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Brothers receive Homestead awards

December 07, 2011
Since its inception in 1976, there had been only nine Crawford County farms to receive the Hoosier Homestead Award, and none since 2004, but three more farms — individually owned by three brothers — were added to the list this year.

The farms, all in the Eckerty area, were among those from throughout Indiana that were recognized for the economic, cultural and social advancements they have made to the state during a ceremony on Aug. 10 at the Indiana State Fair.

The brothers — Jim, Phil and Sam Kaiser — applied for the award at the encouragement of the Crawford County Historical and Genealogical Society.

"We all made applications this year, and we all got it at the same time," said Jim, who, at 81, is the oldest of the brothers by six years, followed by Phil and then Sam.

The brothers' farms each received the Centennial Award, which is given to farms that have been owned by the same family for at least 100 years.

The story of the Kaiser brothers' farms began in 1843 when Sam Kaiser Sr., the brothers' great-grandfather, came to the United States from Switzerland with his family as a 7-year-old boy. The family located in Ohio but then moved to Crawford County likely due to other immigrants from Switzerland being there.

Sam Kaiser Sr. purchased property in Patoka Township in 1889. Then, in 1902, he bought land for his sons, Sam Jr. and Ed. Sam Jr. also bought farmland in the area in 1895.

Sam Sr. sold his property to his grandson, Albert Kaiser, while the land Sam Jr. bought was passed down to a daughter, Della Kaiser. The land purchased in 1902 for Sam Jr. and Ed made its way to their sons, Clarence and Roy, respectively, with the majority then ending up with Clarence.

The reason the land ended up in the three Kaiser brothers' hands goes back to 1937. Their mother, Selma June Esarey Kaiser, died that year and Phil, 3 at the time, moved in with their Uncle Albert and Aunt Lily, while Sam, just a year old, went to live with their Aunt Della. Jim, who was 7, stayed with their father, Clarence.

Phil and his wife, Joan, inherited a part of Albert and Lily's farm, and Sam and his wife, Tracy, acquired Della's farm while Jim and his late wife, Doris, took ownership of his father's farm and adjacent land.

"It's unusual for three brothers to get the same award," Jim said.

All three brothers attended Purdue University and served in the U.S. Army. Jim, who dedicated his life to agriculture, having spent years with the University of Illinois as an associate professor in the Department of Agronomy, said the award is more special because of the connection he has with the land and the appreciation for those who worked it before him.

It was the work ethic of Sam Kaiser Sr. and those who followed him to do what needed to be done to ensure their families' survival, including working, as well as taking measures to preserve, the land, that makes the brothers' farms more than just land. By succeeding, Sam Sr., who became a naturalized United States citizen in 1866, fulfilled the promise offered by his father when he brought his family to America in 1843.

All three Kaiser brothers attended the ceremony in August, where they were joined by their family members.

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