Front Page News
January 14, 2015
NH Grange Accomplishments Acknowledged
Chichester Agricultural Commission, Heritage Commission and Grange
have partnered to offer an insightful program about the
accomplishments of New Hampshire’s Grange. Through a New Hampshire
Humanities Council grant the Chichester Agricultural Commission is
honored to present “NH’S GRANGE MOVEMENT: It’s Rise, Triumphs and
Decline” by Steve Taylor at 7pm, January 21, Grange Hall, 54 Main
Street, Chichester, NH. This program is free and open to the
Agriculture played an essential part of this country’s history, as
well as New Hampshire’s. Two hundred years ago, this state was part
of America’s fleece production heartland. For 30 years, it was the
epicenter of the great sheep boom heard around the world. In 1835,
there were 465,000 sheep in New Hampshire alone. Flocks of 500-1,000
sheep were common throughout the state; and most of New England’s
250,000 miles of stone walls had been constructed to corral sheep.
This massive agricultural movement brought farmers and their
families together in business and socially.
Its proper name is The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of
Husbandry founded after the Civil War in 1867; yet it is commonly
called “The Grange.” The Grange is a fraternal organization that
encourages families to band together to promote the economic and
political well-being of the community and agriculture; and is the
oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope.
Chichester Grange No. 132 was formed in April, 1888; and still meets
in the Grange Hall on Main Street.
In 2005, the Grange had a membership of 160,000, with organizations
in 2,100 communities in 36 states. In 2005, the Grange had a
membership of 160,000, with organizations in 2,100 communities in 36
states. The Grange has always been involved in education
and to date still provides elementary students with dictionaries.
Major accomplishments credited to Grange advocacy include passage
of the Granger Laws, precursor of the Interstate Commerce Act of
1887, and the establishment of rural free mail delivery.
Much of rural NH in the late 19th century was locked in a downward
spiral of population decline, abandonment of farms, reversion of
cleared land to forest and widespread feelings of melancholy and
loss. The development of the Grange movement in the 1880s and 1890s
was aided greatly by hunger for social interaction, entertainment
and mutual support. As membership surged it became a major force in
policymaking in Concord, and its agenda aligned closely with the
Progressive politics that swept the state in early 20th century. It
also helped organize the State Police. Many Grange initiatives
became law, placing the state at the leading edge in several areas
of reform. Steve Taylor analyzes the rapid social and economic
changes that would eventually force the steep decline of the
Steve Taylor is an independent scholar, farmer, journalist and
longtime public official. He has been a newspaper reporter and
editor, and served for 25 years as NH’s commissioner of agriculture.
With his sons, Taylor operates a dairy, maple syrup and cheese
making enterprise in Meriden Village. He was the founding executive
director of the NH Humanities Council and is a lifelong student of
the state’s rural culture.
Through the NH Humanities Council, Taylor offers three other
programs: “Cows and Communities: How the Lowly Bovine Has Nurtured
NH Through Four Centuries,” NH’s One-Room Rural Schools: The Romance
and the Reality,” and “The Great Sheep Boom and Its Enduring Legacy
on the NH Landscape.”