Friday, May 25, 2007


CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947

110-Year-Old Buis Ridge Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions

(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)— The Buis Ridge Farm in Claiborne County recently was designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reported Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms program at the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP), which is located on the MTSU campus.
Just south of Tazewell on the Old Kentucky Road and adjacent to the Civil War site known as Roundtop Ridge, Buis Ridge Farm was founded in 1897 by John Lewis Buis. Married to Maude Levina Buis, the couple had three children—Anne Gibson Buis, John L. Buis II and Joseph Nathaniel Buis. On the 358 acres, the family raised tobacco, hay, corn, a wide variety of fruits, tomatoes, Irish and sweet potatoes, beef cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys.
Additionally, John owned a hotel and store in New Tazewell, and much of what was grown on the farm was used at the hotel and sold at the store or peddled from wagons around the community and to miners in Middlesboro, Ky., the family reported.
Near a large spring, a cannery also was operated on the farm and shipments of fruits and vegetables were sent north on freight trains that stopped at the depot in front of the store. During the 1920s, the Farmers Central Warehouse opened in New Tazewell and John began growing tobacco to sell at the local warehouse.
The second generation to own the property was the founder’s son, Joseph Nathaniel Buis. During World War II, Joseph served in the army in the Europe. While on his tour of duty, the farm was rented out. When he returned from the war, he began working the farm again. In 1949, Joe married Lena Grace Overton, and they had two daughters, Lena and Joanna.
During his ownership of the land, Joe built two tobacco barns and began to restock the farm with cattle and hogs. The family also grew wheat, corn, hay, apples, timber and a variety of vegetables. While managing the farm, he also helped start the Claiborne County Farm Bureau and the Claiborne Farmer’s Co-op. Joanna and Lela were active in the 4-H clubs and won several ribbons at the county fair for canned goods, produce, sewing and other projects.
In 1991, Joe and Grace divided ownership of the farm between their two daughters but maintained a life estate and control of the land. Currently, the responsibilities of the farm are shared by the family, which includes Joe, Grace and Lela Buis, as well as Joanna and Barron Kennedy III and their children, Barron IV and Sarah Joanna.
Today, the land supports timber, beef cattle, hay and garden vegetables. A number of structures built over time, including a house. three barns, a silo, a corncrib, a smokehouse and an outdoor privy illustrate the continuing diversity of this family farm, Hankins said.
The Century Farm Program 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.
“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 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, or to request jpegs of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.

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