Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A commitment to family and agriculture chronicle the rich 190-year history of the Good-Woodruff Farm of Champaign County that started with a unique tale of love and perseverance.The family draws their lineage and history in America back to a man named Matthew Kavanagh. According to the family’s work in their own genealogical history, Kavanagh — originally from Ireland — was pledged by his parents at a young age to enter the Catholic priesthood. His young heart decided otherwise, though, and he fell in love with Elizabeth Smith. The situation at hand didn’t help matters as Elizabeth was studying to be a missionary for eventual service in the field. The two could not scrape together enough money for the passage to America through a sponsor or otherwise, and were split as Smith was sent as a missionary to Nova Scotia.Kavanagh decided to stow aboard a ship bound for America. He was soon discovered and assigned to work as a deckhand until he could be dropped off at the next port of call. As fate would have it, that stop just so happened to be Nova Scotia. He located Elizabeth from there and the two were soon married. After a time of saving money, they came to America and located in Cane, Kentucky.Arriving there in 1790 and staying until 1805, the two found themselves neighbors with very adventurous men — the likes of Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, and Davy Crockett to name a few. Their family roots were not yet planted, though. There were rumors of fertile, land north of the Ohio River just waiting to be claimed.Following the signing of Treaty of Greenville in 1795, settlers began to move northward and in 1803, the state of Ohio was formed. Matthew Kavanagh and several others made a trip to scout for land for future settlement. The group found what they wanted on the banks of the Mad River, south of what is now West Liberty in Champaign County.Matthew and Elizabeth cleared woods, built a cabin, and started their family on the same piece of property on which the Woodruffs now reside. Though the surname has changed multiple times over the years, the devotion to the land and family has not.Here is an aerial view of the farm from early in the 20th century.A land grant signed by John Quincy Adams officially put the property under ownership of the Kavanagh family in 1825. Quite a bit has happened since then. The story of today’s owners begins in the middle of the 20th century when Joyce Good was growing up on the property, a recently registered Ohio Century Farm.Now married, Joyce Woodruff and her husband Tim are the current residents of the farm. They view themselves as just one part of a long line of family that has persevered on the farm. The family still proudly displays the original 1825 land grant for the property in their home.Joyce Woodruff grew up on the farm before moving away after marriage, only to return to the homestead after her parent’s death in the early 2000s. Many memories line the halls of the home and the well-groomed yards and barns just outside.The Woodruffs own the property in partnership with Joyce’s brother J. Thomas Good and his wife Linda who currently reside in Pennsylvania. The family appreciates their heritage on the land.“It definitely is a unique place we’ve been put in,” Joyce said. “We’re just the keepers for a while. The taxpayers maybe.”Their story on the farm began in 1966.“We got married in 1966 and I started here soon after that — just working and helping with the dairy,” Tim said. “When we got married, her dad was kind of short on help. Her mom was still helping at the dairy at the time. They were milking anywhere from 35 to 50 cows right out here in tie stalls.” Milking is just one of the many changes in agriculture and lifestyle that has seen a shift over the years.“It’s a lot different,” he said. “Her mom would come out and help wash cows for meThe Woodruffs look at the land grant for the property signed by John Quincy Adams.once in a while. We’d have to bring 10 in and then if you were doing it by yourself, you always changed all 10 at one time. If you had somebody helping you, somebody would be changing five while you’re milking the other five.”Dairy cows were milked on the farm until the mid-70s. They were sold at market with the intention of getting more — a plan that never came to fruition. Like many farms of its day, the operation also featured a plethora of other production animals like chickens, hogs, and beef cattle.Beef still reside at the farm. The family is involved with breeding and raising club calves, managed by Greg, Tim and Joyce’s son. Two steers from the farm even gathered grand and reserve champion at the 2014 Champaign County Fair.“I think I can say the cattle had heritage back into the early ‘60s. My brother bought two beef heifers and had 4-H projects and FFA with them,” Joyce said. “There have been beef cattle here for a while.”The farm also formerly sported a large garden and orchard. Looking back in the farm records, a completed order form for the purchase of orchard trees was found, specifying which items were added to the farm when the house was built in 1911.“Of course gardening was a big deal back then,” Joyce said “There wasn’t refrigeration then and you didn’t have the grocery to go to. It is hard to imagine that today.”The registered Century Farm property is 158 acres. Nearby plots of 240 and 227 acres make up two additional farms the family bought more recently. Tim farms corn, soybeans, and occasionally wheat across the 625 combined acres.Technology has changed significantly through the years Tim has worked on the farm.“Back at that time, we farmed with two Olivers — a 77 and an 88 — and a 960 Ford tractor. When I started, we were planting four row 40-inch rows. Later on, we switched to a six row planter,” he said. “That kept us busy with those two Olivers. When we were doing all the plowing and working all the ground, her uncle from Mutual would come up and help when he was available. We even had an uncle down in Dayton that would come up and plow with the two-bottom plow on the Ford. They were glad to come up here and spend a week and help plow and stuff. We picked the ear corn with a two-row mounted Ford picker and filled a crib made out of used railroad ties.”The area is a hotbed for native-American artifact discovery and such items have often turned up during tillage on the farm.“When he was farming on an open tractor, he could look down and, every now and then, find an arrowhead,” Joyce said.“Now when you get in a big tractor, if you do any tillage at all you’re not going to see it except when you get out of the cab to walk around and pick up a rock or two. That’s one of the things I miss,” Tim said.Though farming has changed over the years, the main home on the property has not. It was built in 1911 and with indoor plumbing, a coal-fired heating system, and much more — the house was quite modern for its time. Prior to that, a log cabin was the main housing structure on the land. The property also includes an outhouse — though now just a curiosity.“The house is basically the same as it was then except the concrete garage was not here and there was a wash house,” Joyce said. “It has always been a multi-generational farm in that there were multiple generations always living here. That was true with my growing up too.”Her grandfather lived in the home until his passing.“Before that, his father had passed away when he was a pretty young man. His mother lived with him and her sister and brother and sometimes they think there were a couple of aunts here,” she said. “There’s a pantry here and there was an open area where you could sit, and Dad would say, ‘Well the old ladies sat here to peel the potatoes and onions.’”The family has a long history of community and church involvement that continues today. Joyce is active in the local historical society, which is working to bring the local town hall back to its original state. Tim is a member of the local Lion’s Club and serves on the local savings and loan board.“It’s just a unique community to live in that you can be involved and do those things,” Tim said.The couple has two children, Greg Woodruff and Jennifer Schwaderer, whom they expect to take over the home and the farm down the road, continuing the tradition started with a most unique love story.