A 1912 Valentine’s Party at the Grange

Posted February 5, 2020 at 5:49 am by


Here’s this month’s his­to­ry col­umn from the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety and Muse­um

Since Feb­ru­ary is a month known for Valentine’s Day dec­o­ra­tions in store win­dows and rows of sweet­heart cards for sale, we thought we would see what has been pre­served in the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Muse­um’s archives from fes­tive hol­i­days of yesteryear.

The clas­sic card pic­tured here is among the many sweet­heart and friend­ship cards in the col­lec­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we do not know its prove­nance; that is its history…who owned it or its ori­gin. Muse­ums have “old­en days” them­selves, when records and nota­tions can be sparse or faded.

In the past, donat­ed mem­o­ra­bil­ia and objects have been left on the Museum’s porch, with­out a donor’s name or any sign of orig­i­nal own­er­ship. This sweet card may have been from one of those mys­tery boxes.

But we do know some inter­est­ing details about a Valentine’s Day par­ty giv­en at the Grange in 1912. An invi­ta­tion was pub­lished as a news item in the San Juan Islander news­pa­per on Feb­ru­ary 9 of that year.

On Valentine’s night, Mrs. War­ren Dight­man, Miss Ann Tay­lor and Miss Ethel Per­ry will enter­tain the Grangers and their invit­ed guests at one of the most charm­ing par­ties that has ever been giv­en. All mem­bers will receive an invi­ta­tion which they are request­ed to send to the one whom they wish to invite, and the guest will please bring the card on the night.  

With this same lit­tle card,
One friend you invite.
And return it to us
On Valentine’s night:
Grange hall, Feb. 14, 8 p.m.

Mrs. War­ren Dight­man was Ella Erick­son (1879–1970), daugh­ter of Erick Erick­son and Isabel­la McKen­zie. Ella was a 1908 char­ter mem­ber of Fri­day Har­bor Grange #225. Miss Ann Tay­lor (1876–1938) was the daugh­ter of John and Vic­to­ria LaPlante Tay­lor. Ann was also a char­ter mem­ber of this Grange. Ethel Per­ry (1891–1980) was the daugh­ter of Park and Lau­ra Bak­er Per­ry. Ethel lat­er mar­ried Col­in Sand­with. Ella and Ethel are pic­tured above, but a pho­to­graph of Ann was not avail­able. If you have a pho­to of Ann Tay­lor to share, please con­tact the His­tor­i­cal Museum.

In research­ing this lit­tle sto­ry, the most time spent was in try­ing to deter­mine the exact loca­tion of this Valentine’s Day par­ty. Fri­day Har­bor Grange did not have its own hall, but met in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent loca­tions. Some­times mem­bers’ homes were used and oth­er times, space was rent­ed “above the pool hall” or in anoth­er com­mer­cial build­ing with a large, open-space room on the sec­ond floor. Some­times, Grange events were held on the first floor of the Odd Fel­lows Hall. A care­ful search in archived news­pa­pers did nar­row down pos­si­bil­i­ties and ulti­mate­ly iden­ti­fied the loca­tion of the 1912 Valentine’s Day par­ty: It was held on the sec­ond floor of a build­ing which once stood at the cor­ner of Spring and Sec­ond Streets, where Kings Mar­ket is locat­ed today. In 1912, the wood­en build­ing occu­py­ing that cor­ner was known as “the Jensen prop­er­ty.” A large build­ing that was sit­u­at­ed there had recent­ly been par­ti­tioned into sec­tions in order to lease out to var­i­ous busi­ness­es. One was a dance hall and the room above it had been “fit­ted up for the Fri­day Har­bor Grange.”

One last clar­i­fy­ing note is in order. Fri­day Har­bor Grange #225, char­tered in 1908 and impor­tant to this sto­ry, is a dif­fer­ent Grange orga­ni­za­tion from San Juan Island Grange #966, char­tered much lat­er in 1931. San Juan Island Grange owns what we refer to sim­ply as “The Grange Hall” on First Street, which they have called home since 1955 (when it was owned by the Women’s Study Club) and have owned it them­selves since 1975. Fri­day Har­bor Grange, on the oth­er hand, dis­band­ed in 1921 and became active again when it was re-orga­nized in 2012.

His­to­ry is some­times pre­served in bits and pieces, to be woven togeth­er in a future sto­ry, such as this one. If you have small pieces of a sto­ry, there are most like­ly oth­er pieces to the same sto­ry to be found at the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Muse­um. Please let us know if you have some­thing to share, won’t you?

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Categories: History

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