SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - The first family to be bestowed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture Bicentennial Farm designation is from southern Illinois.
According to the Illinois governor's office, Gerald and Betty Brown of Jonesboro were presented with the honor at the annual Agricultural Legislative Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 10.
"Illinois is full of proud, hardworking farm families," said Gov. Bruce Rauner. "The Brown family is just one example of the dedication these families bring to Illinois agriculture," Rauner said. "We're proud to honor them with the first Bicentennial Farm designation in 2018, as we celebrate the state's 200th birthday."
The origins of the family in southern Illinois go back to the early 1800s.
In 1816, Abraham Brown II, his wife, and three children traveled from Rowan County, North Carolina all the way to Union County, Illinois.
After arriving, Abraham Brown and his family took shelter in a hollow sycamore tree until their cabin was finished.
In 1817, Abraham registered his cattle and land. The same land parcel has been passed down from generation to generation with at least one of each generation staying and farming that very same ground.
"The Illinois Bicentennial celebration pays great homage to our state's rich agricultural heritage with the theme, 'Born, Built, Grown,'" said Bicentennial Commissioner and IDOA Chief of Staff Grant Hammer. "Agriculture has played a central role in our state's history. Illinois agriculture, much like the Brown family, will continue to sustain our strong agricultural traditions for generations to come."
The program was launched in 2016 when the State General Assembly passed legislation to honor these Illinois farm families. The program recognizes farms that have been held by descendants of the same family for 200 years or more.
The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting www.illinois200.com and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud.