Whom Did We Interview?

The following people were oral history interviewees in 2011. We thank each of them for their time and assistance in helping the national park share the complex history of farming in the Cuyahoga Valley. We have listed names in alphabetical order. Several local residents were interviewed twice.

Richard Bigelow shared stories about his father's and grandfather's farms, on what is now the former Coliseum property. He also provided memories of growing up in the valley, his father's Chevrolet dealership in Peninsula, and the history of the Richfield Coliseum.

Carl Boodey grew up in the valley and worked on the Stanford, Conger, and Bender farms during the 1940s and 50s. He shared memories of farm work and how the valley has changed over time.

Hazel Broughton talked about growing up in Everett during the 1930s and 40s. She described attending school, church, and local dances.

David Darst and his daughter Lee Darst rented property on the Bender Farm for about 30 years, starting in the 1950s. David and Lee shared memories of working for Earva and Kathryn Bender, and selling produce from the Bender's farm stand. The Bender Farm is located on Akron Peninsula Road at the Ira Road intersection.

Josephine Davis recounted her life growing up in the historic Szcudlo House on Snowville Road in Brecksville. Josephine described work and family life on the farm.

Laura DeYoung is a Countryside Initiative farmer, operating The Spicy Lamb Farm in Peninsula. Laura described learning how to run a successful farm and how farm activities change by season.

George Dittoe provided information about his father Howard Dittoe and described several farms in Peninsula. Howard Dittoe worked in the Virginia Kendall area during the 1920s and 30s—first for Hayward Kendall and then the Civilian Conservation Corps and the metropolitan park.

Daniel Emmett shared stories about running a dairy farm in Richfield, next to the former Coliseum property. He also provided information about the history of the Richfield Coliseum, as well as other farms and businesses in the area.

Rena Fiedler shared memories of growing up on her grandparents' farm, the Stanford House, as well as community life in Peninsula starting in the 1930s.

George Fisher, Jr. grew up in Peninsula and helped work in his father's business, Fisher's Restaurant, which the family purchased in the 1950s. George shared memories of local businesses and community life, as well as how the landscape changed over time.

Earle Foote discussed operations on his family's farm in Valley View, which has been in the Foote family since the 1890s.

Henry Fortlage shared information about his grandparents' large dairy farm in Brooklyn Heights. The Merkle family bought and leased property throughout the northern Cuyahoga Valley in support of this farm. Henry also recalls how the landscape has changed.

Daniel Greenfield manages Greenfield Berry Farm as a Countryside Initiative farmer. He shared knowledge and stories about how he runs a successful pick-you-own operation.

Robert Grether recollected working for over 30 years on the Bender Farm on Akron Peninsula Road at Ira Road. He also provided information about how his grandfather and great uncle farmed their own land in the 1940s.

Alan Halko, in 2001, became the first farmer awarded a farm in the Countryside Initiative program. Halko shared stories about starting and running his farm, the Spring Hill Farm and Market, on Riverview Road in Brecksville.

Carol Haramis and her husband own and operate Heritage Farms in Peninsula. Carol provided information about the history and current use of the farm, which has been in her family since 1844.

Wade Johnson talked about running Carriage Trade Farm on Brandywine Road, why he started making and selling horse-drawn vehicles, and what it is like to own a business in the Cuyahoga Valley.

Martin Johnston manages his farm on Alexander Road in Valley View, where he sells produce from a roadside stand. Martin talked about what it takes to be a farmer and shared stories about his family's long history in the farming business.

Darwin Kelsey, executive director of Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, talked about the history and mission of his organization.

Beth Knorr, market manager for Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, shared details about the Countryside Farmers' Markets and CVCC's goals for sustainable farming in Ohio.

Irene Kusnyer is the oldest living member of the Szalay family, and the aunt of the current owners of Szalay's Sweet Corn Farm. Irene shared memories about growing up in Everett.

Myron Marfut and his sister Dorothy Vani grew up on Akron Peninsula Road, near Camp Ledgewood. Myron and Dorothy shared stories about helping their mother on the farm and selling goods in Cleveland's Slavic Village.

Willis Meyers and his son Ronnie Meyers own a Belgian horse farm near Blossom Music Center. The Meyers family has farmed in the area since the mid-19th century. Willis and Ronnie shared memories of local history, farm life, and community events.

Marjorie Osborne Morgan is a descendant of the Swann family, who were early Everett settlers. Marjorie recalled growing up in the Osborne House on Riverview Road during the 1930s.

Patricia Morse shared many stories about her childhood growing up on Oak Hill Road, across from the Hale Farm. The McNeils, family on her father's side, were early settlers of Bath.

AJ and Pamela Neitenbach shared stories about running the Nietenbach Farm in Cuyahoga Falls, selling herbs and vegetables at local farmers' markets, and being a part of the Countryside Initiative program.

Ernest Ogrinc discussed his hay farming operation in Valley View and how he works with neighboring farmers.

Gerald and Marilyn Polcen sell sweet corn on Chaffee Road in Brecksville. The Polcens talked about managing their farm in Northfield and interacting with customers at their roadside stand.

Warren Roller's family once owned 110 acres that are now part of the former Coliseum property. Warren talked about former farms and farm stands in the area, as well as the construction of the Richfield Coliseum.

Daniel Schneider grew up on the Schneider Farm, now the Coonrad Ranger Station, on Riverview Road. He shared stories about his family's work on the Merkle dairy farm, his memories of local businesses, and how the valley has changed during his lifetime.

Terry Smith talked about beginning and operating Goatfeathers Point Farm in Peninsula, raising turkeys and goats, and being part of the Countryside Initiative program.

Elizabeth Thalman and her husband worked on a property that was later purchased by Richfield Coliseum developers. Elizabeth shared memories of working and raising a family on their farm.

Jan Thomas shared memories of growing up on the Carter Farm in Everett. Jan provided information about Everett history, businesses, and community life.

Don Torma talked about owning and operating Country Maid Ice Cream and Orchard in Richfield, and what it takes to maintain an orchard.

Helyn Toth shared memories of the Point Farm (more recently Goatfeathers Point Farm), started by her great-grandparents, and the nearby Fielder Farm (now Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center) where she grew up. Helyn recalled being a child in Everett and selling produce from her family's farm stand.

Philip Urbank shared stories about growing up on Quick Road in Peninsula, drilling water wells, and raising Highland cattle.

Kathleen Varga operates Crooked River Herb Farm in Peninsula, which at one time was operated on a historic property leased from the national park. Her ventures have included raising llamas and jelly production.

Heather and Eric Walters talked about starting and managing their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program on Quick Road. Their Basket of Life Farm is part of the Countryside Initiative.

Ott Wilson's family leased land to work on Hale Farm for C.O. Hale and, later, Clara Bell Ritchie. Ott shared memories of growing up in the valley, working on the Hale Farm, and community life in Bath and Peninsula.

Thomas Wilson, Jr.'s family owns and operates Wilson Feed Mill on Canal Road in Valley View. Thomas described the history of the mill, which has been in his family for over 100 years, and how the business has changed over time.

David Wingenfeld and his son Noah Wingenfeld talked about growing and selling a wide range of fruits and vegetables. They run Canal Corners Farm and Market in Valley View, part of the Countryside Initiative.

Last updated: June 24, 2020

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