The Grange Movement in Tompkins County
Following the end of the Civil War in the 1860s the federal government encouraged the development of the Grange Movement. Designed to “promote the social and economic needs of farmers in the United States,” local granges spread throughout the nation. At the high point of their development, there were more than 20,000 granges.
Between 1873 and 1874, at the height of economic depression of the 1870s, the number of granges in New York State grew from 21 to 150.
A number of Tompkins County communities had granges, including Groton, Ithaca (Forest City Grange), Ulysses, Enfield, East Lansing, Lansingville, Dryden and South Lansing.
Former Ithaca City Historian Jane Dieckmann wrote, “The Enfield Valley Grange no. 295 organized in February 1875, at the home of John Theall. Members of this grange were offered discounts on household goods and farm and family insurance, and they provided a place where families could gather for social events. The group participated in county fairs, showing everything from vegetables to livestock. In 1925 the Enfield Grange built a grange hall in Enfield Center, and the hall has served as a place for grange meetings, town election dinners, and harvest festivals. The Enfield Grange is still in operation today, and by 1995 it was the only Tompkins County grange to own and maintain a building.”
Today, the Enfield Grange hosts grange meetings, pancake breakfasts, and craft clubs.