Riverton Grange Celebrates 100 Years


RIVERTON - Organized 100 years ago, the Riverton Grange is holding an anniversary celebration on Jan. 18 to honor past and present members and lecturers with a dinner and program. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and national, state and Pomona officers will be present, as well as several elected officials of the Connecticut.

The National Grange was established in 1867 to give farmers a collective voice in this country in the wake of the Civil War. Today farmers are not as abundant as they were when the organization began; however, local granges are still strong supporters of the agricultural community and their members are very active within the community.

The Riverton Grange held its first meeting on Jan. 3, 1908. With 36 members in attendance, the first order of business was to appoint officers of the organization, explained Shirley Moore, current lecturer and past master of the Riverton Grange.

Held on the second floor of Rowley Hall, which today is known as the Riverton General Store, meetings were conducted there for more than 26 years.

"In 1929 Edwin Busby began a building fund by raffling off a pig, said Moore. "In 1933 and 1934 offers were made to purchase the present hall, which was known as Coes Mill, and it was finally purchased in September 1934 for $2,200."

The Riverton Grange has a rich history and has overcome some difficult times in the course of its 100 years, including the flood of 1955.

At one time the Riverton Grange was a grist mill and was powered by water from the Still River, explained former master and current grange member Rujo Moore. A dam diverted water from the river through the basement of the mill. When the flood of 1955 struck the Northwest Corner, water rose to 16 inches in the present main hall of the grange.

"The men spent many hours removing mud and debris from inside the building," said Shirley Moore. "It took many years for the new oak floor to settle back to a reasonably flat surface."

Over the years the Riverton Grange has seen a great range in its membership number, but currently has around 130 members on the books; 20 to 30 can be seen regularly at meetings.

Not long ago the Victory Grange of Colebrook and the Laurel Grange of Canaan closed and Riverton acquired some of their dedicated members as well.

The longest memberships to the grange are held by Peggy Prelli and Virginia Butler. Each of these women has been a member of the Riverton Grange for 72 years. Twenty-six members have at least 50 years of service. All will be honored at the anniversary celebration on Friday.

For more information about the grange, contact Shirley Moore at 860-379-2633.

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