For Release: Dec. 6, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
HENDERSON COUNTY FARM JOINS RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Rhodes-Clifford Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — The Rhodes-Clifford Farm in Henderson 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.
In September 1903, William Mally (“W.M.”) Rhodes founded a 140-acre farm in southern Henderson County near the Rhodes Town community. William and his wife, Susan Laster Rhodes, had 11 children and lived in a house, originally constructed as a two-room log dwelling, that had several additions and was remodeled several times. The family had livestock along with “large gardens and truck patches” to feed 13 people daily. They also grew cotton and corn and kept an orchard with peach, pear, apple and pecan trees.
In 1922 William passed away, leaving Susan and the children to care for the farm. One of the Rhodes’s daughters, Mildred, and her husband, Homer A. Clifford, moved back in with Susan in 1932 after two years of marriage and, Homer and Mildred’s brother, Ernest Rhodes, operated the farm together. In the late 1930s, the entire farm was terraced, reflecting progressive farming practices. In 1954, Susan passed away, leaving the farm to the Cliffords.
Mildred and Homer A. Clifford had two children, Joy and Dennis. They were active in the Farm Bureau, and Mildred was a member of the Home Demonstration Club. Homer taught his children about farming and Mildred froze and canned vegetables and fruits for their table. Cotton was the Cliffords’ main cash crop.
Joy Clifford Gilliam acquired 73 acres of the farm in 1995. She lives in the Life community of Henderson County, where she has been a member of the local Home Demonstration Club for 56 years, and remains active in the operation of this farm as well as one in the Life community. Parts of the Rhodes-Clifford Farm are owned by Joy’s nieces, Susan Clifford Allen and Sandra Clifford. (Dennis died in 1991.) Some of the land currently is rented to James Rhodes, a great-great nephew of the founders, and cotton and corn continue to be raised on the family farm.
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.
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