The Arkansas Century Farm program honors farms that have been owned and operated by one family for at least 100 years. Typically passed down from one generation to another, it’s not often that one of the farms has been home to the same farmer for a century.
Born on his family farm in 1917, Lonnie Richardson celebrated his 100th birthday in September and was honored again this month when the Richardson-Goins Farm at Signal Hill was officially added to the list of Century Farms.
“I’ve wore out three houses,” said Lonnie, who now lives in a home in the yard of the family’s original house.
The farm actually pre-dates Lonnie by several years.
William Richardson and wife Sarah (Nesbitt) were the first of the family to live in this area, moving to Coon Creek with “a bunch of kids,” during the 1800s.
One of those kids, John Richardson, homesteaded 160 acres at Signal Hill, where he and his wife, Nancy (Sutton), raised nine children. The deed for the property is dated 1906, though it is believed that the homestead took place several years earlier as the property had to be improved for some time before the deed was obtained.
Signal Hill, reportedly named for a high point that could be used to send mirror signals to Army troops at Damascus, is located on a ridge in a remote area of southern Stone County. The road to the Richardson farm is long and sparsely settled, though Signal Hill was actually a more active community in the early part of the 20th Century than it is now.
John and Nancy Richardson had seven girls and two boys, who attended school at the Signal Hill Schoolhouse, played ball with kids from Ben and Prim, and attended dances around the community. They went to town in Mountain View occasionally but also at Ben.
Lonnie, who was third from the youngest, was about 7 or 8 when his mother died, he said, and it is one of his first memories. The older kids took care of the younger ones, and of course, they all helped on the farm.
“They cut the plow handles off where I could plow the mule and plant corn,” Lonnie recalled.
See the complete story in the Nov. 8, 2017 issue.