The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry
The Grange, or the Order of Patrons of Husbandry as they were originally known, was founded in Washington, DC on December 4, 1867. Itís founding members were: William Saunders, Superintendent of Propagating Gardens with the Department of Agriculture, Oliver H. Kelley, William M. Ireland, John R. Thompson, Francis McDowell, and John Trimble. Their mission was to connect rural farmers, who were spread out, together and provide a democratic voice for them in Washington, very similar to a union. They were responsible for the Farm Credit System, Rural Free Delivery (RFD) and the agricultural Extension Service. Meetings were very ceremonious, similar to Masonic Rites. They had their own handshake, handbook, songbook, and bylaws by which they abided. There were always American and Grange flags present, and prayer was a big part of their ceremony. These were men of faith in God and promoted, and still promote families and family values. The founders were visionaries who had faith in God, fellow men, and the future. Economic times were hard, especially on the farmer, after the close of the American Civil War.
I have in my possession a handbook from 1878, a songbook from the same time-frame, and the gavel used in the ceremonies in Newberry County. There was a miniature plow, ax, harrow, and spade used in ceremonies. They had ceremonies for everything from blessing of plantings to funerals.
The Order of Officers were as follows:
Women in the Grange played parts representing:
The Degrees earned by members were:
Women held the same levels as men and played significant parts in all activities. The above list shows male degrees on the left and their female counterparts to the right.
Below is the layout of the room from the 1878 handbook.