You’ve probably seen them, or perhaps you drove right on by unaware that they are solid, historical, and a staple of many small communities. Our local Granges have been serving us for nearly 150 years. In 1867 The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, commonly called “The Grange,” was founded in our nations’ capital to help promote the interests of farmers.
Scattered across the great State of Oregon are hundreds of Granges, and there are five located in Clatsop County. These days a Grange is used for a lot more than to only help farmers. They offer a variety of locally-focused programs and activities for people of all ages. Today’s Granges offer many modern day activities. Locals gather for all kinds of educational events, potlucks, townhalls, dances, art performances, and even weddings. Other non-profits, such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, have thrived mostly because of the support of The Grange, at least in the early years of those organizations.
Each Grange holds regular meetings where local people gather and discuss community concerns. They also sponsor local social events and a plethora of community service projects. In fact, the development of Rural Free Delivery, the Extension Service, and the vital Farm Credit System were all largely due to the efforts of the Grange.
It all began with the vision of Oliver Hudson Kelley, a renowned Minnesota farmer, and political activist. He believed that farmers, because of their independent nature and rural locations, needed to form a national organization to represent their best interests, much like unions were doing for industrial employees at the time. He saw traders and merchants taking advantage of farmers that needed essential supplies, and help in marketing their crops. Warehouses and railroad companies were also taking advantage of farmers. So, Kelley, along with some of his friends, organized the National Grange.
The Grange has a rich history full of milestones that positively changed the lives of many Americans. According to the Oregon Grange website, “The Grange was the first nationwide farm organization and the first national organization to give full voice and vote to women, 60 years before the adoption of Universal Suffrage in the United States.” How is that for progressive thinking?
In 1871 a well-known Chicago entrepreneur, Montgomery Ward, started his mail-order business as a contractor selling only to members of the Grange. From 1920 to 1950 the Grange helped establish some of the first mutual insurance companies, focused on serving farmers. Those insurance companies were proud to be among the first to offer property and casualty insurance to Japanese-American farmers returning from captivity after WWII. In the mid-1900’s the organization was highly effective in assisting rural electric, water, and telephone service cooperatives to form public utility districts and volunteer fire departments.
This past summer (2018) the 145th annual State Grange Convention was held at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds in Astoria. Excited attendees enjoyed talent contests, presentations, and a lively game of Jeopardy. Alex Trebek would have been proud. The popular event was free to the public and well attended.
As you can see, we have good reason to be proud of our five Clatsop County Granges. The Oregon State Grange website lists the following granges for Clatsop County.
Location: 90525 Logan Rd, Astoria
Meets: 3rd Sat 6 pm
Mail address: 1179 Jerome Ave, Astoria 97103; E-mail
Contact: Gary 503-325-4510
Location: 92683 Svensen Market Rd, Astoria
Meets: 1st Sat 10 am in even months; @ Brownsmead in odd months
Mail address: 42167 Bagley Ln, Astoria 97103; E-mail
Rental contact: Nancy 503-298-9711; E-mail
Location: 42880 Fish Lane Rd, which is the junction of Brownsmead Dike Ln, Fish Lane Rd, & Rudat Rd, 15 miles east of Astoria
Meets: 1st Sat 10 am odd months; @ Wickiup even months
Mail address: 93875 Jackson Rd, Astoria 97103; E-mail
Contact: Matti 503-458-6959
If you’ve never been to a Grange, we encourage you to drop by and get involved. It’s a fantastic way to make new friends and get more involved in your community. Check the event calendar to see what might be happening at a Grange near you.