COWLAKE — Hervey Madden comes from several generations of farmers. He farmed with five of his brothers for almost 40 years in the Cowlake community of Jackson County, outside Beedeville.
Hervey, 64, and his family — wife, Adele, 65; daughter, Tracy Carter, 38; and son, Dr. Mac Madden, 37 — have been selected as the 2014 Jackson County Farm Family of the Year. They farm 2,400 acres of land, divided equally between rice and soybeans, which are both irrigated. They call their operation Cowlake Farms.
“I feel like there are others who deserve this honor more than we do,” Hervey said when asked how he felt about the Farm Family of the Year award. “My mother always told me if you write your name in big letters, you were bragging, and that wasn’t good. But I am honored, and I hope to make Jackson County proud.
“I’ve farmed all my life. My dad farmed.”
Hervey is the son of the late Roy and Lola McFadden Madden, who were named the Jackson County Farm Family of the Year in 1964.
Hervey graduated from McCrory High School in 1967. He attended Arkansas State University for three years but came back home to farm.
He is the youngest of the six brothers who farmed together. Those brothers include Stan and Ken Madden, who still live in the area, and the late Norman, Ralph and Dale Madden. Hervey also had two other brothers who did not farm — the late Joe E. Madden Sr. and the late Harold Alton Madden Sr. Hervey has one living sister, Elaine Thomas of Beedeville, and two sisters who are deceased, Etta Lee Reid and Royslen Madden.
“All the brothers [who farmed] built their wives houses,” Hervey said. “We all had our own shops. Everybody had a skill, and they had to use it.”
There are 30 grandchildren in the Madden family.
Adele is from Tupelo, the daughter of Ruby Henderson of Salem and the late Claude Henderson. Adele’s father farmed, as did her grandfather, the late Clyde Henderson.
Adele graduated from McCrory High School and ASU. She and Hervey met while in high school.
Adele has been a teacher in the Newport School District for 28 years, teaching third grade most of that time. Her hobbies include photography, sewing and quilting. She enters her quilts and photography in county and district fairs, taking her quilts to the Arkansas State Fair as well. She is now teaching her granddaughters to quilt.
The Maddens’ daughter, Tracy, teaches first grade in the Harrisburg School District. She and her husband, Brian, have three children — Somer, 16; Starr, 14; and Austin, 13. Somer and Starr play softball. Somer also plays volleyball. Starr and Austin play basketball. Austin also helps Hervey on the farm, working two days a week.
Tracy was involved in 4-H and competed in horse shows when she was younger.
The Maddens’ son, Mac, and his wife, Susie, have three children — Lola, 5; Zoe, 5; and Bella, 3. Mac is a child psychiatrist practicing in Searcy. He was in the first graduating class of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs and served as class president. Susie home-schools their children, who play soccer.
Hervey takes a month each year to travel to Haiti to work in agriculture and do other mission work.
He is a National Weather Service recorder, something he has been doing for 27 years. He is a past president of the Jackson County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and a past president of Farmers Oil, as well as a member of the Jackson County Arkansas Soil Conservation Service and a former member of the Cowlake Drainage District.
In addition, he serves as a deacon in the Beedeville Church of Christ, where the family worships.