Hardin County – The Hardin County Agriculture Hall of Fame has announced the 2023 honorees to be inducted at the twentieth annual Agriculture Hall of Fame recognition banquet. The 2023 inductees include: Robert Allen Barrett, Samuel and Marilyn Dalton, Wheeler McMillen, Harold Oberlitner, and Daniel J. Wagner. The banquet will be held on Tuesday, December 5th, beginning at 6:30 pm at St. John's Evangelical Church on East Carrol Street in Kenton. The public is invited to honor these inductees and their families, and to recognize their many accomplishments. The purpose of the county Agriculture Hall of Fame is to recognize outstanding agricultural contributions by Hardin County people and to honor those who have brought distinction to themselves and the agricultural industry.
Derek Snider will be the guest speaker. Snider is an account officer for AgCredit, ACA in the Kenton branch. He interned in the Kenton office in college and was hired after graduation and has been there ever since. He believes it is great to work in and serve those who are part of the Hardin County agricultural community. He is part of his family’s DuLynn Farms, LLC where they raise corn, soybeans, and wheat on over 1,000 acres using no-till conservation practices. He is active in Farm Bureau serving on the Hardin County board since 2014 where he serves as treasurer and has also been active with Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals.
Robert Allen Barrett graduated from Marseilles/Upper Sandusky High School. Allen has been a full-time farmer since graduation, managing between 600-1000 acres at times. In the past he has had livestock, but now only grain farms. He also has a small farm business, Barrett Farm Supply, which he supplies hydraulic hoses, bolts, and other items to farmers and others. He has been a cooperator with FSA, NRCS, and SWCD to help with conservation practices on his farm and rented ground. When not busy farming, Allen is active mostly with BKP, Quest Federal Credit Union, and church.
Barrett has served as a Goshen Township Trustee since 1982, where he has been the township’s representative to BKP Ambulance Service for 40 years, currently serving as president of the board. He has also been a member of Quest Federal Credit Union as a board member and vice president for many years. He is a member of the Marseilles Presbyterian Church, where he has served as Clerk of Session. In the past, he has been Kenton High School girls’ basketball head coach, where he coached the team to a sectional championship in 1998 and has also served as a member of Ag Credit advisory committee.
Samuel and Marilyn Dalton are being inducted into the Hardin County Agriculture Hall of Fame as husband and wife. Samuel Dalton attended Lebanon High School for 4 years and Ohio State for 2 years. Sam and Marilyn started their lives in Hardin County in the summer of 1963. Both were making the trek from Henry County with Sam driving an 8N Ford tractor with all their belongings in tow on an old hay wagon and Marilyn following behind in the car. Sam was starting a new job for NOBA, artificially inseminating cows while Marilyn’s first job would be working for the OSU Extension office. Marilyn stayed home and raised the children and ran the accounting side of the farm. She returned to working outside the home once the children were raised. She worked for the Farm Service Agency until she retired in 2004. When working his job at NOBA, Sam purchased 4 farrowing sows, which litters quickly turned to a feeder pig operation.
In 1967, the Dalton couple were able to rent farmland to start growing crops. That farm would be their home for 35 years, until they saved enough money to purchase their first farmland in 1972 and later a second farm in 1975. Since that farm needed drainage, they purchased a ditching machine that grew into a profitable business for them. They then grew their farm acreage to 500 acres total at 4 different locations which Sam farmed until age 90. When the egg farm came to the area, the couple saw that as an opportunity to start a business hauling poultry litter. This source of nutrients increased fertility and balanced pH levels in area farm soils, increasing corn yields in the county and surrounding counties. Activities and organizations that the couple have been involved in for the past 60 years include the catholic church and they are as a couple, and one of the longest serving members of the Painter Creek Grange as well as Farm Bureau.
Wheeler McMillen was born on a farm near Ada in 1893 and passed away in 1992 at the age of 99. He is being inducted into the Hardin County Agriculture Hall of Fame as a “Pioneer in Agriculture.” He attended Rising Sun School from 1900-1911. After that, he attended Ohio Northern University from 1911-1914, which later conferred on him an honorary doctorate. As a young man, McMillen went into journalism and worked on newspapers in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1922, he moved to New York City to be an editor on Farm and Fireside, a leading magazine of the time. He stayed with that publication until he joined Farm Journal in 1939. Wheeler was best known as a journalist, author, and lecturer on social and economic problems of agriculture in the United States. He was named editor in chief of the “Farm Journal” magazine starting in 1939. He stepped down in 1955 but stayed on as a vice president and director until 1963.
McMillen wrote 15 books, including “Too Many Farmers”, written in 1929 which foretold the decline in the farming population without a loss in food production. He also wrote “Feeding Multitudes: A History of what made America Rich”, “Land of Plenty, the American farm story”, “The Farmer”, “Bugs or People?”, “Harvest: An anthology of farm writing”, “Freedom and the Family Farm”, and other ag-related books. One of his noted books was “Ohio Farm” about life on a Hardin County farm in the early 20th century before the days of power-driven machinery. He loved agriculture and rural America, being a strong proponent of using science and technology in agriculture. He was a pioneer in finding industrial uses for agricultural crops. He joined with other leaders of the time, including Henry Ford to form the “National Farm Chemurgic Council” in 1935. He served as a trustee at Rutgers University and was vice president of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Harold Oberlitner was born in 1902 and passed away in in 1990. He attended Deshler High School, where he graduated in the Class of 1919. He later attended The Ohio State University in 1920 for the Winter Course in Agriculture. As a resident of Hardin County for 56 years, Harold Oberlitner’s operation was always diverse. He raised crops including tomatoes, soybeans as a forage, dairy cows and heifers, as well as chickens. He also did some custom silage work. He was recognized as an early adopter of round brooder houses while he was still in Henry County. While raising tomatoes in the mid 1940’s, he had the highest yield among the company growers.
Oberlitner served Hardin County agriculture as a member of the county fair board from 1954-1968 where he served as fair board president from 1956-1961. During his time on the fair board in 1964, he worked on the committee with Herb Barrett, Helen Terrill, and Frank Bondi to establish the “Hour of Inspiration.” In addition to his service on the Hardin County Fair Board, Harold Oberlitner also served on the Hardin County Farm Bureau Board. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church and the Friendship Grange. Other community organizations that he served on included the Red Cross Board, where he served as chairman, always setting up for the local blood bank. He was known for being very friendly and good at remembering people’s names as well as details of their many trips. Harold Oberlitner’s “Claim to Fame” was that “while on the fair board, he was known to tear off bunches of ride tickets for the kids.”
Daniel J. Wagner attended Kenton High School from 1967-1972 and later The Ohio State University from 1972-1976 where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Dan Wagner is a fifth-generation farmer on his family farm, beginning his farming career as a child with his father, John D. Wagner on the original farm homestead purchased from the U.S. Government in 1833. Under Dan’s leadership, Wagner Farm remains one of the longest running businesses in Hardin County as it is registered as the oldest Ohio Historical Family Farm in Hardin County. Today, Wagner’s crops are primarily focused on corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, and cover crops. The livestock operation is focused on dairy cows and offspring but has included hogs and sheep. He grew the operation from 120 tillable acres to over 1750 tillable acres. Dan currently farms 1400 acres and maintains a herd of 130 dairy cows.
Wagner served over 40 years doing volunteer work at the Hardin County Fair, helping with maintaining the grounds, parking lots, milking equipment, and more. He was instrumental in establishing the Dairy Milk Sale for youth across the county. Organizations he has been involved with include 4-H, FFA, Jr. Fair Board, Sr. Fair Board, Dairy Service Unit, Farm Bureau, Young Farmers Organization, and St. John’s United Church of Christ member for 50 years. He has received both the State and American FFA Degrees, Ohio Century Farm Award, and the Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm Award. In addition, he has produced multiple Grand Champions at the Hardin County Fair in both dairy beef and dairy.
Tickets for the Hardin County Agriculture Hall of Fame Banquet must be purchased in advance through November 21. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved by calling the Hardin County Extension office (419-674-2297) or purchased from the committee members: Mark Badertscher, Doug Griffith, Gary Harpster, Genny Haun, John Knedler, Bob McBride, Zac McCullough, Kerry Oberlitner, and Bob Wood.