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Ansel Toney - The Kite Man

Updated on January 1, 2019
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Ed Pope is a lifelong resident of Indiana with an interest in history.

Farmland, proudly proclaims itself as the home of Ansel Toney, "The Kite Man." Ansel Toney farmed until he was 88 years old. One day after he retired, Toney took his wife to the doctor. During his three-hour wait at the doctor's office, he read an article about a woman who made four million dollars selling kites. Initially, he did not believe the story, so he wrote to the lady and found out the story was accurate. Ansel then decided to start making kites, but he never earned any money, because he either gave away his kites or sold them for the cost of his materials.

Although this occupation did not make him rich, it did make him famous..Charles Kuralt of CBS, known for his On The Road series, did a one-hour television special about Mr. Toney. This was followed by a number of television interviews. His kites then went to people all over the globe, including England, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Honduras. His kites brought joy to many people, although they did annoy a few air traffic controllers. According to Toney, the highest known flight for one of his kites was 4,700 feet.

In May of 1987, a kite-fly was held at a local school. It was supposed to be an early 100th birthday party for Ansel. Unfortunately, he passed away a few weeks earlier, at the age of 99. The kite-fly was held anyway, and became an annual event. For more information, check out the Hoosier Kitefliers Society website.

Ansel Toney with a snowflake kite
Ansel Toney with a snowflake kite | Source

The Ansel Toney Bill

That sign honoring Ansel Toney at the edge of Farmland may seem perfectly harmless, but it actually caused a great deal of controversy. Signs honoring local citizens, such as this one and others like it, were once illegal in the state of Indiana. The Highway Department removed them until 1982, when the State Legislature passed SB-290. This legislation, better known as the "Ansel Toney Bill," made these signs legal.

Signs like this one were once illegal
Signs like this one were once illegal | Source


In the downtown area of Farmland you can find a grocery store, shops, and several restaurants, including Chocolate Moose. Stop in and have a milk shake from their soda fountain. They also have a grill and will gladly serve you lunch as well.

Farmland was platted in 1852 as a stop on a railroad line, and incorporated in 1867. The Indiana Gas Boom at the end of the nineteenth century aided its growth. Farmland's downtown area was damaged by an 1897 fire, but six large buildings were constructed in the next two years. In 1997 the downtown district was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It contains buildings constructed from 1867 to 1929.

The Chocolate Moose in Farmland
The Chocolate Moose in Farmland | Source


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