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Farmingdale Council timeline

Adapted from The Farmingdale Knights of Columbus Council #2204 History,
compiled by Geoffrey Fenwick

Columbus Before The Queen - Emanuel Leutze, 1843

1882 - Father Michael McGivney and a small group of Catholic businessmen create the Knights of Columbus, seeking an alternative to the secret societies of the day as well as a way to ensure that their families will be provided for in a time of widespread anti-Catholicism.

1897 - St. Kilian parish is established with its borders extending into Plainview, Hicksville, and Melville.

1899 - Nassau votes to separate from Queens and become a separate county.

1912 - SUNY Farmingdale, known as the agricultural or "Aggie" school, is established.

Early spring 1920 - Farmingdale resident Lewis Garity, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help council #794 in Lindenhurst, meets Aggie school instructor Charles McPherson, a member of a council in Trenton, New Jersey, as both men are in the Farmingdale post office paying their council dues. Assistant postmaster and fellow Knight Gerard Leonard introduces the two men. A conversation ensues about the possibility of creating a council in Farmingdale. Leonard offers to contact all of the Catholic men he knows in the area and organize a meeting.

Late spring 1920 - The meeting is held in the Hook & Ladder Firehouse on Conklin Street (currently the site of the Lotus Garden restaurant). 35 men attend. St. Kilian's pastor Fr. Gerard Spielman is interested and suggests his assistant Fr. Joseph Haldemeyer as a chaplain.

August 1920 - A membership committee organized at the meeting collects 67 names in two weeks (barely meeting Supreme's requirement of 65). With that, a charter is granted by the Supreme Council. Aggie School instructor Robert DeCormier, a former Grand Knight of a council in Connecticut, is chosen as the first Grand Knight of the new St. Kilian's Council #2204. His fellow officers are Deputy Grand Knight Lew Garity, Warden Bill Wentzein, Advocate G. Fred Wendt, Chancellor Tony Schneider, Financial Secretary Gerry Leonard, Recorder Tony Weiden, and Treasurer John Scholl.

October 11, 1920 - The first and second degrees are exemplified on nearly 100 candidates for the new council following the 10 am Mass at St. Kilian Church. A parade follows at 2 pm, led by the boys' band from the Nazareth Trade School under the tutelage of Fr. Joseph. Following the band are the Nazareth School Cadets and New York State Deputy Dr. John Coyle, along with visiting District Deputies and Grand Knights from other councils. The third degree is exemplified after the parade. After the ceremony, the crowd of over 150 is treated to a banquet prepared by the Sisters of St. Dominic.

October - December 1920 - St. Kilian's Council begins holding meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at a building on Main Street owned by a member's family. Members bring furniture, build stations for meetings, and buy desks for the secretaries.

December 31, 1920 - The council holds its first New Year's Eve dance, beginning what will become an annual tradition. It nets a $300 profit.

Winter 1921 - The council members' wives form an organization affiliated with the Ladies Catholic Benevolent Association (LCBA), volunteering their time to support the Knights and holding card parties and other functions to benefit the council.

Easter 1921 - The LCBA hosts a musical revue of The Bosun's Bride. Council Chaplain Fr. Joseph Haldemeyer becomes pastor of St. Kilian Parish.

1923 - The council moves to its second home in Arcanum Hall.

Spring 1924 - The council purchases a nine-room house with a large barn on a 400-foot-deep lot on Fulton Street for $11,500. A Building Association is incorporated with Lew Garity as president to administer to affairs involving the building. Dues are raised from $6 to $12 to cover expenses.

1925 - The new council hall is dedicated at a banquet attended by Council officials and local politicians. The council begins an annual minstrel show that runs for seven years, holding dress rehearsals at the Nassau County Sanatorium. The council joins with the New York branch of the American Athletic Union to stage monthly boxing matches. Despite the members' hard work, the boxing events never catch on and are stopped in 1928. By then, membership has grown to over 120.

1928 - In debt from maintaining the hall, the council takes out a $4,000 loan from the Bank of Farmingdale.

1929 - As the Great Depression begins, membership drops to 47. The council struggles to raise money, lowering dues to $8 and holding dances with 10-cent admissions. The Long Island Chapter creates a central employment bank to help both members and non-members find jobs, including firemen, timekeepers, handymen, mill hands, chefs, and typists.

1933 - The council holds a celebration honoring Fr. Joseph's 30th anniversary as a priest. Council meetings are moved to St. Kilian's school basement after the Bank of Farmingdale forecloses on the hall's mortgage. With members struggling to find work, the council dips into its own money to cover members' dues. This leads to the council being unable to pay its per capita assessment to Supreme and the council charter is suspended several times.

February 1936 - The women's group briefly resigns from the LCBA following internal disagreements. They rejoin the next month.

1938 - With Communism becoming a threat, the council forms an Americanism Committee to promote patriotism and ensure members' safety. Council members concerned about the persecution of Jews in Germany and Catholics in Spain, Mexico, and Russia include the groups in their meeting prayers. An investigation in November 1938 finds no Communists in Farmingdale schools.

March 1, 1940 - The Clark Gable/Joan Crawford drama Strange Cargo premieres. The Catholic Church and the Knights object to the movie's Christ-like cult figure character (played by Ian Hunter). Council members protest at local movie theaters.

June 1940 - The Knights of Columbus are honored with "Knights' Day" at the New York City World's Fair. St. Kilian Council members attend.

Late 1940 - Faced with economic and membership problems, the ladies' auxiliary disbands.

Mid-1941 - With attendance falling, members vote to have the incumbent officers remain on for an extra four months past the scheduled end of their terms.

1942 - 1945 - World War II. Council activities become war-oriented. A Sunday Mass is offered each month for members in the armed forces. A War Activities Committee is formed to keep a strict accounting of members in the service. Friday night bingo is started in January 1942 to support the church but is canceled soon afterward due to blackout restrictions. 16 Farmingdale residents are killed in the war.

1945 - The council begins its annual essay contest for the children of St. Kilian's parish school. Supreme establishes a $1-million scholarship fund for the children of servicemen killed in the war. The council celebrates its 25th anniversary and is finally out of debt, having paid off the 1928 bank loan.

1949 - The council drafts its first official by-laws. They are adopted in 1950.

1950 - With Communism still a major concern, the council begins distributing pamphlets about the trial of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty. Nine men volunteer to attend daily Mass to pray for the conversion of Russia. Council members are urged to join the Holy Name Society.

1951 - The ladies' auxiliary is reorganized, with membership restricted to wives and sisters of council members.

Early 1953 - The council begins devoting a half-hour at the beginning of every meeting to answering questions about religion. A nativity is constructed for the parish and an American flag is presented to St. Kilian's school.

January 1955 - A new property is purchased on Morton Street for $1,500.

February 24, 1955 - The Farmingdale Catholic Center is established to carry out the work of maintaining the council hall building.

Late 1955 - Fr. Joseph Haldemeyer dies. He is succeeded as Chaplain by Fr. McCloone in 1956.

July 25, 1956 - By a vote of 30 to 27, members vote to change the council name from St. Kilian Council to Farmingdale Council.

1956 - Farmingdale Council establishes Squires Circle #950, named after Fr. Haldemeyer. It will be intermittently active for the next 50-plus years.

1958 - The Mariner, the official newsletter of Farmingdale Council, is established. The council purchases an additional property on the corner of Morton and Smith Streets for $1,200. This property will become the site of the current council hall.

July 1959 - The council requests that its charter be moved from Suffolk County to Nassau County in order to more accurately reflect its membershiup. The State Deputy refuses on the grounds that the districts are already arranged for the year.

1961 - Fr. McCloone dies. Fr. Pagano becomes the council's third Chaplain.

1964 - The Ladies' Auxiliary votes to become the Farmingdale Columbiettes. The council faces a challenge when the Chaplain and Grand Knight both resign due to conflicts with business and church obligations.

May 1965 - A groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new council home on the Smith Street property.

July 1965 - Smith Street is renamed Garity Place in honor of PGK Lewis Garity.

November 7, 1965 - The new council hall is dedicated. The first New Year's Eve dance in the new hall is attended by 200 guests.

Early 1966 - The council obtains a liquor license allowing it to sell spirits. A television is installed at the bar, with an antenna installed so that guests can watch New York Giants home games being telecast from Connecticut on Channel 3.

1966 - The council "adopts" the 4th Infantry of the 25th Battalion, serving in Vietnam.

1967 - Fr. Leen becomes the fourth Chaplain but resigns after six months due to church obligations. Membership is up to 285. Nationality nights are started with Italian and German feasts as the first offerings.

1968 - Fr. Angelo Resultay replaces Fr. Leen as the fifth Chaplain.

1969 - The council begins plans to expand the building on Morton Street. The cost estimates prove prohibitive and the plan is scrapped, but a smaller plan is made and carried out to add storage space.

October 1970 - The council celebrates its 50th anniversary with a formal gala ball at the Huntington Towne House. Fr. Peter Gelsomino is named as the fifth Chaplain.

1970s - The council begins volunteering at the village's annual Hardscrabble Fair. Members and Columbiettes work to upgrade the hall by purchasing wallpaper, repainting the outside walls, and installing new air-conditioning and stereo systems.

January 1974 - On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the council begins taking part in the annual March For Life in Washington, DC.

December 1984 - With membership declining and the cost of maintaining the hall growing, the council sells the Morton Street hall building for $295,000.

1993 - With membership increasing again and investments producing good returns, the council purchases back the hall building for substantially less than the 1984 sale price.

August 22, 1993 - Fr. Augustine "Gus" Fernando becomes the sixth Chaplain after the passing of Fr. Resultay.

2006 - 2008 - The interior of the hall is completely renovated, including new wall sconces, lighting, carpets, chairs, and painting.

2007 - The council begins its "Keep Christ In Christmas" campaign, distributing free signs to local merchants.

2008 - The new Farmingdale Council website is launched at www.KofC2204.com.

July 1, 2010 - Farmingdale Council inaugurates Joe Tumminello as its 50th Grand Knight.

Grand Knights of Farmingdale Council

  • 1920-1923: Robert R. DeCormier
  • 1923-1925: Lewis D. Garity, FDD
  • 1926-1927: Gerard P. Leonard
  • 1927-1928: Joseph E. McDonald
  • 1928-1931: Richard H. Russell
  • 1931-1933: Frank J. Zurek
  • 1933-1934: William J. Kitzer
  • 1934-1935: Charles A. McPherson
  • 1935-1937: Edward Berry
  • 1937-1939: Charles C. Scheuer
  • 1939-1940: Alois J. Leyendecker
  • 1940-1943: Robert T. Spencer
  • 1943-1946: Julius A. Lang
  • 1946-1948: Paul F. Fuller
  • 1948-1950: Charles J. Greco
  • 1950-1951: Charles R. Musil
  • 1951-1953: Walter F. Mead
  • 1953-1955: George J. Engel
  • 1955-1956: Edward M. Stafford
  • 1956-1958: Robert H. Neff
  • 1958-1960: Joseph J. Cetrangelo
  • 1960-1961: Graham R. Freer
  • 1961-1962: Armando D. DeLucia, FDD
  • 1962-1964: Alfred C. Bereche, Jr.
  • 1964-1966: John G. Leahy
  • 1966-1967: Leonard J. Oliveri, FDD
  • 1967-1968: Michael A. Tilleli
  • 1968-1969: James W. Murphy
  • 1969-1971: Robert F. Wagner
  • 1971-1973: Alexander G. Frisenda
  • 1973-1975: William J. Patak
  • 1975-1977: Joseph T. Kurtz, FDD
  • 1977-1979: James J. Rooney, FDD
  • 1979-1981: Wilbur G. Shroyer
  • 1981-1982: Edward A. Ronaghan
  • 1982-1984: Carl A. Dittmeier
  • 1984-1986: Timothy E. Ronaghan
  • 1986-1988: Andrew D'Angelis, FDD
  • 1988-1990: Lawrence Antlick, FDD
  • 1990-1992: Robert A. Mercado
  • 1992-1995: George J. McConnell, FDD
  • 1995-1997: Robert J. Krapp
  • 1997-1999: Joseph M. Cuccu
  • 1999-2001: Angelo A. Curcio
  • 2001-2004: Gregory J. Warnokowski, FDD
  • 2004-2005: LaVern S. "Tex" Blackwell
  • 2005-2007: Robert J. Gannon
  • 2007-2009: Patrick Flannery
  • 2009-2010: Richard J. Ferrara
  • 2010- : Joseph Tumminello
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