For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
Alvin Smith Farm
Country Wood Farm
Crenshaw Christmas Tree Farm
The E. H. M. Farm
Gibson Boys Farm
Harris Family Farm
Johnny Sample Farm
Kings Chapel Farm
Mud Creek Farms
Old Browning Farm
P. B. Edmonds FarmsPenn Farm
Robinson Goodman 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
Alvin Smith Farm
Anne Norton Smith
The Alvin Smith Farm, which is located six miles west
of Rutherford, is the oldest Century Farm in
Between 1856 and 1866, W. R. Tyson obtained 700 acres from his parents and became the farm’s second owner. W. R. and his wife Ann Eliza were the parents of nine children. Together the family produced swine, corn and timber commodities. In 1897, a portion of the family farm passed into the hands of Mary Tyson Smith and her husband Louis Smith who, in 1935, willed the land to their son W. E. Smith.
Acquiring 45 acres between 1943 and 1950, Alvin A. Smith became the next owner of the family farm. He managed the land until his death in 1981. Currently, his widow Anne Norton Smith supervises agricultural operations on the Smith Farm and lives in a farm dwelling constructed between 1880 and 1890. Anne’s son-in-law Frank Allen works the farm’s 230 acres, growing corn, milo and soybeans.
Rosa Arnold Cochran
Ronnie W. Arnold
In 1869, Alfred Dowland sold 94 acres, located northeast of Bradford, to William Pleasant “Bill” Baker, a veteran who had fought for the Union in the war that had ended just four years before. Bill and his wife, Sarah Dowland, had eleven children. Another 84 acres were acquired in 1870 and the family raised cotton, corn and livestock. Oscar Wilson Baker and his wife Beulah purchased 60 acres from his father in 1924 and built a home where they lived with their daughters, Evelyn and Helen.
In 1941, Helen Baker Arnold and her husband, Clyde, purchased the W. P. Baker homestead from the heirs. After the death of their parents, Helen purchased Evelyn’s share on the farm in 1973. Clyde and Helen were the parents of Rosa and Ronnie.
In 2009, the great-grandchildren of the founders, Rosa Arnold Cochran and Ronnie Arnold and their spouses, Larry Cochran and Reba Arnold, became the owners of the farm where they have built their homes. The owners are involved in the management of the family farm and Ronnie Arnold and William Little, along with his son Josh, who also lives in a 1947 house on the property, work the land which produces corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat.
Photo (left): This is the home place of W. P. Baker where he raised his eleven children. This was also the home of Clyde and Helen Arnold from 1941 to 1947, when it was torn down to make room for a new one to be built.
Photo (right): This is the home of Clyde and Helen Arnold built in 1947. It is still standing today.
James E. Richards
In 1886, Stephen Carroll founded a fifty-eight acre farm near the
Mallie Carroll and her husband J. W. Richards purchased the farm in 1942. In their turn, they owned and farmed the land for 55 years. Their son, James E. Richards and his wife Doris acquired the family acreage in 1997. Currently, James and his wife Doris manage the operation though much of the land is worked by Johnny Phillips. The farm produces corn, beans and wheat. A four-room farmhouse that was built in the 1800s still stands and water can still be drawn from a well that was dug in the 1940s.
Photo: This four-room farm house on the Carroll-Richards Farm was built in the 1800s.
Country Wood Farm
Kitty Barnett Pulliam
Jane Moore Dickson was among the handful of antebellum women to establish a Tennessee Century Farm. Her property, which stands four and a half miles south of Trenton near the tracks of the old Mobile and Ohio Railroad, dates to 1848. The widow of Thomas Dickson, Jane was the mother of six children. The crops and commodities produced on her 287 acres were cotton, corn, wheat, swine and cattle. At the beginning of the Civil War, in 1861, Isabella Dickson Cooper acquired 143 acres of her mother’s land. Isabella, the wife of James Irvin Cooper, was the mother of six children. She and her husband cultivated cotton, corn and wheat and raised swine and cattle.
The farm next passed through the hands of Luke C. Cooper and Sue E. G. Barnett before Kitty Barnett Pulliam, the great-great granddaughter of the founders, received title to the 143 acres. She produced cotton, milo, and cattle raised by James Champion. After Mrs. Pulliam’s death in 2006, her children, Jane and Tom, became co-trustees and jointly manage the farm. A cousin, Pat Barnett who is also a descendant of the Cooper and Moore families, cultivates and harvests the row crops including corn, soybeans and wheat.
Crenshaw Christmas Tree Farm
Tom and Nancy Connell
The Crenshaw Christmas Tree Farm was founded in 1861 by John B.
Johnston and his wife Mary Ann Lynch Johnston five miles southwest of
Kate’s and James’s son, John B.
Crenshaw was the third generation to own the farm. John married Mabel Hope
Harris Crenshaw and they raised corn, cotton and beef cattle. John and Mabel
had three boys: James Harris Crenshaw, Thomas Macolm Crenshaw and John
Crenshaw. The sons attended schools in
In the early 1980s, Dr. Tom Crenshaw decided to rent the farm and plant Christmas trees on the land that was hilly and badly eroded from use. For many years, he planted as many as ten thousand Virginia Pines a year with the help of farm workers and his sons, who were home from college in the summers. Tom has sold several thousand trees a year by having choose and cut activities on the farm. The families who come to the farm during the Christmas season to find a tree of their choice, ride a wagon drawn by a team of horses to the fields and to select handmade wreaths and garland.
Mabel died in 1982, and Tom and his wife Nancy Connell acquired
the farm. In recent years, Tom and
Reggie D. and Barbara Davidson
For $50, John Davidson purchased a half interest in about 20 acres in 1895 with a promissory note due in 1896 for the balance of $100. A cousin, John W. Davidson acquired the farm a decade later, but a grandson, John A. Davidson, purchased the acreage later in 1906 and owned and worked it for nearly 50 years. The fourth owner was another grandson, Roy A. Davidson, who acquired the 20 acres in 1953.
Roy and his wife, Dollie Mae, were the parents of James and Dorothy. In addition to growing the familiar row crops of beans and corn, they raised cattle and operated a saw mill on the farm.
Reggie Davidson, the son of James and nephew of Dorothy, is the great, great grandson of John Davidson. He and his wife Barbara have owned the property since 1985. Corn, beans, and wheat continue to be the primary crops.
Landon and Ruby Hampton
The Dowland-Hampton Farm, established by Henry and Sarah Mits
Dowland in 1846, is east of
Little else is known about the farm’s history until the twentieth century. The great great great grandson W. E. Dowland worked the farm during the first half of the century, raising cotton, corn and cattle. The six children of W. E. and Myrtie Dowland did not want to farm, so in 1947 W. E. and Myrtie sold the land to their neice Mai Dowland Hampton, who is the great great great great granddaughter of the founders and her husband Odis Hampton. Today, the farm is owned by Odis' and Mai's son, Landon and his wife Ruby Hampton. Their son, Mark and his wife Delana continue the farming tradition.
Upper Photo : Odis and Mai Hampton with a combine many years ago on the farm.
Lower Photo: Mark, Delana and their two boys with the farm's sign.
The Dowland-Hall Farm was founded by J. W. Dowland in 1890.
Located in the
The next generation to own the land was the founder’s daughter, Ida Dowland, who purchased the other interests from her siblings. During her ownership, Ida’s brothers-in-law, Emerson Shivers and Martin Benge primarily farmed the land. Some of the crops and livestock that were raised on the farm included cotton, corn, cabbage, strawberries, peas, horses and mules. According to the family, the two-story residence was destroyed by fire. The family story of the fire is that son-in-law Emerson Shivers, in an attempt to retrieve honey from a hive inside the walls of the house, constructed a torch to drive away the honeybees. Unfortunately, the house caught on fire and burned completely. Not long after, a new smaller farm house was built on the property.
The third owner of the farm was James Wilson Hall, the grandson of the founder. Married to Jo Young Hall, they had four children. Their names were Sandra Hall Arnold, James Wilson Hall, Jr., Richard Gene Hall and Robert Barker Hall. The family produced cotton, soybeans, corn and cattle.
Sandra Hall Arnold became the next owner. She and her husband, John Richard Arnold, had two children, Melissa JoNell Arnold and John Richard Arnold, Jr. Over the years, the small farm house began to deteriorate. In 2004, Sandra and her brother Robert remodeled the house and tried to retain as much of the original construction as possible. Today, Sandra lives in the house. The farm which over the years has expanded to 150 acres, currently produces cotton, soybeans and corn and the land is worked by Bob Holder, a longtime neighbor and family friend.
Photo: Sandra Hall Arnold, the current owner of the Dowland-Hall Farm, picking cotton with her neices and nephew.
The E. H. M. Farm
Nancy Hudson McClellan
Ruth Kilzer Hudson
Located in the 4th Civil District, Houston Ezell
established a fifty- acre farm in 1892.
Corn, tomatoes and cotton as well as cattle and mules were raised. Married twice,
Gibson Boys Farm
Lois and Willie Shanklin
Located five miles east of Dyer, the Gibson Boys Farm initially contained 67 acres, established by James and Betsey Battles Gibson in 1837. The parents of seven children, the Gibsons “were honest, hard-working people that believed in caring for their own.” In this family, “courage, love, loyalty and pride were as much a part of the heritage as the land.” Working together, the family raised wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum, swine and cattle.
The children of the founders inherited the property and became the farm’s second owners. They produced the same crops and livestock as their parents had raised. In 1930, the farm passed to Lois Barron Shanklin, the great granddaughter of James and Betsey Gibson, who now manages 70 acres. Her spouse Bill Shanklin tills fields of soybeans, corn and wheat.
Gibson Boys Farm retains two of its original buildings: a log barn and a log cabin residence in which the Shanklins lived until 1941.
Carole H. Denton
Kay H. Tignor
Allison T. Little
Just a few years before the end of the 19th century, R. W. Thornton purchased 10 acres of land for $150. When acquired in 1894, the land surrounding the tract was primarily farms and the town of Dyer would not be incorporated until 1899. That property, however, is now partially within the city limits of Dyer.
Thornton and his wife, A. J., had one daughter, Nannie Lee. The family raised cotton, hay and vegetables on the small family farm. The Thorntons built two houses around 1909 on High Street.
Nannie and husband John Elly Hall acquired one of the houses in 1919 before purchasing the farm in 1926. Under their ownership, the farm grew to total 70 acres, and the Halls, along with their children, James Garland and Roberta, added corn to the crops already being grown.
Today, Catherine Hall, widow of James Garland Hall, owns the farm with her daughters, Kay Hall Tignor and Carole Hall Denton, who are fourth-generation owners. The fifth generation is represented by Allison Tignor Little and James Matthew Denton.
Currently, all three generations live on the farm, where one of the two houses built in 1909 serves as home to Matthew Denton and his family. Terry Denton, husband of Carole, operates the farm and raises corn, wheat, soybeans, hay and vegetables.
Photos: The two family homes built in 1909.
Harris Family Farm
Kenneth L. Harris
Tiffany L. Harris
Kasey C. Harris
T. C. Howell purchased 74 acres west of Rutherford in the Tyson Store Community, in 1911. He and his wife Mollie, along with their son, E. C., grew corn, cotton, wheat, and soybeans.
In 1920, E. C. Howell acquired the farm from his parents and continued to produce similar row crops. He and his wife, Vera, had one daughter, Edith. Later, Edith and her husband Jim Kay acquired the farm. They continued to farm it until 1967 when their daughter, Mildred, and her husband, W. E. Harris began farming. They expanded the farm’s acreage from 74 to 191 acres and also began a hog operation. The Harris’s had two sons – Kenneth and Edward (deceased). After farming alongside his son Kenneth, W.E. retired from farming. The Harris Family then began renting the farm. Kenneth manages the farm where tenant farmer John Gregory produces corn, wheat, and soybeans. Kenneth also enjoys growing garden vegetables each year. The Harris Family Century Farms are owned by Kenneth and his children, Tiffany and Kasey Harris.
Photo (left): A view from the back of one of the Harris Family Farms.
Photo (right): Barn on the Harris Family Farms.
Ben Primm Hazlewood
Eulalia Jane Hazlewood
Another West Tennessee Century Farm founded immediately after the Civil War is the Hazlewood Farm that lies just north of Humboldt. Established by Ben Franklin and Eliza Sharp Hazlewood in 1866, the farm contained 347 acres. The founders cultivated two typical crops of the region: corn and cotton. They and their four children managed herds of cattle and swine as well. In 1871, title to the land was transferred to Eliza Hazlewood.
The second family owners were the children of the founders, who acquired the farm from their mother in 1889 and 1890. Working the land together, the children produced corn, cotton, cattle, swine and vegetables.
In 1943, Ben Primm Hazlewood acquired his initial 141 acres
of family land from Margaret Hazlewood Duffy. Ten years later, he obtained 96
more acres and in 1978, he inherited 80 additional acres. Today, Ben owns 600
acres and operates a dairy. He, his wife Jane and their daughter Eulalia Jane
Hazlewood also raise livestock. In 1970, Ben and Jane established a trust from
82.6 acres of the farm that has been used “to provide scholarships for advanced
training in agriculture (at the
Wilma W. Holt
The Holt Farm was established in 1860 by William L. Holt. On just over 105 acres the Holt family
produced corn, cotton, and mules. Within
a year of the farm’s founding, the country would be at war and the landscape of
The second owner of the farm was the founder’s son, Brennah Holt, who acquired acreage in 1896 and 1910. Married to Anna B. Holt, the couple’s children were Roy R. and A. Vance. The family raised corn, cotton, mules, cattle and strawberries. A. Vance Holt acquired the farm in 1919. He and his wife, Mary Lyda, along with their sons, William E. (Billy) and Bobbie Jean grew corn and beans and raised cattle.
In 1990, Billy purchased nearly 130 acres and he and his wife, Wilma, continued to grow row crops. When Billy passed away in December of 2007, Wilma became the owner of the farm. The land is worked by Tommy Finch who grows corn and beans on the land. Mrs. Holt reports that quail have been hunted on this farm since the late 1800s.
Photo (top left): A view of the barn and landscape on the Holt Farm.
Photo (top right): The farm house on the Holt Farm.
In 1881, Lizza Waddell Moore, along with her sisters, received acreage west of Trenton, Tenn. She and her husband, Charles Henry Claybrook, with their four children, farmed their 178 acres.
In 1925, about 111 acres passed to their son, Clarence Moore Claybrook, and his wife, Allie Dee Harris. With their six children, they raised cows, hogs, cotton and corn.
Since 1986, the great-granddaughter of the founder, Tina Claybrook Smith, has owned 111 acres of her ancestor’s farm. She and husband, Douglas Samuel Smith and their daughters, Carol Anne and Jan Marie, live on the farm and raise cotton, soybeans, wheat and corn.
David and Polly M. Hunt
Located 4 ½ miles east of Dyer and Highway 185, the Hunt Farm was founded in 1901 by E. D. Barron and his wife Annie Barron. The 22 ½ acres yielded cotton, corn and hay, and also supported hogs. The couple had a son, F. M. Barron, and a daughter, Evra Barron Hunt. The grandson of the founders, David Hunt, is the current owner of the land. He and his wife, Polly M. Hunt, live on the farm and raise beef cattle and hay. The Hunts are the parents of two daughters, Lisa Bickerstaff and Tracy Garner.
Annie Laurie Porter James
The crossroads general store of Southern lore is a
historical reality in the story of the James Farm of
In 1884, Martha Moore inherited 86 acres of the farm. Martha’s husband, Edward D. Harris, planted fields of cotton and corn. Everyone in the family, including the thirteen children, helped manage the farm’s swine and cattle.
Mrs. Annie Porter James, the great granddaughter of
Johnny Sample Farm
The Johnny Sample Farm, located near
Kings Chapel Farm
Emerson T. King
In September 1909, William James King purchased about 100 acres of land in Gibson County. He and his wife, Molly Elizabeth Taylor King, had 10 children. The family grew cotton, corn and beans and raised cattle, mules, chickens and pigs.
In 1922, William deeded the land to his wife though he lived until 1929. Molly died in 1954 at the age of 93. During her ownership, she established the Taylor family cemetery on the property, where her parents are buried along with other members of the family. Also in the 1920s, Kings Chapel School was built on the property. In 1947, the community school, which served grades one through eight, was closed.
In 1942, William and David Bailey King, along with David’ wife, Ozell, were the next generation to acquire the land. David and Ozell had 11 children and the family continued to raise many of the same crops David’s parents had grown on the farm. In 1953, the land passed to the current owner, Emerson T. King, who is the grandson of the founder, William James King.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Emerson had a small herd of Jersey cattle and sold to Pet Milk. He and his daughter, Margaret King Valentine, and son-in-law, Albert Valentine, live on 57 acres of the original land, with Emerson owning an addition 30 acres and Albert and Margaret another additional 30 acres.
Today, Emerson and Albert work the land, where they raise beef cattle and hay. Active in agricultural organizations, the family reported that Alene King was chairwoman of the Gibson County Women’s Farm Bureau for a number of years and Emerson King has served as one of the directors of Gibson County Farm Bureau for several years.
Helen Louvenia Roberts Lancaster
Organizations that promote the techniques of
progressive farming have been important to many
In 1894, John Francis Roberts acquired 90 acres of his parents’ land. A traveling salesman and notary public, John also managed agricultural operations that produced cotton, corn, wheat and livestock. He wed Phedoria Louvenia George and they raised two children.
The third generation owner of the Lancaster Farm was
Francis Ewell Roberts. He introduced new crops such as soybeans and sweet
potatoes to the farming landscape. An elder in the Davis Chapel Church of
Christ, Roberts also served as a local magistrate. In addition, he worked for
the AAA and ASCS offices in
In 1959, Woodrow Wilson and Helen Roberts Lancaster bought 44 acres of the original Roberts farm. Woodrow served in both the local ASCS office and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A modern progressive farmer, Woodrow produced swine, cattle, corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans and hay on 141 acres of land. He died in 1975 and left the farm to his widow Helen Roberts Lancaster. For the last eleven years, she has supervised the farming operations. A 41-year veteran of Home Demonstration club work, Helen manages annual harvests of milo and soybeans.
Mud Creek Farms
Benny J. McVay
In 1841, Thomas Thompson purchased 244 acres northwest of present-day Dyer for $530. The fertile lands of Gibson County are well-suited for agriculture, and corn, cotton, hogs, and cattle were main commodities 170 years ago. Thomas married Elizabeth Koons and they had four children.
After Thomas died in 1853, his son John acquired the farm. Under his ownership, the farm grew to 319 acres. Goodspeed’s History recounts that John was born in Maury County and then moved west into Gibson County where he operated a farm that was described as “quite profitable.” John married Nancy Minerva Wright and, of their three children, only Luther survived to adulthood.
Luther inherited the farm and he and his wife, Martha Eulala Phillips, were the parents of eight children. Their daughter, Martha Evelyn, inherited the farm. She and her husband Esbert McVay had two children, Benny Joe and Nancy. Benny received his State Farmer Degree from the Future Farmers of American in 1963.
Benny McVay, who acquired his family’s farm in 1969, is married to Neva (Cooper). They live on the property today along with their son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Jennifer McVay and their children, twins Reagann and Reese, and Joleigh.
Harold J. Norman
James Edwin Norman
Robert Norman and his wife Jamima and their four children came
John Judson Norman was the second generation
owner. Married to Dora Ann Norman, they
had seven children. John also served as
mayor for the
Today, Harold J. Norman, James Edwin (Ed) Norman, and Patricia Norman Givens own the property that has been in their family for 160 years. Currently, the farm is cultivated by family friend, Travis Landrum, who raises cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.
Photo (left): Herbert and Elsie Norman in the 1930s.
Photo (right): Harold and Ed Norman in the 1930s.
Old Browning Farm
Marilin R. Howell
Carl D. Howell
The ancestors of the Browning family moved from
According to the history of the Old Browning Place Farm, Matt
purchased 51 ¼ acres in 1873, where the family raised sheep, cattle, mules and
horses. Matt was especially known for his registered saddle and harness
horses. Browning also had a thriving
business renting mules for cotton planting. These mules were bred from wild
Matt and Susan’s son, Samuel Spencer Browning, acquired the property after the death of his father in 1912. He and his wife, Audrey Lee, had one daughter, Martha Katherine Browning Newbill.
Today, Martha’s daughter, Marilin Rose Newbill Howell, the great-granddaughter of the founders, is the farm’s current owner. The property is leased by the family to Philip Crocker, who raises corn, soybeans and timber. The family also reported that a large spring known as Browning Springs has furnished fresh water for travelers, livestock and the people who lived on the farm throughout the years.
Sarah F. Haney
Located five miles west of
John Paris came to
In 1940, Dr. John Paris died. Senator E. D. McKellar wrote to his family
that John Paris, “was one of the most honorable men in our state of
On January 27, 1968, the granddaughter of the founders, Sarah Fisher Haney, became the owner of the farm. She and her husband, Carmon Haney, they continue to manage the farm, producing corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton. A two-story house, built in 1902, has been the home descendents of the founder continuously since that time.
Photo: Sallie Middleton Paris and her four daughters pose in front of their house.
P. B. Edmonds Farms
Glynn T. Edmonds
P. B. Edmonds Sr. settled on 500 acres of farm land in the northeastern portion of Gibson County around 1858, when his name first appears on the tax records. Edmonds and his wife, Angelica Crowder Edmonds, were the parents of nine children—Elizabeth, Ida Belle, Rebecca, Annie Belle, Luther William, Preston Brown Jr., Laura Belle, Martha Helen, Elizabeth Ann and Cyrus Walker. The family raised cattle, hogs and mules while also growing cotton and corn. Their farm contributed to Gibson County’s large agricultural economy, which relied on the fertile land along the many river bottoms throughout the county.
Preston Brown Edmonds Jr. and William Alexander Edmonds were the next generation of owners, growing grain and raising livestock on 330 of the original 500 acres.
In 1996, Glynn Edmonds and his cousin, Gary McKelvy, acquired the farm and are partners in managing and operating the farm, that has been in their family for decades. They raise cattle and grow wheat, corn and beans.
Mrs. Joe F. Penn, Jr.
Carol Penn Romine
Joe F. Penn, III
Acquiring 100 acres of land, located four miles east
of Kenton, Josiah F. Penn established the Penn Farm in 1870. On a farm that
eventually grew to 135 acres, Josiah worked with black sharecroppers who had
been former slaves of the property. Their labor yielded crops of cotton, corn
and wheat and livestock including swine, cattle, horses and mules. Josiah, who
married three times and fathered ten children, was active in the local
In 1873, James Hardin Penn acquired 196 acres, to which
he later added 254 acres of land. James, his wife Annie Wade and their six
children operated the farm through the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. Crops and commodities produced at the farm during these years
included cotton, corn, wheat, strawberries, blackberries and livestock. The
founder’s grandson, Joe Ferris Penn, acquired 82 acres of the family property
in 1920. Joe and his spouse Lilly Couch expanded their initial landholdings to
361 acres and produced diversified farm crops and livestock. A leading
progressive farmer in
In 1972, Lilly Couch Penn acquired the farm’s 361 acres. In 1976, she supervised the labor of her sons, Joe F. Penn, Jr., and William C. Penn, who produced the farm’s corn, soybeans, swine and cattle. Today, the farm is owned by Mrs. Joe F. Penn, Jr., her two children, Carol Penn Romine and Joe F. Penn, III and their cousin Alan Penn.
Joe and Anne Pope
tracing the history of artificial breeding in
Sallie A. Bradley Pope, the wife of William M. Pope, acquired 46 acres of her parents’ land in 1890. Sallie and William were the parents of three children. Together the family worked the farm, raising cotton, corn, cattle, swine and poultry. In 1919, Opie B. Pope obtained title to this small farm. “One of the founders of the Yorkville Jersey Cattle Show (and) of the West Tennessee Artificial Breeding Association,” Opie specialized in dairy cattle production. He also raised swine and poultry and cultivated fields of cotton and corn. Wed to Juanita Baker, he was the father of two children, Anne and Joe, who are the current owners of the property.
Anne and Joe Pope inherited the property, which totaled 156 acres, in 1967. Within nine years, they had increased their landholdings to 265 acres and produced cotton, corn, soybeans, hay and beef cattle. Anne and Joe ceased the family’s dairy operation in 1973.
Anne P. Fairless
William Stuart Odle
James Monroe Proctor came from North Carolina to Gibson County, likely near the end of the Civil War, and purchased the farm in 1868. He married Sara Jane (Jennie) Shipman Proctor in 1869, and built a log cabin in which they lived while building a larger home for their four children – Mattie (Morris), Minnie (Tate), James Yancy, and Asa Almus.
Two family members lived most, if not all of their lives on this farm. One is Asa Almus Proctor (1886 to 1961). The second is his daughter Anne Proctor Fairless (1923 to present). Asa Almus Proctor was a graduate of Laneview College and Union University. He was married to Emma Onis Shelton Proctor, and had two daughters (Sara Jane Proctor Odle and Anne Proctor Fairless). He was a farmer, and a professor at Laneview College. He was active in the community, serving on school boards and on the founding board of the Gibson County Electric Corporation. In 1916, Asa Almus Proctor purchased his siblings’ interest in the Proctor Farm, and he expanded the farm in 1946. The Proctor family was involved in a variety of agricultural enterprises which included a wholesale flower business, and breeding Black Minorca chickens. Combining traditional crops with progressive technology, Asa Almus Proctor installed electric warming beds to grow early spring tomatoes and cabbages in the 1930s.
Anne Proctor Fairless was a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She was an educator and taught at Peabody High School. Anne grew up on the farm with her sister Sara Jane Proctor Odle. Anne, married to Cy Fairless, is well known for her superb cooking and gardening talents, and her front yard is full of flowers. In 1999, they established a Wetland Reserve Easement in back of the fields extending to the Obion River. This wilderness area is an important wildlife habit that is home to deer, turkey, foxes, raccoons, possums, rabbits, owls, and many other animals.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Sara Jane Proctor Odle, lived with her husband (Wilbur P. Odle) and her four children (Jean Odle Cheeseman, Judy Odle Maxwell, Wilbur Odle, and William Odle) on the farm in a house along Christmasville Road. Twins, Wilbur and William Odle planted and harvested the fields together. Sara Jane and her family moved to Memphis in the late 1950s. In 2000, William Odle and his wife Vicky Estes Odle moved back to the farm, building a house where James Monroe Proctor’s home once stood. Since moving back to the farm, William Odle, the nephew of Anne Proctor Fairless, has maintained a large vegetable garden, kept bee hives, planted a large flower garden of daylilies, and created trellis gardens for the wild muscadine grapes and blackberries which had been present at the farm for many years. William restored the original cabin on the farm and has assembled a significant collection of antique mule-drawn farm equipment kept around the CCC building on the farm.
The extensive and well-documented application for the Proctor Farm, owned by Anne Fairless and William S. Odle, was prepared primarily by William Odle, the son of William S. Odle, who also submitted the family history summary on which this article is based.
Photo 1: This cabin, built c. 1870 by James Monroe
Proctor, served as the founders' home while they built a more permanent home.
Photo 2: The Proctor home in 1898. The postcard shows, from left to right, James Monroe Proctor, Sara Jane "Jennie)" Shipman Proctor, Minnie Proctor, James Yancy Proctor.
Photo 3: A.A. Proctor (right) is shown with the original 1936 charter and the founding board of the Gibson County EMC. Farmers signed up to meet the required amount of current to justify TVA building power lines.
Photo 4: Daily lilies on the Proctor Farm
Photo 5: Sara Jane "Jennie" Shipman Proctor, wife of James Proctor, with her Plymouth Rock chickens.
Photo 6: A. A. Proctor with a kitten and dog at the Proctor home
Photo 7: Anne and Cy Fairless on their porch
Photo 9: Asa purchased the 1930s CCC housing quarters in the 1940s and relocated them to the Proctor Farm.
Photo 10: Main field of the original farm
Many of the components of a modern progressive
farm-fruit production, new hay crops, soil conservation and breeded
livestock-can be found in the history of the Raines Farm. Hugh Y. Bone and
Martha Robb Bone purchased 400 acres and established the Raines Century Farm in
1848. Located one mile south of Rutherford, the farm produced typical
In 1897, the farm passed into the hands of Hugh Y. Bone,
Jr. Married twice and the father of eight children, Hugh raised common
Terrence wed Mallidine Halliburton and they had four
children. Their daughter Alice Bone Raines acquired 54 acres of the farm in
1960. Alice and her husband Venice P. Raines owned 79 acres in 1976.
Robert S. Reed
In the 21st district of Gibson County and 1.5
miles south of Dyer,
In 1908, John Lafayette (Fate) Reed, one of the sons of Samuel and Rachel, acquired the farm. John, his wife Carrie Elmo Smalley Reed and their three children cultivated wheat, corn, cotton and soybeans. In addition, they raised hogs and cattle. Like many rural families during the 1930s and 1940s, they experienced a dramatic change in their life as a result of efforts from the Rural Electrification Administration who brought electricity to rural areas. By having electricity, the Reeds could purchase some modern amenities such as electric lamps. During the years of World War II, the Reed’s son John Smalley Reed participated in the war by serving as an Air Force Pilot.
John Lafayette and Carrie’s son Robert Samuel Reed became the owner of the land in 1978. Today the farm produces cotton, soybeans and corn.
Charles E. Robinson
Patty Holt Robinson
Just south of Dyer is the Robinson Farm that was founded by W. L. Holt in 1894. Married to Martha Holt, the couple had two children, W. L., Jr. and J. A. On the 81 acres, the family raised cotton, strawberries, corn, cattle, grass seed and horses.
In 1905, the founder’s sons, W. L.
Holt, Jr. and J.A. Holt, whose wife was Fannie, became the owners of the
farm. Family history records that in
1926, the house that Fannie and J. A. lived in was moved to the new US 45 W
Highway. The house was moved by mules
and “tied down to trees to keep it from running down the hill.” The house was remodeled after the move and
was home to the family which included W. C. known as Carl, Louise, and
The third generation owners were
Louise Holt Smith Walker and Carl Holt.
Louise had two children, John Holt Smith and Linda Smith. Carl and his wife Sadie (McKinnon) had two
children, Patty Holt Robinson and Betty Holt Redmond. In addition to his
farming duties, Carl taught in the
In 1976, Patty Holt Robinson and her
husband Charles acquired the farm.
Charles and Patty work and manage the farm where they raise corn, wheat,
soybeans, timber and hay. In addition, the couple has a two- acre English
garden on the farm that was inspired by their visit to
Robinson Goodman Farm
Brent A. Cox
Robbie Carl Robinson, Jr.
Robbie Carl Robinson, Jr.
In 1902, Joseph E. Robinson, the founders’ son, acquired the property. He and his wife, Waneta Kelsey Browning, had four children; Mathew Raleigh, Carl, Mary Sue, and Joseph Forrest. The family farmed corn and cotton and raised livestock and horses.
Over the years, the farm passed through several generations and is now owned by descendants of the Robinson family. It passed through Mary Sue and her brother Carl. Jere Robinson Cox and his sister, Bobbie Sue Cox, are the children of Mary Sue Robinson and her husband Robert Cox. These siblings own 58 acres. Brent Cox, the son of Jere and his wife Rachel May Stafford, Cox, owns seventeen acres. Robbie Robinson, son of Carl Browning Robinson Sr. owns 131 acres. 108 acres of the combine farm are rented to Shoaf Farms. The rest is used to grow corn, peas, peppers, soybeans, and cotton and raise livestock and horses. Brent Cox, his wife Susan Holt, and their family live on the historic family farm.
Photo: Family of George Washington Robinson in front of the Robinson home,
built 1882. Those pictured include Jane, Will, Joseph, Gaither, George
Washington, Leander, Mary Teresa, and Phelan Robinson. The child is unknown but
the horse' name was Old Morgan.
Photo: Family of George Washington Robinson in front of the Robinson home, built 1882. Those pictured include Jane, Will, Joseph, Gaither, George Washington, Leander, Mary Teresa, and Phelan Robinson. The child is unknown but the horse' name was Old Morgan.
Charles H. Rochelle
In 1843, Stephen Holland Tilghman purchased 842 acres from George Prater northwest of the Rutherford community. Like many other farmers in Gibson County before the Civil War, Tilghman raised cotton, corn, hay and cattle. He and his wife, Polly, were the parents of nine children.
The Civil War exacted a heavy price from the Tilghman family. Stephen and two of his sons, Pinckney and Robert Calvin, fought for the Union. Pickney was killed at the Battle of Ft. Donelson in 1862, and Stephen was killed in 1864. The Tilghman farmhouse was used as headquarters for both Confederate and Union army units during the conflict.
After the war, Robert Calvin Tilghman inherited the farm and continued raising corn, cotton, cattle and hogs. Robert and his wife, Lydia, were the parents of Benjamin H. Tilghman, who purchased the family farm in 1902 and then sold it to his son, Howard, in 1904. Howard married Winnie Davis Paris, and their daughter, Mabel Tilghman Rochelle, acquired the farm in 1962.
Mabel’s son, Charles Howard Rochelle, who married Edith Louise Sanders acquired the family farm in 1978 and is its current owner. Soybeans, corn and wheat are the primary products of the 88-acre farm today and Mike Green manages the daily operations.
Nancy E. Thompson
Thomas Thompson purchased 244 acres of farmland in the Mt. Olive community of Gibson County, northwest of Dyer, in 1841. Thomas, born in Orange County, NC, came to Gibson County from Maury County in middle Tennessee. Thomas married Elizabeth Koons, and they were the parents of four children, Mary, Elizabeth, John and Henry. The Thompsons cultivated cotton and corn and raised cattle and hogs.
John Thompson acquired the family farm in 1853. Under his ownership, the farm expanded to 319 acres. One of the first elders of the Mt. Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church, John was married to Nancy Minerva Wright Thompson. Their children were James, Gideon and Luther A’Macy. James and Gideon died in childhood leaving Luther to inherit the farm in 1887. He married Martha Eulala Phillips Thompson and they were the parents of nine children. Luther died in 1913; Martha died in 1937.
Martha Evelyn Thompson, one of Luther and Martha Eulala’s children, acquired the family farm in 1937. She married Esbert McVay, and they were the parents of Benny Joe and Nancy Eulala.
In 1983, Nancy Eulala McVay Thompson inherited the family farm. She is
married to James Wayne Thompson and their children are Stephen Dwayne and Cindy
Rena Prater. The Thompson’s live in a house built in the 1850s. Cotton, corn,
soybeans, wheat and hogs are raised on the 91-acre farm, which is worked by Gary
Fesmire. Nancy’s family is still active in the Mt. Olive Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, and after a tornado destroyed the building in 2006, her brother, Benny
McVay, and his son, Micah McVay, were the contractors to rebuild the structure.
Nancy’s granddaughters, Shelby Lynn Thompson and Haley Elizabeth Thompson, are
the sixth generation to be raised on the Thompson Homeplace.
After his parents’ deaths,
Photo: The farmhouse on the Tosh Century Farm.
James Wilbur Vaughan
Virginia C. Vaughan
Physicians, politicians and agricultural innovators
have tilled the rich land of the Vaughan Farm throughout the decades. In 1841,
Dr. James and Melvina Harris Bone founded the
The founders’ grandson, Frank Bone Vaughan, was the third
generation to work the family farm. Frank, who owned 40 acres, was a leading
progressive farmer in
Frank wed Annabel Phillips Vaughan and they had two boys,
James and Hugh. In 1961, James Wilbur Vaughan obtained the family land.
Twenty-five years later, he and his wife Virginia Clark supervise the
cultivation of 75 acres. Raising soybeans, cotton and alfalfa, Jack Zarecor
works the property for the
Photo: A barn raising on the Vaughan Farm.
Beverly B. Youree
In 1827, William Wade moved from
In 1919, James Lewis acquired the property. James married Unity Beulah Simmons and they had two sons, John Perry, Jr. and Frank. The family grew strawberries, cotton, hay, sorghum, wheat and corn. They also raised cattle, hogs and chickens. The family recalls that strawberry picking was a community event and people came from various parts of the community to pick the berries at two cents per quart.
John Perry Wade Jr. was the next owner of the farm. He and his wife Bertha Dodson were the parents of Beulah Rebecca Wade. Primarily, they raised horses, cattle, hogs, cotton and corn.
In 1990, Beulah inherited the property from her parents. She married Beverly Durwood Buford they named their daughter Beverly Wade. This generation continued to produce cattle, hogs, cotton, corn and soybeans.
In 1998, Beverly Wade Buford Youree
obtained the farm. She is actively
involved in the management of the farm which is worked by Joe Don and Lawrence
Harden. Cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans
are raised on the WBY farm that has been a part of the farming landscape of
James earned the $2,200 for the 89 acre farm by trapping and hunting in the Forked Deere Bottoms nearby. This outdoor life may have contributed to the death of James in 1911 when he died of pneumonia, leaving Addie to care for six children alone. Shortly after his death, the family home burned down. Fortunately, Addie had insurance and, with the help of her future son-in-law, Horace Cates, was able to rebuild a comfortable home, affectionately called the “Home Place” by the family.
Times remained difficult for Addie throughout her life; she often had to borrow money to pay her property taxes. With the help of family, friends, and neighbors such as George Peay, who also served as a Pastor at Old Beulah Baptist Church, she was able to keep possession of the farm to pass it on to future generations.
After Addie’s death in 1940, the farm went to her two daughters by James and to her granddaughter, Christine Walker, daughter of Eldon, who was deceased. Mamie and her husband, Eugene, purchased the shares from her brother and her niece in 1944. According to the family, ‘the farm had never been farmed with any consistency. Addie would rent it out or try to work it herself and it was never really productive.”
Under Eugene, the farm began to be more efficient as he raised cotton, corn, cattle, chicken, and hogs. A progressive farmer, Eugene practiced crop rotation and good conservation of the land. The farm prospered and the family became almost self-sufficient during these years, living off the land. In 1990s, Eugene tore down the old log home to make more fertile cropland. The only remains of the house are two Cedar trees that were scarred by the fire that destroyed the original home.
Eugene passed away in 2001 and the farm was left to his and Mamie’s three children, Peggy Bell, Ann Hopkins, and George Freeman. Peggy and her husband Robert bought her siblings’ shares and continue to operate the farm raising cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Peggy says, “It gives me joy to think about how God has blessed our family through the good and bad times with this small farm. I pray that my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will continue to own and cherish this land for another one hundred years.”
Photo: The homeplace with Eugene, Mamie and Addie that no longer stands.
Photo: The homeplace with Eugene, Mamie and Addie that no longer stands.