Originally chartered in 1908 at Jefferson Station, a municipality that is no longer recognized, in what is the current South Manheim Township, Jefferson Grange #1384 has a great legacy in Southern Schuylkill County.
From its earliest days holding a six-week long (two-day a week) fair, to dances and picnics to Christmas parties with dozens of individuals showcasing their talents, Jefferson Grange is part of the collective memory of our county. A Junior Grange was organized, allowing children in the area to run their own meetings, create their own projects and broaden their horizons. Many people recall the Jefferson Grange fair booth as serving the best funnel cakes and hand-cut fries at the County Fair - an effort that helped bolster the treasury of the organization to invest back in the community.
Jefferson Grange members were also active in advocacy - holding public discussions about issues of importance and petitioning legislators for change they saw necessary to improve the lives of individuals in Southern Schuylkill County. This is a bedrock for our work; a proud legacy we can learn from and continue.
Jefferson Grange membership had declined and in 2019, the charter was revoked with the option to reorganize. Funds from the sale of the Jefferson Grange Hall are being held in trust by the State Grange for use in our community by our newly reorganized Grange, and we are committed to putting those locally earned and raised dollars back into our communities.
From "Historical Excerpts of the Pennsylvania Granges: 125th Anniversary Edition," Edited by James E. Diamond, Ph.D. and Donald E. Evans, D.Ed.; Nancy E. Cole, Technical Research Associate
by Claud Riegel (past President, Jefferson Grange)
Jefferson Grange #1384 was organized on June 10, 1908 in the Village of Jefferson Station in Schuylkilll County by Harvey Fessler. The members of Jefferson Grange purchased grain, feed and fertilizer by the railroad car load. They would sell it to the farmer for the cost of what it cost the Grange. This was a way of helping each other.
In 1953, the Jefferson Grange Hall was destroyed by fire and all records were lost. So there are no records to be found until 1960. The only thing that was found was a list of officers for 1954-1955. They were: President Sterling Staller; Vice President John Dietz; Lecturer Iva Moyer; Steward Paul Felty; Assistant Steward Merlin Kerschner; Lady Assistant Steward Mamie Phillips; Chaplain Ethel Bernheisel; Secretary Mary Reber; Gatekeeper Russell Reber; Treasurer Theodore Kerschner; Ceres Judith Reber; Pomona Messina Walton; Flora Amy Felty; Finance Committee Thomas Moyer and Norman Fisher; and Executive Committee William Walton, Merlin Kerschner and Russell Reber.
In 1955, members of Jefferson Grange planned to rebuild a Grange Hall. They built the first floor and had to stop because of insufficient funds to complete the building. Activities to raise money for the building fund included selling homemade donuts and sponsoring oyster and ham suppers. After a few years, a second story was constructed onto the Grange Hall. During the 1960s, members served meals to the Boots and Saddle Clubs.
In 1965, members of Jefferson Grange participated in the "sowing of seed" service at the St. Paul's Lutheran Church. The Jefferson Grange had a Blue Cross Hospital Plan for its members at a discounted cost.
In the late 1970s, attendance at the Jefferson Grange meetings began to dwindle. At the meetings, all that was done was to transact business and pay bills.
In June 1979, the members contacted the State Grange President about the problem of dwindling attendance and membership. Robert Steese and some others came to the rescue. A committee was organized and they sent letters to people in the community followed by a visit a week later. The committee worked for three months on this project and in September, members of Jefferson Grange obligated and reinstated nine new members....
In 1983, members of Jefferson Grange got involved with reorganizing the Schuylkill County Fair. Since that time, Jefferson Grange annually sponsor(ed) a food stand that serve(d) funnel cakes and french fries. The food stand (was) a major fundraising activity for the Grange to sponsor community service projects.
Members of Jefferson Grange (most recently were) supporters of the Kempfort Telethon to raise money for the Miracle Children Fund.
You may find a legacy of your own.
From a variety of sources, including newspaper clippings and State Grange publications, we have identified individuals who were once proud members of Jefferson Grange #1384. If you're interested in your own family history, you may just find a link to the past in our roster of former members.
We are always interested in your information about the history of Jefferson Grange. Do you have a photo? A story about an event you attended there? Details about a relative's involvement? Share them with us.
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Phillips
Mrs. Paul Fessler
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Moyer
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fessler
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Emerich
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Kerschner
Mr. and Mrs. Eldon Bernheisel
Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Hale
Past Gatekeeper (1963-?)
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Fisher
Mr. and Mrs. George Reber Sr.
Mr. and Mrs. Sterling Staller
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wenrich
Dr. and Mrs. William Walton
Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Hale
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Felty
Mrs. Iva Moyer
Mrs. Lourie Staller
Mrs. Earl Brensinger
George Reber Jr.
Mr. Charles Fix
Mrs. Emanuel Koch
Mrs. Joseph Fessler
Mrs. Stella Krause
1906 Charter Member
Past President (1963-?)
Mrs. Russell Reber
Past Lecturer (1909-?)
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More to come. Please check back.