Centennial Farm

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Voelker farm of St. Elmo recognized

By Dave Bell

A farm in rural St. Elmo that has been owned by members of the same family for nearly 125 years was recently recognized as a centennial farm by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Most recently owned by Dolores and the late Virgil Voelker, the farm is located in Avena Township, just south of Interstate 70 near the county line.

The farm was first purchased by Virgil's great-great grandfather, Gottfried Bandelow, on Dec. 21, 1885. The ownership went down the family line to William Bandelow (Virgil's grandfather), and Cora Voelker (Virgil's mother), who also lived on the property.

Virgil and Dolores purchased the farm on Dec. 26, 1953, from Virgil's aunts and uncles.

They remodeled the house in 1963, and also made many improvements to the farm buildings and the land.

To qualify as a centennial farm, the property must have been owned by a straight line of  descendents of the original owner for at least 100 years.

The application to be recognized as a centennial farm was submitted in 2009, but Virgil died on Jan. 7, 2010.

This summer, centennial farm families were invited to the Illinois State Fair on agriculture day to be recognized.

A plaque designating the Voelker farm as a centennial farm is displayed on a sign in the front lawn of the house.