In 1910, Frank L. Ross Sr. had a dream. He wanted to build a 'model farm' in Washington County, PA and practice the latest methods of animal husbandry and farm design. He began with the Old Barn, which was constructed in 1911, because his new bride, Margaret L. Condit Ross insisted she have a proper house to live in while he pursued his dream. The red brick American Four Square with dormers and a slate roof and four grand white pillars came first! You see, Margaret had 'gone to housekeeping' in a neighbor's SPRINGHOUSE!
Frank and Margaret got busy and built a farm and a life with their five children, Frank Leslie Jr. (Hunny's father), Laura Jean, Romaine, Haven, and Wallace Shannon aka "Uncle Tom". A bungalow was built on the property in 1917 for Margaret's parents Daniel Webster and Emma Virginia (Vankirk) Condit. Daniel was a veteran of the Ringgold Cavalry of local Civil War fame having enlisted with his four brothers when the war broke out.
Over the years, the children married and moved on to their own farms with the exception of Haven (who had been left crippled and brain-damaged after a childhood injury) and Tom who remained to care for his parents. After Frank Jr. (aka "Les") married Doris Marshall (Hunny's mother), the 'little house" was built in the backyard for the honeymooners. This is where Hunny was born.
Frank Sr. and then Tom set about bringing the finest livestock to Washington County, having regular shipments of cattle from out west and Angus from the Eisenhower (yes, PRESIDENT Eisenhower!) farm delivered. They farmed with McCormick Farmalls (which are still in use) and Uncle drove a fancy team of horses. They raised pigs, cattle, chickens, turkey, ducks and sheep.
While we have cut way back on the production scale they maintained, we still manage to produce some sheep, chickens, guineas, cattle, miniature donkeys and Haflinger horses. We concentrate on "Heritage Breeds" rather than the commercial stock most farms now produce. We find that the old breeds are more attractive and disease resistant than those that have been engineered to be bigger, stronger and "better". If you stop by the photo gallery, you'll see what I mean.
Well, that's the farm history in a a nutshell. We are on the National Registry of Historic Places through the United States Department of the Interior as the "Frank L. Ross Model Farm" and have been recognized by the local History and Landmarks organization as a fine example of local agricultural architecture. Our place was featured in the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh's architectural exhibit "Barns" a few years ago.
We are pleased to think that Frank Sr.'s dream has become nationally recognized as an exemplary representation of agricultural design! I'm sure he's smiling in heaven at the attention to detail we've taken in maintaining his legacy.
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