WATERFORD – Forty years after the founding of the National Grange, 18 charter members in Waterford formed a local chapter of the organization in 1907.

Now, a century later, Waterford Grange No. 479 will celebrate its anniversary.

The organization will hold a homemade lunch and beano event from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Grange Hall on Route 35 in North Waterford. The event will also feature a bake sale, rummage sale, and 50-50 raffle. A $5 donation covers the event.

Henry Sawin was the first master of Waterford Grange. Marjorie Kimball, 86, has been a member for almost 70 years. She served as master from 1962 to 1970, and sporadically after that for a total of 17 years.

Kimball now lives on Sawin Hill Road, a route named after the first master and, according to a study by the Waterford Historical Society, a hotbed of Grange members over the years.

Kimball said she joined a Grange in Clinton when she was 16 or 17, and transferred her membership to Waterford when she moved to the area. Six of her children also joined the Grange.

“It’s become more community-conscious,” Kimball said of the changes in the Grange over the years. “Whatever the needs of the community are, we’ll try to help out.”

According to the Web site for the National Grange, the organization was founded in 1867 to “unite private citizens in improving the economic and social position of the nation’s farm population.”

Since then, the organization has grown to include non-farm rural areas and focuses on community involvement and grassroots democracy.

Kimball said the Waterford Grange’s activities include work with Dollars for Scholars; The Right Information and Direction (TRIAD), a program to prevent crimes against the elderly; local fire departments; and other community organizations.

“I think the Grange is a unifying organization that helps people get to know each other,” Kimball said.

The retired school teacher said Waterford Grange held a 90th anniversary celebration in 1997 because dwindling membership made a centennial uncertain.

“We were afraid at that time that we’d never make it to 100,” Kimball said. “But we’re stronger than ever now.”

Secretary Barbara Sanborn said there are 36 members.

The anniversary celebration is open to the public. For more information, call Sanborn at 583-4015.


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