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GRANGE

GRANGE. R. A. Baird of the national Grange or Patrons of Husbandry organized the first Grange in Texas at Salado in July 1873. This nonpartisan, agrarian order offered to farm families its four-fold plan for cooperation in business, happier home lives, more social contacts, and better educational opportunities. In October delegates organized the Texas State Grange at Dallas. In 1876 the Texas Grange, including Indian Territory, claimed 40,000 patron, matron, and juvenile members in 1,275 lodges. In 1879 there were 352 members and 122 clubs, in 1884 13,402 members, in 1888 6,664 members and 158 sub-Granges, in 1892 73 lodges, in 1893 1,478 members and 23 clubs, in 1896 13 lodges, in 1903 630 members and 13 sub-Granges, in 1905 473 members and 11 local Granges, and in 1906 nine sub-Granges. The Grange continued to decline and by 1950 had little influence. Petty prejudices and lack of information on the unwritten work, given only by state Grange officers, constituted the greatest internal problems of the order. Politicians who told alien settlers that its secrecy made it another American (Know-Nothing) party, professional men who misconstrued its attack upon "all middlemen," merchants who plotted destruction of its cooperatives, and ranchers who had an instinctive fear of "nesters," combined with the drought of 1885–87 and the rival Farmers' Alliance, presented external problems.

Despite inexperience the Grangers did achieve victories. Half of the membership of the Constitutional Convention of 1875 were patrons dedicated to "retrenchment" in government. Articles providing low salaries for public officers, homestead protection, railway regulation, and restrictions on taxing power show their influence on the convention. Laws encouraging immigration, checking land speculative companies, setting maximum interest rates, regulating railways by a commission, and requiring a six-month school term and the election of public weighers originated with the state Grange. The Texas Grange supported the national Grange in demanding free trade, an interstate commerce commission, a department of agriculture, a pure food and drug law, inflation, popular election of senators, and reduction of express and postage rates. The Grangers' crusade for better education was their most important work. The bimonthly Grange hall meeting was a school for the whole family; there they established libraries, sang songs, read essays, and developed speakers. They worked for free and uniform textbooks, nine-month school terms, consolidation of rural schools, a scholastic age of eighteen, capable teachers, and vocational courses. Granges organized schools under the "school community system." Some sold stock in cooperative associations to operate the first secondary schools in Texas. When Texas A&M College opened, the Grange was working toward a cooperative college and experiment farm at Austin. Archibald J. Rose became a director on the A&M board in 1887 and from 1889 to 1896 was president of the board. The Grangers for two decades considered themselves the special guardian of the college. The Texas State College for Women (Texas Woman's University) also is to a certain extent indebted to the Grange for its birth and early progress.

In business the Grangers used the Rochdale cooperative plan. In 1875 they organized the Texas Grange Manufacturing Association in Marion County to process iron and farm equipment; in 1878 they opened the Texas Cooperative Association at Galveston to market farm commodities and to purchase wholesale for their 150 cooperative stores. Their cooperative textile mills for making rough cloth and twine were a failure. More successful were the Texas State Grange Fair Association, which operated a 400-acre experiment farm and exhibition hall at McGregor, and the Texas Grange Mutual Fire Insurance Association. The Texas Farmer Publishing Association printed the Texas Farmer, the eight-page organ of the Grange. Outstanding Grange leaders included Rose, William W. Lang, John B. Long, and George C. Pendleton.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Curtis E. McDaniel, Educational and Social Interests of the Grange in Texas, 1873–1905 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Roscoe Coleman Martin, "The Grange as a Political Factor in Texas," Southwestern Politician and Social Science Quarterly 6 (March 1926). National Grange, Official List of Granges in the States of Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas (n.d.). William Louis Robinson, The Grange, 1867–1967: First Century of Service and Evolution (Washington: National Grange, 1966). Ralph A. Smith, A. J. Rose, Agrarian Crusader of Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1938). Texas State Grange Patrons of Husbandry, Constitution and Declaration of Purposes of the National Grange, P. of H.: Together with the Constitution of the Texas State Grange (Galveston: Paul Gruetzmacher, 1885).

Ralph A. Smith

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Ralph A. Smith, "GRANGE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/aag01), accessed October 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.