Carter County is located in the northeast corner of Tennessee and was created from Washington
County in 1796 and named in honor of
Landon Carter, treasurer of the Washington and Hamilton districts of North Carolina. The
county seat of Carter
County is Elizabethton.
During the 1760s and 1770s, the area was a prominent area for Tennessee’s early settlers. In the late
nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the county experienced some
growth with the arrival of the East Tennessee
and Western North Carolina Railroad. By the 1920s, industries such as the
Bemberg and Glanztoff rayon plants were established in the county between
Elizabethton and Sycamore Shoals. The rayon plants provided employment for many
residents in the area. In the 1940s, the Tennessee Valley Authority constructed
the Watauga Dam and Lake in the county. Carter County
has three Century Farms and the oldest is Lewis Farm that dates to 1828. For
more information regarding Carter
County, please go to the Tennessee
Encyclopedia of History & Culture website.
For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name:
following map is for a general geographical understanding. It does not
provide specific locations of the farms because of privacy
Map Courtesy of Carole Swann, Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Harry J. Colbaugh
The Colebaugh Farm is located nine miles northwest of
Elizabethton on Highway 400 in Carter
County. William Colbaugh,
along with his wife Elizabeth Smith, founded this family farm in 1880. The
81.75 acres produced watermelons, corn, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cattle, and
hay. The founders, along with many other family members are buried in the Colebaugh Cemetery
which overlooks the town of Elizabethton.
George David Colbaugh, the only child of the
founding couple, became the next owner of the land. He and his wife Evelyn
Daniels had eight children. George was a land speculator and owned “hundreds of
acres” around in Carter
County. The family also
records that in 1895 the “Home
Place” and barn was built. In 1911, the family
gave permission to the Watauga Power Board to set 14 poles on the farm to bring
electricity to the area. At the death of George and Eva, the farm was divided between two
of their children, Riley Fred and John Samuel Colbaugh.
This Century Farm comes from Riley Fred
Colbaugh’s line. He and his wife Mary Belle Smith had seven children. The
current owner is the founder’s great great grandson, Harry J. Colbaugh. The
37.3 acre farm now produces cattle, hay, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans,
peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, turnips, mustard greens, radishes,
carrots, watermelons and pumpkins. There are currently four generations living
on the farm. The 1895 “Home Place”
and barn still stand as does a 1926 smokehouse.
(top right): View of Elizabethton from the hills of the Colbaugh Farm.
Located 8 miles
northeast of Elizabethton, TN
on state route #91, the Lewis was founded in 1828 by Lewis D. Lewis who
came from Halifax, North Carolina. He and his wife Barbara were
the parents of four children. Their farm
of 100 acres yielded corn, beans and hay
and also supported cattle, horses and chicken. Subsequent owners included Lewis
D. Lewis, Jr.; James F. M. Lewis, who served in the Civil War; Stant Lewis;
Clarence, Anna, Willie, and Bert Lewis. The great grandson of the founder of
the farm and current owner is Richard Lewis who acquired the farm in 1973. A cabin built in 1828, and a house and barn
built in 1880 are still standing on the farm and are in good condition. The farm is leased for cattle, hay, and
image shows the Lewis Farm and the community in the 1880s.
Corrine Renfro Allen
developments in the history of breeded livestock in Tennessee
took place on the Renfro Farm of Carter
County. Issac H. Brown of
founded the property in 1866. “First owned by Andrew Greer who was the
wealthiest man in the Watauga settlement” of the late nineteenth century, the
farm is located two miles northeast of Elizabethton. On the 166 acres, Brown
raised all types of indigenous crops. Married twice, he had eight children and
three of his sons served in the Confederate army, a rare occurrence, according
the family, in a county where most people were Union sympathizers.
The farm’s next owners were Issac’s daughter Emma Brown
and her husband James W. Renfro. James was a founder of the Mountain Breeders
Cattle Co-op, the first such organization east of the Mississippi
and south of the Ohio
rivers. He and Emma had four children.
Mrs. Corrine Renfro Allen, the founder’s granddaughter,
is the current owner of the farm. Since the death of her husband Ben in 1977,
Corrine Allen, has remained actively engaged in the farm’s daily operations.
One frame-over-log dwelling that dates to c.1780 still stands on the property.
Landscape Scene of the Renfro Farm.