NEW BETHLEHEM – As family farms across the country struggle to survive, one local woman has made sure that farms in the Redbank Valley area will never be forgotten.
“The family farm is just dying...you have to get big or get out,” Lucille Procious said in talking about her new 220-page book, “Family Farms in the Redbank Valley.”
“The barns are disappearing so fast,” she said of the local landscape which was once widely dotted by barns built 150 years ago, many of which are now in decay.
Yet, interest in the local farming history has not decayed, Procious found, when she began working on the book following the death of her husband, Otis, in July 2018. In order to keep busy, she decided to begin reaching out to local farms in the five townships that make up the Redbank Valley area surrounding New Bethlehem, including Redbank and Porter townships in Clarion County, and Redbank, Madison and Mahoning townships in Armstrong County.
“I had the farmers do it themselves,” she said of chronicling the history of each property. “This is in their words. I just compiled the book.”
The book also features many photos submitted by the more than 100 farms that took part in the effort.
The interest in farming in the area goes way back for Procious, who grew up in the Rockville area where her father was a farmer. She then married a farmer, and has seen the seventh generation of her husband’s family come to live on their farm in the Beautiful Lookout area. The Procious family has been on the land since 1848, she said.
Procious said that her years of living in the area, as well as her 20 years as a mail carrier, helped her to track down all the families featured in the book. While many of the submissions tell a fairly straightforward history of the farm, some families included memorable stories or legends about their properties.
One such tale that sticks out for Precious is one about a legend that a boot filled with gold had been buried by one of the farmer’s grandfathers. Despite years of searching, the boot was never found.
“I’m thinking grandpa was pulling their leg so they wouldn’t sell the farm,” Procious said.
The book, which separates the farms by the township they are in, has already proven to be a big hit with the local area. In the first week, Procious said she had already sold 60 copies, but still had plenty more to go around.
The book can be purchased for $35 plus $3 for shipping, by sending payment to Lucille Procious at 3906 Dayton Road, New Bethlehem, PA 16242. She can also be reached at (814) 275-2664 or email@example.com.