Rochester Grange History
In the fall of 1905 Mr. Allen made rounds of the homes in Rochester with the hope of interesting people in founding a local Grange. He was successful. On February 12th, 1906, the first meeting of Rochester Grange was held in the North Rochester Social Union Hall on Snipatuit Road in North Rochester. The hall was small, lit by oil lamps, with a kitchen and dining hall on the second floor and no running water.
The following is excerpted from the minutes of the first meetings.
North Rochester, February 12, 1906 Meeting at Union Hall to form Grange called to order by Mr. E. L. Lewis, Mr. J. P. Trowbridge, chairman, Mr. A. G. Ashley secretary pro-tem. After remarks by Mr. Lewis & Mr. Trowbridge, with charter members present, A. G. Ashley was elected Master for one year. Others elected were Overseer A. P. R. Gilmore; Lecturer and Chaplain Mrs. J. P. Trowbridge; Secretary E. A. Barrows; Treasurer George H. Randall; Steward Raymond F. Barrows; Asst. Steward Edgar F. Randall; 2nd Asst. Steward Mrs. Fanny L. Randall; Pomona Mrs. A. Maxim; Flora Miss Minnie Russell; Ceres Mrs. Bertha W. Tripp; Door Keeper J. Newton Barrows. (Several Committees were appointed as well.) Voted to adjourn to March 7, 1906.
March 7, 1906 Met at Union Hall to install officers. Meeting called to order by Secretary William Howard of Eastern Star, Secretary of the State Grange. Number of Charter members--81. The Officers were installed & duties of each member was told by the State Secretary. Committee on By-Laws elected, consisting of H. H. Bennet, F. W. Gerrish, C. W. Maxim. Voted on the name of the Grange, to be called Rochester Grange. After a collection the meeting was adjourned to March 28, 1906.
In the minutes for the meeting of the 28th it is noted that there were 52 present, with four new members initiated and that a motion to change the Grange name to Snipatuit was voted down.
During those early years clambakes and suppers were held, including an Oyster Supper. The Grange early on became involved in local agricultural questions. In 1910 they supported milk producers in a dispute with Boston contractors. RFD mail delivery was another discussion that year. Times have changed a great deal, but many topics discussed in those early years remain topics for today. Cranberries were discussed in 1912, and still are a topic for programs. Politics and legislation are still very important to all. At the September 10, 1913 meeting a "most interesting paper on farming in 1950, a prophecy by Brother Hulsman (Master in 1914) was read." Wonder what his predictions were?
In was not long before the hall was too small and a building fund was set up in 1922. Dances, suppers, whist parties and other events were run to raise money. Land was purchased from Annie (Grandma) Hartley on Hartley Road, and building plans were begun. The Grange was incorporated in 1924 and on October 8, 1924 the first meeting was held in the new although unfinished hall. On June 10, 1925, a Neighbors Night was held to dedicate the hall. Two hundred and eighty people were in attendance. At the 50th Anniversary in 1956 there were 297 present, including eight charter members, eleven past Masters, and seventeen past lecturers. There were twenty nine Granges represented. At our 95th Anniversary on April 11, 2001, 97 were in attendance. Of our ten living Past Masters, five were able to be in attendance. Seven granges were represented as well as many non-members from our community.
In 1936 the first triple installation of officers was held with South Carver and West Wareham Granges. In 1995 five Granges were installed in our hall at the same time. They were Sippican Pomona, Acushnet, Fairhaven, South Middleboro, and Rochester. The installing officer was our own past Master Audra Lynn Ouellette Cast. In 1986 she was the youngest Master to be installed for Rochester.
During WWII, Care packages were made for our members in the service. The Mulberry tree by the road was planted in memory of John White, who was killed in action.
Over the years dances, Minstrel shows, and other forms of entertainment were held in the hall. Clam bakes were also prepared. Graduations were held here for many years for students leaving the smaller area schools in town and moving on to another level of education or not as the case may have been.
A long-running tradition, which is held each year, is the Rochester Grange Fair. Our Fair is held each year on the 3rd Saturday of August and is open to anyone of any age who would like to participate. Look for our premium books in July or call for information. There are no longer animals or horse pulls, but the fair's display of fruits, vegetables and flowers can still be found and show that a love of agriculture still abounds in both the members and non-members who enter year after year.
Each year, the Grange awards the National Grange Community Citizen Award to a non-Grange member who has worked tirelessly for the community, and who we feel is deserving of recognition. Some of our more recent recipients have been Jill Finnerty-Taylor for her work through the organization she founded, "Making Spirits Bright"; Mrs. Anna White, Ward Benner, and Jeff Eldredge. Last year we awarded a new award - the State Grange Junior Citizen Award. This was given to Mr. Davignon's Fourth Grade class for their class project which culminated with "Turtle Crossing" signs being placed in several areas around town. This December, Fifth Grader Arissa and Third Grader Deianeira Underhill will be our newest Junior recipients for their donations to "Locks for Love", donating hundreds of books to the "Reach Out and Read" program, and for other very worthwhile projects that they are working on.
Rochester Grange celebrated its 100th anniversary in April, 2006, with a wonderful celebration attended by many friends who were both Grangers and non-Grangers. In the time since our founding we have had many hard-working members serving both as officers and on committees who have always had the Grange and the community in their hearts. We hope that we are able to continue their work for many years to come.
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