HOPE — The man who created the 123-year-old Andrews homestead in Flatrock Township wasn’t your average farmer.

Owning more than 1,300 acres of land in Flatrock Township at the time of his death, Joseph Andrews (1836-1920) was considered a well-known and prominent resident of Bartholomew County.

Real estate records indicate Andrews, the son of Indiana State Militia Capt. Henry Carson Andrews (1798-1885), was buying and selling property prior to the Civil War, not long after he married Nancy Cox Andrews (1838-1911).

But the land acquisition that resulted in their great-grandson, Gary Andrews of 15570 N. 350E, Hope, being awarded a Hoosier Homestead Award, took place in late 1894. That’s when Joseph Andrews acquired 66 acres of land for about $7,400 through two different purchases, records state.

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While proud to be the fourth generation to raise a family on what was once the largest apple orchard in the county, Gary Andrews admits he can’t take credit for his heritage.

“My part was easy, because I just inherited it,” Gary Andrews said. “It was a lot more of a struggle for my ancestors.”

That is confirmed by a variety of early 20th century news accounts published by the Evening Republican, predecessor to The Republic.

While Joseph and Nancy Andrews enjoyed a record-breaking harvest in 1906, a work-related accident involving a barrel of apple cider caused him to lost sight in his right eye that same year, articles state.

One year later, the couple’s new barn was destroyed by fire after being filled with produce and equipment. And a year after that, their entire crop failed due to weather conditions.

But the greatest heartbreaks suffered by Joseph and Nancy Andrews was outliving three of their 11 children: Asariah and Amanda both died as young adults, while Benjamin was 2 when he died in 1871.

Eventually, the land went to the couple’s son, Arthur Andrews (1877-1957), who fathered seven children with Mathilda Law Andrews (1882-1962). Upon their deaths, the property was handed down to son Thomas Andrews (1920-2015) and his wife, Evelyn Loesch Andrews (1923-2016), who were the parents of Gary Andrews.

Gary and his wife, Markel McIntyre Andrews, gained full control after they purchased interest in the property owned by his sister, former Columbus clerk-treasurer Brenda Sullivan, he said.

Sullivan says she and her brother discussed applying for the Hoosier Homestead Award to honor their father, but Thomas Andrews died earlier than they had anticipated.

“He would been so excited to have received it,” Sullivan said.

While farming may not be as hazardous as it once was, the flood of June 2008 that left 75 percent of his soybeans and corn submerged proves farmers remain at the mercy of nature, Gary Andrews said.

“As best as I can tell, everyone in my immediate family has been a farmer, going to the first Andrews who came to America from Ireland before the Revolutionary War,” Andrews said. “But at some point, someone is going to decide not to be a farmer.”

That’s the case with his son, Scott Andrews, who earned his law degree at Seton Hall University in 2000. A former deputy prosecutor, Scott Andrews now practices law in Columbus.

His wife, Dawn Andrews, runs a cosmetics company based in Columbus.

While both Gary and Scott Andrews say they can’t predict the future, the son expressed hopes of keeping the property in his family.

“I’ve spent a lot of time learning to drive and running my three-wheeler around these fields,” Scott Andrews said. “Today, I get to bring my kids out here where they have room to run and roam.”

At that point, one of his young daughters said her father was meant to inherit the land only so he can eventually pass it down to her generation.

“Well, there you go,” said Scott Andrews, nodding in agreement.

Farm overview

Name: Andrews homestead

Address: 15570 N. 350E, Hope

Size: 40 acres farmland, 5 acres residential

Year acquired: 1894

Founders: Joseph Andrews (1836-1920) and Nancy Cox Andrews (1838-1911).

Current owners: Gary and Markel Andrews

Generations: Four

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.