For Release: March 7, 2012
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
McCulley Family Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions Since 1782
MURFREESBORO — McCulley Family Farm in Sullivan County has been designated as a Tennessee Pioneer 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 McCulley Family Farm, established in 1782, is among a select group of farms certified as Pioneer Century Farms. For a farm to be designated as a pioneer farm, it must predate the founding of the state of Tennessee in 1796 and remained in the same family and in agricultural production. These farms are among the most historic sites in the state.
Stephen Easley, a Virginian, purchased four land grants from the State of North Carolina in 1782, near the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, which totaled 1,733 acres in what is now southwestern Sullivan County. Easley, his wife Mary Ann David, and their adult children lived in a log home they built upon their arrival; the family also built two barns and many other outbuildings. Along with agricultural activities, the Easley land grant hosted Bishop Francis Asbury, who is credited with helping to spread Methodism to the frontier, in 1788 and 1790.
Before Stephen Easley’s death in 1812, his land was divided between two of his sons, Robert and Peter; the other four children had relocated farther west. Robert’s farm grew to 1,280 acres by 1812. He and his wife, Winifred Dixon, raised their nine children on the land and grew hay, wheat, oats, tobacco and fruit while raising cattle, sheep, hogs and chickens.
Robert Easley and his siblings were influential in their community and in the organization of the State of Tennessee; he served in the militia, signed the petition to separate from the North Carolina, and served as a justice of the peace in 1802. Robert’s two-story home of hand-hewn logs was located within a mile of his father and Peter’s home. Though the building stood in the 1970s, it could not be restored and had to be torn down. Robert died around 1832 at the age of 78.
Thomas was born in 1790, and in 1830, he purchased 276 acres from his father, Robert. He married Sarah Hamilton and they raised a family of nine children. While owners of the farm, the family continued to maintain a diverse operation. He built a log house within sight of his parents’ home. He also built a large log barn with four stalls for mules, a corncrib, granary and harness room. This building is still in use.
During the Civil War, the Easley family supported the Union while their neighbors, the Bachman family, supported the Confederacy. Each family had sons in the opposing armies. Five years after the Civil War, a son, Timothy Edward Easley, was living in his father’s house and was listed as the head of the household. His sister, Mary A., and his nephew, Albert Thomas Easley, lived with him. When Timothy passed away in 1894, he was buried in the Thomas Easley Cemetery, located near the home, where previous generations were interred. The cemetery currently contains 30 engraved gravestones and innumerable unlettered limestone headstones dating to at least the 1850s.
At Timothy’s passing, Albert inherited the farm. He and his wife, Anne E. Boyer, and their seven children raised cattle and sheep while growing hay, grains and tobacco on the property. After Albert’s death, the farm was purchased by his brother, William “Uncle Billy” Wallace Easley, in 1901.
Uncle Billy sold 166 acres to his sister Lucy Ann and her husband Frank McCulley, in 1905. The McCulleys had six children, but only four survived to adulthood. Lucy Ann Easley McCulley died in 1918 from complications from childbirth, leaving Frank and his three sons to care for each other and the farm.
Lawrence Bailey McCulley, known as “Doc,” was only 8 years old when his mother died. He was among the first graduating class of Sullivan High School. He married Gladys Ellen Chase in 1938, and their daughter, Lou Ann, was the first child of either family to be delivered in a hospital. Doc worked at Tennessee Eastman Company until the outbreak of World War II.
Doc and two of his cousins worked on their Uncle Billy’s farm for the duration of the war raising acres of tomatoes, corn, oats and hay, as well as cattle and hogs for the war effort. Doc acquired 96 acres of the farm in 1958 after his father’s death in 1956 and added more of the original Easley acreage in later years. Gladys McCulley inherited the property when Doc McCulley died in 1992, and she owned it for 10 years. Lou Ann McCulley Moore inherited the family farm in 2002.
Moore joined the 4-H Club in fifth grade and won district and state awards, during her school years, in which she was also included in the Honor Club, All-Stars and Roundup. After graduating from Sullivan High School, as had her mother and father, she earned a degree in Home Economics from East Tennessee State University and went on to receive a Master of Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While working as a University of Tennessee Extension Home Economist in Clarksville, she met and married Tom Moore, and their work took them to a number of places and positions through the years. They also became the parents of Heather and Andrew.
Tom Moore retired from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 and Mary Lou Moore retired from the Department of Children’s Services in 2006. They now farm fulltime and co-manage the operation. Both are certified as Tennessee Master Beef Producers and are members of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association.
The Moore family, including their son, Andrew, and daughter, Heather, and her husband, John Kunysz, live and work on the farm today. With a history that begins on this farm before Tennessee became a state, it is no wonder that Mary Lou McCulley Moore writes, “I have always been a farmer at heart.”
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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