By MIKE WEST
Cates Farm, located on Cripple Creek Roadnear Readyville, has become the one of the first area farms to join the Land Trust.
Brothers Steve and Ben Cates reached the agreement to put their 117-acre farm into a permanent conservation agreement.
“My brother and I support the mission of the Land Trust and we are happy to see the original part of this farm where we grew up, and where our ancestors have lived for so many generations, preserved in its current state,” said Steve Cates.
“We take special joy in seeing my brother’s grandsons, Bryan and Joseph Jakes, the eighth generation of our family to occupy this farm, and their parents Shannon C. and Andy Jakes, enjoying it today,” Steve said.
Land Trust for Tennessee is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, founded in 1999. Goal of the group is to preserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes for future generations.
The Cates brothers donated a conservation easement in perpetuity to the Land Trust. This means the landowners still owns the property and can use it, sell it or leave it to heirs, but the scenic, wildlife and conservation purposes of the land will be maintained permanently.
Land Trust has protected more than 84,000 acres of land in Tennesseeand is working with numerous other landowners in the VolunteerState.
Cates Farm has been in continuous agricultural use for more than 150 years.
Isaac and Elizabeth McGill were the original owner, purchasing 118 acres for $400 on July 4, 1846.
The farm, located along Cripple Creek, features rich bottom lands and nearly 50 acres of forest. The original farm house, built on or before 1846 as a double-pen log cabin is still in use today.
Mary McGill inherited the farm in 1863. She married Benjamin Becton, a former Confederate soldier, in 1866.Benjamin sold the farm to his grand daughter, Bessie Carnahan Cates and her husband, J.V. Cates Sr. The property then went to J.V. Cates Jr and his wife Mary Dee Ready, the parents of Steve and Ben.
“One of the most momentous turning points in the modern history of this farm included two decisions made by Joe Cates. In 1935, he brought Mary Dee Ready, from the Porterfield Community ofCannonCounty, whom he had met at Kittrell, here to live as his bride. In the early 1940s, he decided to leave his job as a cheesemaker at a creamery inMurfreesboro to be a fulltime dairy farmer,” Steve said.
They also raised broiler chickens, walking horses and hogs in addition to row crops.
In the 1960s, they raised beef cattle instead of continuing the dairy. Mary Ready Cates continued ownership and operation following the death of her husband in 1987 until her own death in 2011. The Cates brothers now own and operate the farm.
“For Ben and me and our recent family history, the most important birth here occurred on Dec. 16, 1914, in this log room, of our father, Joseph Vinson Cates, Jr. He came into a houseful of people, for not only were his parents here and the doctor and his two sisters, but also his grandmother Cates and two maiden aunts, and his uncle Ernest Cates and his wife and six children and they were not just visiting; they all lived here,” he said.
“Our father died in the log room where he was born in May 1987, and our mother died there in November 2011. She had the longest, continuous residence in the home, an unbroken period of 76 years.”
The Cates home will be available for use by both current and future family members and, through the agreement with the Land Trust, another home can be constructed on the property. The land can be used for most any type of agricultural operation and certain, necessary farm structures can be built.
“I can only hope that it brings them the joy and fulfillment that the farm and home have brought to the many generations who came before,” Steve said.
For more information about the Land Trust, go to www.landtrusttn.org.