OC’s Century Farms focus of fair event
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9:04 pm
By: Emily Williams, Messenger Intern
By EMILY WILLIAMS
Many family businesses change hands through the years, with few passed down within the same family through multiple generations.
Obion County boasts one line of work, however, where 27 families have maintained an interest in a business that has lasted 100 years or more — farming.
The Tennessee Century Farms Program was created in 1975 by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. The program continues to be a recognition and documentary effort that honors the dedication and contributions of families that have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.
After 30 years, the statewide program has 1,323 certified farms. Of that number, 594 are at least 150 years old, with 133 at least 200 years old.
There are 27 Century Farms in Obion County which will be recognized at the Obion County Fair this year with a permanent display at the Hunter Miller Memorial Livestock Pavilion.
The display is being constructed out of an old corn crib barn door provided by James and Nadine Killion. It will feature name plates of the farms being honored.
There will be a public ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, prior to the Junior Market Livestock Sale.
“Obion County is ranked one or two in corn and soybeans every year in the state,” fair board president Brenda Baker said. “Agriculture is so important to the area, and it is important to feature these families who have contributed for so long to be recognized.”
Obion County’s oldest farm, the Broadview Farm, was established in 1837 by George W. and Mary Smith Morris. The farm originally consisted of 451 acres and was devoted to the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, corn and wheat. Today, the farm is owned by their descendants, Dudley Morris, Mrs. John Fuqua Kizer and Nell Martin Morris Bradford heirs.
Other Century Farms being recognized include:
• Caldwell Farm was established in 1858 by W.H. and Jane Parks Caldwell, Obion’s first county judge. Today it is owned by Cecil Caldwell.
• Catron Farm, established in 1853 by Hugh A. and Jane Bell Catron, was located in the midst of a dense forest. At the time, the site of Union City was nothing but trees and brush. The farm is now owned by Thomas Homer Catron and Charles C. Taylor.
• Foster Farm was started in 1858 by David Jones. The farm is now owned by Billy J. and Elizabeth Foster and yields corn, wheat and soybeans.
• Foulks (Hutchinson) Farm was established in 1866 by John J. and Elizabeth Bouland Foulks. Charles Milton and Martha Allen Hutchinson now own the farm, which still contains an abandoned 19th century log cabin.
• Frances H. Wade Farm was established in 1853 by Nathaniel and Susan Boyette Holloman. They were the first in the area to own and operate their own cotton gin. Today, their great-granddaughter, Frances H. Wade, manages the farm.
• Griffin Farm was founded in 1887 by William H. and Malinda Pleasant Griffin. The land is now worked by their great grandson, Keith Forrester, and is owned by his mother, Laverne Griffin Forrester.
• Hailey Hill Farm dates to 1870 when Civil War veteran John A. Hailey acquired the 75 acres. He fathered 17 children. The farm is now owned by the great-grandson, John Merle Wilder, and the great-granddaughter, Janice Barker, of the original owner.
• Hampton Farms was founded by Samuel and Ona McDaniel Hampton in 1894. Five generations of Hamptons lived on the original farmstead. Today, Mike and Judy Hampton own and operate the 181-acre farm.
• Hills of the Home Farm was founded by Owen Thoma (O.T.) Brown in 1850. During the Civil War, Union soldiers raided the farm and took their chickens and hogs for food. Today, Martha and Paschal S. Gibbs own and work the land, where an original log cabin still stands.
• Hutchison Farm was started in 1908 by brothers Walter and Henry Hutchison. Three generations currently live on the family farm owned by Frank Hutchison Jr.
• The Jones Farm in Woodland Mills dates back to 1865 when Swannie Burrus acquired the land. Today, the farm is owned by Billy Garrigan and relatives.
• Joyner Farm was founded in 1852 by John and Margaret Joyner, who were some of Union City’s first residents. It is now owned by Robert Clifford Joyner III, Mrs. Clifford Joyner Jr. and Calvina J. Burnett.
• The 81 acres of the original Key Farm was purchased by Franklin A. and Frances Ann Jones Key in 1855 for $890. Franklin was killed during the Civil War when federal troops raided the farm. Today the farm is owned by Richard Key and Mary Elizabeth Rippy Drewery.
• Key Farm was established by Martin and L.A. Chambers in 1856. Today, John F. and Shelvie Key own the land where a 19th century farmhouse and smokehouse still stand.
• Lloyd’s Shore Farm was founded in Obion County in 1869 by Peter Jacob Shore, though his family started farms as early as 1750 in North Carolina after emigrating from Switzerland. The current owners are the founder’s great-grandson, James J. Lloyd, and his wife, Bobbye R. Lloyd.
• McGaugh Farm was founded in 1887 by Robert and Mary Hale McGaugh. Since 1995, Robert’s great-grandson and his wife, Donald W. and Caroline Robinson McGaugh, have worked the land. The family still lives in the farmhouse built on the land in 1906.
• Millrock Hill Farm was established in 1846. The farm is a physical testament to the grist mills’ influence on everyday farming activity in the 19th century, though they are not typically associated with the West Tennessee farming landscape. Today, the land is owned by Alvin L. “Bill” Gray.
• The Overall Farm is one of the few Obion County Century Farms established and maintained by a woman. Phoebe Watkins Palmer’s farm was established in 1873, six years after her husband, Dr. Chillian Palmer, died. Mrs. Jesse L. (Cora Palmer) Overall acquired the family land in 1946.
• The Roach Farm was established in 1859 by James Oliver Roach on 152 acres near a trace that was once used by Native Americans and later came to be known as The Turnpike Trail from Jackson to Trenton, Troy and Mills Point on the Mississippi River. Henry Neal and his niece, the great-great-granddaughter of the farm’s originator, Alpha Ruth Hudson Worrell, became joint owners of the family farm in 1982. Following her uncle’s death in 1989, Alpha, married to Ray N. Worrell, became the sole owner of the property.
• Robert Holman Farm was founded by George R. Holman in 1871. Holman was a reporter for the State Agriculture Bureau for six years, making his one of the few Tennessee farms directly connected to the emergence of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Robert White Holman has owned the farm since 1962.
• Roberts Farm was established by English native and War of 1812 Major Edward Jones in 1838. Herman “Buddy” Roberts acquired the farm’s 115 acres in 1973.
• Rodney Holman Farm was established by John T. and Martha Chambers Holman in 1846. The two had 12 children. During the Civil War, two sons were killed and John was injured in the Battle of Shiloh. Today, the farm is owned by Rodney W. Holman, Virginia M. Holman and Ora Lee Holman.
• Stone Farm is one of the few Century Farms that lies within the city limits of Union City. It was established in 1876 by Sterling M. and Sallie Moore Stone, two miles southeast of the county courthouse. Sallie was one of the leaders in the founding of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church. The farm is now owned by Sterling Monroe Stone Jr., Paul Stone and Sara L. Stone Morgan.
• W.F. Pierce Farm was founded by Thomas Pierce in 1851. Many buildings that were constructed on the property during the 19th century, including a cellar, a hot house, a well-house and a smoke house, still stand on the property now owned by William Pierce Emge.
• Whitesell Farm was established in 1959 by Jesse and Sarah Wright Whitesell. During the Civil War the farm was the object of several visits by Union troops seeking food and livestock, and Jesse was seriously wounded by a “Yankee bushwhacker” and a farm laborer was killed in the incident. Today Hunter Byrd Whitesell owns the land.
• Caldwell Farm was established in 1886 by Jake David Caldwell. In 1943 a new highway cut through the 104-acre farm, leaving only three acres on the north side of the farm. It is now owned by Caldwell’s great-grandsons, David Critchlow Jr. and Scott Critchlow.
Editor’s Note: Emily Williams, the daughter of Roger and Juli Williams of Woodland Mills, is a senior at Rhodes College in Memphis. She was an intern at The Messenger this summer.
Published in The Messenger 8.11.10