Learn how to register for Historic Family Farm status

Learn how to register for Historic Family Farm status
Barb Lang

Indiantree Farm near Walnut Creek has been in the Schrock-Miller family since 1814 and is an Ohio Historic Family Farm. A workshop for farm owners to find out how to research and apply for the designation will be held Feb. 25 at the Holmes County Central Library in Millersburg.


Has your land been continuously owned by the same family for a century or more or will be?

On Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m., people can learn how to qualify for Ohio Historic Family Farm status. Hear how to research and apply for the Ohio Department of Farmland Preservation designation at the Holmes County Central Library, 3102 Glen Drive, Millersburg, in the downstairs meeting room.

Sponsored by the Holmes County Historical Society and the Holmes County Recorder's Office, the workshop will feature Alan Miller, journalism professor at Denison University and former editor at the Columbus Dispatch. Miller represents the eighth generation of the Schrock-Miller family to own Indiantree Farm at Walnut Creek since 1814.

The Miller family owns one of two registered bicentennial farms in Holmes County. Currently, there are almost 2,000 registered historic family farms in Ohio with six in Holmes County and 15 in Wayne. Many counties boast more than 50 designated farms with Putnam County having the most at 137.

“The Historic Family Farm Program is important to share with residents to inform them of the possibility of historic preservation of their family farm," said Mark Boley, executive director of the Holmes County Historical Society. "The Historical Society is pleased to help spread the word.”

To commemorate legacy farms like Indiantree Family Farm, the program was designed by the Ohio Department of Farmland Preservation in 1993 to honor farms that have been continuously owned by one family. Ohio's founding farm families contribute greatly to the state's history and legacy of agriculture, which is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, contributing more than $100 billion annually to the state's economy with 1-in-7 jobs in agriculture.

Erin Dillon, program administrator for the Ohio Historic Family Farm Program in Columbus, said contact the local county recorder's office to tell them you want to research your farm's deed history.

“Ask if there is a day of the week and time of day that might be better suited for your work. Take a copy of your current deed with you if possible. Familiarize yourself with two terms used in deeds: grantee, the person purchasing the property, and grantor, the person selling the property,” she said.

Anita Hall, Holmes County recorder, will be present to talk about the research process. She advises having names of previous owners in hand prior to visiting her office and having a clear description of the property. She also advises giving yourself plenty of time.

“Don't come in at 3 p.m. and expect to have it all done by closing time,” she said.

Holmes County resident Camille Nowels owns a century farm and said the process of becoming one was fun.

"First, I had to trace the deeds back and show they are related to me and my family," she said. "Looking up the deeds went so well that I was able to trace the land back to 1803 when Thomas Jefferson deeded my land to a Revolutionary War soldier for meritorious service. That completed, I worked to find old photos of relatives on this land. The people who do the Heritage Farm designation really want to see the family farming through the years. I had pictures of multiple generations farming this land, some with horses and others with tractors.

"And finally, they like to know any interesting tidbits that make the story of your land interesting. In my case I discovered that the Greenville Treaty Line runs right through my family’s land. All in all it was a fun adventure. I learned a lot, enjoyed working with the deeds people and would do it again in a heartbeat."

Dillon said the intent of the Historic Family Farm Program is to honor the agricultural, economic and social contributions of Ohio's farm families.

"In almost 30 years we’ve seen this program grow from eight recipients in its inaugural year to nearly 2,000 registered farms today," Dillon said. "The success of the Historic Family Farm Program can be solely attributed to families who proudly continue their farming heritage. It’s our duty and honor to acknowledge that perseverance."

In order to enroll in the program, the farm must be documented to be in the same family for at least 100 years. Complete copies of deeds showing the transfers between generations of the family are required with each registration. Ohio Department of Preservation staff will check the deeds to ensure consistency of the property description and also look for an unbroken chain of title with your family.

Each family receives an heirloom certificate signed by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Agriculture director to keep with their historic documents and to pass down to future generations.

A complete list of Ohio’s bicentennial (200 years or more), sesquicentennial (150-199 years) and century farms (100-149 years) is available at https://agri.ohio.gov/programs/farmland-preservation-office/ohio-historic-family-farms.

To learn more about the Historic Family Farm Program, call 614-752-4505 or email centuryfarms@agri.ohio.gov.

The Feb. 25 workshop is free and open to the public. For more information email the Holmes County Historical Society at info@holmeshistory.org or call 330-674-0022.

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