Pound Ridge History | Pound Ridge Westchester County New York
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Pound Ridge History

Pound Ridge

Westchester County

municipality, municipality Pound Ridge, northeast Westchester County, Bedford, South Salem, Topography, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, hiking trails, war, Basket Town, Leatherman, Schools in Pound Ridge Pound Ridge History

The municipality of Pound Ridge is located in the northeast section of Westchester County. Pound Ridge borders both New York and Connecticut. Pound Ridge is adjacent to the Connecticut towns of New Canaan and northern Stamford. On the New York side, Pound Ridge borders Bedford and the more rural town of South Salem. Pound Ridge is characterized by a rugged landscape, rock outcroppings and rugged cliffs. "Nowhere in the town's 23 square miles is there even a traffic light."

Topography of Pound Ridge
"In many parts of Pound Ridge, the rugged landscape seems to have been only gently altered by humans since the glaciers receded. In contrast to some of its neighbors, the town, Westchester's smallest in population density, has marked its topography over the years not with highways and malls but rather with stone walls and narrow county roads that wind past meandering brooks, stone outcroppings and densely wooded hills. Not only does Pound Ridge have 2 and 3 acre zoning, but it is home to large tracts of undeveloped land. The 4,315 acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the county's largest park, occupies 22% of the town and offers walking and hiking trails, camp sites, and picnic areas."

Originally home to the Siwanoy and Kitchawong Indians (Mohican tribes, a subgroup of the Algonquians), Pound Ridge takes its name from a tribal "pound" or enclosure for game that was on one of the area's many "ridges". The Indians led a relatively peaceful life of planting, hunting, and fishing. Pound Ridge was originally settled in 1640's, as part of a tract of land purchased from local Indians by Captain Nathanial Turner. Pound Ridge was officially incorporated in 1788. For the last 250 years there has been much controversy over the spelling of "Pound Ridge" or "Poundridge". In 1948, the Town Board declared the name to be two words: "Pound Ridge".

During the Revolution, on July 2, 1779, Pound Ridge was the scene of the dramatic raid led by the British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton overwhelmed the local militia commanded by Major Ebenezer Lockwood and the regiment of Continental Light Dragoons led by Lt. Col. Elisha Shelton stationed in the Hamlet area. Tarleton got lost finding Pound Ridge - this enabled the Americans more time to prepare. However, with better than a 2 to 1 advantage, Tarleton ("The Butcher") conquered, plundered, and burned much of the town. American reinforcements arrived, fought back and Tarleton retreated.

After the war, Pound Ridge continued to flourish. Saw mills, grist mills, blacksmith shops, and general stores were built. By 1850, the population reached 1,486. Although a dairy farming community, Pound Ridge became known for hat and shoe making. However, its most famous industry was basket making (first developed by the Native Indians). In fact, Pound Ridge was commonly referred to as "Basket Town" and many of the sturdy baskets were used by the oyster fishermen on Long Island Sound.

The Leatherman, was a gentle hermit and interesting character, who roamed the area for 30 years in the latter half of the 1800's. His true story is shrouded in mystery, but he was a large man who loved leather and always wore his handmade patchwork leather outfit (with a leather hat and leather clogs). He lived in various caves or rock shelters and accepted food or leather. He didn't speak but mumbled, and his headstone identifies him as Jules Bourglay of Lyons France.

By the early 20th century, farming had declined as had the cottage industries. The railroads in Westchester, which opened up markets and brought in new people, bypassed Pound Ridge. By 1920, the population dwindled to 515. Then, during the 1930's things changed. Hiram Halle, an inventor and businessman, came to Pound Ridge from New York City and began renovating and reconstructing houses.

Hiram Halle hoped to enhance the community. His renovations attracted many actors, writers, artists, and musicians. They discovered that Pound Ridge was a charming and convenient getaway and began purchasing homes. Benny Goodman was one of the first of these residents, and he even composed a melody entitled "Pound Ridge". Many creative people and celebrities continue to move to Pound Ridge.

By the 1940's, Pound Ridge's population rose to almost 800, and it continued to grow slowly and steadily to 4,000 in 1980 and 4,550 in 1990.

Interest in the preservation of Pound Ridge's architectural heritage has also been maintained throughout the years. These older landmarks and homes are an integral part of the character of the town and provide the community a shared "pride of place". The current population of the residents of the Town of Pound Ridge, NY includes 4,918 people (2004 US Census) living mostly in single-family dwellings on 2 or 3 acre minimum zoning districts.

In addition there are deer galore, emus, swans, ducks and geese, foxes and coyotes, raccoons, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, crickets, etc. Excerpts from Pound Ridge website - Written by ©Lisl Steiner

    Excerpts from Pound Ridge Conservation Board Guide The Pound Ridge Conservancy owns several preserves in town, the largest being the 38 acre Halle Ravine, a recreation area lined with hemlocks, beeches and black birch. Pound Ridge is 14,130 magnificent acres carved by a glacier. Its dramatic topography differs even from our nearby neighbors. Uniquely "Pound Ridge", the dramatic rock outcroppings, steep slopes, woodlands and abundant wetlands support a varied and complex ecosystem. There are many walking trails in Pound Ridge including:
      The Bye Preserve
      Carolin's Grove
      The Clark Preserve
      The Halle Ravine
      The Russell Preserve
      The Westchester Wilderness Walk
      The Morgenthau Preserve
      Mianus River Gorge
      Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

History And Antiquities
The following covers "History and Antiquities", a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, and anecdotes about Westchester County and its towns. When reading the following, remember to keep in mind that this information has been written about two hundred years ago. Population statistics and events have not been revised to reflect current events and perspective. We think this adds to the historical flavor and interest of the writings, giving a different perspective on much of this information and written in an "older world" writing style. "Historical Collections of the State of New York , Published by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square, 1841

    "Poundridge is situated 4 miles E. from Bedford. Pop. 1,407. Poundridge, post village, centrally situated, contains 1 Presbyterian, 1 Methodist Episcopal church, and about 15 dwellings."

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