Stelvideo Grange celebrates anniversary at fair


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — When discussing the organization with longest continuous display or who has been in the same spot the longest, the conversation would have to include the Grange organizations in Darke County. While many Granges have come and gone, Stelvideo Grange and Stelvideo Junior Grange are still going strong, and they celebrated the Ohio Grange and Stelvideo Grange’s 150th anniversary at the Darke County Fair.

The Ohio State Grange turned 150 years old on April 9. It was organized by Seth H. Ellis in 1873. Approximately eight months later, Stelvideo Grange #295 was organized. They will celebrate their 150th anniversary in December. The National Grange was established in 1867 and is the oldest agricultural and rural public interest organization.

How long have they been represented at the Great Darke County Fair? Records show they have been at the fair since the late 1870s, shortly after they came into existence. They have been in the same building since 1904. Why so long in the same building? It was the Grangers who built the building on the fairgrounds.

David Gilpin, a Stelvideo Grange member, said, “Originally, and still even to this day, a couple of things Grange does is advocate for farmers and rural communities. How they do that is they have youth Grangers and adult Grange members, as well. They can write resolutions that go to the state legislature or national legislature and advocate for farmers and rural communities.” He shared the Grange is currently advocating for rural internet. “This is a big problem right now. A lot of that potentially needs legislation to push it forward,” he said.

Another big push for both Grange and Junior Grange is community service. Grange is a faith-based Christian organization and they have geared some of their community service with that in mind. Most recently, Stelvideo Grange and Junior Grange installed Blessing Boxes around the county. Gilpin said there are a couple boxes in Greenville, as well as Pitsburg, Arcanum, and Ansonia. Members fill the boxes up with non-perishable/canned goods.

Grange member Gabe Greve, pointed out Grange is somewhat different today than it was when it started. If you are in the upper levels of the Grange they continue to push for legislation, but on the local level it is about serving your community. He said there are a lot of opportunities for youth in Grange, whether its working on crafts or going to camp or even getting involved with the prince and princess contests. In fact, one of Stelvideo Junior Grange members was the first Darke Countian to serve on a the Ohio Junior Fair Board.

Grange seems like it has been ahead of other organizations by pushing forward and being at the forefront of change. Even its infancy, Grange recognized the importance of women in leadership positions. Ashley Gilpin, Grange member, shared that shortly after the National Grange was founded, it was determined there would be a requirement that a certain number of women serve on their board in a leadership position. Today, Caroline Hull is credited for encouraging women to take leadership positions in Grange. In its early days, the Grange was also active in supporting the women’s suffrage movement. Grange allowed and encouraged women to be politically active.

Stelvideo Grange continues to be an active Grange, but the movement has lost steam over the years and many Granges have shut their doors. David believes a strong Grange starts with the youth. “We’ve got a pretty sizeable group. We have 18 youth members right now,” David said. He believes a decade ago, that number was as low as about six youth members. “We are growing, slowly. At least on the youth member side,” he added.

Persons interested in learning more about Stelvideo Grange and Stelvideo Junior Grange can contact Darke County Deputy Harvey Hinshaw at 937-621-4901 or Lynne Hinshaw at 937-621-4900 or Junior Leader Susan Gunckle at 937-621-4903.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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