The history of the Spies (Tope) Family Farm of West Union stretches all the way back to 1866. The farm, currently owned by Paul and Callie (Tope) Spies, was recently honored with a Heritage Award, which celebrates families who’ve owned at least 40 acres of farmland for 150 years.
Callie Spies said the farm was founded by her grandfather’s great-aunt, Sarah Tope.
“She settled here after moving from Ohio,” Spies said. “The family ownership then went to my great-great-grandfather, George Tope. My great-grandfather Sidney (Bert) then took over, followed by my grandfather Sid, who passed it on to my dad, Randy Tope. Now my husband, Paul Spies Jr., and I run the farm.”
The farm began with 40 acres purchased for $12.50 an acre. Over time, the family added to the operation that now encompasses 250 acres of crop ground, pasture and timber. The Spies raise livestock and crops on the operation.
“We raise a 65-head cow/calf beef herd,” she said. “We also farm alfalfa, corn and soybeans. Over the years, the family has raised a wide variety of livestock here, including pigs, horses, dairy cows, chickens and a goat named Gertie. While the family mainly grew corn and soybeans through the years, my great-grandpa Bert raised a crop of peanuts that folks say did surprisingly well.”
Spies said she and her husband bought the farm from her parents three years ago, and they live there with their two-year-old son named Gunner. The house on the farm is the same one built when the operation began, and they still live in it to this day. “I think it’s amazing to know that I’m raising the sixth generation of the Tope family in the same home that my grandpa was actually born in back in 1920,” Spies said.
Her family feels a lot of pride in knowing that they’ve worked hard to keep the farm in the family over the past 150 years.
“I’ve heard stories of many families in the area that didn’t make it through the Great Depression on their farms,” she recalled. “We are so happy that we were able to keep our farm going for all these years. I love that I get to raise my family here and we hope to pass the farm on to Gunner someday.”