FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2008
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
STATE PROGRAM RECOGNIZES JEFFERSON COUNTY FARM FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
107-Year-Old Farm Becomes County’s Newest & 18th Century Farm
(MURFREESBORO)—The Warham Easley Cameron Farm in Jefferson County, has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reported Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation, which is located on the MTSU campus.
In 1901, Warham “War” Easley Cameron, born in Grainger County in 1851, established an 80-acre farm near Jefferson City. Although he was married twice before and had children with each of those wives, his third wife, Elizabeth Catherine Knowling, was the mother of the descendents who would eventually obtain the land.
Under War’s ownership, the family grew wheat, oats, corn, grain, tobacco, hay and various fruits and vegetables. In addition, they raised horses, cattle and chickens. While managing the farm, War also operated a sawmill and grain mill. According to the family’s reports, he sawed the pattern for a local new church known as Buffalo Wallow Baptist Church in the late 1880s. His earliest grain mills were operated by steam engines watered from a pond and later by gasoline or fuel-oil-fired internal combustion engines. He and his family threshed grain in a wide area around the community and provided the milling services as well.
After Warham passed away, his children inherited the property. However, his son, Porter J. Cameron, began buying out the various heirs in the 1920s. Porter married Martha Jane Gilbert from Grainger County. Martha’s father, a Primitive Baptist preacher who traveled a circuit from southeast Virginia into east Tennessee, performed their marriage ceremony. The couple had six children, though only four survived childhood.
In 1962, the grandson of the founder, Simmie E. Cameron, acquired the land. Today, Simmie’s sons, Mike, Mark, Don, Larry and Roger, work that land that produces grains, cattle, fruits and vegetables. A house that was built by the founder in 1910 and occupied until his death in 1926 still stands on the property. In addition to the farmhouse, the land has many other buildings, including another house that was built in 1946, a barn built in 1935 and a tobacco barn that was constructed in the 1940s.
Simmie owns many of the antique threshing machines, tractors and mills used by his father. During the mid 1980s-90s, he demonstrated the threshing machine pulled by his father’s 1941 John Deere Model D at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. “The Warham Easley Cameron Farm is the 18th farm to be certified in Jefferson County,” 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 a jpeg of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.