Colley Grange Hall
Photo Taken Before 1990
Courtesy of Lyle Rockwell
You can see another photo of the Hall linked to the photo caption for the Grange
Members shown on Descendants of William Wilson Potter.
A Glimpse into the Grange Organization of Sullivan County,
Compiled by Lyle Rockwell
A personal conversation with Robert F. Pond whose parents attended numerous dances & dinners at the Grange Halls:
“The Colley Grange and the Wilmot Grange members were all known by each other and held dances, one week they would hold the dance (on Saturday nights) at Colley and the next week they would be in Wilmot. The grange also owned a barn where they stored the horses while dancing. One week they would be held at Colley and the next week at Wilmot Grange hall, and sometimes at Lovelton Grange. TheColley Grange had a party-line crank telephone for members to use. It was a wonderful community gathering for famers and others to unwind, visit with their neighbors, and have fun after working hard on their farms all week. The grange was established to support and encourage all that is right in our American way of life.”
Unfortunately, due to the electronic age of TV and modern cars, the Grange membership declined and I have no knowledge of any active Granges in Sullivan or Bradford Counties.
The following items of interest and history of Colley, Wilmot and Elkland Granges were published in the following manuscript: (Keep in mind that when “today” and presently” are used, it refers to the year 1985)
Published in the book titled “Grange History” from 1873-1985: Bradford and Sullivan Counties by The Village Press, West Warren, Bradford Co., PA, & edited and organized by Mr. & Mrs. Earle L. & Marion Bidlack of Warren Center, and Mrs. Charles Saxton of Troy, PA
The Grange (a poem)
The Grange was organized as a helpful group,
To keep farming people from flying the coup,
The time was the close of the Civil War,
When times were really not up to par,
The meetings were a really a wonderful plan,
To learn who were neighbors and who were a clan.
The order of Grange was quite a creation,
To keep rural people a helpful arm of the nation.
It also gave rural people a chance to enjoy
With their families a song and a dance.
With the Odd Fellows and Masons, no women allowed,
Unless they gathered and had their own crowd;
But the Grange started out as a family affair;
If the men took their wives, no one seemed to care.
The Grange Moto
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity;” Also, “The office should seek the man, not the man seek the office”
The Bradford-Sullivan County Pomona Grange
What is the Grange?
Community (local) Grange
This unit of the organization is built around the community. Men, women and youth are admitted on equal terms. Those who are 14 years of age are eligible for full membership. Each member has one vote. The local Grange elects its own officers and controls its own affairs in community matters. It confers the first four ritualistic Degrees. Although regular Grange business meetings are for members only, the educational and literary programs are frequently open to the public. All Grange activities are for the purpose of developing leadership, improving community life and expanding opportunities for all people.
Pomona (county) Grange
Community Granges within a given district are grouped together on a county or regional basis into Pomona Granges that meet monthly or quarterly. The Pomona Grange confers the Fifth Degree of the Order, thus extending the lessons and opportunities of the Community Grange. The Pomona Grange provides the leadership for educational, legislative, and business interests of the Community Granges in its jurisdiction
Pennsylvania was the first state to adopt the use of county councils, thus the formation of Pomona Grange No. 23, and was activated on January 27, 1876. Each local Grange from both counties would send delegates to the Pomona Grange meetings. Sullivan County Grangers left Pomona No. 23 in 1911 when they formed their own organization, “The Sullivan County Pomona Grange No. 62” Their first meeting was held February 27, 1911, and the Bradford Pomona sent greetings and a check for $50.00. Sullivan Pomona, however, was never very successful due to the low number of local Granges and members in the small county. Eventually, Sullivan County Pomona merged back into the Bradford-Sullivan Pomona.
One of the projects of the Bradford-Sullivan Pomona was to mix rat bait for distribution to the local Grange halls. The rat bait would sell for $1.00 per five pounds. In 1967, Pomona members met at the Wysox Agway on October 23, 1967 and mixed one and one-half tons of rat bait for distribution to the local Granges to sell in their stores to members.
The History of Colley Grange No. 365
Colley Grange No. 365 was organized on October 28, 1874 in the small village of Colley, Pennsylvania, approximately six miles from Dushore on Route 87 south.
The present building, which is over 100 years old, was leased from the Grange in 1903 by the McAbees to hold their meetings in as long as they didn’t interfere with the Grange meetings, which were held every Saturday of the month.
The members also built a barn, located to the left of the Grange Hall. They cut trees from the lot, peeled the bark from them and hauled it to Wyalusing where it was shipped down river.
The money they received from the bank was used to pay off their note to the Township. An interesting item: If you took a lantern from the barn and did not return it promptly, you were fined 10 cents.
Pomona Grange was held quite often at Colley. These meetings always lasted for two days. The Grange held many dances on the new barn floor. Plays and oyster suppers were given for entertainment and to help with finances.
There was a store held in the rear end of the hall, where a farmer could purchase his seeds (corn, oats, hay, etc.). His wife could buy vanilla, molasses, candy and many other food items. They also had a library (free).
In the year 1882, they built a picket fence around the Grange lot. All the work was volunteered. In September 1904, State Grange was held at Colley Grange Hall. Fifty-six members, from surrounding Granges, received the sixth degree. Nine of the members were from Colley. On October 4, 1906, the Governor of Pennsylvania invited the Grange as a body to attend the dedication of the State Capital in Harrisburg.
In 1971, a well was drilled, one hundred and ten feet deep with eighteen gallons of water a minute. With this good supply of water, inside restrooms were installed a bit later.
The barn was sold to the Yonkin Bros., as their barn had burned down. They took the barn down and erected it again on their farm, where it remains today.
(The Colley Grange Hall was dismantled in 1996. I also found out that when the Colley Grange Hall was torn down, the records were going to be thrown away, so the caretaker of the Colley Cemetery (Bruce
Gephart) said he would take them to his home on Saxer road.)
The Elkland Grange No. 976
The earliest recorded beginning of Elkland Grange No. 976 was written in 1882. Members of an organization to aid the poem titled “The Center Lyceum and Debating Society” were responsible for the present Elkland Grange No. 976 which began in 1890. A committee to draft by-laws was adopted on December 5, 1890 by 48 charter members. The initiation fee was $3.00 for men and $1.00 for women with annual dues of 30 cents.
The first know meeting place was a hall in Estella, PA rented from Brother Boyle and used until 1897. The Grange then rented the P.O.S. of A. Hall in Estella until 1902 when it moved I’s meeting place to Brother J.J. Webster’s hall at a rent of $15.00 per year. A few years’ later meetings were held in rooms above the Jennings Store in Estella until the present Elkland Grange No. 976 was built in 1920 at a cost of $2,600.00. The members moved to their new hall May 20, 1921. A well was not drilled until 1923 and at that time the pump was ordered.
Some of the early Treasury accounts provide interesting records of costs in the beginning of the 20th century, in 1907 a private contribution of $1.55 was made to buy fringe for badges that finally totaled 94 cents. Dishes were purchased that same year at a total cost of $4.95 including 10 cents for a sugar bowl and $2.16 for two dozen plates.
Pomona meetings were recorded as far back as 1898 and always with great anticipation by the members. Another annual event, anticipated even today, is an oyster supper. This tradition had continued since the grange was first organized in 1890.
It was custom at the earlier Grange meetings to have a “Question Box” from which one or more questions were drawn and discussed at each meeting. These questions were pertinent to world affairs, farming, local problems, social attitudes, and even marital problems or child rearing etc.
1891- “How can we best make the Grange educational?”
1900- “Are foreign powers treating China justly?”
“Should the farmer and his wife take a vacation?”
“What is a good plan to overcome bashfulness?”
1903- “What is the best manner of harvesting oats?”
“Would it be advisable to take the bounty off foxes and put it on hawks?”
“How can you learn “Bowser” to understand when you say “sic-em”
1915- “Why can we not have a rabbit supper?”
“What are your views on women suffrage?”
1921- “Do women talk too long on the phone and why?”
1923- “Which furnishes the most food for the table, the men or the women?”
1925- “How can we make our homes more inviting?”
“Why should women always keep sweet under all circumstances?”
“What is the best means to get rid of cabbage worms?”
During the 1930’s the Elkland Grange Hall was used to house families whose homes were destroyed by fire. For approximately ten years, it was used this way for various families and then in 1932 it housed the high school until a new school was built. Again in the 1940’s he hall housed school children for a few years, this time elementary students until the lease to the school system ended in 1949.
Elkland Grange No. 976 was reorganized in 1948 by Deputy State Master Albert Madigan, & by the August 16th meeting 59 members had made application. That year was the first year the concession sand at the Sullivan County Fair was run by the grange. It earned a total of $113.90. The Grange has continued the fair concession stand annually for 37 years.
The present membership of the Elkland Grange No. 976 now totals 30 members. Its home is still the Grange Hall built in Estella, PA in 1920. During the Bicentennial year (1976) a time capsule was buried on the property and it is hoped that Elkland Grange No. 976 members will still be in Estella I 2076 to retrieve that capsule and to have their annual oyster supper.
Overton Grange No. 1229
Organized March 16, 1903 with 16 members and led by Master Ira Hottenstein, and disbanded by this book’s publication in 1985.
A Pomona Grange State officer from Sullivan County was Mrs. Della Hunsinger from 1902-1904.
Wilmot Grange No, 512
Wilmot Grange was organized on March 26, 1875 by V.S. Landon. The National Maser was Herschel D. Newsom and National Secretary was Harry A. Caton. The State Maser was A.W. Rittenhouse.
The old Grange Hall was a two-story wooden building. On the first floor was the kitchen, dining room and a store. The meetings were held on the second floor. In the dining room there was one long table that went the full length of the hall. Often there was a long line waiting for the first table to be served, and these people had to wait out-of-doors for their turn.
There was a fine concrete porch the full length of the front of the hall, and both inside and outside steps to the second floor. Behind the Grange Hall, there was a large wagon shed, and on Grange meeting nights, there were from one to six or seven rigs, buggies, or buckboards, etc out in the shed.
In the store, only Grange members could buy supplies. Some of the items sold were sugar, spices of all kinds, candy (chocolate drops), which came to the store in pails holding fifty pounds), cheese (that the storekeeper cut from huge wheels), cases of pink salmon, macaroni (which was long like spaghetti and was broken up before you cooked it), kerosene, chimneys for lamps, basically the more needed items.
Jimmy McDowell and his wife were the storekeepers for a long time, but Elmer and Lelia Arey were the last to care for it. Their daughter Margaret is an active Grange member in the Wyalusing chapter at the present time. The groceries came in to the railroad station at Wyalusing, and the Grange members took turns going to pick up the shipments. Usually they went by wagon or sleds. Mr. P.T. Borbst was the station master at that time. The store closed in or about 1923. After the store closed, Mr. and Mrs. J. Walter Huffman and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Gangloff ordered these items directly from the company for their homes.
As the years went by, the dance floor became old and rickety, therefore, they moved the dances downstairs. For many years, they held their meetings once a week on Thursday nights. Later, they met once every other two weeks, and at the present time, meetings are held once a month (on the second Saturday of every month).
A farmer’s Institute was held once a year. This lased for four or five days, and was held by a county agent and he/she had others to help with the preparations. The Farmer’s Institute was organized to bring newer farming techniques into the area to help the farmers improve their farms and crops. During this Institute, the women of the Grange prepared and served the people dinner. They prepared chicken and biscuits, as well as other delicious foods for the event. During their “spare” time, they quilted, sewed carpe sips, etc. Meanwhile, their husbands were at the meetings upstairs.
These same ladies were famous for their oyster suppers, and at least once every quarter, they held a covered dish supper before the Grange meeting.
Then on April 8, 1961, tragedy hit Wilmot Grange. The Grange Hall burned to the ground. Grange visitation was being prepared for that day. Colley Grange immediately offered their hall, and it was held there. At that time, the Grangers had been making plans for a dinner the next week. Due to the efforts of Cecil Steele, a member of the Grange and Wyalusing Fire Chief at that time, the fire company offered their hall at no cost so the dinner was put on despite the terrible situation that faced them.
In 1964, the Grange was rebuilt. It was dedicated in 1965. The contract was given to Boyd Bennett. Many of our local Granges contributed money. These included Wappasening (Windham), Minnequa, Sheshequin, Wyalusing, LeRaysville, Warren Center, Colley, and Wysauking, as well as Pomona. These gifts totaled to $197.00. LeRaysville gave us their song books and regalia when they disbanded. The Pomona Youth held a dance at Wysox and gave the proceeds toward the Grange Hall, which was $79.50. Other contributions were James Christini, Ed and Ester Wazinski, Robert Browning, Walter Robinson, John Pardoe, Gus VonWolfradt, Dushore National Bank, Joe McEneany, John Hite, Jesse and Henry Kaufman, Merle Bunnell, Harry Tiffany, and Roy Jones for a total of $498.00. Other donations came from Huffman Brothers –Gravel, Wilmot Township –Gravel, Dolly Madison Ice Cream Co., - fill, 48 chairs from Leon Fenton, Russell McHenry – a large percolator, and dishes from Lena Neuber and Marguerite Norconk. Dinners were served and the proceeds went toward the building of the new hall. Also the Grangers held many bees to help with the building. The entire basement was concreted in one day during one of these bees.
At the present time, the Wilmot Grange is an active Grange and has 47 members. They have held dances, music jamborees, pancake suppers, and sold Pennsylvania Grange Cookbooks to raise money. In the last two years, water was put in their hall, and rest rooms have been added.
As a community project, so far this year we have held a food and variety shower for Mr. and Mrs. Tim Nosier, who lost their entire belongings in a fire that leveled their home.
Wilmot Grange is proud to have Lewis Neuber, our overseer, as a deputy of the State Grange at the present time.
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