162-Year-Old Nunnelly Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2006
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
(MURFREESBORO)—The Nunnelly Farm in Hickman County recently was designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reports Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms program at the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP), which is located on the campus of MTSU.
In 1844, Lawson H. Nunnelly established the Nunnelly Farm in the Vernon community of Hickman County, where the 793 acres produced peanuts, cotton, corn, cattle, goats and hogs. Married to Elizabeth Sandles, the couple had two children. In 1879, the Columbia, Centerville and Pine River Railroad came through Hickman County and Lawson Nunnelly’s property. On the hill above the Vernon community, a depot was built. Not long after, a new community was started in the area and it was named Nunnelly.
The next owner of the property was Lawson and Elizabeth’s son, Walter S. Nunnelly. Under his ownership, starting in 1885, the farm produced a variety of livestock and row crops. Eleanor Nellie Phillips was Walter’s wife; their six children were William, John Pitts, Kate, Anne, Elise and Harry.
In 1930, brothers William Henry Nunnelly and John Pitts Nunnelly acquired the farm. William married Louise Bailey and John Pitts wed Ellen Ambrose. In 1942, the great-grandson of the founder, Walter S. Nunnelly, acquired the farm. Walter and his wife, Betty Jane Cox raised corn, soybeans, hay, cattle and hogs on the farm.
In 1983, the couple’s sons, William Nunnelly II and Walter S. Nunnelly III, acquired the farm. Today, they, along with farm manager Sherman Gatlin, work the farm, which produces hay. The farmhouse that the brothers grew up in was built in 1937 and still stands on the property. The ancestral home of the Nunnelly family, built in 1823 by Robert Sheegog (who later moved to Mississippi and built “Rowan Oak,” the home of author William Faulkner), also still stands.
About the Tennessee Century Farm Program
The Tennessee Century Farm Program, now 30 years old, recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have continuously owned, and kept in production, family land for at least 100 years. Since 1984, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU has been a leader in the important work of documenting Tennessee’s agricultural heritage and history through the Tennessee Century Farm Program, and continues to administer this program.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) began the Tennessee Century Farm Program in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Today, the TDA provides a metal outdoor sign, noting either 100, 150 or 200 years of “continuous agricultural production” to Century Farm families.
To be considered for eligibility, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 years; must produce $1,000 revenue annually; must have at least 10 acres of the original farm; and one owner must be a resident of Tennessee. There are more than 1,000 Century Farms across the state and all 95 counties are represented.
“The Century Farmers represent all the farm families of Tennessee,” Hankins said, “and their contributions to the economy, and to the social, cultural, and agrarian vitality of the state, both past and present, is immeasurable. Each farm is a Tennessee treasure.”
For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit its Web site at http://histpres.mtsu.edu/histpres. The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted via mail at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132, or by telephone at 615-898-2947.