Linda Rothwell
Club reporter
Gardner Grange No. 68 met on May 13, with Vice President Buddy Dingus filling in the chair for  Alice Ficken, who could not be there that evening. Kansas Grange Master, Nathan Strawder from Burlington, Kan., was a guest and spoke briefly.
Gardner Grange welcomed 12 new members since the first meeting of this year. Two newest members are Shelta Collins and Kevin Keltner who just joined on Monday evening.
Grange hall on the fairgrounds is being used more and more by many different groups, including family reunions, wedding receptions, etc. Many of the new members have come from some of the groups that have recently used the building, such as the local  theatre group. For info contact Gardner Grange on Facebook.
The program for the evening was the History of Gardner Grange taken from old record books.   Lecturer Linda Rothwell (program chairman) gave this program and announced plans for a Gardner Grange History book. “There is just so much content, I can only touch on it this evening, so I am thinking of writing a book,” Rothwell said.  A picture presentation that put together from  Community Service reports from years past was presented by Ed Bruns.
Gardner Grange was founded in 1873 and has remained a part of Gardner ever since. There have been  some hard times,  during the Great Depression, and during the second world war. We all but  closed the doors more than once.
In the late 1940s C. Roy Gay was elected Master President. Roy then started a membership drive.
Jim Kincaide shared,  “Roy came to our farm one day, my father-in-law Phares Ellis and I were working in the field. Roy parked his pick up truck by the side of the road, and walked across the field to where we were working.  He asked if we wanted to join Gardner Grange. We are trying to get some new members. We had been members of Edgerton Grange but had not been attending. So we joined Gardner Grange, the rest is history.”
The Grange has continued to do many community service projects through out the years, and taken in new members as well.
The Grange once offered “Grange ins” through Patrons Mutual Insurance Co.  Many new members joined for insurance purposes only. Grange ins have since ceased to exist.  Occasionally someone would join “just for the insurance” decide they liked the Grange and became active members, working with us on projects.
Members met in the former IOOF hall above the old Farmers Bank which was located   on the NW corner of Main and Elm for 50 years.
In 1970 members learned that upstairs hall would no longer be available for use. The grange was given 30 days to find another place to hold their meetings.  Membership was declining again, as we struggled to find another place to meet.
Not wanting to close, or join another Grange in the County, Bill Brite who was Master President at the time, along with other members came up with an idea.  They went to a fair board meeting as we heard there was a need for another building on the fair grounds.
The biggest community service project grange members ever attempted began. It was agreed that the new building would be for use by the grange through out the year, with the understanding that it would be used as an exhibit building during the Johnson Country Fair.
At that time there were four Tractor Pulls per year that  the Grange sponsored as fundraisers. The Grange building was paid off in just a few years.   Brother’s Roy Gay and Bill Brite saved the Grange from closing.
Several of our long time members have passed away.  Pictures will be hung in grange hall in their memory.
Among those now gone are Roy and Margaret Gay, Bill and Margaret Brite,  Otto and Ina Sawyer, Charles Jones, Annabeth Bryan, Ed Moody, Nellie Tunison,  Naoma Kincaide.  All had been either past Masters, or held other offices in the Grange.
Grange meetings are held the second Monday of each month with basket dinner beginning at 6.30 p.m., with meeting following.