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Several current members of Eagle Grange One in Montgomery, Pa. From left to right, Clinton Twp. Supervisor Matthew Dodge, Grange Treasurer Karen Williamson, Supervisors Patrick Deitrick and Lanny Wertz.

Lycoming County -- Along the Route 15 highway in Montgomery sits a small white building with greenish border trim and a historical marker at its front. Each day you could easily pass it without giving it much thought. But the building has a deep impact on rural Pa. history. 

The building houses the Eagle Grange Number One, part of the Pennsylvania Grange, and denotes where the Pa. chapter of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry began. According to Wikipedia, the National Grange is a social organization in the United States which encourages families to band together in order to promote the economic and political well-being of rural and other communities.

Founded in 1867 after the Civil War, the Grange is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group of a national scope. The Grange actively lobbied state legislatures and Congress for political goals, such as the Granger Laws, to lower rates charged by railroads; and free delivery by the Postal Service to rural communities. In 2005, the Grange had a membership of 160,000, with organizations in 2,100 communities in 36 states.

According to Wikipedia, Eagle Grange Number One formed on March 4, 1871. The group of northcentral Pa. farmers were concerned about rising costs of farming in the post-Civil War American economy, so Lycoming County became the birthplace of the state chapter. That was two years before the formation of the Pa. State Grange in Reading, Pa., and four years after the national chartering.

Lycoming County farmer Luke Eger was the father of the state chapter. Eger learned about success of farmer co-operative groups in Ohio, Minnesota, and Iowa. He then contacted Oliver Hudson Kelley, at that time working for farmer's rights at the nations capital. Kelley encouraged Eger to establish a Grange in Lycoming County, but he received minimal help from fellow farmers. Eger's brother-in-law, Frank Porter, said Eagle Grange Number One was eventually incepted, "just to keep peace in the family."

In 1871, Eger wrote to the national chapter and said "I have at last succeeded in organizing and raising a club here and think there will be little trouble in establishing clubs in the county." 

Along with Eger, 39 farmers found Eagle Grange Number One. Soon they went about achieving their objectives. One of them was a plan for a farmers co-operative to drive down the prices of farm supplies.

Businesses who refused to do business with the co-op were boycotted by the Grange and its members. The Lycoming County Grange also supported rate changes by the railroads, and they joined the national organization in pushing for free delivery from the Post Office to rural areas.

The Grange in Present Day

Eagle Grange Number One recently gave a $500 check to aid in the development of the Clinton Township Park, which sits right outside Montgomery, Pa. During the Grange's October meeting, Clinton Twp. Board of Supervisors Chair Patrick Dietrick shared some of the highlights on the park improvement process. The meeting was also attended by supervisors Matthew Dodge and Lanny Wertz.

On Wed., Nov. 3, 2021, Pa. State Police Trooper Lauren Lesher will present a program on “Preventing Fraud and Identity Theft” at the monthly meeting of the Grange beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Grange Hall, intersection of Rte. 15 and East Blind Rd., Montgomery. The public is invited to attend. Refreshments and apples will be served following the program.

On Sat., Nov. 6, 2021, a take-out only Turkey Dinner will be available from 2-4 p.m. at the same location. On the menu will be roast turkey, stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, frozen corn, homemade cranberry relish, pickles, roll/butter, bottled water and homemade pumpkin pie.

A donation of $12 is being suggested, and would be appreciated, says the Grange. Pre-order of meals is strongly recommended. To pre-order, contact Joann Murray at 570-547-1340. A limited number of meals will be available without reservations on a first come, first served basis.

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