History of the Ashtabula Rod and Gun Club

History shows that our organization began on April 12, 1940. A group met at Paynes's Hardware in Ashtabula for the purpose of discussing the organization of a conservation club for Ashtabula city and township.


Kenneth Miller acted as the first chairman and appointed a committee to draw up a constitution and by-laws embodying the name and purpose for the conservation club. This committee consisted of three members: William Martin, Earl Richmond and Earl Means..

A second meeting was held on April 19, 1940. At this meeting, the proposed constitution and by-laws were accepted and the approved name was The Conservation Club of Ashtabula. On May 15, 1940, H.S. Payne, Jr. was named the first president of the new organization. Meetings were held in office buildings, member's homes and, for a long time, at the Y.M.C.A. During war time in the 1940's the club was not able to accomplish much due to members being off to war. The spirit of the sportsmen kept the club intact through these hard times. Sometime between 1943 and 1947, the name of the organization was changed to Ashtabula Conservation Club. In the late 1940's the club began expanding it's activities and membership. By 1950 the club had made arrangements to lease an old farm on Ninevah Road in Saybrook Twp. Here they would hold meetings and shooting events and put to use the many planned conservation projects. The property was leased from H.W. Tracy of Douglaston, NY for the sum of $25.00 per year.

The driveway or road as it is referred from Ninevah to the club grounds is actually Hoyt or Old Saw Mill Road. The road led to the old farm where our club grounds are now located. The Farm house was located in the "circle" that we now use for camping. The lower level of the existing outhouse was the basement of the original farm house. The original out house was made of wood and in the fall of 1963 was replaced at a cost of $190.00. Sometime between 1950 and 1952, the club house was started. It originally had no heat, electric or paneling. Early club meetings were held on the grounds in good weather and at homes, etc in bad weather. In June of 1962 a furnace and duct work was added to the club house at a cost of $100.00. It wasn't until 1967 that the club house was wired, insulated and paneled. In 1981 a phone was installed. The kitchen was moved from the main meeting room to it's present location at the back of the club house. This was done to make more room for the growing membership attending meetings. This club house was in use until 1994.

In the fall of 1989, President Evans made a motion for five(5) people to be put on a building committee for a new clubhouse. The original five people on the committee were Ed Crosby, Ken Freede, Jerry Katz, Tom Mitchell and Marty Syrzinski. Due to the hard work of everyone in our organization we began construction in the spring of 1991. Today we have a nicely heated and insulated 48' X 105' building for meetings, events, indoor archery, etc.

Concerns grew as the size of the club increased. members felt a need to become incorporated. On May 2, 1952 the club became incorporated and changed it's name to The Ashtabula Rod and Gun Club. The first meeting of members was held on April 26, 1952 where the forms of incorporation were completed. The structure for our current by-laws were formed, and the first minutes were recorded. The Chairman was David Madden, Secretary was Bill Barbour, and three trustees were George Johnson, Earl Carley, Sr. and Francis Hennigan. The three original agents of incorporation were David Madden, William Dieffenbacher and Carroll M. Sheldon. The meetings were set to be held the first Thursday of the month at 8:00 P.M. As of January 1, 1953, an entrance fee of $5.00 was established and all new members had to be voted in by the membership. Annual dues were set at $1.00 per year.

In May of 1953 the members met with the owner of the property and discussed a purchase agreement. Said property being 57.92 acres was purchased on September 8, 1953 from K.W. and Dorothy Tracy. Purchase price was $3,000.00, to be paid at a rate of $1,000.00 down and the balance in annual payments of $400.00 plus 5% interest for five years.

The original rifle range was sweated out in late 1955 and early 1956 by Bill Barbour, Dick Burg and Frank Lyman. The range was approximately 20 feet wide and 100 feet long. The work was done with axes, hand saws and other hand tools. The range has been expanded twice and the last in 1966. In April 1989, the shooting platform with a roof was completed making shooting in bad weather a whole lot nicer. Our rifle range is located on the easterly side of the property in the low lying area. On November 11, 1976 the range was named in honor of George Jackson. In the spring of 1980, George Jackson passed away and a sign was erected naming the range in his memory.

The trap and skeet range was an old grape vineyard complete with posts, wire and years of vine growth. In the mid 1950's the area was cleared by a bull dozer that was donated for the project. The first trap house was made of wood and built by Bill Barbour. The trap thrower was loaded one bird at a time and pulled by hand by the person loading. The first lights for the trap area were installed in May of 1963. Concrete was poured in May of 1965 for the trap pedestal and sidewalk. At the same time a new trap house was installed. The new trap house was made from the back of an old garbage truck found at Acme Scrap. In 1995, trap chairman, Mike Pengelly, along with the help of others, laid out a second trap house and range. With the new self throwers and with two trap houses, our club now can hold registered shoots.

The digging of our pond was agreed upon in October 1962. The contract was awarded to Ladsman Excavating for their bid of $2,200.00. A loan was obtained for the project. Dirt from the pond was taken to our pistol range and used for a backstop, which we still use. The pond was completed in June of 1963. Due to the increased use of our pond and our continuous effort to always think safety, in February 1989 we placed throw bags in four places around the pond. In 1989, along with the help of the Soil Conservation of Ashtabula County and the Saybrook Fire Department, we installed a dry hydrant system for fire prevention.

With the guidance of Bob Allen, Jr and Vaughn Platt, a new pistol range was put in place in 1995. Safety was really taken into consideration when this was designed. The high walls of dirt around you allows nothing to come in and nothing to go out. You can feel safe in this range when you shoot. The old range, by the low house for skeet, may still be used at certain times, but for your safety, we recommend the new range.

The first pavilion was built next to the pond in 1964 by Bob Strubbe, Ed Richards and a few other members. The pavilion was moved to the circle in 1986 and replaced with our current, much larger pavilion. The new pavilion was erected by a private contractor and finished by members in 1986. The pavilion was dedicated in honor of long time member Al Dingle. Al was club treasurer until his untimely death which occurred while fighting a house fire in Madison in January 1986.

In April 1964 the first work party started the skeet house. By July of 1964 the skeet house was up, made of wood and shoots began. In 1977, a new cement block skeet house was put up and in 1982 a second skeet house, called the low house, was built; both are in use today by our skeet shooters. In 1986 club members, under the direction of skeet chairman Ken Freede, put in concrete skeet pads and side walks making the skeet range complete.

In 1965 our club agreed to accept members of the Northeast Ohio Gun Collector's Association. This organization gave the club tables and chairs and other office equipment in exchange for membership. The new members were associate members and according to the agreement, had no voting rights or club privileges.

In 1969 the club decided to build an all purpose pole barn. Fiberglass sheets for the roof were donated, the cost of framing was $270.00 with the trusses extra. In late fall the building was up and ready to use. In early 1970 the building was divided with half enclosed to provide shelter for equipment. This building was dedicated to George Madden, the first club president, and named after him on November 11, 1976.

In 1970 access to the pond and Madden house was made easier by the construction of a road. 108 tons of gravel were spread on the new section of road.

The club grounds with a club house, nice pond, rifle range, trap and skeet ranges and picnic area all became tempting to outsiders. Vandalism and strangers on club grounds prompted the installation of the gate at the entrance to the club on Ninevah Road. The original gate was put up on April 6, 1975 and remains in place today.

In September of 1999, we were able to acquire another 38.4757 acres of property along Ninevah and New London Roads. This property borders our access road to the south. It was purchased from Felix and Ann Rozzo for $3000 per acre for thirty acres and $2500 per acre for the additional 8 plus acres. A loan was obtained to make this purchase.