Elrie Brinkley Farm
Carolyn B. Conner
M. H. “Bud” Brinkley purchased a sixty-acre farm ten miles southeast of Shelbyville in 1902. Here he and his wife, Ella Harrison Brinkley, lived in a house built by Peter L. J. Anthony in 1887, and raised their two children, Ocie and Elrie. The family raised corn, hay, hogs, timber, and mules. Pears and apples from their orchard were used in the Brinkleys’ distillery located on the Shipman’s Creek about five miles south on the Moore County line. Their distillery also purchased quantities of corn and fruits from the surrounding farms and operated from 1889 until the early 1900s.
Before marrying Mable Stephens in December 1924, Elrie Brinkley purchased the property adjoining his parents’ farm known as Anthony Mill and Midway. Once married, the couple lived in a house built by Peter L. J. Anthony in 1887. This land was once the center of the Midway Community before the general store burnt down and the community baseball team was disbanded when players were drafted for World War I. The mill, built in 1884, remained, however, and still stands today.
When Ella died in 1953, her two children inherited the farm she had lived on for over half a century. Ocie was a school teacher who never married. She lived on the farm until she passed away in 1968, leaving Elrie the sole heir.
Elrie and Mable had two children, Bryce and Carolyn. In addition to the goods produced by the founders, this generation produced tobacco, sheep, goats, crimson clover, wheat, walking horses, and honey bee hives. Their orchard also produced grapes and peaches. In the 1940s, Elrie purchased a wheat thresher; he would travel to many surrounding farms during threshing season.
The Brinkley children were active in 4-H and community events. Bryce won a trip to the National 4-H congress in Chicago for his essay on colt production, and Carolyn helped organize an amateur walking horse show. The B-B Horse Show drew over 1,000 spectators and as many as 65 entries from 1946 through 1948. During World War II, the farm was used for army maneuvers. Bryce remained on the farm as a partner with his father. They operated a Grade-A Dairy Farm and later a beef cattle operation. After Elrie’s death, Bryce continued to raise beef cattle until the late nineteen hundreds. The land is now rented to Rocky DaCosta while a neighbor cuts the hay.
Bryce Brinkley and Carolyn Brinkley Wiser Conner now own fifty acres of the original farm that originated with their grandparents in addition to the 230 acres of adjoining land purchased by family members over the years. The founders’ great-great grandson, Hal Wiser, and his family are the fourth and fifth generation of the family to live on the Elrie Brinkley Century Farm.