Harold Jerman

During the early months of 2009, Beth Clark, the Executive Assistant to the Brown Township Board of Trustees, sat down with Mr. Harold Jerman to do a profile article for the Summer 2009 newsletter. During the interview, a lot of Brown Township history was revealed, along with some of the highlights of one our oldest living residents.

In His Own Words

Some thoughts and experiences of Harold Jerman, a resident of Brown Township for 80 years:

There were 10 or 11 one-room schools. All township roads were gravel as were several county roads that used to be township roads before the Works Progress Administration rebuilt them during the Depression of the 1930s.

A lot of farming was still done by horses. Tractors began taking over in the early 30s.

Welfare was administered by the Township Trustees. I can remember two or three families who received it; there may have been more.

Electricity was installed on Morris Road (Bynner Road at that time) in 1931 or 1932. I oversaw the digging, by hand, of at least two holes on our property. (I was 3 or 4 years old.)

The first school bus I rode was a narrow wooden body on a Model T or A chassis, driven by Bill Edwards, a neighbor. This was in first and second grade. For the rest of my school years, I rode on a 1936 Chevrolet or Ford 36-passenger bus driven by Ray Dellinger or Elmer Weber.

Brown Township had its own school and school board. High school was tuitioned to Hilliard.

During World War II, gas and sugar were rationed, among other things. Hog prices were capped at 14.80 per hundredweight. Tractors and autos were price controlled, but none were available. Some became available after the war was over, but were auctioned with a ceiling price in effect. Everyone who was interested put their names in to buy a tractor at the ceiling price. Then the radiator cap was sold with no price controls. Whoever bid the most for the cap got the tractor.

By 1951 farming was returning to the same old way – overproduction and low prices. Supply and demand are supposed to regulate prices but have never been a good regulator. In spite of the situation, farms got bigger and fewer people were needed. Machinery got bigger and more elaborate and most costly while crop prices remained approximately the same.

My experiences have spanned from farming with horses and shocking corn to farming with some very large and powerful tractors and shelling corn twelve rows at a time – a far cry from cutting and shocking corn then hauling the shocks out into the hog lot and letting the hogs feed themselves or hauling it to a shredder and blowing the fodder into a hay mow or into a pile in the barn yard. It was used as feed as well as some winter shelter.

The threshing and shredding were done by farmers forming rings. They went from farm to farm and helped each other get the wheat or oats or rye to the threshing machine or the corn to the shredder. The farmer who was having the work done on any given day provided the noon meal for the whole crew and, man, did we eat good. Threshing ended in the mid-30s and shredding in the late 40s. Combines and corn pickers changed everything. Fertilizers and chemicals for weed control became popular at this time also. Better equipment and technology replaced the number of farmers needed. Older people retired and higher taxes made it necessary to sell some of the land for houses.

Morris Road had eight houses until about 1972. Now there are 75. This kind of expansion took place in lots of areas in Brown Township as well as other places in the country. During this period of time, land prices have gone from about $60 per acre to $20,000 to $25,000 per acre.

I have been farming on my own since I was 16. I also worked in town for 10 years and have done nothing but agriculture-related work since 1959. I started a fertilizer and custom application business in 1964 which is still operating today as J&W Chemlizer Inc. I took on a partner in 1978 and we have added some lawn and landscaping services as well as building small barns. My partner, Don Williams, makes most of the decisions and handles most of the work today. We employ another township resident, Glenn Elfrink, as well. We do not believe in going more than 20 miles from home to get business and really like to stay within 10 miles but have been known to go 40+ miles for new lawns.