The History of the Hudson Fish & Game Club
In 1930 or 31, the residents of this county formed an organization known as the Columbia County Fish & Game Club. Without benefit of a permanent clubhouse, its members held their meetings in any available place they could find. Among the long list of meeting places was the Columbia County courthouse, the Warren Street Firehouse, the Hudson Theatre House, and the most often used site of the Warren Street Polish American Club.
As the county was broken up into its various townships, so too the membership of the Columbia County Fish & Game Club began to break off into individual town clubs.
In 1935 the Hudson Fish & Game Club was incorporated under the leadership of the Honerable Lewis E. McNamee, who was elected as the first president of the organization in that same year.
Judge McNamee guided the newly organized group of 80 sportsman for the next two years, and his leadership has been a contributing factor to the tremendous success the club has enjoyed. At the present time his son and grandsons, owners of the McNamee outdoor outfitters on Route 23 in Claverack, are still active members.
In 1937, Mr. George Landsman succeeded Judge McNamee as president and he served as such for the next 10 years. Under the guidance of Mr. Landsman, the club began to grow. The stocking program of both fish and game was stepped up, and the Hudson Club became a leader in the Columbia County Federation of Sportsman and many of its members were honored by being elected to office in this county organization.
Throughout the years the subject of acquiring a permanent clubhouse had been discussed on numerous occasions but nothing definite was accomplished until Mr. Crissy Wilson was elected to head the Hudson Club in 1947. Immediately upon his election Mr. Wilson formulated plans for the club to obtain a home of its own. A committee (composed of Ernest “Buckey” Cornell, Charles Seehuesen, Casper Herbs, and Glen Hitchcock) was appointed and a deadline was set for the purchasing of a site. After consideration of a few possibilities it was Mr. Seehuesen will finally found the 55 acre Claverack farm which at that time was owned by Mrs. Miller. The agreed upon price for the 55 acres was $2000.
Not actually having the money to buy the land it had agreed to purchase, the club at busy selling nonprofit bonds worth no more than $10.00, holding auctions, take sales and social affairs until the $1000 down payment had been raised. (Mr. Ernest “Buckey” Cornell still holds the number bond issued at $5.00)
The next important step was choosing the site for the clubhouse. One evening Mr. Wilson and Mr. Cornell and a number of other members went out to the newly purchased acreage and tried to decide on which side of the then existing stonewall the clubhouse should be built. After much deliberation Mr. Wilson finally said, “If you want it on this side, stay here with me and if you want it on that side, go stand with Buckey.” Mr. Cornell’s side won and so the site for the building was chosen. (Today the children’s play area is located where the stone wall originally stood.)
With purchase completed and the site of the clubhouse chosen it was time to really get to work. A picnic was arranged for the National Guard Engineering Unit. The price the Guard paid for that picnic was the digging of one basement. The balance of the work was done by members themselves who donated their evenings and weekends. The foundation and all other masonry work was done by Mr. Wilson. Mr. Ronald Lasher was head carpenter and the stone fireplace which graces the main meeting room was the work of Mr. Canape. The deer heads located in the main room were donated by Mr. John Joseph Porreca, who was at the time Special Game Warden with the Conservation Department, and shooting instructor for the police department.
The entire membership contributed many, many hours of volunteer work. When they were finished the club boasted a 30’ by 100’ clubhouse which housed a main meeting hall, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a small bar and two indoor rifle ranges in the basement. The grounds had been cleared and there now stood trap houses, 18 archery areas, a 100 a yard outdoor rifle and pistol range, play area for the children and last but not least a plowed area with enough room for every member to have a garden of their own.
By 1951 the grounds and clubhouse were complete with every facility for the enjoyment of the sportsman.
During his term as president Mr. Wilson was also responsible for starting a program of a reforestation which called for the planting of several thousand young trees each year on various parcels of wasteland in Columbia County. This program was of unlimited value to our watersheds, the protection of small game and was of benefit to the landowner as a crop of harvestable timber.
According to a recent article in the Hudson newspaper, Mr. Chrissy Wilson was credited with admitting the first woman member, Mrs. Mary Porreca, to the club. Mr. Wilson denies this stating that membership was neither granted by him nor by vault of the membership body. He maintains the first women members were those women also listed in the newspaper article was memberships were voted on; Kim Kline, Christine March and Jan March.
Mr. Ernest “Buckey” Cornell was elected to succeed Mr. Wilson in 1955 and was reelected in 1956. Conservation was “Buckey’s” program. With the cooperation of Robert Dyer, the 4- H club agent, the local Boy Scout leaders and the New York State Conservation Department the club sponsored a field day in the interest of Junior Conservation.
Mr. Cornell who at one time raised bird dogs in Copake, New York was an avid sportsman. Listing among his many other outdoor interests was his love for trap shooting. At his instigation, the membership voted to give permission for him to bid for the New York State trap shooting competition. Mr. Cornell put in the clubs bid and was told if he could have the grounds ready in time to meet the deadline the Hudson club would come under consideration as a possible site for the competition. Mr. Cornell took one year leave of absence from his job to complete the work necessary to meet the state requirements and Mr. Crissy Wilson donated his labor to build four trap houses.
When the time for the deadline arrived the club was ready and on passing inspection was chosen as the site for the New York State trap shooting competition for the year 1960. But to Mr. Cornell’s dismay the local newspapers refused to cover the event, which should have proved to be a financial boom to the community. With the local merchants and Inn keepers being unaware of an unprepared for the tremendous influx of people, the competition participants and their families were forced to seek lodging as far north as Albany.
Mr. Peter Karic served as president for the next three years from 1957 through 1959. During Mr. Karic’s term complete repairs were made to the original facilities. As to the clubhouse itself, there was an addition built so that the kitchen could be enlarged and a walk in cooler installed. It was in 1958 that the original Pavilion, which still stands was built for clam bakes and barbecues. July 4 1958 was the first time the club bar was ever opens to the public.
During 1959 the club wired its clam-bake equipment and shed. This year also saw the commencement of work on the new track areas under the leadership of Mr. Cornell and the installing of air circulators in the clubhouse.
November 1959 was the first time in the history of the club the question of allowing women members was discussed. However, no action was taken at that time.
There was a revamping of the bylaws, and club constitution to accommodate the expanded facilities, membership and responsibilities. Mr. Karic believed the club should be self-supporting without taxing the membership.
Dean Delp succeeded Mr. Karic in 1960 and was reelected in 1961 during his first year as president the inside of the clubhouse was painted under the direction of frank Fabiano, head of the building commission.
It was Mr. Fabiano, who in July of 1960 suggested the club try to purchase in 1948 films showing the original construction of the club watching date this is not been accomplished.
For the members interested in trap shooting the club purchased for western traps in late 1960. For those more concerned with indoor activities, the club bar was equipped with larger cabinet space in February of 1961.
At the July 1961 meeting, in an effort to get more members to attend the monthly meetings, Crissy Wilson suggested starting a jackpot drawing at $10.00 per member. The motion carried and the idea was instituted.
Lewis McNamee Jr. son of the club’s first president was elected to the office of president in 1962. He served for the next four years through 1965.
It was during Mr. McNamee’s term that the club acquired the lighted parking lot at the foot of the hill and additional clearing for the existing parking lot. Restrooms were built in the grove and booths for the 4th of July celebrations were constructed.
In July of 1963 the club sign was placed at the corner of 9-H.
1964 and 1965 saw the clubhouse floor refinished, a TV set purchased for the bar, the construction of a 600’ by 125’ pond, a fence placed between the swings and a horseshoe area, trap lights installed for night shooting and lights installed at the grove.
For its cooperation and work with the 4-H club, a “Friends of 4-H” award was presented to the Hudson fish and game club in October of 1965.
Harold Elsner became president in 1966 and was reelected in 1967. Interest in archery seemed to be at a peak at this time, the archery targets were repaired, lights installed, the shelter painted and the sandpit constructed.
It was in 1966 that the idea of having club patches was first discussed. Fred Soule presented the first sketch for the proposed emblem in January of 1966. By November of that year a committee was authorized to finalize the design and order 250 patches which were put on sale in May of 1967 at the cost of a $1.25 each.
During 1967 the club sponsored a field day and the parking area was blacktopped.
To the present we still enjoy our clubhouse and grounds. We had emphasized again on junior conservation programs and a club that is active.