Jersey Reflections: Jersey ReflectionsPosted:
By Vince Farinaccio
A Columnist for the Grapevine
Temperance and women’s suffrage were two movements with which the Grange allied itself.
VINELAND - The agricultural organization known as the Grange played a curious role in the relationship between Charles K. Landis and Uri Carruth, editor of two local publications, The Vineland Independent and The Grange, during the 1870s. A proponent of the farming group, Carruth not only published the local version of its newspaper but was also accepted as one of its brethren. Yet it was Landis who had fulfilled many of the principles promoted by the Grange through his work in Vineland’s early years, something the editor inexplicably chose to viciously attack in his weekly criticism of Landis.
Temperance and women’s suffrage were two movements with which the Grange allied itself and Landis and Vineland promoted both. Yet, in Carruth’s vitriolic articles, Vineland’s temperance laws were an example of Landis’ antiquated thinking and another reason his so-called “rule” of the town should come to an end. Yet Vineland’s accomplishments and its founder were being sufficiently acknowledged by others even as Carruth cast his aspersions.
Ezra Slocum Carr had witnessed the progress of Vineland in the early 1870s and devoted a brief section of his book—The Patrons of Husbandry on the Pacific Coast—to it. His evaluation of the town reported that “In twelve years there was a population of eleven thousand, mostly from New England. Fourteen thousand, and within the last year, twenty-three thousand acres have been added to the original tract…It has built one hundred and seventy-eight miles of excellent roads, twenty school-houses, ten churches, four post-offices, fifteen manufacturing establishments, besides shops and stores, such as would be required by a similar population elsewhere. In the importance of its agricultural productions Landis Township ranks the fourth in New Jersey. There are seventeen miles of railways on the tract, and six stations.”
By the time the Grange began its demise after 1875, Carruth was dead, having been shot by Landis who had reached a breaking point with the editor’s weekly diatribes. The group’s rapid growth had given way to weak management and poor organization, according to online sources, but the Grange would be revitalized by the turn of the 20th century and, in the decade after Landis’ death in 1900, its founding principles would be reflected in Vineland.
In an address given in 1912, W.C. Parsons reported, “It is with pleasure that I am permitted to meet with this, the Fortieth Annual Session of the New Jersey State Grange and to make the report for Vineland Grange, No. 11. Our present membership is 230, 143 brothers and 87 sisters. We meet Saturday afternoon at 2.30 o'clock [sic] in New Grange Hall. We have held meetings every Saturday afternoon the past year and for the past two months have been meeting in our new quarters, a hall secured by lease for five years.”
Parsons described some of the activities of the local Grange: “Children’s Day was observed by a picnic and entertainment at the home of one of our members and Memorial Day was observed with appropriate services in our Hall. Ceres and Flora have each given us an afternoon’s entertainment and our Worthy Lecturer always has something for us. Farmers’ Institute was held in our new hall on November 20th and 21st and the afternoon and evening sessions were well attended. Vineland Grange was well represented at the Cumberland County Farmers’ Exhibit in Millville the fore part of September, and carried off quite a number of prizes from both places, for fruit, vegetables, fancy work, etc., exhibited.”
Parsons concluded his report by noting the success the group had been experiencing and acknowledging the reason for it: “Interest in Vineland Grange seems to be increasing and I believe a part of the credit for that is due to our purchasing committee for since moving into our new hall they have fitted up a small room and put in a stock of groceries and are open every Saturday afternoon for the sale of goods to any of our members who may wish to buy.”
His statements tend to make one wonder what it would have been like if Carruth had embraced the communal spirit the group engendered and abandoned the vindictive sneer that accompanied his outlook of Landis and the town’s early accomplishments.