NEW WESTON — Paul and Mary Mestemaker were awarded the Century Farm designation this year for having their rural property in the same family for 100 years.
The award came from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which recognizes the many social, economic and historic contributions made by Ohio’s founding farm families. Ohio’s Historic Family Farms program was developed as a way to honor these families for their enduring legacy to the state. The program grants three designations based on the number of years of same-family ownership…for 100, 150 and 200 years.
Paul said his parents, Julius and Amelia (Dorsten) Mestemaker, purchased the farm, located at 4794 North Star-Fort Loramie Road, from Joe Hemmelgarn on April 19, 1919.
“I was born and raised in the brick house on the next lot, and have been here all my life,” Paul said. “I will probably die here.”
Mestemaker did serve two years in the Army, undergoing basic training at Fort Knox and was sent to Germany at the end of the Korean War.
Paul, who had one brother and four sisters, all of whom are deceased, turned 88 on March 7 this year, and wife Mary will be 89 on Nov. 12. They raised their nine children here.
Their children are David, Dennis, Dale, Donna Shaw, Chris, Randy, Lori Keller, Nancy Leugers and Jerry. There also are 22 grandchildren and, in a couple of months, the couple will have a total of 26 great-grandchildren.
The Mestemakers farmed all of their lives, as Mary was a farm girl from Burkettsville.
The couple grew up within three miles of each other and actually met and paired off at the New Weston Saturday evening movies. They were married June 20, 1953, which Mary said at that time was the hottest day on record. Their wedding was at the Eldora Ballroom, before racing ever began there.
She said all but one of the buildings originally on their farm property are gone. The only one remaining is a little chicken coop.
The Mestemakers had a home built in 1957, when he came home from the service.
“We stayed with my mom and dad until we got the house built,” Mary said.
“We were married with two children at the time,” Paul said.
“The barn burned in on April 12, 1963, and we lost 12 heifers, eight sows and pigs and a bull,” said Mary, who saved some of the cows.
The couple said their home has been the scene of a lot of get-togethers for this close-knit family.
“There is always somebody coming in and out,” Mary said. “All are close except for Donna in Illinois and Dale in Georgia.”
Paul had been a township trustee for 19 years, and then son Chris took over. Another son, Dennis, is a Wayne Township trustee.
Paul also worked for 19 years at the Kaiser Fertilizer plant near Burkettsville to supplement the family income.
Son Dennis farms their 120 acres, which today is only grain crops.
“We always milked but not over 40 cows,” she said. “I milked in the morning and the boys did in the evening. We quit in 1992.”
She went on, “Life’s been good. It’s been everyday living. The kids are all healthy and we belong to St. Bernard’s Church in Burkettsville.”
Daughter-in-law Charlene, Jerry’s wife, said, “It is amazing when you drive around the area, all the different designs on the signs (located at other Century Farms in the area) since everyone builds their own.”
Mary said son Jerry was in charge of getting the signs, and a grandchild decorated it with LED lights so it would show up for all passersby to see.
Contact Staff Writer Linda Moody at email@example.com or at (937)569-4315 ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.