Table of Contents
A Guide to the collection at the Connecticut Historical Society
The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was founded on December 4, 1867 as an attempt to “extend a fraternal hand of friendship to farmers and rural people of the North, South and West” after the Civil War. The National Grange, which still exists, is an organization for men and women, Christian but non-sectarian and politically active but non-partisan, and modeled on the ritual and fraternalism of the Masons. It is comprised of four divisions: the Subordinate or local Grange, the Pomona or regional Grange, the State Grange, and the National Grange. In Connecticut, the State Grange was initially organized in 1875 but membership fell to only two Subordinate Granges. A second successful attempt at organization was made in 1885. The Subordinate Wemanesa Grange No. 170, in the Gaylordsville section of New Milford, was founded in 1908. Only members were allowed to attend business meetings, but everyone was invited to the “literary program”, which included skits, lectures, sing-a longs or other musical performances, readings, and literary discussions, among other events. The group was active in community service, raising and dispensing funds for the local churches, the volunteer fire company, and projects reflective of community pride. In 1992, waning membership forced the Wemanesa Grange to vote itself out of existence. The organization’s minutes were at the home of long-time secretary Virginia Smith at the time of dissolution, and it was Mrs. Smith who determined the records needed to be preserved.
The collection primarily consists of minutes of meetings from 1908 to 1992, with a gap between 1956 and 1959. The first years are recorded in volumes with pre-printed pages produced by the national grange. After 1959 the volumes are standard record books purchased from office supply stores. During the years when Virginia Smith was secretary, 1968-1988, the minutes are interspersed with newspaper clippings and publications related to the topics discussed at each meeting. Care should be taken when opening these volumes and turning the pages. A standard meeting consisted of reports from various committees, reading incoming correspondence, conducting old and new business, and enjoying the “Literary Program”. Members also planned social events and community projects, such as the town sign displayed along Route 7.
There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Use of the material requires compliance with the Connecticut Historical Society's Research Center regulations.
Item, Collection Title, Collection number (Box #, Folder #). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.