WACOHU Grange honors 50th anniversary

November 24, 1997


Staff Writer

HUYETT - Ann Bowers never questioned whether she would follow in the footsteps of her mother, Vera Cunningham, who had been active with her husband in the WACOHU Grange from Bowers' earliest memories.

"I just fell in," said Bowers, 58, who said she got hooked as a teenage member of the "juvenile" grange, which modeled its meetings after the adult group.

On Sunday, Bowers took part in a ceremony honoring her mother, 90, and five other 50-year grange members during the 50th anniversary celebration of WACOHU Grange No. 415 at its hall on U.S. 40, near the Md. 63 intersection.


Other honorees were Kathrine Naylor, Luther Naylor, Genevieve Schnebly, Seth Schnebly and John Swadley.

Swadley, who served as the WACOHU Grange's first master, gave a brief history of the group, formed with 34 members in December 1947.

Other members shared their fond memories of the grange, which was named after the first two letters in Washington County and Huyett.

There was also a lot of music, including instrumental hymns performed by children of members and group singing of hymns and patriotic music.

Kermit Richardson, master of the National Grange, spoke about the need to keep bringing in young members to the family- and community-oriented fraternal organization, created in 1867.

"Our effectiveness, our success, is the result of those different age groups," Richardson said.

John Thompson, master of the State Grange, echoed the sentiment.

"Youth is the vitality for us continuing to be strong in the community," Thompson said.

Active as an adult at the local, county and state level, Bowers said she was happy to see her daughter, Anna Lynne Mummert, 35, become a member and, later, an officer in the WACOHU Grange, she said.

Now, Bowers said, she's hoping granddaughter Holly Mummert, 13, will carry the family's torch by not only joining as a junior member when she turns 131/2, but also by helping recruit her young friends.

Holly Mummert helped the WACOHU Grange mark its golden anniversary by playing "My Favorite Things" on the flute during the celebration.

But Mummert said she doesn't know if she'll be able to fulfill her grandmother's wish because modeling and other activities take up so much of her time.

"It just depends on what I'm in. If I'm not as busy as I am now, I'll probably end up joining," she said.

Legacies like the Cunningham family's used to be common but have become rare, said James Reichard, master of WACOHU Grange.

"The grange doesn't appeal to the present-day young people," said Reichard, 70, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

Because the younger generations aren't joining, the group's membership has dwindled to 54 people.

But the WACOHU Grange is lucky compared to some other local granges in Maryland that don't get the minimal 14 people needed to hold a meeting anymore, he said.

Reichard said he thinks his grange can survive by letting people know that group isn't just for "agriculturally minded" folks anymore.

"It's for anybody that's interested in promoting the welfare of their community," he said.

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