BY AMY CHAPMAN
“We have a habit of keeping an eye on people who have had a hard time.”
That’s how Richard Felt sums up the work of Franklin Grange #124 in Bryant Pond. Like the other Granges in the area—Alder River #145 in East Bethel and Pleasant Valley #136 in West Bethel—Franklin Grange organizes benefit suppers, contributes to social service agencies, and provides regular opportunities for its members and guests to gather and enjoy food, fellowship, music, and the sharing of ideas.
The Grange has a rich history in Maine. Stan Howe of Bethel, who serves as historian for the Maine State Grange, says that in the early 1900s Maine had more Grange members per capita than any other state, participating in over 500 local, or subordinate, Granges.
The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was founded after the Civil War to encourage rural farming families to join forces in order to bring about social, political, and economic changes.