Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, May 22, 1993, Image 38

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    82-Lancasler Firming, Saturday, May 22, 1993
o**** _..
Homecoming for hundreds of Neffs will happen on this Manor Township and Doris now live. From left are Dave, Jean, Paul, Doris, Dean, Cyrus, and
farm, where some of the Neff’s ancestors settled In the 1700 s and where Dean Joey, sitting on his tractor.
Farm Is Site Of Neff Family Homecoming
Lancaster Farming Staff
caster Co.) It’s always good to
come home. And, that’s exactly
what many Neffs will be doing
when they visit Dean and Doris
Neff at their Washington Boro
farm on June 23.
The Neffs are hosting a “picnic
down on the farm” during the four
day Neff reunion, scheduled from
June 23 to 26.
Neffs from across the U.S. and
even from Switzerland and Ger
many plan to attend.
According to research, the first
Neff emigrants to arrive in Ameri
ca settled in Lancaster County
about 1717. After that, there was a
constant trek of more Neffs who
fled religious persecution in Swit
zerland and Germany and sought
religious freedom and economic
opportunity in the New World.
Now. an estimated 7,500 per
sons scattered across the U.S. carry
the Neff name.
According to cousins Cyrus and
Paul Neff, who are instrumental in
planning the Neff Reunion, there’s
a swelling interest in finding
The original barn Is in excellent condition. It Is used to dip
wash and shellack the fall ornmentals that Dean grows on
15 acres of the land.
geneological roots.
“It seems like everyone is dig
ging up their roots. I’m not sure
why so many people are becoming
interested,” Paul said, “perhaps it’s
because they see their heritage dis
appearing or maybe it’s just
because they enjoy history.”
Whatever the reason, the Neff
cousins find geneological research
“My only complaint is that my
interest started too late in life,”
Cyrus said. “By the time I started
researching, the old ones were
gone and I was one of the old
These cousins and other Neffs
are keeping records for future gen
erations. “Neff News,” is pub
lished four times a year and sent to
subscribers. The publication
includes brief historic accounts of
Neffs and seeks to preserve their
Swiss ancestry and family herit
age. William Neff, who is also
organizing the reunion, authored a
book on the Neff-Naf Family
According to European
researchers, the surname Neff is a
shortened version of nephew.
Bwl Iteit
® n
Many unrelated families referred
to their nephews in this manner
before surnames were established.
This complicates tracking down
ancestors, but genealogists were
able to establish that three unre
lated branches of Neffs settled in
the New World. All three of these
branches are invited to the reunion
and separate tours are planned
relating to each of these branches,
referred to as “A," “B.” and “C”
lines. The one branch settled in
Manor Township, another in the
Strasburg area, and another in
Huntingdon County.
Cyrus, called the historian by
the Neffs, delights in traveling on
Weaver Road in Central Manor
township, which he refers to as
Neff territory. He knows the
names of the original Neffs who
settled on the land, and how the
land was passed down through the
generations or sold to other fami
lies. Cyrus will be the tour guide
for what is referred to as the “B”
line Neff families who settled in
Manor Township.
The Neff farm, where the picnic
will be held, was once part of a lar
ger parcel of land owned by the
Neffs. It was divided in 1880 into
separate homesteads for two
brothers. Later, the farm with the
original farmhouse was sold out
side of the family, but it will be one
of the stopping places for the lour.
The 13-room farmhouse, where
the picnic will be held, is sur
rounded by pungent pines.
“I remember planting two of
those pine trees,” said Paul. The
trees now tower above the three
story house.
Doris has dozens of geraniums
to plant in the window boxes,
which Paul had built for the farm
house after a visit to Europe where
windowboxes are prolific.
The older Neffs pointed out that
the house was built before footers
were poured. The rock foundation
has remained firm. “The walls are
straight not a crack in them,”
Paul said of the three-brick-wide
The farmhouse holds many
memories for the Neffs. “I was
bom in the living room and lived
there 60 years,” said David, father
of Dean.
“I guess I was bom in one of
those rooms too, though I don’t
remember which one,” Paul said.
He does remember playing in the
hay and falling through the hay
loft It took doctors nine months to
diagnose a cracked hip that
stopped leg growth and caused
Paul to have a hip replacement in
recent years.
Cyrus, Paul and Dave spoke of
the times they carried eggs and
milk up and down the basement
“One step is higher than the
rest,” Paul said.
“It still is.” Dean said.
The basement has an arch and
the attic a smoke room to hang
hams, a feature characteristic of
that era.
The inside doors and woodwork
still have the original comb
painted finish.
Changes have been made. The
front yard was at one time an
orchard surrounded by a white
picket fence. Now thick green
grass grows among the pines.
Grandfather Harry Neff truck
farmed produce, which he peddled
in town. Dean’s parents raised
poultry, but Dean turned the chick
en houses into a pig nursery to
operate a farrow through feeder
pig operation. Dean also grows IS
acres of fall ornamentals (mini
pumpkins, gourds, and Indian
com). The original bam, in excel
lent condition, is now used to dip
wash and shcllack the ornamen
, ***" > f*
Dean sajd that he got the idea to
raise fall ornamentals from an
Indiana farmer about eight years
ago. Since then, other farmers have
followed his lead and Dean said
that it is a cut-throat business.
Dean crop farms the additional
An old-fashioned pig roast will
held on the Neff farm during the
picnic. Rain or shine, the Neffs arc
' “We built a dining hall that scats
200,” Dean joked.
llte “dining hall” in reality is a
newly erected implement shed that
will serve double duty for seating
the crowd.
A hay ride or something memor
able for the kids will be held, Dean
In addition to the farm cook-out
and tours, plans for the three-day
event include gcncological ses
sions at the Lancaster Historical
Society, tours of the Amish coun
try and Hershey, a banquet, and a
Neff quilted wall hanging auction.
The reunion committee has
reserved Days Inn for overnight
“We aren’t sure how many peo
ple are coming but we anticipate
several hundred,” Paul said.
It is known that families from
across the U.S. and even some
from Europe will attend the
Reservations for the Neff Reun
ion should by made by contacting
Bob Neff Tours (717) 397-000.
91 (ctnesffiud