By Lounita Howard
Cragwall Beechgrove Farm, owned by Thomas O. Cragwall and his wife, Doris, was the 93rd farm added to the roster of certified century farms in Wilson County at the 24th-annual Century Farm Luncheon on Thursday at the Wilson County Fair.
Founded in 1848, Beechgrove Farm was certified for more than 150 years of continuous agricultural production. Located on Canoe Branch Road in Lebanon, the farm originally had 242 acres. The Cragwalls own 90 of the original acres, where they raise Angus cattle, hay and a small garden.
The founder was T.O. Harris, great-great-uncle of T.O. Cragwall, who is the fourth generation to own the farm. Harris’ sister, Ellen Brooke Cragwall, was T.O.’s great-grandmother. Harris sold the farm to his nephew, William Temple Cragwall, and T.O.’s father, William Clarence Cragwall, was one of four siblings to inherit their father’s farm.
During its prime, Cragwall’s farm produced tobacco, corn, wheat, oats, barley, cotton and large gardens. They raised cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens and mules. A bill of sale from April 18, 1919 showed 104 hogs were sold for $3,599.31, an average of $34.60 per head. The oldest structure on the farm is a log crib built circa 1876. In it’s fifth location, it is still in remarkable condition. The farmhouse was built in 1927 and was remodeled to excellent condition.
Although the Cragwalls live in Lebanon, they are at the farmhouse almost daily. In 1993, T.O. Cragwall built a hay barn large enough to house 140 rolls of hay, and they have a cattle barn complete with Priefert squeeze chute, sweep tub and alley – one of several Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program projects in which they have participated. Cragwall Beechgrove Farm is also a part of the grassland reserve program through the Wilson County Farm Service Agency.
Ryan Ingram with Farm Bureau Insurance served as emcee at the luncheon. The guest speaker was Pettus Read, retired Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation director of communications.
Spinning humorous tales throughout his presentation, Read complimented the Wilson County Fair on its history of tradition, of friendliness and greeting everyone with courtesy. He said it’s amazing how the volunteers come together to make the fair happen, provide something for people to enjoy and particularly how agriculture is woven into the fabric of the fair.
Agriculture “is our future, and it’s the future of this country, as well,” Reed said.