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National Register: McClatchey-Gettys Farm

Holly Hill Farm Rt. 1 Riceville




The McClatchey-Gettys Farm, located in the rolling hills of the Oostanaula Valley of southern McMinn County, is a productive 720 acre dairy farm. The central building on the farm (nominated property includes 14 acres) is a two-story frame house built ca. 1820. Originally a Federal style hall-and-parlor plan house, additions were made ca. 1840,and again in 1870. Each remodeling added architectural elements distinctive of the time period, Greek Revival and Victorian respectively. The house illustrates the evolutionary development of these styles in a rural farmhouse in Southeast Tennessee. Three additional buildings important to the McClatchey-Gettys Farm are a two story rectangular brick woolen mill built ca. 1875, a square one story brick post office/commissary built ca. 1885, and a two story rectangular frame dairy barn built ca. 1890. Also included within the nominated acreage are sites that relate to the early industrial development of the farm. They include the sites of the grist mill and saw mill ca. 1830, dairy ca. 1890, stone dam ca. 1830, blacksmith and carpenters shops ca. 1850, and an overshot water wheel used to pump water into the house ca. 1870.


The McClatchey-Gettys Farm is situated about three miles northeast of Calhoun, Tennessee, and the Hiwassee River and about 10 miles south of Athens, Tennessee, on the waters of Oostanaula Creek. Located in the Valley and Ridge physiographic zone of East Tennessee, this land form is characterized by numerous elongated ridges and intervening valleys running in a northeast southwest direction. The McClatchey-Gettys Farm occupies both the fertile bottomlands in the Oostanaula Valley and the tinfcerland atop Gettys Ridge.


The farm is significant as a rural farmstead which demonstrates through its architecture development from a frontier homestead to a thrivinig multi-purpose industrial complex, and development finally into a rural dairy farm. The farm consists of four buildings: a ca. 1820 two story frame house, a ca. 1875 two story brick woolen mill building, a ca. 1885 one story brick post office/commissary building, and a ca. 1890 frame dairy barn. Each building is a good example of the type used for its function (residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural) and shows the architectural trends in decorative treatments for the period in which it was constructed. The house is particularly important architecturally. Built ca. 1820 it is one of the oldest houses in McMinn County and one that embodies and illustrates the evolution of three distinct architectural styles.


Architectural elements from the Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian periods are exhibited in the house; all are in excellent condition and arranged in such a manner that the architectural development of the house is clearly discernable. Further significance of the McClatchey Gettys Farm stems from its historical association with two locally important families, those of John McClatchey and of James Gettys. These families were the primary occupants of the farm and those who made important contributions to McMinn County through their economically successful industries. The McClatchey-Gettys Farm remains to illustrate the important role these individuals and industries played in the economic development of southern McMinn County.


Events significant to the history of the McClatchey-Gettys Farm began to unfold while the area was still Indian land known as the Hiwassee Territory. Dr. Allen B. Grubb claimed a 640 acre reservation on this land through his marriage to a full-blooded Cherokee named Nancy. Grubb filed his reservation oh July 22, 1818, refiled again on April 19, 1819, and filed a third time on June 29, 1819. By 1819, Grubb started to clear portions of the land, built rail fences, and began construction of a house. In the spring of 1820, Grubb and his family traveled to Pennsylvania on business, leaving Elis Grissom and Isham Cordial to oversee Grubb's land and slaves. During Grubb's absence, the Hiwassee Territory land sale occurred, and a James Calloway purchased the tract of land claimed by Grubb, When Grubb returned to his land in the fall of 1820, neither Grissom or Cordial were there, all of his slaves had disappeared, and the McClatchey family was occupying his land. Grubb sought relief through the courts. The case eventually went to the State Supreme Court, and although Grubb could prove he filed a reservation claim on three separate occasions prior to the land sale, the court ruled against Grubb and the land was transferred to John McClatchey.


Architectural details of the McClatchey-Gettys house indicate a construction date of

ca. 1820; however, there is no way to prove if portions of the house were built in 1819

by Grubb or whether McClatchey built the house after he acquired the property from

Calloway in 1820. Nevertheless, the McClatchey family lived in the house for over forty

years and prospered financially through industry and hard work. John McClatchey died

ca. 1840 and ownership of the property transferred to his sons Adolphus, born 1805, and

Wiley, born 1820. The sons recognized the economic potential of harnessing the energy

of nearby Oostanaula Creek and built two saw mills, a grist mill, a tan yard, a blacksmith

shop, a carpentry shop, and a cotton gin. Information from the 1850 Manufacturers

Census showed the McClatchey brothers were successful businessmen. Adolphus's interest in the cotton gin was valued at $2500, the saw mills $1250, and the blacksmith shop $500. Wiley's interest in the tan yard was valued at $800, the grist mill $5000, and the saw mill $1000.


By 1860, the fortunes of the McClatchey brothers continued to grow. Wiley had personal

property and real estate worth $25,000, and Adolphus's worth was valued at $17,125.

Both brothers were staunch Confederate sympathizers, and the outbreak of the Civil War caused them much concern. On December 24, 1862, Wiley sold his property for $25,000

in Confederate money to James Gettys and moved to Atlanta.


James Gettys, who lived in neighboring Meigs County, operated a successful milling business. After acquiring the McClatchey property in 1862, his sons Samuel Frank, born

1840, Richard P., born 1844, and daughter Hannah Amelia, born 1837, lived on the property. Financial success of the milling operations continued under the Gettys family. On March 21, 1870, James Gettys transferred ownership of the land to his sons, and by 1880 the Gettys brothers were involved in a successful woolen mill business. Powered by a turbine from a stone dam on Oostanaula Creek, the mill was believed to be the biggest

in the county and the only known woolen mill ever in operation within the county. The

Gettys brothers employed fifteen people at the mill. A weaver, wool carder, and ten

women who worked at the spinning frames were hired. By the early 1880s the Gettys

brothers acquired a new partner, J.A. McKeldin, and incorporated the business on June 9,

1883, as the Hiwassee Manufacturing Company. The success of the company attracted the attention of the larger Knoxville Woolen Mill who purchased the business in 1884. Tax

records are unclear, but seem to indicate that the company continued operation until

about 1902. The woolen mill is a significant local landmark that historically was important to the economic growth and development of McMinn County.


As the success of the woolen mill grew, a smaller community developed around the mill

known as Sanfordville, named after E.J, Sanford, officer in the Knoxville Woolen Mill.

A brick building that served as the post office/commissary for the mill workers was constructed about 1885. Samuel Gettys served as the postmaster and was paid $43.13

in 1889 for his services. The brick building represents the only remaining building

associated with the original town of Sanfordville. The town was moved at about the turn

of the century one and a half miles to the northwest to its present location adjoining

the Southern Railroad and the Lee Highway, and today is known as Sanford.


Another important aspect to the significance of the McClatchey-Gettys farm is its long operation as a (dairy farm. (Historically, the dairy industry has been very important to

McMinn County. The county currently has 121 dairy farms producing $10 million in dairy

products, and the Mayfield Dairy in Athens is one of the largest in the state.) The

Gettys imported prize Jersey bulls from England and established themselves as nationally known dairymen. Dairy products from the Gettys farm were sold throughout the county and Gettys supplied butter and buttermilk to the famous Read House Hotel in Chattanooga. The large dairy barn, built ca. 1890, continues to be used as such.


Today, 720 of the original 960 acres are retained by the current owner. Known locally

as Holly Hill Farm due to the large holly trees believed planted by Minerva McClatchey

in the 1840s, the farm continues to be an active and productive entity. The house is

currently undergoing restoration efforts by the owner, and is approximately 75% completed. The woolen mill building is used for storage; however, the owner has had discussions with officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority regarding the possibilities

of restoring the mill and reconstructing the dam to generate electricity. The brick

Sanfordville Post Office/Commissary building is in stable condition and is currently being rented as a private residence. The dairy barn continues to be used as the central

building in the Edgemon dairy business.


The nominated property in the McClatchey-Gettys Farm begins at a point on Oostanaula

Creek 75 feet northeast of the bridge over the Sanford Road, thence in a southeasterly

direction 600 feet to a wire fence, thence southwest along the fence line 1200 feet,

thence northwest 400 feet to Oostanaula Creek, thence north with the meanders of

said creek to the beginning containing approximately 14 acres.

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