History of the Keystone Grange No. 2

During the winter of 1872-73 the residents of Upper Providence Township, along with the nation, were striving to overcome a severe depression, the aftermath of the Civil War.  On March 23, 1873, a deputy of the newly organized National Grange (1867) met with representatives of the “Farmers Club and Debating Society” at the home of Nelson O. Naile, now owned by Spring-Ford School District, and founded Keystone Grange No. 2 with 24 charter members, 17 men and 7 women.  Josiah T. Miller was elected the first Master and John Wanner was the prime mover and sustainer of this new organization which earned him the title of “Father of Keystone Grange.”

Meeting in private homes, over Hobson’s Store in Collegeville, the Lamb Hotel in Trappe and over Dan Shuler’s carpenter shop in Trappe for 30 years, the Grangers decided to buy the old Warren Lodge Masonic Hall in Trappe in 1913.  On January 14, 1914 the newly purchased building (the present hall) was dedicated with Horace Saylor donating the marble gavel block and cedar gavel, made with wood from the Gettysburg Battlefield, donated by James Weikel.

In 1941 a Keystone precedent was set when Catherine Stearly elected as the first lady Master.  The Hall was completely renovated for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of 1948.  The famous Grange oyster suppers, started in 1885, formed the basic means of income to sponsor community activities and socials.  Grange picnics were popular at the turn of the century.  A cooperative Grange  store, stocking groceries and farm supplies was opened in 1919 and continued until 1950.  One member who achieved public prominence was J. Hansel French, who became the Secretary of Agriculture of Pennsylvania in 1934.  The 100th Anniversary of Keystone Grange was celebrated in 1973, culminating in the Centennial Fair which initiated the Annual Grange Country Fair.

“Grange” is an old English word for “Farm” and a “Farmer” was called a “Husbandman” which is why Grange members are called Patrons of Husbandry.