FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 21, 2009
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
BLOUNT COUNTY FARM JOINS STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Samuel Henry Farm Becomes County’s 33rd Century Farm
(MURFREESBORO)—The Samuel Henry Farm in Blount County recently was designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reports Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms program at the Center for Historic Preservation, which is located on the MTSU campus.
“Samuel Henry is a well-known name in the settlement of the territory that would become Tennessee in 1796,” noted Hankins, who added that as early as 1792, Henry built a fort, Henry’s Station, and planted crops on his land grant.
Married to Polly Beal, with whom he fathered six children, Henry was a quartermaster during the Revolutionary War and played an important role in selecting Maryville as the seat of government for Blount County. In addition to his civic duties, he constructed several mills in the area and also obtained a permit to install special stones for grinding wheat.
Through the years, Henry’s sons expanded the business with a wagon trade that reached as far as Atlanta, Ga. When the mail routes were established, one of the mills that was known as “Brick Mill” became a stop on the regular route.
The second generation to own the property was son James. He and wife Narcissa Howard, along with their five children, produced grain, hay and livestock on the farm. During this period, a substantial brick house, built in the Federal style, was constructed. According to family records, the home’s bricks were molded and baked by slaves from the red clay on the property. James died before the house was completed and under Narcissa’s direction it was completed. She lived there until her death in 1885.
The farm’s long history includes generations of owners, all of whom have kept portions of the historic farm in agricultural production.
Today, the farm is owned by Henry descendents Ginna E. French, Larry French and James French. Larry works the land, raising tobacco, hay and cattle. The 1833 Federal house, which was long the home of Narcissa, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The Samuel Henry Farm, linked to the history of this area throughout more than two centuries, is the 33rd Century Farm to be certified in Blount County,” Hankins observed.
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 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, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2