Monday, January 2, 2012

History is in the making

In the song, History, Matthew West sings, 

"Every choice that you are making
Every step that you are taking
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making
Every word that you are saying
Every prayer that you are praying
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making"

In our last post, we talked about the Ohio Century Farm project and how we had traced back the history of our farm as far as the deed records go. It was such a neat project to see how "history is in the making," right here on our family farm. Here's a quick look at our farm's 175-year history.

The first record of the dairy farm in the county recorder's office is in 1837. In this year, Barbara Swalley deeded 80 acres of our farm to her son, Solomon. Barbara originally came to Ohio many years before, when she and her husband settled near Zanesville. Her husband met an early death, and she traveled back to her home state of Pennsylvania with her young children. Research shows she came back to the Lykens area in the early 1830s to be near family that was already here. When her son got married in 1837, she passed the land on. One of the most interesting things about this deed transfer was that Barbara couldn't write. Her signature is indicated by an "x" on the deed, with a notation by the recorder saying that he witnessed her mark. As a female who loves to write, this particular point struck a cord with me. Among our many blessings is our access to education, which both men and women in the 1800s didn't always have.

Solomon held on to the land until 1840, when he sold it to Samuel Hall. We were not able to find a relationship between Solomon and Samuel, but we did find that Solomon only one child, a daughter. It is likely that there was not an immediate relationship between the two. 

Samuel Hall only had one son, who moved out of the area. In 1866, he transferred the deed to Lambert Myers. Lambert had an interesting story. He only owned our farm for one year, because in 1867, he and his wife moved to Missouri, where they eventually died. By 1867, he had acquired 120 consecutive acres, which he split between three people before moving to Missouri: William Tippin, Mary Seery, and J.H. Barrow. 

William Tippin was married to Frances Seery, the sister of Mary Seery. William obtained 53 2/3 acres of the farm from Lambert, while Mary bought 26 1/3, and J.H. Barrow got the remaining 40. When William passed away in 1889, his nephew, Jacob Seery, administered his estate. He transfered the deed to Samuel Dewalt. We'll come back to him in a second. In 1901, Mary Seery passed away, and her sister, Frances Tippin, administered her estate. Mary's 26 1/3 acres were sold to Frances's son-in-law, E.L. Mesnard. E.L. was married to William and Frances's daughter, Alta. 

It is unclear why E.L. sold his land to Samuel Dewalt in 1901. E.L. is buried just a few miles north of the dairy farm, so it's not probable that he left the area. Irregardless, by 1901, Sam Dewalt now had the 80 acre parcel, in addition to several hundred acres that are not part of our farm today. 

Sam Dewalt was married to Mahala Shock, and they had several children together, including a daughter, Hattie. Hattie later married Marvin Hartschuh, Allen's grandfather. In 1940, Sam passed away, leaving his estate to his children. Hattie and her husband Marvin purchased the dairy farm, where we still milk today. Hattie passed away in 1976, leaving sole ownership to Marvin, who owned it until his death in 1997. Allen and Diane had been farming the land since 1982, so in his will, Marvin gave first option to buy to Allen, who has owned the farm ever since.   

In case you weren't able to follow along, what this lineage of deed transfers shows is that Sam Dewalt acquired part of our farm in 1889. Sam was Allen's great-grandfather, making Greg, Brian, and Jason the fifth generation to farm the same land.

Our research was a great way to better understand the legacy of family farms. There is so much pride and tradition that goes into farming, and we're blessed to be a part of it.

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