FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 22, 2009
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
COCKE COUNTY FARM JOINS STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
122-Year-Old Bible Farm Becomes County’s 7th Century Farm
(MURFREESBORO)—The Bible Farm located in Cocke County has been 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.
In 1887, Ezra Bible and Elizabeth Davis Bible established a 210-acre farm about three miles north of Parrottsville. Prior to establishing this farm, Ezra left his wife and three children at their farm above Del Rio to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. However, with their move to the Parrottsville community, Ezra, Elizabeth and their family, which came to have a total of seven children, operated a self-sufficient farm, growing a variety of crops such as tobacco, corn, wheat, hay and fruit trees, as well as cattle, horses, hogs and chickens.
An industrious man of many skills, Ezra made many improvements to the farm, constructing a house, barn, smokehouse, crib and chicken houses. He also made most of the furniture for the house and tanned leather to make shoes. Ezra not only made shoes for his family, but for families in the community. Also, he and Elizabeth believed in a good education and ensured each of their children received one, with two becoming teachers, one a dentist, one a newspaper publisher, two working as farmers and one working as a homemaker.
The second owner of the farm was Louie Bible, daughter of the founding couple. She acquired the land in 1925 and raised poultry, cattle, corn and tobacco, in addition to making quilts and spending time gardening, especially flowers. She also participated in the Home Demonstration Club and was active in her church. Although she never married, Louie provided a home for several of her nephews until they graduated from high school.
In 1970, the great-granddaughter of the founder, Elizabeth B. Wiley, became the third owner of the farm. Currently, Elizabeth and husband Howard work the land and mainly raise beef cattle. The barn, smokehouse and two chicken houses that were built by Ezra remain as reminders of the more than 120 years of history of the Bible Farm, which is Cocke County’s seventh certified Century Farm..
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.