The Howard County Farm Bureau, in existence since the early 1920s, was initially established to help local farmers with the cooperative buying of seed and fertilizers.
Many local family names from those founders are still around today – names like Warfield, Clark, Jones, Moxley, Fairbank, Nichols, Streaker and Mullinix.
The Farm Bureau gradually evolved into the areas of education, marketing and insurance (the company we now know as Nationwide was first started by the Ohio Farm Bureau, and followed shortly thereafter by the Maryland Farm Bureau). Technology became a major part of the Bureau’s focus as did the work of extension agents from the University of Maryland.
The Farm Bureau’s mission has changed very little over the years – even though the product is often very different. It is still considered a family organization, with one membership per family.
From the May 2017 Newsletter
Featured Farmer: The Bandel Family
By: Mandy Ackman
The Featured Farmer is a new column that will highlight a different Howard County Farm Family’s history in each Newsletter Issue. I believe it is important in any community to get to know one another and pass on the history of our farms and farm families. As we all know, Howard County today is not what it once was. It has become a struggle for Farmers to hold onto their land and make a living with the growing development around them. It is important for the younger generations to know how important the Agricultural community is, and to learn the history of our local farms.
As the first “Featured Farmer” article, I felt it should begin with the previous editor of the Howard County Farm Bureau Newsletter, Mr. Allan Bandel. When I first came on as the editor, Allan educated me with his stories throughout the Newsletters over the years. I believe I can speak for not only myself, but the rest of the HCFB Board members, that we really enjoy reading Allan’s stories! It is an honor to ask him for a story about his family and share it with the community. Thank you Allan!
A Typical 20th Century Howard County Farm Family
By: Allan Bandel
Vernon Marcellus Bandel and Ina Mae Slagle Bandel were born and raised on farms in Howard County. But Howard County at the turn of the century was a much different place compared to the Howard County that we know today. Most of us now living were not even born in 1909 when Vernon and Ina were born into this world, only a couple of weeks apart. For a more realistic perspective, perhaps we should take a brief view of some of the living conditions that were considered normal for them at the time.
The young couple was married on March 16, 1935. Since then, many important changes have taken place in Howard County. When Vernon and Ina were youngsters in rural Howard County during the early 1900’s, many conveniences and services that we now take for granted simply did not exist or were only dreamed about.
Automobiles were a rarity as were the paved roads to drive on. Very few residents enjoyed electricity in their homes. Radio was a novelty. TV was only a “Buck Rogers” concept and still years in the future. Very few homes could boast indoor plumbing. During their long and productive lives, Vernon and Ina witnessed many profound changes in the ways that people lived, worked and played.
Even though, they lived only 10 or 15 miles apart, until they met finally in the early 1930’s, Vernon and Ina did not know one another before then. Ina Mae Slagle was born April 25, 1909 on the family farm near Daisy in western Howard County. For most of her grade school years, Ina and her younger brother walked the 1½ miles from the Slagle farm to the one-room Daisy schoolhouse. The school had no indoor plumbing and was heated by a potbellied stove tended by the students themselves. Sanitary facilities consisted of two outhouses behind the school: one for the girls and the other one for the boys.
After finishing grade school, Ina transferred to the Lisbon High School. There were no school buses back then as we know them today. To make the daily round trip to school, Ina drove a horse and buggy from the family farm to Lisbon and back. The horse (named Harry) was stabled during the day in a small barn behind her Uncle’s house at the west end of Lisbon.
Upon graduation from Lisbon High School in 1926, Ina enrolled in a two-year teacher-training program at what is now Towson University. Her schooling was temporarily interrupted when her mother passed away unexpectedly on February 10, 1927. With her Dad and her younger brother living alone in a new house in Lisbon, she traveled home on weekends to prepare food for them for the following week.
Although Ina completed the required two years of college at Towson, in the fall of 1929, she decided that she did not want to be a teacher. So, she accepted a bookkeeping job with the Baltimore Gas 4 and Electric Company in downtown Baltimore. She remained at BG&E until March 14, 1935, just two days before her wedding to Vernon M. Bandel.
Vernon Bandel was born April 9, 1909 at the family farm on Triadelphia Road about 2½ miles west of U.S. Route 40, the Baltimore National Pike (now MD 144). As a child, he traveled on foot for the three-mile daily round trip to the nearby one-room Woodland Grade School in rural Glenelg.
On many warm summer Saturday evenings, if not walking, he looked forward to riding in his family’s horse drawn buggy to nearby Glenelg Manor on Folly Quarter Road where the owners, Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Lowndes, often set up a commercial movie projector on their neatly manicured lawn and offered free showings of first-run silent films for their friends and neighbors. Moving pictures (or movies) had become quite a popular novelty back in the 1920’s.
Vernon graduated from the “old” Clarksville High School in 1926 and attended Strayer’s Business School in Baltimore City for one year. Walking, or hitching a ride, three miles from the Bandel farm to Rt. 40, he met a Blue Ridge Line Bus for the daily commute into Baltimore. Fare for the round-trip transportation was about $3.00 per week.
For several months, Dad worked as the bookkeeper for a general store and Ford dealership in West Friendship. Afterwards, he continued his lifelong farming ambition, ultimately becoming a successful dairy farmer. Before his return to the farm though, he managed to persuade his former boss to sell him, at a good discount, a brand-new Ford Model A coupe for just $585. He now had proper transportation to court his future wife.
Following their wedding on March 16, 1935, Vernon and Ina set up housekeeping on the Bandel family farm. To generate additional income to help support his new wife, Vernon expanded his – previously established market route in which he visited many of the more affluent Catonsville homes. He supplied their kitchens with farm products such as fresh (raw) milk, cream, butter, eggs, dressed poultry, vegetables, apples, pears, cherries, etc., all items from his farm. But, it wasn’t long before the State Health Department required that he stopped selling raw (unpasteurized) milk.
This business kept Vernon and Ina very busy cultivating the garden and orchard, milking cows and tending chickens. They were so busy in fact that even while on their honeymoon trip to Atlantic City, NJ, Vernon informed his new bride that they really had to cut their trip short and hurry home to make preparations for the arrival of 1,000 baby chicks that he had ordered and were due to arrive in a few days.
Eventually, most of the income on the Bandel farm was generated by the dairy herd which was carefully managed by Vernon. This income was supplemented by eggs produced by a breeding flock of chickens tended by Ina. For many years, eggs from the breeding flock were contracted by a nearby hatchery. Ina found a ready market for her surplus eggs when neighbors came to her regularly to purchase fresh eggs.
In addition to their many church-related activities, throughout their long careers in agriculture, Vernon and Ina were also active in organizations such as the Patapsco Grange No. 403, the Howard Soil Conservation District, and the Howard County Farm Bureau.
During World War II, Vernon was a member of Company 769 of the Maryland Minutemen. At the end of World War II, this group, having been trained as fire fighters, reorganized as the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department. Vernon and Ina were both very active in 4-H Club work in their youth. Their 4-H experiences had a substantial influence upon their future lives. In 1934, Vernon was honored with induction into the Maryland 4-H All Stars.
Those were tough years when Vernon and Ina Bandel were striking out on their own. Among other obstacles, they had to deal with the lingering effects of the Great Depression. Then, there were the stressful war years. World War I was still a fresh memory for some when World War II broke out followed by Korea, then Vietnam, etc. etc.
But Vernon and Ina were a team, a good successful team. They both maintained positive outlooks. They knew what to do in a crisis, and importantly, how to 5 endure. They both lived good lives, and long lives. Vernon and Ina were well-liked and highly respected by the agricultural community. They raised two sons (Allan and Donald) and built a very successful dairy farming operation. The farming enterprise was primarily involved with dairying, general cropping (wheat, barley, hay, etc.), chickens and egg production.
There are a number of special attributes that I will always remember about my Dad, Vernon Bandel. Near the top of that list would be his quick wit and his keen sense of humor. By way of greeting, if you should have posed the following question to him, “How are you doing today, Vernon?”, his lighthearted and wise response would most likely have been something like, “How should I know? I’ve never been this old before.”
Vernon and Ina Bandel were happily married for 65 years. Sadly, Vernon passed away on October 15, 2000 at the age of 91½, near the very beginning of the 21st Century. Just 1½ years later, on May 20, 2002, Ina joined her husband, passing away at the age of 93.
From the March 2012 Newsletter
Field hands binding a shock of corn stalks with several strands of heavy-duty binder twine on a Howard County farm in the 1940s.
A vintage J.I. Case threshing machine belt powered by a tractor that is located out of the photo to the left. Bundles of wheat were being threshed in a demonstration at the Howard County Fair. The goal was to show how threshing was done 50 or more years ago in rural Howard County. At far right, the straw was blown into a pile beside the old stationary “wire-tie” baler. The threshed grain was collected at the bagger unit in right foreground. August 2, 2008.
From the March 2012 Newsletter
Harvesting Small Grains by Allan Bandel
Harvesting small grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, etc., before the small family farm-sized combine became popular, was a major annual event. Threshing was very labor intensive and required an exceptional amount of prior planning. High on that list was arranging for friends, neighbors and relatives to be a part of the threshing crew. Consequently, nearly everyone in the community eventually became involved. Having their own crops to harvest as well, farmers relied heavily upon their friends and neighbors for assistance at this critical time. They worked collectively to get the job done. Many crew members followed the threshing rig from farm to farm until all of the threshing in the community was finished. [Newsletter – March 2012]
Making loose hay in the 1940s utilizing one of the era’s more marvelous labor-saving tools, a hay loader. This one was sold by Montgomery Ward.
From the May 2011 Newsletter
Haymaking in the 1940s. Historically, haymaking has always been a dirty, dusty, back-breaking, job, even as recent as the 1940s. Hay making back then was not highly mechanized. Most of it was not baled, but was cut, cured and stored loose. Since most of the work had to be done by hand, by manual labor, haymaking was mostly a dirty, unpleasant experience. The widespread use of labor-saving auto-tying pick-up balers equipped with kickers, modern bale elevators, hydraulic bale wagons and stackers, and other labor-saving devices were still many years into the future… [Newsletter – May 2011]
From the Jan 2005 Newsletter
My, how times have changed. Throughout the early years of the 20th century, whenever a Howard County farmer harvested surplus hay or straw that he could sell off-farm for extra income, he would often bale part of his crop to facilitate handling. His only option might have been a stationary wire-tie (manually hand-tied that is) baler (or press as some called them) such as this antique belt-driven stationary Frick machine owned by the Frank family. It is obvious from this photo taken during a threshing and baling demonstration at the 2004 Howard County Fair, that at least six hard-working people were required to get this dusty, dirty job done. In more recent times, using a more modern pickup baler with automatic knotters to tie the bales and a mechanical thrower to toss the bales into a wagon towed behind the baler, the entire job could be accomplished with just one person, the tractor operator. Still longing for the “good ol’ days?”