One of Patterson’s earliest organizations has every right to claim this month as its centennial anniversary.
American Legion Post #168 was organized and applied for its charter in December, 1919. It held two meetings that month, decided to move ahead in applying for its charter, initially signed up 22 prospective members, and selected a name in memory of the Patterson lone World War I battle casualty.
That would be Elijah B. Hayes, who attended school here before entering the military. He was killed in France in the Argonne campaign. By then his parents had moved out-of-state. They had two other sons serving overseas in the infantry at that time.
The charter application for a new post was sent to state Legion headquarters in San Francisco, and it may have been some time before official recognition was received that it had been approved.
At the first meeting in early December of 1919, R.C. Fleharty was selected as chairman of a temporary committee charged with organizing the post. He was the new owner and editor of this newspaper, having taking on that responsibility in July, 1919 after his discharge from the military. William T. Ralston was named adjutant and William Logan treasurer. Executive board members were Fred Ventuleth, Walter Jons, Raymond Smith, Orland Leverton and Andrew Axelson.
Newspaper sources list 22 charter members at that time. Besides those listed above, the others included R.C. Stout, E.B. Lear, P.A. Deardorrf, Milton Smith, O.E. Pendry, Walter Litten, Alfred Knutson, Manuel Knutson, H.C. Hanson, Roy Wilson, Henry Johnson, M.A. Olson, George Knutson and A. Peterson.
It was noted then that others interested in signing up for charter membership could do so at the Litten Brothers pool room.
Fifty years later, in 1969, the post celebrated its 50th birthday with a luncheon at the Legion Hall, with Commander Gene Carter serving as master-of-ceremonies. At that time 50-year certificates were awarded to Howard S. Arnold, Rodney Edwards, William Glotfelty, Charles Jennings, George Knutson, Ore Minniear, Roy Needham, Walter Sorenson, John Torrison, Harold Blythe and Joe Smith Sr.
Mike Anderson is the current commander of Post #168, a position he has held the last couple of years. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Anderson said this week of his 14 years of being a Legionnaire.
The local post meets once a month in the late morning and often adjourns for lunch in downtown Patterson.
By the way, to my knowledge the Patterson Study Club is the longest continuously functioning organization in the community, although it may have taken breaks during the war years. Also, Patterson’s first Boy Scout troop, later to be assigned numeral 81, was organized in 1917 but did suffer breaks along the way. It was sponsored by the Legion for over 50 years.
Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.