Blaine-Stewart Cigar Factory

At the turn of the century there were 100 cigar factories in Ohio. By the end of WW2 there were just 40 left. The last operating cigar factory in the State of Ohio was the Blaine-Stewart in Hicksville, Ohio. When they finally closed in the early 1970′s, they had been in operation for many years using equipment that was over a hundred years old.

Several years ago a couple of fellows visited from Pennsylvania just to see the old equipment and smell the fine cigar smell of the shop they used to travel so far to, in order to buy their cigars. They spoke with great affection of the quality of the cigars they had once so enjoyed.

I was very fortunate to have acquired the complete shop and move it here to the museum. All the cutters, grinders, rollers, presses, molds, clamps and vices and cigar boxes and labels came with the shop. I even acquired the very large zinc lined, wooden storage chest still filled with curing tobacco. A nicer, richer smell is hard to imagine.

I have added to the collection a large number of other brand cigar boxes, two woven wood tobacco carrying baskets, spittoons, signs, tobacco we grow, chopping knives, ash trays and more. I also acquired a wonderful display case, complete with R. G. Dunn decals, which formally served as the sales desk of our friend Nina at the now closed Peninsula Antiques that once stood east of town on Rt. 303.

In tribute to the fine tobaccos once so commonly smoked and enjoyed, we painted the interior of the shop a color somewhat reminiscent of the color smoker’s fingers used to turn from holding lit cigars and cigarettes. A nice rich, brownish yellow. …How it all reminds me of my long passed but so fondly remembered Grandfather William.

This past week I have spent a great deal of time cleaning out the “old shop” where I keep many of my more modern tools. It had gotten rather cluttered over the years with much of the surplus I have collected. Along with chain saws, paint, tools of all kinds, gas cans and such, I had also saved large collections of nuts and bolts and nails, many of them still in the cans where various farmers had originally stored them. It has been interesting how often many of the repurposed cans, now full of nails and such, where originally tobacco tins. I had forgotten about the tins until this most recent cleaning. And so the cigar shop’s collection grows.


Worsh Day (Old N. Ohio Accent for Wash)

When I was young, I remember folks in Richfield still arguing about the War of Rebellion/War Between the States. Before the advent of mass television and media, and regions of the country were more isolated, it was much more common to have “regional” accents. Most such unique and “old time” differences are gone. It’s very rare to hear anyone still say worsh and the war is usually only mentioned when a few folks demand to erase any history or mark of those who lost.

The museum now has a new exhibit, Wash Day. We recently relocated the Blaine-Stewart Cigar Factory, and in its place in the main barn we have gathered our large collection of worshing machines and devices. The collection begins with very early “easy washers” which are simply a tin cone affixed to a wood handle that you would lift up and push down in a bucket of water to remove dirt from clothes. The collection continues on to wood, tin and/or glass scrub boards. Washing machines later came into use incorporating these two devices to make washing much easier. And, of course, later yet, agitator and wringer washers were developed and came into use. In the collection is also many ironing boards, wood heated and electric irons, wash tubs and stands, clothes drying racks and gas powered Maytag Washing Machine engines.

It has been said that the advent of washing machines and devices were the single greatest invention that brought freedom to women. Come visit the museum to see the evolution of washing machines. From work saving, to life transforming.

Studebaker Buggy Rolls Into Museum.

Today we were finally able to add a “new” Studebaker buggy to the museum collection. We have been working for over a year to acquire the buggy, and we are very happy it has finally arrived. It is already on display and will shortly be restored to its original colors of black interior and seat, yellow exterior and red wheels and shafts. The buggy makes an interesting addition to the museum collection because Studebaker was among the few companies to make the transition from 19th to 20th Cent. transportation modes. The buggy joins our many other older buggies including two believed to be made at the Jaeger Buggy Shop of Bath, Ohio, and our several cars, trucks and tractors of the same era.
The company began in 1852 when brothers Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana. Later two younger brothers would join and they would build the business into the largest wagon and buggy maker in the United States.
By the time the above ad ran in January of 1909, the company had already been experimenting with newer technology. In 1902, Thomas Edison bought the second electric car they assembled. The electrics were soon followed by a gasoline powered model in 1904.
By 1920 Studebaker horse drawn buggy production would cease. Later on, in 1966, the Studebaker Automotive Company, known at the time as a style leader, was driven out of business by the bigger Detroit auto makers.

Halter Feed & Grain Mill

In 2009, the owner of Halter Feed & Grain retired. After 50 yrs. of operation by the family, the Mill, located in Robertsville, Stark Co., was sold at action. The museum was able to save two feed baggers, conveyer belts and pulleys, the Halter Feed sign and a very nice printed Halter feed sack. We have now set up the Halter Mill display at the museum.

Over the years we have also collected many other feed mill items and equipment, including the Garman Farm hammer mill, several platform scales for weighing bags of grain, a quite rare oat crusher used for crimping oats to make a better more digestible horse feed,  a seed sorter, grain grinding mill, a number of table top corn grinders, hand trucks, feed and supplements signs, a neat price list sign board from Ashery Feed Mill, lots of feed bags and more. Next to the mill will be parked the Museum’s 1919 Model TT feed delivery truck.

This collection makes a new and interesting display to come see the next time you visit the museum.


The Winter of 2014/2015



It’s almost mid-March and there’s plenty of cleaning up to do from this (almost) passed winter. During February we never had a day above freezing. As a consequence, the snow just continued to build up. The result of that was that we had our first ever building collapse.

One morning I went out to feed the animals and there was the Harness Shop fallen into ruin. Unfortunately, the temp. that day and for the week following was in the single digits. It was just too cold to work outside. But finally it warmed up a bit and good friend and constant museum helper, Mendy, and my nephew Mike came over to help start the clean-up. The first day we managed to pull out from under the fallen roof several sewing machines and lots of harness. The next day we dug snow all day. What a job. It was 2′ thick and packed and heavy. We had to move it a shovel at a time and load it into wheel barrows to haul away.

It’s been several days now of hard work tearing apart the building, getting the space ready to build anew and saving the many machines and gear of the shop. We’ve moved it all into the old gen’l store and will set it up soon as the “new” harness shop. The space where the original harness shop was will become an expanded addition to the tractor and motorized farm equipment display.

Quotes We Like About Farming & History

“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: that was the American dream.”    ~Edward Abbey

“A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia. “    ~David McCullough

“Our food crisis began when we stopped caring about where our food came from. It began when we no longer knew the people that grew our produce and raised the animals we eat. It began when we stopped cooking and started eating out of boxes and ate fast-food in our cars. It began when we started trusting companies that rely solely on profit to feed us. Monsanto exists because of our neglect. How we became so disconnected from such an important part of our very being is hard to understand.  –It’s Time to Reconnect! Support Local Agriculture!”    ~Anonymous

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”    ~Pearl Buck

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”    ~Mahatma Gandhi

“The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.”    ~David Thelen

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”    ~Abraham Lincoln

“History is never antiquated, because humanity is always fundamentally the same.”    ~Walter Rauschenbusch

“It is hard for us today to realize how very widely communities were separated from one another when they depended for transportation wholly on the railroad and the horse and wagon – and when telephones were still scarce, and radios non-existent. A town which was not situated on a railroad was really remote. A farmer who lived five miles outside the county seat made something of an event of hitching up and taking the family to town for a Saturday afternoon’s shopping. (His grandchildren make the run in a casual ten minutes, and think nothing of it.) A trip to see friends ten miles away was likely to be an all-day expedition, for the horse had to be given a chance to rest and be fed. No wonder that each region, each town, each farm was far more dependent upon its own resources – its own produce, social contacts, amusements – than in later years. For in terms of travel and communication the United States was a very big country indeed.

No wonder, furthermore, that the majority of Americans were less likely than their descendants to be dogged by that frightening sense of insecurity which comes from being jostled by forces – economic, political, international – beyond one’s personal ken. Their horizons were close to them. They lived among familiar people and familiar things – individuals and families and fellow townsmen much of their own sort, with ideas intelligible to them. A man’s success or failure seemed more likely than in later years to depend upon forces and events within his own range of vision. Less often than his sons and grandsons did he feel that his fortune, indeed his life, might hang upon some decision made in Washington or Berlin or Moscow, for reasons utterly strange to his experience. The world at which he looked over the dashboard of the family carriage might not be friendly, but at least most of it looked understandable.”  ~The Big Change: 1900-1950 by Frederick Lewis Allen, published in 1952.

–Come to the museum. Learn about America’s agrarian past. And learn how to use those past skills and knowledge, to raise your own animals, grow your own food, make your own everyday tools, goods and clothing. Stop by anytime to talk, or take one of the museum’s many homesteading & self-reliance classes.

Animals at the Village

When you come to visit the museum, be sure to save time to see the many farm animals. At one time it was very common for kids to be raised with, handle and care for a variety of animals. When children were raised on farms there were eggs to collect, cows to milk, pigs to feed and barn cats to play with, often before the children ate their own breakfasts.

These days children very rarely spend time, or even know much about what happens, on a farm and “who” lives there. We often have school groups that come to tour and I usually take them into the barn to see who’s home. One time as we stood looking at the milk cows, I asked them where chocolate milk came from. No one knew. When I said it came from brown cows, many of them nodded  in agreement (I have noticed that many farmers tend to have a very dry sense of humor).

Come to the museum and introduce your family to our Big Black/Duroc Hampshire pigs, Jersey/Normandy milk cows, Jacob sheep, La Mancha milk goats, New Zealand rabbits and lots of different breeds of chickens (our favorites are the Aracana hens that lay blue or green or pink eggs).

We really like to raise heritage and less common breeds. This is partly because heritage animals can be much more hardy to difficult weather conditions and different available forages. They can also often have more successful births without human intervention.

Most people know that we are losing our diversity of seeds for the garden, not as many know that the same thing is happening with livestock. Mega farms tend to raise one of two particular breeds of animals because it helps make profit easier. Hereford cattle, Angus cattle and common white pigs are very often raised. For Thanksgiving turkey, most birds raised are “Big Bronze”. The problem is with almost exclusively raising one or two breeds, if ever a disease particular to that breed causes them to die out, we may all be forced to become vegetarians, or worse yet, we could lose whole species of animals, not just that one breed. Most chickens like leghorns have “forgotten” how to hatch eggs because it has been bred out of them. And in the case of the big bronzes, if they’re allowed to live past a year old they become so big they can’t fly and often can’t even walk.

We also do a certain amount of animal rescues. Sometimes people can’t or even won’t take care of their animals. When that happens, the animals are sometimes taken away so they do not suffer. There are farms where they are placed with people who will care for them. We have had beef cattle, goats, riding and draft horses, ducks, turkeys, llamas, pigs and lots of roosters brought here. When we find new homes for them, they move on. Stop by to see if we have any current rescues, along with the animals we raise.

The Museum Tool Collection Grows.


In the last several months the museum’s tool collection has continued to grow. The biggest additions are a hand cranked sheet metal bender, a foot powered lathe, a “bicycle” grinding wheel, a hand made blacksmith forge, a foot powered jig saw and several wood stoves.

The bender is something I’ve been wanting to get for the tin shop for some time now. It’s used for bending or “rolling” flat metal for making tea pots, large or small pans, buckets and such. I actually found it online for sale at a fairly high cost. But once the gentleman learned of its use for the museum, he decided to donate it. A couple friends and I drove up to Cleveland to pick it up. It’s a good thing the 3 of us went. The bender was far larger than I had anticipated and it was all we could do to load it on Robert’s truck. We had to take it apart just to lift it. But despite its weight and size, it’s a great tool to have.


The lathe is a real prize. Years ago I worked at Hale Homestead Farm & Village. Among the various jobs I held there was wood worker. There was a broken foot powered lathe in the shop, which I soon had working. I have always wanted such a lathe to use here. I believe our “new” one may be a bit older than Hale’s. You stand at it and push the foot treadle up and down with your foot, which turns a large cast iron wheel, which spins a belt, which turns a pulley, that spins the wood, (that swallowed a cat, to catch the bird, that ate the spider, …). Then hold a chisel against the spinning wood to shape it down it into stair step spindles, Shaker style clothes hooks, candle sticks, lamp posts, wooden bowls or whatever else you need or imagine. When we went to pick up the lathe, the gentleman also had an exceptionally beautiful Victorian hanging lamp, which we hung in the main house kitchen.

The bicycle grinding wheel was another donation. It’s really neat. You sit on a metal seat, much like a bicycle’s seat. Then you turn the foot powered pedals with your feet in order to turn the grind stone. It’s used for sharpening knives, chisels, garden tools like shovels and hoes, or smoothing metal edges before blacksmithing or welding. It’s a really nice tool for when you are working alone. Some of the older style grind stones had a hand crank on the side. You either had to hold the piece you were grinding with one hand while turning the crank with the other, or you needed a helper to turn the wheel. With the “bicycle” you can sit down, turn the stone with your feet and have both hands free for the work., without having to employ an apprentice.

We recently received two wood stoves. The first one was donated by a family in Garrettsville. They had it out in the barn, which was quite a neat structure. They took me upstairs to show me the burned walls from a barn fire a hundred years ago. The fire burned the roof right off the building (the current owners had found an old newspaper article about the fire), while leaving the first floor untouched (-hooray for firemen). The stove will need a bit of work to make it safe to burn, but it has a great look as is.


The second stove was also a donation. The Hinckley Historical Society called and asked if I could use it. They decided to close one of their houses and had too much furniture to incorporate into their other buildings. The stove is ready to use, has a great look, and will make a very nice addition to the Blaine-Stewart Cigar Factory. I’ve wanted to use the factory (the building was originally the Darrowville Post Office) during colder weather, and the stove will work just fine.

The forge is a real prize. It’s all homemade. It has a wood frame which holds a cast iron base of an old wood stove. The maker of the forge used a wheel from a corn sheller, attached a pulley to it to turn a belt that turned a fan. The fan was connected to the bottom of the forge by part of a tractor manifold exhaust pipe and some bent tin. Bits and pieces put together to make a perfectly working forge. It looks to me to have been made in the 1930′s when there was little money for store bought. It’s just the kind of thing I really like to collect and preserve, -one of a kinds.

“New” Model TT Arrives at the Museum

The museum recently acquired a 1919 Model TT (similar to the one pictured). It will make a nice addition to our gas station display and our 1920 Model T tractor, 1927 Flying Cloud REO, 1928 Whippet and 1934 Reo fire truck  (which was Richfield’s first fire truck). We acquired the 1919 from a sign dealer in Millersburg, with whom we traded a number of signs of a more recent time period which weren’t a particularly good fit for the museum. (If you happen to have signs to donate maybe we could turn them into a Model A !!)

Our “new” truck is missing a number of parts, but we found a really neat Model T junk yard/parts seller in Kansas. From the pictures it’s quite an incredible place. Acres and acres of cars & parts. As soon as the snow clears, we’ll see about getting a radiator and headlights. Once the frame is repaired and painted we’ll decide which truck bed body to put on it. In the early days of the selling of Ford trucks they came without a bed and guys would fit them out as they wished. We’ve seen many different types, with some being stake beds, some have large tanks for hauling liquids, some became fire trucks and some had insulated boxes for carrying ice, and etc. If you like old cars, and like to work on restoring them, stop on by. We’d love some help in returning the TT to its original condition.

1919 Model TT Truck

The Ford Model TT is a truck made by the Ford Motor Company. It was based on the Ford Model T, but with a heavier frame and rear axle.  The wheelbase of the Model TT was 125 inches (3,200 mm), compared to 100 inches (2,500 mm) for the Model T. They were often sold as a chassis with the buyer supplying the truck body as needed. Mass production with Ford produced bodies ran from 1925 to 1927, but production of the Model TT had started with the first chassis being released in 1917. In 1923, it cost $380.[2] In 1925, a hand operated windshield wiper was added.[1]
It was very durable for the time, but slow when compared to other trucks.With standard gearing, a speed of not more than 15 mph (24 km/h) was recommended, and with special gearing, a speed of not more than 22 mph (35 km/h) was recommended, according to Ford Dealers Data Book 1923.
It was replaced by the Ford Model AA truck.

Pumpkin time!!

We will be open 7 days a week daylight hours for the sale of pumpkins, honey &  maple syrup, cornstalks, locally made crafts, mums and more.  Museum and farm tours are always free, so bring the family, have a look at our newest buildings, then grab a red wagon and pick out your favorite pumpkins. Pies and baked goods available on weekends.



Birthday Parties at the Farm & Museum

The museum is now offering a fun day on the farm, learning lots of “old time” skills and crafts. For the perfect and very different birthday party, bring your child and friends to learn to make a candle, pull taffy, churn home made ice cream or butter, collect eggs in the chicken coop, milk the cow and make cheese and butter, play old time games or lots of other American heritage/Laura Ingalls Wilder activities.  Call or email for pricing and scheduling  (330)659-3507

The Museum’s Buggies, Wagons & Sleighs


The Museum has a growing collection of buggies and wagons. 110+ years ago horses, harness and wooden wheels formed the backbone of American transportation. Folks also occasionally used bicycles, but the few bikes were little used beyond the paved streets of the cities. Dirt roads were just too rutted and rough. Continue reading

The One Room School Houses of Richfield & Osborn Corner’s Grange


At one time there were 12 one room school houses in Richfield Twp. Continue reading

Barrel Making Shop

A couple years ago I received a call from Barbara Gynn, of Brecksville, Cuyahoga Co. She needed the roof fixed on one of her farm’s out-buildings. She called me because several years earlier I had fixed her brother Elton’s barn (He had asked Amish, local builders, contractors and others to fix it and no one could. –I did.). Continue reading

Museum Displays at the Richfield Library

For a number of years, the Museum has been placing displays at the Richfield Library showcase. The one month displays have included “Weathervanes and Whirligigs”, “Organic Gardening”, “Quilts”, “Dolls and Toys”, “The Doctor is In”, “A Victorian Christmas”, “Wash Day”, “Food Preservation”, “Winter Crafts”, and more. These displays can be seen as you first walk in the library’s main entrance.
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