In 2014, Farm and Dairy celebrated its 100th year serving the rural communities of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Much has changed since the beginning, but one thing always has held true — we have never lost sight of providing useful, timely and valuable information to our readers and, in turn, offering our advertisers a loyal, defined audience in order to market their products.
We are a family-owned company, committed to news, auction information, farm classifieds, and advertising — both in print and online.
The early years …
If there ever was a man with both printers’ ink and farmers’ blood in his veins, it was Farm and Dairy founder, Richard B. Thompson (1877-1940).
Born in southern Illinois, Thompson came to Salem in 1904 and became editor of the Salem Daily News. But it was his dream to start his own paper, which he did when the Tri-County Farmer, forerunner of the modern Farm and Dairy, began in 1914.
In 1939, the 25th anniversary of the paper, Thompson wrote of the dream’s beginnings, “Perhaps it would be accurate to go back to a boyhood dream down on the farm in Southern Illinois … while grubbing sassafras and persimmon sprouts and doing other none-too-thrilling chores, I must confess that I often day-dreamed of the time when I hoped to be an editor and publisher.
“That was the start toward the boyhood goal. Between those days of the late 1880s and the early 1890s, up to the summer of 1914 — when I finally decided to launch Farm and Dairy — much of my time was spent in daily and weekly newspaper work.
“This could hardly be called an intensive preparation for farm journal publishing. However, I must have been born with an instinctive love of the soil, for my real interest was always agriculture…”
To print his publication, R.B. contracted with Jim Lyle, who had established the Lyle Printing Company in 1890. Thompson became a partner with Lyle and finally owner of the firm, known today as the Lyle Printing and Publishing Co. It remains the parent company of Farm and Dairy.
The Tri-County Farmer and the Farm and Dairy grew steadily under R.B.’s hand. Later in life, he sold his interest in the company in 1928 and moved to Florida under doctor’s advice. After several years, the Thompsons moved back to the Buckeye State, buying a 10-acre plot at the west edge of Salem.
But with a company reorganization in 1936, Thompson was called back to his old job, where he served for one year until J.T. Darling, grandfather of current publisher Scot M. Darling, bought a controlling interest.
R.B. Thompson 1914-1928
Carleton F. Christian 1929-1934
Elden R. Groves 1934-1938
Ora Anderson 1938-1942
Elden R. Groves 1942-1982
Timothy Reeves 1983-1987
Richard Swart 1987-1989
Susan Crowell 1989-2019
Rebecca Miller 2019-2023
Rachel Wagoner 2023-Present
In his premier edition, R.B. wrote, “We could not close, however, without a very sincere expression of appreciation for the substantial encouragement which has already been given this venture. That it will succeed we have not the slightest doubt and for this assurance, we must thank the farmers and business interests of the three best counties in the best state of the best nation on earth.”
Today, we thank R.B. Thompson for beginning Farm and Dairy. His dream continues to flourish.
Surviving the Great Depression
James Thomas “Tom” Darling, 1884-1958, was first associated with Farm and Dairy as advertising manager from 1921 to 1926. When stresses of the Great Depression forced Lyle Printing to reorganize in 1937, R.B. Thompson persuaded Darling to return to Salem to manage the business. Darling’s return as publisher and general manager restored the company to financial health.
J.T. Darling insisted on maintaining a paper that would be acceptable to all readers and their families. He was a booster for community improvement activities, and, as one of the founders of Ruritan in Ohio, he was the first Ohio District Ruritan Governor.
A native of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, Darling retained an interest in his hometown and its people. His love of history put him in the habit of stopping by any historical marker or site he happened to encounter. An expert on railroads, he could name the company that owned almost any track he crossed in Ohio.
He died suddenly in May 1958 at age 72.
The Second Generation
Wayne T. Darling, Tom’s son, became president of Lyle Publishing in 1957 at the young age of 25, when J.T. was named chairman of the board. After his father’s death the following year, W.T. Darling assumed full responsibility for the printing and publishing business and stayed at the helm until his retirement in 1997.
He first joined his father, James T. Darling, in July of 1951, selling advertising before entering the U.S. Air Force in 1953. In the service, he coordinated the base newspaper while serving in Pittsburgh, and later served as a historian and public relations officer while serving in Weisbaden, Germany. At Orly Field outside of Paris, Mr. Darling edited a newspaper for base personnel.
Wayne Darling steered Farm and Dairy through calm and rough waters. During his tenure, Farm and Dairy grew in both size and circulation, and Darling supervised ambitious building plans that have seen the addition of offset presses and the conversion of the older Linotype and Varityper typesetting methods into a computerized composition department and modern press facility. His wife, Sally, also maintained an active role in the newspaper.
Like his father before him, W.T. Darling was active in community affairs, serving as chairman of the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning, Columbiana and Trumbull counties, and on the board of directors for the Salem Community Foundation. In 1991, he received the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Agricultural Communicator Award and he was a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International.
And also like his father before him, Wayne loved history and inherited the inclination to stop at every roadside historical marker he passed to learn more. He died at his home in Florida on Jan. 8, 2005.
Scot M. Darling, son of Sally and Wayne Darling, now serves as the chief executive officer of Lyle Printing and Publishing Company and publisher of Farm and Dairy.
A 1984 graduate of the College of Wooster, his civic leadership has included Big Brother-Big Sisters of Columbiana County, and the Salvation Army.
Thomas Darling succeeds his father, Wayne, as president of Lyle Printing and Publishing Company. He is a graduate of the Columbus Technical Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
He manages the commercial printing department, which includes all printed items, computer forms, checks, and the web press department, which prints many community newspapers in the area. The web printing department also prints commercial catalogs and fliers.
Jordan Roberts handles all day-to-day operations of the company as its chief operating officer. He’s been with Lyle Printing and Publishing for around 14 years — we lost count — in various roles — he does it all.