From beloved presidents to seminal artists and illustrators or bonafide modern day rock stars – plenty of famous figures from all walks of life have belonged to The Grange Society at some point in their lives. The Grange offers a sense of rural and pastoral fraternity, that can often be lost when people become famous and move to metropolitan urban areas. Those who are members can retain a connection to rural American traditions, which is important for artists and politicians alike.
These are just three of the most famous Grange members from over the years.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Widely regarded by scholars as one of the three greatest American presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt is also the only US President to have been re-elected three times. President through much of the Great Depression and WWII, the security and prosperity of rural America was always at the forefront of FDR’s mind. A keen amateur ornithologist from a young age, his New Deal, that helped drag the USA out of economic turmoil, was not only an economic decision but also an environmental one – most probably informed by his membership of the Grange.
He first joined the programmed in 1914 and by 1930 he was a full 7th Degree member.
“For many years I have been a member of the Grange. I have felt at home in it because it embodies the fine flavor of rural living which I myself have known and loved. Beyond this, it has been an instrument for expressing in useful activity the highest sentiments and deepest loyalties of Americans,” he said in 1930.
One of the most celebrated wartime artists, Norman Rockwell is most known for his seminal series of paintings – The Four Freedoms. These iconic snapshots of American life in the 40s were painted during the artist’s stay in Arlington, Vermont. There, Rockwell was a prominent member of the town’s Grange. He used to collect tickets before events and sweep the floors after dances.
“Norman used to comment that he liked to sell tickets at the dances because he was very interested in people’s hands, and also their faces and whatever else he would watch,” said a friend at the time, “he was always thinking about his next picture.”
For a more modern figure who is a great fan of The Grange Society, one could do worse than to look at former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. As one third of one of the biggest rock bands of the 90s and, dare we say it, all time, Krist is a certified rock legend. Oh, and also the Master of his local Grange Chapter – Grays River Grange No.124 in Deep River, Washington. Having dealt with his fair share of the rock n roll lifestyle, that culminated in the suicide of his iconic bandmate Kurt Cobain in 1994, Krist has chosen a slower-paced countryside lifestyle since leaving the band. A perfect fit then for a master of rock to also Master the Grange and reconnect with the traditional values of rural America.