FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2010
CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
SULLIVAN COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
King Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions Since Before Statehood
(MURFREESBORO)— The King Farm, located in Sullivan County, has been designated as a Tennessee Pioneer Century Farm, reports Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Century Farms Program recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have owned and kept family land in production continuously for at least 100 years. Pioneer Century Farms were established before Tennessee became a state in 1796.
Located four miles west of Piney Flats is the King Farm, founded in 1782 by Edward King (1720-1790), who was issued a land grant of 640 acres in what was then Washington County, N. C. A veteran of the Revolutionary War, King is listed in Captain van Braam’s Company in William Armstrong Crozier’s Virginia Militia. He was awarded 100 acres of land for services at the Battle of the Meadows and Fort Necessity, Penn., where George Washington was placed in his first command.
Married to Elizabeth Nichols (1728-1808), the couple had one son, John King, who was born in 1758. Edward and Elizabeth were charter members of First Presbyterian Church, organized in Sullivan County by the Rev. Samuel Doak in 1782.
After his father’s death, John King acquired the farm. Married twice (to Mary McKinley and Sarah White), he fathered 10 children. Hay, corn, wheat, cattle and horses were among the farm products. According to the family, “John was a leading citizen of the Fork Settlement and was an important factor in establishing civilization and Christianity in this beautiful county.” John and his wives are buried at New Bethel Cemetery. His Bible, dated 1803, remains in the family.
Isaac King came into possession of the farm after his father’s death. Married to Susan Dyer, this couple had seven children. One son, Edward Rutledge King (1843 -1923), was the fourth-generation owner. It was during his years of managing the farm that the Civil War occurred. The family has a corn “sheller” that was owned by Edward, who was in charge of shelling and loading a barge at Allison’s Mill for the river journey to Knoxville.
The family also owns other pieces from previous generations, including a log wagon used by fifth-generation owner Roy A. King, who cut and hauled timber. Roy also was a breeder of draft horses and mules. He would ride a stallion and lead a “jack” to breed mares at farms in the area. He was married to Mary Snapp, and the couple had eight children. Their son, Edward Lynn King, acquired the family farm in 1942. Like his father, E. Lynn was a draft-horse breeder for many years. The family recalls that he sold straw to TVA for “grass seeding around the dams in the early 1950s.” A progressive farmer, King was named the Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1982. Grains, tobacco, beef and dairy cattle, hogs and horses were raised on the farm. Stephen Edward and Teresa Lynn were born to E. Lynn King and his wife, Georgia M. Byrd King.
Stephen is the seventh generation of the King family to own this historic farm. He and his wife, Teresa Ann Whitson, and their children, Jonathan and Lauren, along with his mother, Georgia, live on the farm. On 200 acres, the Kings have a diverse operation, which includes beef and dairy cattle and Tennessee walking horses, along with tobacco, hay and grains. A brick house, dated 1879, and barns and outbuildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are part of the landscape. Drawing on the experience of his ancestors and a genuine love of the land, Stephen has received many awards, including Outstanding Young Farmer in 1986, the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer of the Year in 1986 and Conservation Farmer of the Year in Sullivan County in 1996. In 2010, the Kings received the “Excellence in Agriculture and Forestry Award,” one of the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards. At a time when most dairy farms have ceased production in Tennessee, the King Farm milks 180 cows and produces an average of 20,000 pounds of milk per cow each year. They raise most of the feed for the herd, and farm wastes are used as fertilizer and delivered to croplands through a 2,600-foot pipeline-irrigation system.
For 228 years, the King family has contributed to the history, culture and economy of Sullivan County and Tennessee. Their history on this farm and the stories of the generations illustrate the work ethic, skill and resourcefulness of the state’s farm families.
Since 1984, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU has been a leader in the important work of documenting Tennessee’s agricultural heritage and history through the Tennessee Century Farms Program. For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit www.tncenturyfarms.org. The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132 or 615-898-2947.
• ATTENTION, MEDIA: To interview the farm’s owner or request jpegs of the farm for editorial use, please contact the CHP at 615-898-2947.
Founded in 1911, Middle Tennessee State University is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution located in Murfreesboro and is the state’s largest public undergraduate institution. MTSU now boasts one of the nation’s first master’s degree programs in horse science, and the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., acclaims MTSU’s Master of Science in Professional Science degree—the only one in Tennessee—as a model program. Recently, MTSU unveiled three new doctoral degrees in the sciences.