Fly Creek History

Grange No 844
What Is The Grange?
Fly Creek Area Yesteryear
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Fly Creek Grange No. 844

Fly Creek Grange No. 844 was organized in February 1895 by Henry Chamberlain, the first deputy of Otsego County. The session was held in the ballroom of the Fly Creek Hotel.

There were 18 charter members, and these selected the first officers who were installed by Deputy Chamberlain. John B. McManus was named master with Ettie Wedderspoon, overseer and Jesse Ellsworth, lecturer.

Others were Richard Johnson, chaplain; Peter McDonough, secretary; Frances Hecox, treasurer; Norman Quaif, steward; Irving Hull, assistant steward; Irving Marsh, gatekeeper; Leona Quaif, Pomona; Mary Elderkin, Ceres; Jennie McDonough, Flora; Clara Quaif, lady assistant steward. Other charter members were Margaret Brady, Sheldon Elderkin, Sarah Leland, Alfred Wilcox, and Charles Hyde.

The members decided that they wanted a hall of their own and a meeting was held in the Oaksville Hotel and the Fly Creek Building Association formed. Richard Johnson was elected president; John B. McManus, secretary and Sheldon Elderkin, treasurer. Shares in the Building Association were sold at $5 each and 1,100 were bought. At the first meeting of the Building Association it was voted to purchase a piece of land of DeWitt Badger for $100.

The hall was built on this lot by Charles Allen and Henry Babcock. Members of the Grange donated time and labor, and the organization soon had one of the largest and finest halls in Otsego County. Four members were leaders in the projects and their pictures are hanging in the hall in which they took so much pride in building. They were Richard Johnson, George Page, Sheldon Elderkin, and George Wedderspoon.

The members put up exhibits at the Otsego County Fair held in Cooperstown, regularly, and as much as $225 was received in premiums in one year. Home talent plays and dances also brought in funds as well as furnishing entertainment for the young people of the community.

The Grange rented the hall of the Building Association, paying $60 a year. In 1924, the members decided they would like to own their hall, so a committee was named to meet with the Building Association officers. The latest stockholders at the time were Fred VanWalkenburg, Melvin Kane and Loomis Wood.

It was necessary to borrow some money to meet the obligations but it was soon paid back, and the mortgage and Building Association dissolution papers were signed by Secretary K.A. McRorie, February 18, 1928.

One of the objectives of the Grange, when organized, was to save farmers money on their purchases. A grocery agent was appointed each year, to take orders from members, and to have charge of the Grange Store Room. The members purchased their supplies at the store room on meeting nights. Farmers who raised hops bought a large part of their supplies from the Grange agent.

George Page, Daniel Curtis, and Fred VanWalkenburg were three of the agents who were very active and showed a great interest in the store. On December 2, 1922, the members voted to discontinue the store operations as business had dropped away and there was not enough profit to make it worthwhile.

The Grange Hall has been used for several Pomona meetings, also for other county sessions, such as School of Instruction, practice meetings for degree teams and anniversaries. It was dedicated June 27, 1928, the ceremonies being in charge of State Master Fred J. Freestone.

Four charter members were among the guests of honor on that occasion. They were John B. McManus, the first master; Ettie Wedderspoon, the first overseer; R.P. Johnson, the first chaplain; and Alfred Wilcox.

Pomona master Harry Hawver of Otego and Deputy John Chase of Schenevus were guests for the dedication program.

There have been five Golden Sheaf members – John B. McManus, Edwin M. Jarvis, Ettie Wedderspoon, Leona Wood and Lena McRorie. McManus served as master, and also held other offices later. Brother E.M. Jarvis was elected master three times and has held other offices. Ettie Wedderspoon has been an active Grange member and served in several offices. Sister Lena McRorie was master for two terms and held an office continuously for 50 years.

The 50th Anniversary was celebrated July 31, 1948. A program of music, readings and a Grange pageant was presented under the direction of Lena McRorie, the lecturer. It was at that time the master E. M. Jarvis presented Golden Sheaf certificates to John B. McManus, Ettie Wedderspoon, and Leona Wood.

The master presented the Grange with a 50-year anniversary picture and the lecturer made a presentation of a picture of the seven founders of the Order. Past Deputy Ritter was the speaker describing Grange events.

The membership was 148 and Silver Star certificates were presented to 25 members. In a contest for Milk Queen of Otsego County, held in 1952, Alice Platt of the Fly Creek Grange won the honors.

After 73 years, Fly Creek Grange is active. Regular meeting are held. The Grange Hall is used as a voting place for on district in the town of Otsego. 4-H meetings, Extension Service meetings, family anniversary celebrations and the Fly Creek Co-op meetings are often held in our Grange Hall.

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What is the Grange?
John M. Benedik, New Jersey
Lecturer, State Grange

The origin of the Grange came about in the year 1866 when Mr. Oliver Hudson Kelley was authorized by the Commissioner of Agriculture to make a survey of farm conditions in the South following the Civil War.

Mr. Kelley conceived the idea that a fraternal organization, composed of farmers from all sections of the country, would help to heal the scars caused by war, as well as to improve the economic and social position of the farm population.

Mr. Kelley and six of his friends, having framed a ritual and a constitution, formally organized the National Grange.

As National Grange is the supreme legislative body of the Order, its policies are developed through the channels of Subordinate (local), Pomona (County), and State units.  The program for agriculture developed at these sessions is carried back for action to the representatives of their local and state groups.  At the annual session, the Seventh Degree (highest in the Order) is conferred which has no superior in modern ritualism.

The State Grange is a delegate body, representing Subordinate and Ponoma Granges, and is composed of both men and women on an equal footing.  State Granges consider many important matters relating to legislation and public policy, particularly with reference to agriculture and the welfare of the state as a whole.  The State Grange confers the Sixth Degree at its annual session.

Pomona Grange consists of Subordinate Granges with a given district grouped together on a county basis, and meets quarterly.  The Pomona Grange confers the Fifth Degree of the Order extending the lessons and opportunities of the Subordinate Grange.

Subordinate Grange is built around the community.  It confers the first four degrees of the Order.  All Grange activities are for the purpose of developing leadership, improving rural life, and expanding opportunities for those who live by the land.  All those who farm or who have a real interest in agriculture and are 14 years of age are eligible for full membership in the Grange.

Believing that the future of a nation depends upon the training of its children, the Grange structure also includes the Junior Grange.  Open to children between the ages of 5 and 14, which is a distinct unit in itself.  The Junior Grange is under the direction of competent adults, selected by the Subordinate Grange.

Membership in the Grange gives you an opportunity to express fully your opinion on community and national issues.

You can actively meet today's challenge by joining the Grange and participating in its many worthwhile programs.  The actions of the Grange have a direct bearing in the handling of many problems relating to national as well as community life.

There is a place in the Grange for every member of your family, and every member of your community.  Especially your neighbors!

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Image 1
State Route 28 East of the Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 2
East of the Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 3
O & H Trolley Station - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 4
Looking North Near Trolley Station - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 5
Looking West from Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 6
Looking North from Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 7
Southwest Corner of Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 8
Northeast of the Four Corners - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 9
Preparatory School - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

Image 10
Millrace and Dam - ca. 1915. Fly Creek, NY.

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