A locally-owned family farm has been recognized for operating in the same family for more than 100 years.
The Original Speaker Lane Farm, located at 16285 S. County Road 250W south of Columbus, in operation since 1908, is where many members of the Speaker family got their start in farming, said Ron Speaker, who lives on a portion of the 121-acre farm that is divided among family members.
Speaker Lane is a reference to the original lane leading to the farmhouse on the property, which still exists. Four generations of the Speaker family have lived on the farm.
Ron Speaker’s daughter, Rebecca, said 21 acres of land was purchased by her great-great-grandfather John Henry Speaker in 1908 for $6,000. He and his family had come to the United States through the port of Baltimore, Maryland, on Sept. 30, 1858, from Bremen, Germany.
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Known by his middle name of Henry, the first generation Speaker to live in the U.S. “basically came here because of family, but for a better opportunity,” Rebecca Speaker said.
She said Henry, whose parents died in the early 1860s, married Caroline Kobbe in August of 1872 in Bartholomew County. The couple bought several farms between Bartholomew and Jackson counties, she said.
The 21-acre purchase was meant to connect 100 acres already owned and to build a house for his son, William, Rebecca Speaker said.
The Speakers received the Hoosier Homestead centennial award earlier this month at the Indiana Statehouse for more than 100 years of family farm ownership.
In 2004, Rebecca Speaker purchased 21 acres from her grandmother, Edith Speaker, in addition to another 25 acres of the original 100 acres. Her parents, Ron and Jackie Speaker, live in a home that Rebecca Speaker built in 2015.
“For me, it was important to have a piece of the land like Dad and Grandpa,” Rebecca Speaker said. “I’m proud of the heritage from being from a farm family.”
Ron Speaker said while farming was hard work growing up, it’s something that he looks back on fondly as part of his family history.
“We all got our roots in the farm, but we all go in different directions,” he said. “I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine.”
He also said the Speakers weathered the 1980s farm crisis that required them to be conservative, sometimes buying items at garage sales in an effort to save money. He contributed to the farm’s success after his graduation from high school in 1966 through 1994.
Rebecca Speaker, whose interest in the family genealogy started alongside her grandmother, also said she enjoyed growing up on the farm.
“I loved growing up on history and even better our heritage,” she said. “This Speaker homestead puts together our history.”
Ron Speaker said despite the challenges, faith has always been an important mainstay for his family that managed to carry them through.
“The faith and the church was always the center of the family,” he said.
Ron Speaker said he has no doubt the deep family tradition of the Speaker farm will remain intact.
“The heritage will continue on,” he said.
Speaker, who works at farm equipment company Jacobi Sales three days a week, also leads his own accounting firm and particularly enjoys the peaceful atmosphere surrounding the farm.
“It’s a sanctuary,” he said. “It can be a way to relax from the hustle and bustle.”
The Original Speaker Lane Farm, located at 16285 S. County 250W ner Petersville, has been in operation since 1908. The land, consisting of 121 acres, is divided up among family members. Four generations of the Speaker family have lived on the farm.