The Gammie family roots began in Aberdeen, Scotland. William Gladstone Gammie (Bill's father), however, was born on a winters' day in February 1903 in Sunderland, England. The family moved back to Aberdeen soon after William G’s birth to connect back with these family roots. William G. was one of four children, and he and his family were part of the massive wave of immigration to America in the first part of the twentieth century.
Once in the United States, the Gammies established a home in South Lorain, Ohio. This was around 1909. William A., the head of the family, worked in the steel mill.
As school boys, the Gammie brothers, William G. and Alex, worked on vegetable farms in Avon, Ohio where their enthusiasm for farming was born. William G. attended Ohio State University to study horticulture, and after his graduation, he worked a stint with managing a Firestone Rubber Plant in Liberia, Africa for several years. He returned to Ohio after his father was tragically killed in an accident.
After his return to Ohio, William G., Alex, their sister Margaret, and their mother Elizabeth (also known as Nana) acquired a farm, which they named Gammie Brothers, in Berlin Township in Erie County. This was in 1931.
Good though rocky soil and a climate tempered by Lake Erie contributed to the region’s highly productive agricultural development. While once dotted with many fruit and vegetable farms, the risks have significantly reduced the numbers of farms in this area; we have been blessed to remain.
William G. and Alex bought the present farm on Mason Road. The whole family lived here because it was during the Depression and money was tight. The Gammie brothers’ primary crop was vegetables, but because of the well-drained soils and elevation, fruit crops soon became an important source of income.
Margaret Dinan came to Berlin Heights to teach school. She married William G. in 1942, and two children, William D., better known today as Bill, and Judith were born and became the second generation of Gammies in Ohio.
Bill followed in his father’s footsteps and also attended Ohio State University. He graduated in June of 1970 with a degree in political science. Unfortunately, before he could begin his teaching career, he received a low number in the draft lottery and was sent to Vietnam for nineteen months of 1970 and 1971. When he finished his tour of duty, he again enrolled at Ohio State and earned a degree in History Education in 1976. He taught high school history at Margaretta High School in Castalia, Ohio. He met Jacqueline Arra in her first year teaching at Margaretta, and they married a year later. Once married, he decided to spend his time working the farm rather than teaching. In 1979 the farm was named Quarry Hill Orchards by Bill’s mother, Margaret, because there are three quarries on the land. Bill has built the farm to its present state over the past 25 years. This return to the farm established the third generation of Gammies, Benjamin and Adrianne.
Ben and Adrianne loved growing up on this farm, often working side-by-side with their dad. They left home to attend college, Ben to Ohio Northern University where he earned a Civil Engineering degree and Adrianne to the University of Cincinnati to earn a degree in Fashion Design. Their careers have taken them away from Ohio and the farm, but they are living successful lives in their chosen fields. Ben works for Bury Partners, Inc. in Austin, Texas, and Adrianne works for Target in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Whenever they are home, they gravitate to the farm for rejuvenation as if it is in their blood. It is always good to see them in the barn or the orchard.
Change is the only constant on our stay in this world. So the Gammies teamed with the McClellands in 2005 to establish a winery, aptly named Quarry Hill Winery. The first grapes were planted in 2006 on the highest point of the farm with a distant view of Lake Erie. Hope springs eternal.
Today, in 2007 fruit is still the main crop as Quarry Hill Orchards operates 90 acres of apples, 30 acres of peaches and nectarines, 30 acres of pears, and 3 acres of cherries.
While planning and strategic decisions are vital to any successful business, the long shadow of mother nature looms large. Already in 2007, there have been several days of ominous weather. Cold weather in early April threatened crops, but only the cherries gave way. There is a reason for optimism.
Will there be another generation at the corner of Humm and Mason Roads? A torrent of emotions revolves around the answer to that question.
Time waits for no one.