FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 9, 2009
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947
GILES COUNTY FARM JOINS STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
191-Year-Old Lazy D Farm Becomes County’s Latest Century Farm
(MURFREESBORO)—The Lazy D Farm in Giles 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.
It was during the decade after Giles County was established in 1809 that James Abernathy purchased 487 acres of land “on the waters of Richland Creek.” The following year, 1819, he sold the property to his brother, Elisha Abernathy.
Elisha and wife Mary Ann Rebecca Evans reared five children on the farm. Their son, Richard, was wounded five times during the years he fought in the Civil War. Because of his lengthy recovery time when his immediate family did not know his whereabouts, Richard finally arrived home one Saturday to find that his mother, believing him to have died, “was planning his funeral on Sunday,” the family reports.
It was a daughter, Sarah “Sallie” Elizabeth, who became the third owner of the farm. Married to Larkin Merritt Birdsong in 1878, the couple reared three daughters, Cordelia, Rosanna and Mary Eliza. A single-pen log cabin with a loft was built in 1895 and was mentioned in the newspaper of that year. It remains on the farm.
Later, daughter Cordelia received the land from her mother. She married William Harry Birdsong of Ohio in 1905 and their four children were Lee Roy, Joe T., Helen and Dayton. After Cordelia’s death, the land went to Helen and Dayton. Helen and her husband, Osteen Polly, bought Dayton’s share in 1969.
In June 1973, the Polly family sold the property to Johnny and Betty Dickey, who—through her mother’s side of the family—is the great-great-great granddaughter of original farm founder James Abernathy. The Dickeys have two sons, Waylon and Stephen, and three grandchildren.
Today, the family reports, all three generations currently live on the farm they call The Lazy D, where they raise cattle, donkeys, chickens and hay, along with a garden, on 43 acres.
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 or request jpegs of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.
With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.