For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
Big Sand Spring
Green Acres Farm
Maple Hill Farm
S. N. Catron Farm
Shady Oaks Farm
Whitetown Acres Farm
E. Woodrow Austin
Cleo Austin Bell
The Austins of Morristown are only one farm family among
many who contributed to the growth of public education in
Jacob E. Austin, the grandson of the founders, inherited the farm in 1919. He added sheep breeding and the cultivation of tobacco to the farm’s operations. Jacob and his wife Jennie Lee Austin were the parents of two children, E. Woodrow and Cleo Austin, who are the current owners of the farm.
E. Woodrow Austin and Cleo Bell acquired the property in 1948. Woodrow farms the land, which now totals about 500 acres. He and his sister report that a large log barn and smokehouse built prior to 1875 are intact and still in use on the farm.
Larry D. Baker
Located near Russellville is a piece of land where part of General
Longstreet’s army camped during the winter of 1863, to guard Cain’s Mill and
Three Springs Road. Also running across
this property is evidence of an ancient animal trail called
In 1985, the grandson of the
founder, Larry Baker inherited the property. Today, he continues to own and
work the land. Currently, the farm mainly produces beef cattle. The founders and other members of the Baker
family are buried in the
Photo: A view of the landscape and barn on the Baker Farm.
Two miles northwest of Whitesburg is the Ballard Farm, which Alexander and Sarah White Ballard founded in 1804. The Ballards began with 100 acres on which they grew corn and wheat. Alexander also purchased a threshing machine that he rented out to others in the community. The property’s first farmhouse was an unadorned log house with mud chimneys, but as the farm became prosperous and the Ballards expanded their land holdings to over 250 acres, they also expanded the house, adding two stories and two limestone rock chimneys.
In 1838, Alexander Ballard, Jr., obtained 70 acres of the original farm and 44 years later, his son Joseph acquired 50 acres of the land. Except for Joseph’s marriage to Martha Newell, little is known about this period in the farm’s history.
The founders’ great grandson Elijah Ballard inherited ten acres in 1921. As he an his wife Sarah Shanks found some prosperity in tobacco production, the Ballards roughly doubled the size of the farm to nineteen acres. And in 1945, they conveyed title to this land to three of their children, Clarence, Ruth and Lida, the current owners of the family farm.
Clarence, Ruth and Lida are the great great grandchildren of the founders. As of 1976, they still used the early nineteenth century log farmhouse. Clarence operated the farm, which yielded corn, hay and tobacco.
Agricultural innovation and leadership characterize the
twentieth century history of the Bellwood Farm. Established by James Houston
Bell in 1869, Bellwood Farm is 2.5 miles west of
In 1914, Hubert James Bell inherited 205 acres from his father. Hubert and his wife Mabel Durham established one of the county’s most enterprising farms. Among the first to cultivate tobacco, the Bells increased the fertility of their soil by adding ground limestone to their fields. They also helped organize the Farm Bureau and Home Demonstration clubs in the county.
As of 1976, the Bells continued to manage Bellwood Farm while their son John worked the land, producing corn, tobacco and cattle. With the original farmhouse and barn still in use, the property retains much of its nineteenth century atmosphere.
He and his wife, Elizabeth Nixon, had nine children. Joseph was 52 and married to Elizabeth Nixon when he joined his brothers who had moved to Tennessee in the latter part of the 1700s. The family believes the Whites, who eventually had nine children, were delayed in moving because of family business that included settling the estate of Elizabeth Nixon’s father.
According to the farm’s records, two sons, Jonas and George, made the move with their parents to assist in building the homestead. They would have been around 24 and 18 years old. George was the second-generation owner. Married twice, he was the father of seven children; his son, Jemeson, acquired the farm in 1892.
Jemeson gave his daughter, Julia, and her husband, George Williams, 118 acres. Both Union and Confederate soldiers raided the farm but the family managed to hide food in the saddleroom and cellar beneath the parlor. The couple had nine children who survived to adulthood. One of their daughters, Gem, married Oscar Thompson but died after giving birth to their son, William Dallas. Dallas was reared on the farm by Gem’s family although Oscar continued to “support, visit and love his son.” In the 1940s, Dallas was given several shares of land by his uncles and aunts and bought the remaining portions of the farm for $1,800.
Today, William “Dallas” Thompson raises beef cattle, pastureland and hay on 118 acres of the original farmland of his ancestors, Joseph and Elizabeth. Also, a barn built in 1917 continues to be used. Big Sand Spring, used as an address for the family in the 1930s and 40s, takes its name from the “spot below the spring where sand actually oozes,” the family reported in the farm’s Century Farm application.
In addition to Dallas, family members include Alice Thompson Brooks, daughter of Dallas, as well as her daughter, Samantha, and granddaughter Gema.
Photo: View of the barn built by Bailey Williams.
Photo: View of the barn built by Bailey Williams.
Donald W. Gray
In 1906, William Cornelius (Neal) Shanks founded a farm located
Tilda Shanks Hilton, G. L. Shanks, Lyda S. Peoples and Cora S. Gray, all children of William and Joanna, became the next generation of owners. The third generation owner listed is Cora Shanks Gray and her husband J. D. Gray who acquired a parcel of the original farm in 1944. Cora and J. D. had five children, Leah, Doyal, J. D., Jr., James Thomas, and Donald W. Gray. The family raised hay, wheat, oats, corn, pasture, cattle, hogs and chickens.
Over the years, Donald W. Gray, grandson of the founders, acquired much of the original farm. Along with his wife Edna and their two sons, Don and Edgar, the family raises tobacco, hay, small grain, corn and Black Angus cattle. Donald Gray, now in his 80s, lives on the farm where he was born. In a feature article in the Citizen Tribune of November 21, 1983, Mr. Gray said “I have farmed all my life and I love it.” Ruth Gray, the wife of Doyal, and Lelia, the wife of J. D. Gray, Jr. continue to own portions of the original farmstead as well.
Photo: J. D. Gray and his sons Doyal, J. D., Jr., Thomas and Donald.
Green Acres Farm
David Patrick Green
In 1896, Andrew Jackson
Green founded the Green Acres Farm. Located 5 ½ miles southeast of
Andrew’s and Mary’s son, Joe Green became the second owner of the land. Along with his wife, Amanda Thompson Greene they managed the farm and operated a grist mill and a broom factory on the farm. In addition, they had a workshop where they repaired farm machinery and furniture.
In 1975, the grandson of the founder and nephew of Joe, Luke Green acquired the farm. Today, Luke and his wife Agnes live on the farm. In addition, their son David Patrick Green, his wife Janice and their daughter, Madelyn live on the land. The farm now produces cherry tomatoes, strawberries, green onions, raspberries, tobacco and cattle.
Photo: Andrew Jackson Green and Mary Reese Green, founders of the Green Acres Farm.
William Dean Howell
Established in 1828, the Howell Farm is two miles west of
In 1878, William E. Howell inherited 175 acres of the family land. By building and operating a modern dairy, William increased the farm’s profits. A member of the Masonic order, Howell also served as a city alderman in 1907.
Glenn Alexander Howell, the only son of William and Kitty Gill Howell, acquired the farm in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. Despite the hard times, Glenn and his wife Annie Mae kept the farm in operation and in 1963, it passed to their son William Dean Howell. As of 1976, William and his wife, together with their son and his family, lived on a 595 acre farm. The Howells specialized in livestock, raising dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine and horses.
Lee Leeper Powers
Martha Jane Powers
A Revolutionary War land grant lies at the heart of the
history of the Leeper Century Farm, one of the best documented properties in
the state. Dating to 1838, the Leeper Farm is located 7.5 miles southeast of
Lewis and Lucinda had three children and their son
Benjamin Leeper inherited 350 acres of the family land in 1888. He continued
Lee Leeper Powers, the great grandson of the founders, inherited a sizeable portion of the family farm from his father William H. Powers in 1963. Seventeen years later, his sisters Marilyn and Martha Jane acquired their share of the family farm. Today, the Leeper family farm has 175 acres, farmed by Alan Moore, the son of Marilyn Powers Moore. Alan grows hay and cattle to feed his 60 head of cattle. He also cultivates 2.5 acres of tobacco.
Maple Hill Farm
Elbert Cornelius Rader
The process of “civilizing” the land detailed in the
history of the Maple Hill Farm was one that almost every
In 1849, James Moore, Jr., inherited 412 acres of the
farm from his father. He was not as interested in farming as his father and
during his period of ownership, he sold 337 acres to his neighbors. The Civil
War was a grim period in the history of the
James Henry and Maldanota Cobble Moore were the third generation owners of Maple Hill Farm, acquiring ownership in 1863. James and Maldanota raised six children, but in 1922, they deeded 75 acres to their grandson Clifford L. Rader and granddaughter Daisy Rader. Despite the depressed nature of the agricultural economy during the 1920s and 1930s, Daisy, Clifford and his wife Monnie Johnson kept Maple Hill in family hands, using whatever money they made to modernize the property. They “built a new milk parlor, chicken house and a pig parlor. The tobacco market brought more income and the herds were improved. Soil conservation was put into practice.” Just as important, local roads were “rocked and black-topped (and) tractors replaced animals.”
Elbert Rader, the great great great grandson of the founder, inherited the family land in 1967. Today he operates a farm which specializes in tobacoo, dairy and cattle commodities. Three generations live on the farm and each member of the family remains active in the agricultural life of the community.
Billy Manley Noe
Three miles northeast of
Jacob A. Noe, one of Jacob and Caroline Noe’s ten children, received 90 acres of the family land in 1905. He and his wife Edna McDonald and their seven children continued the Noe tradition of mixed farming.
In 1963, Clarke H. Noe, the founders’ great grandson, acquired the 90 acre farm. Clarke specialized in livestock, raising beef cattle and Hackney and Welsh ponies. Upon Clarke’s death in 1975, his wife Billy Manley Noe inherited the farm. As of 1976, a log house and log barn, which were built in 1866, still stood on the property.
S. N. Catron Farm
Samuel Neill Catron, Jr.
The dairy farming revolution of the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries has shaped the last 100 years of the Catron Century
Farm located in the 2nd district of Hamblen County. James and Mary
Alfred Landrum established the property in 1835 with 408 acres. James, a native
Virginian, fought in the Revolutionary War and moved to
Amanda A. Perryman, the founders’ granddaughter,
inherited the entire farm in 1885. She married William H. Harrison and raised
five children. He daughter Jessie Harrison Catron, the wife of Samuel Neill
Catron, acquired a portion of the original farm in 1888. Samuel and Jessie
greatly diversified the farm’s operations, growing garden vegetables, raising a
herd of Jersey cows, and opening a dairy to supply milk to the Pet Milk Company
In 1960, Neill, Grace, Aileen and Faye Catron, great great grandchildren of the founders, received 305 acres of the original farm. Neill works the land and in 1976 the family reported that “we operate a dairy farm, raise our herd replacements, and grow burley tobacco.”
Before the flood control projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority and
the Corps of Engineers, floods often ravaged and devastated Tennessee Farms.
Sandy-Delle Farm illustrates how floods could destroy in an instant the work of
a lifetime. Zachariah “Boaz” Hurley, Jr., of
The founder and his wife Lou Vina Black raised nine children and their son James A. Hurley inherited 112 acres in 1892. A local builder of considerable reputation, James also successfully practiced mixed agriculture on his land. In 1901 a spring flood, which raised the water level to a foot in height in the farmhouse alone, destroyed the benefits of his hard work. James and his family had to rebuild their farm.
In 1943, Nannie Hurley Penland inherited fifteen acres of the family land. Nannie is the founder’s granddaughter and today she shares the farm with her daughter Sandra Penland Farmer and her family. Nannie’s husband, Robert N. Penland, operates a model small farm, raising tobacco, small grains, corn, wheat, beef cattle, horses, swine, chickens, sorghum cane and garden vegetables.
Photo: Sam Z. Hurley, the son of James A. Hurley riding a tractor.
Shady Oaks Farm
Charles E. Graves
In 1860, Rev. William C. Graves and his wife Martha Cardwell established
the Shady Oaks Farm, which is located near the northwest corner of
In 1872, William H. B. Graves, the founders’ son, inherited the family land. William and his wife Maggie Havely were enterprising farmers of the late nineteenth century. To improve their agricultural output, they purchased fourteen additional acres of land. In 1942, the farm acquired its next owner, Thomas Jason Graves, who introduced tobacco cultivation to the farming landscape. Thomas’ wife Mildred Rippetoe inherited the property upon her husband’s death 22 years later. Mildred held a life tenancy to the farm while her son Charles worked the land, producing beef cattle, hay and tobacco. The farm’s original dwelling, which dates to the 1860s, is in poor condition but is still intact and used for grain storage. Since his mother’s death, Charles and his son, Charles David Graves, manage the farm. David does much of the day to day work on the cow and calf operation.
James Y. Hurley
The Suits U.S. Farm, located nine miles southeast of
In 1927, James Y. Hurley assumed joint ownership of the property with C. R. Hurley. Nineteen years later, James, the founders’ grandson, gained full ownership of the family farm. As of 1976, James raised livestock, including mules, and grew corn and wheat.
Samuel K. Taylor, Jr.
In 1796, Joseph White of
While he produced the same crops and livestock as his parents, William did not share their need to purchase new tracts of land. Not until 1865, when he had owned property for 30 years, did he buy 65 additional acres. William, his wife Elizabeth Henderson and their three children were a religious family and contributed land for a cemetery and the construction of a church.
In 1883, thirteen acres of the farm passed into the hands
of the founders’ great grandsons, Samuel K. Taylor and Joseph A. Taylor. They
were the sons of Barbara Ann White Taylor, the founders’ granddaughter, who
died during childbirth in 1879. Through inheritance and purchase, the farm
continued to pass to different members of the
Steven W. Terry
In 1893, John Martin Southern established a farm of more than 200
Not long after his father’s death, Charles Campbell (C. C.) Southern acquired the land from his brothers and sisters. Married to Leila Beal, they had one daughter, Janie. In addition to managing the farm, C. C. owned a store in Bulls Gap. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when little cash was available, business was done on a barter basis. In addition, tokens that were stamped from tin with the name of the store were given to customers instead of money. C. C. was also as a successful contractor, and worked under contract with the State of Tennessee to build roads and with the Southern Railway to lay some of their tracks in East Tennessee. In one of the farm’s barns, C. C. raised and boarded mules that pulled the wagons of building materials.
As progressive farmers, this generation of the Southern family also made many improvements on the farm. The Southern family was one of the first farms in the area to use gas powered tractors and attachments. As early as 1910, they built a large brick house that included electricity and indoor plumbing.
In 1948, Janie Steele Southern Terry
acquired the farm from her father. While serving as owner, she also was a
school teacher at
John and his wife Phyllis
Brewer Terry continued to manage and own the property until they bequeathed the
land to their son, Steven W. Terry and their daughter, Susan Lee Terry. Today,
three generations still live on the farm. John Frederick Terry and his wife
Phyllis Brewer Terry hold a life estate in the land and still reside on the
farm. In addition, Steven, his wife Suzanne and their two children, Tanner and
Sydney live on the land. Susan Lee
William O. Roberts
West Side Acres Farm, which Nancy Elizabeth Everett founded in 1873 is
located just west of
The second generation owner was Sallie Everett Roberts, one of Nancy and John’s three children. The farm’s history changed little during this period of ownership. Sallie and her husband William O. Roberts purchased 75 additional acres but later sold this land.
William O. Roberts, the founders’ grandson, inherited the family land in 1948. As of 1976, he cultivated tobacco and hay and raised cattle.
Elbert Hunter White
White Farm was founded in 1850 by Joseph White. Located ten miles northeast of
The second generation to own the land was Joseph’s son, George White. Married to Sarah King, the couple had seven children. Their names were Nancy, Leander, John, Betsy, Jemeson, George and Joseph H. In 1892, Jemeson became the next owner of the farm. Married to Elizabeth Hale, he fathered seven children and their son, William A. White became the next owner. According to the family, William operated a distillery on the farm and raised poultry, cattle, hogs, corn, wheat and tobacco. William had nine children and his son, Elbert Crawford White became the next generation to own the farm.
Elbert’s ownership, the farm produced corn, tobacco, wheat,
Today, Elbert still owns the farm, but his cousin, Richard Hightower works the land. The farm cultivates hay, pasture and vegetables and raises Angus cattle. A barn, a chicken house, the office of the distillery and part of the original farmhouse still stand on the farm.
Photo: This barn on the White Farm was constructed in the 1860s.
Whitetown Acres Farm
Elbert H. White
Although deeply touched by the tragedy of the Civil War,
the White family of
Between 1855 and 1867, Jimeson White inherited 250 acres
of his grandfather’s farm. He and his wife Elizabeth Hale suffered greatly
during the Civil War. Terrible family strains existed; while two sons were
Confederate sympathizers, another served in the Union army and died in
William White, the founder’s great grandson, was the next
generation to own Whitetown Acres. Opening a distillery, he further diversified
the family’s businesses. In 1921, he willed 124 acres of the family land to
Elbert C. White, the founder’s great great grandson. Elbert developed the
property’s “Iron Spring” as a tourist attraction for the nearby Three Springs
Resort. Introducing the cultivation of tobacco to the farm, he also “grew broom
cane and manufactured brooms” sold in
As of 1976, Hilda D. White Kinley and the widows of Jacob and William White, together with their children, owned the founders’ property. Mrs. Mary (Jacob) White and her two daughters owned about 38 acres; Mrs. William White and her son Elbert possessed 42 acres; and Hilda and David Kinley had about 41 acres. The major commodities produced on these three tracts of land included tobacco, corn, hay and livestock. The families also operated a country store in Whitetown. As of 2013, Elbert H. White owns a portion of the original Whitetown Acres.
Crosby L. Wright
Thomas J. Wright
Located seven miles north of
The next owner of the farm was the founder’s son, Caleb L. Wright. Under his ownership, the farm produced the same livestock and crops as the founder. Wed to Myrtle R. Wright, they had three children. Today, the farm is owned by the grandsons of the founder, Crosby L. Wright and Thomas J. Wright.