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Do You Remember?

"Tales of Headless Indians at the Haunted Cedar Knoll"

Tom Casey leans against the Roosevelt Rock at Haunted Cedar Knoll in the upper reaches of Pelham Bay Park. He's pointing to the Roosevelt etching.

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter on May 9, 2002)

I recently spent a good chunk of a searing April afternoon traversing the full breadth and width of the Haunted Cedar Knoll with Tom Casey but nary a headless Indian did we see. Perhaps a visit at twilight or dusk would garner different results with a group of Siwanoy holding their heads aloft as they paraded and chanted their mournful dirges. But, alas, that's for another to investigate.

The remote section of Pelham Bay Park where the knoll is located is not very accessible to the public. The rocky shoreline and densely wooded area is located on Shoal Harbor between Roosevelt Cove and the city line on the former Elbert J. Roosevelt Estate. These Roosevelt's were only distantly related to those of that name known to occupy the White House. New York City acquired the area for parkland in 1888. They paid $14,113.90 for the land and $6,863 for the Roosevelt house. What is most interesting, however, is that the area was far removed from the city at the time, as this section of the Bronx east of the Bronx River was not annexed to New York City from Westchester County until 1895.
It is a site long known to archeologists and a considerable number of arrowheads were discovered on the site. The quantity was such that it was believed that arrowheads were actually manufactured here. Although this is still a very rocky area, there did not appear to be any rocks there at this time suitable for such a purpose.

History also tells us that it is believed to be the site of a fierce battle between the marauding Matinecocks from Long Island and the Siwanoy who inhabited this area. The latter were defeated and allegedly decapitated. Since that fateful conflict, sightings of Indians carrying their heads aloft in their hands have persisted.
Although Tom and I did not see any apparitions on our two visits, we did manage to locate an old inscription on a huge boulder outcropping at the water's edge. It was difficult to locate and time has eroded the once pronounced engraving. It reads: Isaac Roosevelt, and the date 1833 is below it. We knew it was somewhere on the knoll but had checked the area twice before finally locating it. It is now very faint and it will not be long before it is totally indecipherable.

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