By Valerie LK Martin
EDITOR’S NOTE: “How’d You Get Here, Anyway?” is a new series which tells the stories of how people in our communities, who are not originally from them, came to live here. Suggest your story ideas for this feature to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Steve and Maggie Boehme married and started a family, they were firmly planted in New Jersey.
Steve Boehme lived somewhere in the state his entire life. They had a nice house on three acres, but knew it was not their permanent home.
The generally rural area where they lived was slowly being remade into suburban communities. Ticky-tacky, Steve Boehme calls them. It was also never dark in the night sky.
He said, “No matter the time of night, there was always a glow.”
The Boehmes longed to see the stars, not just once in a while, but every night.
So how does an East Coaster decide where to move his family?
As a life-long enthusiast of self-sufficiency, Steve Boehme had some specific criteria for his piece of paradise.
As for Maggie Boehme, she has always been drawn to the Amish. They had planned to stay in Pennsylvania, but the areas they investigated felt too touristy, so they set their sights on three areas in Ohio: Cambridge, Coshocton and Adams County.
“These areas met some of our initial criteria,” Steve Boehme said. “They contained varied topography, Amish influence, and a day’s drive back to New Jersey.”
The first step the Boehmes took was to find bed and breakfasts in each area and plan a trip to get a feel for each region.
“We got to Cambridge,” Steve Boehme said, “and did not even stay the night. It was too close to coal country and had the wrong atmosphere (for us).”
After spending time in the other two locales, they settled on Adams County. Steve Boehme said that being on the foothills of Appalachia had appeal. The county had all their second level of criteria.
“We wanted acreage with woods, hills and meadows,” he said. “It also had to have a water source.”
Insert local realtor Ron Purdin into the story. With his help and a DeLorme’s Atlas, they eventually found the place to see the stars.
This part of the adventure took a year or so. In 1997, they moved with their son, Stephen, to the Midwest.
It was not all paradise at first. The culture shock was immediate in two big ways. For the Boehmes, who are professed foodies, they missed the food variety they enjoyed in New Jersey.
Steve Boehme said, “We didn’t give much thought to lacking the variety until we couldn’t get it. Food and music were our biggest losses.”
Steve Boehme loves public radio and variety in his music. In the late ’90s, technology did not provide access to his lifeline to news and new music.
“We knew there would be trade-offs,” Steve Boehme said. “We just didn’t know these things would be such a void.”
Not one to sit back and sulk, Steve Boehme got busy starting his business, GoodSeed Nursery and Landscape in Winchester, improving his property, and connecting with locals. Today, technology has caught up to his cultural needs. His business is a going concern, and he has found his place in the pulse of the county. Life is full, though still challenging at times in a place with economic limits.
Owning property and a business does not mean you are a rich person, but Steve Boehme feels wealthy.
He said, “Money was never the goal. We wanted peace and quiet, and to be surrounded by hard-working people. Anything else is a bonus.”
Steve Boehme is still dreaming and working toward that special house on the hill. He has the location picked out where a bench now sits — a place to keep dreaming. The road to it is being worked on now.
“I dreamed of this my whole life,” Steve Boehme mused. “I can go outside my door any night and see the stars.”