For Release: March 28, 2013
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
Elrie Brinkley Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — The Elrie Brinkley Farm in Bedford 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.
M. H. “Bud” Brinkley purchased a 60-acre farm 10 miles southeast of Shelbyville in 1902. Here he and his wife, Ella Harrison Brinkley, lived in a house built by Peter L. J. Anthony in 1887 and raised their two children, Ocie and Elrie.
The farm produced corn, hay, hogs, timber and mules, and pears and apples from their orchard were used in the Brinkleys’ distillery located on the Shipman’s Creek about five miles south on the Moore County line. Their distillery also purchased quantities of corn and fruits from surrounding farms and operated from 1889 until the early 1900s.
Before marrying Mable Stephens in December 1924, Elrie Brinkley purchased the property adjoining his parents’ farm, known as Anthony Mill and Midway. This land was the center of the Midway community before the general store burned down and the community baseball team was disbanded when players were drafted for World War I. The mill, built in 1884, remained, and still stands today.
When Ella died in 1953, her two children inherited the farm she had lived on for more than half a century. Ocie, a teacher who never married, lived on the farm until she passed away in 1968, leaving Elrie as the sole heir.
Elrie and Mable had two children, Bryce and Carolyn. In addition to the goods produced by the founders, this generation raised tobacco, sheep, goats, crimson clover and wheat. They also raised Tennessee walking horses had honeybee hives and produced grapes and peaches in their orchard. After Elrie purchased a wheat thresher, he traveled to many surrounding farms during threshing season.
The Brinkley children were active in 4-H and community events. Bryce won a trip to the National 4-H congress in Chicago for his essay on colt production, and Carolyn helped organize an amateur walking horse show. The B-B Horse Show drew more than 1,000 spectators (with as many as 65 entries) from 1946 through 1948. During World War II, the farm was used for army maneuvers.
Bryce Brinkley and Carolyn Brinkley Wiser Conner now own 50 acres of the farm that originated with their grandparents. The founders’ great-great grandson, Hal Wiser, and his family are the fourth and fifth generations of the family to live on the Elrie Brinkley Century 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.