Inspired by generations of family history, two families recently donated their adjacent land and lake to ACRES Land Trust for permanent protection. Little Lake, just west of Albion, served as outdoor haven to two generations of the Richman family who owned the north portion and to three generations of Tiptons who owned the south portion. The 24-acre property holds local history and ecological value, too.

“At a time when we see development increasing, especially concentrated around natural lakes in Indiana, I find it an incredible value that ACRES can protect the entirety of this five-acre lake, shoreline as well as some additional acreage as a buffer,” says Casey Jones, director of land management for the seven-thousand- acre land trust. “Surrounding emergent wetland vegetation, and tall ferns, will continue to thrive along the shoreline in a natural state, attracting waterfowl.”

In the 1940s, Edward Tipton, grandfather to brothers Stan, Tracy and Trevor who donated the Tipton land, purchased the southern part of the acreage, eventually running an ice business on the lake. With saws and spades, workers cut ice into cakes, sledding it to shore, then selling it to nearby farms and homes for their iceboxes. “Parts of the Ice House foundation are exposed on the property. Its stories still exist among the town’s old timers,” says Trevor Tipton.

“During the war (World War II), to save gas, Albion residents would walk out from town to Little Lake, clear snow off the frozen lake, ice fish, and have fun skating,” says Marilyn (Richman) Winslow, describing the lake’s historic recreational value. “I remember everybody keeping warm by this huge bonfire. And, in summer, people just walked out there and ‘went fishing’. But nobody swam because Little Lake is very deep with wetlands around it.”

At Little Lake these days, the Tipton brothers see deer, turkey, raccoon, beaver, and a variety of birds, such as bobwhite quail, as well as blue gill, dogfish, and largemouth bass. Their mother, Gwen Tipton, remembers planting peonies and daffodils, and finding raspberries, too.

The Richman family share a conservation ethic. “Both Ethelyn, my home-economic-teacher mother, and Milfred, my USDA soil conservationist father, appreciated and loved nature and taught us this love of nature,” says Winslow. “So when my sister Marsha and I heard of ACRES, it was a no-brainer to donate. We said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

The Tiptons agree. “My husband never wanted the property sold outside the family,” says Gwen Tipton.

“The best solution was to preserve it forever,” says Trevor. “ACRES vision is exactly what our father, John Tipton, would have wanted. He told us, ‘Protect the beautiful lake, and keep it as it was hundreds of years ago. May it always be a haven for wildlife and preserved from development.’ We’re grateful to ACRES, ACRES members for making this possible.”

Little Lake is closed to the public.