The Eyssen Family
When Elmer and Clara Eyssen moved into their farm in 1927, they discovered a diary 135 years old. It surely was brought along with the Tillotson family when they settled here in the early 1800s, as they were the only other owners of the property.
On the property was also a 60 foot well which Elmer consequently set out to repair. In the early days of the community, the family's food such as butter, eggs and milk were stored in the well to keep them cool.
And travelers would stop along the Wooster Pike (Route 42) and drink from the well, resting their horses beneath the big tree just north of what is now the Apple Farm Restaurant. That tree, one of the oldest in Brunswick, had to be torn down in 1986. Water from the well was pulled up in a bucket for drinking and other uses.
The foundation of the old farmhouse is now the foundation of the ice cream shop which was also the original apple house.
Elmer and Clara came to this place on the advice of a doctor. Oldest son, Robert, now a prominent surgeon in Tennessee, was just under three pounds as a newborn and was having a tough time making it. The doctors said, "If I were you I'd turn him loose on someone's farm and let him go." The following Sunday, they drove out and saw a small sign and purchased the farm that day.
The other place they looked at, asking price $11,000, is now the Cleveland airport.
Robert flourished, evidenced by the fact that when he attended Western Reserve University he was heavy-weight wrestling champion.
A second son, Donald, was 16 years old and on a scouting trip when he took a dive into the water, hit a rock and died from a broken neck. Both boys helped take care of the farm. With a hired hand they tore down 13 old buildings and farmed.
The youngest son, Bill, also helped when he was old enough. Now his is owner of the farm.
Elmer was a sales manager, vice president and director of the Bingham Company, the largest wholesale hardware supplier in the country. He retired after 35 years with the firm. The farm was a part time occupation for him. It started as a general farm with cows, chickens and horses. In fact, there is one area in which chickens had been raised for many years. Elmer had it plowed over. Thinking it was okay, he planted squash there. The 52-pound squash that resulted was displayed in the town grocery store, it was so unusual. It started a "contest" of sorts among farmers of the community who brought in their largest vegetables for display.
Clara, on the other hand, was a city girl who learned all about country life. She would dress chickens (not kill them, though) for sale, cleaned eggs and picked fruit for sale in Cleveland.
When the family decided it would build a new home down on the ledge (the extension of Stony Hill), Elmer looked at 13 large chestnut trees which had grown on the property and been killed by blight. He presented the plans of his home to a Medina firm which took the lumber of the trees and cut it into the lengths needed to build the entire house including doors and cabinets. As payment, the company took the wood from the rest of the trees.
That was built shortly after Donald's death in the early 1930s. Until then, the family had lived in what was essentially a garage, complete with potbelly stove.
The farm has 91 acres. Elmer owned another 110 acres across the street. The cold storage barn which stood there was moved behind the present apple house and holds 8,000 bushels of apples. But the story of the 110 acres is also interesting.
A man came to Brunswick and bought the land, placing hundreds of hogs on it. Then he contracted for all the garbage from Cleveland to be hauled out to the farm (100 loads a day) for the hogs to consume. Eyssen remembered how hard he fought the hog farm, virtually without support from the area. He placed a sign in his front yard which said, "Welcome to Medina County, home of the garbage-fed hogs." Court cases followed. The finale was heard in Judge Frank Lausche's court.
Elmer felt the deciding factor came when one of the truck drivers admitted that the garbage included animals such as dogs and cats - and the hogs ate them. Eyssen remembers the Brunswick case stopped the garbage feeding of hogs throughout the county. When the owner of the property died afterward, Eyssen bought the land using it only for his storage barn.
An avid golfer till the age of 81, Elmer was on a golf trip to Mansfield when he learned about raising apples and shipping them. He came home convinced he should get into the apple-growing business. There were some old Baldwins on the place which he trimmed back to grow and began by planting several varieties.
And that's the story of how Mapleside Farms began.
Now it is one of Northeast Ohio's biggest success stories with Bill and Jane Eyssen and their family all involved in the many phases of the business.