STATEWIDE PROGRAM RECOGNIZES SMITH COUNTY FARM FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
151-Year-Old Lancaster/O’Fallon Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
(MURFREESBORO)—The Lancaster/O’Fallon Farm in Smith 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.
Just west of Lancaster lies the Lancaster/O’Fallon Farm that was founded in 1856 by Michael Lancaster. On 1,240 acres, Michael, wife Roxana and their five children raised corn, tobacco, cattle, pigs and vegetables. Michael also built many of the buildings, including the farmhouse, a smokehouse, a blacksmith shop, chicken houses and a wash house.
In August of 1916, the founder’s son, Thomas, known as Rainer Tom” Lancaster, acquired the property. Married to Tennie Washer Lancaster, the couple was parents to Ara, Michael, Sallie, Marvin and Lillie. The family raised cattle, pigs, mules, corn, hay and tobacco. Then, in 1939, Thomas’s son, Michael became the third generation to own the farm.
During World War II, training maneuvers took place in the area. According to the family’s records, one of the army trucks was too heavy for a nearby bridge and fell through. The soldiers camped on the farm while they constructed a new bridge. The family remembers that Beulah, Michael’s wife, provided both sweet milk and buttermilk to the soldiers who bivouacked on the farm.
In January 1964 the land was deeded to Michael and Beulah’s daughter, Cleora. Married to Henry Woodard, Cleora was active in the community. She was in the Home Demonstration Club of Lancaster and a reporter for the Carthage Courier for 53 years.
In 1991, the great-great-grandchildren of the founder—Elva Hart and her brother, William “Billy” Woodard—became the owners of the farm. Today, Billy and Elva manage the property that mainly produces hay. Elva is a member of the Farm Bureau and remembers many of the stories handed down to her. She also advises that the Lancaster Hill Church of God was built on this farm as was a mop and broom factory.
“The farmhouse and a barn, as well as a cemetery established by the founders, are reminders of the long tenure of this family in Smith County,” 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 CHP 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 secure jpegs of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.