DOBSON —For the Adams family in Dobson, the word “heritage” holds a special meeting in their hearts, so much so that the road bisecting their 92-acre farm is named “Heritage Lane.”
And it is heritage, and a love for the land, that has kept their farm in the family for more than 100 years.
Recently the family’s farm was designated a Century Farm, a distinction that is becoming more and more rare in today’s society.
In order to receive the designation, officers in the county’s Register of Deeds office undertook what could have been a monumental task of trying to document the family’s property in an effort to get it registered for the distinction.
A Century Farm is a farm that has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years, and receiving the distinction is a rarity.
Today, there are about 56,000 farms in the state of North Carolina, and only a fraction have earned the honor of being named a Century Farm.
Forty-two of those farms, counting the Adams property, are located in Surry County.
In order to qualify a piece of land as a Century Farm, three criteria must be met:
• The farm must be owned by the same family for 100 years or more, as determined by abstracts of title, original deeds, estate or will records.
• The farm must have been in continuous family ownership by a blood relative of the original owner or a legally-adopted child of the descendant.
• Only one plaque or certificate recognizing a piece of property as a Century Farm can be awarded.
But for the Adams family, the property means much more than a simple designation.
The patriarch of the family, Don Adams, 76, recently sat down with his children Luann Thomas, Martha Hudson and Keith Adams to reflect on the milestone.
“We don’t have words to describe what this land means to us,” he said quietly. “I’ve worked this land for 55 years myself. It was a lot of work, but I’ve loved every minute of it.”
He gestured around the kitchen table, where his children were assembled.
“They’ve been involved in it all their lives, as well,” he said.
His daughter Martha agreed.
“Every childhood memory we have is connected with this place,” she said. “We were all born on this farm and even our extended family comes back on weekends to get back to their roots.”
The elder Adams laughed.
“These girls used to run up and down the hills of this farm on a tractor every day,” he said. “I could tell who was driving by the way the tractor sounded.”
Adams said the farm, which used to produce tobacco, has history that goes far beyond the corn, wheat and soybeans that are produced today.
“We also grow grandchildren here,” he said with a smile. “Today, the farm is a small operation, except for the grandchildren production. We have nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one grandchild on the way.”
For Adams, the history of the land is personal.
He noted that he and his father built the farm into the operation it eventually became, totaling 200 acres at one point.
“My grandfather built the original home place around 1905,” he said, noting that work is under way to remodel the original home. “And my father and I pretty much built up this farm.”
The original deed for the property was filed on October 7, 1912, in the name of J.J. Jones, the father of Adams’ late wife Jo Adams.
“Mr. Jones I never knew,” he said. “But I know he was known as one of the best farmers in this part of the country.
“I’ve been told that in the 1930s this farm was one of the model farms for this part of the state, and he did a lot of work with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the era. He traveled with a farm group to Washington, D.C., in the 1930s and met with President Franklin Roosevelt and shook hands with him.”
But perhaps the most impressive thing about the county’s latest Century Farm is that it is truly a home in the greatest sense of the word.
The best illustration of that is the fact that all three of Adams’ children work out of the area and travel at least an hour one way to work every day.
“We come back every night because this is our home,” said his daughter Martha. “None of us want to live anywhere else.”
Adams is in the process of transferring ownership of the family farm to his three children, who each have homes on the property. As perhaps the last full-time working farmer on the property, he says it’s become increasingly difficult to make a living from the land.
But that doesn’t mean the farm will be broken up.
“We want to keep it as an operational farm, and it will never be subdivided,” said his daughter Martha emphatically. “That was very important to our mother, and that’s why the road is named Heritage Lane.”
“We want something to pass on to our children,” his sister Luann chimed in.
“This is our heritage,” son Keith added.
And looking over the property as he stood beside the sign designating the property a Century Farm, Adams and his children absorbed the moment.
“Mama would have loved this. This is something special,” Martha said quietly.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.