A History of the Coxsackie Sportsmen’s Club, Inc.
by Mark G. Scully of Coxsackie, NY
The following document was found among papers in the clubhouse. It was eloquently written in 1977 by long time treasurer and a founding member, Mark Scully. The club was marking its 50th year of existence. We all owe a tremendous debt to the founders and past members for their perseverance, ingenuity and dedication to the sportsmen’s cause. The Coxsackie Sportsmen’s Club would not exist if it were not for them.
The Coxsackie Sportsmen’s Club will mark fifty years of service to sportsmen during 1977 and a special committee has been appointed to plan observance of their Golden anniversary. It is the oldest active club in Greene County and has developed from a dozen or so target shooters, gathering for informal practice in a bus company garage to the present well organized group which owns its clubhouse on forty acres of land and has a paid up membership of about one hundred fifty sportsmen who are interested in many different phases of outdoor recreation.
The original club, then known as the Coxsackie Rod & Rifle Club, was organized in September, 1927 with George T. Morgan as President. They set up an outdoor range at Four Mile Point, shooting distances up to 1000 yards with 30-06 rifles loaned to them by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. They also joined the Hudson Valley Rifle League and fired many matches with teams in the area including Hudson, Troy, Stuyvesant, Freehold and Pittsfield.
About 1933 they acquired an old building on lower Mansion Street and spent a lot of time and effort in rebuilding it so as to have an indoor shooting range and meeting rooms and kitchen. This was destroyed by fire during the night of Nov. 13, 1940 which necessitated meeting in various temporary rooms and shooting on ranges offered by neighboring clubs.
For a while the range was in the old school house in West Coxsackie, and then the club owned the old George H. Scott firehouse at the foot of Reed Street for several years. This was the scene of many lively meetings and matches. The club even had its own hill-billy band and many times a visiting team would stick around a couple hours after a match for a sing-along. This building was sold for financial reasons. In an effort to attract more members, about this time the name of the club was changed to the Coxsackie Sportsmen’s club, Inc.
After the Tick Tock Inn at West Coxsackie was destroyed by fire the basement was roofed over and for a brief time the club went underground, setting up a range in the cellar. This didn’t last long, as the owners had other plans for the property, so in September of 1955 the club officers made arrangements to lease the old Roberts Hill reservoir from the Village of Coxsackie, with permission to build a permanent structure.
When it was learned that the Coxsackie school on Mansion Street had portable buildings for sale which had been used as auxiliary classrooms – known locally as Chicken Coops – the club purchased three of them, took them apart and moved them to Roberts Hill.
It was a beautiful spot for the club, woodsy and secluded, far enough away from neighboring families so that shooting activities were not annoying and still only ten minutes away from Coxsackie. The building was erected on a knoll over-looking a five acre pond and what was later the trapshooting range. It is never easy working with used material and a small group of members and volunteers worked weekends and evenings for over a year getting the clubhouse ready for occupancy. Light and power were furnished by a portable electric generator for several years and it was indeed a great day when Central Hudson “turned on the juice” and unlimited electricity was available.
For several years the club expanded its activities to cover everything from poker to pistol shooting. Its rifle team won top honors for three years straight in the Eastern New York Rifle League, which had taken over the best teams in the old Hudson Valley League and added several more.
Yes, things were 1ooking up until on October 19, 1962 President Malcolm Carter was notified by the Medway Fire Department that the clubhouse and contents was totally destroyed by fire during the night. It was quite a blow, but within a month plans were being drawn up for a modern, larger clubhouse with fireproof floors and walls, picture windows overlooking the lake and a large fireplace to augment a modern heating system. Fortunately there was enough insurance and other funds to purchase materials, and sympathetic volunteer masons, carpenters and other labor pitched in to get the new building erected in record time. The club will always be grateful for the, community spirit shown by these friends who gave so freely of their time and effort.
In June of 1970 the village of Coxsackie sold their land on Roberts Hill and the club purchased forty acres, mainly with funds borrowed from club members. This has been paid back, as per agreement.
So how does a club survive for fifty years and end up with land and a nice building? It wasn’t easy. Fund raising, besides dues, included innumerable drawings, barbecues, turkey shoots, dinners, dances, field days, even a two day real rodeo, with trick riders, calf roping, horse shows and other western style stuff, all of which netted the club six bucks after the dust had settled.
A Ladies Auxiliary formed in 1967 was a great help in fund raising and organizing social activities. First Auxiliary President was Sally Turan assisted by Vice-President Tess Van Wie and a very active crew of workers.
To justify its existence a club must be more than a target shooting organization and over the years a wide variety of interests have claimed the time and efforts of the members. It has been an active member or the Greene County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs which works for the good of all county sportsmen in the fields of legislation and environmental activities and is in turn affiliated with the New York State Conservation Council. Its support of the National Rifle Association helps to combat legislation which would possibly disarm hunters and target shooters.
The club members have raised pheasants in three different locations over the years and have released them in territory open to hunting. They have also helped stock trout in mountain streams. They worked hard to have the boat launching sites built at Coxsackie and Athens. They were one of the first clubs to sponsor Hunter Safety Training and it is still an important part of the activities under the supervision of Cal Long. Kids Fishing Derbies were held for a number of years until the state discontinued netting and transferring panfish.
So the Coxsackie Sportsmen’s Club looks back over fifty years of accomplishments and thanks the active members and dedicated officers who have kept the organization alive and well. May the next fifty years show twice as much progress!