St. Paul farm celebrates 150 years of continuous farming in the Willamette Valley

Mullen Farms south of St. Paul actually started in 1852 when founder immigrated from Ireland

A St. Paul farm is celebrating 150 years of continuous farming and will be recognized in a ceremony at the Oregon State Fair later this month.

Mullen Farms on River Road has been in the same family since it was established 166 years ago, but this year is when the application for sesquicentennial status was approved.

Robert Keaton immigrated to the United States from Ireland to take up a land claim of 160 acres in 1852. His mother, Mary Mullen, who had remarried, and her son Patrick, Keaton’s half-brother, arrived in 1859.

Keaton, who fought in the Civil War, left the farm in 1870 to mine for gold and was never heard from again. Patrick Mullen took over his half-brother’s farm. His son Charles S. Mullen was born in the family’s farmhouse, purchased it from his siblings in 1920, and lived there for 101 years.

The farm’s early crops were hay, oats, barley, clover, hops, wheat, dairy cattle, chicken, hogs and sheep.

Today the farm raises grass seed, snap beans, sweet corn, squash, wheat, clover, hazelnuts and vegetable seeds. Cattle, hogs, goats and chickens are also raised for family consumption.

The farm is operated by great-grandsons of the farm’s founder: Gerald and James and their respective wives, Kathleen and Nadine.

Mullen Farms is one of two farms that reached sesquicentennial status this year, along with Robinson Stillwell Taggart Farm of Yamhill County. That brings the program’s total of sesquicentennial farms to 41 since they were added to the program in 2008 to honor Oregon’s 150th anniversary of statehood.

Twelve farms and ranches from eight different counties, including two from Marion County, will be recognized as Century Farms or Ranches by the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program in an awards ceremony at the Oregon State Fair. This year’s ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 in the Picnic Grove area of the fairgrounds. The recognition is open to the public.

The 12 farms being recognized are: J.G. Kuenzi Farm and Beitel Farm of Marion County, DeLano Farms of Clackamas County, Tideman Johnson Farm of Multnomah County, Henry W. Jones Farm of Yamhill County, Wilsonview Dairy Inc. and Tilla-Bay Farms Inc. of Tillamook County, Watts Ranch of Klamath County, Brown Farm of Morrow County, Howard-Allstott Ranch and Rockwell-Doherty of Umatilla County and Sandoz Farm of Wasco County.

This brings the total number of Oregon Century Farms and Ranches to 1,212.

The Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program began in 1958 to honor farm and ranch families with century-long connections to the land. To qualify for a century or sesquicentennial award, interested families must follow a formal application process. Qualifications include continuous family operation of the farm or ranch; a gross income from farm use of not less than $1,000 per year for at least three years out of five prior to application; and family members must live on or actively manage the farm or ranch activities. Application documentation may include photos, original deeds, personal stories, or other historic records. These records help support Oregon’s agricultural history by providing valuable information about settlement patterns or statistics on livestock and crop cycles. All documents are archived for public access.

The application deadline for next year is May 1, 2019.

Award winners receive a certificate signed by the governor and director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Historic roadside signs are imprinted with the founder’s name and the year the ranch or farm was established.

The Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program is administered by the Oregon Farm Bureau Foundation for Education. It is supported by a partnership among the Oregon Farm Bureau, the State Historic Preservation Office, OSU University Archives and by generous donations of Oregonians.

Learn more about the farms being recognized this year and about the program at

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