History of Westport Grange #181 and Watuppa Grange #365
This page will be used to document the history of Westport’s two Granges.
Westport Historical Society and Westport Grange #181 are digging into the history of the Grange (both Westport Grange #181 on Main Road and the Watuppa Grange #365 on Old Bedford Road).
In the early 20th century, these two organizations were significant community hubs, providing cooperation and mutual aid for farmers, a progressive structure welcoming women as officers, a Masonic-style mystical ritual and a venue for entertainment offering plays, dances, suppers, and concerts. Most importantly, many Westporters met their future spouses at these social events.
A special display of highlights from the extraordinary collection of archives and memorabilia relating to the Westport Grange will be on display. The recently conserved curtain will also be on view.
Members of the public are invited to share information, photos and memorabilia at a Grange History Day on Thursday August 10, 2023.
Farming and Dancing: The Tale of Two Granges
The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. Founded after the Civil War in 1867, it is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope.
There were two granges in Westport: Westport Grange #181 on Main Road, Central Village and the Watuppa Grange #365 on Old Bedford Road. Although the Watuppa Grange building survives, the organization is no longer active. Today, only the Westport Grange #181 survives as an active community group.
The Grange was the first fraternal organization to admit women to membership, giving them full equality with the men. The Founders called upon Roman mythology for the names of three women officers, selected from the goddesses whose functions were the protection of growing things, though the ritualism itself is based on Greek mythology-and indeed on the Eleusinian rites of 25 centuries ago into which only the outstanding citizens were eligible.
CERES was the goddess who presented to mankind the great gift of grain upon which we depend to such a large extent for our sustenance. She had care over the cereals which are named after her, and over the grower of the grains.
POMONA was the goddess who presided over fruits, and to whom the fruit growers appealed for protection of their products and for an abundant yield.
FLORA was the goddess of flowers and of Spring, and to her was due the fact that the earth is so beautifully adorned with flowers.
The Watuppa Grange #365
The Watuppa Grange #365 was organized in 1921 and incorporated in 1922 by Charles W. Young, Ethel Borden, Alice Sampson, Arthur Lawton, Elbridge Wordell, John Hambly, and Thomas Borden. Masters of the grange included: Charles W. Young, Alexander Walsh, Leslie J. Tripp, Norman G. Hicks, Oliver T. Brightman, and Herbert M. Tripp. Alice Sampson was secretary and Macie L. Borden, lady assistant steward.
In the early years, Grange meetings were held in the First Christian Church on Old Bedford Road. By 1925, a building had been constructed on land donated by Alice Sampson.
With a membership of 264 individuals, this Grange offered a busy schedule of lawn parties (including a chowder supper, ice cream, cake and candy), a harvest supper, carnival, music, dances and plays. The organization formed a Juvenile Grange for younger residents.
The Westport Grange #181
The Westport Grange #181 was organized in 1890 with 36 charter members. Cortez Allen was elected the first Master. Members of the Dartmouth Grange #162 were of great help in organizing the Westport Grange, and two members Irving C. Reed and Emma A. Reed joined the Westport Grange by demit from Dartmouth.
In 1893, a Cooperative Company, known as the Grange Union, was formed and a store was built near Handy’s Corner, managed by Benjamin Allen. Incorporated in 1893, Grange members met in the Union Hall. They later purchased the hall, enlarging it and eventually moving the building. It forms part of the current grange hall which was dedicated in 1924.
The Westport Grange grew in membership to become one of the largest Granges in Massachusetts. Through the efforts of the Dance Committee which held dances regularly over 11 years, the mortgage was paid in full in 1946.
Master – Cortez Allen
Overseer – Marcellus Boynton
Lecturer – Annie Jenney
Steward – Samuel Macomber
Asst. Steward – Benjamin Allen
Chaplain – Edward Smith
Treasurer – Charles Kirby
Secretary – Frances Handy
Gate Keeper – Alvah Macomber
Ceres – Emma Potter
Pomona – Addie Kirby
Flora – Emily Jenney
L.A. Steward – Emma Ball
1890 Cortez Allen
1891 Marcellus Boynton
1893 Benjamin Allen
1897 William E. Brightman
1898 Eldorus E. Weston
1900 Clarence R. Macomber
1907 Samuel T. Brightman
1913 Arthur T. Potter
1914 Charles A. Brightman
1916 George H. Howland
1917 Frank A. Potter
1921 Carlton D. Macomber
1923 Alston J. Potter
1925 William J. Smith
1927 Bernard C. Feenan
1930 Walter F. King
1932 Harold E. Sanford
1934 Abram J. Potter
1935 Frederick A. Howland
1937 Elmer B. Manchester
1942 Arthur V. Tripp Jr.
1944 Amy J. Sanford
1947 Carlton D. Macomber
1948 Alvin W. Tripp
1949 William Heyworth
HISTORY OF WESTPORT GRANGE
(30th anniversary 1920.)
When Mr. Irving Reed, an ardent worker of Dartmouth Grange, came to this town he endeavored to interest several of his neighbors in the society and urged them to join there. He was successful to the extent that Bro. Samuel Macomber visited Mr. John W. Gifford, then master of Dartmouth Grange, to see about taking out applications. Mr. Gifford’s reply was, “Why don’t you start a Grange of your own?” It was decided that Mr. Macomber, with the help of others who were at that time contemplating joining Dartmouth, interest the people in this vicinity in the matter and get them to meet at Central Village; Mr. Gifford to be present at this gathering to give information concerning the Grange and its work.
The meeting was held January 6, 1890 in this building, then known as “Union Hall”, and it was then the Grange was organized. The following signed their names as Charter Members.
Marcellus Boynton Edward Smith . Benj. W. Allen
Emma Boynton Charles E. Kirby. Harriet N. Allen
Emma F. Potter Addie Kirby Sylvanus P. Albro
Eli Handy Robert E. Wood Susie F. Albro
Frances Handy Orlando J. Tripp Moses H. Wilcox
Almy M. Handy Samuel H. Macomber Etta Hart
Geo. E. Handy Alvah D. Macomber Wm. H. Hart
Charles Wing Eldorus E. Weston Wm. T. Wyatt
Wm. E. Brightman Henry B. Tripp Annie F. Jenney
Bourienno M. Ball Asa B. Allen Sadie B. Jenney
Emma Ball Emma S. Allen Emily E. Jenney
Lydia A. Allen. Cortez Allen Agnes Allen
This was a total of 36 members – 21 men and 15 women. Of these 12 have been dimitted, 9 suspended, 4 died as members and 11 are members at the present time.
Our first meeting was held on Monday, January 20th, and the following officers were installed:-
Cortez Allen- Master
Marcellus Boynton- Overseer
Frances H. Handy – Secretary
Annie F. Jenney – Lecturer
Samuel H. Macomber – Steward
Benj. W. Allen.-Asst. Steward
Edward S. Smith – Chaplain
Charles E. Kirby -Treasurer
Alvah D. Macomber- Gate Keeper
Addie E. Kirby – Pomona
Emily E. Jenney – Flora
Emma Potter – Ceres
Emma Ball – L. Asst. Steward.
The installation was conducted by Worthy Deputy Elbridge Cushman of Lakeville, assisted by Past Master John W. Gifford of Dartmouth. Miss May L. Davoll, a member of Dartmouth Grange acted as Secretary for the evening. The Worthy Deputy gave instructions in the unwritten work of the four degrees and also in the way of opening and closing the Grange. He then presented the Grange with the Master’s Regalia.
A second meeting was held on Friday January 31st and Bro. Gifford, who was again present reviewed the Grange work for us. We voted to hold our regular meetings on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
During the first year we find our records showing good attendance and the number of members steadily increasing. This is evident from an extract taken from the Secretary’s Report of the next four meetings of the year which reads as follows:
Feb. 7. 28 members present – 11 applications received. Also Emma F.
Emma A. Reed and Irving C. Reed admitted on a dimit card from Dartmouth.
Feb, 21. 28 members present, 4 applications received.
Mar 7. 24 members present, 1 application received.
Mar. 21. 3O members present, 4 applications received.
Both the quarterly reports of June 30th and September 30th give the number of members as 60. January 1, 1891 the number increased to 72.
At the last meeting in December 1901, it was decided to start a store called “The Grangers Union” for the benefit of those who held shares in the Company. Early in the spring of 1893 the building was erected at Ben Allen’s Corner and grain and groceries were offered for Sale. For the first year only this paid a dividend. After a few years, it being decided that this was not a paying venture it was sold.
In 1891, the citizens at the North End of the town asked for a permit to organize a Grange in that District. It was voted that we give our consent, providing it be located within one mile of Rufus Wordell’s Corner, but nothing further was ever heard of it.
In 1891 we joined the Old Colony District Grange, later known as the Old Colony Pomona, because of the increase in the number of subordinate Granges the Pomona divided January 6, 1915. We are at present one of 16 Granges, which are members of the Old Colony South Pomona Grange.
In the autumn of 1892, having some surplus money in our treasury, and feeling the need of a home of our own, it was decided that we purchase this hall which we had been hiring for our meeting’s previous to this time it. It was bought in November 1892 of Benj. P. Sisson for 500.
May 8, 1893 the Grange erected two public water fountains, one at SneIl’s Corner and the other at the foot of Handy’s Hill. These they supported until 1901 when they were presented to the town. –
In the Fall of 1893, Dartmouth and Westport Granges united in holding a three days Agricultural Fair at Cadman’s Neck, which proved very successful, turning into our treasury $393.09. Much credit is due Bro. Henry Plummer of Dartmouth Grange for his untiring work in making it a success. On the second day the presence of Gov. Wm. E. Russell attracted the largest crowd ever known at Cadmans Neck.
The next fall, 1894, Westport Grange, alone held a second Agricultural
Fair, at the same place, which also was well attended. Although this was on a smaller scale there was a fine display of vegetables and fruit,
In February 1897 we held a Fair in the town Hall which netted us $250.
Two years later a Fair was held in the Grange Hall, the proceeds of which were $144.41 and another in 1904 which added $143.79 to our treasury.
We have also held several entertainments which were well patronized by the public.
Our first memorial day dinner was served in 1896 and the first dinner for our town meeting day in 1899.Previous to this time we had let the WCTU have our hall for the same purpose.
May 7 1897 having outgrown our hall, a discussion arose in regard to making an addition either in height or length. It was finally decided to add 20 feet in length. The contract was awarded to Mr. George E. Tripp of Central Village who built the same for $375.00. The Iast payment was made on this May 17, 1901.
In October 1897 Mr. Eugene B. Gifford was engaged in install a Steam Heater, the total cost of which was $233.56. Bro. Samuel Macomber gave the sand.
Later, the same year, the hall was insured in the Grange Insurance Company for $600.00. In 1903 their risks were taken over by the Salisbury and Amsbury Company so our insurance was transferred to them and the amount raised to $1000. In 1915 it was changed to the Springfield Mutual. In 1918 we were insured in the Quincy Mutual and the amount again raised to $1200.00. Our present policy which expires in 1921 is in the Pawtucket Mutual and Dorchester, $700.00 in each.
In 1892 the Dartmouth and Westport Granges united in celebrating Children’s Day at Cadman’s Neck. This was very successful socially, being well attended. For many years now Children’s Night has been an annual event to which all the children in the Community look forward.
With the exceptions of three years they have furnished the entertainment.
In 1899 they were also entertained by a graphophone and in 1904-5 and 1906 the State Lecturer was present and addressed the children. The first two years this was Bro. Chas. H. Rice and in 1906 Bro. Chas. M. Gardner.
The first graphophone used in the hall was in January 1898 and the next month a public entertainment was given with one. After this for some time graphophone entertainments were very frequent at the regular meetings. It is interesting to note the many dialogues which have been given in the past, not only on special occasions but at the regular meetings.
Bro. Boynton gave us the carpet, curtain and pole for the Stage. At first he lent us the organ which we later purchased of him for $50.00
In 1904 the Grange bought a Square Piano for $55.00 and in February 1915 we purchased our present one for $175.00.
As we have just purchased a new oil stove it may be interesting to some to know when we had our others. The first one we owned was a two burner purchased in 1896. Sister Wood gave us the Square one which we have at present in December 1902, and the three burner was purchased December 1906.
In 1900 we were unable to elect a new LAS although several attempts were made during the year; proving that the nature of the slate was the same 20 years ago as at the present time. I am thankful our records ‘show no such obstinacy among the brothers. The sisters however have made good in the Ladies Degree Team which worked, the third degree for the first time in May 1911. The men formed a degree team in December 1919 for working the Second Degree.
Bro. C. R. Macomber has the honor of holding the chair the longest time of any one master- 8 years. It is also interesting to note that Brother Arthur Potter held the office of Secretary for 16 years. Two deputies have been chosed from our Grange. Bro. S. T. Brightman also holds office in the State Grange, is Assistant Steward at present and has been Gate Keeper for 4 years.
Our first officer’s regalia was made by the sister’s from a pattern made from the regalia which Deputy Cushman presented our first master. In February 1905 we purchased a set and in 1902 we bought our first set of officers badges.
Our annual picnics are surely worthy of note. In 1917 we enjoyed a ride to Monument Beach. In 1918, about 50 visited historic Plymouth Rock and in 1919 we held our picnic at Newport Beach.
In the spring of 1918 we purchased our silverware obtaining the money for this from a Larkin order. Each lady subscribed for at least $1.00 worth of products.
Four of our brothers were in service in the World War.
Kahil Totah Y. M. C. A. worker.
We gave a farewell supper in their honor and presented each with a Fountain pen, on his departure. 0n their return the Grange gave a welcome Home Supper and Entertainment, and included other Service men in the community as well as its own Members. Bro. Edson Sanford joined us soon after his return from France.
Early in the year 1918 the Grange and Improvement Society united in holding an entertainment in the Grange Hall. One half the proceeds from this went to the Red Cross, the other half being equally divided among the two societies.
The next June a Strawberry Festival was held by all the societies in the vicinity, the entire proceeds going for war work. The Improvement Society, South Westport Church and the three churches in Central Village (Friends, Christian and Catholic) united with the Grange in this.
Bro. A. E. Remington acted as chairman of the entire committee and the proceeds netted over $100.00. Beside the financial success of the affair a fine spirit of comradeship was established in the community. We have cooperated with the Agricultural Schools and freely opened our Hall for any demonstrations or classes in their work.
The largest amount in our treasury at the beginning of any one year was in 1905. Cash on hand $206.64 and the uncollected dues at the time amounted to $62.40.
In the 30 years we have taken in exactly 300 members. The quarterly reports of September 30, 1894 and also March 31, 1895 show a membership of 104 the largest number at any one time. At present we have a membership of 81.
While we can not boast any unusual growth, either in numbers or financially we feel that we have at least accomplished some good in the past 30 years, as well as providing a social center. Considering the fact that we have just taken in 8 new members and have a prospect of another class in the near future, we look forward for a continued if not an increased success.
The Grange as a Community Center
Archer Tripp on meeting his wife (interviewed by Mary Giles in 1976)
“She was in a play at the Grange Hall, grammar school, children’s day, and she was dancing around and I said to my mother, ‘You see that girl with the curls way down. I’m going to marry her.’ For fun, I went hunting and to dances at the Grange Hall. We got married in 1933 right in the midst of the Depression. We got married on Tuesday; I lost my job on Friday. “
Marion Reed on grange dances (interviewed by Mary Giles in 1976)
“I love to see people dance. The Grange had square dances. I love to watch. I didn’t dance too much myself. Until World War II came and people couldn’t get gas, this was a very thriving Grange. Then, people got older and people had more activities, bowling, etc.”
Charles Costa on the grange as an entertainment center (interviewed by Mary Giles in 1976)
“As far as my other activities in town are concerned, at the age of 16 – 17, I joined the Juvenile Grange. Of course, at the age of 18 when you were eligible to join the Subordinate Grange, I became a member of that. I’ve been a member ever since. I received by 35-year pin a few years ago. The Grange isn’t as active today as it was before TV and cars. It used to be a place to go evenings. Weekends they had dances and suppers. They still do a little, but I know as a teenager, they were very, very active and they did have agricultural fairs in the fall where you could bring in your different vegetables and compete for prizes. It was a form of entertainment and community help. The social life of the community centered around the Grange at the time. There’s a Grange up on Old Bedford Road in North Westport. As a matter of fact, the Grange dances here were on Tuesday night’ the dance at the Watuppa Grange were on Saturday night and the Acushnet Grange dances were on Thursday. I went to them all. I went dancing a lot.”
Carlton “Cukie” Macomber, a 19-year old Grange Master in 1947, recalls the Tuesday night square dances held at No. 181:
“During the war with rationing nobody had extra gas to go to movies or such. We had to have a place to go and the Grange was it.” He called to mind how the Army boys, down at Gooseberry manning the enemy vessel detection cable that was strung underwater over to Cuttyhunk, would come to the dances. “We sure had some great times! I met my little woman at a Grange dance. My accomplishment as Grange Master in ’47 was putting the toilet inside the Hall!”
The Grange Curtains
Learn more about the hand painted advertising curtains at the Westport Grange and Watuppa Grange
A visit to the Watuppa Grange #365