After their land was seized to make room for a new highway, families are crushed under the weight of progress.
Written by Laurel Demkovich
Joseph Jackson was worn out.
He and his wife sat helplessly for four years as the state of Indiana seized a chunk of their 80-acre farm, along with some of their neighbors’ properties, to make way for a new section of I-69. The large hilly field where the Jacksons’ quarter horses used to graze was paved over. The horses became too scared to cross the new access road that rose from that pavement. After construction workers installed a drain next to the Jacksons’ house, the basement flooded repeatedly. They awoke at all hours of the night as crews set off blasts that felt like small earthquakes. Finally, Cathy Jackson became so overwhelmed she moved away from the home where her family had lived for more than half a century.
“I can’t take this,” she told Joe one day. “I have to get out of here.”
Now Cathy was gone, living two hours to the south, and her 71-year-old husband was stewing on the front porch of the house he had built with his own hands. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hang on. He needed to do something — one last attempt to make the world pay attention.
He asked his 21-year-old granddaughter for help. The two found a 4-foot-by-8-foot piece of plywood. He sat next to her with a can of paint, deciding exactly what to say. He gave her the brush, and she started painting the big black letters.
He and his granddaughter planted the sign in the perfect spot, a hillside that would maximize visibility. He needed people to know that if they think they own their land, they don’t.
ANOTHER FAMILY “FARM” DESTROYED BY I-69