For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
Burnett/White Family Farm
Elk River Sartain Farm
Jasper J. and Wilsie Hobbs Tate Farm
Jim Burnett Farm
L. H. Burnett Farm
Richland-Elk River Valley Farm
T. L. Sissom Farm
White Family 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
With historical and family ties to three other Grundy Century Farms; namely, the Jim Burnett Farm (1870), L. H. Burnett Farm (1870) and the White Family Farm (1855), the Burnett/White Family Farm is a new addition the the family’s Century Farm heritage.
In 1888, Isaac Newton “Ike” Burnett founded a farm of 36 acres in Pelham, Tennessee. A son of John Burnett Sr., Ike grew up on his father’s farm and later worked as a convict guard at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company in Tracy City, TN, until the late 1890s. He then took a job as clerk in the company store, where he worked for 16 years. He used his wages to buy fencing and fertilizer, as well as repair farm machinery and pay the blacksmith. He and his wife, Lula Wooten, had four children, Mabel, John, Lora and Espa. They raised corn, hay and livestock.
The second owner of the farm was Ike’s brother, John D. Burnett Jr. John was born during the Civil War, and although he taught school for a time, he was principally a farmer. He bought his father’s farm from his siblings, except a share owned by Laura Burnett White, which totaled 86 acres by 1894. He and his wife, Mary Jane “Jennie” Wilson, had five children and raised corn, hay, cattle, mules and horses. John was always involved on the farm until an accident claimed his life at the age of 76, according to the family’s reports.
In 1955, the nephew of the founder, James Buford “Jim” Burnett, became the owner of 160 acres. He and wife Louvina Meeks Burnett had five children and raised corn, hay, soybeans, wheat and cattle.
Per the family, as a child Jim would ride mules bareback to break them for his father. A story the family recalls is that, at age 7, he and his father were on the way to Decherd and heard sirens and coal-mining whistles. When they arrived home, they learned that WWI was over.
The family also recounts that Jim and his brother bought their first car, an A-model, together. Also, Jim watched in amazement when the first plane flew over Pelham Valley and later, in 1969, watched as the first man walked on the moon. Having an eighth-grade education, he proudly boasted that all 10 of his grandchildren received a college education.
The current owners of the farm are Charles Emmett “Jack” White and his wife, Janice, who is the grandniece of the founder, Ike Burnett. Today, they farm the 36 acres of the original farm and raise hay, corn, soybeans and wheat. Charles and Janice also own the aforementioned White Family Farm. See also the Jim Burnett Farm and the L. H. Burnett Farm.
Located three miles northeast of Pelham, the Elk River Sartain Farm
contributed to the success of the Tennessee Farm Demonstration program of the
1930s. The property dates to 1846, when James and Rebecca Brown Sartain moved
James Sartain operated the family land until 1910. His son, James Sartain, Jr. obtained the farm in 1912 and made many improvements. Purchasing 143 acres of land, James, Jr., “cleared and drained” this property, “tore down the old log house and replaced it with a two story frame house” and “built three barns.” He and his wife Mary Hargis had eight children and the family raised corn, hay, barley, oats, swine, cattle, horses and sheep. When government officials established the Unit Test Demonstration Farm Program in 1935, they designated the Elk River Sartain Farm as one of their demonstration centers.
In 1941, the current owners acquired the entire farm. John, the founders’ grandson, was the manager and in 1976, Gene Myers worked the farm, raising hay, corn, cattle and swine. Today, the owner is Marshall Sartain.
James A. Hamby
In 1887, John Hawk founded a fifty acre farm about three miles
northeast of Pelham. John married Sarah Lusk Hawk and they had three children,
James, Mary and Houston. The second
owner of the property was Eli Hamby, the son-in-law of the founder who married
Mary Hawk Hamby. They were the parents
In 1930, Harvey and E. L. acquired the property. During their ownership, the farm mainly produced corn. Harvey Hamby was an active member of the Grundy and Coffee County Farm Bureaus. He received permission from the state farm bureau to be a member and serve on the board of directors for both county organizations. In addition, he was on the agricultural committee that hired the first Grundy County Agricultural Extension Agent. He and his wife, Anna Campbell, had six children.
In 1978, Arley Hamby, the
great-grandson of the founders, obtained the land. He and his wife Lucy Howard were the parents
of three children. Hay and raised beef cattle were primary commodities on the
farm. Over the years, Arley was very
active in agricultural related organizations and served as the Agricultural
Extension agent in Rhea and Van Buren counties. Prior to becoming a county
agent, Arley taught agriculture at
Today the farm is owned by James A. Hamby, the great, great grandson of the founder. Currently, the farm produces hay and beef cattle.
Jasper J. and Wilsie Hobbs Tate Farm
Cathy Tate Campbell
Kenneth M. and Sandra Tate Hereford
William Dugan founded this farm in 1819 on 57 acres of land at the foot of Cumberland Mountain on Collins River which he acquired from his father, Thomas Dugan. Originally from South Carolina, the Dugans migrated to Warren County from Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1818. William and Mary Kincaid Dugan were the parents of six children.
By 1833, William Dugan owned over 800 acres of mountain and valley land. His farmhouse at the foot of the mountain became a frequent stopping place for McMinnville residents who often rode through the countryside surveying their own land holdings. On one of these excursions, John and Beersheba Porter Cain stopped at the Dugan farmhouse to rest, and Mrs. Cain took a walk up the mountainside where she found a chalybeate spring which was later named Beersheba’s Spring in her honor. Believing the iron spring water to have extraordinary health benefits and seeking the cool mountain breezes in the summer when fevers were rampant in the lowlands, Mr. Cain got permission from William Dugan to build three cabins on the mountain in what later became the summer resort of Beersheba Springs. William Dugan recognized the commercial appeal and value of the spring, and, as early as 1834, offered special inducements to others to bring the spring into repute. Dugan later sold several hundred acres of land on the mountain as demand for lots in Beersheba Springs grew. In 1980, the historic district of the town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1839, William Dugan authorized a road to be built across Cumberland Mountain. The road was to originate near his place at the foot of the mountain. From there it was to pass over the mountain by way of “Beersheba’s Springs, and thence on, descending the mountain at Ross’s Landing.” Today a section of Highway 56 through the town is designated “William Dugan Memorial Highway.”
William Dugan signed the 1843 petition to form Grundy County, and was one of the county’s first commissioners when it was formed in 1844. An 1850 agricultural census shows William farmed 225 acres of “improved” land, on which he raised corn, oats, wheat, rye, wool, Irish and sweet potatoes, beans and peas; produced butter, wax/honey and molasses, and raised horses, mules, oxen, milk cows and other cattle, sheep and swine.
William was a partner in the McMinnville and Beersheba Springs Turnpike Company formed ca. 1858 and authorized by the state legislature to construct and operate a toll road from Beersheba Springs down the side of the mountain to the town of McMinnville. He remained politically active in the county until his death.
Family tradition recounts that during the Civil War, William, who had amassed some wealth, hid his strongbox filled with money so that roving bands of bushwhackers and robbers could not find it. After the war, William retrieved his strongbox from its hiding place, only to find it empty. He never discovered who found his hiding place or his money.
In 1867, after William’s death, his daughter Nellie Dugan Dykes inherited 231 acres, including the original homestead, from her father. Born in North Carolina in 1818, she was brought across the mountains into Warren County in the company of her parents and grandparents when just a few months old. She married John Dykes and they were the parents of seven children. One of their sons, Robert Dykes, served in the Confederate Army. He fell ill during the war and John went to bring him home. During the journey, John contracted measles and died shortly after bringing his son home. Nellie Dugan Dykes continued to farm well into her 70s raising wool, peas, beans, mules, dairy cows, oxen, sheep and swine.
Sarah Louise Dykes Hobbs inherited 25 acres of the original Dugan homestead from her mother in 1873. She married James Hobbs, a Civil War veteran, and they were the parents of ten children. James purchased an additional 10 acres of the original Dugan homestead. They raised peas, beans, orchard produce, horses, mules, dairy cows, cattle, sheep and swine. Sarah Dykes Hobbs was a founding member of the New Union Methodist Episcopal Church in Tarlton in the 1890s, later known as Morton Memorial Methodist Church.
John Herman Morgan Hobbs inherited the farm from his mother in 1926. He raised corn, hay, Irish and sweet potatoes, apples, peaches, honey, horses, cows, swine, poultry and geese on the farm. Herman was politically active in Grundy County, serving as a Justice of the Peace and as foreman of the Grundy County Grand Jury. He also was a member of the Grundy County School Board and a trustee of the Morton Memorial Methodist Church. Herman and his wife, Carlena Rubley, were the parents of 6 children.
Wilsie HobbsTate, a daughter of Herman and Carlena, was the fifth generation to own the farm. She was married to Jasper J. Tate, a World War II veteran. In 1939, Wilsie received her teaching certificate from Middle Tennessee State Teachers’ College and began her teaching career at Barker’s Cove School. During World War II, Mrs. Tate worked at an aircraft plant in Michigan, while her husband served in Europe and North Africa. In 1946, the Tates purchased a farm on Collins River on land originally owned by William Dugan, and started Tate Nursery which they operated until Jasper’s death in 2001. Mrs. Tate resumed teaching in Grundy County after the War, ending her career at Beersheba Springs Elementary. She was a member of the Grundy County Retired Teachers Association and also an active member of the Home Demonstration Club in the 1950s. The Tates acquired her parents’ farm from her widowed mother in 1968, adding 35 acres of the original Dugan homestead to their adjoining farm. Jasper Tate was a 50 year member of the American Association of Nurserymen as well as the Tennessee Association of Nurserymen.
After Mrs. Tate’s death in 2003, the Tates’ three children inherited the farm. James M. Tate, Sr. operated Tate Nursery from 2001 until his death in 2010. Today, Cathy Tate Campbell and Sandra Tate Hereford, along with her husband Kenneth, own the family farm. Their nephew, James M. Tate, Jr., a seventh generation descendent of the founder, raises nursery stock on the farm.This entry was written and submitted by Sandra Tate Hereford.
Photo (top): Farm landscape
Photo (middle): Nellie Dugan Dykes, c. 1900
Photo (bottom): Barn built c. 1946 on the farm
Jim Burnett Farm
Jack and Janice Burnett White
The Farmers Alliance was the most significant agrarian organization of
the nineteenth century. Established in the late 1800s and early 1890s, the
John Burnett purchased 82 acres in 1870 and established the Burnett family farm, which is approximately one mile east of Pelham. Burnett and his wife Martha Jane Rust had nine children and managed a diversified farm. The family raised cotton for clothing, corn, wheat, cattle and swine for food and horses for transportation. A member of the Grundy County Court, John also “helped build and maintain the early roads in the community.”
The second generation owner was Johnny Burnett and his wife Jennie Wilson. By purchasing shares in the family farm from his brothers and sisters and buying 36 additional acres of land, Johnny established a farm of 152 acres. An active member of the Farmers Alliance, Burnett produced corn, wheat, sugar cane, hay and livestock.
In 1955, James Buford “Jim” Burnett, nephew of John Burnett, purchased 160 acres. He and and his wife Louvina Meeks had five children. In 2009, following the death of Jim Burnett, , Janice Burnett White along with her husband Charles “Jack” White acquired 80 acres of the farm which adjoins their White Family Century Farm. Other portions of the Jim Burnett Farm were acquired by her brother James Carl Burnett and Faye Burnett McClaran. See also the L. H. Burnett Farm and Burnett/White Farm.
L. H. Burnett Farm
L. H. Burnett
Descendents of John Burnett also owned the L. H. Burnett
Farm, located one and a half miles east of Pelham. The current owners share a
common history with the Jim Burnett Farm, but their traditions add some
interesting details to the family’s history. For instance, John Burnett, a
local justice of the peace, designed his home with his duties in mind. “When he
built his new home,” the family remembers, “he left no connecting door between
the living room and kitchen. This was to protect the women folk of the family
from any contact by sight or sound with the persons” on trial before Squire
Burnett. The second generation owner, Johnny Burnett, operated a sorghum mill
and raised mules for sale at “Mule Day” in
In 1950, L. H. Burnett, a grandson of the founder,
acquired ten acres of original farm. He now manages 52 acres and his cousin
Gene Myers sharecrops the land, raising corn, wheat and soybeans. His wife
Gladys Burnett is the Pelham postmaster. Chairman of the Grundy
Richland- Elk River Valley Farm
Richard D. Bonner
Faye C. Bonner
In 1892, Richard Hudson Davidson founded a farm of just more than 44 acres in Burrough’s Cove on the Elk River. He and his wife, Elizabeth Hamby Davidson, had five children. On the farm, the family raised corn, hay, cattle, and swine. A progressive farmer, Richard built a new house in the Victorian style, a barn, and a log corncrib around 1900 and created an extensive field drainage system using clay tile that helped to increase crop production.
Throughout his life, Richard continued to buy land to give all his children a farm of their own. This goal was not reached, however, because he suddenly died from pneumonia in 1917. At that time, Elizabeth assumed the responsibility for the family and the farm.
Louella, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth, and her husband, Vernon Bonner, were the next owners of the farm. They acquired 56 acres of the land from the other heirs in 1957. Vernon worked on the farm for around 20 years before gaining ownership. The Bonners were the parents of Verna Berlene, Carl Edwin, Martha Ann, Richard Dale and Brenda Joy. Vernon continued to purchase land during the Great Depression. Together, the family raised corn, cotton, hay, soybeans, wheat, cattle, chickens, and swine and also were beekeepers.
This time period saw many changes to farm life. Horses were replaced by tractors and other machinery. The widespread use of hybrid seeds and herbicides increased farm yield. The open range, where cattle and swine had run, was fenced. Electricity, the telephone, and a hard-surfaced road also became new additions to farm life, the family has noted.
Aside from farming, Vernon also helped build Camp Forrest, now known as AEDC Air Force Base in Tullahoma, during WWII. Here, German prisoners of war were kept. The soldiers stationed there were also leased out to work on farms in the area. Vernon and Louella were members of the Farm Bureau and Farmer’s Co-op. The University of Tennessee also designated this farm as a test-demonstration farm.
Richard D. Bonner, grandson of the founding couple, and his wife, Faye (Church) Bonner, are the current owners of the farm. Both were reared on farms and were active in 4-H, FFA and FHA during their school years. Their children, April “Addy” and Andy were also active members of the 4-H Club and raised lambs for show at the local, district and state levels.
Today, the Bonners farm 150 acres, 56 of which are part of the farm of Richard Davidson, and raise corn, hay, soybeans, wheat, cattle, chickens, and swine. Richard, a licensed pilot, has constructed a hanger and landing strip on the farm. He retired from the military after 25 years in the U. S. Navy and Army National Guard.
Richard and Faye are members of the Farm Bureau and Farmer’s Co-op. Richard served as a director and chairman of the Grundy County Farmer’s Bureau and Faye served as president of the Farm Bureau Women of Grundy County from 1976 to 1984. She continues to be active in the local Home Demonstration Club.
Photo (left): Richard Hudson Davidson and Family taken on June 24, 1917.
Photo (right): Vernon Bonner plowing on Ferguson tractor circa 1950s.
T. L. Sissom Farm
Thomas Layne Sissom
Four miles south of Viola is the Sissom Farm, established by William Wooten in 1868. This property may date to 1816 but the documents on file are vague and the family has designated the later date as most reliable. On his 137 acres, William practiced general agriculture and at one time owned 40 head of swine, 45 head of cattle and 33 sheep. His son James B. Wooten acquired 55 acres of the farm in 1893. He married Eudora Winton and fathered four children. Little is known about the farming operations during James’ ownership except that he grew wheat.
The farm’s third owner was Charlie F. Wooten and his wife Ethel Layne, who operated the farm through the middle decades of the twentieth century. After Charlie’s death in 1966, Ethel managed the land for the next seventeen years, growing hay and corn. In 1984, the farm acquired its current owner, Thomas Layne Sissom, who is the founder’s great nephew. Sissom has a sharecropping arrangement with W. B. Hoover and his farm yields wheat and soybeans.
White Family Farm
Charles Emmett White
Before the 1850s, Robert Gilbert White and Malinda Lowe
established the White Family Farm that is located in
In 1855, Charles T. White, the son of the founder,
acquired the land. Charles’s wife was Mary C. Elliott White, a descendent of
Scotch-Irish Elliotts who migrated from
Charles and Mary had eight children and their son Charles Walter White became the next owner. During his ownership, a farm house was constructed by slave labor. The clay for the bricks was dug from the red clay banks on the farm and burned near the side of the house. While Charles managed the farm, he also was a “local peddler who bought goods such as chickens, eggs and butter from local households.” These items were then places in a horse drawn covered wagon and taken to the Miners’ Company Store in Tracy City, Tennessee. At the store, Charles exchanged his goods for such items as coffee, candy, matches and sugar.
Charles’s son, Emmette Milton White, became the next owner of the farm. During the 1930s, Emmette and his brother Homer established a rock crusher on the land. They used the crusher to crush lime to sell to farmers to build up the soil in the area. In 1967, fire destroyed the original brick home. Some of the bricks from the original house were saved and the bricks were used to construct a fireplace in the new home in 1981. Emmette and his wife Elsie Dell Haynes had two children and their son Charles Emmett White became the current owner in 1998.
Today, Charles, his wife Janice Burnett White and their daughters cultivate corn, wheat, soybeans, hay and pasture. In addition, they raise cattle and horses.