2014 was a remarkable 350th anniversary year for the Town of Eastchester and its two villages, Tuckahoe and Bronxville. Dozens of volunteers came together to plan Community Programs, which many hundreds enjoyed! Sections also remain on this website devoted to Our History, K-12 Educational Programs and Residents’ Memories. Elements of the acclaimed exhibit “Legacies and Landmarks” at Concordia’s OSilas Gallery are permanently on view in Tuckahoe Village Hall.
But it is still possible to enjoy the rich history of the town and its two villages, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, through the celebration’s most significant legacy, the beautiful new book Out of the Wilderness: The Emergence of Eastchester, Tuckahoe & Bronxville, NY, 1664-2014. A full-color, lavishly illustrated hardcover book, it traces the story of Westchester County’s second oldest town from its 1664 settlement on the site of Anne Hutchinson’s massacre through its transformation into the densely populated residential suburb of today.
The 340-page book is available for $50 locally at Womrath’s Bookshop in Bronxville, Eastchester Town Hall and at the Eastchester Historical Society.
Out of the Wilderness garnered high praise from area historians:
“. . . a monumental achievement . . . meticulous research, lively text and beautiful illustrations . . .”
Katherine Hite, Executive Director, Westchester County Historical Society.
“. . . magnificent . . . thoughtfully written, wonderfully documented . . . luxuriously illustrated . . . a handsome, lavish and cherished coffee table book . . . an important tool that furthers the understanding of our shared local history . . .” Read full review.
Blake Bell, Pelham Town Historian
“ . . . informative, and comprehensive history . . . colorful and beautifully reproduced maps, illustrations, and photographs . . . remarkable for its depth, comprehensiveness and accuracy.” Read full review.
Robert Riggs, Bronxville Historical Conservancy Life Time Co-Chair
Intriguing Highlights of Eastchester’s history detailed in the new book include:
➢ Eastchester was founded just weeks before Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam to the invading English fleet in September 1664.
➢ The ten Puritan families who left Connecticut to settle Eastchester wrote a list of rules in 1665 to guide life in their new settlement. This Eastchester Covenant is the only known civil covenant written in New York, and it survives today at Eastchester Town Hall.
➢ Two Eastchester men serving as election inspectors helped prevent Quakers from voting in a 1733 colonial election made famous by an article published by John Peter Zenger.
➢ The town was once twice its current size, but it fell victim in the 1890s to the Greater New York annexation movement that lopped off two square miles (now part of the Bronx, including Co-op City), and to the secession of the City of Mount Vernon.
➢ During the Civil War, the town supported the union even though it was predominantly Democratic. Several prominent Bronxville-area residents, however, were vigorous supporters of Lincoln’s Republican party.
➢ During the Revolution, all of Westchester County was a lawless zone trapped between the Continental Army to the north and the British to the south. As one of the towns nearest the British lines, Eastchester and its residents were particularly hard hit by the depredations of both armies and roving bands of violent thugs.
➢ Tuckahoe grew up around the marble quarries and other industries that, up through the 1920s, drew successive waves of immigrants—Irish, Italian and southern American blacks—to settle in the village.
➢ Eastchester was once known as the “Cradle of American Golf,” with four men from Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe winning the sport’s most prestigious tournaments in the 1910s-1930s.
➢ Construction of the Bronx River Parkway destroyed Italian-owned homes on the riverbanks in Tuckahoe and Bronxville.
➢ Slavery existed in Eastchester (and throughout New York State) until 1842. Between 1815 and 1835, black and white students were both eligible to attend Eastchester’s schools, which were at least in theory racially integrated at the time.
➢ In the 1840s Eastchester was the only Westchester town to have two commuter railroads inside its borders.
➢ Despite the existence of significant New Deal projects in Bronxville, Tuckahoe and unincorporated Eastchester—including the Bronxville post office and Eastchester’s Greenvale school—all three communities voted against President Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944.
➢ In the space of six years, 1925-1931, Bronxville, unincorporated Eastchester, and Tuckahoe all built new high schools—within 2½ miles of each other.