In Marcia Dalphin’s invaluable book, “Fifty Years of Rye: 1904-1954,” she quotes from an article in the New York Sun of September 13, 1904, beginning, “Joy reigns tonight in Rye over the birth of a new village government.”
By Paul Hicks
In Marcia Dalphin’s invaluable book, “Fifty Years of Rye: 1904-1954,” she quotes from an article in the New York Sun of September 13, 1904, beginning, “Joy reigns tonight in Rye over the birth of a new village government.” Further on, she notes, “The little village had a certain amount of trouble with lawbreakers, and crime paid sometimes in Rye.”
If a recent scanning of Rye Chronicle issues for the period of November 1905 through February 1906 is a fair sampling, the newly-incorporated village of Rye had more than a little problem with evildoers and miscreants, as indicated by the following news items:
November 18, 1905
Burglars entered the residence of Frank Daniels, the actor, on the Post Road Saturday night while he was on the road with his theatrical company. The Rye Police were notified by telephone on Monday by the coachman of Mr. Daniels. A fur cloak, worth $600 and some silverware were missing. A few days later, the police arrested four boys in connection with the crime, including two adopted sons of Mr. and Mrs. Daniels.
November 25, 1905
Two of fifteen “automobilists” were arrested on Saturday for exceeding the speed ordinance of the village of Rye on their way to the Princeton-Yale football game in New Haven (Yale won 28-4). They were fined by the Justice of the Peace, but the other speeders escaped arrest with the help of a Rye resident George Chamberlain, who warned them of the speed trap from the side of the road.
Mr. Halstead, the village Auditor, criticized Mr. Chamberlin for interfering with the collection of revenue for the village, but Mr. Chamberlain countered by saying he did not like “hedgehog” tactics or “other sneaking methods to arrest people.”
December 9, 1905:
The historic Dix mansion on Manursing Island, owned by William H. Browning, was destroyed by fire on Saturday night when it was unoccupied. There is evidence of burglary and arson, but the home and contents are well insured.
December 16, 1905:
A party of five escaped serious injury when their car, moving at a rapid pace on Purchase Street, struck a trolley track in front of the Rye National Bank and skidded twenty-five yards into a horse-drawn wagon, killing the horse. The chauffeur of the car was arrested for reckless driving, but was released when one of the passengers left a gold watch as bail.
Note: At the end of 1905, there were 24,510 automobiles registered with the New York Secretary of State of which about thirty were owned in the Village of Rye.
December 30, 1905:
At 3 AM Thursday a man attempted to enter a residence on the Post Road owned by Edmund S. Nash, who was not home at the time. A Scottish deer hound attacked the intruder and aroused the family. Cheshire Nash fired two shots at a “retiring figure in the darkness.”
January 20, 1906:
Only twenty tramps have been lodged in the village “lock-up” since Sunday. Last week thirty-seven received this care. The police say warmer weather and severity of the Justice of the Peace are the reasons for the falling off in the number of applicants for village hospitality.
February 17, 1906:
Burglars looted the country home of the author, Clarence Day on the night of January 25, taking silverware and cut glass items as well as bed and table linens. Because of the location of the residence, police from both Rye and Harrison are investigating.
February 24, 1906:
The unoccupied home of Marselis Parsons (President of the Rye Village Board of Trustees) on the Post Road was looted by thieves, who took silverware, bric-a-brac, and clothing. Before leaving, they drank champagne and smoked cigars they found in the house. Some of the burglars were later captured in New York with property they had taken from both the Parsons and Day homes.
In its infancy, Rye was, according to Marcia Dalphin, patrolled by only two policemen who were delegated to guard the entire village, covering a four-mile route on bicycles. The village treasury was so meager that the police protection was financed by the Village Improvement Society.
To complicate matters, a number of the larger homes were still owned by residents of New York and used mainly in the summer months. This left them especially vulnerable during the “off-season” to burglars, many of whom lived in the camps for tramps and vagrants by the railroad tracks when they were not in the “lock-up.”
Then there were the new-fangled cars driven by daredevils and inexperienced “automobilists” who went racing down Purchase Street and up the Post Road at breakneck speeds. It is all part of Rye’s colorful history, so stay tuned for more items from the Police Blotter of Yesteryear.