For Release: July 13, 2011
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
MACON COUNTY FARMS JOIN RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Parkhurst and Doss Farms Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO— The Parkhurst Farm and Doss Farm, located in Macon County, have been designated as Tennessee Century Farms, reports Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU.
The Century Farms Program recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have owned and kept family land in continuous agricultural production for at least 100 years.
Proving the founding date of a Century Farm can be difficult, as there have been several fires in Tennessee’s county courthouses that have destroyed deeds and other records. Such is the case for the Parkhurst Farm in Macon County. Macon County has had two courthouse fires, one in 1860 and one in 1901.
Though he likely was living and farming in the area before 1880, federal census records place Silas Benjamin Parkhurst in the Walnut Shade Community in that year, so the family has used that date to certify the farm’s origin.
Silas also was a blacksmith for the community, and it is believed he owned about 1,000 acres. Born in 1856, Silas first married Nancy Jane Butler, and they were the parents of four children. After Nancy’s death, Silas married Mattie A. Butler, and they had five children. After he again became a widower, Silas married Anna Elizabeth West Hill, who gave birth to seven children. In his later years, Silas lost his home to a fire and moved to a farm on Bethany Road, where he was living when he died in 1934. Silas is buried in the West Cemetery.
Earl Edmund Parkhurst, a son of Silas and Mattie, acquired 16 acres of his father’s farm in 1920. He raised corn, burley tobacco, hogs, beef cattle and hay. Earl married Ava Louise Owens, and they were the parents of four children. When their son, Hugh, returned from World War II, the family reports that he provided the support for electricity to be run to the farm from the main lines on Highway 56.
Hugh Parkhurst acquired the farm in 1962. In addition to the 16 acres his father farmed, he purchased 91 additional acres that were part of the original Parkhurst farm. Hugh raised burley tobacco, corn, hay, hogs and beef cattle on the farm. Hugh married Lucille Elizabeth Armour, and they were the parents of Paulette Patricia.
Paulette Parkhurst acquired the family farm in 1991. She owns 107 acres of the family farm, and she and her family also own and farm an additional 200 acres in the community. She and her husband, Jimmy Wayne Davis, are the parents of two sons, Benjamin Jesse and Bradley Parkhurst Davis. The boys represent the fifth generation, and they continue to use the blacksmith tools of their great-great grandfather Silas. The family raises beef cattle, hay, burley tobacco, corn and strawberries, and all are actively involved in working the Parkhurst Farm.
In early 1904, Noah Wilson “Bud” Doss purchased 73 acres on Trammel Creek in Macon County for $300. As did most farmers in the early years of the 20th century, Bud raised a variety of crops and livestock including corn, tobacco, hay, wheat, vegetables, dairy cows and swine. Bud first was married to Leona S. Simmons, who died from complications of childbirth in 1902. He and Leona were the parents of three children and with his second wife, Hattie Cliburn, he fathered Adolph, Garland, Jewel and Eula Mai.
Adolph Doss acquired 53 acres of the family farm in 1935. Under Adolph’s stewardship, the farm produced corn, tobacco, hay, strawberries, wheat, vegetables, milk and hogs. Adolph married Ruby Helen Law, and their children were Wilma G., Betty J., Ralph W., Ronald B., Carole P. and Donald C. During this time, the farm was known for its fine air-cured dark tobacco. Helen was a founding member of the community’s Home Demonstration Club, and active participant. During World War II, the farm often was visited by soldiers stationed nearby on training maneuvers because they wanted to hunt possum. Adolph obligingly took them on hunts and provided a place for them to spend the night.
Ralph W. Doss acquired the 53-acre family farm in 1987. Ralph, who was married to Nancy Jill Lickovich, enjoyed a long career with the federal government and then returned to the farm and community he loves. Ralph served 12 years as a Macon County Commissioner, retiring in 2010. The Doss Farm, where Ralph currently raises hay and beef cattle, is the most recent of the 24 certified Century Farms in Macon County.
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. In September 2011, MTSU will celebrate its 100th year anniversary with special events and activities throughout the year—kicked off by a Blue-Tie Centennial Gala on Friday, Sept. 9.