Volunteerism, civil activities still thrive in Granby

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As I was browsing through the files at the Salmon Brook Historical Society looking for ideas to write about Granby’s history, I discovered that our town has a history of volunteerism and an active civic life that continues today.

Members at the Salmon Brook Historical Society all volunteer at its different events, whether helping with the two Flea Markets, house tours, maintaining the campus during the week, or accessioning items into the database.

The Lion’s Club raises funds for scholarships for students heading off to college, as do UNICO and the Rotary Club. If you attended the Memorial Day Parade, you saw volunteers from Lost Acres Fire Department, the Granby Ambulance Association, The Horse Council and The Granby Marquis Fife and Drum Corp. It would be impossible to name every community or volunteer organization in Granby without filling this entire issue of the Drummer. They are numerous, and I admire all that they do.

Since Granby began as an agricultural society, it is not surprising that the first clubs and organizations centered around farming. The Granby Farmers Club was popular in the 1850s and 1860s showing horses and cattle. In 1875, the Granby Grange was created and served as a forum for farmers to help one another in troubled times. The Granby Agricultural Society bought 23 acres and started holding a fair and horse and sulky races in 1895. We now know that old fair ground as Harness Way on Rte. 20.

Many social cardplaying clubs were formed, such as the Granby Whist Club, Sunny Grove Whist, the Lincoln Whist Club and the Young People’s Whist Club. Even more niche groups formed. One was the Empire State Club for Granby folks who had lived in the state of New York. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts formed local chapters. The Village Improvement Center maintained the Greens in Granby and West Granby. And, there is the Granby Cemetery Association.

Numerous men’s clubs formed at this time as well. In 1902 the Hartford Club of Granby was a collective of men, such as James Lee Loomis, Stanley Edwards, William Maltbie, and other men who worked in Hartford but lived in Granby and would exist for at least thirty years. Other men’s clubs included the Men’s Community League, the Men’s Bridge Club and the Odd Fellows chapter that was housed on Manitook Lake.

Sports have always been of interest to Granby residents, starting in 1927 with the Salmon Brook Golf Club built by Doctor Ernest Pendleton, and a year later, the creation of the Granby Athletic League. Following World War II, as Granby transformed into a suburb of Hartford, Little League and Babe Ruth teams were organized and called on volunteer coaches. Today, Little League remains, joined by the Granby Rovers and numerous other sports.

Key parts of life in Granby today are facilitated by volunteer organizations in Granby. The Granby Ambulance Association has been serving the town’s emergency response needs since 1963. In 1970, the Granby Drummer started as an ad hoc group seeking voter approval of needed high school construction. It evolved into the town’s volunteer newspaper and still brings local news to Granby residents. That same year the Granby Newcomers Association, was established to welcome people who move to town, began serving the town. In 1972, the Granby Land Trust was established and later the Men’s Breakfast and Women’s Breakfast formed to gather retirees.

Granby’s history of volunteerism extends to our town government, which is voluntary as well. Our registrars and the poll workers, who help with voting at the town hall or at the high school, volunteer their time to facilitate the democratic process. The members of the boards of education, finance, and of selectman, and folk on the town commissions volunteer their time to run the town. The next time you see a non-profit volunteer, thank them for contributing their hard work and time!

If there is a new organization that has formed, please let us know at the Salmon Brook Historical Society, so we can have you on file and preserve your legacy. Want to learn more about the organizations and clubs mentioned in this article? Want to become a member? Please call 860-653-9713 or go online at salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com