On December 4, 1867, in a small Washington D.C. office building, the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry was born. Here, sitting around a plain wooden table, a small group of seven earnest men, planned what was destined to become a vital force in preserving and expanding American democracy. They were all men of vision – they had faith in God, in their fellow man and in the future.
The seven founders of the Grange were Oliver H. Kelley, William Saunders, Aaron B. Grosh, John R. Thompson, Francis M. McDowell, William Ireland and John Trimble. They were assisted by Caroline Hall, a niece of Kelley.
Oliver Hudson Kelley is regarded as the father of the Grange. In 1866, serving as a staff member of the Department of Agriculture, he was sent to make a survey of the farm conditions of the South following the Civil War. During this time, Kelley conceived the idea that a fraternal organization, composed of farmers from all section of the country, would help heal scars caused by the war, as well as improve the economic and social position of the farm population.
Upon his return to Washington, Kelley communicated his ideas to some of his friends in government service, and enlisted their support. They framed an organization based on seven degrees and a constitution. Caroline Hall was the first to suggest that women be admitted to membership on a basis of equality with men.
In 1873 the Grange movement took root in Pennsylvania and on September 18th 1873 in Reading PA a meeting was held to organize the Pennsylvania State Grange. At the time there were 25 local Granges in PA. We now have 232 local Granges and about 8,500 members all over the Commonwealth.