For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
Maple Hill Farm
Muddy Branch Farm
Roan Dairy FarmSamuel Robinson Farm
Shady Lane Farm
Sycamore Stock Farm
Creekside Farm has been documented to 1884, though the family has been in the area since the early 1800s. William H. Shoun and his wife Eliza Shoun farmed 55 acres which produced tobacco, corn, hay, cabbage, sorghum cane, wheat, and barley and supported cattle, horses, sheep, chickens, and swine. The sheep’s wool was hand-refined and spun into cloth for clothes and bedding. One of the nineteenth century spinning looms is still in the possession of the family today. This couple had eight children and their descendents have farmed this parcel for over 100 years.
The current owner of the farm is Elizabeth “Leanne” Shoun. The farm supports hay, tobacco, and cattle. Five structures still stand on the land today. There is a can house originally used to store home-preserved and canned foods. A woodshed/wash house was constructed in the early 1900s. One half was used for coal and wood storage and the other half was the laundry. The livestock and hay barn still contains the original horse-drawn hay fork and other antique farm equipment. The original kitchen of the farm house was moved into the field to be used for shelling and storing feed corn. The tool shed once stored farm equipment and was used for hanging tobacco. The historic farm and its collection of family heirlooms is such that Creekside Farm has been featured on the annual Johnson County Tour of Homes twice in the past three years.
Photo: The grainery shed on the Creekside Farm.
Maple Hill Farm
Jewel M. and Robert Hamm
Maple Hill Farm is an intact early twentieth century farm in the Shady Valley community. William Mays and his wife, Sidney Ann Hutchinson Mays moved to this area in 1901. William worked for the Empire Mining & Manufacturing Company and cut timber in remote areas of Holston Mountain. After Empire Mining completed timbering, it began to sell the land. William and Sidney Ann purchased several tracts, some in both of their names and some individually. The couple had six children and raised oats, straw, wheat, corn, cattle, hogs and chickens. William also worked as a blacksmith, making tools and parts for farm machinery. The farm complex included the two barns, blacksmith shop, machine shed, wash house, cement cellar, a smokehouse, and a grain storage and woodshed building.
In 1933, Clyde Blaine Mays, a son of William and Sidney, acquired the farm of about 16 acres and expanded it to nearly 31 acres, raising corn, wheat, hay, beans, apples, cattle, hogs and chickens on the land. Clyde worked for TVA during the 1940s, and Shady Valley was one of the first areas in Johnson County to receive electricity after the Mountain Electric Co-Op was formed in 1941. His knowledge of electricity allowed him to wire all the outbuildings, each with its own breaker, to the amazement of his parents. Seeing the lights in all of the farm buildings, Sidney Ann remarked that “one of these days there would be lights all over the valley.”
In 1982, Fannie Mays McQueen, a daughter of William and Sidney Ann Mays, acquired the farm. She lived next door to her parents and worked the farm after they were unable to do so. Fannie was married to Elmer Eugene McQueen and they had three children. During her period of ownership, the farm produced tobacco, strawberries, beans, apples, cattle, hogs and chickens. Beans were a huge crop in Shady Valley from the 1930s to the 1960s, and Bush Beans and Libby’s were two of the larger companies that contracted with local farmers for the crop that was processed and shipped throughout the country. Fannie was actively involved in the Home Demonstration Club and won many ribbons and awards for her canned foods and garden crops.
Jewell M. Hamm, a granddaughter of the founders, acquired the farm in 1985, and she and her husband, Robert Hamm, and their family are involved in the farming operations. This includes their daughter and son-in-law, Shannon and Brad Ellis, their son and daughter-in-law, Tracy & Debbie Hamm, and their grandsons, Tyler and Dylan Hamm. The family has worked to restore and maintain the farm buildings and they grow hay and beef cattle. Jewell grew up on the farm and recalls learning about the land from her grandfather. She is the keeper of history of the farm and family and is the author of the entry on Johnson County in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
Muddy Branch Farm
Tommy Jack Shoun
Jane Ann Shoun McGee
In 1896, Macon Leonard Shoun established the Muddy Branch
Farm. Located one mile west of downtown
The next owners of the land were the founder’s grandchildren, Tommy Jack Shoun and Jane Ann Shoun McGee. Tommy Jack married Nancy Ann Wills Shoun and they two children, T. J., Junior and Judd. Jane wed Thomas Preston McGee and they had one daughter Sarah “Sally” McGee. Under their ownership, the 296 acres mainly produced cattle. In addition, a farmhouse was built in 1909 and replaced a log cabin.
Today, Tommy and Jane continue to own the land and the farm is entirely devoted to the breeding of beef cattle. Although the farm no longer grows tobacco, a barn that is made of hand hewn timber remains standing.
John Ward Wills
Located two miles south of
Peter’s son Macon R. Wills was the next generation to own the land. On 113 acres, he and his wife Jennie Grant raised the same livestock and crops as the founder. Macon and Jennie had twelve children and their son Roby Newton Wills became the third generation owner. Under his ownership, Roby acquired additional acres of land and the farm increased from 113 acres to 190 acres. Roby and his wife Gladys Ward had eight children and their son, John Ward Wills became the owner of the farm.
Today, John Ward Wills, the great grandson of the founder, continues to work the land. Along with his son, John Vaught “Skip” Wills they operate the Roan Valley Dairy on the farm. Skip Wills and his wife, Margaret Jones Wills have remodeled the farm house that was built by Macon R. Wills in 1869. They have one daughter, Erin Elizabeth Wills who is the fifth generation of Wills to live on the farm.
Samuel Robinson Farm
W. L. Hines
Upon acquiring 380 acres just north of present-day Highway 421, Moore and Catherine Robinson established the Samuel Robinson Property in 1855. General farmers, the Robinsons had eleven children between whom they divided the farm in 1897. Samuel E. Robinson received 48 acres. Like his parents, he practiced mixed agriculture. Samuel and his wife Sarah Willis raised their ten children to be farmers and farmers’ wives.
In 1925, fifteen acres of original farm went to Edna Robinson Hines, the founders’ great granddaughter. Edna has recently passed away, but her husband W. L. Hines still operates the property and his labor yields grains, tobacco and cattle.
Shady Lane Farm
Capriece Cole Howard
In 1778 and 1779, four land grants were acquired by
Benjamin Brown from the state of
In 1959, Capriece Cole Howard acquired the land. In 1966,
the USDA Soil Conservation Watershed Drainage Project was completed on the
farm. According to the family, the project allowed approximately 30 acres of the
farm to be able to produce the highest yield of corn in
The Swift Farm, which is twelve miles southeast of
Sycamore Stock Farm
Lewis H. Wills
The Sycamore Stock Farm is
one of the oldest Century Farm in
Johnson County and documents the operations of a plantation-size farm in the
rugged land of Johnson County. Established by Lewis and Catherine Dick Wills in
1797, the farm originally consisted of 450 acres which were devoted to raising
In 1804, Peter Wills inherited 150 acres from his
parents. Married to Susan Weitzel, he fathered twelve children and his son
Peter W. Wills inherited the property in 1853. Thirty-three years later, the
farm passed into the hands of the founders’ great grandson Baxter G. Wills.
Expanding the size of the farm to well over 1,800 acres, Baxter also became an
Edward H. Willis, Sr., acquired 200 acres of his father’s land in 1917. Eventually he owned over 1,200 acres, which yielded corn, snap beans, tobacco, wheat, peppers, swine and cattle. A member of the Johnson County School Board, Edward and his wife Mary were the parents of five children, who obtained joint ownership of the farm in 1971. In the 1970s, James (Jay) Wills lived at the farm and worked the land. The family devoted most of its efforts to cattle production, but Jay and his sons also cultivated corn, wheat and tobacco. Today, Lewis H. Wills owns the land.
Thomas P. Worley
land grant farm, the Wagner-Worley Farm was established in 1790 near an area
later to be known as Shoun’s Crossroads by Col. David Wagner. Married
twice—first to Mary Catherine Hagey and then to Margaret Peggy Weitzel – he was
the father of 18 children. It is not
surpising, then, that his offspring are considered one of the “first families
Sited along Roan Creek on 572 acres, Col. Wagner and his family produced tobacco, wheat, corn, hay and raised swine, sheep and cattle. David and Margaret’s son, Nathaniel T. Wagner, was the next owner of the land. Nathaniel is credited with building the farmhouse (circa 1850) that is still inhabited by his descendents today. Also dating from the first half of the 19th century is a barn and a “well house” for storing dairy products in addition to covering and providing convenient access to a consistent water supply.
and his family produced corn, barley, flax, sugar cane, oats, wheat, hay and
tobacco, and raised swine, sheep and cattle. Married three times and the
father of 16 children, Nathaniel’s first wife died in childbirth in 1846.
His second wife, Elizabeth Baker, bore three children before she died.
His third marriage to Amanda Baker, sister of
the marriage of Amanda and Nathaniel, the Civil War occurred and both armies
raided the farm. In Nathaniel’s will, the farm was deeded to his son,
P. Worley, the founder’s great-great-grandson, is the farm’s current owner. His
mother was Jennie Lee Wagner, the daughter of
Throughout this time, apples continued to be an important crop on the farm. An apple house, with a smokehouse built around and over it, dating from the 1850s, kept the apples and root vegetables warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
In 2000, Tom and Mary Ann Worley retired early to live on and operate the farm. On 160 acres, they raise garden vegetables, hay, beef cattle, sheep and burros. In addition, the Worleys are working to maintain the historic buildings and landscape and preserve the family, county, and regional heritage of this farm.
In documenting the farm’s history, the Worleys noted that they “feel fortunate to have inherited the Wagner-Worley Farm and farm house that are so rich in family history.”
Photo (top left): The farm house and landscape of the Worley-Wagner Farm.
Photo (top right): Donkeys at the fence on the Worley-Wagner Farm.
Photo (bottom): Tom and Mary Ann Worley receive a certificate, booklet, and letter of congratulations from (Left) Terry Oliver, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Governor Phil Bredesen at the Farmland Legacy Conference on October 10, 2008.
Ruby Wright Testerman,
Letha and Otis Sluder,
Kenneth and Eula Sluder
Kenny and Kelly Sluder
Just a decade after the
first settlement of the
Sampson’s son, Jesse Cole, born to his second wife, Lydia
Wheeler Cole, was the third generation to own the land. During the war of 1812,
Jesse served as Captain of Militia under Colonel Snodgrass and in Crocker’s
Brigade, General Andrew Jackson’s Division of Tennessee Militiamen. In return
for his military service, he was awarded a land bounty of 2,120 acres. Jesse
married Celia Brown Cole, daughter of the earliest known settler in
In 1856, Moses Wright, the husband of
son, Allen Jesse Wright was the next generation to own the land. Under his
ownership, the 187 acres produced buckwheat, chestnuts, corn, hay, herbs, oats,
sorghum, tobacco, wheat, cattle, honeybees, horses, poultry, sheep and swine.
Over the years, the farm experienced some changes such as in 1918 when a
railroad was built through the property. The railroad carried ore from
In 1982, descendents of the founders, Ruby Wright Testerman, Nellie Wright, Letha and Otis Sluder, Kenneth and Eula Sluder and Kenny and Kelly Sluder, became the owners of the farm. As of 1999, the farm supported cattle, corn, hay and tobacco. In addition, a portion of the land owned by Ruby Wright Testerman and Nellie Wright and her son John was leased to Vance Gentry, a dairy farmer. The oldest building on the Wright Farm is the house that was built in 1909. Also of natural significance is the old-growth forest on the farm that was added to the Tennessee Landmark and Historic Tree Register in 1998.
A view of the cellar smoke house, the woodshed, the stone spring house,
the 1909 farm house and the nationally recignized old growth forest on
the Wright Farm.
Photo (top): A view of the cellar smoke house, the woodshed, the stone spring house, the 1909 farm house and the nationally recignized old growth forest on the Wright Farm.
(bottom): Michael Testerman, Haynes Wright and Ruby Wright Testerman
receive a certificate, booklet and letter of congratulations from
(Left) Terry Oliver, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of
Agriculture and Governor Phil Bredesen at the Farmland Legacy
Conference on October 10, 2008.
Photo (bottom): Michael Testerman, Haynes Wright and Ruby Wright Testerman receive a certificate, booklet and letter of congratulations from (Left) Terry Oliver, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Governor Phil Bredesen at the Farmland Legacy Conference on October 10, 2008.