Area families receive honors as Arkansas Century Farms

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published December 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

Carla Sue Barksdale of Melbourne, center, accepts the Arkansas Century Farm sign with her daughter Carla Edwards and grandson Tanner Edwards, 14, both of Lonoke.

At least 12 farms in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area have been designated as Arkansas Century Farms by the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

Each of these families received an Arkansas Century Farm designation for their family farms in ceremonies Nov. 18, 19 and 21 at various sites in Arkansas. The Arkansas Century Farm program recognizes Arkansas’ rich agricultural

heritage and honors families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

The program recognized 102 families across the state this year. The program is voluntary, places no restrictions on the land and does not require a fee.

One local farmer, Todd Smith of White County, is featured in today’s paper. Following is a look at the other area families who received the award.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

• James Franklin Milam established the Pine Holler Cattle Farm in 1885. He farmed about 120 acres in Cecil.

His son, Thomas Isaac Milam, inherited the farm and grew mainly corn.

“Corn was king back then,” said Thomas Isaac’s grandson, James Thomas King, who owns the farm today. “From there, the farm came to my mother, Ethel Milam King, who had a dairy farm with my dad, William L. King. My mom continued to farm after my dad died, and then when she became eligible for Social Security, I bought the farm from her.”

Today, James Thomas and his wife, Mary Ellen, have 400 acres. He raises cattle on 200 acres, and the rest is in timber.

They have two sons, James Trent King, who works on the farm, and Gaylon Blane, who lives in Richmond, Va. The Thomases have five grandchildren.

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY

• The Moore Farm was established in 1913 by Dee Covie Moore and his wife, Laura. They had 65 acres in the Huff community near Batesville.

The farm then came to T.R. Moore, who was one of four sons of Dee and Laura, and the “baby” of the family.

“He stayed on the farm,” said his son, Dennis Moore. “He was born in the house and was living in it when he died. He never went anywhere else.

“He married my mother, Grace, in 1933. She moved into that house and, at 80, she’s still living there.”

Dennis said that in the early days, it was a subsistence farm.

“They had vegetables and crops, and they fed cattle, and the cattle fed them,” he said. Dennis said his dad took a job “off the farm” in 1952, and they began to raise beef cattle.

Dennis said he now owns part of the farm and lives there. His brother, Covie Moore, and his daughter, Laura Guth, also own part of the farm. Laura lives there with her four daughters. Dennis has another daughter, Denise Edwards, who lives in Ashville, N.C.

“I was raised on the property,” said Dennis, who is a pharmacist and director of UAMS-North Central in Batesville. “In 2000, I had a chance to move back to Arkansas from North Carolina. I plan to live here for the rest of my days.”

• The Osborne Family Farm was established in 1907 in Cord.

It is owned today by Kay Michael Osborne, who did not return messages before press time.

IZARD COUNTY

• The Gaston-Barksdale Farm was founded in 1901 by W.H. Gaston and his wife, Maude.

“It was over 1,000 acres,” said W.H.’s granddaughter, Carla Sue Gaston Barksdale, who took over the farm when her husband, Eugene Barksdale,

died in 2007. “They grew cotton and corn and had livestock. Everybody had cotton then.”

From W.H., the farm went to Sue’s father, Carl Gaston, and his wife, Mildred.

“I now have 64 acres and raise cattle,” said Sue, 75, adding that she practices rotational grazing. “I work on the farm every day.”

She retired in 2003 after 40 years with the Farm Service Agency in Melbourne, retiring as its director.

She has three daughters, Becky Hames of Rogers, Lisa Barksdale of Harrison and Carla Edwards of Lonoke.

“I hope the girls will take over the farm one day,” Sue said.

JACKSON COUNTY

• The Albert Nance Farm was established in 1899 by Albert Nance, who raised livestock and a garden along with his wife, Elyda, on 129 acres.

“He paid $700 for that 129 acres,” said his great-great-grandson, John Nance, who now owns the farm.

John said his parents, Wade and Nova Nance, bought part of the farm and more land, eventually farming 209 acres.

“I inherited half of the farm, along with my children, and my brother inherited the other half, along with his children,” John said. “In 2009, I bought my brother’s half.”

John and his wife, Susan, now have 209 acres. They raise soybeans and rice in the Remmel community 10 miles southeast of Newport.

John and Susan have two children: Jonathan, who lives in Jonesboro, and Jan Armstrong, who lives in Vilonia. They have three grandchildren, who they hope will become another generation of farmers someday.

SHARP COUNTY

• Moses Roberts established the Estes Farm in Ash Flat in 1847. It consisted of 195 acres.

“They grew corn and cotton, had cows and farmed with mules,” said Tommy Estes, present-day owner of the farm. “The farm then went to his son, J.W. Roberts, and his daughter, Lou, who married Harry Estes. The farm then came to my dad, Hayden Estes, and my mother, Rexine.”

Tommy acquired the farm in 2005 and now has 365 acres and a cow/calf operation of about 28 mamma cows and calves.

“The old home place is still standing,” Tommy said. “It’s in relatively good shape, although it is not livable.”

Tommy has one daughter, Julie Boles of Cordova, Tenn., and one grandson, Kerry Bole, who attends Memphis University.

“The farm will go to my grandson,” Tommy said.

• The Buchanan Farm was started near Hardy in 1873 when Nancy Gibbins purchased 256 acres from John King. Additional land was purchased until 1900, when the total acreage reached 493 acres.

Nancy willed her land to her son, Thomas Gibbins. Thomas married Mary Bell Spotts and willed his land to her. Mary Bell then married J.M. Causbie and combined their land into the total farm.

J.M. and Mary Bell had six children, and Thomas and Mary Bell had three children. Eventually, ownership of the land was consolidated by Minnie Causbie, daughter of J.M. and Mary Bell, and her husband, Marshall Buchanan. Ownership is now split within the family between sons Bruce Buchanan of Huntsville and the Charles Buchanan Estate of Batesville, daughter Barbara Haynes of DeRidder, La., grandson Terrance “Terry” Hill of Hardy and granddaughters Abigail Pritchard of Pyote, Texas, and Bridget Schoolcraft of Monahans, Texas.

Terry Hill and his wife, Susan, farm 400 acres of the land, raising a herd of mixed cattle. They have three children and three grandchildren, all in Ohio.

WHITE COUNTY

• Haney’s Farm was established in 1892 in the Mount Pisgah community near Searcy by James Douglas Haney. He bought 74 acres for his farm.

The land was then passed down to his son, Claude Umphrey Haney, in 1926, then to Claude’s son, Donald Irvin Haney, in 2004.

Donald Irvin continues to own the land but is not able to farm. His son, James Wesley Haney, farms the land and is its future owner.

James and his wife, Patricia, farm the land with 37 head of cattle, one goat and one donkey.

“Our son-in-law and daughter, Wesley and Jamie Haney Marter, help, along with our two granddaughters, Ella and Kate Marter,” Patricia said. “We also have a son, Jarrod Haney.”

• The J.A. Choate Farm was established in 1889 by J.A. Choate and his wife, Bertie, near Floyd. Bull Creek runs through the farm.

The farm would eventually grow to 2,000 acres at its largest point. They raised cotton, corn and cattle.

The farm then went to his son, Donald Choate, and his wife, Alice Marie. The farm eventually went to David Choate, his siblings and cousins, said David’s wife, Penny.

David and Penny Choate now have 100 acres of trees and hay.

David has two children who will someday inherit the farm. His son, Guy, lives in Little Rock, and his daughter, Lauren Nick, lives in North Little Rock, with her two children, Caroline, 5, and Lee Catherine, 2.

WOODRUFF COUNTY

• The Burkett Farm was purchased by Eli Burkett in 1874 and consisted of 40 acres two miles south of McCrory.

The land came down through the generations — to John Burkett in 1895, Lionel Victor Burkett in 1917, Roger Burkett in 1975 and Mike Burkett in 2005.

“I farm 3,500 acres in soybeans, rice and cotton,” Mike Burkett said. “My son, Brad, and his wife, Angie, will be the sixth generation to farm this land. They have two sons, Garrett, 11, and Gavin, 8, who help on the farm in the summer. They will be the seventh-generation farmers.”

Burkett and his wife, Carole, also have another daughter, Fran LaForce. She and her husband, Matt, live in Searcy with their sons, Cannon, 5, and Colt, 2.

“They are not involved in the farm,” Mike said.

• The Pulley Farm in McCrory has come down through the generations, from Susan Cox, in 1855, to Mary Lee Johnson Pulley and her husband, Raymon, who now farm soybeans and corn on 90 acres.

Mary Lee is the daughter of Algerno and Lucille Johnson and the granddaughter of Ada Atkinson, who married Robert Johnson.

The Pulleys have established a trust that leaves the farm to their two daughters, Sharon Carder of Searcy and Marilyn Gallardo of Whittier, Calif. They also have five grandchildren.

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