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The country was on the brink of a depression and the power of the railroads dominated the post Civil War economy when farmers from the Midwest and the Northeast established the grange in 1869. Five years later, in September 1874, membership was around 1.5 million nationwide in 20,000 local branches when the first Patterson Grange, No.237, met over what is now the Bloch Building (#1 Front Street) at the corner of NYS Route 311 and Front Street. Records of that grange exist through January 1878 containing interesting entries about correspondence with other Granges and a description of the purchase of "4 lots of cheese to be sent to destitute families in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas".
|The 1904 lease agreement between Jacob Stahl and the Patterson Grange for the use of the main floor auditorium in "Stahl's Hall" for Grange meetings. Jacob Stahl is best known as the owner of the Putnam Cigar Factory and other commercial buildings in the Patterson village. Patterson attorney James E. Towner, Jr. officiated the legal transaction and notarized Stahl's signature in his capacity as Justice of the Peace for Putnam County. Eli B. Crosby, Rollin B. Birdsall, and Jerome V. Baldwin are named as trustees for the Grange. The lease agreement was effective for the period of July 1, 1904 through March 31, 1905, with a rental fee of $6.25/month, or $75.00/year.||The 1907 lease agreement between the estate of Jacob Stahl (Jacob Stahl died in February, 1905 at age 67) and the Patterson Grange. Philippina Stahl, William Stahl, and Frederick S. Barnum are named as trustees of Jacob Stahl's estate. Eli B. Crosby, Rollin B. Birdsall, and Albert I. Akin are named as trustees of the Grange. The lease agreement was for the use of Stahl's Hall by the Grange for the period of one year starting on July 1, 1907. The Grange was given the authority to sublease the Hall and to do its own maintenance and repairs on the building. The Hall was also used by the town of Patterson, and the lease agreement required the Grange to make the building available on election day - with heat - for use by the Town as a polling station. The annual rent was $100.00. Henry Mabie notarized all signatures. Attachments extended the original lease for the periods of July 1, 1909 to 1910, and from July 1, 1910 to 1911.|
|A 1911 rent receipt for the use of Stahl's Hall by the Grange. After Stahl's death, the lease was handled by the executors of his estate.||In 1912, the Grange purchased its present building on Main Street (NYS Route 311), which had been the Patterson School District No. 1 School. This 1912 deed transfers ownership of the building to the Grange, while the land remained under the ownership of the Patterson Presbyterian Church. The school moved to larger quarters on South Street, and sold the building to the Grange for $600.00.|
|The annual clambakes were popular fundraisers for the Grange. This is a financial accounting of the 1929 clambake. Note that the "A&P Tea Co." was the original name of the grocery store chain that evolved into the A&P Supermarket chain.||The ad for the 1929 clambake appeared in the August 16, 1929 edition of the Putnam County Courier.|
|The Grange Hall as it appears today. The building was purchased in 1912 and was the former Patterson School District No. 1 School.||The Grange sponsored an annual weekend flea market in the 1970s. The ad appeared in the August 21, 1974 edition of the Putnam County Courier.|
Many other organizations which started up during these difficult times disappeared, but the Grange has remained alive and relevant. While continuing to support legislation controlling the power of the railroads, it also lessened the farmers' dependence on other "middlemen" by forming cooperatives to process and market farm products and purchase general merchandise and farm implements. The Grange membership represented enough of a market that Montgomery Ward, the first large mail order business, was established primarily to sell to it.
The present Patterson Grange No.939 was chartered in November 1902 with 43 members. A. E. Hall, District Deputy of Dutchess County, and Everett R. Davis, another prominent Dutchess resident and Grange member, met with Patterson's George T. Penny in the summer of 1902 to discuss the formation of a Grange in Patterson. Penny would serve ten years as master of the new group, from 1902-1905, 1907-1911, and 1915. Interest in a Grange for Patterson was great, and an organizing meeting was well attended. Officers were elected and installed by Deputy Hall. The first officers included:
|Master: George T. Penny||Overseer: Charles E. Akin||Lecturer: James C. Gerow|
|Steward: Henry B. Stephens||Assistant Steward: William E. Ballard||Chaplain: Moses K. Lee|
|Treasurer: Duncan Segur||Secretary: Albert I. Akin||Gatekeeper: William Watts|
|Trustees: William H. Ballard, Rollin Birdsall, Jerome V. Baldwin|
In the first four years, 74 new members joined. Total membership grew to 165 by 1910. Meetings were held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, first in rented space in the Judd/Brunow Building, and later in the Jacob Stahl Hall on Main Street (NYS Route 311), which later was used as the Patterson Town Hall.
Money for Grange expenses was raised by dances, auctions, minstrel shows, food sales, etc. The annual clambake was the big event in Patterson for many years but was discontinued because of the polio epidemic in 1917 and resumed a few years later. The clambake was held on he grounds east of the Patterson village. Clams for the event were purchased by the barrel and washed by a committee of Grange members. Mrs. Scott Eastwood baked the clams for many years, along with other food items including chicken, fish, corn, and potatoes. Fruits and desserts completed the meal. Games, clay pigeon shoots, potato sack races, and a dance in the evening made the clambakes a fun annual event.
In 1912, a need for a new, larger school building gave the Grange its opportunity for a permanent home. The old Patterson School District No. 1 building was purchased and remodeled for a permanent meeting hall.
The coming of the automobile brought freedom of travel, and "Neighbor Nights" were held at neighboring Granges in the area. The hosting Grange would plan the evening's activities. Two day "Farmer Institutes" were also held with speakers, usually from Agricultural Colleges, who came to lecture on pertinent topics. Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, the New York State Senator-Elect at the time, spoke at one.
Today we live in a different world from that described in the old minutes. Patterson is no longer a farming community but because of the prominence of organizations like the Grange, the lessons and values learned during the period are kept alive and are available to us today.
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