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Blue Ridge Grange celebrates 120th anniversary

| November 8, 2016
Jim Hoffman displays one of the original chairs that were purchased for the grange in 1896. They were purchased for a cost of $0.20 each.

Jim Hoffman displays one of the original chairs that was purchased for the grange in 1896. They were purchased for a cost of $0.20 each.

NEWCOMERSTOWN – Grange members and special guests gathered at Blue Ridge Grange on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. to celebrate the grange’s 120 anniversary. Kenneth Derr, grange master, gave a brief introduction and then turned the program over to Jim Hoffman, a lifelong grange member who gave a brief history of the grange.

The name “Blue Ridge” came from a road in Newcomerstown that bears the same name. A petition was signed by 22 signatures on May 9, 1896 to name the grange Blue Ridge Grange. Those 22 signatures were the charter members of the grange. The grange was chartered on July 1, 1886.

The first grange meeting was located in an old mill that was rented for $14 annually. They ordered 54 chairs for $0.20 each which came by the canal. They also ordered a stand, desks, and a Bible, all for $6.89 and seven oil lamps for $7.75.

Samuel Finton was named the first grange master. He was born in 1831 and emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania. He came to Coshocton County in 1849 and settled on Blue Ridge. Finton was Hoffman’s great-uncle. He died in 1901 and is buried in Bakersville.

During his presentation, Hoffman said that they had every minute book since the grange’s founding. He displayed the first minute book, but said the pages were too brittle to touch. He also had a scrapbook that was started by his great-grandmother that had all of the births, deaths, and marriages that were published in the paper in Coshocton County. His grandmother and mother continued the tradition.

The first year of the grange, cost was $1 for men, $0.50 for women, and dues were $0.10 each meeting. That year, $2.08 was sent to the state. It was also during that first year that 71 new members joined within a month.

A few years later, the grange started having picnics annually. About 200 to 300 people would attend. People mostly attended grange meetings for the lectures which dealt with a variety of topics including when to plant your wheat, when to till gardens, how to preserve apples, and so on.

In 1908, the grange meetings moved out of the mill and into a new building. The building was located between where the current grange stands and the house beside it. In its day, it was a candy store, a doctor’s office, and an ice cream parlor.

In 1986, it was voted 21 to 3 that a new hall should be built. It was dedicated on June 11, 1989 and cost $21,150.

Joyce Bahmer provided music on the piano for the occasion.

Robert White, master of the state grange, presented awards for long-time grange members.

“A lot of people who join grange have a heritage of why they joined,” said White. “I don’t remember anything but grange. I started at 5 years old in junior grange.”

White recognized 60-year members of the grange, Carl and Celia Cognion, Martha Hoffman, Lonnie Gano, and John Shroyer. He also presented Derr with a certificate recognizing the 120th anniversary of the grange.

“I congratulate you as a grange and the years you’ve served your community,” said White. “It’s a pleasure to be a part of this recognition.”

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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