Wichita Grange Post 132

The Wichita Grange Post #132 was an agriculturally based fraternal order, that lended support and community to the town of Warren from 1892 to 1996.


The following was taken from the notes of Arden Tanner in 1942:

History of the Wichita Grange by Arden Tanner
Back in the early part of the year 1892 when the ground must have been covered deep with snow,
Deputy Humphreyville (of the State Grange) visited here and managed to stir up the interest in the
hearts of a brave few, so that there was actually talk of organizing a Grange in Warren.
After some preliminary meetings, of which no official records were kept, there was a meeting called and
held at Brother Lyman’s (now the Fowler Place) on April 7, 1892. This is the official organizing date as
recorded in the Office of the State Secretary. What little we know about this meeting is through our
charter members, as there is not now, at any rate, any written copy of the notes of that meeting. The
Grange was organized with 22 charter members, five women, 17 men, namely:
Austin R. Humphrey
(Mrs. A.R.) Francis Humphrey
Arden Tanner
Clarence Tanner
(Mrs. Cl) Cora Tanner
Robert Strong
William Hopkins
Noble B. Strong
(Mrs. N. B.) Emily Strong
Eben Strong
Lewis Brague
Edward P Lyman
Finley P Knapp
Mrs. Finley P Knapp
Homer N. Hollister
Harley Perkins
Robert Perkins
Alice Perkins
Joseph Breen Junior
Justus S. Comstock
A. C. Knapp
F. P. Johnson
Of this number four are now living. Mrs. Cora Johnson of Kent. Eben Strong of New Britain. Arden Tanner
and Robert Perkins. The last two are members of this Grange at the present time. Arden Tanner dropped
out of the order for some years, but Robert Perkins has been continuously a member of the Grange for
50 years and tonight becomes our first Golden Sheaf Patron. All honor to him.
Twelve of the Charter members, perhaps more, are represented in this or some neighboring Grange by
children or grandchildren.
The 2nd and 1st recorded meeting was held at Noble Strong’s house on Above All, April 26, 1892. They
decided at this meeting that the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays were to be the meeting nights. And it was many
years later, a recorded vote was found to change the meeting nights to Wednesday. At this meeting it
was also recorded that dues were to be paid at each meeting and a trade card issued. This was to be
used at a special Grange store, I believe. How long these cards were in use, I do not know, but we found
some here in the secretary’s desk when we cleaned it not long ago. The next three meetings. In May and
June were held at the Center Schoolhouse. On June 24th. The “Grange Outfits” were secured and also
the bylaws. What the outfits were, I do not know.
The first quarterly report to the state grant was made June 30th, 1892. And was 16 males, 8 females
dues $2.40. There is no record of any members being taken in nor any changes in the list of the charter
members, but as the original list was 17 miles. And five females. We must conclude that three of the
husbands relented and decided to let their wives come along. Also, that some good wife perhaps
decided that the best place for her husband was home, where she knew what he was doing, as one male
seems to have vanished from the original list.
The next record tells us that the meeting nights were to be changed to the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. The
next meetings were held at Lyman’s, William Hopkins’, Perkins’ and Humphreys’ respectfully.
On December 13th, 1892, five candidates all ladies, received the first and second degrees at Brother
Noble Strongs house. My mother, who was a young schoolteacher here then, was one of them. I well
remember her telling me that they got tired of waiting for them to finish their deliberations and retired
to a balcony or some other vantage point and when they wanted their candidate. They had to hunt them
up. It was at this meeting also that they decided to rent the hall over Swift’s store for $10 a year.
December 20th, 1892, the third and fourth degrees were conferred on the candidate at Breen’s House.
December 27th, 1892, they held their first meeting in Swift’s Hall and appointed Mr. and Mrs. Clarence
Tanner delegates to the State Grange meeting to be held in Torrington. The first anniversary of Our
Grange was celebrated at the Swifts Hall April 7th, 1893, with 22 present. During the year 1893 they
bought an organ to be used at their meetings and during the early part of 1894, a Bible was purchased
for the altar.
The 2nd anniversary was celebrated by an open meeting at Swift’s Hall Saturday afternoon at 1:00 April
7th, 1894. It was recorded that. A sumptuous supper was served by the ladies. I would like to have
attended some of the old meetings. As I went through the old records, their lectures hours seemed both
instructive and amusing. At almost every meeting, the topic would be discussed at the next one was
announced and everybody seems to have taken part in the discussions. I can imagine that some of them
might have waxed rather warm as on June 26, 1894. The topics to be discussed were. By the women.
How would I run the farm if I were a man? And for the men, how I would manage a household if I were a
woman? I wouldn’t be surprised if we took that matter up in this meeting tonight that it mightn’t swell
the records of the divorce courts hereabouts.
I noticed that each year the Grange sponsored a Fourth of July celebration in town and I imagine that the
band took a large part in these doings. How many of you here present know that at one point we had a
thriving band here in town? Wichita neighbored with the Washington Grange. On September 12th,
1894, this was their first Neighbors’ Night and they held a special meeting to plan for and rehearse their
program. Can you imagine them driving down to Washington with their teams and carriages and what a
gay time they must have had? For whether we want to admit it or not, our fathers and mothers worked
harder than we do and had fewer pleasures. But what they did have, I am sure they enjoyed all the more
by contrast.
The first deputy’s inspection was made by brother Humphreyville, then deputy for Litchfield County on
October 9th, 1894. The quarterly report on December 31st, 1894, showed 23 males and 19 females
making 42 members in all, recording a steady growth in our order. The first Grange entertained
Washington on September 10th, 1895.
February 2nd, 1896, it was reported that they had raised $88 at a sociable and a vote was taken that the
money was to be put in a savings bank to start a fund so that they might build a hall of their own. The
vote was passed and also added that they would add to this fund as they could by similar affairs.
On June 9th, 1896, I found the following announcement in the notes, the Worthy Lecturer and the
Worthy Overseer have gone and got married, so there is no topic for our next meeting. The Grange must
have been a marriage mart then, even as now. In January 1897, the degrees were conferred on Frank
and Bertha Voisard, who have been faithful and loyal members of our order ever since.
In January 1900, the Grange met in Knapps Hall over the old Tabernacle and Naps store, and they
continue to meet here until 1901 when they moved. To the house in the back of the church. The Greens
struck a low ebb just previous to 1900 and its members were terribly discouraged. For a time they even
talked of giving up their charter, but this was bitterly contested by a faithful few. On November 28th,
1900. Deputy H. S. Moorhouse of Webatuck Grange met with us and encouraged us with the following
remarks: – Advised us to hold together and be of good cheer. What few there are left of you, he said. Are
the kind that we all like to see. It is of such. That Great Good will come.” The members took heart, and
the Grange was given a new lease on life with the addition of 18 new members during April, May and
June 1901.
About the same time, the Grange moved into new quarters. The house in back of the church owned then
by Mr. Andregg was rented for their use. In the records, several lists of refreshments to serve at meetings
were recorded. The following list is very typical. Sandwiches, cake of various kinds, dried beef, cheese,
ice cream and coffee. I’ve always heard that old maids and old bachelors were not an unmixed blessing
at the times, but never, until I read these records, did I hear of selling them off. But on November 27th,
1901, it was reported that there was to be an Old Maid Sale and on January 9th, 1902, a Bachelor Sale
was reported, whether these sales were a success, financially or otherwise, the records failed to report.
The first talk of forming Housatonic Valley Pomona came on February 11th, 1902. Up until that time, we
had belonged to Mountain County Pomona.
Under the record of April 9. 1902 it was noted that during the lecturer’s hour “The condition of the
Grange” in its earlier days was discussed. All of the old members spoke on this subject and recalled their
first meeting and how long it took them to close. Working the first evening until 2 o’clock before being
convinced which one had the proper way.” The third Sunday in June was set aside as Memorial Sunday
and the members met at the hall and then went to the cemetery and decorated the graves of their
departed brothers and sisters. The first meeting of the Housatonic Valley Pomona was held September
17th, 1902, in Kent. On December 10th, 1902, during the election of officers, a vote of thanks from the
Grange was given to F. P. Johnson the Master. “Who has made the Grange in Warren what it is today.”
January 27th, 1904, a letter of congratulations was received from the State Grange telling us that our
Master F. P. Johnson had been elected Steward of the Connecticut Grange. He was the only one of our
members to date who had been elected to an office in the State Grange.
Housatonic Valley Pomona Grange was invited to meet with us for the first time June 15th, 1904. Voted
to hold a Grange fair in October 1904, an all day affair charging $0.15 for admission. The Strawberry
Festivals were an annual affair from 1904 until 1925. I think since then we have not held any. In looking
over the records, it seems that we neighbored frequently with Washington Taghaunuck and Aspetuck
Valley, and occasionally with Kent and Cornwall. The Grange was pretty low again about 1911, but
received and gave degrees to 17 candidates on December 21st, 1911. In 1913, the Grange voted to buy
the old Methodist Church, which was remodeled into our present hall. The church was bought from Mrs.
William C Welton for $200. The deed was dated April 23rd, 1913. So, 21 years after the organization. We
were to have the hall that our members had been struggling so faithfully to attain.
The building committee was Howard S Chappius, James B Perkins and Frank Voisard. The Carpenter
employed by the Grange was Earl Moorehouse. The work was started the last day of July 1913 after
many discussions about how many rooms it should be divided into, etc. The lower part of the hall was
completed first and the meetings for a good while were all held downstairs. The financing of the hull was
a large item. They had $500.00 in the bank and raised 67 by subscription. Then they borrowed $150 at
the New Milford Bank. F. P. Johnson furnished $500 towards the repairs on the hall and took a mortgage.
The first meeting was held in the new Grange Hall October 2nd, 1913. The Worthy Treasurer’s brother,
Frank Voisard, banded the brothers together to help. The interest on the debt paid for five years.
In January 1914, the following resolution was passed. “Whereas Austin R Humphrey, 1st and for 10
years, master of this local Grange, one of the early workers of the order in this state, who has passed a
useful life as a man, as a soldier, as a citizen, and as a Patron of Husbandry, has been called for higher
service.
Whereas: – Out of active work in our Grange, he has been at all times, a good counselor and a strong
supporter of our plans for the improvement made for the local Grange and for the Society.
Resolved: – That we cherish in our memory and appreciation of the Good Work he has rendered to the
Order, and that his example may encourage us to do more and better work. And further resolved that
this Grange extend its sincere sympathy to his wife and children. and that this resolution be set apart in
our record book in commemoration of his service to our grange
Signed: – Frank Voisard, August Hoffman, Joy Perkins
On May 13th, 1914, it was voted to meet all Pomona members at the train at Cornwall Bridge and
provide their transportation to the June meeting. In 1915 among the list of committees was noted a
horse committee, supposedly to see to the horses of the patrons visiting our Grange. If the if the present
tire and gas shortage continues. We may have need of a similar committee to take care of the visiting
patrons cars.
Down through the years, the mortgage was paid off $50 at a time, as we were able. In September 1929,
the hall was wired for electricity. What would the early members of our Grange think of this brilliantly
lighted hall? To be sure, thunderstorms never put their kerosene lights out. I well remember one
meeting when we didn’t have any lights until 10:00 save for one flashlight. A visiting deputy remarked
that he never had had the pleasure of being escorted up to the Masters Station by a pretty Lady
Assistant Steward in the dark before. our sashes were bought from the disbanded Aspetuck Valley
Grange about this time.
In November 1929, we also bought a new piano. The first electric light bill was paid by the Grange,
September 10th, 1930.
Our 40th anniversary was celebrated April 13th, 1932. Four charter members were present at this
meeting and six silver certificates were presented. There were 134 present, and a good time was had by
all.
During the year 1932, we doubled our membership, taking in 32 candidates. The years 1932 through
1936 were peak years and we took in an average number of 23 members a year. Since that time, the
interest has gradually slowed down. During these years we had a first and second degree team and also
a third degree team. In 1934 we were the only Grange in this Pomona that filled our quota for the 7th
degree in Hartford. There were close to 50 members of our Grange who took the degree and some of
our members worked through the day and part of the night guarding the exits. I know that it was nearly
daylight before my load got home. We got lost and eventually ended up stuck in a snowbank about 2:30
in the morning.
In June 1936, we held our first Grange Sunday with Charles M Gardiner, High Priest of Demeter, as our
speaker. This was very successful, and we have held one every year since. In November 1936, the men in
the Grange dug A trench from the school and laid a water pipe to the hall after 23 years of carrying
water. We have running water at last. This is one of the biggest improvements that has been made since
the Hall was remodeled in 1913.
In May 1937, some of the brothers dug up around the hall and planted shrubbery which has improved
the appearance of the hall wonderfully.
At our 45th anniversary on April 14th, 1937, the Worthy State Master Frank Peet burned our mortgage at
our altar and our hall was clear of debt at last. We also voted to organize a Juvenile Grange at that
meeting. The first fair in many years was held on October 1st, 1937, and was very successful.
Brother FP Johnson, a charter member who did much to keep the Grange alive for many years, died on
October 27th, 1937. In February 1938, we incorporated the Grange and later the deeds were changed to
Wichita. Grange incorporated. Just recently we voted to raise our dues to $2.00 a year. We have found it
rather hard to keep going on the $1.20 per member in the 50 years 399 members have been taken into
the grange beside the 22 charter members.
In closing I would like to pay tribute to our many members and especially our 7 masters who, after many
years of faithful service to our Grange, have passed on to the Greater Grange above. Let us all sing
together one verse of “Blessed Be the Ties That Bind” after the Worthy Ceres has decorated our altar
with these flowers in remembrance of them.
Austin Humphrey (1892 to 1897, and 1899 to 1900)
Max Schnell (1898)
Frederick P Johnson (1901 to 1904, and 1913)
William C Welton (1905 to 1906)
August Hoffman (1911)
John F Angevine (1912, 1916, 1918 and 1919)
James A. Terwilliger (1936 to 1937)

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