We met Loren Kruetzman years ago when we heard about his skill at carving, beautifully rendered sculptures showing an artistic and passionate side to this retired Adams County farmer. But at 91 years of age Loren Kruetzman has another story to tell. He lives on the same farm he was born on in 1926, born in the same house as his father in 1895…the house his grandfather built in 1890. The Kruetzman family has owned this piece of Adams County ground for 127 years.
“It’s the only thing I ever knew. It’s home!” says Kruetzman. “It was my father’s home it was my grandfather’s home.”
Loren’s grandfather William Kruetzman bought the property in 1890 from the pioneers who settled it, the Furhman family, granted 80 acres of wilderness by the government in 1833. This is the original deed signed by President Martin Van Buren. Members of that pioneer family rest today on a corner of their ancestral land. Loren Kruetzman came along in 1926, rode a Model ‘T’ school bus to his one room school, attended the nearby German Reform Church and split his time between work and play.
“I milked cows there 50 years two times a day 7 days a week,” he says. “Friends would come over and we’d take the bicycle and ride down to the St. Mary’s spend the afternoon down there fishing for catfish.”
In 1945 Loren married the love of his life, Mildred Stoppenhagen. They would spend 71 years together until Mildred’s death in 2016. Last week the state of Indiana recognized the Kruetzman’s with a ‘Hoosier Homestead Farm’ designation, reserved for farms owned by the same family for 100 years or more. It’s an honor that carries meaning for Loren, one he’s sorry his ancestors can’t enjoy. They rest in the shadow of the old German Reform Church down the road. They’re all here, his great grandparents, grandparents William and Christina, his parents William and Viola. Mildred is here too, Loren will rest by her side when the time comes. Then the family farm will pass down to another generation of Kruetzmans already working the ground here, ground Kruetzman’s old and young have been trodding for a century and a quarter and still serving the family today well into the 21st Century.