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Voices Spring-Summer, 2002:
Click on the cover for the Table of Contents. Read an excerpt of “Picturing the Grange: 130 Years” by Andrew Baugnet here.
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Volume 28
Spring-Summer
2002
Voices

Headline: Picturing the grange: 130 years
By Andrew Baugnet

Mention the words "Grange Hall" to anyone familiar with rural communities and chances are the first thing that comes to mind is food. Pancake breakfasts, or chicken-and-biscuit dinners, are a long-standing tradition with the Grange. The word grange is derived from the Latin word granum, meaning grain, and is historically associated with the granges of England and Ireland—large farming estates. From the Grange’s inception, members would share a meal together before business of the evening was attended to, since after all, with food comes fellowship. The Grange became an important foundation of rural social life and sought to change legislative and political policies for the betterment of farmers and their families and communities.
Photo of Mail Hall, Wharton Valley.  From New York Grange Hall Series, 1999, by Andrew Baugnet.
Main Hall, Wharton Valley. From New York Grange Hall Series 1999. All photos by Andrew Baugnet.



Photo of Pierstown Grane, Cooperstown
Pierstown Grange, Cooperstown.
In 1866, after a grasshopper infestation destroyed his farm in Minnesota, Oliver H. Kelley took a position in Washington as a clerk in the Department of Agriculture. He was later selected by the commissioner of Agriculture to make a trip to the southern United States in the sections recently ravaged by the Civil War to investigate agricultural conditions. Kelley, already a member of the Masonic fraternity, saw a need for some type of farming fraternity to aid in bringing together the rural community, both economically and socially. . .

Fredonia #1, located in Chautauqua County, New York, was the first dues-paying Grange in the world. It was established on April 16, 1868, and it still functions today. George D. Hinckley, one of Fredonia #1’s charter members, was named State Master, but it was not until six years later, on November 6, 1873, that the Grange was formally organized in New York State. The first annual meeting of the New York State Grange took place on the third Wednesday in March 1874, at the Agricultural and Geological Hall in Albany, with an already astounding statewide membership of 164 Granges. . .

In 1920, the New York State Grange, the Dairymen’s League, and State Farm Bureau combined to organize the Grange League Federation, or G.L.F. In 1964, this became what is today known as Agway, based in Syracuse. Other forms of cooperation for the Grange included life insurance, mutual fire insurance, and liability insurance. The formation of these cooperative plans gave farmers more market power in their transactions with dealers, buyers, and service organizations.

The initial goal of aiding the farmer by using cooperative purchasing power in conjunction with social activities grew to encompass political and legislative concerns as well. The State Grange for New York, located in Cortland, holds annual meetings to consider legislation and public policy on agriculture. At the National Grange, in Washington, D.C., staff members administer policies established annually by democratic Grange processes at local, county, and state levels. . .
Photo of dining table, Wharton Valley.
Dining table, Wharton Valley Grange.

Photo of doors at Butternut Valley Grange
Doors. Butternut Valley Grange.


 





Andrew Baugnet, a documentary photographer, lives in Cooperstown, New York. Portions of this article also appeared in Heritage Magazine, a publication of the New York State Historical Association, in Cooperstown, and Kaatskill Life Magazine.


Grange symbol

Fredonia #1, located in Chautauqua County, New York, was the first dues-paying Grange in the world. It was established on April 16, 1868, and it still functions today.






This article appeared in Voices Vol. 28, Spring-Summer 2002. Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.

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