A Huntington County family that has operated a farm in Jefferson Township for more than 150 years was one of 58 Indiana farming families honored Aug. 7 at the Indiana State Fair as Hoosier Homestead families.
Audra Riggers, who now lives on the farm, and her father, Wallace Riggers, accepted the award.
To be named a Hoosier Homestead, farms must be owned by the same family for more than 100 consecutive years and consist of more than 20 acres or produce more than $1,000 of agricultural products per year.
The Riggers family received the sesquicentennial award, recognizing 150 years of family ownership, but Audra Riggers says the farm has been in her family longer than that.
"I went to the Huntington County Courthouse and looked at the oldest books in the recorder's office and the auditor's office, and it was listed in 1859," she says.
Riggers was then able to document family ownership of the farm back to 1843, but says the family believes the farm was established in 1829 or 1830.
The current house on the property is the second home built there.
"I live in the new house," Riggers says. "It was built in 1888."
She grew up in the house and has never left.
The house, Riggers said, was built with bricks made on site. Many of the bricks used in downtown Warren buildings were also made on the family farm, she adds.
The farm was founded by Riggers' great-great-great-grandfather, John A. Richardson, and handed down to her great-great-grandfather, John Richardson, and then to her great-grandfather, Ottie Richardson. Ottie never married but took in an orphan, George Riggers, and raised him as a son.
George died before the farm could be passed on to him, so it went to Wallace Riggers, George's son and Audra's father. Wallace was born on the farm in 1938.
Audra Riggers, the first female owner of the farm, received the property in 1999.
Riggers rents out the farmground but cultivates a small orchard and berry patch herself.
"It's really been a labor of love to keep it," she says. "I feel very blessed to be there and be the steward of our family's legacy of six generations at the farm."
The Hoosier Homestead families were recognized by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Indiana Department of Agriculture Director Gina Sheets at the State Fair.
State Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, extended his congratulations to the Riggers family.
"The Riggers family has continued their long agricultural heritage, and in so doing, they have kept alive Indiana's strong historical ties to farming," Leonard says. "Farming is much more than an occupation; it is truly a way of life for many Hoosiers. I am pleased to see this family honored for the hard work they have put in to maintaining their farm for 170 years."
Wallace Riggers (second from left) and Audra Riggers (third from left) receive the Hoosier Homestead Farm award from Gina Sheets (left), director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, and Lt. Gov Sue Ellspermann (right) on Aug. 7 at the Indiana State Fair. The farm, located in Jefferson Township, is now owned by Audra Riggers, the sixth generation of the family to live there.