A retired farmer and his wife with roots in Ashtabula County have extended the county’s barn quilt trail to their home in Kinsman, Trumbull County.
Harold W. and Betty Babb installed a 4-by-4 foot barn quilt on the carport of their home at 8843 Turner Mullen Road and applied for trail inclusion. Harold grew up on a farm in Williamsfield Township. He lived in Geneva for 13 years, from 1960 to 1973, then returned to the family farm to operate it as a dairy, grain and, finally, goat farm, before retiring.
In the photograph, Burton Cole of the Tribune-Chronicle interviews Harold W. and Betty Babb in front of their covered bridge-style carport and the barn quilt that is Trumbull County’s first. The trail is an outgrowth of Ashtabula County’s Barn Quilt Trail, which has nearly 100 barn quilts.
His wife, a Mayfield Heights native, and her late husband, Jim Rutledge, purchased the former Walter Pelch farm on Simons Road South and farmed it until his death. That farm, now owned by Dale and Meg Toukonen, is operated as Windhorse Farm and has a barn quilt.
Harold says he is very concerned about the loss of the many old barns in Ashtabula County. He says grain farmers are buying up the land, then splitting off the farm houses and barns along with a few acres to non-farmers. Because they have no need for the large barn, often in a state of disrepair, the new owners often disregard the barns until they are beyond saving. Or they have them burned, which was the fate of the old barn on Harold’s family farm. All that remains of that farm are two corn cribs that stand on a knoll west of Route 7 on Route 322, Harold says. The house should have been taken down back when his family moved in; Harold recalls it being in such poor shape that the first morning they woke up in it, they discovered that cats and dogs had made their way into the house without any doors being open.
The couple do not own a barn, but when a large tree went down in their backyard, they decided to have it cut into lumber. They contracted with an Amish carpenter to use that lumber to build a carport, 19-by-24-feet, in the style of a covered bridge.
Betty says she chose the pattern for the barn quilt. The Ohio Star, done in red, white and blue, honors her husband’s military service during the Korean Conflict. In the center is the Oliver farm equipment brand logo. Harold’s family used Oliver equipment on their farm.
Gary Tabor of Williamsfield Township designed and painted the barn quilt for the couple.
The Barn Quilt Steering Committee for Ashtabula County will host the Trumbull County barn quilt trail on its website under a Trumbull County tab. There is a rich, shared history between the two counties:
- In 1804 Geauga County was formed out of Trumbull County, which included much of what would become Ashtabula County;
- In 1806 the Township of Green included much of Trumbull County plus the townships that would become Williamsfield, Wayne and Colebrook;
- In 1811 Ashtabula County was organized as its own entity;
- In 1818 a turnpike (present-day Route 45 covers the route today) was built by private investors to link Warren to Ashtabula Harbor. This road made the connection between the Ohio River and Lake Erie, and helped Ashtabula Harbor develop;
- During the years leading up to the Civil War, the Underground Railroad operated along north-south routes; stations in both counties worked closely with each other to assist the fugitive slaves to freedom;
- In 1873 the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburg Railroad, which ran through Trumbull County to Ashtabula Harbor, connected the port to the steel-producing region to the south. This helped Ashtabula Harbor grow into the world’s major iron ore receiving port;
- Route 193, which connects the counties, was designed the Road of Remembrance in the 1920s; the designation, forgotten by now, honored World War I veterans;
- Route 11 today connects the two counties to the Ohio River.
- Route 7 between Conneaut and Hubbard has been designated as a tourism route by the Tour Route 7 group in Trumbull County. The group’s sponsors are the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Trumbull County Tourism Bureau.
The Route 7 group is based at Market Square in Kinsman, a community rich in history.
The connection between the two counties will be reinforced in September, when the Route 7 Yard Sale is held (Labor Day weekend). The sale will extend from Conneaut to Hubbard.
For more information on the Route 7 group, visit the website TourRoute7.com.