2016-09-14 / Local News

County history revisited

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the Carroll County Comet on Oct. 23, 1996, in a Hoosier Homestead special section. The Comet is rerunning it as a look back at Carroll County history in conjunction with Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration.

The Newells: farming’s in their blood

Kenneth Newell had one aim in life – to graduate from high school, raise corn and beans, and buy the homestead like his dad did.

He fulfilled his dream, and now the patriarch of the Newell family, he is still doing what he’s always loved to do – farm.

“I love it,” he said, his eyes a little misty. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That’s the only reason for owning land – to farm it yourself.”

Now in his 70s, he doesn’t do the hard labor anymore. He leaves that to his son, Richard. But during harvest, he’s out there working every day.

“I’ve slowed down,” Newell said, smiling. “Instead of working 18 hours a day, I just do 12. During harvest, you have to.”

Newell grew up on the family homestead, on the crooked road between Delphi and Flora. Even when he was three or four years old, he would ride along when the hogs went to market. In the 1920s, they hauled hogs to the Colburn market in a Model T truck, 6-8 hogs at a time. When they arrived, it was young Kenneth’s job to get in with the hogs and drive them out to be sold.

He learned all about farming from his dad, Earl. His dad graduated from Purdue in civil engineering. He worked as an engineer for a few years, and then came back to the family farm. He worked closely with Purdue and was a pioneer in many operations of farming. He worked with Taylor Fouts in importing soy beans to Carroll County. Fouts had the first combine in the county, and Earl Newell had the second one. Newell was with the first farmers who organized a Farm, Record Association in Carroll County in 1933.

When Kenneth’s dad started farming, it was all with horses. Kenneth can remember when they got their first tractor, a Minneapolis Moline on steel wheels. They bought their first rubber tired tractor in 1935.

As most farmers in the area, their crops had a fouryear rotation – corn, beans, wheat, and clover. Over time, they gradually raised more corn. They also raised hogs until this year.

The Newells are descended from the Baums who were among the early settlers in Carroll County. Earl’s mother was Ida Baum Newell.

Their homestead has been in the family since 1855. Counting Richard’s family, six generations have lived there and farmed the land.

Their Hoosier Homestead award is for their 1855 homestead farm, but the Newells also own another 40 acres which has been in the Baum family since 1946.

The first Baum came to Carroll County in 1825. Originally from Pennsylvania, the family had moved to Ohio before coming to Indiana. With family and furniture on a flat boat, the Baums came down the Ohio River to the Wabash River, and then to the mouth of Deer Creek. The boat landed about half a mile up stream and was tied to the shore. In the spring of 1826, the ice flood sunk it. Kenneth said as far as he knows, the boat is still there.

The house where Kenneth was raised, and where Richard and his family now live, was built in 1900. The existing barn was built within the same year. What is now a garage used to be the summer kitchen. It had originally been a four-room house farther back on the farm, but it was moved up for a place for Kenneth’s grandparents to live while their new house was being built. Kenneth said there used to be an orchard where the tool shed is now.

Kenneth remembers his grandmother telling about the day Amer Green was brought from the county jail, past their house on the crooked road, to be hanged for murder.

Earl bought the place where Kenneth and his wife, Marjorie, now live in 1925. It’s between 100 and 200N, not far from Richard’s house.

A walk up the stairway in Kenneth’s house is a walk back through time. On the wall are family portraits from several generations. They represent a proud farming family.

Although Kenneth and his wife spend some time away from the farm each year, he’s always glad to get back. He can’t picture himself ever completely retired or ever leaving the farm.

“They’ll have to carry me off,” he said.

Comet staff writer Jennifer Archibald wrote this article. She is now retired.

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