Chesterfield Hall (Grange Hall) demolished 3.11.09

Written by David Green.

The Grange organization formed America in 1867, just after the end of the Civil War, to help rural families establish themselves and prosper.chesterfield.hall.jpg

Members typically met once a week to cover business and to socialize afterward at a potluck meal. Dances, card playing and other entertainment provided rural residents with a way to meet with other farm families for an evening together.

One Grange member would often travel to the post office and bring mail for distribution at the meeting.

Chesterfield’s Grange was organized in 1873 and the first hall was built about half a mile north of the village of Oak Shade.

By 1913, many Grangers had purchased their first automobile, writes Walter Bates in his history of Chesterfield Grange #367.

“After heavy rains and in the spring of the year, the dirt roads became impossible for automobiles to use,” he wrote. “The Grange people began to look for a location with good roads.”

A half acre of land on a rise east of the school was purchased from George and Helen Lee and the original hall was moved to its new home.

The hall was first cut in half for moving. Once in it was hauled by LeRoy Smith to the new property, 20 feet were added between the two halves and a new maple floor was laid. A few members borrowed $4,000 from a bank in Wauseon for the project.

The Chesterfield Grange experienced rapid growth, Bates said, and public dances were scheduled on the weekends to help pay the debt. There was also roller skating on Wednesday nights and the hall was sometimes rented for Pepper card games.

The Grange soon became seen as a community center. The school used the stage until an addition was built in 1936. Many people rented the building for reunions.

The women of Grange families made soup for school lunches—10 cents a bowl—until the school cafeteria was built.

In the 1930s, Grange membership started to drop and costs were hard to cover. On Dec. 10, 1942, an agreement was signed with the township trustees to turn the building over to the township. The Grange reserved the second floor as long as the group met at least four times a year.

The decision was made in 1986 to disband as of Jan. 1, 1987. The township trustees became the new owners of the folding chairs, eating tables and card tables once used by the Grange.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016