FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2008
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
STATEWIDE PROGRAM RECOGNIZES DYER COUNTY FARM FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
Hastings Farm Becomes County’s 19th Designated Century Farm
(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—The Hastings Farm in Dyer County has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, announced Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation, which is located on the MTSU campus.
Located about seven miles east of Dyersburg, the Hastings Farm was founded by George Whitefield Hastings who came to West Tennessee from his native state of Virginia. In 1860, just as the Civil War was about to erupt, he married Margaret Ellen Holland, who was born in Dyer County.
Hastings enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. In 1883, Hastings registered a land purchase of nearly 77 acres in the Rehoboth Community. Here, the Hastings family, which included their 14 children, produced cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.
John Arch Hastings, a son of the founders, wed Mary Bell Cooper and they had six children. Under this second generation, the cotton, corn, milo, wheat, soybeans, cattle, pigs and goats were products. After John passed away in 1934, Alta Hastings Ray and her husband, Sidney, moved into the house to take care of her mother. Eventually, Alta and Sidney became the owners of the property.
Billy Cooper Ray, son of Alta and Sidney, became the owner of the farm in 1982. Billy and his wife Charlotte Cook Ray are the parents of three grown sons. Mr. and Mrs. Ray live on the property and he manages the operation that produces wheat, corn and soybeans.
The family reported that a number of buildings remain from earlier decades on this farm, which will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. They also noted that the Rehoboth Methodist Church is directly across from the farm and many members of the family, including the founders, are buried in the cemetery.
“The Hastings Farm is the 19th Century Farm to be certified in Dyer 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 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 the farm’s owners or request a jpeg of the Century Farm metal sign that is placed on designated properties, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.