History of the Two Rivers Grange #3
(As told by Alice McKee) Chartered in 1962?
Few people have an opportunity to shape an entirely new community. The winter of 1957 when Don and I homesteaded at 19 mile Chena Hot Springs Road there were only two other residences beyond 10 mile Chena Hot Springs Road. Bob and Frances Longwith and their children homesteaded at 14 mile CHSR (across from the Nazarene Church) and Bob Hirn homesteaded at 18 mile CHSR. The Longwiths and we homeschooled our children that year.
The Bureau of Public Roads was building the Chena Hot Springs Road from 20 mile back to 15 mile. Don was hired to work on equipment used to build the road. Once the road was opened up, many more people began to homestead along the road frontage.
Don and I realized that an organization would enable people to get the things needed to make living on a homestead easier. Things such as a school, electricity, telephone, voting precinct, etc. We contacted the National Grange and were told to contact Jim Wilson, the Deputy for the National Grange. Jim was the Director of Agriculture and lived in Palmer. Jim felt there was not a big enough population in Two Rivers to support a grange. He felt a grange in Fairbanks to serve the entire region would be better and that we could get members from the staff at the Experimental Farm at the University. He and Don finally agreed that Don and I would organize a grange in Two Rivers and he would organize one in Fairbanks. The Two Grange began meeting in the Two Rivers Schoolhouse and the Tanana Valley Grange met in one of George Dornath's Quonset huts on Farmer's Loop Road. The members of the Tanana Valley Grange did not share Jim's interest in getting members from the University staff.
Don and I also organized a grange in North Pole. that grange was organized in the North Pole VFW building. the bar would be closed during the meetings. this group chose the name of Eielson Area Grange for their grange. That name was changed to North Pole Grange about 2000.
The Two Rivers Grange #3 was organized on April 4, 1960 with twenty-four members. A joint Grange degree ceremony was planned for June 10 and 11 in Fairbanks, with a degree team from Palmer and Wasilla presenting the degrees.
The first slate of officers for the Two Rivers Grange #3 was as follows:
The first meeting of the Two Rivers Grange #3 was held on May 12, 1960. Senator Ed Orbeck gave an introduction and question and answer period regarding Pioneer Access Roads. The charter members numbered thirty-seven.
Mr. James Gues, Past Grange Master from Washington State gave a talk on how the grange operates in Washington.
The second meeting was held on June 24, 1960. At this meeting a motion was made, seconded, and carried to have the Secretary write to the State Land Director, Roscoe Bell, asking for a plot of land or a use permit for the grange.
At the July 7, 1960 meeting the members were informed that their voting precinct was at the Badger Voting Precinct. A committee was appointed to draw up a proposed Two Rivers voting Precinct and to submit the proposal to the proper authorities.
At the August 26, 1960 meeting, members received a communication from S. G. Schwartz, Director of U. S. Post Offices that a Star Route for Chena Hot Springs Road would be in effect on October 15, 1960.
A communication from Jim Wilson, Deputy, at the October 14, 1960 meeting notified the members that the Two Rivers Grange #3 had received an award of a $50 bond from the Sears Roebucks Foundation for community service.
On January 27, 1961, the Two Rivers Grange #3 voted to sponsor a 4H Club and to present the club with a gavel. The Education Committee was ordered to write a letter to the Governor, the Director of Public Works, and Legislators concerning disposition of appropriation for new school buildings. Membership in January of 1961 numbered forty-seven.
On March 10, 1961, a committee to study and make recommendations on HB17 (Boroughs) was appointed. The members agreed to endorse certain specific powers for Advisory School Boards, such as approval of a teacher, consultations on any new construction, and urged the Department of Education to keep the local school board fully informed. An all-state Grange picnic was planned for the last part of June.
On May 26, 1961, the members learned that a Two Rivers voting precinct was possible by the following y7ear. There was a communication from Mr. Glen Stoneman, of Trans-Alaska announcing the commencement of a telephone service survey.
June 19, 1961, the members agreed to co-sponsor the first annual Bake-Off Contest at the Tanana Valley Fair. This event begun by the granges is still an annual event at the fair. The Two Rivers Grange #3 had an exhibit at the fair and received a blue ribbon for it.
On September 22, 1961, Don McKee was appointed to be a delegate to the Alaska State Grange Council. A school had been build in Two Rivers and a well was being drilled.
Pomona Grange Formed
The Fairbanks Pomona Grange was organized in 1961 with representation from Two Rivers Grange #2 and Tanana Valley Grange #4.
MORE TO COME . . .
by Alice McKee, Nov. 2006
Alaskan Grangers Mourn
It is with great sadness that we announce that Alaska’s “Mr. Grange” passed away Wednesday afternoon, February 23, 2011 in Yuma, Arizona. Memorial services took place April 30 in Fairbanks, at the First Presbyterian Church.
Don McKee enthusiastically lived and breathed GRANGE. He believed in the precepts of Grange, advocated Grange, and lived Grange. It was over 50 years ago that he and his wife, Alice, started Two Rivers Grange #3 and throughout the years, he had been instrumental in starting other Granges in Alaska.
Don was active in The National Grange as well. In 2007, the McKees were recognized as a National Grange Family of the Year, and at his passing, The National Grange published this memorial for Don.
Please join in expressing our heartfelt condolences and prayers of strength to our Grange sister, Alice McKee, on the loss of her loving and devoted husband of over 60 years who will be forever missed but will always be loved, respected and in our hearts.
Memorial Contributions can be made to Dogs for the Deaf, a long-time Grange endorsed program:
Dogs for the Deaf
10175 Wheeler Road
Central Point, OR 97502