For Release: March 11, 2013
Contact: Caneta Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation, 615-898-2947
James Farm Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — James Farm in Loudon 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.
The Prospect community, six miles west of Loudon, is home to the James Century Farm. In 1910 John F. James of Virginia purchased 539 acres of the property formerly owned by John B. Edwards, including a house, former slave quarters and outbuildings. It would be 1911 before John and his wife, Mary, who were both in their 60’s, and their family moved from Virginia to Loudon County.
Not long after they took possession of the farm, the slave quarters were torn down. A tenant house remained standing and in use. Some of the crops they raised were corn, oats and hay, and the family also raised hogs, cattle and mules. New barns were built and mules were taken to market in Augusta, Ga. between 1915 and 1920.
After John’s death in 1926, two of the James children, Robert C. (Toby) and David D. James, purchased the farm. Two years later, the brothers divided the property, and Robert assumed sole ownership of 293 acres. He and his wife, Hattie Reeves had five children – Robert V., Owen D., John E., Annie S. Bates and Mary J. Whisman. They lived in the James Farm homeplace, which John B. Edwards had built in 1826. Needing more living space, they added a rear wing and new porch in 1935. Like the previous generation, they grew corn, wheat, oats and hay while raising cattle and hogs. The “hog killing” was a large operation on the James Farm; family photographs from the 1950s and 1960s show family members processing the pork. When James passed away in 1967, Hattie continued to maintain the farm until her death in 1972.
The surviving James children and Mary Whisman’s sons, Robert V. and James W. Wiseman, inherited the farm.
In 1975, the farm was conveyed to John E. James and his wife, Jamie Haines James. Jamie was a champion dressmaker and very active in The Home Demonstration and 4-H Clubs of Loudon County. They operated the farm, and had two children, Sarah James Watkins and John Denton James, who became active in 4-H. John E. passed away in 2002 and Jamie in 2012.
The current owners are the great-grandchildren of the founder. Siblings, Sarah James and her husband, John D. Watkins, and John Denton James and his wife, Carolyn S., live on the 293 acre farm, growing oats, soybeans, wheat and hay and also raise cattle.
In addition to the farmhouse, several buildings date from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including a smokehouse, corncrib, tenant house and a garage. Other sites include the foundation of the distillery operated by the Edwards family. The history and heritage of the James Farm, before and since their ancestors came from Virginia to settle in Loudon County, is well documented by the family.
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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