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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2001

A century on the land: Area farms recognized by the state

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Bridenbaugh farm near Pandora in Putnam County and the Sundermeier family's Sun Web Farm seven miles south of Perrysburg - started on land purchased for $20 an acre in 1896 - will be recognized next week as Outstanding Century Farms.

The century recognition program, started in 1993, annually honors two farms in each quadrant of the state that are at least 100 years old and have preserved and recorded much of their past.

It is coordinated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio's Country Journal tabloid, and the Ohio Historical Society.

The Bridenbaugh farm, with its Victorian brick house that Michael built in 1877 and its red barns, is a landmark in its tiny community, which has a pre-Civil War cemetery and well-preserved one-room school.

Daryl, left, and Dale Bridenbaugh grew up in the farm house behind them. Daryl lives there now, Dale down the road. Daryl, left, and Dale Bridenbaugh grew up in the farm house behind them. Daryl lives there now, Dale down the road.
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A painting of the farm rotates between a local bank and medical office, a mural of it is on the outside of a Pandora building, and it was once pictured on a promotional brochure for the community.

“That's always been a real prominent, picturesque scene in the community here because it has the Riley Creek going right by it,” said Oscar Velasquez the free-lance artist who painted it.

Mr. Bridenbaugh sells 1,000 hogs a year, down from about 3,000 a few years ago when a nephew worked with him.

He raises 50 steers a year and 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Mr. Bridenbaugh, his older brother Dale, and their mother Idella, own about half of that land, which includes the original 160 acres purchased in 1857.

In Wood County, Paul Sundermeier's farm includes 60 acres purchased 105 years ago by his great-grandfather. Mr. Sundermeir's wife, Marcena, coined the farm's name Sun Web from their last name and the farm's location in Webster Township.

At age 79, Mr. Sundermeier helps his sons, who have other full-time jobs, raise their 320 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. But for all but seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he worked at Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. to help put his four children through college, farming was his sole occupation.

He sold up to 2,000 hogs a year from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and earlier sold 50 to 100 head of cattle a year.

But he credits his father, Edwin, with keeping the farm in the family.

In the early 1930s, Edwin had bought an additional 40 acres and built a house and then struggled to pay for it through the Depression. Today, the land that sold for $20 an acre in 1896 has multiplied in value 100 to 150 times to $2,000 to $3,000 an acre.

The Bridenbaughs and Sundermeiers will be recognized along with the other six farms from other parts of Ohio next Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair.

Next month, one of the eight farms - likely the one which appears best poised for the future - will be honored at the Farm Science Review in central Ohio, said Kyle Sharp, editor of Ohio's Country Journal.



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