200-year-old farms recognized by government


WASHINGTON -- Nearly 600 American farms that have been in the same family since the signing of the Constitution in 1787 have been named National Bicentennial farms, the Agriculture Department said Wednesday.

One of the oldest farms can be traced back 356 years to 1632, when apprentice barrelmaker John Tuttle survived a shipwreck off the coat of Maine and found his way to Dover, Conn., where he claimed the 15 acres granted him by King Charles I of England.


His descendant, Hugh Tuttle, and Hugh's three children still own the farm, the department said.

The search for the farms began in August 1987 and so far nearly 600 farms have been found, officials said.

'In total, we expect to find about 700 families who have the distinction of owning National Bicentennial Farms,' Wilmer Mizell, assistant agriculture secretary, said in a statement.

The department search was timed to coincide with the observance of the Constitution's bicentennial this year.

Bicentennial farm families have been given certificates signed by Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng that say: 'In this, the 200th anniversary year of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is pleased to acknowledge the vital contribution of farm families to the growth and strength of this great nation.'


Families also received signs to display in front of their homes identifying them as National Bicentennial Farms.

Besides the Tuttles, some of the oldest family farms are:

-The Appleton farm in Ipswich, Mass., founded in 1638.

-The Walter S. Hine farm in Orange, Conn., founded in 1639.

-The Lawrence R. Jeete, Jr., farm in Guilford, Conn., founded in 1640.

-The George Barker farm in North Andover, Mass., founded in 1642.

The department said Rhode Island farm families can trace their heritage to 1657 and 1664, and two Maryland families to 1665. Most others go back to the 18th century.

As of Nov. 1, the numbers of bicentennial farms by state are: Connecticut, 36; Delaware, 16; Georgia, 24; Louisiana, 2; Maryland, 33; Maine, 30; Massachusetts, 39; New Hampshire, 47; New Jersey, 17; New York, 17; North Carolina, 31; Pennsylvania, 95; Rhode Island, 10; South Carolina, 88; Virginia, about 50; and West Virginia, 38.

One of the West Virginia farms, Harewood, in Jefferson County, is owned by descendants of Samuel Washington, younger brother of the first U.S. president.

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