FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 13, 2006
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
Predates Tennessee’s Statehood & County’s Oldest Farm, Hankins Says
(MURFREESBORO)—The Hartsaw Cove Farm in Overton County has been 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 Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
Farms that originated from land grants and have remained in the family until the present are rare in Tennessee. Gilbert Christian founded the Hartsaw Cove Farm with a land grant of 1, 208 acres in 1792, four years before Tennessee became a state and 14 years before Overton County was established in 1806.
The second owner of the property was Gilbert’s son, George Christian Sr. who he eventually deeded the land to his son, George Christian Jr. Generations, all named Christian, retained ownership of the farm until 1973 when Millard V. Oakley and his brother purchased the property. Oakley’s uncle, Marvin Brown, was the great-grandson of George Christian Jr.
Today, Millard Oakley raises cattle on the 1,200 acres. A white frame house that was constructed by the Christian family in 1902 still stands on the property. In addition, the Christian family cemetery is located on the property. The family reports that the graves of slaves are also located on the farm.
“Hartsaw Cove Farm is the oldest Century Farm in Overton County and one of the few farms that predates statehood,” Hankins noted.
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, or to read about the histories of Gibson County farms as well as others across Tennessee, please visit its Web site at 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.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: To interview Hankins or the farm’s owners, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.