Martz Family Farm in Whitley County
What Would My Ancestors Say?
As told by Hugh Martz, modern-day conservationist and historian
The Martz 176-acre conservation easement land is part of 240 acres, which my great-great-grandparents purchased from the U.S. government and got the patent deed signed by President Martin VanBuren in 1837. Soon thereafter they, Frederic and Catherine Wantz, pioneered and settled on this land covered with virgin timber. They built a lean-to cabin on the north side of Sugar Creek and commenced to clear trees and plant crops. Their daughter, my great-grandmother, Hulda, was born there on April 1, 1845, one of the first pioneer children born in Whitley County. She lived her entire life on the farm. She married a civil war veteran, John Kreider. They had eight children, including my grandmother, Minnie, born on the farm in 1879. Minnie married my grandfather, Clyde Martz on August 5, 1900. My father Joe and my Uncle Orville were both born and raised on the farm.
Some of the land was sold out of the family when Hulda died in 1920, but some of it has been in the family continuously since 1837, through five generations. Now, 176 of those acres are in my name and I have placed all of it in a conservation easement with Wood-Land-Lakes. This ensures that the land will always remain in agriculture or in a natural state, regardless of who owns it.
Hulda told many stories of pioneer days to her children and grandchildren. I have reduced many of those to writing, including their friendly relationships with the Native Americans (Miami Tribe) who still occupied the area when white settlers arrived.
Now, having said all of that, need I say more about why I put this farm in a conservation easement? What would my ancestors say about this decision? I believe they would say, “Thank you for protecting the land we found so beautiful on Sugar Creek nearly 200 years ago. Thank you for assuring that it will not be developed for housing, or industry, or commercial enterprise.”