For Release: Dec. 4, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
DECATUR COUNTY FARMS JOIN RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
Lafferty-Myracle Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — The Lafferty and Myracle farms in Decatur 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.
The Lafferty Farm, located southeast of Scotts Hill in the Bath Spring community, was founded when Clinton Howard Lafferty purchased 234 acres in November 17, 1853. Clinton and his wife, Adaline Cordelia Lafferty, had six children: Rachel A., Eliza Jane, William Carroll, Oliver Howard Perry and Walter Howell. The family raised various farm animals and grew vegetables. The Lafferty cemetery was established with the first generation and is still used today.
After Clinton Lafferty passed away, the property was divided and inherited by Oliver and Walter Lafferty. In 1930, two brothers exchanged their tracts of land with Walter, who then farmed on slightly more than 143 acres. He and his wife, Lonie Tucker Lafferty, had four children; Chester, Webster, Olive and Herman. The farm was described as being “an attractive place, with flowering shrubs, a rock wall across the front yard, (and) a big spring close by.”
Several buildings that also served the community were constructed on the farm. In 1907, a meeting facility for the Farmers Union was built; it later became the Union Hall School. The Dunbar Community Center and a training facility for veterans coming back from World War II also were built on the farm.
In 1955, the founder’s grandson, Chester, and his wife Jessie West Lafferty, acquired the farm from his parents for $200. They farmed approximately 81 acres, ran the Dunbar Community Club at the Community Center and worked in the Union Hall School located on the farm. They also were known for their award-winning garden.
The current owners are Eddie Smart and his wife, Carolyn Adams Smart. Eddie, the great-great-grandson of the farm’s founder, and Art Bawcum, his son-in-law, grow hay and vegetables and raise cattle on the 81-acre farm. Art and his wife, Diana Smart Bawcom, who is Eddie and Carolyn Smart’s daughter, live in the house built by Chester Lafferty with their two children, Haden and Shelby. The Union Hall also remains intact.
Harvey Washington “H.W.” and his wife, Sarah Keeton Myracle, established the Myracle Farm three years after their 1883 marriage. H.W., who had already been widowed twice, bought the 200 acres from Sarah’s brother, W. B. Keeton. The money came from his Army pension; he had served in the Civil War with the 81st Illinois Regiment. On their farm southwest of Decaturville, the couple had six children between 1883 and 1895 but only five survived to adulthood. The family grew cotton and corn while also raising mules, horses, cattle, hogs and chickens.
In 1908, Sarah and H.W. died within a week of each other, leaving the farm to their children. A court divided the farm into five blocks and granted it to the children in 1910. Orville sold his block in 1916 and purchased block five from his sister and brother-in-law, Sallie Myracle Ward and G. W. Ward, for $700. Sallie and G. W. had three children: Ruel, Will and Myracle, and raised livestock and row crops.
After Orville Myracle purchased the 51 acres of block five from his sister, he and his wife, Nannie Culp Myracle managed the farm and raised their children Catherine, Alf, Edwin and Louise there.
After World War II, Edwin returned home and built a house and barn. In 1958, he purchased a portion of the farm, where he and his wife, Deliah Mae Dunavant Myracle, raised two children, Anita Myracle Presson and Robert W. Myracle. The family used the farm much like previous generations, adding soybeans to the farm’s products.
In 1996, Robert W. Myracle purchased the 51-acre farm from his parents. He and his wife, Elizabeth Jean Dunn Myracle, live on the farm along with their daughter, Amanda, her husband, John Keeton, and the couple’s three children, Levi, Ethan and McKinley. Today, Robert raises cattle, hogs, sheep and goats, and grows 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.
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