Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Allen Farm, Alamance County

“Our story is not sensational, but it is valid history of an era that is only a memory.”

By George C. Allen Sr., 1988

The century farm I now own is located in the Snow Camp community. It was a grant to my great-great-grandfather, John Allen Jr., in 1756 by Lord Granville of the Lords Proprietors. . . .

The 90 acres now left contains the original homesite and has never been deeded out of the Allen name.

The Allens were Quakers and it was a Quaker settlement. Therefore, there were no slaves ever. It has been a diversified activity; grain, produce, cattle, sheep at times, hogs and poultry. The soil was not suitable for cotton or tobacco. No tobacco would have been grown anyway because of their commitment to their Quaker beliefs.

A deep religious faith and a strong belief in and support of education was typical of the Allen families. Also, the men were fine craftsmen for their day. John Allen Jr. taught school for many years. He also handcrafted many pieces of high quality furniture for the house. William Allen farmed heavily, the homeplace and two farms in Randolph County, He also kept stores at the home, obtaining his supplies from the riverport at Fayetteville by ox-drawn wagons.

William Graham Allen returned home after serving in the War Between the States and apprenticed for millwright and cabinet maker status. He followed this vocation on an “as needed basis” in conjunction with farming.

George Lester Allen as a youth began working in the infant textile industry in the area. As a young adult he married and settled in the home community and began farming the homeplace while continuing working at the Woolen Mill during the winter. In 1910 he moved the family to the Allen Farm so he could take better care of his aging father. The Woolen Mill was burned in 1912 and was not rebuilt. He then turned to carpentry for supplemental income as conditions permitted.

By the time my generation reached maturity, the farming revolution had begun and there was no way a 100-acre farm could support two families. Realizing this, all five boys went into public work. From the late 1940s the land was rented to neighbors who were still operating as family farmers. In 1972 the open land was turned to pasture and until 1983 I ran beef cattle on it. It is now rented to a dairyman for pasture.

At the homesite there is a spring that has never gone dry in the 225 years it has been in use. In fact in two of the very dry years of the late 1920s three of us working in a water line tried to drip it dry but failed.

Also there is a section of about 15 to 20 acres of woodland that according to word passed down has never been under plow.

In the 1960s, the North Carolina Historical Society in developing a Memorial Park on the Alamance Battleground site. They were looking for a typical log house of colonial days to place on the grounds. The second house on the Allen farm built by John Allen Jr. in 1782 was still standing and well enough preserved to be restored. This is the log house that can be seen at the park today.

Our story is not sensational, but it is valid history of an era that is only a memory.
In 1988, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture published a commemorative book, North Carolina Century Farms: 100 Years of Continuous Agricultural Heritage. This book provided a history of century farms in North Carolina and included the above account submitted by George C. Allen Sr.

Stories about other Alamance County century farms in the book include:
The Aldridge Farm, submitted by James P. Aldridge
The Braxton Farm, submitted by Wilbert L. Braxton
The Danieley Farm, submitted by Rena Maude Danieley
The Freshwater Farm, submitted by E.K. Freshwater
The Gibson Farm, submitted by Robert William Gibson Jr.
The Ingle Farm, submitted by Edwin Coy Ingle
The Pickett Farm, submitted by Howard A. Pickett
The Zachary Farm, submitted by George Zachary Jr.

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