Curtis F. Hively, Carey A. Houlette named to Ag Hall of Fame

LISBON – Gretta Miller’s eyes shone bright and her smile was radiant as she held a plaque commemorating her father, Curtis F. Hively, Tuesday morning.

“This is just wonderful,” she said, hugging the plaque close.

Mr. Hively was recognized in a ceremony at the Columbiana County Fair and was one of two inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The post-humous award has been given out by the fair board every year since 2000, and presenting was past fair board president Don Humphrey Jr.

“The design of the Hall of Fame was to recognize the accomplishments in the field of agriculture,” he said, explaining those accomplishments are measured by innovation and a record of community service.

“It is a very distinguished group. Their contributions were felt by a lot of us,” he added.

Mr. Hively was born in 1907 on the family farm near New Waterford in Unity Township.

In his adult life he took charge of the farm duties and while raising eight children with his wife Esther, took the general crop and beef cattle farm to a new level by purchasing the area’s first row crop tractor on rubber tires.

The family has shown their cattle at the fair since 1949.

Since Mr. Hively’s death in 1967 his family has tended the farm and his son John Hively currently lives there.

“The farm has meant so much to our family. There was always work to do but we never took it as a burden,” Miller said.

Miller’s children, which include three boys and her late daughter, also put their hands to work on the farm over the years.

“We worked hard but there were a lot of good memories,” she said.

Of the eight Hively children, five attended the ceremony. For the most part, they remain in the area. Roy Hively is a neighbor to John Hively, not far from the farm.

The other siblings there were Marilyn Whiting and Carolyn Witmer. Not present were Grace Merreot and Jean Longbottom, and Joyce Tomlinson, who is deceased.

Miller said the extended family continues to celebrate holidays at the farm each year.

Carolyn Esenwein, the daughter of Carey A. Houlette, who was also inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame, said their family farm in Fairfield Township was a “busy place.”

The six children learned responsibility doing the everyday chores, and never went without, she said.

“Mom and dad had a lot of responsibility and they passed it on to us. We always had a lot to eat because we (provided) it. My mother always had something – in the basement, canned, or in a crock,” she laughed.

Carolyn is the fifth of the Houlette children, and she and her younger sister Miriam are the only ones still living. The others are Max, William, Leland and Betty Ann.

Their mother was Dorothy Mae Bell.

The elder Houlettes taught them, “When you start something, finish it,” Esenwein said.

Mr. Houlette was born in 1898 and died in 1973, and during his life he was a pioneer of many dairy and crop production practices in the county.

An early proponent of soil erosion prevention through contour farming and crop rotation, he worked with Ohio State University to learn soil management and improve techniques.

He was one of the first to install a closed system bulk tank and DeLaval glass milk pipeline, and three-cow stanchion system for his Jersey herd.

Esenwein said Jersey milk is the “best milk” because it is so rich.

The commemorative plaque given to the family said Mr. Houlette was an “agricultural leader, giving unselfishly of his time and talent to achieve the best use of community resources to improve agriculture and farming conditions.”