First in Pennsylvania – Montgomery’s Eagle Grange #1
If you are looking for a tried-and-true, good-tasting, never-fail recipe, the first thing you should do is flip through the pages of a Grange cookbook. In rural communities across the country, meals prepared and served at the local Grange Halls have attracted overflowing crowds for years. The parking lots were filled when the local Grange, including ours here in Montgomery, hosted box socials, dances, and festivals. If, by now, you are asking yourself, “There is a Grange in Montgomery?”, the answer is, most definitely, “Yes” and it desperately needs your help.
First in the State?When the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was formed in 1867, its original purpose was to help the country recover from the damage its farmlands had suffered throughout the South during the Civil War.By 1870, Luke Eger, a Montgomery-area farmer, read about this new organization and had, within a year, generated enough interest among his neighbors in Montgomery and Elimsport to form a local Grange. Eagle Grange # 1, so named because of its location at the foot of Bald Eagle Mountain, was founded in March, 1871. It is also historically significant because it was the very first Grange formed in the state of Pennsylvania, hence the Number 1 designation.
Historic Grange Hall ?The first members of Eagle Grange held meetings in the town hall, as well as in the homes its founder, Luke Eger, and Eger’s brother-in-law, Frank Porter. The organization also met in the Pine Street schoolhouse and at the home of J. W. Piatt. Then, in 1887, members of the Grange purchased a quarter acre of land from Luke Eger and built a two-story Hall adjacent to the Pine Street school, which was located at the intersection of what is now Blind Road and the western side of Route 15. The building remained there until the summer of 1940, when construction of the newly expanded highway forced Eagle Grange to move the building directly across the road to its current location. This building, which is now over 120 years old, is considered one of the more historically important buildings in southern Lycoming County.
Seeking Donations and New Members ?During the last decade, Eagle Grange has been suffering from a dwindling membership, not unlike many other Granges in the state. But the Eagle should be one that endures, especially because of its historical significance and rich heritage. At this point, there are only nineteen Eagle Grange members, with even fewer taking an active role in the organization. Board members of the Montgomery Area Historical Society are currently evaluating ways the society can assist Eagle Grange. The historical society has invited Carl Meiss, the Pennsylvania State Grange Membership Director, to speak this fall at one of its meetings which will be held in the Grange Hall.
The next meeting of the Eagle Grange is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Grange Hall. Meetings will continue throughout the summer, until October or November (depending on the weather), every third Thursday on the month. The public are encouraged to attend and learn how to support the Grange with your membership and monetary donations. Rental of the Grange Hall is also available by calling the Grange President, Fred Murray, at 570-547-1340. For more information about the Grange, you may contact Mr. Murray or Beth Downey, a local member of the State Grange Executive Committee, at 570-435-2007.