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The Grange Plot
The Connecticut State Grange & Peoples State Forest

It’s summertime in Connecticut and time for many of us to get out of the house and enjoy nature.

A favorite for many is Peoples State Forest located in Barkhamsted, CT. Did you know there’s a Grange connection to this beautiful place?

At the 45th Annual Session of the Connecticut State Grange held in January 1930, a resolution was adopted by the membership to purchase a plot of land in Peoples State Forest, located in Barkhamsted, CT, bearing the name of our organization.

Our Grange Bicentennial Celebration was held on this land in July 1976.

But in the years since, the land was forgotten about and thus lost. Thanks to the combined efforts of Connecticut State Grange Lecturer Dave Roberts and many dedicated members, the land known as the “Grange Plot” has been identified.

The Connecticut State Grange will be purchasing a plaque as a permanent marker on the property, to be installed on a boulder by the State of Connecticut/Town of Barkhamsted. The cost of this will be $2000.

We are asking Granges, Grange members, and those interested in preserving this history to generously help fund this project.

Checks should be made out to the Connecticut State Grange and mailed to the following:
Connecticut State Grange
P.O. Box 3, 100 Newfield Road
Winchester Center, CT 06094

A dedication of the plaque, once installed, will be announced at a future date.

For more information on this project, contact:
CT State Grange Lecturer Dave Roberts - Lecturer@CTStateGrange.org or
CT State Grange Public Relations Co-Director Terri Fassio - information@CTStateGrange.org



The Details ...

Lida Ives wrote about Peoples Forest and the Grange connection to it in her 1953 book “The Grange in Connecticut":

"At the 45th Annual Session of the Connecticut State Grange held in January 1930, the following resolution was accepted and adopted: “Brother Albert W. Lillibridge, Chairman of the Legislative Committee, offered a favorable repoirt on a resolution pertaining to the Peoples Forest. Report accepted and the resolution adopted and placed in the hands of the Executive Committee for action.

WHEREAS: The state forestry department is doing valuable economic and demonstrative work, and

WHEREAS: The Peoples Forest, so-called, in Barkhamsted, is being purchased with funds donated by individuals and associations, and more land is desirable and available.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Connecticut State Grange appropriate the sum of one hundered ($100) dollars for this purpose.”

In the Executive Committee minutes of January 16, 1930, we find that Chairman Allen Cook was instructed to request the State Forest and Park Association to use the appropriation of the State Grange in one plot so that it may be known as the State Grange plot…

In the February 17, 1930 Executive Committee minutes we find the following: “As an appropriation was made to aid in the purchase and development of a State Forest more generally known as the Peoples Forest and owing to the nature of the organization, it developed that the $100 thus appropriated appeared to be rather small and consequently inadequate to purchase a plot worthy of bearing the name of our organization, therefore, the State Master and Chairman Cook were directed to formulate a letter to go to Pomona and Subordinate Granges asking small contributions to the above fund….

Clipping from the
Meriden Record Journal
July 10, 1930

Brother Cook later reported that $484 was available toward a plot in the People’s Forest and presented a diagram of twenty acres located near the highway. Upon motion of Brother Welton, it was voted to direct Brother Cook to take the required action to have the section referred to, designated as the “Grange Plot.”

Upon motion duly seconded it was voted to authorize the drawing of an order on the Treasurer for $16.00 to complete a fund of $500 to pay for the plot with the anticipation that the $16 would be collected to reimburse the treasury. Brother Welton was granted permission to invite some of the good brothers in his part of the State to meet him at the plot referred to and clear some of the brush near the parking space."


Fast Forward to 1976...

The Connecticut State Grange hosted its Bicentennial Event at the Grange Plot in 1976. A copy of the Bicentennial program found by Cheshire Grange member Janet Haller helped us in locating the piece of land know as the "Grange Plot." This was written in the program:

"Peoples State Forest is located in the Town of Barkhamsted, and it drives its name from the fact that more than four hundred individuals and organizations contributed to the drive for funds by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.  It was established in 1923, and was gradually enlarged as the opportunity for purchase of additional land was afforded and the funds available.  In 1930 the Connecticut State Grange completed a drive for funds, and the sum of $500 was given to the Connecticut Park and Forest Commission for the purchase of land.

Two farms were purchased that year, but from what information we could find, it is evident that the plot of land purchased by our gift was the King Farm which comprised about twenty acres in the northwest section of People’s Forest.

Thus it is appropriate in this bicentennial year, that we should meet at People’s State Forest, and dedicate a tree as a memorial of this event."


2023: The Grange Plot is Found

When working on the Connecticut State Grange History Book Project, Terri Fassio, Connecticut State Grange Co-Director of Public Relations, began reasearching the location of the missing "Grange Plot." In doing so, she reached out to Dave Roberts, Connecticut State Grange Lecturer for assistance. Dave writes the following:

"For decades, I had heard stories about the mysterious “The Grange Plot” located somewhere within Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted.  For me, I think of East River Road and Mathies Grove picnic area as Peoples State Forest.  What I forget is that Peoples State Forest has over 3,000 acres and covers a substantial portion of land in the Town of Barkhamsted."

Starting with only the information from the Lida Ives book and the program from the Bicentennial, Dave began working with Jim Lussier from the Barkhamsted Historical Society to locate the piece of land. Dave writes:

"From further research by Jim Lussier, the King Farm was located on Park Road and annotated as parcel C-43. ... The land was purchased as part of Peoples State Forest in 1930 ."

In June 2023, Dave Roberts, along with Judy Doyle from Granby Grange and members of the Barkhamsted Historical Society journeyed to see the property. They could not find any old marker or the tree that was dedicated in 1976, though the plot was overgrown. Dave writes:

"So, the mystery has been solved and now we know where the “Grange Plot” is located - about 1/10th of a mile south of the intersection of Park Road and Slade Road in Barkhamsted.  Kudos to Jim Lussier and the Barkhamsted Historical Society for helping solve this mystery!"

Above:
Dave Roberts and Jim Lussier


 
     
     
       
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