Local History - Interesting Facts, Famous Names & Places

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The town that is now called Eastchester began settlement in 1664 when ten families migrated from Fairfield, Connecticut. Thomas Pell, who at that time also owned the territory that is now New Rochelle and Pelham granted a deed to the group to "settle down at Hutchinsons'," where the home of Anne Hutchinson had stood some twenty years before. The ten original families were shortly joined by another twenty-six.

Laws for the region were established the following year, in 1665, under an agreement called the "Eastchester Covenant." The convenant was a rare document for this period. It contained twenty-six provisions such items as: education of children, disposition and upkeep of property, support of a minister, etc.

Confirmation of their 1664 patent was granted by Governor Richard Nicolls in 1666 after the occupation of the area by the English. A controversy arose in 1700 when the settlers signed a deed with the Indians. The tract of land involved was known as "Long Reach" because of its odd geographical makeup. The sites included are the present Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and a section of Northwest Mt. Vernon. The dispute over the ownership of the land involved the towns of New Rochelle, Westchester and the Pell Family. When a decision was reached in favor of Eastchester, England's Queen Anne granted a second patent in the year 1708.

Eastchester was a farming community at the outbreak of the Revolution. Although no major battles were fought here, as the heart of the Neutral Ground it saw constant fighting for over 13 years. being harrassed by both sides as well as by the cowboys and skinners (the guerrillas of the day). Eastchester's rural makeup began to change with the coming of the railroad in the 1840's. Three hundred-seventy acres of land were incorporated at the village of Mt. Vernon in 1853 by a group of New York businessmen; the village of Bronxville was incorporated in 1898; and the village of Tuckahoe in 1903. Today, Eastchester is bound by Scarsdale on the north, New Rochelle on the east, Yonkers on the west, and Mt. Vernon on the south, The town covers approximately five square miles, including Bronxville and Tuckahoe.

Famous Names

Anne Hutchinson: Mrs. Hutchinson was banished from New England (1642) because of her religious beliefs. After her husband's death she and her children moved to what is now Eastchester. In 1643 a band of marauding Indians massacred Mrs. Hutchinson and all but one child were killed. Anne Hutchinson was one of the first advocates of religious freedom.

Aaron Burr: During the 1790's Westchester County held court at St. Paul's church. It was at St. Paul's that lawyer Burr tried a number of cases.

John Adams: When President Adams was forced to leave Philadelphia (1797) due to a yellow fever epidemic-the temporary White House was located in the home of his daughter who lived a short distance from St. Paul's church.

John Peter Zenger: A reporter for the New York Journal in 1733, John Zenger covered the account of an election held at St. Paul's Church and was arrested and tried for seditious libel. He was acquitted and thereby established the legal precedent for "freedom of the press." This later was incorporated as a basic freedom in the Bill of Rights. He was also the printer of the New York Journal.

Stephen Ward: Ward, a local patriot at the time of the Revolution, was Eastchester Town Supervisor. He was a member of the Provisional Congress in 1775 and a member of the New York Assembly in 1777. Later Ward became a County Judge, State Senator and a Member of Congress.

Famous Places

St. Paul's Church: At the time of the Revolution the church was unfinished and used primarily as a hospital by the British. Hessian soldiers, approximately 100 in number, are buried in the churchyard near the common grave of some unknown dead who were killed in a skirmish at Tuckahoe. Congress in 1943 designated St. Paul's as the national shrine of the Bill of Rights. St. Paul's church is located at South Columbus Avenue, Mt. Vernon.

Marble Schoolhouse: Built in 1835 of world renowned "Tuckahoe Marble," the one-room schoolhouse is located on California Road (Chester Heights area of Eastchester).

Hotel Gramatan: built in 1905. Huge Spanish-style hotel built to replace an earlier inn, and to accommodate the large influx of artists and writers when the village became a hotbed of turn-of-the-century culture. The hotel was razed in 1972.

Town Hall: The site was originally a farm, later a country club and golf club. Dedicated in 1957 and converted to Pennsylvania style utilizing the existing stonework and slate roof. Town Hall is the only town center in Westchester County to house a wide variety of town departments and local civic functions.

Interesting Facts

Marble Capital of the World: In 1821 the town's first marble quarry was opened. The quarries produced heavily for almost a century. The extremely high quality of "Tuckahoe Marble" was in great demand. Structures that have utilized Tuckahoe Marble include: The Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.; The General Post Office, Washington D.C. The main Public Library, New York City; Grace Episcopal Church, New York City; The Custom House, New York City; St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City. Locally: Immaculate Conception Church (Winter Hill Road); Samuel Fee building (Main Street), and the various sections of Eastchester where the stone walls surroun-ding some of the older homes are of "Tuckahoe Marble."

Red Bird Stage Line: Before the railroads, communication with New York City was primarily via stage coach or private horse. One such line in the 1830's, the Red Bird ran between Grand Street (the Bowery) and Danbury, Conn. One of its stops was the Ward House, then known as "Marble Hall," with the fare from New York City at $2.00.

White Plains Road: One of the oldest roads in Eastchester.

Ward House: Originally owned by the Stephen Ward family, it was sold in the 1800's to John Hayward who operated it as a tavern, "The Marble Hall." In the 1830's he entertained President Martin Van Buren. Today it is a dormitory for Concordia College. During the Revolution it was the site of many skirmishes. Ward House is the most important Revolutionary site in Eastchester. "Dutch" Schultz the infamous gangster and bootlegger lived in the house across the street. Rumor has it there was a tunnel connecting both houses which is now closed in.

Lawrence Park: In the 1890's many houses were built in Bronxville and became known as Lawrence Park. The houses featured very large skylights that faced the north light, thereby a lure to artists. The village was a significant center of culture at the turn of the century.

Cradle of American Golf: Eastchester has had its share of champions. In 1928 the town was acclaimed "cradle of American golf." Eastchester residents who have won titles are: Will MacFarlane won the U.S. Open in 1925, defeating the legendary Bobby Jones; 1926 had Jess Sweetser winning the British Amateur Championship; 1928, Johnny Farrell won the U.S. Open, again Bobby Jones the victim; 1931, Tom Creavy won the P.G.A. title, defeating Denny Shute.

Home of The Treetures : The children’s national Treeture Environmental Education Program began here in Eastchester, New York, when Judith Hope Blau created her family of whimsical characters to educate children about the important role trees play in keeping our environment healthy. The small Magic Treeture Forest Nursery on California Road and Highland Avenue became the pilot nursery for many others in the country. Twigs, the Treeture Teacher, lives in Eastchester’s Town Hall and makes Town appearances with other Treetures every April to celebrate Arbor Day. Click here to visit the Eastchester Magic Treeture Forest Nursery.(www.treetures.com/MTFN/MTFNvisit.html ) Enjoy www.treetures.com. It all started here!

Title Fight at Parkway Oval: Terry McGovern, having claimed the Bantamweight title, agreed to fight Great Britain's Pedlar Palmer in Parkway Oval, Tuckahoe. The date was September 12, 1899. The bout was postponed a day because of rain. Because of the postponement a second weigh-in wasn't necessary and McGovern's weight rose from 112 to 116 pounds (a new poundage for the bantam class). The McGovern~Palmer title fight was one of the briefest in ring history. The clever Palmer was given no opportunity to display his vaunted skill. Overwhelmed by the rushing, hardhitting McGovern, he was kayo'd in one minute, fifteen seconds. Sidelight: the bout started when the time-keeper accidentally hit the bell and the referee had to send the boxers to their corners for a new start, which ended disastrously for Palmer.