Even a short drive through Geauga County’s countryside will unmistakably give you the pleasure of witnessing one of the 16 Century Farms designated in Geauga County and the list continues to grow.
Something special is taking place this year. Not one but two farms have reached bicentennial stature.
How amazing is it that not only has a farm been in operation for that long, but also by the same family for over 200 years.
The Haskins Farm, 17199 Haskins Road, Bainbridge Township, is owned by Curtis and Deborah Cook. It was originally over 160 acres and currently is still a working farm at nearly 70 acres.
In 1818 the land was purchased by Phillip Haskins, Sr., and his wife Lovisa McFarland for $2.50 an acre.
Phillip was originally from Massachusetts. His third great-grandfather arrived here from England in 1733. Phillip and Lovisa (married in 1811) left Massachusetts and followed the McFarland family to Ohio.
The couple raised their children in the original farmhouse until the construction of the current home in 1843 for $300 and a barrel of whiskey.
The farmhouse has been the center of happiness and proudly stands to this day as fifth and sixth generations of Haskins were raised here.
Years later their fourth son, Commodore Perry Haskins, and his wife Cynthia chose to remain on the farm and had five children.
One was Clarence Perry, Curtis’ great-grandfather who married Flora Bonney in 1890. Over the years the farm was used for crops, dairy and maple sugaring.
Flora was a hard worker and a strong woman who was the first woman in Geauga County to vote. In 1897 Clarence was one of the founders of the Bainbridge Telephone Company and the first line he put in was to connect the sugar house to the family home.
Clarence and Flora operated the farm until Clarence’s death in 1940 at which time their sons split the property. One son, Leslie, took the east portion for dairy cows and sheep.
His other son Albert took the west and raised produce and livestock. Both brothers had a sugar house and sold maple syrup.
Albert’s portion of the property was sold following his death in 1964 to a local developer. However, the original barn built in the 1800s and original farmhouse remained on the unsold property and is still there today with a few additions to meet the needs of the changing times.
Curtis and his sisters Janice Cook-Swanson and Jennifer Cook-Forbush, both of Columbus, all have fond memories of the farm. It is a proud family with a long lineage residing at the Haskins Farm.
Delicious maple syrup is still harvested from 40 acres of the farm woodland and has won Best Maple Syrup Producer at the Geauga County Maple Festival.
As the farm celebrates 200 years, so does the family as they prepare for a 200-year family reunion in the upcoming months — which is amazing.
Our second bicentennial treasure is the Clarke/Sudyk Farm (originally known as the Bonniecrest Farm), 12050 Madison Road, Huntsburg.
The farm was established February of 1818 when Ebenezer Clark IV and his wife Lucy purchased nearly 200 acres of land. Over the years acres were sold and the farm now stands firmly at 100 acres.
They traveled here from Northampton, Massachusetts, with their sixth child on the way. Truman, Harry T. and Harry W. Clarke continued to farm the land until Hal and Ethel Clarke inherited the farm.
The farm was maintained primarily as a dairy farm, while also selling eggs and Christmas trees at a mere 75 cents in the ’40s, which is a far cry from the $50-$70 for trees today.
Hal and Ethel’s daughter Helen and her husband John Sudyk built the farmhouse in 1945 with the original 12-room farmhouse from the 1820s still standing close by.
John shared a special memory with a smile.
He said, “She waited for me…we built the home, loved it and her ever since.”
The original barn, which housed the 30 Holstein and later Brown Swiss, was torn down over the years; however, the horse barn remains.
As for many during World War II times were tough. Men were away and the women had to balance family and their livelihood.
Helen and her sister Katherine (Kay) Dietrich have fond memories of hard work and strong family ties.
While Helen was working hard on the farm, her husband was storming the beaches of Normandy. His battalion also fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, which was the longest battle on German ground during WWII.
His battalion then marched to Paris.
John Sudyk: The Soldier of 10,000 Rounds, along with 36 other soldiers’ stories can be found in the book Forever a Soldier by Tom Wiener.
Thank you to John and his fellow veterans for their sacrifice and the strength of their families to continue maintaining the family, the business and life while they fought for us.
Strong life experiences and determination run deep within the Sudyk and Clarke families as does a strong sense of family.
In their late 90s, John and Helen still live on the farm with their great-nephew and his family.
Some things never change as the early morning sun rests on the farmhouse which proudly stands high overlooking Madison Road.
You can’t help but to smile and think of busier yet peaceful days of the past.
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