The Illinois Department of Agriculture has designated the farm in Vienna, owned by John and Velma Waters of Vienna and Jeff and Teresa Waters Smith of Olathe, Kan., a Sesquicentennial Farm. The farm, originally purchased from the government in 1852 by John VandeWaters, is located northeast of Vienna on Waters Road.
To qualify as a Sesquicentennial Farm, the agricultural property must be owned by a straight or collateral line of descendants for at least 150 years. The Waters family received this historical distinction to their farm after their application for designation as a Sesquicentennial Farm was approved.
John VandeWaters was born in New Jersey, in 1794. He married Elizabeth Meeker in New Jersey in 1814. They moved to Tennessee, in 1818. On July 24, 1852, John VandeWaters bought the government land in Johnson County.
The original farm was 200 acres and was obtained by using a warrant. John’s son, William Henry, bought an additional 40 acres in 1853 for $1.25 per acre. John died July 31,1853. Their youngest son John bought his siblings interests.
Then in 1901 John’s brother William Henry acquired the land, like his father and grandfather, he was a farmer, woodcutter and land speculator. The Vande was dropped from VandeWaters.
In the year of 1946 William “Willie” J. H. Waters and Ruby Waters purchased the land from the heirs. In 1978, Willie and Ruby divided the remaining 170 acre farm, equally between their two surviving sons, Pete J. and John. Willie lived on the farm for over 80 years. He died in 2003.
“I am pleased to be able to recognize the Waters family,” said agriculture director Robert F. Flider. “This designation honors them today and their ancestors of yesterday who labored through prosperity and adversity to maintain their family farm. The Sesquicentennial Farm program helps to reinforce that family farming remains a viable entity in Illinois agriculture.”
The Illinois Sesquicentennial Farms program has recognized farms since its inception in 2000. Sesquicentennial Farm owners receive outdoor display signage and a certificate signed by the governor and the director of agriculture.