenal arrived for Thanksgiving and will remain over the week end, attending the Army-Navy game with Mr. and Mrs. Bradley tomorrow.

Mr. and Mrs. Northrup Dawson of Pelham Manor Road will be among those from Pelham who will witness the Army-Navy game at the Polo Grounds on Saturday. 

Mrs. Harry B. Swayne of Monterey avenue was hostess to a number of friends at her home on Friday afternoon.  Mrs. S. L. Hale of Winchester, Mass. was the guest of honor.  Two tables of bridge were arranged, the players including Mrs. William L. Bradley, Mrs. Northrup Dawson, Mrs. Louis Carreau, Mrs. W. B. Holton, Jr., Mrs. A. Baker, Mrs. H. A. Wyckoff, and Mrs. John Duncan.

Dr. and Mrs. E. A. Schminke of Fourth avenue entertained a number of relatives over the holiday.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth L. Peck of Suburban avenue, and Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Clark of Scarsdale will attend the Army-Navy game tomorrow.

Mr. Frederick B. Davies of Storer avenue leaves on Saturday for an extended southern trip.

Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Abbott of the Esplanade entertained on Thanksgiving Day at a family dinner.  Mr. and Mrs. Alpheus M. Geer of Clay avenue will be among those present.

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Loney of Pelhamdale avenue will attend the Army-Navy game with Mr. and Mrs. Grenville Keogh of New Rochelle.

Mrs. Robert C. Black of Pelham Manor will leave for Palm Beach on December ninth.  Mrs. F. Rice leaves on the sixth.

Mrs. Walter B. Parsons has returned to her home on Bolton Road after a visit to Syracuse, N.Y.

Mrs. Dawson Furniss of Corlies avenue will attend the Army-Navy game, she will be accompanied by her young son, Harry, and his friend, Bill Parks.

Mrs. S. D. Hines has returned to her home in Bowling Green, Ky., after having spent two weeks as the house-guest of Mrs. Lockwood Barr of Highbrook avenue.

Mr. and Mrs. William B. Randall of Pelham Manor are leaving in the week for their home on Christopher street, New York City, where they will pass the winter.

Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Waters of Monterey avenue spent Thanksgiving Day as the guests of friends in Forest Hills, L. I.  Miss Betty Waters will spend the week end at home and Miss Jane will be in Philadelphia for the holiday season.  Both are students at National Park Seminary, Forest Glen, Md.

Lieut. Frederick E. Phillips and Mrs. Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Edward McGee, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Crowell and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Knight of Mount Vernon and Miss Marian Johnson and Miss Alice Bentley are among those who will be present at the Army-Navy game tomorrow.

Mr. and Mrs. D. Gleason and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas O'Rourck were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Engerud and Mr. Louis Engerud on Thanksgiving Day at their home in The Peldale.

Miss Helyn McGovern of Haverstraw, New York, was the week end guest of Miss Evelyn Lahey of Pelham Manor.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Emmons Pervear of Pelbrook Hall motored on Wednesday to Pawtucket, R. I. to spend Thanksgiving with Mr. Pervear's mother, Mrs. C. E. Pervear.

Miss Floy Anderson of Pelbrook Hall is spending the holiday season at the home of her brother, Ross Anderson of East Orange.

Mr. and Mrs. Claude Joslin of Fifth avenue, North Pelham, and their daughter, Alice, and her fiance, Mr. William Frederick, of Westfield, N. J., were among the guests at a family gathering on Thanksgiving Day at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Darby of Brooklyn, N.Y.  Mr. and Mrs. William Weber of Philadelphia, who were also guests of the Darby's, accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Joslin home and are spending the week end with them.  

Mr. and Mrs. William Wind of Mamaroneck are spending a few days with their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. H. Hermanson of Fourth avenue.

Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Schulte and Miss Charlotte Schulte of Bronxville and Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Woodward were the Thanksgiving dinner guests of Mr. and Mrs. S. E. Shanks, of Wolf's Lane.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Constable of New York City are spending the holiday season with Mr. and Mrs. Victor G. Beutell of the Esplanade.

Mr. and Mrs. E. O. Trohe of Syracuse, N. Y. and their daughter, Mary, and son, Edmund, are spending Thanksgiving and the week end with Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Early of Pelhamdale avenue.  On Saturday they will attend the Army-Navy game with Mr. and Mrs. Early, their son Melvin, Jr., and Raymond McNeil, of Nyac avenue.  Melvin Early, Jr. and Raymond McNeil are home from Colgate for the holiday and will motor back with Mr. and Mrs. Trohe on Sunday.

Dr. and Mrs. Ken G. Hancher, of Pelbrook Hall and their children are in Elwood City, Penna., where they are spending the Thanksgiving holidays with Dr. Hancher's parents.

George Cottrell of Prospect avenue is spending the week end with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cook, at their Belleport, L. I. home.

Mr. and Mrs. William A. Rose, and their sons, Herbert and Kenneth, and daughter, June, spent Thanksgiving with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Abel of Hartsdale, N. Y.

Mr. Paul Bosse of Storer avenue, has returned from a hunting trip in the Canadian woods.

Mr. and Mrs. J. Monel of Mount Vernon were the dinner guests of Mr. and Mrs. Emile Ericson of Benedict place on Thanksgiving Day.

Mr. and Mrs. John N. Young of Highbrook avenue, entertained Mr. and Mrs. Bryon Benton and family of Milford, Conn. on Thanksgiving.

Mrs. B. F. Jacobs of Peldale, and her daughter, Miss Betty, are spending the holiday season with Mrs. Folger Framingham of Boston."

Source:  NEWS AND PERSONALS, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 27, 2017, Vol. 18, No. 39, p. 7, cols. 1-3.  

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For more Historic Pelham articles about the celebration of Thanksgiving in Pelham over the years see, e.g.:

Thu., Nov. 24, 2016:  An Important Thanksgiving Sermon Delivered in 1865 at Christ Church at the Close of the Civil War.

Thu., Nov. 26, 2015:  Thanksgiving in Pelham 75 Years Ago.

Thu. Nov. 27, 2014:  By 1941, Most Pelhamites Celebrated "Franksgiving" Rather than "Republican Thanksgiving."

Thu., May 08, 2014:  Thanksgiving Day Football Game in 1895 Between Pelham Manor and Mount Vernon Teams.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company Incorporated in 1817


Until the first two decades of the 19th century, travel to and from the Town of Pelham was very difficult due to the lack of bridges and meaningful roadways.  Indeed, travel to the area from New York City or from points north was easiest by ship, thus ensuring that City Island grew in those early years to become the principal population center of the town.

This all began to change in 1815 when local residents arranged for the construction of the first Pelham Bridge.  See Tue., Oct. 11, 2016:  Is It Possible The First Pelham Bridge Built in About 1815 Was Repaired After Near Destruction by a Storm?

According to longstanding history of the Pelham Bridge, on March 6, 1812, the New York State Legislature enacted a statute incorporating the "Eastchester Bridge Company" to build a bridge over the Hutchinson River where it empties into Eastchester Bay.  With plans to build a bridge that would allow a more direct roadway from the Village of Westchester to the Town of Pelham, another group of local residents began planning construction of such a road as a toll road.  

The Pelham Bridge was built by early 1815 but, within months, was destroyed by an extraordinary storm and flood. There were, however, prompt proposals to rebuild the bridge by August 1, 1817. At about this time, local residents created the “Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company.”  It was incorporated on April 5, 1817. 

According to one historian, “The Shore Road was made into a real road by the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Co., incorporated April 5, 1817.”  Barr, Lockwood, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, p. 51 (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946).  Lockwood Barr may have overstated the point a little. It appears that the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company was incorporated to build a road from the causeway at the Village of Westchester (near today's Westchester Square in the Bronx) to the Pelham Bridge -- not beyond the Pelham Bridge onto today's Shore Road between the bridge and the Pelham Manor border. 

In any event, it is clear that construction of the road between the Village of Westchester and Pelham Bridge connected Pelham to what were then more populated portions of lower Westchester County, making the colonial roadway known today as Shore Road in Pelham Bay Park all the more important.  The roadway built by the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company came to be known as the "Westchester Turnpike."  Occasionally, portions of today's Shore Road between Pelham Bridge and the Pelham Manor border were also referred to as Westchester Turnpike. See, e.g., SUPREME COURT -- John Hunter, Plaintiff vs. Robert R. Hunter, Deforciant [Legal Notice], New-York Evening Post, Nov. 19, 1818, p. 3, col. 2 (referencing "the highway leading from the Westchester turnpike road in Pelham to Rodman's Neck, (so called)").  For more on the history of Shore Road, see Friday, Oct. 14, 2016:  Early History of Pelham's Ancient Shore Road, Long an Important Pelham Thoroughfare Along Long Island Sound.

Today's Historic Pelham article sheds a little more light on the creation of the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company in 1817.  I have written before, on a single occasion, about the history of the company.  See Tue., Feb. 28, 2006:  Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company "Builds" Shore Road in Pelham.

On March 21, 1817, New York State Senator Darius Crosby introduced in the State Senate "An Act to Incorporate the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Company."  The bill had its first reading to the Senate that day and, by unanimous consent, was read a second time then was committed to a committee of the whole, suggesting there was little or no opposition to the measure.

Four days later on March 25, 1817, the committee of enrolment reported to the Senate that they had examined the engrossed bill and that it had been enroled [sic] and collated.  Thereupon, the Senate voted, by resolution, passage of the bill.

The following day, on March 26, 1817, the New York State Assembly announced that the Clerk of the Senate had delivered to the Clerk of the Assembly the bill that the Senate had passed.  The bill received its first reading before the Assembly that day and was promptly referred to a select committee consisting of Assemblymen Ebenezer White, Jr. and John Townsend of Westchester County, and Edward Smith, Jr. of Putnam County.  The Committee was directed to "consider and report thereon."

The following day (March 27) Assemblyman White of Westchester County reported favorably on the bill to the Assembly as a whole, recommending that he believed it "proper that it [the bill] should become a law of this state."  The Assembly ordered that the "said bill be committed to a committee of the whole house" suggesting, again, that the bill was not controversial.

Two days later on March 29, 1817, the Assembly met as a committee of the whole on the engrossed bill, then formed a select committee to consider the Senate bill further.  The committee consisted of Assemblymen Christopher Tappen Jr. and Green Miller (both representing Sullivan and Ulster Counties), and Assemblyman Ebenezer White, Jr. of Westchester County.  The select committee was instructed "to report the same [the bill] complete."

On Tuesday, April 1, 1817, the Senate bill was read to the full Assembly for a third time.  The Assembly then passed the bill "without amendment" and ordered the Clerk of the Assembly to "deliver the said bill to the honorable the Senate, and inform them, that this house have passed the same without amendment."

The Senate immediately referred the bill, passed by both houses of the legislature, to the "Council of Revision" for advice on whether it should become a law of the State.  On April 7, a message from the Council of Revision, delivered by the Secretary of State, was read to the Senate stating the Council's view "that it does not appear improper to the Council" that the bill should become a law of the state.  

Thus, the bill became law as "CHAP. CLVII -- AN ACT to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company." effective April 5, 1817.

The text of the statute sheds interesting light on the project to build the roadway from the Village of Westchester to the Pelham Bridge.  For example, it authorized three men and their associates to "associate for the purpose of making a turnpike road."  The men were Herman Le Roy (of Pelham, who lived near Pelham Bridge), Thomas C. Taylor, and William Edgar.  It confirmed that the new road would "begin at the causeway leading from the village of Westchester to Throgsneck [sic], at some point east of the bridge over Westchester creek, and to run from thence on the most convenient route to the bridge lately erected over the mouth of Eastchester creek."  It constituted the company as capable of suing and being sued and to allow it to purchase and own property.

The Statute authorized the company to issue one hundred shares of stock, "of thirty dollars each."  It further appointed William Bayard, Thomas C. Taylor, and Benjamin W. Rodgers as "commissioners to receive subscriptions for the said stock" (i.e., sell the 100 shares for thirty dollars each to raise $3,000 to fund the venture).  

Perhaps the most interesting, and amusing, aspect of the statute was the section that authorized the company to levy tolls on the turnpike, once built.  The statute stated "it shall be lawful for the company hereby incorporated to exact and receive at the gate or turnpike to be erected on the said road, the following rates of toll."  It proceeded to list the following:

  • for every score of sheep or hogs, six cents; 
  • for every score of cattle, horses or mules, twenty cents; 
  • for every chair, sulkey [sic], chaise or other two wheel pleasure carriage, with one horse, six cents; 
  • for every horse rode, three cents; 
  • for every horse led or driven, two cents; 
  • for every stage waggon, chariot, coach, coachee, phaeton or other pleasure carriage, drawn by two horses, twelve and an half cents, and six cents for every additional horse; 
  • for every cart or waggon, drawn by one horse, six cents; 
  • for every cart or waggon, other than stage waggons, drawn by two horses, mules or oxen, eight cents, and two cents for every additional horse, mule or ox; 
  • for every sleigh or sled, if drawn by not more than two horses, mules or oxen, six cents, and 
  • for every additional horse, mule, or ox, one cent.

By early July, 1817, it seems the shares had all been sold.  That month notices appeared in the Commercial Advertiser published in New York City that an election would be held at 12:00 Noon on Monday, August 4, 1817 at the office of Thomas C. Taylor, 41 Robinson Street (New York City) during which subscribers of shares would elect directors of the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company.  

Soon, afterward, Pelham had a more convenient roadway connecting it with lower Westchester County and the great metropolis of New York City.



"Pelham Bridge in 1865 From a sketch by W. J. Wilson"
This Shows the So-Called "Third Pelham Bridge" That Crossed
Eastchester Creek and Connected the Westchester Turnpike with
Shore Road.  Source: Jenkins, Stephen, The Story of the Bronx From
the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present
Day, Opposite p. 318 (NY and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons The
Knickerbocker Press, 1912).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

"FRIDAY, 10 o'clock A.M. March 21, 1817.

The Senate met pursuant to adjournment.

PRESENT, 

His honor, Philetus Swift, President pro hac vice, and a quorum of the Senate. . . . 

Mr. Crosby, according to leave, brought in the said bill, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' which was read the first time, and by unanimous consent was read a second time, and committed to a committee of the whole. . . ."

Source:  JOURNAL OF THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK:  AT THEIR FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, pp. 213, 215 (Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).  

"TUESDAY, 10 o'clock, A.M. March 25, 1817.

The Senate met pursuant to adjournment.

PRESENT,

His honor Philetus Swift, President pro hac vice, and a quorum of the Senate.

The committee of enrolment reported, that they had examined the engrossed bill, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company' . . . and that the same [was] duly enroled and collated.

Thereupon,

The said engrossed bill, entitled 'and act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' was read the third time.

Resolved, That the bill do pass."

Source:  JOURNAL OF THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK:  AT THEIR FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, p. 233 (Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"WEDNESDAY, March 26, 1817.

The house met pursuant to adjournment. . . . 

Four several messages from the honorable the Senate, also delivered by their clerk, with the bills therein mentioned, were read, informing that the honorable the Senate have passed the bill, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' . . . in which bills respectively they request the concurrence of this house.

The said bills were severally read the first time, and by unanimous consent were also read a second time, and the bill, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' was refered [sic] to a select committee, consisting of Mr. White, Mr. E. Smith and Mr. Townsend . . . severally to consider and report thereon."

Source:  Journal of the Assembly, OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK -- FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, pp. 668, 670 (Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"THURSDAY, March 27, 1817.

The house met pursuant to adjournment. . . . 

Mr. White, from the select committee to whom was refered [sic] the engrossed bill from the honorable Senate, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' reported, that they have had the said bill under consideration, and believe it proper that it should become a law of this state.

Ordered, That the said bill be committed to a committee of the whole house. . . ."

Source:  Journal of the Assembly, OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK -- FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, pp. 678, 682(Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"SATURDAY, March 29, 1817.

The house met pursuant to adjournment. . . . 

The house then resolved itself into a committee of the whole, on the engrossed bill from the honorable the Senate, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' and after some time spent thereon, Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and Mr. Sanford, from the said committee, reported progress, and asked for and obtained leave to sit again. . . . 

Thereupon -- 

Ordered, that the committee of the whole house be discharged from further consideration of the said bill, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' . . . and that the same be committed to a select committee, consisting of Mr. Tappen, Mr. G. Miller and Mr. White, to report the same complete. . . ."

Source:  Journal of the Assembly, OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK -- FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, pp. 699, 704 (Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"TUESDAY, April 1, 1817.

The house met pursuant to adjournment. . . . 

The engrossed bill from the honorable the Senate, entitled 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' was read the third time.

Resolved, that the bill do pass.

Ordered, That the clerk deliver the said bill to the honorable the Senate, and inform them, that this house have passed the same without amendment. . . ."

Source:  Journal of the Assembly, OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK -- FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, p. 720(Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"MONDAY, 9 o'clock A.M. April 7, 1817.

The Senate met pursuant to adjournment.

Present,

His honor Philetus Swift, President pro hac vice, and a quorum of the Senate. . . . 

A message from the honorable the Council of Revision, delivered by the Secretary of State, was read, informing, that it does not appear improper to the Council, that the bill, entitled . . . 'an act to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company' . . . should respectively become laws of this state. . . ."

Source:  JOURNAL OF THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK:  AT THEIR FORTIETH SESSION -- SECOND MEETING, pp. 283-84 (Albany, NY:  J. Buel, 1817).

"CHAP. CLVII.

AN ACT to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company.

Passed April 5, 1817.

Associates.

I.  BE it enacted by the people of the state of New-York, represented in senate and assembly, That Herman Le Roy, Thomas C. Taylor, William Edgar, and all such other persons shall associate for the purpose of making a turnpike road, 

Route.

to begin at the causeway leading from the village of Westchester to Throgsneck, at some point east of the bridge over Westchester creek, and to run from thence on the most convenient route to the bridge lately erected over the mouth of Eastchester creek, be and they are hereby created a body corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the name of 'the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company,' 

Powers.

and by that name shall have continual succession, and be persons capable in law of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended, in all courts places whatsoever, in all manner of actions, suits, complaints, matters and causes, and by the same name and style shall be in law capable of purchasing, holding and conveying any estate, real or personal, for the use of the said corporation:  Provided, that such estate, as well real as personal, so to be purchased and held, shall be necessary to fulfil [sic] the end and intent of the said corporation.

Shares.

II.  And be it further enacted, That the stock of the said company shall consist of one hundred shares, of thirty dollars each;

Commissioners to receive subscriptions.

and William Bayard, Thomas C. Taylor and Benjamin W. Rodgers, are hereby appointed commissioners to receive subscriptions for the said stock, in the manner directed in and by the act, entitled 'an act relative to turnpike companies,' passed the 13th day of March, 1807.

Tolls.

III.  And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the company hereby incorporated to exact and receive at the gate or turnpike to be erected on the said road, the following rates of toll, to wit:  for every score of sheep or hogs, six cents; for every score of cattle, horses or mules, twenty cents; for every chair, sulkey, chaise or other two wheel pleasure carriage, with one horse, six cents; for every horse rode, three cents; and for every horse led or driven, two cents; for every stage waggon, chariot, coach, coachee, phaeton or other pleasure carriage, drawn by two horses, twelve and an half cents, and six cents for every additional horse; for every cart or waggon, drawn by one horse, six cents; for every cart or waggon, other than stage waggons, drawn by two horses, mules or oxen, eight cents, and two cents for every additional horse, mule or ox; for every sleigh or sled, if drawn by not more than two horses, mules or oxen, six cents, and for every additional horse, mule, or ox, one cent.

Rights.

IV.  And be it further enacted, That the company hereby incorporated shall have all the rights, privileges and immunities, which are given and granted in and by the aforesaid act relative to turnpike companies, and shall be subject to all the conditions, provisions and restrictions therein contained."

Source: "CHAP. CLVII -- AN ACT to incorporate the Westchester and Pelham turnpike road company Passed April 5, 1817" in LAWS OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK, PASSED AT THE THIRTY-NINTH, FORTIETH AND FORTY-FIRST SESSIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE, COMMENCING JANUARY 1816, AND ENDING APRIL 1818, Vol. IV, pp. 160-61 (Albany, NY:  Printed for Websters and Skinners by the Printer to the State, 1818).

"NOTICE is hereby given, that an election of Directors in the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company will be held at the office of Thomas C. Taylor, situate at No. 41 Robinson-street, in the third ward of the city of New-York, on the first Monday of August next, at the hour of 12 o'clock at noon; at which time and place the subscribers of shares in the said company, are notified to attend accordingly. Dated this 3d day of July, 1817. 

WM. BAYARD, ) 
B.W. ROGERS, } Commissioners. 
THOS. C. TAYLOR, ) 

july 3-law4w" 

Source: NOTICE, Commercial Advertiser [NY, NY], Jul. 3, 1817, p. 3. 

The same notice also appeared on July 16, July 17 and July 22. See NOTICE, Commercial Advertiser [NY, NY], Jul. 16, 1817, p. 4; NOTICE, Commercial Advertiser, Jul. 17, 1817, p. 4; NOTICE, Commercial Advertiser, Jul. 22, 1817, p. 4.

"The present road from Westchester Bridge to Pelham Bridge was authorized as follows:

In 1817, Hermann Le Roy, Thomas C. Taylor, William Edgar and their associates were incorporated as a turnpike company to make a turnpike road beginning at the causeway leading from the village of Westchester, at some point on the east side of the bridge over Westchester Creek, and to run from thence in the most convenient route to the bridge lately erected over the mouth of Eastchester Creek and were to be known as the 'Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company.'"

Source:  Scharf, J. Thomas, History of Westchester County, New York Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms Which Have Been Annexed to New York City, Vol. I, p. 815 (Philadelphia, PA:  L. E. Preston & Co., 1886).


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