A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO THE GRANGE IN WAYNE COUNTY
The Grange has been a membership organization in Wayne County for well over a century. In August 2000 Wayne County Grangers again displayed their fraternity, hospitality, good cooking and hot coffee (in big demand after the rained-on parade) at their large concession at the Wayne County Fair in Palmyra. Wayne County has traditionally been one of our state's most important agricultural counties, and so Grange membership remains important to Wayne County residents today, as it was to your rural relatives and ancestors who lived in Wayne in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I personally know no members and don't reside in the county to talk to members, so errors or misinterpretations are mine and corrections and new information would be appreciated. A thorough history of the formation of the Grange is "Origin and Progress of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry," by Oliver Hudson Kelley, 1874.
These Grange tidbits come from a used book I purchased titled "The History of New York State Grange 1934 - 1960", by Elizabeth L. Arthur, State Grange Historian, no date or printer given but probably printed around 1960-61. To Grangers this book is known as "Volume Two of the New York State Grange History." The first volume was entitled "The History of New York State Grange, Volume 1," by Leonard J. Allen.
After the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson suggested to Oliver Hudson Kelley, a Mason, that he take a trip through the South to observe its condition. During his travels Kelley observed the devastation and difficult situation of Southern recovery. A little background detail comes from an article in this book written by E.R. Eastman, who was President of American Agriculturalist in 1960.
"Kelley decided that the best way to help farmers was for them to help themselves... As a result of Kelley's trip, he planned a great farm organization, the Grange, and decided that the organization should be a secret one with a ritual based upon the grandeur of the rolling seasons and the beauty of nature. For some reason, the Grange made little progress in the South but it certainly did in the North... the Grange was the first organization to recognize that farming is a partnership business and that the women are full partners with the men. From the very first, the Grange saw that farming cannot succeed without the home and the home-makers and that the women have just as much right and duty to participate in public affairs as the men do....Another direct and important result of Grange work is that it has taught farmers to express themselves...The Grange was a forum. It taught them to speak out in thousands of meetings, feel free to get up on their feet, say what they think, put their combined conclusions into resolutions and then give these resolutions to state legislatures and to Congress."
Kelley's new organization was called the "Order of Patrons of Husbandry" and he said that "The main object is to encourage and advance education in all branches of agriculture."
The New York State Grange was organized in 1873 and the first working Grange in the nation was No. 1, the Fredonia, N.Y. Grange. By 1935 there were about 600 Granges in the State. Included among achievements of the national Grange movement was the organization of cooperative marketing by farmers and seeking fair prices for farm products, a cooperative fire insurance company, the Farmers and Traders Life Insurance company (organized independently by Grange officers and members) which brought life insurance to rural residents, the National Grange Mutual Liability Insurance Company that gave farmers reasonably priced auto insurance, their influence in bringing electrical power to rural areas of NY State, and providing scholarships for Grange youth. Together with the Dairyman's League and the State Farm Bureau Federation, the Grange helped to organize the G.L.F., a farm purchasing organization.
Grange leaders have been appointed to important NY State advisory boards and committees. Grange Halls have served as community centers for rural America, trained farm leaders, and mentored future farmers. During World War II some Grange halls in NY State were given over to the Army, fitted out as airplane lookout stations, first aid and black-out rooms; members invested millions of dollars in War Bonds and Stamps; and of course Victory Gardens were promoted.
Listed in the second New York State Grange history book, ca. 1960, were the following Wayne County residents who held state-level Grange office:
State Grange Officers 1934-1960
Name County Term of Office
Roster of Deputy Grange Masters
Roster of Juvenile Grange Deputies 1934-1961
Granges Organized in New York State 1868 - 1933
No. Grange Name First Master First Secretary County Date Organized
The numbers and dates of organization of the other local Granges were noted as being listed in the Grange history book referred to as "Volume One", a copy of which I don't have access to. If you have access to this book, we'd like to post the list of Wayne County Granges and when they were organized.
The Founders of the Grange also felt that farm children and youth needed an organization of their own.
Organization of Juvenile Granges in Wayne County
Huron Juvenile No. 1 grew out of Huron Grange No. 124, and was organized in May 1904.
Juvenile Granges Organized 1904 - 1934
Juvenile Granges Organized 1933 - 1957
"The History of New York State Grange 1934 - 1960" contains a profile of the distinguished service at the state level of Mrs. Lorenzo Palmer of Williamson, who served as New York State Lecturer.
"Mrs. Lorenzo Palmer has given devotion. Fern and Lorenzo Palmer live on a 90 acre fruit and vegetable farm near Williamson. They are Baptists. Mrs. Palmer has been Associate Grand Warder of the Order of the Eastern Star. Mr. Palmer is former Master and Lecturer of South Shore Grange No. 552, and also served as Pomona Master and Deputy Grange Master of Wayne County. Mrs. Palmer is former South Shore Secretary, and has served her County as Juvenile Deputy and Pomona Lecturer. At the 1955 Rochester session, she faced Edward Baker, Wayne County Deputy, across the altar as she assumed the State Lecturer's obligations. In 1958 she traveled over 10,515 miles on speaking assignments, at committee meetings, officers conferences and traveling schools."
Some of Mrs. Palmer's activities -
In 1956, the National Grange met in Rochester, NY. Mrs. Palmer was in charge of entertainment for the reception and the New York State Grange Banquet. The Wayne County Pomona Grange Chorus sang at the banquet.
At the 1958 Middle-Atlantic Conference in Wilmington, Delaware, Mrs. Palmer presided over a symposium "Joint Efforts in Agriculture."
Mrs. Palmer was admired for creating yearly themes for meetings, e.g. "Building a Better Rural America Through Research" (1957), "Soaring With Confidence in a Rocket Age" (1958), "Neighborliness" with its symbol "The Grange Liner - SS Friendship" (1961), with associated programs, entertainment and decorations.
Wayne County Grange membership has been in the thousands over the years. We hope that one of our readers is a member and would contribute a list of early members, names from an early program, or a photograph, for any Wayne County Grange.
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