Lowell family honored with Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award
From the windows of his white frame hilltop home, Charles Bailey looks to the south, where westbound Ind. 2 cuts an asphalt swath through the 128-year-old farmstead where he has lived all 92 years.
Bailey remembers when the row of ailanthus trees, also known as the Tree of Heaven, were bulldozed to make room for the highway but lived on in his father’s Lanthus Stock Farm, a cattle operation.
Today, Bailey and his wife of 72 years, Margaret, will drive to Indianapolis where they will be honored with the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award from the Indiana Department of Agriculture. Their family farm is one of 22 honored this year.
“I’m not one for notoriety,” Charles said. Their daughter, Joyce Ellis, handled the paperwork for the 280-acre farm at 12906 Belshaw Road, he said.
Margaret Bailey, a farmgirl when she met Charles, said a farm is a wonderful place to raise a family. She will be 92 on Monday.
“She’s been my valentine for all these years,” her husband said with a smile.
The couple raised two daughters on the land first bought by Bailey’s great-grandfather, Josiah Bailey, in 1882.
“I’ve got the tax receipt from 1900. It was $300,” Charles Bailey said. The farm’s most recent taxes exceeded $7,000, he said.
The Baileys left the cattle business in 1983. The fields still fill with soybeans and corn as part of a sharecropping operation with another farmer.
Charles enjoys telling how the couple’s two-story home was built in 1897. After a doctor suggested Tillie Bailey, Charles’ grandmother, go to warmer climate for her health, she told his grandfather to instead “build me a warm house.”
The house has stood the test of time, and the Baileys point to the fine wood trim that Charles said was crafted by “a tramp who came through every summer.”
The property has four residences on it, including a brick home in which their grandson, John Bydelak, lives with his family.
“We call it the village,” Bydelak said of the farm.
“And we live in the White House,” Charles Bailey said with a grin.
About the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award
Since 1976, the Indiana Department of Agriculture has honored 4,500 Hoosier family farms that have reached the 100, 150 and 200 years mark with the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award.
Farms are recognized twice annually for their economic, cultural and social contributions to the advancement of the state.