History of the California State Grange

By Bill Booth, Past Master of
California State Grange

On July 12th, 2014 the California State Grange was reorganized. It was just several days shy of the 141st anniversary of the founding of the State Grange.

But the story of the State Grange starts some many years ago, on July 15th 1873 in the town of Napa, where the California State Grange was first organized by W. H. Baxter who was appointed Deputy of the National Grange for California in August 1871.

Representatives from the 28 Granges (Napa Grange, W. San Joaquin Grange, Stanislaus Grange, Vacaville Grange, Chico Grange, Merced Grange, Salida Grange, Suisun Valley Grange, San Jose Grange, Hollister Grange, Sacramento Grange, Yolo Grange, Bennett Valley Grange, Santa Rosa Grange, Healdsburg Grange, Elmira Grange, Dixon Grange, Guenoc Grange, Yountville Grange, Grand Island Grange, Petaluma Grange, Salinas Grange, Turlock Grange, St. Helena Grange, Greyson Grange, Pescadero Grange, Bodega Grange, Temescal Grange) were present to organize the new State Grange.

In an eloquent and instructive address by N.W. Garretson, who was representing the Master of the National Grange, he left the following advice that would serve us today:

“With clean hands and pure hearts should we come to such a work. Therefore let each lay upon the common altar of this new Order whatever he may have of selfish ambition, or of mercenary motive, and, joining hands, let us covenant, upon the very threshold of our organization, that the meetings, the counsels and the labors of the Order in California, shall be dedicated to the cause of justice and humanity.

That we pledge each to the other that we will labor faithfully; patiently, earnestly and persistently, to purify the moral, social, business and political atmosphere of our State and Nation, bearing ever in mind that if we would triumph in the unequal conflict upon which we now enter, we must fear God, obey our laws and maintain our honor, not forgetting that a good Matron, as also a good Husbandman, is noted at all times and everywhere for his or her fidelity.”

At that meeting, J.W.A. Wright was elected the first Master of the California State Grange. It should be remembered that Brother Wright was the author of the Declaration of Purposes of Order.