For a brief historical sketch of each farm, click on the farm name.
River Valley Farm
Map courtesy of Carole Swann, Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Joe Ramsey Adams
For over 170 years, the Starkey-Adams family has tilled the same 125 acres that comprise the Adams Century Farm. Isarah Starkey, who homesteaded this land as early as 1808, acquired the title to 125 acres in 1816 and established the family farm, which is located eight miles west of McMinnville. His son, Isaac Starkey, inherited the family farm later in the nineteenth century. His wife was Cassandra Crowe and together they raised three children. Little else is known about the early history of the farm.
In 1953, all of the founders’ initial 125 acres passed to his great great grandson, Joe Ramsey Adams. Over 30 years later, Joe continues the farm’s operations, harvesting fields of corn, wheat and beans. He also manages herds of swine and beef cattle.
Photo: Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Dodd and children pose in front of their house in Warren County. The prescence of two hired helpers, one standing on the porch and the other on the far left, inidicates their acceptance as a part of the family.
Between 1838 and 1839, the federal government forcibly
removed thousands of Cherokee Indians from their homelands in East Tennessee,
In 1833, Miles Chastain purchased 74 acres from his
father and became the farm’s second owner. Five years after beginning his farm,
Miles witnessed the “Trail of Tears” of the Cherokee Indians as they were force
to leave East Tennessee and march westward toward
Miles Thomas Chastain, the founders’ grandson, acquired
over 100 acres of the farm between 1872 and 1877. Miles Thomas and his brother kept
the family’s cider mill in operation and also “ran a small saw mill.” Miles’
wife, Mary Rice, served as a mid-wife to the communities of Shellsford and
In 1921, Miles Thomas Chastain, Jr., acquired his first
tract of family land and by 1958, he owned 193. 5 acres of the farm. Married to
Matilda Smoot, Miles held several public offices, including school board
chairman and county highway superintendent. He also modernized the farm’s
operations, transforming the place into one of the area’s most progressive
farms. Tobacco, corn, sugar cane, wheat and honey were the farm’s basic
commodities. In the 1920s, Miles purchased five Holstein heifers from
Wilma C. Davenport
John Burl Davenport and Elizabeth DeBerry married about 1838 in
In 1886, the land was acquired by
John Burl’s brother, Edmond Davenport. On 218 acres, he raised corn, hay, hogs,
cattle, cotton, fruit and a variety of vegetables.
Two years after
In 1939, Alton Hill Davenport became
the fifth generation to own the land. Under his ownership,
Photo: Wilma Davenport, present owner of the Davenport Century Farm.
For the sum of $250, George Hulett purchased 130 acres of land in Warren County in 1888 “on the waters of Barren Fork of Collins River.”He and his wife, Ann Hulett, had two children, Margie and Leslie, and raised corn, hay, hogs, cows and horses.
More than 50 years later, Loyd Burks, grandson of the founder and son of Margie Burks, acquired the land from the heirs. In 1961, for the price of $1, Loyd’s wife, Roscie Deans Burks, purchased one half interest of the farm to make her an equal owner. The couple had one daughter, Jewel Dean. By this time, the farm had increased to 210 acres. Loyd, Soil Conservation Farmer of the Year for 1988, raises hay and Black Angus cattle, and lives on the farm today.
In 2009, Jewel acquired 100 acres of the original farm established by George Hulett. She and her husband, Kenneth Medlen, also raise hay and Black Angus cattle with the help of their two children, Becky and Tracey. Three generations of the family carry on the traditions begun more than 120 years ago.Photo: The barn on the property was built in 1912.
William C. Moffitt
Located three miles east of
Jimmy R. Barnes
River Valley Farm is bordered by the Barren Fork River and takes its name from the fertile valleys and river bottoms. James Jasper Lance (1791-1879) was given a land grant of 100 acres in 1828 one which he grew corn, vegetables and livestock. Another water source on this farm is several fresh water springs which continue to be used today.
Clayton Nale Lance, James’s eldest son, was born in 1813. In 1836, Clayton with his wife, Matilda (Luttrell), his young son, James S., and mother-in-law traveled to eastern Alabama where they lived among the Creek Indians at Talledega. According to the family, “he also witnessed the march of the Indians from Alabama to their new home in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).” On their way back to Tennessee, Clayton helped dig the canal around Muscle Shoals. Once back on the farm, he acquired a tract from his father in 1851 and grew corn, soybeans, cane, wheat, chickens, cattle, hogs, horses, and mules.
At the end of the Civil War, Tilman Cantrell Lance, another son of Clayton and Matilda, inherited the 100 acre farm just after the Civil War. He had soldiered for the Confederacy in the 11th Calvary, Company L. Tilman and his wife Amie E. [Davenport] Lance were the parents of Matilda, Collie, and Eddie. Using some of the farming techniques his father learned from the Creeks, he raised a large vegetable garden, corn, cane, cotton, mules, horses, and chickens. Tilman and Amie left the property to their daughters, Matilda and Collie.
R. C. (Clarence) Barnes, husband to Matilda [Lance] Barnes, became the fourth owner of the farm in 1909. Willie, Edna, Colonel Doyle, and Amy were their children. During this time, the Barnes family owned approximately 200 acres and raised corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, and mules.
After R. C.’s death in 1918, the farm went to his son, Colonel C. Doyle Barnes. He and his wife, Hilmer Martin Barnes, had five children, but only Doyle lived to adulthood. Along with the River Valley Farm, C. Doyle owned another farm where he operated the Clearmont Mill and ground flour and meal during the Great Depression. The family recalls that “he was a very generous person and would strive to barter for most anything to keep a family from going hungry.”
Colonel C. Doyle, Jr., acquired the farm in 1956. Married to Lucille Vera [Tenpenny], the couple had five children and continued to raise a vegetable garden, a herd of 75-100 dairy cattle, and hay. “C. D.” was a progressive farmer concerned with preserving the farm for future generations. He followed many conservation practices and dug ponds that were fed by the springs. All of his children showed registered Holsteins and Guernsey at fairs in Tennessee and Kentucky. For the next generation, this was a very important time in their lives. They remember the 1910 barn, which is still in use, as the center of the farm’s dairy operations and the main source of income. Vickie Barnes Bouldin, who documented the family farm’s history in the application, writes, “If that dairy barn could talk it might tell of the cold mornings that were so difficult for that teenager to roll out of bed, get milking and feeding done, and then go to school. It would tell of the tie that binds our family together throughout life and would help form each of our characters today. Although at that time in our life we thought we had it hard, I can truly say that it made us the individuals we are today.”
In April of 1993, Jimmy and Paula Barnes and Michael and Vickie [Barnes] Bouldin purchased the 197 acre farm from Lucille. Jimmy and Vickie are the great great great great grandchildren of the founder. They continued to grow hay and converted several acres to grow nursery stock of fruit and ornamental trees.
Today Jimmy and Paula Barnes are the sole owners of the River Valley Farm. Jimmy and Vickie’s sister, Joyce, lives in the 1953 home of C. Doyle Barnes and represents the 7th generation to live on the land. Most of the 61 acres of the farm are used for the nursery. Jimmy and his son Jimmy, Jr., work the farm as well as the Heritage Farms Nursery.
Carolyn W. Stubblefield
Stephen C. Stubblefield
Among the oldest and best-documented family farms in Warren County, Stubblefield Farms originated with William Stubblefield, who purchased 275 acres of land north of Viola in 1814 from Elijah Chisholm, a Revolutionary War Veteran who was granted lands in Warren and White Counties in 1809.
On his farm, Stubblefield grew variety of crops and raised livestock, including horses. Family history records that William’s father, Robert Loxley Stubblefield of Hawkins County, gave him “a valuable stud horse which he chose instead of land,” presumably choosing to move west rather than remain in upper-east Tennessee. Subsequently, William, whose wife was Wilmuth Bond, bequeathed a horse to each of their 11 children.
Between 1848 and 1850, William and Wilmuth’s son, Robert Locksley “Lock” Stubblefield, traveled to Nashville to hire a schoolteacher for the community. Mary Jane Catherine Stout, who graduated from the Nashville Female Academy in 1847, returned to take the post, and married Lock in 1851.
In 1853, Lock opened a general merchandise store and served as postmaster for the post office located in his store. Local history records indicated that it was during this period that the community was officially named Viola for the Shakespearean character in “Twelfth Night.”
In 1890, as Lock’s health deteriorated, his son, James Robert “J. R.” Stubblefield, left his position as a schoolteacher to manage the family farm. He and his father agreed that J. R. was to get 44 acres on which to build a house for himself and his wife, Sallie Campbell, as well as half the proceeds of the farm and possession of the entire farm upon Lock’s death, which occurred in 1909.
After she was widowed, Mary moved in with J. R. and Sallie, living with them until age 96. Her burial in 1926 was the last one in the cemetery on the farm, where William, Wilmuth, Lock and other family members and slaves are buried.
In the late 1920s, J. R., who was also a preacher, helped his brother George borrow money to buy cattle for his farm. Once the Depression hit, George lost his farm and J. R. was close to losing his as well, but his two oldest sons, Royce and Herman, paid the mortgage to keep the farm in the family. Royce bought 127 acres of the farm and, along with his second wife, Ruth Givens, continued to work the farm and host family gatherings at Christmas and the Fourth of July.
An efficient farmer, Royce raised wheat, corn, hay, cattle, hogs and chickens. He plowed with a team of mules that, according to family members’ recollections, also gave rides to the children. He and Ruth worked together on chores and had an enviable vegetable garden each year, as well as a large vineyard, orchards and nut trees.
Royce died in 1983, leaving the farm to Ruth, who retained ownership until 1991 when Royce’s nephew, Charles Stubblefield purchased the land. Charles was the great-great-grandson of William and Wilmuth Stubblefield.
After Charles’ death in 2009, his wife Carolyn retained the 127-acres farm that currently yields soybeans and corn. Carolyn has compiled an impressive family history, with many stories and recollections of each generation and prepared the Century Farm application.
Herman, who also helped to pay the farm’s mortgage, continued to farm his 109 acres. He attended Todd Academy in Viola and was a mechanic who studied at the Automobile Training School in Kansas City, Mo. In 1919, Herman married Mamie Hall. The couple and their six children worked hard on and off the farm, with each child attending college.
When Herman could no longer work the farm, his grandson, Stephen Stubblefield, moved to the farm with his wife, Jill, to manage the farm. After Herman’s death, the land went to his six children, all of whom later sold their shares to Steve.
Today, Steve is the Warren County executive director for Farm Services Agency and Jill is a kindergarten teacher.Photo: Locksley Riding Old Bob.