For Release: Feb. 14, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
BEDFORD COUNTY FARMS JOIN RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Wright Farm and Dement Home Place Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO—The Wright Farm and the Dement Home Place, both located in Bedford 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.
In 1907, David Whitfield Wright and his son, E.B. “Bowlin” Wright, established a 169-acre farm in the Fairfield community of Bedford County, where they raised grain crops, hogs, cattle and sheep. During their ownership, the men added two large silos and an orchard to the operation. Bowlin Wright also purchased additional tracts of land to add to the farm. Dave Wright was married to Mattie Bowlin. Bowlin Wright married Virginia Hunt, and they were the parents of two children, Robert Garland Wright and Virginia Hunt Wright Sain.
Robert Garland Wright acquired the farm in 1931. He married Mary Thomas with whom he had three children: James D. Wright, Robert W. Wright and Mary Ann Wright Armstrong Price. On slightly more than 500 acres, the family raised grain crops, cattle, hogs and sheep. Garland Wright also owned and operated a threshing machine and went to several communities to thresh grain. He also added automated feeders to the silos to make it easier to feed the cattle. The farm’s workforce also included a tenant family for several years. The farm acquired electricity around 1948.
Mary Ann Wright Armstrong Price acquired a portion of the family farm in 2002. Mary Ann’s son, David Armstrong, lives on the farm with his wife and children, as well as his brother, Scott Armstrong. David works the farm, while he and his mother jointly manage the hay and beef-cattle operation.
The Dement Home Place was founded in 1897 by Albert Miller Dement and Polly Ann Huffman, who married in 1891. Polly Ann’s uncle, Joshua Huffman, gave her 88.5 acres of land two-and-a-half miles northwest of Normandy, Tenn. The Dements eventually acquired another 63 acres in 1902 and 40 acres in 1907. The couple had three children – Ephraim Miller, Arthur Jackson, and Maude – and Polly Ann passed away four years after Maude’s birth. Albert’s second wife was Mina Preston, and they were the parents of one daughter, Huda.
Albert Dement built at least three barns, each with its own silo as the farm’s acreage and operation expanded. The family grew corn, hay and other grains while raising hogs, cattle and sheep. Albert was a successful Tennessee Walking Horse breeder and a founding member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ Association. Two of his highly accomplished horses included Nell and Merry Legs. Nell lived on the farm, and Huda rode her to school in Normandy. Albert also supported a community effort to construct a concrete bridge across the Duck River at the turn of the century. The bridge still stands, but it is used only by fishermen and foot traffic today.
In 1919, Ephraim Miller Dement acquired the 191.5-acre farm from his father stepmother and siblings. He had graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in agriculture in 1915. Miller Dement and Anna Ruble “Ruby” McSpadden, married in 1920 and had four sons—Albert Mac, Ralph Ruble, Joe Jack and John Miller. The Dements were leaders in the community’s agricultural economy, and their farm engaged in many progressive techniques in the 1920s and 30s. The Dements operated a Grade A Dairy with a state-of-the-art milking barn equipped with running water and electricity. In the late 1930s, area dairy farmers created the “Cream Top Shippers” and began shipping milk to Chattanooga daily. Throughout the Depression, Dement employed about 15 local African-American men from Rippy Ridge to assist with the farm work. Miller Dement was a director and president of the local Farm Bureau for several years. In 1938, Ruby Dement and several neighboring women met at her house to form the Normandy Home Demonstration Club.
In 1976, John Miller Dement and his wife, Maurine Renner Bennett Dement, acquired a portion of the original farm. Through the years, John Dement has purchased tracts from his siblings, and he now owns 118.5 acres of his grandfather’s farm. The family lived on the farm until 1963, but John’s work with Hutchinson Farms forced his family to move to Nashville. John Dement continued to help his father and brother, Mac, on weekends. In the mid-1990s, John and Maurine Dement began making plans to move back to the farm. They have since rehabilitated some of the outbuildings and built a new farm residence. They grow vegetables and fruit, raise free-range chickens and have a donkey and four llamas. The remaining acreage is leased to Banks Dairy to cultivate corn, small grains and hay.
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.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary and faithful to its roots as a teachers' college, MTSU continues as a top producer of teachers in Tennessee. Pride, Tradition and Excellence are the cornerstones of "Tennessee’s Best"!