FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 25, 2009
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
DEKALB COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Robert and Nettie Page Simpson Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—The Robert and Nettie Page Simpson Farm in DeKalb 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 1824, Phares Laurence founded a 56-acre farm in what was then Smith County, but today, it is in DeKalb County. Phares was a private in the War of 1812, and from November 1814 to May 1815 he served in Col. James Roulston’s West Tennessee Militia under Capt. Edward Robinson’s Company, 3rd Regiment West Tennessee Militia Infantry
He and wife Katherine had seven children: Susan, Artimesa, James H., Elizabeth, Helen, Christina and William Carol. The family raised corn, hay, pigs and cattle. A land grant of 50 acres was awarded to Pharis and a copy of the document, signed in 1828 by then-Gov. Sam Houston, was submitted with the application.
The second generation of the family to own the farm was William Carol Laurence. William, who remained a bachelor, acquired the property in 1853 and 1854 and continued to operate the farm much as his parents had done. In 1909, Rowena Simpson, the granddaughter of the founder, obtained the farm.
In 1921, the great-grandson of the founder, Robert Simpson, and his wife, Nettie Mai Page Simpson, became the owners of the farm. Along with their two children, James E. and Gladys, the Simpsons raised corn, hay, tobacco, wheat, pigs, cattle and chickens.
James and Gladys inherited the property in 1979. James married Elizabeth Banks and they had two children, Thomas and Robert. Gladys never married. Cattle, timber and hay were the primary products
In 2008, the great-great-great-grandsons of the founder, Thomas E. Simpson and Robert B. Simpson, joined their father, James E. Simpson, and their aunt, Gladys Simpson, as current owners of the farm.
Today, a farmhouse, barn, tobacco barn and smokehouse are part of the historic farmstead, which traces its origins to a veteran of the War of 1812.
“The Robert and Nettie Page Simpson Farm is the sixth Century Farm to be certified in DeKalb County,” Hankins said.
About the Century Farms Program
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 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. There are more than 1,000 Century Farms across the state and all 95 counties are represented.
“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.