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How to qualify for the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program


There is no deadline for submitting an application. It may be submitted any time to the State Historic Preservation Office during the year a family becomes eligible with the following criteria:


A family must have occupied their land for at least


100 years The land must be a working farm or ranch of at least


40 acres The land must generate at least $1,000 in annual sales


The land must be operated by or lived on by a family


member, or be leased out by a family member over age 65


Historic structures awards are given if four or more buildings or structures more than 50 years old remain on the land.


Visit www.okhistory.org/shpo/farmandranch.htm to view a list of current recipients or to obtain an application.


How to get historical property records


Fee To get records of your own land, you can contact the Oklahoma Historical Society Library to search the Federal Tract Book records at 405-522-5225.


Free You may also visit the library and search the Federal Tract Book records. Another resource is the land file search through the National Archives at 1-866-272-6272.


What does an Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch receive?


Following application approval, the family will receive a certificate signed by the governor of Oklahoma, the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society and the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Families can then purchase a 36”x 27” metal sign for display on the property.


14


Governor Henry Bellmon passed on a love of the land to future generations. Courtesy photo


Continuing Legacy


Gov. Henry Bellmon did many things for the state, including announcing the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program in 1989. In his personal life, he instilled a strong love of the land and an appreciation for the earth in his children. “The sunrises, the sunsets and everything that goes with it—I love it all,” daughter Ann Denney says. George Bellmon, Henry’s father, drove his first wife and two baby daughters in covered wagon from Sedan, Kan., to the Cherokee Strip in 1897. Along the way, Bellmon’s father stopped and dug up five seed- ling red cedar trees along the Arkansas River. He replanted those trees in the property’s front yard, and three of those trees have survived to this day.


Bellmon grew up on the family farm and left only to serve as a Marine in WWII. During that time his mother passed away from leukemia, leaving his father to run the farm by himself. “As soon as the war was over, he requested and was allowed to be on the first ship back from Iwo Jima to help his father farm,” Denney, a Kay Electric Cooperative member, says. Between the three children today, they lease the majority of the land to a local young farmer who raises wheat, cattle and hay. A small part of the land maintained by the family holds a pecan grove and a walnut grove Bellmon planted 20 years ago. Although he never saw a pecan harvest, the last family harvest yielded 5,400 pounds of pecans across 35 acres. Denney’s sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren enjoy com-


ing back to the farm every fall for harvesting or pruning and taking care of the grove. Last year even the fifth-generation farmers, three 1-year-olds, took the shucks off of the pecans. “It’s a big legacy of his I am thrilled to maintain,” Denney says.


“We all feel very blessed and fortunate that dad had this land available and feel honored to tend it.” Denney often has people visit from metropolitan areas who remind her of the values of country life. “They always comment they can see the stars because it’s so


much easier to really see the sky.” However, the land is never truly silent. At night, the sound of coyotes and cicadas create a song that is comforting to those like Denney who have heard it many times before.


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