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The Holcomb homestead has remained in the family for a century
A large walnut tree stands near the original family house on the W. F. Holcomb Family Farm in Clarkesville. The farm, which was established in 1910, recently received the Centennial Family Farm Award by the Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s Historic Preservation Division. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Today, the W.F. Holcomb Family Farm is a sprawling tree farm that encompasses more than 300 acres in the quiet town of Clarkesville.T

In 1910, when the farm was founded, it was little more than a dream for a determined teenager, W.F. "Frank" Holcomb.

As the oldest of eight siblings, Holcomb was accustomed to working hard - both on his family farm and in the community.

"When he was 16, he started buying pieces of property for his own farm," said Lou Evans, Holcomb's granddaughter.

Ironically, Holcomb hauled lumber for a while to save enough money to purchase 100 acres of land, which included a three-room house and frontage on the Chattahoochee River.

"My mother and father always had ambition and goals, they always knew exactly where they were going," said Gladys Holcomb, his 96-year-old daughter.

"They never lived in a rented house and they didn't marry until they had a house to go to."

For a man with little, formal education - he stopped attending school after the sixth grade - Holcomb knew exactly how to reach his goals. A little more than a year after the first purchase, Holcomb acquired another 175 acres of land adjacent to his existing farm.

By 1917, he had acquired another 63 acres of nearby land, complete with a grist mill on Amy Creek.

"Corn and cotton were our cash crops - it was real primitive farming. We had mules, but we didn't have a tractor," said Gladys Holcomb.

"My brother Paul and I did a lot of work on the farm, but we were just a typical farm family."

Despite the children playing an important role in helping to keep the farm going, Holcomb insisted that all of his children finish their schooling.

"My parents were determined for us to have a better
education than they did," said 92-year-old Willene Holcomb.

"They wanted us to have a college education, not just for learning's sake, but because it adds dimension to your life," Gladys Holcomb added.

Holcomb not only instilled a strong work ethic into the minds of his children, he and his wife also instilled a strong sense of family. All of those characteristics have helped the farm to stay in the family for the last hundred years.

That feat recently was recognized by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Historic Preservation Division. The Holcomb's farm was selected as one of 20 recipients of the group's Centennial Family Farm Awards.

"When my father died, we (my three siblings and I) decided that we would never sell the farm unless one of the four of us had a catastrophe and needed the money," said Gladys Holcomb.

"And if that happened, we agreed we would sell the farm and all of the money would go to the person that needed it."

Such a crisis has yet to occur. In 1997, Evans and her husband, David Evans, moved to the family homestead to continue the farming tradition and raise their now 16-year-old daughter, Lily.

"I was born in South Carolina, but some of my earliest childhood memories are of riding out to the family farm," Evans said.

"When Lily was 3, we decided that we wanted her to grow up on a farm. While we were looking, my father said, ‘Why not move up on (the family property),' so we did. None of my generation had ever lived on the farm and so when we first moved everyone thought we were crazy."

The Evans' move may have been as mind-boggling as a 16-year-old buying a 100-acre farm in 1910, but just as Holcomb made a success of his investment, so have the Evans.

They spruced up the farm, which had fallen somewhat into a disrepair, and successfully lobbied to be incorporated into the Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Stewardship Program to become a certified tree farm.

"We have always been sturdy, farm people," said Gladys Holcomb.

"Through it all, we have been very blessed."