Purchase, NY Name is derived from Harrison “Purchase” of the land.

February 19th, 2014

The Beginning of Harrison Purchase

According to Charles Dawson, Harrison’s first town historian, the true story began with the Siwanoy Indians who sold land to Peter Disbrow in 1662 and to John Budd in 1666, and again in 1695 to John Harrison. Unfortunately for Mr. Disbrow and Mr. Budd, neither had filed claims with the provincial government of New York. John Harrison, however, did file, and when his claim was disputed, it was upheld. Eventually, he and four others who were involved with him in the purchase, known as “Harrison’s Purchase,” sold the land, it is thought, to the first Harrison settlers who appeared around 1724.

The new owners were Quakers who settled in Purchase where they built their first Meeting House in 1727. This was later destroyed by fire, but a replica was erected on the same foundation, also to be destroyed by fire on January 1, 1973. The Friends now meet in another building near the site, which has been cleared. An old newspaper was found in the Harrison Public Library dated Saturday, April 29, 1911. It is a Souvenir Edition of the Harrison Observer, edited by the Ladies of the Presbyterian Church. And from it comes this piece about the early days of Purchase:

“Nearly everyone has heard of Haviland China, yet very few know that the first Haviland China was made in Harrison.

“A Frenchman by the name of Havreland, driven from France by religious troubles, crossed the Atlantic and settled at Flushing, Long Island. It was but a step for him to cross the Long Island Sound and make Purchase his home.

“Here he found a fair quality of felspar, one of the necessities in the manufacture of china. Probably for the sake of euphony, Mr. Havreland had changed his name to Haviland, and in Purchase he made and sold many Haviland China dishes.

“The religious troubles of France having ended, Mr. Haviland returned to France, leaving his sons in America. In his old home there was a better quality of felspar than America had yet produced. As a result, the famous Haviland China factory was established there, which now employs 7,000 people.”



Mamaroneck means “the place where the sweet waters fall into the sea,”

February 19th, 2014

History of the Town of Mamaroneck

Mamaroneck, a Native American name translated as “the place where the sweet waters fall into the sea,” is located just twenty-three miles north of New York City. Established at the mouth of a river and at the head of a harbor, John Richbell a London merchant living in Oyster Bay purchased the land in 1661 from the local Siwanoy Indians for a supply of tools, kettles, clothing and wampum.

Forty years later a town census recorded seventy-seven residents. Descendents of some of these original families still reside in the area. By 1700 the population had grown to eighty-four with most settlers living on the “East Neck,” the present Village of Mamaroneck.

During the Revolutionary War Westchester County declared its neutrality and Mamaroneck was unhappily sandwiched between the Colonial Headquarters north of Peekskill and the British forces in New York City. Without either civil or military protection its residents were often pillaged by both sides.

On May 17, 1788, the Town of Mamaroneck was officially created by an act of the New York State Legislature. During the Civil War citizens were divided in their political affiliations, although a majority voted Democrat in the election 1860.

18th and 19th Century residents earned their livelihoods by farming, fishing, lumbering and milling. Manufacturing arrived with the 19th century and most was located (as it is today) in the Mamaroneck Village section. Larchmont Village and the Unincorporated Town were, and largely remain, residential.



Chappaqua Meaning = “the rustling land”

February 19th, 2014

Chappaqua — A Brief History

      Chappaqua has a long and rich history dating back to the late 1600s, when it was purchased by, among others, an Englishman, John Richbell, from the Siwanoys. In the 1700s Quaker moved into the area. Its name comes from the Algonquian word


       meaning “the rustling land” or a place where nothing is heard but the rustling of the wind in the leaves. Over the years, the Quakers spelled it Shapiqua, Shapaqua, Shapequa, Shappaqua, and, finally, Chappaqua. They settled on what is now Quaker Street, and their meetinghouse, built in 1753 at 420 Quaker Road, still holds weekly meetings each Sunday. During the American Revolution, the meetinghouse served as a hospital for some of Washington’s soldiers wounded in the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. Committed abolitionists, Chappaqua Quakers freed their slaves in 1779, providing them with land to settle on in North White Plains, and families of Chappaqua Meeting, notably Moses and Esther Pierce, participated in the Underground Railroad.

With the arrival of the railway in Chappaqua in 1848 and Millwood in 1869 came the first wealthy businessmen from New York who could commute to the city.

Perhaps the most notable of these was Horace Greeley (1811-1872), for whom the high school is now named. Editor of the New York Tribune, America’s most influential newspaper from the 1840s to the 1870s, Greeley was a founder of the Liberal Republican Party. He ran for president in 1872 but lost to incumbent Ulysses S. Grant in a landslide. In 1853 he bought 78 acres of land just east of the New York and Harlem Railroad, and was among the first commuters from Chappaqua to New York City. His land included upland pastures near present-day Aldridge Road, Greeley Hill, and the marshy fields now the site of the Bell Middle School fields and the shopping area along South Greeley Avenue.


Chappaqua Farm, West Chester County, N.Y.,
The Residence of Hon. Horace Greeley
Currier & Ives, c. 1870


Larchmont, NY Named after the Larch Tree

February 18th, 2014

Early Larchmont History

The earliest known settlers were the Siwanoy Indians, an Algonquin tribe. They harvested the rich marshlands for clams and hunted inland for bear, deer, racoon and muskrat.

In 1614, a Dutch sea captain discovered Long Island Sound after passing through Hell’s Gate. He reported seeing campfires in what is now known as Larchmont Manor Park. The indigenous population was not long for the area, once the British and Dutch began buying up the land. By 1720, only a handful of Siwanoys remained in what is now Larchmont.

The next century saw a steady increase in population, as first Quaker refugees from New England and then wealthy New Yorkers established estates in the area. During the late 19th century, Larchmont was known as a summer playground for New York’s elite. Many of the large Victorian “cottages” of that era survive in Larchmont Manor.

The summer residents chose to incorporate as a municipality in 1891. Today, Larchmont is a one-mile-square village within the Town of Mamaroneck, served by the New Haven line of Metro-North Railroad and several major highways.

The original larches of Larchmont are located to the side and front of the Manor House at Prospect and Elm Avenues in the Manor section of the Village. This house was built by Peter Jay Munro, the nephew of John Jay (first chief justice of the U.S.), in 1797.

Originally, however, the front of the house faced the Boston Post Road, which was busy enough at the time to create dust and noise. So Munro asked his Scottish gardener to plant trees to screen the house from the road.

The gardener sent to Scotland for seeds of the larch, which he knew to be a fast-growing and hardy species. As far as we know, these are the original trees, making them nearly 200 years old. None is left facing the original front of the house, so a number of them have probably fallen to weather and disease.

Larchmont was not so-named until nearly 50 years later, however. That is when Edward Knight Collins purchased the land from Munro’s heir. He remodeled the manor house and named the parcel, which extended down to the shoreline, to reflect the hilltop position of the house and its grand trees.

Most likely these, as well as most other larches in the village, are non-native European and Asian species that have been planted as ornamental trees. There are only two native North American species of larches, the eastern larch or tamarack, and the western larch. The eastern larch is more likely to found growing in more northerly, boggy areas, and doesn’t function well as a suburban lawn tree.



Ardsley, NY was Originally called Ashford

February 18th, 2014

Village of Ardsley, a brief history Ardsley Village c1903

The area that includes the Village of Ardsley was originally inhabited by the Weckqueskecks, a branch of the Mohican tribe of the Algonquin nation. Ashford Avenue, the main road, was once a trail used by the Indians to travel from the Hudson River to Long Island Sound.

By the late 1600’s, after the Indians had been run out of the area by the English and the Dutch, the land became part of the vast Frederick Philipse Manor. During the Revolution Philipse remained loyal to the King, and was forced to flee. The land, confiscated by the State, was sold mostly to former tenants who had supported the patriot cause.

The Village, then called Ashford, grew slowly. There was a sawmill and grist mill on the Sawmill River, a blacksmith shop, and by the time of the Civil War, three pickle factories. In the early 1880’s the Putnam Railroad was built, and the New Croton Aqueduct was constructed. A “boom” followed. Many lots were sold and developed, electric lights were installed, roads were improved. In 1883, since there already was an Ashford Post Office in the state, the Village name was changed to Ardsley and on March 2, 1883 the first Postmaster was appointed. The Village was incorporated in 1896. By 1898 the population had grown to 372.

On December 6, 1914 fire devastated the center of the Village. As a result the original school house on Ashford Avenue was taken over for Village offices and the fire department — now the Municipal Building.

After World War I, and until the depression, there was another “boom” including Ardsley Acres and Beacon Hill. After World War II there was another surge in growth, resulting in the building of the Concord Road Elementary School in 1952, the High School in 1958, and the Middle School in 1967.

From an Indian hunting ground, to a community of scattered farms, to “Ashford” and a country village, Ardsley has become a thriving suburban community.

Extracted from “A Short, Informal HISTORY OF ARDSLEY” by A.W. Silliman
By Daniel Kaufman
August 15,1994