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.
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!