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Bicentennial to recognize Hoosier Homesteads

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Thirty-one farms in Fayette County have been in the same family for more than a century and those families will be recognized during the Fayette County Bicentennial.

From those 31 family farms, 176 family members have indicated they will attend and all but three farms have responded to requests to participate. 

The recognition will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in the banquet hall of the John H. Miller Community Center, 2900 Park Road. Township history will also be on display in the Miller building.

Event organizer Pat Summan said each family will receive a certificate from the Bicentennial committee, which will also have their picture taken at the ceremony for distribution afterwards.

Roadside signs from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture mark each farm as a Hoosier Homestead Farm. A blue sign (centennial) designates a farm of 100 years; a green sign (sesquicentennial) designates 150 years; and a brown sign (bicentennial) is for 200 years.

Of the 31 farms, three are Bicentennial Farms, owned by the same family for at least 200 years. They are the Creighton Porter Farm south of Connersville, David S. Caldwell Farm north of Harrisburg and the Jack Frost Farm northwest of Connersville.

One farm has five owners.

“I was expecting farms with multiple owners but I wasn’t expecting five,” she said. “There was one with three children and one has died but he had two children. The other has the right of estate. Each owner will receive a certificate. There are a couple other farms divided after the parents died.”

Those families who attend will receive a booklet with a picture of the farmhouse or farmstead and some information about the farm.

At one time, 46 farms had received the award. Some of them have since been sold outside the family, she said.

“I think we have had a tremendous response,” she said. “One of the things that happened, people just started sending me items and old pictures of the farm or the family. We have David Caldwell’s deed signed by President James Madison.”

A display of those additional items will be put together and available for people to view.

Summan said the state’s Hoosier Homestead program is the second such effort. In 1947, a similar program called Centennial Farms (originally Pioneer Farms) was established by the Indiana Historical Society and Purdue University. When the program ended in 1951, more than 1,650 farms had been recognized.

In 1976 the Hoosier Homestead Project took up where the Centennial Farms left off. The Hoosier Homestead Award not only celebrates dedicated families working in Indiana agriculture, but also about preserving a way of life that values hard work, integrity and community. To date more tjam 5,000 farms in Indiana have received the awards.