Patterson 200 Years
PattersonGrange No. 939
Patterson Grange No. 237)
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 upstairs at the building now on 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 "four lots of cheese to be sent to destitute families in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas."
Many other organizations which started up during these difficult times have 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, chartered in November 1902 with 43 members, grew to 165 by 1910. Meetings were held in rented halls for several years until 1912, when the old school building was purchased and remodeled for a permanent meeting hall. Money for remodeling and other major expenses was raised by dances, auctions, minstrel shows, food sales, etc. the annual clam bake was the big event in Patterson for many years but was discontinued because of the polio epidemic. Two day "Farmer Institutes" were held with speakers, usually from agricultural colleges, who came in to lecture on pertinent topics. Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, our 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 presence of organizations like the Grange, the lessons and values learned during the period when it was, are kept alive and are available to us today.