REYNOLDSVILLE – A Reynoldsville farm was recently granted Century Farm status during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days when Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding honored 17 families whose farms have been recognized as being family-owned for 100 years. .
Bollinger Farm in Reynoldsville has been owned by the same family for seven generations. It was recently passed on to the new generation less than a year ago. Jefferson County is home to 75th century farmhouses.
When Emily and Dylan Dilulio purchased the family farm from Emily’s grandmother, they arranged for the seventh generation of her family to own and live on the farm. Although they have been given the Century designation, the farm is approaching bicentennial status at 172 years in the family.
Each new owner has the opportunity to have the farm designated, so Emily’s grandparents, Edith and Larry O’Harah, also received Century status when the program began in the 1970s. , the status was just a small certificate that was mailed to them. When the Dilulios received their Century status, they were given the option to go to the ceremony and accept it in person, which they did with Emily’s grandmother.
“I think she really enjoyed the whole experience because she got to be part of something that was once hers,” Emily Dilulio said. “It makes my heart so happy that she could have been there. I wish my grandfather had been there, but he passed away a few years ago.
Emily Dilulio said she didn’t do much research into her family history until she started thinking about taking over the farm. Then she began researching and compiling the history of her ancestors and the ownership of the farm.
“I went to my grandmother’s house first, I went to the courthouse, I went to the Jefferson County Historical Society. Then I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to have Ancestry,'” said Dilulio.
Located on Bollinger Road outside of Reynoldsville, the road is named after the farm’s first owner, Alexander Bollinger, Emily’s great-great-great-grandfather. Bollinger originally purchased the 153-acre farm in 1850 for $384. Since then the farm has been subdivided and today has approximately 43 acres.
Although the farm was always primarily used for hay, Dilulio said most parents still had a few animals around the farm, such as cows, chickens or rabbits.
Although Bollinger had 10 children and several sons, he passed the farm on to one of his daughters and one son, Elizabeth and Samuel Bollinger. Elizabeth has always been very involved in agricultural work and also had another farm in the area where she worked. Although named on the deed, Samuel did not live on the farm.
“She was like a hardcore farm worker… Once she got that land, she also had another piece of land, like 100-something acres,” Dilulio said.
Elizabeth Bollinger eventually passed the farm on to her son, Aaron Douthit.
From Aaron, the farm went to his son, Clair Douthit and his wife Mable, then to their daughter, Edith and her husband Larry O’Harah, Emily’s grandparents. This is the first time the farm has skipped a generation in the family. Skipping the O’Harah children, the farm has since passed to Emily and Dylan Dilulio.
“I was born and raised, not here specifically, but in town. I spent a lot of time here on the farm. When my parents were working, my grandmother helped take care of us, so I know the lay of the land here,” Dilulio said.
Emily Dilulio said if she had been told just a few years ago that she would be taking over the farm, she would not have believed it. Although his family lives in Reynoldsville and Dylan is originally from Johnsonburg, the couple both attended the University of Pittsburgh. While there, they agreed that they wanted to stay in the city for the foreseeable future.
Then, a few years ago, on his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, his grandfather approached Dylan and told him they wanted to pass the farm on to the couple. As they began to seriously consider the opportunity, both men agreed that they wanted to be closer to their family here.
“We talked about it and we were like, actually, you know that would be really good. We really want to come back closer to our families,” Dilulio said. “We wanted to come back here and try to spend as much time as possible with everyone. We were missing a whole bunch of events while we were living there… Something always bothered us and we couldn’t get back up here, so it’s good that we’re here.
She also found an interesting coincidence that Alexander Bollinger was born in Allegheny County. Dilulio managed to successfully trace the Bollinger family back to around the 1700s.
The barn on the property is still the original structure and bears “1872” across the top on both sides. She and Dylan have already planned to repair the foundations so that they will last another 100 years.
When they made the decision, they also agreed that they didn’t want to buy the farm until they were married, so they got to work. Not only would the farm be their future, but it would also be the location for their wedding and reception in 2021.
Knowing they were going to acquire the farm and having her grandmother’s full support, the two began cleaning and redoing part of the barn. The wedding took place on the property and the reception was held on the upper level of the 1872 barn.
“We’re just trying to get our hands on the agricultural part,” Dilulio said.
The Dilulios have added chickens to the farm for eggs. They intend to eventually obtain beef cattle for the farm. They are waiting for Dylan to leave the army to take the next step.
“My husband always says ‘I want to be a farmer’,” Dilulio said. “One of the tractors my grandfather had, we have it now and we’ve fixed it and every chance he gets he gets on that thing and cuts the bottom field here. He said “it’s so peaceful, I like it so much”.
Emily said Dylan was already planning which areas could be pasture and where would be hay fields. The couple always bring Emily’s grandmother to see the progress they are making with the farm.