Hatch Family Farm recognized by state of Illinois

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SUBLETTE — The descendants of Sherman L. Hatch were recognized on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 at the Illinois State Fair Ag Days, for retaining ownership of their family farm for at least 150 years.  

The land was originally homesteaded in 1837, but Hatch’s claim was jumped in 1838 while he was back in Vermont marrying Miss Lucy Brown. He repurchased the land from the jumper and moved into a cabin at what is now very close to Woody’s True Value at the west end of Woodhaven Lakes. Hatch filed his claim with the federal government in 1845. The family still has the original sheepskin deeds signed by President Polk. It’s that 1845 date that Illinois uses to calculate family ownership longevity. The actual 150-year ownership should have been celebrated in 1995; Hatch descendants are now more than half way to their bicentennial recognition of 176 years of family ownership. 

The family traces itself through Sherman’s son, Charles L. Hatch, then through his son, Charles B. Hatch. (Charlie to those who remember him.) The farm then went to Harriet Hatch Palmer and now to her children, Amy Palmer, Heidi Palmer; nephew and nieces, Michael Marks, Rebecca Marks Rudy, Jo Marks; and grandson Dalton Grossmann. Dalton’s children represent the seventh generation.

What is especially unique is that starting with Charles B. Hatch, generations of the same Dinges family have continued to farm the land with the Hatchs. Starting with Leslie (Leddie) Dinges, then his son, Delmar Dinges, who remembers starting around 1949, very near the centennial year, to his youngest brother, Tom Dinges, and Tom’s son, Dean Dinges.

The original home built in 1852 came down in 2005 but the barn, complete with whole tree supports, still stands. It is a testament to the quality workmanship put into it.

The event held in Springfield in August was held outside due to COVID concerns and was larger than usual because it was recognizing families for the 2020 and 2021 achievements.

Other Lee County farm families honored this year include the Deutsch, Friedrichs, Langford, Montavon, Schlesinger and Shippert families for 100 years. Hatch and Montavon families represented Lee County for 150 years.

On a fun note, Amy Palmer got a text during the event from a farming neighbor asking if she was there. Turns out Deb Roemmich Schultz, President of the IL Agri-Women, was in the crowd as part of the ceremonies and had recognized the family name in the published directory.

Maintaining a family farm legacy can be a difficult and, at times, heart wrenching process. If there are multiple family members who want to stay, are the proceeds large enough to support everyone? Escalating farmland prices are often a motivation for family members to want to cash out and end their attachment to their land. 

In February 2020, Country Financial Services offered a program to help local farm families to address those concerns. It’s that framework that the Hatch descendants are using to assure a continuing family farm legacy.  

Recently, Amy Palmer returned, after a 50-year absence, to the Charles L. Hatch farmstead that had been her girlhood home.  

“It’s good to be home,” Palmer said.