Pioneers of Agriculture


LISBON, Ohio – The Columbiana County Agricultural Society and the Columbiana county Historical Association selected five individuals to induct in the Columbiana County Agriculture Hall of Fame, founded in 2000.

Individuals honored include: J.T. Darling, Charles F. Mindling, J. Paul Wilms, and Willis J. Zimmerman and Rowena A. Whinery Zimmerman. They are honored for their contributions in one or more segments of agriculture.

The enshrinees and their families will be honored during ceremonies at the Columbiana County Fair, 10:30 a.m., Aug. 3, in the new commercial building near the fair office. At that time, framed biographical sketches and portraits of each Hall of Famer will be unveiled.

James T. Darling


Although J.T. Darling did not till the soil, he was as instrumental in building Columbiana County agriculture as any farmer. Darling, who lived in Salem, was president of the Lyle Printing and Publishing Company and publisher of Farm and Dairy newspaper, a news source for the region’s farmers since 1914.

Mr. Darling was first associated with Farm and Dairy as its advertising manager from 1921 to 1926. He returned to Columbiana County in 1937 to reorganize the business, which was feeling the blows of the Depression. His return as publisher, general manager, and ultimately owner, restored the company to financial health. Today, the Farm and Dairy is now operated by the third generations of Darlings. It is the largest weekly newspaper in Ohio and boasts readers in 44 states.

In addition to his business responsibilities, Mr. Darling covered many farm meetings over the years and from time to time would write a feature story. He insisted on maintaining a paper that would be acceptable to all readers and their families.

Darling was also a booster for community improvement. One of the founders of Ruritan in Ohio, he was the first Ohio District Ruritan Governor and was active in forming many area Ruritan clubs. He was also an active member of the Masons, Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem Rotary Club, Goshen Grange and the Salem Historical Society.

J. Paul Wilms


The life of J. Paul Wilms is rooted in Columbiana County agriculture. The Fairfield Township nurseryman was involved in farming from 1929 to 1985, and owned the Gwenn-Gary Nursery in Columbiana from 1937-1967.

Wilms started his business on 10 acres east of Columbiana in 1937 and built it to encompass 150 acres on three farms. He became recognized statewide for his landscaping and arboriculture knowledge, as well as his development of fruit trees and roses. A charter member of the International Plant Propagators Society, Wilms developed Juniper andorra compacta ‘Wilms’, an evergreen. He also served as a past president of the Mahoning Valley Landscape and Nurserymen’s Association and was a member of the Ohio Nurserymen’s Association.

Through these professional organizations, he stayed abreast of industry updates and became an industry leader in developing varieties and the growing habits of plants for this plant zone. He shared his knowledge of cultural practices and the growing of nursery stock on the local, state and national levels.

An active community member, Wilms was also active in the Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Columbiana and served 16 years on the Columbiana Board of Education. He became a 32nd degree Mason and was a past master of the Allen Masonic Lodge in Columbiana and was a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Youngstown and the Al Koran Shrine of Cleveland. Wilms also served on the board of the Citizen’s Bank in Columbiana, Farmers’ National Bank in Salem, and the Heritage National Bank.

Charles Frederick Mindling


Charles Frederick Mindling was a progressive livestock farmer and fruit grower in Columbiana County’s West Township. In 1902, he attended Ohio State University for a two-year agricultural course. While at Ohio State, he joined a sheep shearing team that won first place in the 1903 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1920, he moved his family, livestock, tools and household by freight train to an 87-acre farm near Bayard, Ohio, riding in the freight car with the animals to be sure they were well cared for.

Mindling raised Jersey dairy cattle and also maintained a productive apple orchard and plum trees. He built a cold storage area to store the fruit and sold the fruit door-to-door in Canton, Alliance and Minerva.

An active community member, he attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minerva, and was also a member of the Bayard Grange, West Township Ruritan, and the Ohio Farm Bureau. He attained the Seventh Degree of the Order of Patron Husbandry. He served as a school board member and township trustee. Mindling was also involved in a displaced persons program during WWII, and he helped a displaced family from Latvia relocate their lives during that war-torn period.

Today, his grandson, Neil Lippincott, continues Mindling’s farming legacy in Columbiana County.

Willis J. Zimmerman, 1898-1988

Rowena A. Whinery Zimmerman, 1898-1987

In 68 years of marriage, Willis and Rowena Zimmerman touched lives and shared the benefits of farm life to the entire Columbiana County community.

Mr. Zimmerman moved to his grandfather’s farm on Depot Road outside Salem when he was 5 years old, and lived the rest of his 90 years there.

After their marriage, the couple grew potatoes and raised pigs on their Perry Township farm. Their real pride and joy were their three children and herd of registered Jersey cows.

Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman were permanent fixtures at the Lisbon and Canfield fairs, where they exhibited their prized herd for years. They commanded laughter and fun times for the neighbors and friends who stopped in the barns to visit and play a hand of euchre. They were honored in 1970 for outstanding service to the American Jersey Cattle Club. They also belonged to the Ohio Jersey Cattle Club.

Mrs. Zimmerman’s specialty on the farm was calf feeding and tending to a flock of Rhode Island Reds. She’d often beat the rest of the family to the barn for morning and evening chores. Mrs. Zimmerman was also known for her homemade pies and loved to cook up a storm for threshers and ensilage cutters, thinking nothing of it to have 15 or 20 men for dinner, and sometimes supper, too.

Mr. Zimmerman spent his early years as an adviser for the Just Rite 4-H club, passing his love for livestock projects and fairs to the club’s members. He was a member of the Salem Grange for 74 years, and served as master and all other offices. Rowena Zimmerman played piano at the Grange hall. Both loved to attend Ruritan and Grange conventions, and loved to attend Saturday night dances. The couple were members of Phillips Christian Church. He served on the board of directors as secretary for Salona Supply, and she was a member of the Country Garden Club.


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