ROSS TOWNSHIP — Nestled back in rural Greene County is one of Ohio’s historical gems.
A few blocks north of Old US Route 35 on tiny Watkins Road is where you’ll find the Bogan-Taylor Farm with its 30 acres of agricultural history.
It’s been in the family since 1865. In one home on the property mom and dad live. In another, the son, wife and kids live. Between the two modern buildings is a barn that’s seen and withstood everything the farm has experienced from gypsies, allegedly the Pony Express and of course, the 1974 Xenia tornado.
So historically relevant from the time William G. and Mary A. Taylor purchased the land until the present, where Gary Bogan and father, Richard Bogan, co-operate the farm, that the State of Ohio gave it Ohio Century Farm designation. It’s one of 22 in the county and just 1,233 state-wide that have been operated by the same family for at least 100 years.
The Ohio Century Farm program was developed as a way to honor families for their enduring legacy to Ohio, according to the state department of agriculture’s website. Designees receive an heirloom certificate signed by the governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. They also can hang a sign in their front yard indicating its century farm status.
“Gary’s pretty proud,” wife, Sherry said.
All in the Family
Mary Taylor owned it until her death at 110, back in 1926. She was believed to be one of the oldest residents of Ohio and possibly the country when she died. She and William had five children — Julia Taylor, Mary Ann Taylor, Sara Ellen Taylor, William Taylor Jr., and James Joseph Taylor.
James J. Taylor, who died in 1939, was the great-grandfather of Gary Bogan. From there the farm was passed down to Taylor’s daughter, Charlotte, who with sisters, Florence and Elsie, lived in a log home on the farm until the next generation took over.
Since then the log house came down and the two current buildings were built, one in 1973, the other two years later.
“We had no idea,” Gary said of the family’s ownership history. He found it quite by accident.
“I was at a point in my life when I really wanted to go back and research family history,” Gary said. “My dad was shocked when I got the information.”
Richard was born in Xenia Township in 1938 and his part of the family moved to the farm a year later. Except for 13 years he and wife, Shirley, lived in Wilmington, Richard has called the farm home.
“It is a home we have until we go to our final resting place,” he said. “I have the unique pleasure of being a care-taker and passer (to future generations).”
The extended family includes about 40. Gary has two sisters, Marsha Jacoby and Kathy Trisel.
A smaller operation
The Bogans don’t run a typical farm. There’s no year-round livestock – no silos – just chickens and corn. Lots and lots of corn.
There is also refurbished antique equipment.
“We definitely do not make our living off the farm,” Gary said. “We use the farm to feed our family. We’re tickled we can see what we’re raising and feeding our kids. It’s about taking care of the folks and taking care of the family.”
Both Gary and Sherry have day jobs. Gary is a business banking vice president at Huntington National Bank, while Sherry works for MB Financial in Wilmington.
“When we come home from work, we work until the sun goes down,” Gary said.
Despite it being smaller than many farms, there is corn to harvest, chickens to care for and antique equipment to restore.
Gary doesn’t mind.
“To me this is therapeutic,” he said as he walked to the back of the farm to show off his combine.
He doesn’t do it alone. Stepson Cody, 14, raises the chickens and is active in 4-H.
Connor, 5, the heir-apparent to the farm, does his part, driving around in his kid-size John Deere Gator.
“We just think it’s a great way to raise our kids,” Gary said.
The Bogan Family (left to right): Cody, Sherry, Gary, Connor, Richard and Shirley.