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Origin of Ohio family farm dates back to early 1800s
By DOUG GRAVES
Ohio Correspondent

MILFORD, Ohio — Their farm is not listed among on the Century Farm list as provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, but there’s no mistake that this farm has been under control by one family since 1807.

Jerry Shaw, 77, realizes that development of new homes and business are making their way towards his farm located on Ohio 131 east of Milford, Ohio. But he isn’t about to cave in to progress. “I still make a living out of it, the entire family does, and I’m too old to get another job. So why would I sell it,” Jerry said.

Jerry’s great-great-great grandparents, Thomas and Martha Shaw, came to this part of southwestern Ohio 199 years ago after emigrating from Bucks County, Pa. In 1851 his great-great grandfather James B. Shaw was one of the builders and directors for the Milford, Edenton and Woodville Turnpike, which is now Ohio 131.

Jerry’s wife, Jean, came to Cincinnati from Sidney, Ohio to study nursing. She met Jerry on a blind date and they married in 1952. The couple has four children: Vicki, Nancy, Michael and Jeffery.

Michael and Jeffery are farmers, as are three of his four grandchildren, so the hopes of the next generation of farmers in this family seem bright. In all, there are 15 family members who lend a hand at keeping the farm afloat.

“It’s also home. I was born and raised here, so why would I sell it,” Jerry said.

Jerry is constantly bombarded with thoughts of selling portions (if not all) of his land, but those thoughts don’t come from any of his family members. All are enjoying the work on the farm - and there’s lot to be done there.

Each spring you’ll find family members tending to the farm market at the main barn, selling corn, beans, melons, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables. This month they’re gearing up for a month-long fall festival that includes the sale of pumpkins and hayrides.

A small farm? Guess again. The family tends to 1,700 acres in four counties (Warren, Clinton, Clermont and Brown). Fifty acres are dedicated to produce while another 20 acres are strictly for pumpkins. They work 640 acres and lease the rest.

“We haven’t sold a bit of the land,” Michael said. “We’re trying to keep it in the family. And there are 12 shares involved with this property and everyone gets along really well. Most in the family enjoy doing their part to help out on the farm, but there are a few who are not actively involved with the farm.”

Several businesses reside just across the street from the farm, and new housing developments can be found just north and south of the farm. Many of the 39,000 residents of this township live in places such as Harvest Ridge or Whitegate Farm.

“They aren’t farms,” Jerry said, “they’re subdivisions. Most of them came from a farm, but everybody sold their farms.”

“We’re trying to preserve the past, but it’s going fast,” Michael said, referring to development in the area.

But no need to worry as this clan is knee-deep in agriculture.

The 9,000 tomato plants on the premise are tended to by three of Jerry’s grandsons: Tyler, 21, Ryan, 19 and Dakota, 18. Other members of this eighth generation of Shaws include grandson Christopher, 22, who designed the Shaw Farms website.

This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

9/13/2006