FLORA — Land is in John Chittick’s blood.
Since his great-grandfather Archibald Chittick moved to Carroll County, one or another of John’s ancestors has owned farmland near Cutler. John Chittick looked after the family land for decades before retiring to Arizona.
And now, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture has recognized the family farm as one of its Hoosier Homesteads, bestowing a centennial award on the Chittick family.
The Chittick farm was the only area farm to be recognized in this round of Hoosier Homestead awards. The nearly 40-year-old program honors new inductees twice each year, recognizing farms that have been owned by the same family for 100 years or longer.
It was a great Christmas gift for someone who had everything he needed, said John Chittick’s daughter Rebecca Chittick Emerson.
“Actually, it was my husband’s idea,” Rebecca Emerson said, referring to Barry Emerson. “I said, absolutely, a wonderful idea.”
The couple enlisted the help of a local historian and submitted page after page of documentation about the family farm to the ISDA. Official notification of Hoosier Homestead status wouldn’t come until this past January, but Rebecca Emerson said she’d had no doubt the farm would qualify.
John Chittick echoed his daughter’s words in describing how he felt about the gift. “There’s something about land that just does great things for me,” he said.
Of course, that’s why his daughter thought the gift was appropriate.
“The farmland is very near and dear to his heart,” she said. “So this is just another way to make sure that he’s recognized for keeping it going for all these years.”
The original 105 acres of farmland have been in the family since 1871, when John Chittick’s great-grandfather Archibald Chittick, originally from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, bought it for just $18.95 per acre, according to the documents the Emersons collected.