Smiley-Fagan Farm is now a Tennessee Century Farm

Friday, January 30, 2015

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

The Smiley-Fagan Farm in Chapel Hill has been designated a Tennessee Century Farm.

Today the farm is owned by Carl and Ginny Fagan and is located nine minutes from downtown Chapel Hill.

Carlton Baxter Fagan, son of Samuel Baxter Fagan and Julia Williams Smiley Fagan, met, Marilyn Virginia "Ginny" Ridge, while attending Tennessee Technology University. Ginny is the daughter of Martin Silvester Ridge and Anna Kate White Ridge.

The primary focus of the Tennessee Century Farm Program, which was created in 1975 by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, is to continue honoring and recognizing the dedication and contributions of families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

In addition to certifying these farms, it is also a documentary program that collects and interprets the agrarian history and culture of the state.

Families choose whether or not to submit an application and be a part of the program. The Century Farms Program places no restrictions on the farm and offers no legal protection.

To be eligible for the Century Farm Program, one must be able to prove that the farm has been continuously owned by members of the same family for at least 100 years. The line of ownership from the first family member(s) may be through spouses, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or adopted children. The founding date must be proved.

In addition, the land under consideration must be 10 acres or more of the original farm. The farm must produce at least $1,000 in farm income during the year of application, and one owner must be a resident of Tennessee.

Rev. James Williams and his wife Sarah Allison Williams purchased 350 acres northwest of Chapel Hill from the owners of the John Wilson Land Grant on Feb. 10, 1814. Rev. Williams is best known in our county for founding a planned community called Civil Order.

After graduating from TTU with an industrial technology degree and marrying the love of his life, Carl worked for Remington Rand Office Systems Division in Marietta, Ohio.

After learning his father was suffering from prostate cancer, Carl decided to move back to Tennessee to help his father on the farm. He and Ginny borrowed some surveying instruments and laid the foundation for their new home.

"My father had many bad days, but was able to enjoy some good days, too. Between farming and carpenter work, he helped us as much as he could. My wife and I did most of the work, but he was a great supervisor. He got to live in our new house for a little while. He was so proud," said Carl.

After his father's passing in 1975, his mother passed away 12 years later.

"The big house was now forever silent," said Carl.

After taking over, Carl and Ginny ran a dairy business on the farm for 15 years.

The two will have been married for 54 years in June and adore one another. They have two children, Tony and Donna, who will take over the farm when their parents are gone.

Smiley-Fagan Farm currently contains 183 of the original acres and produces row crops, hogs, and chickens. Carl and Ginny are the 13th owners of the land that has been in their family since first established by Rev. Williams, who is Carl's great-great-great-grandfather.

The Fagans have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sarah, Kiley, and Trevor are the children of Tony and Cindy Fagan. Their daughter, Donna Poston, has one daughter, Samantha, and two grandchildren.

A program on the research and documentation of the Smiley-Fagan Farm will be presented when the Historical Society meets at 2 p.m. on Sunday in the museum, located in the Hardison Annex Building, 230 College St., Lewisburg.

Tony Fagan, son of the owner, will be making a Powerpoint presentation. Carl and Ginny's daugther, Donna Poston, will talk about farm life and her memories of growing up on the farm.