Every September, on the second Saturday of the month, an event takes place in Hammond, Wisconsin that is like no other on the planet. The Running of the Llamas, now in its 19th year, is frivolous and at times farcical, but quite frankly, huge fun.
I’ve reached NYC on my Hammond book research trip, following a successful expedition to Hammond, Maine. Unlike in Maine, there’s a chance that the New York Hammond has a connection to the family, as it was bought and named after one Abijah Hammond whose family emigrated from Lavenham, Suffolk. A wealthy NYC merchant, he bought and sold property, mostly in Greenwich Village (then a separate place) and made enough money to build a mansion at Throggs Neck which overlooks the East River on the fringes of what’s now the Bronx.
I caught the 6 (singing J-Lo songs in my head, of course) and then the Bx40 bus to find his house at Silver Beach. It’s now in poor state, with a couple of refurbished rooms being used as offices for the Silver Beach Association. The delightful Carol from SBA welcomed her unexpected visitor with open arms and told me a little about the house, which dates from 1795. As a non-profit co-op, they don’t have the money for repairs, unfortunately, but it was good to know the local residents still refer to Abijah’s place as “the mansion”.
It was a real privilege to be in Abijah’s home, more so as this place is not open to the public. There’ll be more of his story in the book, and it looks like there’s quite a story to tell from this colourful character.