From Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania, by J.H. Beers, 1898.
"This place was a part of the first survey in that Valley, the Manor of Nottingham survey, made September 23 and 24, 1766, and the land had previously been deeded to Straub on June 24, 1794, by John Penn, the younger, and John Penn, the elder, by their attorney, Anthony Butler, of Philadelphia, as shown by documents in the recorder's office in Lewistown, Penn. The deed to Michael Rhone was recorded in Bellefonte."
"When the pioneers [Michael and wife Catherine] settled at their new home, it was in its primitive state, except for a small log cabin covered with clapboards, and insignificant stable and a few acres ready for tilling. The location was beautiful, however, and an excellent spring added to the attraction of the place as a residence, modern methods of obtaining a bountiful supply of water being then unknown. It was known as the Indian spring, and bands of red men frequently camped there, a "trail" running past it from Logan's Gap to Tussey Mountain. This ancient path was visible for many years after the aborigines left the region, and arrowheads and other relics were often found nearby."
"The land proved fertile, and Michael Rhone and his good wife found themselves, in later years, the owners of one of the best farms in all that section. In 1805 a better house was erected, 30 x 40 feet in size, with a stone foundation, and having its logs deftly notched at the corners. It was two stories high, with an immense fireplace on each floor, and a high stone chimney stood outside at either end. A barn was built in 1810, and about 1820 the present substantial and commodious barn was erected."
"In 1846 Jacob Rhone [one of Michael and Catherine's sons] purchased the homestead from the other heirs."
National Register of Historic Places
“The Leonard Rhone House, located in Potter Township, Centre County, was the home of a prominent Centre County farmer throughout the second half of the 19th century. This farmer's efforts resulted in many improvements for the betterment of farmers in Pennsylvania, rural residents across the United States, and Central Pennsylvania fairgoers.
Leonard Rhone, "the man traditionally regarded as the father of (Centre County's) Grange Fair" (Romanow:12), was born July 21, 1833 on the Rhone homestead, Potter Township, near Centre Hall, Centre County. This homestead was purchased by Michael Rhone, Leonard Rhone's grandfather, in 1794 and remained as the family farm for four generations. The present dwelling was constructed in 1853, the same year in which Leonard Rhone's father died. In 1853, Leonard Rhone was only 15 years of age; however, records exist to substantiate that he was involved in his home's construction either with the basement excavation and/or the brick making. The architecture of this home is similar to other Georgian-style buildings constructed in Penns Valley, Centre County. The exterior is relatively plain, has no unusual features, and retains its original configuration. The uniqueness of this dwelling is its intact interior features which are so beautifully crafted. The simplicity of line and balance of composition are visible in all of the fireplace treatments and also in the window woodwork.
In 1859, after an apprenticeship, a year of schooling, and a year of teaching, Leonard Rhone became dedicated to farming and it became his vocation. From this time forward he worked for the advancement of agriculture on the local, state and national level. His home became known as "Rhoneymeade", the German adaptation for Rhone's meadow.
Rhone and the foundation of the Grange Fair
In 1867, the National Grange formed for the purpose of improving the economic and educational conditions of the farmer. Its development was prompted by the devastation being experienced by the farmers of the war-torn southern states. Within the framework of the National Grange are three organizational levels, each presided over by a master – the equivalent of president. The most fundamental level is the subordinate grange having jurisdiction over a township or farm community. The next level is the Pomona Grange which is a county-wide organization. The third level is the State Grange.
Granges at all levels of this network were important to the success of the organizational goals. The first grange organized in Centre County was Progress Grange No. 96. The 29 farmers chartering this grange on February 3, 1874 were geographically located near Centre Hall. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Rhone were charter members. From this beginning, Leonard Rhone faithfully and continuously promoted the Grange. He served several terms as Master of Progress Grange, was elected Master of Centre County’s Pomona Grange for five terms from its beginning in 1875 until approximately 1885. He ultimately became the third Master of the State Grange and held that position for 18 years from 1880-1898. During his tenure, Leonard Rhone became a member of the executive and legislative committees of the National Grange. His administration of the State Grange saw many improvements for the betterment of the farmer. Among these were his efforts to equalize taxation, increase appropriations to common schools, control the use of oleomargarine, support the inclusion of the U. S. Department of Agriculture as a cabinet post, establish a State Department of Agriculture, and establish a program of rural mail delivery. This last proposal was presented to the United States Congress by Mortimer Whitehead, Lecturer of the National Grange, and Leonard Rhone. Congress subsequently granted an initial appropriation of $10, 000 for a trial attempt at rural mail delivery. This attempt was successful and the present rural mail delivery system is credited to these efforts.
Leonard Rhone also served as a trustee of the Pennsylvania State College and in 1885 and 1887 he won consecutive terms as a Pennsylvania State Legislator.
Although Leonard Rhone contributed greatly to the State and National Grange, his most notable endeavor to Centre County came in 1874 when he became the chief promoter of the Grange Picnic and Encampment. The Grange Picnic began as a one-day event and by 1880 had grown to three days with participating families responsible for their own tents and supplies. In 1887, the first exhibits were accepted at the encampment. By this time families were supplied with National Guard tents, a floor, a table, a bunk, and a bench. In 1915, this endeavor became incorporated as the Grange Encampment and Centre County Fair. This encampment, “the only one east of the Mississippi run in conjunction with an agricultural fair…consists of approximately 500 tents, still furnished as were those of early picnics...” (Brenckman:1949:226).
Having had no designated location for this annual event for the first 16 years, Leonard Rhone proposed an idea to purchase land. This proposal gained support -- undoubtedly a result of over-crowding caused by the 10,000 people who reportedly attended the 1888 picnic and encampment. In 1890, a committee of the Pomona Grange purchased 26 acres of land in Centre Hall and called it Grange Park. This land is the nucleus
of the present day Grange Park Fairgrounds.
"Up to the time of his death in 1917, Leonard Rhone served as the chairman and prime promoter of the (Granger's) picnic.
It was largely through Mr. Rhone's efforts that the large number of trees adorning Grange Park were planted, that buildings were erected for exhibits of farms products, and that programs of interest to farm and Grange people were arranged (Brenckman:1949:226).
The Leonard Rhone House served as the primary residence of a worthy individual who gave all of his adult life to the advancement of agriculture at local, state and national levels. To Centre County, his efforts were most significant. The tradition which he promoted has continued for 111 years and is now part of Centre County's important heritage. To those residents of the United States who receive rural mail delivery,
Leonard Rhone can be recognized for his support and initiative. To Pennsylvania farmers, Leonard Rhone gave years of leadership and to those who have the opportunity to visit Penns Valley, Centre County, Leonard Rhone maintained a beautiful farm home which still stands today.”