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As the weather turns cooler we begin to think about pumpkins, hay and perhaps a fiddler at an old barn dance. For many years, Granges provided such activities. Like much of our valley’s history Granges began with the Civil War. The war devastated the farms of the southern states and the number of men killed or crippled severely affected the family farms of the northern states.
President Andrew Johnson commissioned Oliver Hudson Kelley to survey 1866 agricultural conditions in the rural areas of the country and to provide him with reliable information about the situation. Kelley joined William Saunders, Aaron B. Gosh, John Trimble, John R. Thompson, Francis McDowell and William Ireland to form the National Grange within the Department of Agriculture on December 4, 1867.
The Order provided women, men and youths 14 years and older with equal memberships, voting privileges and opportunities to hold positions of trust. The Order was Christian, but not sectarian. It was strictly non-partisan and encouraged anti-liquor education.
Membership grew slowly while the Granges established a network of buying cooperatives, grain elevators and mills; implemented manufacturing sources, horseshoeing contracts and other methods to reduce farming costs, increase profits and eliminate those that were unfairly profiting from their work and investment.
There have been 498 Granges chartered in Colorado. Fifteen Granges were chartered in Pueblo County from 1874 until 1959. All are inactive now, but provided economic and social outlets for many years. Does anyone remember hearing about these Granges, know how long they existed or where they held their meetings and socials?
-Greenhorn Grange #54 chartered on March 17, 1874 to serve farmers on the St. Charles River above the Burnt Mill community, those that farmed near the 3R Ranch, along Muddy Creek and up to the Crow Cutoff. (Colorado City)
-Huerfano Grange #55 chartered on March 20, 1874 by farmers and ranchers near Apache Junction.
-Green Valley Grange #68 chartered November 30, 1874 by farmers along Greenhorn Creek and those that lived between the Muddy Creek and Butte Valley Granges. (Rye)