Late 1700 history
The general history for the farm goes back to the Revolutionary War when Captain Joseph Hayes was given a land grant in the Indiana territory for his service to the country in the war for independence. This initially brought the Hayes side of the family to southeast Indiana and southwest Ohio.
Late 1800 history
The foundation of the current family farm began in 1855 when Joseph H. Hayes, son of Captain Joseph Hayes, purchased a 50-acre farm, located on the south side of the Great Miami River where the Whitewater River enters the Great Miami. This section of the farm contains all the farm buildings: the house, barns, and additional outbuildings. In 1869 Joseph purchased an additional 89-acre farm, again on the south side of the Great Miami River, west of the 50-acre farm, separated by approximately a quarter mile. The original farm was primarily river bottom, while the second, larger purchase was on high ground and consisted of a 50-acre flat with 39 acres of treed hillside. There was no further change in the size of the farm until the mid 1990’s.
In 1884 the farm was willed to Job Hayes, one of Joseph Hayes’ two sons. He worked the farm for at least another ten years, until 1894, at which time ownership of the farm was transferred through a will to his wife Missouri Hayes. Job and Missouri had one child Georgeanna.
Missouri operated the farm for over 25 years after Job’s death. The farm ownership was transferred to Georgeanna through a will in 1923.
Georgeanna married Dr. Charles Saur and relocated to Norwood, Ohio. She still retained ownership of the farm and found local farmers willing to work the farm on shares. In 1930 Georgeanna and her family returned to the farm. Georgeanna had two children, Louis and Louise. Louis, born in 1906, never married and took over operation of the farm as an adult, continuing farming through the 1960’s. Louise Saur married Marion Stewart and moved to Price Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati. Louise had two children Georgia May and Richard Marion. Georgeanna died in 1969, and ownership of the farm was transferred to Louis Saur and Louise Stewart as half-owners.
During the 1970’s Richard (Dick) took over the management of the farm. Louis, who had been working the farm for over thirty years, was ready to retire. Dick and his wife lived in Cincinnati with their two children Richard Michael and Amy Elisabeth. Family farms during this time period were losing out to competition from the large corporate farms. Dick Stewart was employed full-time off the farm and his sister Georgia May Conner lived in Washington D.C. with her family and had no real interest in operating the farm. For the second time in the farm’s history the land was worked on shares with local farmers. In 1988 Marion Stewart passed away and Dick’s mother decided to transfer her half-share of the farm to her son with the promise from him that he would share ownership with his sister in the future.
During the life of the farm the Great Miami River had been kind to the family. In the deed for the original 50-acre farm bounded on one side by Great Miami River had a moving boundary based the on channel of the river. The river over the 140-year history of the farm had moved in its favor. The size of the farm, as stated in the deed, “was plus or minus 50 acres based on the low water mark of the Great Miami River.” Dick Stewart had the farm surveyed in the early 1990’s and discovered that the original 50-acre farm had grown to 132 acres. With the additional 89-acre purchase, the farm had grown to 220 acres in size.
In 1993 the Cincinnati Gas and Electric Co. (CG&E) was interested in purchasing the hill portion of the 89-acre piece of the farm. The farm property between the two sections of the family farm had been mined for gravel, and the land was then purchased by CG&E to be used as a fly ash landfill. They needed clay to cap the landfill and wanted to purchase the 39-acre hill section of the original 89-acres. Dick Stewart worked out a deal with CG&E, which brought new life to the family farm. He was planning to retire in the year 2000 and was looking at farming as his next occupation.
The 1993 CG&E deal
It was a land deal with CG&E that began our family farm’s rebirth. For the 39-acres CG&E desired to purchase, they traded a piece of 130-acre river bottomland, adjacent to our farm, the use of the 100 acres of the capped landfill for the production of hay, and a sum of money. The family farm had now grown to 316 acres and we had the use of an additional 100 acres for hay. By the end of 1993 Dick Stewart was managing the family farm operation of 416 acres. The landfill property could only be used for hay production. With the money from the CG&E deal he was able to purchase hay equipment and began selling hay; the tillable farm land was still leased to local farmers; the family farm was on its way back and the hay production led to a new business – horse boarding.
A group of the farm’s best hay customers had long hoped to run a horse boarding facility, and following discussion, we entered into an agreement with them: within a year we were well on our way to completing the first of three horse barns.
There was, however, a dark cloud on the horizon and in the farm’s case it turned out to be the Three Rivers School System.
1997 Three Rivers School Board
There is a saying, “If the world deals you lemons try making lemonade”. In 1997 the Three Rivers School Board decided to eminent domain the level portion of the original 89-acre section of the farm, a move which precipitated a two-year, very public, fight with the school board. Eventually Dick Stewart won the fight, selling the mineral rights to the property to a local gravel company. The resulting gravel pit turned out to be a good thing for the farm. It supplied the cash flow to support rebuilding the farm infrastructure and enabled Dick to bring his son Richard Michael Stewart into the operation.
The farm had lost approximately 50 acres of tillable land to gravel production and eventually also lost the right to harvest hay off the CG&E property, but with the income from the leasing of gravel rights we were able to build two additional horse barns and buy the farm equipment necessary to take over the farming of the bottom land. Horse trails were created, an outdoor arena was constructed, and new pasture land was seeded in the bottoms.
2000 A New Century and Direction
Dick Stewart retired in March 2000 and started on his new career as a full-time farmer. Even though there was a decrease in the number of acres the farm was working, the amount of income was increasing and the farm, for the first time in a long while, was supporting itself.
In 2002, Louis Saur died at the age of 96. Upon Louis’ death Dick Stewart and, as promised to his mother, Georgia Conner became the next owners of the family farm. In 2002 Carriage House Farm Services LLC was created and became the official name and owner of the original 50-acre section of the farm plus the property received in the deal with CG&E. The gravel pit, the remainder of the original 89-acre section of the farm, was transferred to Lostbridge LLC. Four partners, Dick Stewart, his wife, Karen Stewart, Georgia Conner and her husband, Nelson Conner, now own both of the family LLC’s that include the total acreage of the original farm. During this time Richard Stewart began to diversify the operation. Each generation has new ideas regarding the direction of the family farm. Dick Stewart continues to follow his original direction as a grain farmer. Richard Stewart has added organic vegetable production and beekeeping to the business, supplying local restaurants, delis, markets, and artisanal producers with fresh produce and honey. Father and son manage their individual portions of the farm and support each other’s efforts. Carriage House Farm remains, to this day, a Family Farm.