On Sunday, September 16th I attended the Rock City Lutheran Church’s 150th anniversary service as a guest of Rhinebeck Town Historian and church organist Nancy Kelly. Congregation founder John G. Schultz donated the land and built the church in 1868. Milan History uploaded an 8mm movie to their youtube channel shot during the Church’s 100th anniversary (see below). I think I recognize only one person (Dick Battenfeld) from what I’ve seen so far. If you know some of the folks in the video, do us a solid and jot the time-elapsed down and email me (see the contact section)!
For my part in the festivities I provided a draft of an updated survey of the Memorial Cemetery across the street in which Mr. Shultz and his family are buried (as well as my great-grandparents Clayton and Bertha Hermans). In 1974 my grandmother (on the other side) Clara Losee compiled records of burials from not only the tombstones, but from other vital records found in Rhinebeck and Red Hook. In 2017 I photographed the stones for Find-A-Grave and uploaded what I recorded there. After comparing my work with Gram’s I realized I missed a few and have yet to go back and retrieve them (it’s on the list!). I would also like to pad the record out with those burials for which there is no stone or inscription, but won’t have time to do the research for a long while (not on the list). After this, Art Kelly emailed me a bit irritated that I didn’t consult his work – a survey of the 20th century burials that I did not know existed. I have yet to consult this work, but it’s on the list… some day! Among those resting in the cemetery and also recorded on the quilt are a few members of the Battenfeld, Hermans, Schantz, Rhynders, and Shaffer families―only a handful of folks compared to other area cemeteries such as the Gallatin Reformed Church, Elizaville Methodist, Evergreen (Pine Plains), and Red Hook Lutheran. The numbers seem to correlate to stronger geographic proximity, church membership, and generations of the same family being interred in the same ground.
I’ve done a good amount of research about the Jackson Corners Grange (1901-1975)—more than is useful to the book. Thanks to New York State Grange President Stephen Coye I learned that there are no records held by his organization for this Grange other than the application paper and report of officers, the last of which was made in 1975. I also found two lengthy articles in the local papers from 1951 for their 50th anniversary, the first of which then Master Dorothea C. Wolken (their first “Lady Master”) wrote about their history thus far. Though her article is a treasure trove, the second onem, written reporting on the anniversary event itself is incredibly frustrating at times, especially this line: “The address by State Master Henry D. Sherwood had all laughing at some of the very true stories he told concerning the Jackson Corners of years ago.” Couldn’t have written them down, guys?! Sigh. Not much has been recorded for historical purposes about this long-shuttered organization, so with the help of Milan Town Councilmember Jack Campisi who is writing about it for the Milan Bicentennial newsletter, we’ll work something up for the Milan NY History website https://milannyhistory.org/.
This summer has been a busy one and I’ve done only a small amount of work on the book, including examining the JC Grange treasurer’s records that Jack lent to me. I’m also reading through the 1903 Pine Plains Register newspaper to get a sense of how people felt about the world they lived in. It’s one thing to research statistics and hard facts, but getting into the heads of people whom no one now living remembers is tough. The papers have lead to both some interesting insights and also the old chestnut “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
I’ve had the genealogy sections completed (to my satisfaction) for so long and have assembled a ton good images to use that lately I’m feeling frustrated that I haven’t gotten to the layout stage yet. But I want to do the history justice—even if I don’t have currently have the drive to finish it.
Before I discovered proof that the quilt was created for the benefit of the Jackson Corners Methodist Church’s then pastor Rev. W.L. Cadman, I had thought that perhaps it was made for the local Grange as there were so many folks named on it that were members.
The Grange in 1903 was one of the most important resources for farmers not to give them a political voice, but for sharing skills and information, and served as probably a third of a rural person’s social life (the remainder filled by church service and events, and by calling on family and friends).
Thanks to connecting with Ryan Orton at the Milan 200th event, I was invited to the Stanford Grange #808’s open house meeting and pot luck on Tuesday the 24th. I got to see firsthand the camaraderie and community involvement that the Grange still has today, as well as the very cool (to me, anyway!) traditional rituals that govern their meetings. There’s a lot of parading, singing (with live piano!), call and response, hand gestures, and heavy velvet sashes on each officer. Cool stuff. And I was assured that what I saw did not differ that much from a meeting in 1903. Well, I don’t think they recessed the meeting to pop balloons with their butts back then, but that’s progress for ya! I had a great time and am very thankful to Ryan and the fine folks at Stanford Grange for having me. I sat next to the New York State Grange President Stephen Coye at dinner and he’s offered to help me see if there is anything regarding the Jackson Corners Grange in the archives at Cornell!
Best part, tho? They have a signature quilt!
It’s from 1940 and each block was signed (some are actually “signed” proper, others are in one hand) by members of a different Grange. It is joined with turkey red between the blocks and it is backed and tied, though does not feel like it has any batting between the layers. The embroidery is done in rainbow colors and one block is inked. 10 cents was raised from each signer. Below is the the Jackson Corners block and the Rock City block with notes.
This Saturday (April 7th, 2018), I’ll be talking the ears of anyone who will listen about the book at the Town of Milan Bicentennial event. The address sounds out there, but the town hall is just west of the gas station near the Taconic Parkway off Rt 199 between Pine Plains and Red Hook. Can’t miss it. Big banner. Plenty of parking. The forecast is for rain/snow with a high of 46 so you don’t have any gardening to do, so…
Come over and say hi! Get a rare change to see the quilt in person! Thrill at the…uh…cool historic stuff!
I’ve added a new page with the index of names that appear on the quilt. Use the “Index of Names” link above to check it out.
Recognize someone? Let me know by using the “Contact” link above. I’d love to include your family or locale photos in the book. I’ve already made quite a few connections through my research with great folks who have shared not only images but stories about their ancestors, helping me to paint a clearer picture of life in Jackson Corners at the turn of the century.
I decided I should probably start up a site about the book as I’m not sure I can finish it in time for the Milan Bicentennial event in April. I’ve been working on this on and off for the last seven years or more, and am closer to publication than not these days. While I would love to have a book ready by then, I also want to publish a good book. Also, every time I talk to someone, I get great new info and/or leads to even more info that makes the history I’m trying to bring to life richer with every contact I make.
Thank you for your interest and please sign up for post notifications or bookmark this link. I’ll be sharing progress and eventually, how to get your hands on a copy!