Lawson Waterman came to Peninsula from New York State in 1836. After living here for more than a decade he started to buy the land that has become known as Heritage Farms. Between 1844 and 1878 he purchased ten parcels of land totaling 268 acres. 17 of these acres between Riverview Road and the Cuyahoga River were later sold to stone quarrying companies.
The present farmhouse, built in 1852, is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and bears the plaque of the Summit County Century Homes Association. At one time there were three homes and nineteen other farm buildings on the property. Today only two of the original buildings remain standing.
In 1863 Lawson and Angeline Waterman’s oldest son George was killed in the Civil War. Five years later Charles E. Bishop, Lawson’s 19 year old nephew came to Peninsula from his parents’ farm between Mallet Creek and Litchfield in Medina County. Charles was asked to help with the upkeep of a general farm with a large flock of sheep, a dairy, and a large crop of potatoes. One old photograph shows the whole front yard of the present house planted to potatoes. Uncle Lawson also operated a boat yard on the canal over the hill east of the house. To this day there are few white oak trees on the farm, most were cut for boat keels and ribs. Charlie and his wife Kate inherited the farm and increased the size of the dairy to a 50 head milking herd. Charlie’s son, Fred earned his living in Cleveland. When Charlie died in 1929, Kate and her sister Mabel Boodey continued to live on the farm. They rented out shares of the farm to several different farmers over the years until 1948 when Fred and Bernices’ son Robert Poole Bishop and his wife Jeanette Knoeppel Bishop took it over. Aberdeen Angus beef cattle then replaced dairying on the farm until the first Christmas trees were planted in 1955. Cut-your-own and freshly cut Scotch Pines, White Pines, Norway, White, and Blue Spruce became the crops of Heritage Farms.
In 1978 the National Park Service purchased 144 acres of the original farm, including all of the Christmas tree plantings. Only 26 acres were left with the farm buildings. This portion of the current property is within the Park boundary and protected by scenic easement agreements. The 81 acres left outside the park boundaries are where Bob and Jeanette built their dream retirement home and lived for more than 25 years. In 1990 another 10 acres were added to this portion of the farm.
Bob and Jeanette’s daughter Carol and her husband Kim Haramis have started over with new plantings on the acreage around the original farm house. They are producing cut-your-own and freshly cut Scotch Pine, White Pine, Black Hills Spruce, and Blue Spruce Christmas trees. The 1989 season saw their first harvest and in the early 90’s added freshly cut Fraser Fir brought from other nearby farms. In 1995 they added Pumpkin Pandemonium™, the fall festival featuring hayrides, the maze, and many other family activities.
• Heritage Farms Receives State Century Farm Award •
Carol and George Haramis Jr. of Heritage Farms are honored to be operating an Ohio Century Farm. A Century Farm must be a working, family-owned farm for more than 100 years. As of 2016 Heritage Farms has been in the Waterman-Bishop-Haramis family for 168 years. The Century Farm award is made by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Historical Society and Ohio’s Country Journal magazine. Only eight farms were recognized with this award in 2000.