WILSON COUNTY FARMS JOIN RANKS OF STATE’S CENTURY FARMS PROGRAM
J. R. York and Julius H. Williams Farms Recognized for Agricultural Contributions
MURFREESBORO — The J. R. York and Julius H. Williams Farms in Wilson County have been designated as Tennessee Century Farms, reports Dr. Carroll Van West, 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.
Both of these farms are owned by J. Lain N. Eskew of Lebanon. The oldest of the properties dates to 1818, when Julius H. Williams purchased 50 acres south of Norene on Fall Creek. He and his wife, Margaret Cason Williams, had nine children and operated a diverse farm for decades. In 1862, Joshua F. Williams acquired the farm, which his father had expanded to around 130 acres. He and his wife Kitty Fields Williams, were the parents of six children. During the Civil War, the family recalls that Union soldiers stole all their horses, but the Williamses buried their silver and kept it safe.
In the early part of the 20th century, Joshua and Kitty’s children inherited the farm, and one son, Richard, bought each of his siblings’ interests to keep the property intact. He and his wife, Callie Bass Williams, and their daughter, Mary Angie, grew row crops and livestock. The family reports that the Great Depression did not affect the Williamses very much because they raised most of what they ate. They did, however, see many transients who asked to sleep in the barn and work for food during those years. Mary Angie York, who married Luther Lamar York, became the owner of the farm in 1966. Mrs. York was involved in the Green Hill Home Demonstration Club, and their daughter, J. Lain N. Eskew, was a 4-H Club member.
The second farm owned by J. Lain N. Eskew comes through her father’s family, the Yorks. The 200 acres, located north of Mt. Juliet on Cedar Creek, was deeded to J. R and Mary E. Jackson York in 1897. Luther Price York, one of their four children, became the owner in 1926. During his ownership, he and his wife, Johnnie Johnson York, and their son, Luther Lamar York, grew row crops, livestock and poultry and also had timber. Like many of the neighboring farms, World War II maneuvers were conducted on the Yorks’ acreage. Luther Lamar York was at Omaha Beach on D-Day and received a Bronze Star for his service. He and his wife, Angie Williams York, became the owner of his family farm in 1960.
Their daughter, J. Lain Eskew, who also acquired this farm in 2000 taught home economics in Lebanon for more than 30 years. Her husband, Don Eskew currently serves on the board of directors for the Wilson County Farm Bureau and is a Wilson County Fair Board member.
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 Farm 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.