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Farm in Family for 150 Years

(Medaryville, IN) - A northern Indiana man has plenty of good memories from raising a family on the same farm his great-great-grandfather started 150-years ago.


A not-so-positive memory standing out above the rest is a tornado leaving his old wood barn in shambles after he and his family, under blackening skies, took cover in the basement of their home just a stone’s throw away.


“It’s not something everybody goes through,” said Bruce Selmer, who grew up on the farm in Pulaski County near Medaryville.


Also high in his memory bank is being recognized on April 1 at the Indiana Statehouse for owning a still productive farm in the same family since 1872.


Selmer was one of 34 farm owners presented with the Sesquicentennial Award under the Hoosier Homestead program honoring families for their long-running commitment to Indiana agriculture, which makes Selmer proud. 


Another 35 families across the state were recognized for family farms dating back 100 years and 200 years. Nearly 6,000 families have received the Hoosier Homestead Award since the Indiana State Department of Agriculture program was started in 1976.


Selmer, 65, received a plaque that many past award winners now display in front of their family farms.


William Selmer started a much smaller operation raising hogs, cattle, chickens, wheat, oats, corn, and soybeans.


Land ownership at the farm has grown to 265 acres, with another 60 acres Selmer leases to grow crops. The original farmhouse is no longer there. It was replaced a half-century or so later by a modest 1,500-square-foot house that Selmer grew up in, while his father, Arthur, carried on the family tradition by raising cattle and growing crops. He died in 1987.


Selmer said his mother, Marcella, was still living in his childhood home when she passed away recently at the age of 101.


He’s presently cleaning out the still sturdy house. He might wind up renting out at some point, though no immediate plans have been decided. 


Selmer also lives on the farm in a 4,000-square-foot house he built to provide more room for his growing young family in 1990.


He remembers helping his father as a child with many things on the farm, like raising hogs along with oats and wheat used chiefly for feed. The cash crops at the farm in his youth were corn and soybeans.


Selmer said he was working full-time as a mechanic at an auto dealership when he quit to take over the farm before his father retired in 1979. He later returned to being a mechanic and still works on farm machinery, automobiles, and practically everything else with an engine for customers when he’s not in his fields.


Selmer said he raises strictly corn and soybeans now and is helped on the farm, occasionally, by his sons employed outside of agriculture.


He said there’s a sense of pride from being a fourth-generation farmer on the same property worked by his descendants and keeping the family farm afloat, especially when the typical economic challenges in agriculture are more extreme.


“We’re still managing. We’ve made a good life out of it,” Selmer said.


Selmer said he’s not sure if his sons will carry on the family’s farming legacy but feels they will keep the property and, perhaps, lease the ground to other farmers. He has no plans to quit working the soil anytime soon, though.


“I just enjoy it. I like being outside on my own. It’s nice when you’re outside and stuff to see things grow,” Selmer said.

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