Kristie Fuller says her love for the outdoors may be due to a family member’s friendship with a famous author.
“My grandfather, Hurb Fuller, worked with oil companies in Geneva around the time of Gene Stratton Porter,” she said. The famous Hoosier author called her home in Geneva “Limberlost” (now a state historic site) and wrote books and nature studies based on birds and other animals in the area. “Grandpa’s talks with her may have been where his love for nature came from,” said Kristie.
That love was passed down to Kristie who grew up on 16 acres of woods in southern Wells County with her parents, Norine and Francis Fuller. Their home, four miles northwest of Montpelier and four miles south of Southern Wells schools, was located a few hundred yards east of a 55-acre property that was purchased by other members of the Fuller family in the 1800s.
That connection ended earlier this year when Kristie Fuller donated those 55 acres to ACRES Land Trust, an organization that covers 32 counties in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan.
Kristie, who is single, has been concerned for what might happen to the land after she no longer lived there. After researching local nature groups, she selected ACRES. “I think they will most closely keep the land the way I want it in its most natural state,” she said. “I trust them to take care of it and leave it the way it is. Maybe it could be made into a wildlife preserve.”
The Fuller family first purchased the plot of ground in the early 1800s when Miami Indians lived there. Kristie’s great-grandmother, Lucinda Fuller, who lived on the farm with her husband George, was Miami.
Kristie thinks her ancestor sold the ground around the time of the Civil War. It was out of the family until the 1990s when Kristie purchased it. It has been in the Fuller family until the time of the donation.
The land consists of part woods, part farm. Kristie played in the woods of the donated property as a child with other children in the area. “There was a small pond and lots of birds,” she said. In current years she has recorded certain species of birds for local nature groups like the Audubon Society.
The cleared land is farmed in corn, wheat, and soybeans by a neighbor, Doug Gilbert. “The agreement with ACRES is that Doug will have 10 years to decide if he wants to continue farming the land,” she said.
As for value, Kristie doesn’t know of anything special or rare living on the donated land. She likes the Shumard oak trees on that property and at her own place she has spotted leopard frogs. The real value for Kristie Fuller is giving away something that may benefit future generations. “I can’t control what happens when I’m gone,” she said. “But this way I can make sure the land is used the way I want.”