Martin Farm recognized for agricultural contributions
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Martin Farm in Walland has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm — the 37th in Blount County.
Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, announced the designation.
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. There are more than 1,500 statewide.
Hilda Martin Chesney is the third-generation owner of the family farm. She was in the 4-H Club and won blue ribbons for her Jersey cow, which she showed at the Blount and Knox County fairs. After college, she worked for ALCOA, where she met her husband, Larry Chesney. They transferred with the company to Texas and Pennsylvania before returning to Walland in 2000. Since her retirement, Hilda has continued the tradition of service and is involved with the Women’s Guild of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and volunteers for several agencies in the community. Hilda is actively engaged in the daily operations of the farm, which includes field and fence maintenance, weed control, and preserving the 80- and 60-year-old residences. Hay and beef cattle are the primary commodities on her 40-acre farm, which has been in the Martin family for more than 120 years.
“I am honored to have this farm designated as a Century Farm,” Hilda Chesney said. “I’m very proud of it and of its heritage, and it’s just a great place to live and to have grown up.”
According to a press release from the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation, James Vance Martin established a farm near Walland by first purchasing land in 1891. He added acreage in 1904 to bring his farm to about 600 acres.
He was married to Margaret Ann Walker Martin, and the family eventually included 12 children. They raised row crops, vegetables and livestock and kept bees.
James Vance Martin is described by his granddaughter as a “jack-of-all-trades.” In addition to being a well-known farmer in the area, he owned Martin Mill Inc. and was a carpenter, logger and mechanic. Margaret Ann’s family gave land for the Walland United Methodist Church where family maintained an active membership.
Arthur Lee Martin owned the farm begun by his parents from 1939 through 1965. He and his wife, Icie Evelyn McNeilly Martin, and their daughters, Patsy June and Hilda Elizabeth, farmed about 250 acres, and they raised beef cattle, poultry, swine and hay. Like his parents, Arthur Lee farmed and also was involved in many community and civic groups, including the Walland Community Club and volunteer fire department, and he led the singing at church and directed the Walland Community Chorus.
He also worked at ALCOA and was a commissioner in the 18th District. Icie was in the Home Demonstration Club, taught Bible school, and was a waitress at the historic Chilhowee Inn.
Since 1984, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU has been a leader in documenting Tennessee’s agricultural heritage and history through the Tennessee Century Farms Program.
For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit http://www.tncenturyfarms.org . The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN 37132 or 615-898-2947.