Plattekill Grange celebrates 120th Birthday

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 6/21/23

Last Saturday the Plattekill Grange #923 marked its 120th anniversary. Plattekill Historian Libby Werleau presented a slide show with pictures and facts about the history of the Grange, noting that …

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Plattekill Grange celebrates 120th Birthday

Last Saturday the Plattekill Grange #923 marked its 120th anniversary. Plattekill Historian Libby Werleau presented a slide show with pictures and facts about the history of the Grange, noting that the first one in town was the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry #390 and was organized in April 1876.  
The late town historian Kenneth Hasbrouck wrote that, “the old hotel sheds, located between the hotel and the post office, had room for many wagons that brought people from miles around to Grange meetings. Over the sheds is where the Grange meetings were held.” This Grange eventually disbanded by the turn of the 20th century.
Werleau said the purpose of the Grange was to provide farmers with the ability to purchase coal, feed, groceries and farming supplies at lower prices. In addition, the Grange served as a place to hold community events, social parties and dances.
The Grange in the Town of Plattekill was founded on June 16, 1903 and was known as the Clintondale Grange #957. In 1911 members bought the George Ellis building on Maple Avenue for $1,800 (later the IGA) and meetings were held upstairs. In 1915 an addition was added that served ice cream and doubled as a feed room.
The Clintondale Grange supported a number of important social events throughout the year: selecting an Apple Blossom Queen, creating Ulster County Fair displays, providing cafeteria suppers, putting on minstrel and variety shows, having card and game parties, hosting block parties and carnivals and creating hospital projects.
By 1930 the Grange had outgrown this space and they purchased the Clintondale Improvement Association building on Mill Street. By 1945 they had paid off the mortgage and stayed at this location until the 1960s when the building was sold. They continued meeting in members’ homes and at the town library before they were dissolved in the early 2000s.
The Plattekill Grange #923 was organized on March 29, 1902 and was chartered a few months later on July 1 and took place at the Plattekill schoolhouse. Just a year later, membership climbed to 200 people, which made it the largest organization in the county. By 1929 membership topped 300. Their meetings were often held outside or in large barns in order to accommodate the ever expanding number of Grange members.  
In late 1902 the Grange purchased a half acre lot for $75 and shortly after they built the two-story building for $890, which is still standing today. In 1927 an addition was built at a cost of $2,800, and the mortgage on this was paid off by 1935.  
The Plattekill Grange continued to add more social and civic events to their calendar: spelling contests, history pageants, clambakes at 35 cents a plate, turkey suppers and chicken barbecues, hosting sock hops and New Year’s Eve dances, creating a baseball team, presenting dramatic plays, selecting ‘Grange Beauties,’ and honoring Memorial Day. Recently a  restoration of the Grange was started.   
The Plattekill M.E. Church occupied the parcel next to the Grange but due to dwindling attendance was dismantled.   
The current Grange is run by Grand Master Robert ‘Butch’ Anson, Nancy Gilman as Treasurer, June Henneberry as Secretary and Roy Gilman as Director of the Board.
Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson presented the Grange with a Certificate of Merit to mark their 120th anniversary.
“It’s important to preserve the past, learn from the past, and when I heard about this I said I have to be here,” he said. “As the saying goes, those that don’t know their history will be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Chris Dawes said his uncle once served as the Grand Master of the Grange in the 1960s.  
“He got all of his four nephews in when we were 14, that’s when you can become a regular member, and shortly thereafter we were all officers, he recalled.  
Dawes said growing up as a Grange member, “taught me a lot about self-care because you wanted to look nice. You wore a suit and tie when you came because now we’re officers.” He said once  the group of four turned 18 they were no longer members.
“We lost interest in the Grange because the Grange didn’t keep up with the times, but I’m now thinking about joining again,” he said.  
Will Farrell is a member of the Plattekill Historical Preservation Society and the Grange, which now houses the Society. The historical society website says that, “after 14 years without a permanent home, the Plattekill Historical Society has moved into new digs in the old Plattekill Grange No. 923 on Route 32. The volunteers’ work to renovate the circa-1903 building has been going on for more than a year and is still in progress, but enough of the renovation has been done that the first floor is ready. Monthly meetings of the organization are now held there on the third Saturday of most months, and the space provides room for exhibitions of the group’s collection of antique maps, documents and historic local photographs and postcards.”
Farrell was born and raised on a farm in Brewster and later moved to Dover, “and the Grange was really big and I remember as a kid the feed we used to buy came from it and there were meetings my Dad went to and literally every farmer was in the Grange.”
Today Farrell said he was happy that the Grange and the Historical Society, “are still active” in Plattekill. He recalled receiving $100 from the Grange at his high school graduation for college.   
“I was the only kid in the whole school that was going to SUNY Cobleskill for agriculture in animal husbandry with the idea of becoming a veterinarian, but I went back to the family farm in Dover,” he said.  
Werleau said she, Jami Anson and others are working to revitalize Plattekill’s Grange and the Historical Society.
“The Grange was very focused on the family and community, and as farms started becoming larger and more like a business, the small family farms died off,” she said.
Jami Anson said the current revival of the historical society and the Grange is due to the efforts of the board members as well as Libby Werleau and Jami’s late mother Shirley Anson, “for without them this wouldn’t have happened. I think the important mention of the Plattekill Historical Society is to preserve this building and the Grange’s history and Plattekill’s history.”
Anson can be reached at and their website can be found at