FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2010
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
OBION COUNTY FARM CERTIFIED AS TENNESSEE CENTURY FARM
State Program Recognizes Contributions of 151-Year-Old Roach Farm
(MURFREESBORO)—The Roach Farm in Obion 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.
James Oliver Roach established a farm of 152 acres in 1859 near a trace that was once used by Native Americans and later came to be known as The Turnpike Trail from Jackson to Trenton, Troy and Mills Point on the Mississippi River. Near what is known as the Turnpike Levee, Roach raised corn, hay, cattle and hogs.
According to the family’s reports, farm-founder James is buried in Roach Cemetery, which is located on the farm. Once a public burial ground associated with Salem (Methodist) Church, only a few grave markers remain, including that of Roach who died in 1884.
In 1903, James Rutherford Roach acquired his father’s land. His first wife was Ladoskie Wheeler and his second wife was Josie Rust. During his ownership, the farm was expanded to include 162 acres, where the Roach family, which included son Charles, raised livestock and row crops.
In 1911, Charles Henry Barton Roach became the owner of the acreage. With wife Emily Jane Hargett and their four children, LaDoskie, Jona, Alpha Emma and Henry Neal, Charles Roach raised wheat, cotton, corn, cattle and hogs.
Siblings Neal and Alpha Emma took ownership of the 162 acres in 1950. Henry Neal never married and Alpha married William Park Hudson. The couple had one daughter, Alpha Ruth, who lived on the Roach Farm with her parents from 1934 to 1952. She remembers moving by wagon 20 miles from the “Crystal community (Obion County) by way of Troy and the Turnpike Levee to the Roach Farm near mason Hall.”
Per the family’s reports, Alpha was an active 4-H member and her first project was raising 100 White Rock chickens when she was 9 years old. The profit from her 4-H poultry projects was use to start a bank account for “my college education,” she recalled. The family raised cotton, barley, soybeans, hay, corn, beef cattle and hogs.
Henry Neal and his niece, Alpha Ruth Hudson Worrell, became joint owners of the family farm in 1982. Following her uncle’s death in 1989, Alpha, married to Ray N. Worrell, became the sole owner of the property. The Worrells are the parents of sons Neal, Matt and Jon.
Today, Alpha is active in the management of her farm, where cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat are the primary commodities. Family photographs and the history of the farm, now more than 150 years old, are important to Alpha Ruth Hudson Worrell, who is the great-great-granddaughter of the farm’s originator, James Oliver Roach.
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 owner 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.