For Release: May 1, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
ANDERSON COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Irwin Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO— The Irwin Farm, located in Anderson 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 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.
Two years after the end of the Civil War, Frank Irwin purchased a 150-acre farm on Buffalo Creek on the Anderson and Union county lines in 1867. The farm was about midway between Andersonville and Loyston (now flooded) and was likely a stopping point for travelers. Irwin and his wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Baker, had 12 children. They lived almost entirely off the farm on which they raised livestock, grew fruit and vegetables, and feed corn and hay. Much of their produce was canned and they butchered and smoked their meat. Francis was known for breeding stallions and introducing high-quality cattle breeds. The family also kept beehives for the honey, wax and the pollination of their orchard. Tobacco was also grown on the farm, but primarily as a source of extra income to purchase items not easily produced on the farm.
John Irwin bought 150 acres from his father in 1886. He and his wife, Louisa Jane Craig, had 10 children and operated the farm much as his parents had. In 1908, several heirs owned the property with grandson Shade Inman Irwin acquiring most of the acreage. In 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority purchased almost 30 acres in preparation for the flooding of Norris Lake, which decreased the farm to its present 112 acres. When Shade Irwin died in 1938, the farm was inherited by Walter Irwin, Lola Irwin Jolliffee, and Joe C. Irwin.
In 1983, the farm passed to Sibley Ronald Irwin, the son of Walter and Letha Maude George Irwin. He and his wife, Rosiland LaVaune Barringer, have two sons. Craig Ward Irwin is married to Suzanne Plucker and they have two children, Alexander Shade and Jonathan Luke. Bryan Scott Irwin and his wife Lora Rule are the parents of Bryan Scott II, Andrew Christian and Cade Alden. Irwin has made a number of improvements to the farm during his ownership. He constructed a pole barn for storing round bales of hay and farm equipment, and a single room cabin was built for the use of the grandsons. These two structures join a complex of 19th century buildings that includes a cantilevered-log corn crib and log smokehouse. The farmhouse is a fine and early example of a log cabin evolving over time to its current Victorian appearance. Irwin primarily ran a cow-calf operation and raised hay until 2008. He then sold his remaining cattle to J. Kern Elkins, who uses the farm for his cow-calf operation. The family continues to appreciate and enjoy this land and the history of the Irwin generations who have called it home.
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 http://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.
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