Home  
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Log in or create a new MyGrange account
Keyword / Search: 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
Around The Grange
Greenfield Hill Grange No. 133 celebrates 125 years
 

By Todd Gelineau, CT State Grange Secretary

  MAY 25, 2018 --

This year, Greenfield Hill Grange #133 celebrates 125 years of continuous service to their community and to the Grange.  We honor this milestone with another re-print from “The Connecticut Granges,” printed in 1899.  There is a great deal of interesting information about Greenfield Hill in this article and the style of writing is almost as entertaining as its contents.

More than two and a half centuries ago sightly and beautiful Greenfield Hill was picked out and chosen by the hardy Puritan pioneers as a spot where a God-fearing community might be established and a successful husbandry prosecuted.

That the fathers chose well and built wisely has been amply demonstrated.  Their judgment and sagacity have been well attested by the abundant annual harvests and the profit and prosperity the fecund soil has yielded in perennial plenty to all the generations.

At the close of the last century the hamlet comprised some 1,400 people, most of whom were tillers of the soil.  The cultivation of flax was a prominent industry at the time and twenty-acre fields of it were a common sight.  Many thousands of bushels of the seed were annually shipped to market.  A veracious local chronicler of events of that period finds authority for the assertion that no part of the world was more fruitful than Greenfield.

This community, like all those of Puritan origin, was imbued with a spirit of self-sacrificing devotion and animated by stern and uncompromising purpose.  These attributes told in after generations and succeeding progeny has been marked by qualities of stability of character and intellectual resourcefulness.  Few villages, even in prolific old Connecticut, have furnished larger lists of names of distinction.

For eighty years the people of this settlement, men, women and children, made Sabbath journeys through a wilderness to the church in Fairfield, that being the nearest meeting house.  In 1726 they built one for themselves.  It was of the typical Puritan pattern, a square structure of logs with a four-sided roof running to a peak in the center.  It was surrounded by a stockade, at the gate of which was posted an armed sentinel during the occupancy of the building for church service.

In this church Ref. John Goodsell was ordained pastor on the 18th of May 1726.  The society was called the Northwest Parish of Fairfield, but in 1729 the name was changed to Greenfield Hill.

It was voted to hold the parish school in this meeting-house for six months in the year.  This was the primary impulse to a movement which brought great distinction to Greenfield Hill in after years.  School accommodations kept pace with the growth of the village, but in 1783, Rev. Timothy Dwight, at the time a tutor in Yale College, (he afterwards became president of that institution), and a preacher of some note, was called to the pastorate of the church, and with him there came to Greenfield the germ and purpose of a new thought in education which marked equal privileges with man.  The generic source for this great principle, so fundamental in the Grange organization, was in the broad educational thought and purpose of this gifted divine.

Soon after his installation he started a school for both sexes with the purpose of making its graduates the equals in scholarship of the students of Yale College.  He succeeded so well that the fame of Greenfield Academy spread over all the land.  His advanced ideas concerning the intellectual capacities of women found free play.  To them he applied the same devoted energy in teaching that he gave to his male pupils, with the result of proving the wisdom of his judgment and awakening the public sense that found general expression sixty years later in the founding of colleges and institutions of learning for woman.

The school was first established by the Hubbell family; but afterwards came to occupy an academy built for it upon the village green.

With such antecedent agricultural renown and the prestige that comes of having been the seat of the first institution in America for the education of women, it is natural and fitting that Greenfield Hill should espouse the Grange movement and become the home of one of the strongest Granges in the State.

 

Greenfield Hill Grange #133

Greenfield Hill Grange #133, was organized on January 23, 1893, with eighteen charter members.

During the six years of its existence the membership grew from the original eighteen to one hundred and twenty-six; one hundred and seven by initiation and one by demit.

For nearly four and a half years the Grange held its meetings in the hall of Greenfield Academy.  But this was attended by some inconveniences, and this fact, together with the prospect for a continuance of the growth and prosperity, stimulated a desire for a home of their own, and in 1896 a movement was started which culminated in the present capacious and handsome Grange Hall.

It was an arduous undertaking for the young Grange, but it was pursued with a vigor and tenacity that knew no defeat.  Secretary Clarence Bradley, in his annual report, says of the effort;  “Several sites were sought for and we were cornered in many ways.  But we stuck to it, and in 1897 a generous sister, Mrs. Simeon Pease, gave a deed of the land now occupied by the Grange Hall.”  Many willing hands made light the task of preparing the ground and foundation, and on April 24, 1897, an old-time New England “raising” of the Hall took place.  It was formally dedicated on the 19th of the following June.  This event, so pregnant with meaning to the Grange, was attended with ceremonies of fitting impressiveness and marked an historic day in the annals of Greenfield.

The hall, in its present completed condition, included fittings, furniture, piano, etc., has cost $1,631.14.  This sum does not include the time and labor given to its construction by the members of the Grange, however.  Of the total cost, $1,081.14 was obtained through subscriptions, entertainments, dues, etc.  A conservative estimate places the value of the Hall at somewhat above two thousand dollars.

This policy of the Grange owning its hall operates upon the collective body very much as does the ownership of his home by the individual.  There is stimulus in it to earnestness, devotion to matters in hand and that spirit of zeal which argues purpose, prosperity and a reaching out toward advancement on all the lines that point to betterment.  It constitutes a new bond of compact for the local Grange, a loadstone for drawing the Patrons together and collaterally a generative force which makes for the upbuilding of the social fabric.

The addition of forty-five names to the roll of membership of Greenfield Hill Grange since the completion of its home in June, 1897, would seem to be a fact full of significance, and one to point the way to those Granges ambitious to augment their membership.

This Grange is favored in the possession, by several of its members, of a talent for music and the histrionic art.  This, with a pronounced gift for management, has enabled them to give many entertainments which have yielded good store to their exchecquer and made popular the programmes they have visited with neighboring Granges with.  It is moreover blessed with considerable intellectual endowments in the native gifts and acquired accomplishments of many of its members.  The Lecturers’ hours are therefore uniformly replete with interest.  Exchanging visits with neighboring Granges is much in favor and a source of profitable enjoyment.

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
© 2018 The Connecticut State Grange. All Rights Reserved.