Ohio Century Farms: Harlow L. Stahl Farm
By Jeanette Ricker
The Harlow L. Stahl Century Farm at 9507 state Route 113 in Erie County east of Bellevue has no sign in the yard, but has been in the family for 127 years.
The current owner, Harlow L. Stahl, 82, has lived there all of his life. There was no celebration or special observance when Harlow completed the paperwork recognizing the century farm when he received the official sign.
“I did it because I wanted to honor the farm at that time,” he said.
The property was purchased in 1885 by his grandfather, Harlow C. Stahl, the first of seven Harlow Stahls, differentiated only by their middle initial. None have a middle name, only an initial, for the maiden name of their mother. Harlow C.’s son was Harlow M. Stahl, whose firstborn son, Harlow D. drowned in a pond on the property at age four.
The present Harlow L. Stahl wasn’t born yet. He was the youngest in the family and was given the name Harlow L. when he was born after a family friend named Loren. His oldest son is Harlow Philip, who named his son Harlow Michael. The seventh Harlow Gregory Stahl is a newborn and will be baptized wearing the 120-year-old family baptismal gown in Huntsville, Ala.
Harlow’s grandfather, Harlow C., bought the 160-acre farm in 1885, later selling off 30 acres in 1909.
He was not a farmer, but a businessman who developed the cultivator in Fremont, Ohio and was the owner of the Ohio Cultivator Company, using his Bellevue farm to test the equipment.
“It was the biggest farm machine company in the U.S. at that time,” said Harlow L.
“He was so busy testing and selling cultivators that McCormick beat him to the patent office.”
Harlow L’s father, Harlow M. and his wife, Juanita A., moved back to the farm sometime between 1909 and 1920. They had originally been peach growers, living in the lighthouse keeper home on Bayshore Road near Marblehead, Ohio.
The farm house burned on May 1, 1921. His father, Harlow M. built the present house on the foundation of the old home. The basement still has the original beams with ax-hewn marks.
This home is larger, with three rooms on the main floor and four bedrooms upstairs. There is a large screened porch by the driveway where Harlow works on his hobby of broom making. He sells his brooms and demonstrates broom making at Historic Lyme Village nearby and at the Erie County and Huron-Erie Fairs.
Harlow L. has lived on the property since he was born, farming with his father who was a dairy farmer. Harlow L. raised hogs. The big barn was built in the 1890s. There are five outbuildings behind the home and the remains of a stone tenant house next door built in 1865.
Stahl recalled that his dad first used mules to do the farming and he still has his dad’s horse drawn cultivator.
“Dad did all the thrashing in the area. He also did the butchering,” he said. Stahl recalled the big dinner his mother made for those who came to help thrash.
The thrashers tied their horses to a big maple tree which still grows there even though the horses nibbled off the bark, leaving a big hole. He also remembers bums jumping off the trains nearby coming to the door for handouts during the Great Depression.
Two of the ponds on the property were filled in, but Stahl remembered his dad cutting ice from a pond with an ice saw. One end of a field must have been used as a dumping ground where Stahl has found coins dating back the 1800s.
Harlow L. served with the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957 and then came back to Bellevue to farm. He officially retired from farming in the early 1990s, but still gardens, he said. After retirement he worked for eight years at Carter Lumber in Clyde, retiring 16 years ago. He was also a substitute teacher at Bellevue City Schools, he said. He has a degree in agriculture from Colorado State A & M.
The name Stahl is well known in Bellevue. His grandfather, Harlow C. Stahl donated $5,000 worth of books to the Bellevue Public Library when it was built by Andrew Carnegie. The library was known as the Carnegie Stahl Library. Stahl’s father, Harlow M. Stahl, was also a justice of the peace.
Carol and Harlow L. plan to keep the farm in the family for future generations to enjoy. They are parents of two sons and a daughter, and have many grandchildren.