For Release: Dec. 13, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
S/V Big Bend Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — S/V Big Bend Farm in Jefferson 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 1905, Mack and Charlotte Calloway Stipes purchased 80 acres of farmland north of Strawberry Plains along the Holston River. The Stipes had four children – William, Fred, Iva and Mack Jr. – and raised cattle while growing tobacco and hay. In the early years of their ownership, the Stipes built a barn and crib. Fred worked alongside his father to establish a successful farm and built a farmhouse in the 1920s on the property. The house, barn and crib still stand today.
After Mack Sr. and Charlotte passed away, Fred inherited the family farm in 1934. He and his wife, Gladys Cain Stipes, had three children: Fred Jr., Franklin Lee and Helen Jeanette. Like most farm families, the children and Gladys were essential to the daily operations of the farm and contributed to its success. In addition to tending to his cattle, tobacco and hay, Fred Sr. worked full time at the American Zinc Company in Mascot. The Stipes family and area farmers also could be found at Bailey’s Store, where they visited with friends and snacked on cheese and crackers. After Fred passed away, Gladys maintained ownership of the farm until her death in 1992.
Franklin inherited the farm with his wife, Helen Witt Stipes; they had one daughter, Carolyn. Like his father, Franklin worked at the American Zinc Company while maintaining the family farm. Helen, with Carolyn’s help as she grew older, did the milking and feeding of the cows.
An undated newspaper article described the new “elevated-stall walkthrough setup” which the Stipeses had installed in their dairy. In the same article, Helen Stipes was asked about milking by hand and she replied, “You know, it is certainly good to come in after a hard day’s work and be able to rest while you are milking.” The milk was sold to a local dairy and supplemented the farm income.
In 1955, Franklin and Helen built a prefabricated house called an “Oak Ridge Flat Top.” This house plan was originally designed for employees at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory during World War II and had 575 square feet. In the early 1960s, the family remodeled the house they now use as rental property. When Carolyn Stipes married James Vineyard, they and their children, Craig and Scott, assisted Franklin with farm work that included raising tobacco, hay, and cattle.
In 2003, Carolyn Stipes inherited the farm following her mother’s death. Today, she and James and their son, Craig, live on the-80 acre S/V Big Bend Farm. Three generations participate in the operation that includes raising and selling cattle 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.
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