The following information is taken from the vast collection of materials found in the Huron Historical Collection files on the Huron Grange. Several writers over the years have contributed to the history of the Grange and Grange Hall. Of particular note are Carol Flint, former Huron Historian, Laura Waldron Jenkins, and several anonymous authors who have provided the information that follows.
Purpose of The Grange:
Taken from an essay written October 27, 1962 titled What the Grange Means to Me (author unknown) –
“While traveling through the south in 1866, at the request of President Johnson, in those years of the rebuilding of the South after the Civil War, Oliver Kelly made a survey of the conditions there. He dreamed of an organization which would bind farmers of the whole nation more closely together and give them an opportunity to study and solve their own problems. Being a Mason, Kelly decided that what was needed was not just a farmer’s organization, but a farm fraternity which would bind farm families closely together. It is sometimes said that if there had been no Masonic Order, there would have been no Grange.
In the next year, Kelly passed his ideas onto six associates, thus the Seven Founders of our Order, and the Ritual and Constitution of the Grange came into being on December 4, 1867, now recognized as the birthday of the Grange or the organization of the National Grange.
Here the Grange in New York State comes to light, because in the spring of 1868, Fredonia Grange No. 1 in Chautauqua County was organized. This was organized by Oliver Kelly himself, and was the first Grange to continue permanently as it is today and is still known as Fredonia Grange No. 1. Thus the beginning of Patrons of Husbandry in New York State.”
Beginnings of the Huron Grange:
The Huron Grange first met in February 1874 at Luther Weed’s home on Dutch Street. In August 1874, a charter was presented, with meetings held in the District #8 Schoolhouse (Dutch Street) and Cosad’s Hall on Lummisville Road (across from June MacDougall’s). In 1884 land was purchased for $50 from the Lewis Kline property on North Huron Road, between County Road 143 (old Ridge Road) and Lummisville Road. The present 22’x60’ building was built by the members that same year.
The first Grange Master was Luther Weed. The only female Grange Master was Gertrude Hatcher. The lunch for the installation was a huge pot of oyster stew – simmered on the wood stove. Charter members were: Luther Weed
, Andrew Slaght, Jay W. Demmon, Hugh Green, Ichabod Brink, Jay C. Dickinson, Emerson Abbott, Efram Munger, James Green, Horace Demmon, Alonzo Lanson, Henry Gillette, Spencer Terbush, William Sandell, Emerson Parsons, Egbert DeLong, and Smith Payne.
Grange Hall Dedication:
The Grange Hall was dedicated on its 60th anniversary in 1934. Membership was at its peak between 1945-46 at 256 members. In 1984, there were 51 members.
Huron Grange Disbands:
When the Huron Grange disbanded, the New York State Grange became the owner of the building and the land. After unsuccessfully trying to sell the parcel, the NYS Grange Executive Committee considered the suggestion that the Town of Huron purchase the parcel. (This historian cannot find in the records at this time when the Huron Grange actually disbanded and the NYS Grange took over. Anyone who may know of this date, please contact the Huron Historian.)
Town of Huron Purchases Grange Hall:
Carol Flint became very interested in preserving the Grange Hall when she learned of the disbanding of the organization. Supervisor Carl Prober asked Carol Flint to chair a Citizen’s Committee for Preservation of the Huron Grange. She agreed. Other committee members were Connie Lasher, Pearl Rook, and Lee Flint.
The committee’s charge was: 1.) Obtain cost estimates for building repairs. 2.) Obtain funding for projects. 3.) Suggest uses for the building once repaired.
On October 15, 1991, the Huron Town Board unanimously approved the following resolution: “The Town of Huron will purchase the Grange Building for $1.00 and monies for restoration be paid for by grants and donations from the people. Estimated cost July 1991 is $11,600. This has to be done within five years or the building will go back to the State Grange. Upon roll call vote the motion was carried with all member present voting ‘Aye’.”
Donations from the community:
Carol Flint work tirelessly prior to and following the Town of Huron’s purchase of the Grange Hall in 1991 to gather support and funds to restore the building. She secured significant private and organization donations, grants, and donations in-kind of services from organizations like the Butler Shock Camp, Rose Cub Scouts, North Rose Boy Scouts, Smith Brothers Farm, and L & C Services.
The Juvenile Grange, Junior Grange No.1, was formed by Mr. Clarence WaightWright?) and Mrs. William LeFavor (?) in 1904.
On June 3, 2000, the first New York State historic marker in the Town of Huron was dedicated at the Huron Grange. The blue and yellow marker depicts the Huron Juvenile Grange as the first Junior Grange in New York State. The Huron Highway Department furnished the pipe and erected the sign.
(The dates in parenthesis are dates individual joined the Grange.)
Beulah Morrell (1927) – “I joined when I was young, just out of nurse’s training, married, and pregnant with our first child. The fellowship and friendliness of the Grange were so important.”
Chet Briggs (1934) – “ Especially remembered the ice cream socials. The ice cream was made in 5-gallon pails, with several members bringing the cooked custard from home. Ice was brought from the DeWitt Fowler icehouse.”
Marjorie LaValley – “ The last day of school, each District School went to the Huron Grange Hall. Our group traveled by lumber wagon. Each district did a skit and participated in Spelling Bees. The winner of the Spelling Bee represented the Town of Huron in competition in Lyons.” Marjorie recalled that District #5 (Resort School) won one year and rode to Lyons on the lumber wagon.
Taken from an essay written October 27, 1962 titled What the Grange Means to Me (author unknown):
“What does the grange mean to me?
It stands as an example of a grand achievement of what country people really stand for. It represents people who honor ambition, industry, harmonious family living, concern for all members of the family, and countless ideals of virtuous living. Its standards are those not unlike those represented in our churches. It is a forum in which farmers and those who recognize the advantages of country living can discuss the problems, needs, and aspirations of rural people. To me it means personally an organization where I meet my friends of long-standing, friends who are understanding, whose company I want to have, and whose friendship I cherish.
The Grange in my community stands as a symbol of true family living of the highest order in our American pattern of life.”