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Sunrise View Farm, located in Coffee County, has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, according to Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms Program at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.
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.
On March 5, 1894, James Wilson Bryan purchased 250 acres three miles north of Hillsboro in in the Asbury community for $100. There he and his wife, Liney Basha Meadows Bryan, raised their 11 children.
Their farm operations included a large array of crops and livestock, including corn, soybeans, millet, cotton, sugar cane, peas, hay, wheat and oats and pigs, cattle, mules, horses and chickens. In 1902, they built a farmhouse that still stands today.
In 1929, James Walter Bryan acquired 100 acres of his parents’ farm. He and his wife, Flora Mae Anthony Bryan, were the parents of Jack, Jo Juanita, Walter Jr., George Washington Vernon and Paul David. This generation raised many of the same crops and livestock, but also grew a garden and made chestnut rails for fences.
James also worked at a sawmill and was a carpenter, building houses, barns, and tool sheds. On the farm, he had a blacksmith shop and was able to plow two rows of corn at a time using a bull-tongue plow. He also had a one-row cultivator.
Flora crocheted, made clothing and quilts out of feed sacks, canned meats and vegetables and raised chickens. She also sold two cases of eggs a week to a man who then sold them in Tullahoma.
Today, the third generation of Bryans works this historic farm. Paul David Bryan was already extensively engaged in the family’s agricultural operations when he acquired 60 of the founder’s original purchase in 1982. He purchased a VAC Case tractor in 1944 to assist his father and worked for the Coffee County Agricultural and Soil Conservation Office in the late 1950s measuring tobacco and cotton crops. He also expanded the farm by purchasing adjacent acreage.
Paul and his wife, Peggy Elizabeth Parks Bryan, met at a Young Farmers and Homemakers cookout and campout in 1958. The next year they married and had four children: Peggy Marie, Parks Anthony, Patsy Ruth and Polly Sue.
In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Paul and Peggy were 4-H group leaders while their children were involved in club activities. Their children and now their grandchildren have been involved in numerous activities and received several awards. Paul and Peggy were also district members of the Coffee County Farm Bureau.
Peggy is a 50-year member of the Home Demonstration Club, where she has held several positions. She is also a County Council member and has played the piano for the Ashbury United Methodist Church since 1959.
In the past, the Bryans raised dairy and beef cattle, hogs, sheep, horses and chickens as well as many of the same crops as Paul’s grandfather. Paul and Peggy continue to cultivate a garden and freeze and can the produce as well as sell some of their surplus.
Their nephew, Earl Bryan, leases and cultivates soybeans and corn on most of the acreage, continuing the family’s farming traditions of nearly 120 years.
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 Farms Program.
For more information about the Century Farms Program visit the website www.tncenturyfarms.orghttp.
The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37132 or 615-898-2947.