SPENCERVILLE — Doug Post nostalgically ran his fingers over the smoothly framed glass that held a piece of paper that is 187 years old. That piece of paper is a land deed, one that is signed by President John Quincy Adams in 1825 for the land that he still lives on to this day.
Not too much farther away, Bill Brinkman proudly showed off a piece of paper that had old-fashioned-cursive letters spelling out “Family Registry,” displaying his great-grandfather, from just north of Glandorf, Germany, married his great-grandmother, in Glandorf, Ohio, and had 10 kids, settling on the land in the 1870s.
Post and Brinkman’s farm lands were recently added to the Ohio Century Farms list. Ohio Century Farms is a program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture that is awarded to families who have owned the same farm for at least 100 consecutive years.
“The certificates are signed by both the governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture,” said Ashley McDonald, ODA Public Information Officer. “ODA likes to recognize the social, the economic and the historic contributions that these family farms have made, both throughout the state and the agricultural industry.”
Post’s farm happens to be the oldest family-owned farmland settled in Allen County, he said.
“The only people who have ever lived on this land have been the Native Americans and our family. That is really something special,” Post, 67, said, examining his collection of antique photographs and yellowed pages out of history books.
Post, the fourth generation to live on the property at 9810 Spencerville Road, keeps his family’s heritage close to his heart. The land was settled in 1825 by Allen County’s first commissioner, Samuel Stewart, his great-great-grandfather.
“My grandfather was born three years before the Civil War,” he said. “My grandmother used to tell me stories about Jesse James because she was born in Kansas.”
He took over the farm when his mother died in 1990, he said. The original barn on the property was built in 1899 and his great-grandparents lived in a small cabin, still on the property today.
“Notice they built the barn before the house,” he said, laughing. “The most important thing back then.”
Brinkman’s family settled on 100 acres on Road 12 near Ottawa in 1837. The land was first settled by Herman Ellerbrock, whose daughter married Josef Brinkman, Bill Brinkman’s great-grandfather, in the early 1870s.
Josef Brinkman had 10 children, eight boys and two girls. Of the 10 children, each got an 80-acre farm, he said. Bill Brinkman’s grandfather was named Wilhelm, whom he was named William after.
The oldest of six children, Bill Brinkman, 73, grew up on the farm and remembers daily farming life. He said he helped around the farm until he decided he wanted to go to college.
“We would carve our initials into these boards over here,” he said, pointing to a side of the barn that used to be a milking parlor. “My grandmother would come out here and talk German to us.”
After he went to college, he taught at University of Findlay before deciding to help his father farm. Proud of where his family came from, he knows a lot of the German language.
His daughter, Sarah Brinkman Kreinbrink, bought the land where the original house stood that Bill Brinkman grew up in, the barn and a few surrounding acres. Bill Brinkman ended up building a home on the land and raising his family not even half a mile down the road.
“Family is just so important to us,” Bill Brinkman said. “I have five children, and they all live within 25 miles. It’s been important to us to have that. It’s been good for our family to know where we come from.”
Bill Brinkman said he and his wife, Suzanne, got acquainted with a few Brinkmans from Germany through a program in town that they remain in touch with. There is no relation, but they say it reminds them of where they came from.
Post has a love for historical things, especially arrowheads.
“Anything that has anything to do with history, I collected it or my mom collected it or my dad collected it,” Post said. “I’ve got an arrowhead collection. My dad farmed with horses but he never found any arrowheads. My great-grandfather, he found a ton of arrow heads.”
A railroad worker for 39 years, Post said the farm kept him home.
“If it wouldn’t have been for the history of this farm, I know I’d be somewhere else,” he said. “And I managed to stay in Lima all these years. I was one of the few. I farmed for a few years, until the 1970s, or so.”
Post said he hopes to keep the land in the family, as well. Now, his family rents out the farms and deals in horses, he said.
Bill Brinkman said his leased farm now is a grain farm.
“We were extremely happy when Sarah decided to invest in the farm,” Bill Brinkman said. Brinkman said he also hopes the farm stays in his family in future generations.