Tuesday, June 24, 2008


CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947


(MURFREESBORO)—Two historic Gibson County properties, the Old Browning Place Farm and WBY Farm, have been designated as Tennessee Century Farms, reported Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation, which is located on the MTSU campus.
• The ancestors of the Browning family moved from Union County, S.C., around 1835 to Gibson County, which was formed in 1823. Matthew “Matt” Raleigh Browning and wife Susan Springer, whose parents and grandparents also moved from Union County, S.C., to Gibson County around 1825, were the parents of seven children.
According to the history of the Old Browning Place Farm, Matt purchased 51 ¼ acres in 1873, where the family raised sheep, cattle, mules and horses. Matt was especially known for his registered saddle and harness horses. Browning also had a thriving business renting mules for cotton planting. These mules were bred from wild Texas ponies, which he purchased and that came to Milan by train and were raised on open range among the cane breaks along the Obion and Mississippi River Bottoms in Dyer County. The family has documented many family stories of the founding couple as well as succeeding generations.
Matt and Susan’s son, Samuel Spencer Browning, acquired the property after the death of his father in 1912. He and his wife, Audrey Lee, had one daughter, Martha Katherine Browning Newbill.
Today, Martha’s daughter, Marilin Rose Newbill Howell, the great-granddaughter of the founders, is the farm’s current owner. The property is leased by the family to Philip Crocker, who raises corn, soybeans and timber. The family also reported that a large spring known as Browning Springs has furnished fresh water for travelers, livestock and the people who lived on the farm throughout the years.
• “Another early Gibson County family that values and keeps the stories and documents of its several generations is the Wades,” said Hankins, referring to what is now known as the WBY Farm.
Per this land’s history, in 1827, William Wade moved from Maryland to Tennessee and established a 640-acre farm near the Brazil community. Married to Cassandra Jones, the couple had 15 children. The second generation to own the land was their son, Lewis Wade, who married Frankie Ferriss, and together they had nine children. In 1879, John Perry Wade became the third owner of the farm.
He and his wife Mary Crisp Jones Freeman had three children, James Lewis, Henry Hartwell and Alice A. John served as justice of the peace and partnered with two others in a mercantile business in Trenton.
In 1919, James Lewis acquired the property. James married Unity Beulah Simmons and they had two sons, John Perry Jr. and Frank. The family grew strawberries, cotton, hay, sorghum, wheat and corn. They also raised cattle, hogs and chickens. The family recalls that strawberry picking was a community event and people came from various parts of the community to pick the berries at two cents per quart.
John Perry Wade Jr. was the next owner of the farm. He and wife Bertha Dodson were the parents of Beulah Rebecca Wade. Primarily, they raised horses, cattle, hogs, cotton and corn. Then, in 1990, Beulah inherited the property from her parents. She married Beverly Durwood Buford, and they named their daughter Beverly Wade. This generation continued to produce cattle, hogs, cotton, corn and soybeans.
In 1998, Beverly Wade Buford Youree obtained the farm. She is actively involved in the management of the farm, which is worked by Joe Don and Lawrence Harden. Cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans are raised on the WBY Farm that has been a part of the farming landscape of Gibson County for more than 180 years.
“Congratulations to these families whose farms bring the total number of certified Century Farms in Gibson County to 22,” Hankins noted.
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 denoting 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 owner or request jpegs of these Century Farms, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.

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