Family tradition


NEW WATERFORD, Ohio – John F. Hively kept meticulous notes. Every time a penny passed through his hands, he recorded it, his pencil making slanted, script letters in neat columns on the pages of a pocket-size notebook.
A 16-horsepower steam engine purchased for $450. Nine dozen eggs bought for 72 cents. A $1 profit for using his bull to breed the neighbor’s light red spotted heifer.
The calendar was hovering around the beginning of the 20th century when John F. recorded those transactions. Now, more than 100 years later, John F.’s grandson is using them to piece together the history of his family.
And that history is especially important this year. This is the year Hively’s Highland Farm in New Waterford, Ohio, celebrates its 200th year and seventh generation in the Hively family.
Shorthorns. Today, the farm is owned and operated by John F.’s grandson, John A. Hively. The farm is home to about 100 Shorthorns, the breed the family has been raising since Michael Hively bought the farm in 1807.
Proof of this Shorthorn ownership exists in the family’s historical records. An estate inventory from second generation owner Daniel Hively has references to red and white cattle. In the fourth generation, John F. makes note of his Durham cattle, the former name for Shorthorns.
Now, the seventh generation is taking over the pastures. Curt, John A.’s son, does the herd’s genetic management and most of the animals are sold as breeding stock.
School days. The Columbiana County farm is 100 acres of hay ground and pasture. With the exception of three-fourths of an acre, it’s the same 100 acres that have been in the family for two centuries.
The family sold one-eighth of an acre in 1829 to the local school district. A one-room school – originally called Hively School and later changed to Highland School – went up on the land. In 1883, the Hively family sold another five-eighths of an acre to the school district because the playground was too small.
The school closed in 1930, but Hively’s Highland Farm is still named after the old building.
Changes. Although the farm’s boundaries have barely moved, the face of the property has changed during the past 200 years. The original log cabin is gone, although John A. knows exactly where it once stood. And the original barn was destroyed after it was struck by lightning.
In 1850, a house was built in the middle of the farm. Another home – where John A. was born and raised – was built in 1880. Today, he shares that home with his wife, Karen.
Notes from John F.’s records give clues about the construction of the barn the family now uses. In July 1921, John F. paid $75 for cement work at the barn. That same summer, he bought planing sheeting from the East Palestine Lumber Co. and spent $16 on three kegs of nails. A photo from August 1921 shows a barn raising on the farm.
Seven generations. With 200 years of Hively history behind the farm, it is the longest any property has been in the Hively name in the U.S.
John A. has stacks of information on his ancestors. He knows the names of their spouses, where they worked and how many children they had. It’s an interest that took root well before the farm’s 200th anniversary crept onto the horizon.
“I’ve been working on this stuff probably 30 or 40 years,” John A. said.
He has deeds to the land – including the original deed from 1807 – and wills that detail exactly how the farm was passed from generation to generation. The signed documents are another quick glimpse into the lives of the family members who were here first.
“When you run across things there’s a signature on, it’s pretty neat,” John A. said.
Traditions and additions. The Hively family heritage also includes showing the cattle at two county fairs. They began registering their cattle in 1947 with the American Shorthorn Association and in 1949, they started showing at the Mahoning and Columbiana county fairs.
It’s a tradition that’s still going strong.
One of the newer additions to the farm is Curt’s livestock supply company. With everything from handling equipment to show supplies, the business is a nice complement to the farm, according to John A. It puts the family in a position not only to give advice, but to get it as well.
“It’s been good for his business and good for us and the cattle,” John A. said.
Living on the family farm also offers a little sentimentality, according to John A. and Karen. They said it’s nice to know that any time they find something, there’s no doubt about where it came from or what family it belonged to.
And even though this is the year that marks a milestone, it’s the past two centuries that have made the farm what it is.
“It’s not really about us today,” John A. said. “It’s about the past 200 years.”
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at


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