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The road to the Sesquicentennial: From Brown to Brown-Roush Farm

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, after last week’s offering that detailed when Bernice Brown, my first cousin three times removed, was visited by a pair of masked men at her home near Hoagland, someone reached out to me asking if the intruders who tied the 74-year-old up in the winter of 1965 and left her for two to three days were ever caught.

Well, the answer, sadly, is most likely no.

Miss Brown only lived about a year after she was bound, slapped in the face and burned with matches after two masked robbers demanded she tell them where she kept her money – which turned out she only had about five bucks in her home.

She passed away on March 17, 1966. Her short obituary read, “Miss Bernice Brown, 75, Hillsboro Rt. 5, died Thursday at Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft. Myers, Fla. She was visiting a sister-in-law, there at the time.

“She is survived by one brother, John C. of Concord, Calif., one sister-in-law, Mrs. Parnell Brown, Ft. Myers, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.

“Miss Brown, it will be recalled, was robbed and left tied up at her home for several hours before being discovered by a relative several months ago. She survived the ordeal. She lived alone at her farm when the incident occurred. No trace of the robbers was ever found.

“Services were held Monday at 3 p.m. at the Hope Miller Funeral Home with Rev. Herbert Shiltz officiating and burial in the Hillsboro Cemetery.”

I find it rather peculiar that a good bit of Bernice Brown’s obituary was dedicated to when she was robbed and tied up in her home. Perhaps it was one final, Hail Mary attempt to bring the two masked men who robbed her to justice.

Following Bernice Brown’s death, her home and land went to her nephew, John Henry Brown, my second cousin two times removed, on Feb. 14, 1967. John Henry was born on Nov. 6, 1914, the son of Britton Parnell Brown (1886-1965) and Grace Blanche Pyle Brown (1886-1927). John Henry, as you might recall, was the one who found Bernice Brown tied up in her home following the robbery.

Meanwhile in the 1960s, my parents, Ken and Judy Roush, were married in June of 1966 (Happy 54th anniversary, Mom and Dad!), and moved to the old Brown farm two years later, buying the land from my father’s father, Wesley Roush.

By that time, the old home that my great-great-great-grandparents had built in the 1840s had fallen into a state of disrepair, so my folks lived in a house trailer just west of the farmhouse. My parents had pondered demolishing the Brown homestead and building a new home, but in the early 1970s, began renovating the home Joshua Brown (1807-1867) built more than a century earlier. In November of 1975, my parents, along with me and my newborn brother, Eric, moved into the old Brown homestead. The renovation of the home lasted more than 20 years as three more children, Sheila, Grant and Kristen, were born.

All the while, my folks’ farm grew in size, as well. The farm was 90 acres, then 200, and today it’s around 700 acres.

On May 18, 1998, John Henry Brown passed away at the age of 83. On Nov. 20, 1998, my parents bought the 52.853-acre portion of property from John Henry’s estate that has been in continuous family ownership since 1860.

The road to the sesquicentennial has been long and filled with good times along with trials and tears. Times have changed, years roll by and people have come and go, but this land, this family has stood the test of time from then until now.

Of Ohio’s 75,000 farms, 1,600 are recognized as century, sesquicentennial or bicentennial farms by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Here in Highland County, nearly 40 family farms have been designated as century, sesquicentennial or bicentennial farms. I’m proud the Brown-Roush Farm is among those.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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