By Matt Reese
John Henry was born in Derry County, Ireland in March 1763. In his mid-20s, Henry sailed to America and settled near Philadelphia where he worked on a farm and saved his money. He invested his hard-earned funds in flax seed and sailed back to Ireland and his family. In sight of the shore of his homeland, though, the ship wrecked and sent his flax seed to the bottom of the ocean, according to the Genealogy of the Descendants of John Henry by Heber Homer Henry of Amesville, Ohio.
After the flax seed fiasco, Henry returned to the Philadelphia area 2 years later, this time with his wife and youngest son, Matthew. The Henrys then moved to Washington County in 1801 where Henry made some money as a wheel-wright building flax-wheels. Most every family needed flax-wheels for making cloth and demand for his services was strong. He could make two wheels per week and charge $4 per wheel. Henry’s wife died in 1809 and he re-married in 1811. The Henry family moved from their home on the Ohio River in 1817 to what is now Locust Valley Farm in Bern Township in Athens County. With two wives, Henry had 19 children (9 with his first wife and 10 with his second wife Margaret). One of his children died in infancy and his 18 grown children provided Henry the chance to be a grandfather an astonishing 60 times over! John Henry passed away just shy of his 91st birthday in 1854.
Charles Henry was the sixth child of John and Margaret Henry, born in 1821. He spent his entire life on the family farm near Amesville, caring for his parents in their later years. He was known for his hard work and was “especially interested in all that was of benefit to his community,” according to the Genealogy of the Descendants of John Henry. His work set the stage for the farm’s rich legacy. Charles was a First Lieutenant in the Home Guard. He was also a member of the local Presbyterian church, the Amesville Grange and a trustee of the first Athens County Children’s Home. He raised carriage horses and Shorthorn cattle. He built a horse barn, tractor shed, sheep barn, and a corn crib. He also built a 2-story farmhouse using lumber from the property.
It was during Charles Henry’s time that the open fields across from the farm were used as training site for Civil War militia. Charles built a cabin back in the woods to hide family members, horses, feather beds, and the silverware from Morgan’s raiders in the summer of 1863 — a Confederate effort to draw Union attention away from fronts in Vicksburg and Gettysburg.
His son Carlos Dalton Henry was 4-years-old when he hid in the cabin from the Confederate raiders. He was the fifth child of Charles and Fannie Henry. He fell out of the haymow when he was young, but it did not slow him down. As an adult, Carlos was active in Farm Bureau and was a leader in breeding Shorthorn cattle and Delaine-Merino sheep. He raised and trained horses and planted the first alfalfa and soybeans in Athens County. He was also a co-organizer and director of the Amesville Creamery.
Carlos Dalton lived to be 106 years old after a life on the farm, which was eventually taken over by his son Harry Henry, the last of John Henry’s male heirs. Harry’s nephew, James Lochary (the son of Harry’s sister Clara), grew up in Pomeroy, and started spending most of his summers on the farm when he was about 12.
Today, Lochary is 91 years old and fondly remembers the days of his youth on the farm.
“One of my first jobs was cutting and shocking hay and bringing hay into barn. We’d use hooks to pull up the hay. We used 4 horses: Cherry, Jim, Barney and Lady. I’d drive the horses pulling the hay wagons up the lane and into the barn,” Lochary said. “As I got older, I spent more time here and eventually become a hired hand. I helped with feeding and milking cows. We were milking about 21 cows and my job was to clean milk cans and help with milking. I’d feed the chickens corn and grain and I would throw down silage from the silo for the cows. We had 4 hogs penned in right here next to the chicken house. There was a sheep barn built on the top of the hill built in 1837 and we had around 30 sheep my uncle would shear in the summer. I shoveled manure for the cows too, I was good at that.”
Lochary would also load corn shocks into the chopper to make silage and help with threshing the wheat.
“Mr. Winters would come by with his threshing machine and John Deere tractor and we’d thresh wheat in the summer,” he said. “My job was to take the straw bales and put them in the back of the barn on the second floor.”
Even in the early days of his work on the farm, Lochary can remember running water in the house upstairs, courtesy of a pump in the basement. He can remember (not fondly) processing chickens on the farm and storing beef and chicken in crocks full of salt for preservation. Lochary also remembers key technological developments in his day.
“The hay elevator sure made an impression on me and I can remember when the dairy got a front-end loader, which I ran quite often. My grandfather (Carlos) would still come to the barn and help milk when we sold milk to the county, 3 or 4 milk cans a day,” Lochary said. “Even when I went to college I would work out here. We had sheep, cattle, horses, chickens, and hogs. My uncle Harry had a field of alfalfa he ran all the way through the farm. That was a difficult time maintaining the property and buildings. I was very busy with that. We raised 20 head of cattle for beef and 30 sheep and 25 or so chickens for meat and eggs. We raised mostly alfalfa and corn on 243 acres.”
After college Lochary served 3 years at the ROTC Lockland Air Force Base in Texas, which was followed by a career as a teacher and then work in the publishing industry.
“After the Air Force I taught school for two years then worked at Ohio University for 2 years, then went to Indiana University as director of scholarships, then worked as a book rep for Wiley Books,” Lochary said.
This work took the Lochary family to New Jersey, far from the family farm, though their connection to their family heritage was far from broken. Lochary retired in 1993 and returned to the farm in Athens County. He raised livestock until the early 2000s and set to work fixing things up around the farm.
Lochary’s wife became ill and their daughter, Susan, came back to the farm in 2008 to help care for her mother. While living in New Jersey, Susan had met and married Steve Garguillo, a commercial contractor with no background or connection to the family farm in Ohio. It did not take Garguillo long though, to see what the farm meant to his wife.
“Susan took care of her mother for about 2 years before she passed on. Then her Dad had a stroke and she stayed to take care of him. Every time I came back, I saw that Susan became more and more acclimated to the area. She was more natural here,” Garguillo said. “She came to New Jersey when she was 12, but she was always a country girl. That is why I found her so refreshing and what attracted me to her so readily.”
Seeing that his wife was at home on the farm, Garguillo retired, came to the farm in Athens County, and put his construction skills to work meticulously restoring the house from 2010 to 2015. Then Garguillo poured his efforts into the outbuildings and barns (some of which are among the oldest in the state).
“I always thought of Susan being here the rest of her life. I wanted to leave her the nicest place possible,” Garguillo said. “It was just amazing to work with these buildings made 150 years ago.”
After caring for her mother and then her father, Susan passed away in late 2020 on the farm she loved. Today Garguillo lives on the farm caring for his father-in-law and studiously maintaining the incredible structures on the farm. The land is rented out for crop production and pasture. The 200+ year farm tradition has taken some surprising turns, love and loss, triumph and hardship, all weaving their way steadily through the rich history of the of the Locust Valley Bicentennial Farm in Athens County.