Eby Farm Homestead

Lancaster County,Pennsylvania

History

Old photo of the Eby Farm

Mary Ferree originally settled this land in 1712 from a grant given to her from William Penn. The grant included 2,300 acres. Our farm was part of that tract. After her death, her children divided the land. Her son, Daniel Ferree, owned this land until 1752 when it was sold to a Scotch Irishman, Matthew McClung. The McClung family built our old stone barn in the late 1750s. The barn is unique, a double-decker. The first floor is the stable; the second floor is the haymow; and the third floor is where the wheat was brought in for threshing. The grain was dropped through the holes in the floor to the granary below. It had an 8-ft. overhang forebay. The McClungs lived in a small, stone house, which had a spring in the bottom. Matthew McClung sold the farm, which also included a gristmill and a tenant house, to his son Hugh, in 1798. In 1814, our great, great, great, great grandfather Jacob Frantz, moved here from northern Lancaster County and bought the farm of 201 acres for $40,240 in gold and silver from Hugh McClung. He built the main part of our 16-room farmhouse that year.
Built by Jacob Franz & Elisabeth Franz his wife 1814Jacob Frantz’ son, Jacob Jr., farmed here and kept a diary of day-to-day activities on the farm from 1835 to 1845, when he took 30 acres off this farm and built another homestead a quarter of a mile away. He kept his diary plus many other records until his death in 1870. His will states that his son Henry was to purchase the farm for $9,940. Henry farmed here from 1845 to 1849. In 1849, he bought a farm west of Baltimore, at which time Jacob Frantz Sr.’s daughter Anna, married to Sem Eby, moved to this farm on January 1, 1849. By this time, the property was down to 127 acres. Sem lived here from 1849 to 1881. In 1870, he took off 60 acres to the north and built a homestead for his son, Amos. We have record of his expense, which was $5,000. He also built a larger piece onto the original Frantz dwelling toward the east, which is now our kitchen.

In 1880, John Eby, the youngest of Sem’s 11 children, bought the farm for $11,000. The farm then contained 67 acres. During the 31 years he owned it he bought two neighboring farms and added 13 acres, making it 80. In 1921, Ira Eby bought the farm for $18,000. He owned it until 1948, when Clair Eby bought it for $25,000. He owned it until 1976. Our father, Mel Eby, started farming in 1967 and built the new 52 stall dairy barn in 1972. Mel and his wife Joyce opened their farmhouse to overnight guests in 1970 so families could experience life on the farm. After 32 years of farming, they moved across the field to a new home. They continue to enjoy guests there as well (visit their website at this link).

We moved here in 1999 and bought the herd from Mike’s father continuing the pure bred Holstein herd from generations before. We milked 52 registered Holstein cows in our tie-stall barn (built by Mike’s father in 1972) and raising all our young stock. We knew each animal by name and Mike could tell you the heritage of each cow. We milked morning and evening as a family for 17 years. Mike Eby milking a cowWe raised all our own crops to feed our animals on our 50 acres which included corn, alfalfa hay, soy beans, wheat and rye. We chose to continue the tradition of farm life because we really felt that it was one of the best ways to raise our family. We have 4 children who loved farm life and learned very early on how to feed baby calves, clean stalls, milk the cows, and drive a tractor. They loved the extras of farm life that involved many animals over the years, swimming in the creek, letting their imaginations run wild playing outdoors and meeting 1000s of people through our bed and breakfast. The bed and breakfast was started in the 1960s by Mike’s parents who moved into this 15 room farmhouse and started a tourist home. children at workThey continued through their 30 years of dairy farming and raising their children to host people in their home. We are grateful to continue not only the tradition of farming, but also of hospitality. We endured many good years of dairy farming and were grateful for the 17 years we had – good and bad before selling them to our Amish neighbor in 2016. selling our cowsIt was a very difficult time for us as dairy farming had been our life and how we raised our children. We are thankful that our neighbor and friend Alvin is continuing the herd as best he can. He enjoys having our guests walk to his barn to observe the milking process. Our history continues as we navigate the challenges of the 21rst century and hope to pass on this incredible lifestyle and farm to another generation