For nearly 40 years, the state has been recognizing the long-term commitment of Hoosier farmers to Indiana agriculture with Hoosier Homestead Awards.
In recent years, a semiannual recognition ceremony has been conducted to honor the newest families to be honored. One of those ceremonies is in March, and the other is in August during the Indiana State Fair.
This year that day fell Aug. 12, and four Jackson County families joined 63 other Hoosier farm families in making the trek to the state fair to be recognized.
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For the Joyce Hackman family of Brownstown, the decision to be recognized with a sesquicentennial award for 150 years of ownership during the fair was an easy one.
“We chose the state fair because we could have done it in March, but for us, the state fair is special to our family,” Hackman’s son, Blake Hackman, said.
“We never took vacations, but we always went to the state fair even before the interstate was finished. Our father (the late Earl Hackman) liked the state fair.”
Many members of the Hackman family, including Blake’s sisters, Tracy Stam and Carla Thompson, attended the ceremony.
Blake completed the paperwork for the application, which took about two months.
The process involved going from office to office in the courthouse trying to tie down ownership of the property from one generation to the next.
The initial 80-acre farm in the 3100 block of South County Road 400E was acquired by John Fred Hackman from Gerrhard Henry Topie on Jan 20, 1862. Blake believes John Hackman’s wife, Mary, was likely Topie’s daughter.
The land eventually went to the Hackmans’ sons, William and Henry Hackman, in 1921. Five months later, William Hackman obtained sole ownership and he gave it to his sons, Louis and Amos Hackman, on March 16, 1938. Louis Hackman, who obtained sole ownership in 1941, then deeded the property to his nephew, Earl Hackman, and Joyce Hackman on Sept. 24, 1959.
Blake said it was special to see what his forefathers have done with the property.
“I know it’s changed, but it’s still a working farm,” he said. “It’s nice to keep the tradition going on and on from generation to generation. It’s special.”
At this time, 60 of the original 80 acres are being farmed. To be eligible for a Hoosier Homestead Award, a farm must contain 20 acres or produce more than $1,000 in agricultural products per year.
Three other families from the Brownstown and Vallonia areas also received Hoosier Homestead Awards during the ceremony. Centennial awards are for families who have maintained ownership of a farm for at least 100 years.
Those honorees were the Robert “Bob” and Helen Lahrman family from Vallonia; the LeRoy and Wilma Miller family of Brownstown; and their son and his wife, Mark and Dana Miller, also of Brownstown.
The Lahrman family homestead dates to 1905. The LeRoy Miller homestead has been in the family since 1891, while the Mark Miller homestead has been in the family since 1910. Sixty-three farm families were honored during the March ceremony, but none were from Jackson County.
The only other award category is bicentennial for 200 years of ownership by the same family, and Blake said the Hackmans ought to be able to obtain that recognition, although he probably won’t be around to see it.
“I have a couple of nephews who farm, and it will go to them,” he said.
Blake said the ceremony took about an hour-and-a-half. Each family was brought up on a stage by county, introduced and then a photo was taken of each.
“We were all up there together,” he said. “It was fun. We knew all the (local) families.”
And it was fun to meet the other families from around state, he said.
“They’re all ag people just like us,” he said.
His mother agreed.
“Just one big family,” Joyce said.
Blake said he’s trying to push others in the community to apply.
“It’s not that hard,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, presented the awards.
“It is even more fitting that we are celebrating the Year of the Farmer at the Indiana State Fair as a way to honor and thank Hoosier farmers for being an integral part of our state’s legacy and future,” Ellspermann said.
Since the program was started in 1976, more than 5,000 Hoosier Homestead farms have been recognized for their contributions to the economy and cultural and social advancements of the state.