The direction of a well-respected business and farming family continues to evolve as the family recently divested itself of its dairy operation.

The Welches -- descendants of K.L. and Martha Welch, who founded K.L. Welch and Sons -- divested themselves of Welch Dairy Farm, but continue to operate a beef cattle operation and a Wheel Horse tractor business.

In fact, the business took up a new location in June on Danny and Angi Welch's property on Williams Road, off of Old 21 Road.

Although the family operations continue to thrive, the divestiture was anything but emotionally easy.

"The auction was kind of emotional and sort of bittersweet," said Randi Schilling, daughter of Danny and granddaughter of K.L. Welch.

"Dad and Uncle Jim won't be tied down to the cows anymore and will have more free time," she said. "But it was sad because it was like watching my childhood being sold away."

The state of Welch enterprises can be framed as the story of an enterprising family dynasty that began with the marriage of K.L. and Martha in 1948. In 1951, the Welches bought a farm on Buckhorn Road from Ray Best.

In addition to farming, K.L. became a salesman of farm equipment, working for Wayne Renner who ran an Allis Chalmers dealership in Stone Creek.

K.L. not only proved to be skilled salesman, he was a disciplined, savvy saver. He told Renner that, rather than paying him his commission, he should bank the money until K.L. had accumulated enough to buy a new farm tractor. Indeed, he ended up buying the dealership from Renner.

Ever looking to the future, K.L. added a Wheel Horse dealership and, eventually, sold the Allis Chalmers dealership. He kept the Wheel Horse business when he moved to Newcomerstown.

His children remember the extent to which K.L. would go to help people.

"When they could not pay their bill with money, he would barter with them," said his son, Jim. "He liked to wheel and deal. And he was not afraid to let people work for their payment, whatever or wherever."

Some of the "payments" K.L. accepted over the years included sheep, cars, boats and a Studebaker pickup truck.

On one occasion, a customer paid his bill by giving Martha a dairy cow.

Martha would milk that first cow and give milk to everyone. She had so much that she couldn't get rid of it by giving it away, so she filled a milk can and took it to the produce building on Church Street in Newcomerstown.

When K.L. saw the first check she received, he bought Martha another dairy cow. Thus was born the Welch Dairy Farm.

All of the Welch children helped with the operation: Linda (Burrier), when she was young, helped her mother the most with milking the cows. The other children -- Jim, Catheryn (Schrickel) and Danny -- worked on the farm.

In April 1979, Jim and Danny bought the farm from their parents and called it, The Welch Brothers. Just two years later, they purchased another farm in Guernsey and, in 1986, they bought the farm on Golf Course Lane, where Danny and his wife, Angie, live.

After Jim's wife, Kathy, died in 2003, he decided they had too much tied up in The Welch Brothers. So, the brothers decided to split the assets.

Jim took the farm in Guernsey; Danny, the one on Golf Course Lane.

While the Welch Brothers were a team, they split the responsibilities.

Jim took care of the farm operations: Feeding the cows, scraping the barns, planting the fields and all of the other normal farm chores. He was assisted over the years by his niece and nephews, Randy, Kris and Paul Welch and Kristi Layman and Jeff and Ryan Burrier (Linda's children). Jim's great nephew, Nick Osso, also helped on the farm.

Danny, with Angi's help, took care of the milking and ran the Wheel Horse business.

After deciding to close the dairy operation, the brothers hosted an auction in August 2012, selling the cows and the extra equipment they would not need to tend their own farms.

All with grandchildren, the brothers look forward to enjoying their company more often.

"We did good milking the cows, but everything comes to an end," Jim said.