August 10, 2021, Rutherford County Commissioner Pettus Read
While growing up among the hillsides and rolling farmland of Middle Tennessee in the community of Versailles, I had the opportunity to experience, learn and receive an extended education in family pride and heritage. Everyone in the small community I called and still call home, was usually related in some way. If not related, most folks knew each other and pretty much each family’s history dating back to the beginning of time.
I was taught at an early age that family was a word that meant everything. It was an everyday happening that my grandparents would continually remind me who was family and who wasn’t. And, family just didn’t mean the immediate group of people who lived in the same house with me either. Family were individuals who could only have a small drop of the Read or Gordon blood running through their veins. There could be first, second, third, fourth and so on cousins, as well as several generations removed, involved in the final determination of who was kin or not.
The older folks spent a lot of time keeping up with who belonged to who. One thing I have noticed, since I have joined the older folks’ generation these days, is that I now also attempt to keep track of family history and who my relatives may or may not be.
Just down the road from where I was reared, and still live today was another family that kept a good record of family events. The Jackson family was a mainstay in the beginning and formation of the Versailles community and as a small child I always passed Miss Carmine Jackson’s big white house with a feeling of pride and wonderment for it being located in the same community I lived in. Miss Carmine was what you would call a real southern lady. Having never married, she operated the family farm just like the rest of us, but she performed her farming chores with southern charm and class.
I got to know Miss Carmine really well while selling “Progressive Farmer” magazines as a FFA member. She always supported our cause and also gave me a new history lesson about her farm every time I made a sales call.
In 2005, the Jackson Farm was designated as a Tennessee Century Farm. The family farm she operated at one time had been a great plantation and the following information is from records submitted with the Century Farm application.
In 1811, Francis Marion Jackson and wife Elizabeth Worsham Childress, both Virginians, came to Rutherford County to establish a farm and home. On 5,000 acres located between Versailles and Rockvale, the Jacksons and their 11 children produced cotton, corn, and wheat, and supported cattle, chickens, hay, and mules.
Among the couple’s children was Francis M. Jackson II who became the next owner of the land in 1836. He and his wife Elizabeth Hale were the parents of 13 children. The large family produced a variety of crops and raised livestock including cattle, chickens, hogs, and mules. In 1861, their son, Francis Jackson III, was a 1st Lt. in Company “A” 24th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers, organized in the Versailles community by his cousin, John C. Jackson.
Francis succeeded his cousin as captain of the company and was in battles at Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga. He returned to his home after 1865 and began the process of bringing the land back into production. Following his death in 1901, his second wife, Anna, managed the large farm and reared their five children.
Miss Carmine was one of those children who acquired the property in 1952. To this day the farm is still in operation and the primary family house, built by Francis Marion Jackson II, loom house, smoke house, hay barn, and a cook’s cabin still stand on the property.
Thomas Fowler Jackson Sr. acquired the farm in 1982 and passed away this spring also being buried in the family cemetery across the road. Today, his son Thomas F. Jackson Jr. works and manages the 200-acre farm, where hay and beef cattle are produced. Miss Carmine would be honored of the farm’s designation as a Century Farm, but more so that the family still operates it as a farm in a changing Rutherford County.