For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
Dwight L. Bundy Farm
Jim and Alice Freeman Gulf Farm
M.G. Roberts Poplar Tree Farm
River Dale Farm
The following map is for a general geographical understanding. It does not provide the specific locations of the farms because of privacy reasons.
Map courtesy of Carole Swann, Tennessee Department of Agriculture
In 1875, Pless Morris purchased 100 acres southwest of Newport. Here, he and his wife, Emma Baxter, and her son, Chester Arthur Baxter, who was known by all as “Chess,” grew tobacco, hay, corn, and grains. They also raised cattle, chickens, and hogs. Pless established the Morris Cemetery which remains in use.
Chester Arthur Baxter inherited the farm from his step-father in 1924. He married Edna Mae Bryant Baxter in 1906 and the couple had five children including Arthur Lee Baxter and Maudella Baxter Sisk who continue to represent the third generation. Much like the first owners, the family grew tobacco, hay, corn, and grains in addition to raising cattle, sheep, goats, mules, hogs, and chicken. Their 1930 farmhouse and 1932 barn are still in use. Chester also opened the Baxter Grocery Store on Crosby Highway which was a meeting place for the community.
Arthur grew up working on his family’s farm and acquired the land in 1959. He and Margaret Jane “Jackie” Denton Baxter celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007. Jackie has worked alongside Arthur in all phases of the farm operation and is described as a “nurturing mother and impeccable hostess.” For several decades, the farm produced the same crops and livestock as previous generations. Arthur was also well-known in Tennessee and surrounding states for his prize winning Polled Hereford cattle. In the mid-1990s, he ceased tobacco production and began raising a predominantly commercial herd of cattle. Today, Arthur manages sixty of the original one hundred acres, but has acquired additional acreage while also leasing other property to maintain about 200 head of cattle. Sons, Freddy and Terry assist their father with the daily farm work.
Over the years, the Baxter Farm has appeared in numerous Newport Plain Talk articles, ranging from the 1982 announcement of Terry’s prize-winning polled Hereford yearling bull, Arthur’s 1985 crop production, to Freddy’s successful burley beds in 1986. One of the greatest challenges to the historic Baxter Farm was the Cosby Highway project which Arthur actively opposed because of its impact on his ability to successfully farm. Today, the Baxters use a tunnel under the road to move cattle between pastures. For 137 years, this family has been an enduring part of the agricultural heritage of Cocke County.
Photo: Baxter farmhouse, built in 1930. It is still in use today.
Elizabeth B. Wiley
Howard R. Wiley
In 1887, Ezra Bible and Elizabeth Davis Bible established a 210
acre farm about three miles north of Parrottsville. Prior to establishing this farm, Ezra left
his wife and three children at their farm above
The second owner of the farm was Louie Bible, daughter of the founding couple. She acquired the land in 1925 and made a home for her brother. She raised poultry, cattle, corn, and tobacco. Louie also made quilts and spent time with gardening, especially flowers. She also participated in the home demonstration club and was active in her church. Though Louie never married, she provided a home for several of her nephews until they graduated from high school.
In 1970, the great granddaughter of the founder, Elizabeth B. Wiley became the third owner of the farm. Currently, Elizabeth and her husband Howard work the land and mainly raise beef cattle. Built by Ezra, the barn, smoke house and two chicken houses remain as reminders of the more than 120 years of history of the Bible Farm.
Dwight L. Bundy Farm
William K. Bundy
In 1919, W. C. and Jenny’s daughter, Zora Wood, inherited the 16 acres and the home place. In 1939, she and her son, Dwight Bundy, born in 1922, purchased 15 acres from her brother, Oscar. In the 1950’s, Zora built a chicken house and raised 5,000 chickens at a time, selling them to Burnett’s, a poultry processor in Morristown, Tennessee.
Dwight started helping his mother on the farm as a teenager and continued to work the land until his late 70s. He raised tobacco, corn, cabbage, and tomatoes, using mules to do the heavier work and plowing until he finally purchased a tractor in the 1970s. He was married to Ella Mae Norwood Bundy and they had three children, Michael, Margaret, and William Keith. His children have fond memories of working with him in the fields. They recall “walking behind him and trying to step in his footprints as he plowed the fields and hearing him call out commands of ‘Gee,’ Haw,’ and Whoa’ to the mules.” With the plowing done for the day, the children said, they could ride the mules back to the barn.
The remodeled farmhouse dates to a period before the Wood’s purchased the land and a 1940s tobacco barn and the chicken house remain part of the complex. A new springhouse was built in the 1990s to house the pump that brings spring mountain water to the house for drinking and cooking.
Today, the great-grandchildren of the founders own the family acreage. Michael Bundy, Margaret Bundy Busler, and William Keith Bundy operate family gardens and occasionally have horses on the farm. There is also a beef cattle operation under the ownership of the fifth generation, Whitney Bundy and her husband Kenny Strange. She is daughter of William Keith and his wife Donna.
The Dwight L. Bundy Farm is the 11th Century Farm to be certified in Cocke County.
Parrottsville, one of the oldest communities in the state, was settled during the 1780s by a group of German immigrants. Decades later, in 1849, William Boyer established a farm of 294 acres near this community. He and his wife, Sara, had eleven children and raised beef cattle, chickens, corn, wheat, hay, and tobacco. According to the family, “The house was built in 1854 and a special room in the attic was floored to hide goods.” This room would be used during the Civil War as armies moved through the area confiscating supplies.
Emma , a daughter of William and Sara, and husband Moten Sparks acquired the farm in 1893. The couple had three children and continued to raise many of the same crops and livestock, but the Sparks cleared more land.
In 1976, Billy Sparks, the great grandson of the founders, acquired 100 acres. He and his wife Patricia continue the farming traditions of his ancestors, but primarily raise beef cattle and hay. Billy Sparks worked for Farm Bureau as a sales representative and is still a member. He also served as Chairman of State Agriculture Committee for twelve years. The Sparks advise that a hand-dug well, rock-laid and 94 feet deep is still in use today as is the 1850s farmhouse.
Photo: The Heritage Farm home built in 1854.
Jim and Alice Freeman Gulf Farm
Fonda F. Williamson
James Benjamin Freeman and his wife, Alice (Simmons), established a farm in a remote Appalachian cove east of Newport in 1910. James was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Discharged from the army in San Francisco with his wages in gold, James shipped his belongings home and proceeded to travel across the country to return to the community of Del Rio. James and Alice were married in 1904 and lived in a home nearby until they were able to purchase twenty acres. On the acreage was a cemetery with several graves dating from before the Civil War of a Price and Woody family. These families moved to Texas following the Civil War but generations of Freeman family have always maintained the burying ground. With their children, Wilbur J. and Martha, the Freemans raised tobacco, hay, timber, corn, cattle and honeybees. The family worked hard and the farm eventually grew to three hundred acres.
Friends and family often came to the visit the Freemans and were welcomed with a meal or a bed for the night. Some visitors stayed for several days. The Freemans were known for their fine vegetables, fruit trees, and livestock. Jim Freeman was a beekeeper and furnished “many people near and far with the best of honey, selling by the pound. “ Jim enjoyed honey daily and only the purest sourwood was allowed on the family table.
Wilbur acquired the farm in 1962. He had been operating the farm since the mid-1950s when his parents, because of their declining health, moved in with their daughter Martha. Wilbur was married to Nora (McGaha), and they had two children, James T. and Fonda. Under Wilbur’s management, the farm produced tobacco, corn, hay, timber, and cattle. Wilbur also added a third barn to the property. Wilbur eventually purchased his sister’s share of the farm. In 1965, after only three years of sole ownership, Wilbur died of a heart attack.
Ownership of the family farm then passed to Fonda Freeman Williamson. Fonda continued growing tobacco until 2004. Other crops included hay, timber, and corn. In 2000, Fonda restored the oldest barn on the property as well as the original springhouse. Tenants lived in the farmhouse from the 1950s until the 1970s, at which time the owner used the house as a vacation home. A fire destroyed the farmhouse in 2002. Mrs. Williamson is active in the management of her property and Jack Terry works the farm.
Photo: Founder Jim Freeman in 1939.
In January 1886, William McMahan founded a 120-acre farm southeast of Newport, Tenn. He and his wife, Lydia, and their four children—Zora, Oscar, Richard David and Andrew—raised cattle, hay, tobacco, corn and many other crops on what was a largely self-sufficient farmstead.
In 1912, the farm, which had expanded to about 200 acres by this time, passed to the founding couple’s son, Oscar McMahan. After his death, the farm passed to his sister Zora and her husband, Frank Leibrock.
Following her Zora’s death, the farm became the property of the children of Zora and Frank. These heirs, Edward, Mack, Carolyn and Wilma, conveyed the family farm to William McMahan Leibrock, son of Edward, in 1980. William is the great-grandson of William and Lydia McMahan.
Today, William Leibrock, wife Charlotte and their daughter, Charlotte Ann, live on the farm. Several buildings on the farm date to the 19th and early 20th centuries. William reported that three of these are built of hewn logs and have their original cedar shingles. Each has been changed over time by the generations who have lived on the family farm, he noted.
M. G. Roberts Poplar Tree Farm
Eleanor Roberts Luther
Distinguished public service to the state, county, and
community identifies the generations of the Roberts Poplar Tree Farm as among
the political and agricultural leaders of
In 1877, Jane and her husband John Gray were deeded 212
acres of the family land. John Gray, like his father-in-law, was an important
community leader in
Of John and Jane’s six children, Margaret Gray and her husband Adolphus Everett Roberts inherited the farm’s 212 acres in 1918. In a varied career, A. E. Roberts worked as a teacher, postmaster and singer. He was also an innovative farmer and introduced the cultivation of tobacco to his property.
A. E. and Maggie had two children and in 1943, their son Manor G. Roberts acquired three-fifths of the property. Manor and his wife live and work on the farm and during their ownership of the land they produced corn, hay, wheat, tobacco, timber and cattle. Today, their daughter, Eleanor Roberts Luther owns the farm.
Kevin R. Neas
Hugh Len Neas
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2004, the Neas Farm was founded in 1885 by Isaac Ottinger, one of many German immigrants to Parrottsville. His only son, Thomas, acquired the original 60 acres in 1922. Through his marriage to Thomas Ottinger’s daughter, Cora, Herman Neas became the first of his family to hold title to the land now known as Neas Farm. Herman’s ancestors had settled in the area as early as the late 1700s. In 1957, Herman and Cora Neas deeded 93 acres, including the original parcel, to their son and his wife, Glenn and Edith Neas. Glenn’s grandson, Kevin and his wife, Darbi, operate the present 106-acre farm which continues to support beef cattle and produce crops traditionally grown there: burley tobacco, wheat, and barley.
Kevin is the sixth generation of his family to live in the farmhouse built circa 1861. A barn and granary on the Neas Farm also date to the 1860s.
Photo: The farmhouse on the Neas Farm.
David Leroy Ottinger
In 1902, James Abraham Ottinger established the Oakleaf Farm.
Located near Parrottsville, one of
In 1947, Johnnie Calvin Ottinger
acquired the farm. Johnnie and his wife Eunivee Rader had four children. Under this generation’s ownership, the farm work was done by horses
and mules and the main crops were tobacco and corn.
Photo: A Stock Barn on the Oakleaf Farm.
Janet O. Harris
Lana Ottinger Gregg
ten miles northeast of
Marcus E. Ottinger, the son of John and Emma, was the third generation to own the farm. Marcus, his wife Marie Peters and their four children cultivated wheat, corn, tobacco, tomatoes and pumpkins on the farm. In addition, they raised cattle.
In 1993, the great granddaughters of the founder, Janet Ottinger Harris and Lana Ottinger Gregg acquired the land. Today, Janet and Lana along with their husbands work the land and primarily grow tobacco and raise cattle.
Photo: Lana Ottinger Gregg harvesting the tobacco crop on the Ottinger Farm.
Charles Douglas Hughes
Grady Edward Hughes
In 1897, R. C. Pitts purchased land that was originally a part of the Boyer Farm from Jefferson and Florence Boyer Hurley. Not long after, R. C. moved his wife Sirentha Collett Potts and their four children to a small sparse house on the property.
Prior to purchasing the land, R. C. worked as a railroad foreman
and moved his family to places such as
According to CHP records, R. C. remained on the farm for a year
before he returned to work on the railroad line that was being constructed from
In 1917 after his marriage to Cora Gregg, Porter was drafted into
the U.S. Army and served in
Not long after, Porter and Cora purchased the other siblings’ shares and became the sole owners of the farm. They cultivated corn, hay, tobacco, wheat, tomatoes and vegetables. In addition, they raised beef and dairy cattle, swine, chickens and geese. While he raised livestock and crops, Porter also made some improvements by expanding the orchard, originally planted by Sirentha, and building a large pond on the property that was stocked with catfish.
Porter also sold fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, butter and eggs
to families in the town of
In 1989, Dorothy Geraldine Pitts Hughes and Eugene Fulton Pitts, the grandchildren of the founder, acquired the land. One year later, they sold the farm to Dorothy’s sons, Charles Douglas Hughes, Grady Edward Hughes and Gordon Dale Hughes. However, in recent years, Gordon sold his interest and the farm is now owned by Charles and Grady.
Today, the two brothers own the land and raise hay and beef cattle on the farm. The farm has many buildings that date before 1950, including the farmhouse, which “sits on a gentle slope with large old maple trees planted by Sirentha Pitts” in the early part of the last century. Also on the farm is a smokehouse, two chicken houses and a barn built in the 1920s that is used to store hay and shelter cattle.
Photo: Porter Pitts and his mules mow the hay on the Pitts Farm.
River Dale Farm
A family whose descendents helped settle
Daniel Jones, born in 1776 to Reps and Lucy, was the next owner of
the land. He and his wife, Mary Harrison
Jones, and their 10 children produced corn, wheat, hay, cattle, and swine. Daniel Jones served in the War of 1812. The
first two generations of the family are buried on the family farm. Daniel
and Mary’s son, Daniel Jones II and his wife, Utella Clare Campbell Jones,
acquired and purchased more than 613 acres.
It was this generation that gave land to the Cocke County Board of
Education for the
The current owners, John Lyman Ayers and William Victor Ayers, the sixth generation of the family, were born and raised on the farm. The Ayers brothers raise hay, corn, soybeans and tomatoes. The descendents of Reps and Lucy Jones “are proud of their heritage and like to walk through the family cemeteries on the property and talk about the names of ancestors they see engraved on the markers.” Family members also take care of the burying grounds and the property by mowing and trimming the land, cleaning, mending broken tombstones, re-setting the fallen ones, and installing new grave markers. John’s wife, Mary Miller Ayers, writes that the next generation, who have chosen not to farm for a living, are nevertheless “attached to the farm and will inherit it, but never want it sold.”
Photo: Cornfields on the River Dale Farm