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The Grange is America's oldest farm-based fraternal organization. We are a non-partison, grassroots advocacy group for rural citizens with both legislative programs and community activities such as talent and craft contests, scholarships, youth programs and camps, and much more.
Established in Washington, D.C., in 1867, the National Grange consists of 3,878 Subordinate (local) Granges in 37 states with more than 300,000 members.
Oliver Kelley

Today's Grange is an organization with solid, time-tested roots. The current strength and effectiveness of the Grange is a logical outgrowth of more than 130 years of unified action. It is one of the nation's oldest and most respected groups.
The Grange, formally known as the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, was the life-long dream of a pioneer Minnesota farmer, Oliver Hudson Kelley. Besides working on his farm, Kelley was a part-time clerk in the Commissioner of Agriculture's office in Washington, D.C. Prior to the American Civil War he had successfully organized farmers in his community for some cooperative buying and selling projects.

Immediately after the Civil War, Kelley was sent by the commissioner of agriculture on a tour through southern states to determine the level of help needed by farmers in war-devastated areas.

Later, Kelley told the story of how he, as a former New Englander, was refused admittance by a southern farmer because he was a hated "northerner." However, that same farmer recanted and provided Kelley hospitality after he learned they were fellow Masons.

That chance conversation guided Kelley's hopes for a national farm organization toward a fraternal structure. It was his conviction that during the Reconstruction period a group that emphasized fraternal brotherhood and good will would do the most to heal the breach between North and South by uniting all farmers in a common goal of improving their own lives, as well as agriculture's lot.

Upon his return to Washington, D.C., Kelley assembled a small nucleus of friends to help him design and organize the Patrons of Husbandry - the Grange. The National Grange was officially organized Dec. 4, 1867, in a formal session of some of the Grange's so-called "seven founders." The meeting was held in the office of William Saunders, who was an authority on horticultural matters and superintendent of the capital gardens and grounds for the Bureau of Agriculture. Saunders also designed the layout for the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania. At that first meeting, Saunders was elected national master and Kelley was chosen secretary.

Over the past 13 decades the Grange has enjoyed numerous accomplishments. There have been years of explosive growth and some years of decline. But throughout its history the organization has stood for the American farmer and his rural neighbors, fighting for conditions and policies that would benefit this large group of people.

Kelley Farm

Because of it's life-long commitment to boosting the standard of living for farmers and other rural residents, the Grange has often been the champion for better roads, schools and services by utilities in rural areas. There have been countless instances where the Grange on the state and national levels has entered public debate on numerous issues of importance to many Americans, both rural and urban alike. The Grange has fought for fair and equitable taxation, protection for consumers and producers, even-handed trade laws, honest efforts to develop rural America, and enhancement of provisions that foster positive ethical, social and moral conditions.

The National Grange has its own headquarters in Washington, D.C., the only non-governmental structure in an area of several blocks near the White House. Over the years, the Washington State Grange has had several from its ranks assume offices of importance in the National Grange. (back to top)

There were Granges in Washington Territory long before statehood was gained. In 1873 several were organized in the Walla Walla area, including Waitsburg Grange No. 1 which is still an active Grange. These local ("subordinate") Granges were under the jurisdiction of the Oregon State Grange.

Organization of the Washington State Grange preceded by just two months the admission of Washington Territory to statehood. There was a direct relationship between the two events. The farmers of the territory were deeply troubled by some provisions in the

Pioneer Grange in Camas
Birthplace of the Washington State Grange was in Camas, Washington in 1889

proposed state constitution. Their concern resulted in the organization of a number of new subordinate Granges, enabling them to form a state Grange and speak out with a stronger voice.

A lodge room on the upper floor of the Pioneer Store building in La Camas (now Camas) in Clark County was the birthplace of what is now the largest state Grange in the nation. There, on Sept. 10, 1889, delegates and visitors assembled, and the Washington State Grange was organized. During the three-day session, delegates elected and installed officers, conducted other necessary business, and adopted strong resolutions setting forth the farmers' views on the proposed constitution.

The first Grange in Washington state was Waitsburg Grange No. 1, near Walla Walla, organized in 1873. The first Pomona (county-wide) Grange was established in Clark County in 1902.

The Washington State Grange coordinates the activities of the state's 293 subordinate Granges and the 41 Pomona (county and district) Granges. Washington enjoys the distinction of having more Grangers than any other state -- currently approaching 50,000 members.
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The Grange is fulfilling a great need in communities across the state. It is an organization in which men, women and young people assemble for fellowship, discussion and formulation of policies on current issues. The Grange serves as a vehicle for promoting positive changes which help improve the quality of life for all citizens. As an organization that encourages the active participation of each family member, the Grange is strengthening the family structure for its members.

For several decades, sociologists have been alarmed by the growing "civic disengagement" that has resulted in a lack of involvement by Americans in the affairs of their community. The Grange remains as a solid institution to

Norman Rockwell was a Granger

counter this trend and in many communities the Grange is the only organization which remains. In those neighborhoods, the Grange is a spark plug for keeping the community together by providing social, educational and self-help opportunities.

On the state and national levels, the Grange is continuing its long tradition of advocating for all Americans, especially those under-represented residents of our farms, small towns and rural areas. All too often, political powers from heavily populated urban areas push their agendas and the Grange is frequently the only voice the rural residents have to express their needs. The Grange's philosophy has always been that what is good for America's farms and rural residents is good for the entire nation. (back to top)