A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

The Lander area had two active Granges – the Milford Grange and the Table Mountain Grange. Both were very popular and influential among farmers and ranchers in the area. For rural areas, the Grange was the social, and educational, center for the farming community. In addition to its fraternal activities, meetings, dances, quilting bees, and other social events were held at Grange Halls to help alleviate the isolation of farm life. The Milford Grange built a large grange hall that was a popular community center for many years.

A new display at the Lander Museum highlights the local Grange Societies and features ribbons, gowns, ritual tools and more.

The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, was founded in 1867 to advance methods of agriculture, as well as to promote the social and economic needs of farmers in the United States. The financial crisis of 1873, along with falling crop prices, increases in railroad fees to ship crops, and Congress’s reduction of paper money in favor of gold and silver devastated farmers’ livelihoods and caused a surge in Grange membership in the mid-1870s. The Grange actively lobbied state legislatures and Congress for political goals, such as the Granger Laws to lower rates shipping charged by railroads, and free rural mail delivery by the Post Office.

The only membership requirement of the Grange was the person joining had to “till the soil.” There were no requirements as far as religion, race or politics. Men and women could be members, and women were given a voice and could vote equally in the organization long before they were given the vote nationally.

When the Grange first began in 1867, it borrowed some of its rituals and symbols from Freemasonry, including secret meetings, oaths, and special passwords. It also copied ideas from Greek and Roman mythology and the Bible. Small, ceremonial farm tools are often displayed at Grange meetings. Elected officers are in charge of opening and closing each meeting. There are several degrees of Grange membership; the ceremony of each degree relates to the seasons and various symbols and principles.

At its height, there were 19,000 granges in the country. The organization still exists but has expanded its mission. According to their website: The Grange strengthens individuals, families, and communities through grassroots action, service, education, advocacy and agriculture awareness.

 

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

September 7th, 7 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Historic Wagons with Al Sammons”

Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

September 14th, 2 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Tin Candle Lantern Making”

Baily Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

September 14th, 1-3 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “The Apple City Festival”

Baily Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

 

Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. The museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark. Please make your tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.

(Webster’s definition: Grange – Chiefly British. a country house or large farmhouse with its various farm buildings.)

Photo: The Milford Grange Hall being built by Grange members around 1900.