Centennial Farm Family, a new non-fiction book by Hoosier author Amy McVay Abbott, starts with the mysterious poisoning death of Kellis Hoard, a man essential to his wife’s Whitley County legacy farm. Anyone who loves history will find the tale of four generations of the Long family compelling and relatable. Centennial Farm Family features nearly 80 illustrations that provide great details, including photographs from before 1880, vintage clippings, and advertisements.
Centennial Farm Family is about a Prussian immigrant family who first came to America before the Revolutionary War. The Germanic peoples in America liked to move westward, and the Longs were no different, first living in Virginia and moving to Ohio.
“Many of us descend from immigrant families who came to Indiana for richer, more inexpensive land,” said Abbott, who lives in Newburgh, Indiana. “For most of the 19th century, agriculture was the leading way of earning a living, but agriculture was replaced by manufacturing and industry as the greatest driver of the economy after the Civil War.”
The Long family dealt with many sorrows and few joys, including cholera and typhoid outbreaks, house fires, the Civil War, unpredictable weather, accidents, the Pandemic of 1918, World War I, and the Great Depression. Their survival was never taken for granted. Yet, the book also shares family joys, the wonder of threshing days, family reunions, and the simple pleasures of wildflowers and stargazing.
“I hope that readers will see their history in these stories,” Abbott said. “The trajectory of the original farm ownership was challenged and even changed in every generation, due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Abbott is a long-time columnist and humor writer but has turned her focus to Indiana history. Her first book on the subject, Always Carl, was released in 2019. Centennial Farm Family can be ordered through favorite bookstores and online. Abbott is originally from South Whitley, Indiana, and has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in journalism from Ball State University.