Grange Advance

The Grange advance (Red Wing, Minn.) 1873-1877 Browse the title

The Red Wing Grange Advance began publication on October 15, 1873, serving a varied audience of agricultural and laboring families in southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin. The weekly publication, primarily consisting of five columns spread over eight pages, was published in Red Wing and for a time, simultaneously, in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to these cities, coverage included the Minnesota counties of Goodhue, Freeborn, and Olmsted, and across the border into the city of River Falls, Wisconsin. Subjects of the Grange Advance included many agriculture-related articles, Minnesota-based editorials, family- and youth-focused material, local news and ads, along with Grange meeting minutes and correspondence from the Minnesota cities of Winona, Wabasha, Zumbrota and Albert Lea. It also featured the regular column "Women’s Department" written by E. S. Hopkins, and articles from women’s rights activists, whose goals were consistent with the attitude of many "Grangers" of the time.

The Grange Movement was founded around ideals put forward by Minnesotan Oliver Kelley in 1867. Kelley was a farmer in central Minnesota who was commissioned by President Andrew Johnson to survey agricultural operations in the South. Appalled by the poor quality of both the operations and conditions of farmers, Kelley developed a vision to create a vast national network of cooperative farmers who would work together, share resources and develop good farming practices. Thus the Grange Movement was born. The Grange, whose members were called Grangers, was a national semi-secret social club or order (National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry) who organized to pool resources, collectively buying and selling agricultural tools and goods. During times of economic crisis or when crop prices fell, many Grangers became politically active, advocating for legislation that gave greater pricing control and purchasing power to farmers rather than wholesalers.

The Grange Advance lists Edward J. Hodgson and Benjamin Briggs Herbert as editors. After six months Hodgson retired, leaving Herbert as sole proprietor. Editions from 1874 and forward list as editors Herbert and T. T. Mann of St. Paul. Hodgson and Herbert clearly towed the Populist Party line. In an issue from October 15, 1873, the editors spelled out the newspaper’s platform: "1. It proposes to secure for labor a legitimate reward, not by destroying any other industry, profession or calling but by increasing the power and influence of the laborer so that he may exercise some influence in fixing the price of wheat he buys and sells... 7. Finally, it proposes to work faithfully and work unceasingly for the advancement and up-building of the order of the Patrons of Husbandry, to use every means at its command to increase the interest and zeal of every individual member...and in short to be the liveliest, most energetic and spiciest agricultural paper published."

The Grange Advance dropped "Grange" from its name in August of 1877 and was henceforth known simply as the Advance. Though short-lived, the Grange Advance is representative of an important Populist force which helped to shape the landscape of the agricultural community in Minnesota.