MURFREESBORO — The Old Dr. Love Farm in Henry 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 1898, Dr. Joseph Burton Love founded a 216.9-acre farm midway between Paris, Tenn. and Murray, Ky. He and his wife, Crete Coats Love had one daughter, Rachel, and in 1910, built one of the first brick two-story homes in rural Henry County. Dr. Love, who practiced dentistry from 1895 to 1947, was a graduate of the University of Tennessee Dental School, which was then located in Nashville.
Dr. Love saw patients at his home and was licensed in both Tennessee and Kentucky. Because he needed electricity in his dental practice, the doctor purchased a Delco generator and then built an outbuilding, called a “Delco House,” for the machine.
Dr. Love’s great-great-grandson, Jack Upchurch Peeler, recalls that neighbors “always knew when Dr. Love was ‘fixin’ to go to work on someone when they would hear the putt, putt, putt sound made by the generator being ‘fired up.’”
Peeler also remembered a story about the Old Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which thrived until the late 1950s. Evidently, a man approached Crete Love in the late 1920s to ask about purchasing an acre of land for the growing congregation. Suddenly, Dr. Love’s “booming voice” responded saying: “Only if they’re Presbyterian.” The Loves never sold the land, instead opting to lease it. Today, the old church remains, along with at least 30 headstones.
In 1936, the Loves gave their daughter, Rachel, and her husband, Dr. Frank Upchurch, the original farmland as well as another 106 acres purchased after 1898. The Upchurches grew tobacco, corn and soybeans and they had two daughters, Betty Love and Anne Coats Upchurch. After Rachel Upchurch passed away in 1993, her two children inherited the farm; Betty received 110 acres and Anne inherited eight.
Today, Betty Love Peeler lives in Dresden in Weakley County while her son, Jack Upchurch Peeler, and his family live on the farm. Tom Dan Story of Puryear works the land while Jack manages the farm. They grow tobacco, soybeans and corn. In writing about his mother’s continued active involvement in the daily farm operations, Jack says “Even at 85, I must report to her or else she’ll be out here!”
The Old Dr. Love Farm is the 24th certified Century Farm in Henry County.
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.
MTSU is committed to developing a community devoted to learning, growth, and service. We hold these values dear, and there’s a simple phrase that conveys them: “I am True Blue.” Learn more at www.mtsu.edu/trueblue. For MTSU news anytime, visit www.MTSUNews.com.