FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 2007
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
HAMBLEN COUNTY FARM JOIN RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS
Program Recognizes 114-Year-Old Terry Farm for Agricultural Contributions
(MURFREESBORO)—The Terry Farm in Hamblen 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 MTSU campus.
In 1893, John Martin Southern established a farm of more than 200 acres in Hamblen County. He and his wife, Martha Jane Coleman Southern, had four sons and six daughters. The family raised corn, hay cattle, and hogs. Unfortunately, the family’s history includes a tragic event that took place in 1902 when John was murdered, apparently by a drunken neighbor, according to family reports.
Not long after his father’s death, Charles “C. C.” Campbell Southern acquired the land from his brothers and sisters. Married to Leila Beal, they had one daughter, Janie. In addition to managing the farm, C. C. owned a store in Bulls Gap. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when little cash was available, business was done on a barter basis. In turn, tokens that were stamped from tin with the name of the store were given to customers instead of money.
C. C. also was a successful contractor, working under contract with the State of Tennessee to build roads and with the Southern Railway to lay some of its tracks in East Tennessee. In one of the family farm’s barns, C. C. raised and boarded mules that pulled the wagons that contained building materials.
As progressive farmers, this generation of the Southern family also made many improvements on the farm, the family has indicated. For example, they owned one of the first farms in the area to use gas-powered tractors and attachments, and as early as 1910, they built a large brick house that included electricity and indoor plumbing.
In 1948, Janie Steele Southern Terry acquired the farm from her father. While serving as owner, she also was a schoolteacher at Bulls Gap School, later becoming the principal of Bulls Gap School. By 1962, her sons, Charles R. Terry and John Fredrick Terry, acquired the property. Eventually, Charles deeded his ownership of the property to brother John.
John and his wife, Phyllis Brewer Terry, continued to manage and own the property until they bequeathed the land to their son, Steven W. Terry, and their daughter, Susan Lee Terry. Today, three generations still live on the farm, where John Frederick Terry and wife Phyllis Brewer Terry hold a life estate in the land on which they reside.
In addition, Steven, his wife Suzanne and their two children, Tanner and Sydney, who also live on the land. Susan Lee resides in Arizona. Currently, the farm produces cattle, horses, corn and hay.
Hankins says the home that was built by C. C. Southern still stands and is used as a residence for John Frederick Terry. In addition to the house, the barn and stable that were used to house C. C.’s mule teams also remain in use.
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 the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.