For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name:
Bend of the River Farm
Pearl Inez Varnell
Farm House in the 1910s on the
Photo (right) A family portrait of Dr. James Sullins Varnell and Kate Anne Saulpaw with their children
The Baptist church, the Democratic party, rural
medicine and progressive farming are only four of the historical themes that
bid together the generations who have lived and worked at the Chatata Valley
Heritage Farm. The property dates to 1839 when John and Amelia Neil Simmons
purchased 640 acres located eight miles northeast of
The founders were the parents of seven children and their
son Dr. Isham C. Simmons inherited 260 acres in 1859. Issac was a charter
member of the Bradley County Medical Society. A Democrat in politics and a
Baptist in religion, Dr. Simmons also helped to establish the
Isham Simmons also was a profitable farmer. The family farm survived the Civil War without major losses and in the Reconstruction period, a family of former slaves stayed on the farm and helped the Simmons clear new pasture. The farm’s products included cotton, corn, fruit, mules, cattle and poultry.
Frank Simmons inherited 92 acres of the family farm in 1920. Like his father, Frank managed a diversified farm operation with dairy cattle, mules, horses, swine and poultry in addition to growing cotton, legumes, wheat, corn and various hays. A typical modern farmer of the early twentieth century, Frank reclaimed new land for agriculture and instituted scientific farming procedures. He also maintained the family tradition of being a strong Democratic and Baptist leader in the community while, at the same time, playing important roles in several farm organizations.
Frank and his wife Emma Baldwin had six children. Their daughter Ann Louise and her husband Harry Theodore Chase, Sr., inherited the property in 1945. Owning over 600 acres, the Chases grow legumes, grain and hay and raise beef cattle. The family’s agricultural improvements, however, have not obscured the farm’s history; two buildings from its past-a church and a log barn-remain on the property.
For the first two generations of the Hiwassee Bend
family farm, agricultural development was intertwined with the spiritual
After the Civil War, Sterling V. Bates inherited 285 acres from his mother in 1868. Also a Methodist minister, Bates raised cattle and grew corn and hay. He and his wife Charlotte Robertson had three children. Caroline Bates married William L. Hambright and they became the owners of 75 acres of the family farm. The Hambrights, who were the parents of three children, also began to cultivate tobacco.
In 1946, Charlotte Hambright Alexander, the great
granddaughter of the founder, inherited the Hiwassee Bend Farm. The Alexanders
specialized in beef cattle production and have recently renovated the nineteenth
century farmplace. Ralph Alexander, who also owns a Century Farm in
Loudon County, is the current owner.
Ralph Alexander, who also owns a Century Farm in Loudon County, is the current owner.
Harold W. Kelley
Irish immigrants Joel and Richard Kelley established
the Kelley Farm in 1840, locating their 200 acres about nine miles southwest of
Joel’s only son, Elijah Kelley, acquired the farm in
1862. He and his wife Julia McSpadden and their eight children raised hogs,
chickens and cows while practicing general farming on their 200 acres. Seizing
the advantage of the proximity of the
In 1875, ownership of the property passed into the hands of the seven surviving grandchildren of Joel Kelley. The farm’s products did not change until Dailey and C. A. Kelley, the founder’s great grandsons, took control of the 200 acres in 1908. Like many early twentieth century farmers, Dailey and C. A. diversified the farm’s crops, producing peanuts, popcorn, sorghum and cotton in addition to raising several types of livestock. In 1916, Dailey bought out his brother’s interest in the property and became the sole owner. Planting strawberries and raising goats, he continued to experiment with new farm products. He also operated a well digger and a saw mill.
Dailey and his wife Sarah Bradshaw had two boys and in 1958, the farm passed into the hands of their son Harold W. Kelley. Three generations of Kelleys now live on the farm’s 250 acres, which generate products such as tobacco, cattle, cotton, wheat and poultry.
Dailey L. Kelley of Bradley County always received top dollar for his
tobacco, an important cash crop for twentieth century farmers
Photo: Dailey L. Kelley of Bradley County always received top dollar for his tobacco, an important cash crop for twentieth century farmers throughout Tennessee.
Levi Trewhitt Farm
The Trewhitt family traces its roots to
The family has a deed for the farm
which dates to 1865 when Levi Trewhitt, Jr. became the owner. He and his wife, Sarah Wattenbarger Trewhitt,
had eight children. Following the Civil War, the family continued subsistence
farming and added a grist mill. Family
history records that Levi, who lived until 1916, gave the county some acreage
to build the original
William Trewhitt and his wife
Annabelle Dodson Trewhitt were the third generation to live on the farm, along
with their two children. While managing
the farm, William served as president of the Farm Bureau in
In 1919, the farm passed to their daughter, Ganelle Trewhitt McClure. Married to Morris McClure, they were the parents of William M. McClure and Ganelle McClure Samples. Morris and William were long time members of the Waterville Ruritan Club. Morris was a charter member and William had perfect attendance with the club for 27 years. Ganelle McClure Samples was a state 4-H winner.
Today, the farm is owned by William M. McClure, the great, great grandson of the founder, and his brother-in-law, James Samples. William is the manager and has some acreage in pasture and woodland. He also raises hay and dairy replacement heifers.
Photo: A view of the landscape and buildings on the Levi Trewhitt Farm.
William Maroon Varnell
The evolution of the Varnell Farm over 140 years-from
grain farm to tobacco farm to dairy farm-mirrors the development of many
properties in this section of East Tennessee. In 1839, Samuel and Elizabeth
Hannah Maroon established the Varnell Farm, located eleven miles south of
In 1880, Silas Wright Maroon inherited 100 acres from his
father. He too grew corn, wheat and hay, but also raised watermelons. An
organizer of the