For Release: May 1, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
MORGAN COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Powell Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO— The Powell Farm, located in Morgan 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.
The Rhodes Powell family is among the first settlers of the 3rd district of Morgan County. Joseph, a son of Rhodes and a Civil War veteran, purchased a 52-acre farm in 1899. He and his wife, Mary Ann Summers, already were living in this area known as Pine Orchard as they are listed among the first members of the Pine Orchard Baptist Church, which was established in 1887. Their family, including seven children, grew corn and garden produce and raised hogs, mules and chickens.
In October of 1899, Joseph sold the acreage to his son, Levi Powell, for $143.27. Levi and his wife, Harriet McGuffey Powell, had two children – Arthur and George Powell. They grew corn, beans and garden produce along with hogs, chickens and cattle. In addition to her work on the farm, Harriet served as the Pine Orchard news correspondent for the county’s weekly newspaper, The Morgan County News, for many years.
In 1925, Arthur Powell purchased 42 acres of the family farm while the remaining 10 were sold to his brother George. The Powell Farm participated in the Tennessee Home Food Supply Program in 1941 by producing 75 percent or more of their food for the year. The program was started as a way to relieve Depression-era hardships, but was continued through World War II as a rationing program. George sold his 10 acres to Arthur for $1 in 1949. Arthur and his wife, Irene Martin, had one son, Ronald, and used the land much like the previous generation.
The fourth generation to own the family’s farm was Jesse Orden Powell, the great-grandson of the founder. He purchased 42 acres from his aunt and uncle, Arthur and Irene Powell, in 1952. George Powell conveyed an additional 19 acres to Jesse in 1972. Jesse and his wife, Norma Hedrick Powell, had one child – Marilyn Powell Hutchinson. Under his management, Jesse diversified the crops grown on the 61-acre farm. He grew corn, beans and garden produce like previous generations but also cultivated apple trees, grapes and strawberries. The Powells continued to raise cattle. In 1963, Jesse graduated from the Morgan County Farm Management School and in the 1960s and 1970s, was a member and chairman of the Morgan County Community Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Committee. He was also involved in additional civic and agricultural organizations. In the 1970s and 1980s, Jesse served as a justice of the peace in Morgan County and worked full-time for Leather’s Hardware Store in Oakdale.
In 1998, the founder’s great, great-granddaughter, Marilyn Powell, and her husband, Paul Bryant Hutchinson, purchased the Powell property. After the sale, her parents, Norma and Jesse remained on the farm they had worked for nearly the last half of the 20th century. Today, Norma lives on the farm while Adam Summers, a local farmer and businessman rents and manages most of the land for cattle, hay and pasture. The Powells continue to harvest the apple trees and grapevines and Norma has a large garden. The Tennessee Century Farms program welcomes the Powell Farm as the first certified farm in Morgan County, bringing representation of these historic properties to all 95 counties in the state.
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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