FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2007
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
SMITH COUNTY FARM JOINS STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
116-Year-Old Allen Dairy Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—The Allen Dairy Farm in Smith 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.
While Tennessee once had many dairies, only a few remain in operation across the state now, Hankins, who observed, “The Allen Dairy Farm located near Dixon Springs continues the tradition.”
According to CHP records, the family farm was founded in 1891 when William Henry Cox purchased 40 acres. Married to Elizabeth Derrickson Cox, the couple had three sons, William Hershel, Sam Wilson, and Edgar, and raised corn, tobacco, cattle and other small livestock on the acreage. Over the years William purchased additional land from surrounding neighbors.
In addition to managing the farm, William was a salesman for 36 years for Phillips and Buttorff Manufacturing Company. In his 1919 obituary, the following was noted: “It would be hard to find a man having more and stauncher friends and fewer enemies.”
The next owners of the land were the founding couple’s sons, William Hershel and Sam Wilson Cox. Sam wed Lois Estelle Rickles, and they had two children, William Henry and Elizabeth Lois. During World War II, the farm was used for training maneuvers for United States soldiers. Ironically, William Henry Cox, a sergeant in the
U. S. Air Force, died in Germany in 1943.
In 1960, Elizabeth Lois Cox Allen, the granddaughter of William Henry Cox, acquired the farm. Elizabeth married Wyatt Wilson Allen; they had two children, Wyatt Wilson Allen Jr. and Sam Wilson Allen. During her ownership, Wyatt and his son, Sam, managed the farm and raised beef and dairy cattle, hogs, corn and tobacco. Sam was named “American Farmer” in 1960 for his FFA work. In 1962, Sam started the Allen Dairy. In the 1970s, TVA acquired 10 acres of the farm for a nuclear power plant.
In 1983, the great-grandson of the founder, Sam Allen became the owner of the property. Today, he and wife Gwen live on the farm, along with their sons, William “Bill” Wilson Allen and Sam Robert Allen and their families. The three generations include Bill, wife Teresa and their children, Amber and Andrew, and Sam Robert and his wife, Michelle, and their children, Kristen and Ryan. The children and grandchildren have raised registered cattle and sheep for 4-H projects and shows.
Sam W. and son Bill operate a Grade-A Dairy and raise hay and sheep. The farm contains a large spring that is beside Dixon Creek that runs into the Cumberland River.
“Many people have enjoyed camping, hunting and fishing on the farm,” Hankins said, “and the hospitality of the Cox and Allen families for 116 years.”
Moreover, she added, the Allen Dairy Farm is one of a select number of Tennessee dairy farms certified as a Century Farm.
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 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, or to request jpegs of this farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.