UNION CITY, Ohio — The Ganger homestead at 677 Wasson Road, south of here, is now known as an Ohio Century Farm. It has been in the family since 1835.
“A farm has to be in a family for over 10o years [to qualify],” said Anna Lee Dickerson, who lives there with husband Dale. “This is the 23rd century farm in Darke County. Others changed hands out of the family. It has to be in the same family. That includes, aunts, uncles, cousins and adopted children, but not in-laws.”
The Dickersons moved there nine years ago. It was where she and her sisters, Patty Foreman and Judi Pence, were raised.
“It was in our aunt, Pearl Sullenberger’s hands,” Dickerson said. “She was our grandfather Dan Ganger’s sister. Our grandfather was a teacher but he really enjoyed teaching and decided to will it over to his sister, Pearl, and her husband Forest Sullenberger. Pearl died in 1953, and we moved here in 1955. Dad was already farming the land. She willed it to her three nephews, our father Webster and his brothers, Richard and Paul Ganger.”
It was also noted that the plot across the road to the north was bought by Joseph Kaugher on March 20, 1835, from the state. However, Dickerson found it interesting that Kaugher sold it to Jacob Ganger on Feb. 14, 1835, before he bought it.
“Jacob bought that lot for $50,” she said.
Dickerson said she did all of the research in getting the homestead to be an Ohio Century Farm.
“You have to have clearance from every person who inherited it,” said Dickerson. “My sisters and I inherited from our mother, Dorothy (Young) Ganger, who died in 2001. Our father, Webster, died in 1989.”
“I had to go to the recorder’s office to prove both uncles deeded it over to dad,” she said. “One uncle died before it happened and it went to his daughter. I got proof to show she deeded it to dad. So, we have a clear title.”
Dickerson said her great-grandfather, George W. Ganger, had seven brothers and sisters.
“I had to get clear deeds from each one of them,” said Dickerson, who said she has been dabbling in genealogy for 20 or 30 years. “Five years ago I had done enough research to prove we were among the Pioneer Families. Our family originated from Berk County, Pennsylvania. In 1806, someone went through that area and built up Ohio, so several families there migrated to Montgomery County, Ohio. I know my great-grandfather was among them. The family name was in the 1830 Darke County census so it was sometime in between that they came here. A lot of them people came up to Darke County.”
There is a total of 69.7 acres on the farm, and ground is rented out Bill Stocksdale.
“My sisters and I didn’t marry farmers,” said Dickerson, who admits to enjoying telling family stories. “In our possession of the farm, we found a Bible recording dates of birth and marriages to our third-generation great-grandfather. We have boxes full of deeds and liens we found after our parents died.”
In her research Dickerson learned that, at one time, farmers were responsible for taking care of the roads abutting their property.
“The original house structure was up on a hill across the road,” she said. “It was bought in 1856. In the late 1830s they moved the house down on Hillgrove-Southern Road. I’ve picked up pottery shard and the leg of a china doll. There was also a log cabin on this side of the road and it was dismantled and this house built in 1936. There are no records on the family who built it.”
Dickerson, who taught fourth and fifth grades in Greenville City Schools at East and Gettysburg before retiring, went on, “Because it was in the family all those years, we started looking around. In our woods, Greenville Creek runs through directly south of here. There is a straight row of sugar maple trees. This land was bought from Chenoweth. The backyard tree, I know, is more than 100 years old. It’s a bitternut hickory. Why it was planted we don’t know. It makes best wood for smoking meat.”
The Dickersons open their property to various events.
“My sisters and I get together the first of the year and plan two events a month,” Dickerson said. “They are for us and our spouses and there are five or six events for our children. We still do Easter and Christmas as a whole family.”
“Wiener roasts are a big tradition and we have a swimming party,” said Foreman.
The sisters graduated from Greenville High School; Dickerson in 1964, Foreman in 1967 and Pence in 1973. All three of them have been teachers.
“It was a real challenge for our parents to see that we all got college educations for their income,” said Foreman.
The Dickersons are making the farm stay alive.
“When Mom passed, we knew it was going to take a lot of repairs,” Dickerson said. “None of us were ready to sell. Pat and I both prayed about it. We were both willing to move here and take on responsibility. We remodeled with new plumbing, furnace and wiring, Pat did all of the wood and flooring. I kept the old woodwork. We sisters didn’t feel safe in renting the house out, where wiring was crumbling. It was empty for a short while before we fixed it up.”
“I can’t imagine anybody but our family living here,” Foreman said.
“It was a hard decision for us to make,” Dickerson said. “We live din our home enough years that that was home. It took a lot of money to fix this up. When we moved back, though it was like moving home. I still viewed it as my parents’ home. I feel like I’m steward of taking care of the property. I don’t feel like it’s truly ours, just a link in the chain.”
Yes, all three of the sisters have memories of the farm they grew up on. They helped with chores, drove farm equipment, walked to the woods, milked cows except for on school days, climbed in the hay now and played.
“The farm was important to our parents,” Foreman said. “Grandma Ganger and two brothers were here for meals a lot and Uncle Dick, who worked at Mengel’s in Union City, dropped by.”
Another thing she found interesting was a record showing that Jacob Wagner, according to the 1850 census, had three horses, three milking cows, six other cattle, 15 swine, 12 sheep, 15 bushels of wheat, 12 bushels of rye, 20 bushels of Indian corn, 125 pounds of rice, 100 pounds of wool, 40 bushels of Irish potatoes, 20 pounds of butter and 15 tons of hay.
All Century Farm owners were honored at the recent Great Darke County Fair on the race track in front of the Grandstand.
“It was the last Friday night of the fair after the first harness race,” Foreman said. “They presented a blanket and we got to stand with the horses.”
Attending that event were the three sisters, plus Hope Schaaf, 13, Dickerson’s granddaughter who is a seventh generation family member and who has also lived in the home.
“When we all pass away, I don’t know what will become of the farm,” Dickerson said. “It will go to all of our kids, then it will have to be a joint decision on what to do with it.”
She encourages people to do research on their rural properties in becoming a Century Farm.
“It’s interesting to find out things you might not have known,” she said. “It’s not real difficult, just a little time-consuming. It took me eight to 10 hours. The ladies at the courthouse were cordial showing me and letting me do it. Garst Museum will let you use their research records. You need to know addresses or legal descriptions. You have to go back to every deed. You don’t dare leave out any person.”
While researching, Dickerson also noted that they wanted to know the kind of contributions the farmer makes to agriculture.
“Dad had us in 4-H and he was a member of Farm Bureau,” she said. “You have to make copies of all records. I had 37 pages. I strongly encourage it. Winter is coming and farmers will have more time now to go to the courthouse and Garst museum.
You can contact Cindy Shy at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Office of Communication or email email@example.com or call 614-752-9817.”
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