100-year History of the Kline Homestead

By Winfred C. Kline

Submitted by Peggy A. Wells

(Today’s Yesteryears column is Part I of a series concerning the 100-year history of the Kline homestead at Pine Grove in Elizabeth Township written by Winfred C. Kline, of Pedro Route One.)

        One hundred years ago from next Tuesday — March 13, 1879, Frederick and Mary (Kruse) Kline moved on to a family-sized Pine Creek farm of 140 acres from Pine Grove Furnace where Mr. Klein had been engaged in hauling iron ore with a two-yoke ox team to the furnace site.

        The moving was presumably done by ox team and wagon over a hill and down into a hollow into an old log house where they resided until a new two-story frame house was built, which is presently the Kline homestead.

        Frederick was born on a ship as his parents emigrated from Hanover, Germany. It is not known when and where they landed in the United States. Mary, too was of German Decent and located in Cincinnati. She could not read English in all her lifetime, but could sign her name in English. She spoke both German and English very fluently and read a German paper regularly called the “Ohio Weisenbrund” that was printed in Columbus.

        It is not known how or when Frederick and Mary met. However, Pine Grove was mostly a settlement of German Catholics and at the time there was no Catholic church near, not even in Ironton.

        Frederick was one of a committee of three men that made a trip to Cincinnati by boat to make a request to the Bishop there to have a priest assigned to administrate church services. Thereafter, St. Mary’s of Pine Grove was established with the first services held in a log stable near the intersection of Prickly Ash and Pine Grove roads. Later, a brick structure was erected at the present St. Mary’s location; this church burned in 1915 and was rebuilt in 1916-17.

        Farming this land in the early days was not very productive. Much of the bottom land was wet and swampy and needed ditching and tilling; so, some of the hill land was put into cropland while little by little, some tilling was done.

        Frederick and Mary had a family of six children: five daughters and one son, the late John T. Kline. The two older sisters married brothers Andrew and Fred Dirker while the two younger daughters married brothers Charles and George Gallagher. One daughter married Joe Dunk and lived on property in Sedgwick that is now the site of Ironton Jr. High School.

        Frederick’s demise occurred about 1901. John then took over and operated the farm. In 1902 he married Lena Dirker, a niece of Andrew and Fred Dirker. Their offspring was a complete reverse of the sexes with six sons and one daughter.

        Due to much mix-up in mail, John had his name changed from Klein to Kline, which is as it is today. There were several other Kleins in the Ironton area at that time.

        In 1904 the D.T.&I. Railroad was built which runs through this farm. A water tank was built here, too, and John “Dad” was hired to pump water from Pine Creek into this tank for the locomotives that pulled the trains for about 18 years.

        Much of the farm was timberland and in the early 1900s part of it was cut into saw logs and hauled to saw mills. Cord wood, too, was cut and made into charcoal. There were four pits on the farm where the wood was hauled by sled and pulled by oxen. These pits were located at the foot of a hill on a level spot and where water was nearby which was used to pour onto some of the embers that had not completely charred. The late Jim Duncan, who then lived on the present Phil Kline property, did the wood hauling and charcoal making.

        In 1913-14, an additional 26 acres, mostly bottom farm-land bordering on what is now State Route 650, was purchased from the late Henry Goldcamp. At age eleven, I, Wilfred, helped the late Fred G. Leete, et. al. survey this tract.

        In 1919 another adjoining farm of 120 acres was bought from Dad’s sister, Mary Dirker when her family had grown and moved away.

The Ironton Tribune, 11 March 1979, Sunday.


(In Part I of the 100-year history of the Kline homestead at Pine Grove, Wilford C. Kline wrote about his grandparents, Frederick and Mary Kline, who were emigrants from Germany, meeting in America and buying the first 140 acres of the farm where they settled March 13, 1879. Frederick’s son John, who changed the family name to Kline, took over the farm after Frederick’s death and he and his wife Lena, had one daughter and six sons, one of which was Wilfred, who lives on the farm today. In 1913-14 26 acres were added; in 1919 another 120 acres were bought. Today is Part II of the series.)

        In 1930 a steel bridge was built across Pine Creek to the Goldcamp tract (bought earlier by the Klines) and, for better access to the highway, we “Dad and the boys,” did all the work. This included pouring concrete abutments, placing steel and wood plank floor which was cut and sawed from trees on the farm; then, to make year round travel by auto possible, about a half mile of private road had to be graveled and most of this was hauled several miles, being loaded and unloaded by hand with shovels.

        In 1925 a new Fordson tractor, plow and disc was bought from Capper Motor Sales in Ironton. Fred Payne was the salesman. Then we did general farming, raising corn, wheat and hay along with cattle, hogs and poultry.

        When I became 21, Dad asked me to stay on and help with the farming. I did and worked for him for 19 years. Beginning pay was $1 per day and board and free gas for the car, but driving was limited to what he thought was necessary and reasonable. Also, there was a $100 bonus if I worked for three years. Later, I received $2.50 a day and fringe benefits and took in outside jobs such as trucking.

        In 1927 Dad bought a stationary hay baler that I operated with tractor, baling for neighbors and as far away as Coal Grove to Wheelersburg and South Webster. This work was a hard and dirty job, but it paid bettter than farming. Later, the modern day pickup baler was introduced in the nieghborhood and stationary balers went out of date and I was glad it did.

        This brings main events up to the third generation. Six sons of John and Lena Kline, shown in the photo accompanying today’s article, was taken in 1923-24. Shown from the left are: Frank, age 60, a 36 year employee of Ironton Division of Dayton Malleable Iron plant, and has served 26 years as Hamilton Township Trustee and served in the Navy in World War II. He now resides on old U.S. 52 near Dow Chemical Co.

        Joe, 63, has been a lifetime farmer and livestock dealer in partnership with brother John for many years until about 1953 when he purchased a farm on State Route 522 near Wheelersburg and continues to operate there. He, too was in WWII, serving 3 1/2 years in the Army with the Military Police.

        John, 68, has been a lifetime farmer and is now semi-retired. He owned and lives on the tract that was bought from Mary Dirker in 1919. He later acquired three adjoining farms several years before relegating title of these to his sons, Jerome and David, who now operate 200-plus acres of level Pine Creek cropland and a large cattle feeding operations with a 250-head feedlot, a 900-ton silo, a 300-ton silo filled with high moisture corn, equipped with automatic unloaders and conveyor.

        Lawrence (deceased 1968) followed a more diversified line of livelihood, being a jack-of-all-trades. He kept bees and marketed honey, hauled milk for neighboring farmers, operated a county grader for several years, owned and operated sawmills, and was a carpenter and mechanic when needed and was engaged in excavating at the time of his demise at age 62. He and our only sister, Mary, were twins. Mary lives in her apartment which is part of the Kline homestead, an addition built in 1945 for her, Dad and Mother when I and my family took possession of the farm.

        Fred, age 74, now retired, was a 44-year veteran employee of the C&O Railroad, and lives in Sedgwick. He also was in the insurance business for several years. He and his wife Gertrude celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary last October.

        I, Wilford, age 75, an semi-retired and living in the house where we were all born. I am quite active, gardening and, along with my good, helpful wife, run a weekly egg delivery route in Ironton and vicinity. I also help with farm operations when needed, mostly minor repairs to fences and buildings, and in making truck deliveries and tractor operation when needed.

        I have also been quite active in civic and community affairs, have been a forest fire warden for nearly 40 years and am a charter memberof the Elizabeth Township Volunteer Fire Department. I’m now serving my 38th year as A.S.C. Community Committeeman, of which I have taken considerable interest in the farm program which, by its cost-sharing projects, has been a major factor in bringing this farm up to its present productivity. An example is the building of a pond for livestock; without the pond, the present livestock numbers would have been kept greatly reduced. Much of the farm tile drainage has been done by cost-sharing along with other minor projects.

The Ironton Tribune, 18 March 1979, Sunday.


(Part I and II of the 100-year history of the Kline Farm at Pine Grove in Elizabeth Township described the original farm of Frederick Klein, which was handed down to his son John, who changed the family name to Kline, the acquisition of additional acres, and of John’s six sons, of which one, Wilford, stayed on the farm and lives there today. Part III concludes the series.)

        In the early fifties, citizens of Pine Grove-New Castle area organized a committee for the purpose of getting road improvements such as New Castle Pike taken into the state highway system. I was elected chairman and am still active in that capacity.

        We, along with the Ironton Board of Trade, Ironton Country Club and County Commissioners and other interested persons met often, worked diligently until the state agreed to take into its system what is now State Route 650. The late E. B. Adams, then managing director of the Ironton Board of Trade, and ex-county commissioner Carlton Davidson were very interested and helpful in obtaining this valuable improvement.

        At the time of my retirement, a son, Donald, took over the farm as owner and operator. He has since expanded his operations by renting extra cropland, newer machinery, a new 900-ton silo with automatic unloader and feed augar and finishes 70 head of beef cattle annually.

        With each generation adding some improvements, the farm is now completely tiled, limed and fertilized as professionally recommended. Crop yields as compared to a 100 years ago are doubled and quite often tripled, for in my boyhood days a 50-bushel-per-acre of corn was considered a good yield. Today, with modern technology, improved seed varieties, chemicals and good management, 150 bushels are not an unusual yield. Double-cropping (raising two crops in one year on the same ground) is to some extent becoming a regular practice, especially with limited acres.

        Last year, for the first time in my career, no cultivating of corn was done on this farm. There were not enough weeds or grass on 25 acres to fill a wheelbarrow and yields ranged from 120 to 150 bushel per acre, thanks to one application of a pre-emergence spray and also a very favorable growing season and full benefits of the spray.

        Another comparison of old farm practice is by today’s method of harvesting grain, which is rarely handled by hand and shovel. Now, a two-row picker drops the corn into a gravity flow wagon bed from which corn runs into an elevator, into a crib or storage bin, and then, as needed for grinding for cattle, it is in most cases run into a portable grinder and then ground and mixed with supplements. Then, it is emptied onto a platform or bin and shoveled into an auger the distributes it evenly full length of the trough.

        There are now 49 decendants of the late John and Lena Kline, 44 of whom are now living: 20 boys and 24 girls. Both parents were born in 1877 at Pine Grove, both attended the same church and school. Mother’s demise occurred in 1948. One of her last requests was that her six sons be her pallbearers. We also served as the same for Dad in 1960.

        One of the most satisfying and consoling events of my career was when our son Donald showed an increasing interest in taking over and operating the approaching century-old tradition of handing down the farm to the next generation in 1973. And, hopefully, the tradition will continue with one or more of his four sons following suit in maintaining and improving the old Kline homestead for years or even generations to come.

        There are only two other farms on Pine Creek that hold the distinction of being under the same family name for 100 years or more. They are the Wagner and Monnig farms, both being in the immediate neighborhood of the Kline farm.

The Ironton Tribune, 25 March 1979, Sunday.