Patriotic, Fraternal and Farm Organizations of Lyon County, Kansas
From: History of Emporia and Lyon County Kansas
By: Laura M. French
Emporia Gazette Print
Emporia, Kansas 1929

PATRIOTIC ORGANIZATIONS

The Grand Army of the Republic, Preston B. Plumb Post No. 55, was organized April 26, 1882, with fifty charter members. A few years later a second Post, No. 464, was organized, the membership of No. 55 having grown so large as to be unwieldly. During the past two decades, however, Grand Army membership has dwindled, and of the half dozen or more posts in other Lyon County towns, none remains, and the surviving members, as well as those of Post 464, have placed their memberships in Post 55. The roster now has but twenty eight names, while in the earlier years of its organization, the names of many hundreds of Civil War veterans who have answered the last rollcall, filled the record books of the posts. J. B. Sullivan is commander of Post 55. Two members of this Post, J. M. Griffith and Charles Harris, served the Grand Army as department commanders.

Women's Relief Corps No. 70 was organized April 25, 1886, and the Ladies of the G. A. R., Garfield Circle No. 22, June 17, 1890, both organizations being auxiliary to the Grand Army. Miss Sadie Whitehead is president of the Woman's Relief Corps, and Mrs. Jennie Larkin heads the Ladies of the G. A. R.

The Sons of Veterans first was organized in the eighties, but this organization lapsed, and the present camp, No. 86, dates from April 30, 1914. L. T. Bang is its commander. General Lyon Camp, No. 51, Sons of Veterans Auxiliary, was organized in 1896. Mrs. Jennie Harvey is president of the Auxiliary.

The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Mary J. Perley Tent No. 11, was organized February 26, 1929. It has a charter membership of 150, the largest charter roll of this organization in the United States. Miss Annette Smith is its president.

The Spanish War Veterans, Harry Easter Camp No. 16, W. J. Reynolds, commander, was organized in 1929. Its Women's Auxiliary, No. 26, Mrs. L. M. Shearer, president, was organized September 2, 1929. Both are building up large and interested memberships.

The American Legion, organized in 1919, has a membership of about 350. R. Wilford Reigle is commander of the Legion, and Mrs. L. R. Jones is president of its Women's Auxiliary.

The Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. C. A. Stannard, regent, is a flourishing organization in Emporia.

FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS

A Masonic Lodge was organized in Emporia January 15, 1858. The Masons immediately began plans for building, and their hall - the first in the town - was dedicated New Year's Eve, 1858, with a "levee and supper" at the Emporia House, and a "ball and festival" at the hall for those who danced. Both buildings were filled to capacity, and this was a social event of first importance. The hall was at the corner of Seventh and Commercial, and was the last of the buildings of the fifties to give place to new structures. The home of the Masonic orders for many years has been in their large temple, Fifth and Merchant. The Eastern Star is a busy and important organization.

Facing the Masonic temple is the handsome new home of the Odd Fellows, erected in 1927. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows organized a lodge in Emporia March 15, 1859. This order has a large and interested membership, and with a strong body of Rebekahs, adds much to the social and fraternal life of the town.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in Emporia December 6, 1900, has a strong membership and a women's auxiliary of considerable numbers.

The Modern Woodmen of America, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Royal Neighbors, the Degree of Honor, the Woodmen of the World, the Security Benefit Association, the Loyal Order of Moose, all are flourishing and useful organizations in Emporia.

FARM ORGANIZATIONS

A Lyon County Agricultural Society was organized in August, 1859, but the drouth the following year killed it. It was reorganized in 1863, and functioned more or less regularly for several years. Horticultural Societies were organized in the sixties in Emporia, Fruitland and Hartford, and they encouraged the planting of the many large orchards which were put out by the early settlers.

The Grange (1) - Patrons of Husbandry - was organized in Lyon County in 1873. Perry Edwards thinks the Rinker Grange, of which he and Mrs. Edwards were members, was the first to organize. Mr. Edwards was several times master of the Rinker Grange, of which there were about thirty members. Some of the other earlier Granges were at Emporia, Maxson, Americus and Summit. In 1875 the Grangers organized the Lyon County Elevator and Milling Company, with a capital of $25,000.00, of which J. F. Stratton, Emporia, was agent. The Grange meetings brought together the farmers and their families - its membership is open to men and women on an exact equality of sexes - every two weeks, and was of great social and educational advantage. Legislative subjects, taxation and schools were discussed, and often measures originating in the Grange were brought before the State Legislature. There was a county organization, and all were live bodies for several years. Then the members seemed to lose interest, and many charters were surrendered.
1) Perry B. Maxson was a leader in the Grange movement, and was secretary of the State Grange in the seventies.

The first Grange organized later was that at Rock Valley, No. 1300, which was established in August, 1902. Emporia is No. 1475. In order of membership Emporia is first, with 200 members; Boston, second; Reading, third. Other Granges are at Hartford, Neosho Rapids and Plymouth, the county membership totaling 550. The highest membership, probably, was in 1909, when there were 808 Grangers in Lyon County. Dan James, of the Boston Grange, is state overseer, the second highest state office. A county organization is maintained, and has an enthusiastic membership. C. C. Cogswell, Kingman, is are maintained. A majority of Grange members own their homes and the farms they till, which gives to state master. National and state monthly magazines this organization a stability of membership which adds greatly to its usefulness.

The Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, in the years when Maurice McAuliffe was state president, flourished in Lyon County as never before or since. In 1909 a state meeting was held in Emporia, and soon the six or seven "locals" were increased to fourteen. Stores were established in several Lyon County towns, the store in Emporia having been burned in the Whitley Opera House fire in 1913, and never reestablished. There were cooperative stores at Americus, Bushong and Olpe, and those at Admire and Allen still are doing business. This organization established creameries and elevators, and maintained a jobbing association. C. E. Huff, Salina, is state and national president, and John Scheel, Emporia, always interested in farm organizations, was state conductor and lecturer sixteen years. Among the Farmers Unions now functioning are those at Admire, Summit and Bushong.

The Lyon County Farm Bureau was organized in the spring of 1914, with John Scheel as its first president. J. W. O'Conner was its vice president, and James It. Plumb, secretary. The first county agent was H. L. Popenoe, and others have been Gaylord Hancock, C. L. McFadden, and the past two years Carl L. Howard has held this position. The Farm Bureau News, a monthly, is the county organ of the Farm Bureau.

In 1929 the services of Miss Gertrude Allen, county home demonstration agent, were secured for Lyon County. One of the requirements for securing this agent was that the Farm Bureau have a membership of not less than two hundred women, and this soon was more than met when two hundred seventy five women became Farm Bureau members. The 4-H Clubs of boys and girls, sponsored by the Farm Bureau, are of much value educationally for farm young people. There are eighteen or twenty 4-H Clubs in Lyon County.

The Farm Bureau does an important work, and its members feel they benefit greatly by cooperation with the county agent. The women expect equal benefit from the work of the county home demonstration agent.

The Farmers Alliance, organized in Lyon County in 1889, was the strongest and most important of the farm organizations in the county. It established stores, warehouses and elevators, and did a thriving business for several years. When the Alliance went into politics and became the Populist party, it elected many county officers and helped to elect many state officials. While its tenets at that time were ridiculed, by all who stuck to the old parties, most of the reforms it advocated have been incorporated in the political platforms of both these parties. The Populist party has been called, fittingly, a voice in the wilderness.

The Farmers' Association was organized in 1906, with William Miller, president; George Plumb, secretary; vice presidents were B. Tolbert, Plymouth; Tom Evans, Hartford; James Plumb, Reading; Willis Clayton, Admire; J. P. Brickley, Americus; John Langley, Olpe. Lecturers from the State Agricultural College at Manhattan addressed the meetings of this association from time to time. Few records of its activities were found.


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