The mystery of Wakefield Farm

Mona B. SmithFarragut, Loudon, Our Town Stories

A few weeks ago, a customer noticed an old poster on the wall at Hammer’s store in Clinton, Tennessee. The poster was boldly announcing the sale of 600 acres named Wakefield Farms, listed as 1 mile from Farragut School, for $42,500 located “14 miles out Kingston Pike on U.S. Highway No. 11, between Knoxville and Lenoir City.” No date was given on the flyer but the owner was none other than Mr. A.B. Hammer. The question to be solved was the location of the farm and year of the sale.

An attempt was made to connect Wakefield Farms and the late Peggy Wakefield Shanton’s family. The beloved Mrs. Shanton (1930-1963) lived on a beautiful piece of property on Campbell Lakes Drive where Wild Wings Café is currently located and she taught music at Farragut High School during the ’60s.

Hey, Oliver Smith. What’s the ROI on this buy? Knoxville Journal July 23, 1939. From

Unfortunately, this task led the researcher down the rabbit hole as no reliable source could be confirmed with either Mrs. Shanton, her siblings John Wakefield and Sue Wakefield Lay, or her parents, Charles C. and Lena Wakefield to link them to ownership of this piece of property. Census records indicate that Charles and Lena lived in Knoxville from 1920-1940 and property records show a sale of property on Campbell Station Road for interstate right of way in 1954. Of interest, they would purchase a house and surrounding property of Arylene Hanna Witt on Lovell Road in the same year.

A description of the Wakefield Farm for sale mentioned a “home place” on Lovell Road that was included in the sale. Further, as a matter of irony, John Wakefield lived on Wakefield Road in Farragut for several years until his death. Yet for all of these coincidences, no reliable account of the farm property ownership with the Wakefield name can be ascertained.

Wakefield Farms was a state-of-the-art dairy farm encompassing approximately 215 acres. The dairy sat directly across Kingston Pike from the western boundary of the J.K. Bondurant farm in the vicinity of the old Aud’s Tourist Camp. The property today would be where various businesses are on either side of Wakefield Road. Farmers were awed by Wakefield Dairy’s facilities equipped with a 1,000-pound ice plant, automatic drinking fountains, and built to the highest type of sanitation to produce Grade “A” Pasteurized milk and creamery products from the finest herd of Guernsey’s. Through an agreement with Avondale Dairy, they were licensed to sell milk throughout the Knoxville area.

The first newspaper account of the farm was in in 1928 where it was owned by a prominent businessman, John Scruggs Brown. Mr. Brown made his fortune by investing in the stock of Fulton Sylphon Company and was the donor for the University Of Tennessee Center for Students and Faculty in memory of his wife, Carolyn P. Brown.

Mrs. Brown was a well-known socialite and is credited with being the first president of the Dixie Lee Garden Club. The Browns initially lived and entertained in the Confederate Memorial Home, Bleak House, and later they built a mansion on Kingston Pike that they named “Casa Modina.” In 1928 newspaper accounts relate that Alice Marshall, debutante and stepdaughter of Mr. Brown, was decorating the “Wakefield Lodge”, described as a country home.

Wakefield Farms truck, Concord. R.N. Badgett name on door. Golden Guernsey product. Cherokee Motor Company in background. 1930s Thompson Photograph Collection. C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library

By 1929, Mr. Brown conveyed Wakefield to Alice’s third husband, Philip J. McGovern, who stepped down from his position with J.C. Bradford and Co. in Knoxville to run the dairy. In 1930 Mr. McGovern and R.N. Badgett were granted a $10,000 charter for organization of Wakefield Dairy. The Great Depression took its toll on the dairy’s operation and it fell into receivership in 1934 and an article reported the acreage as 623 acres. Mr. A.B. Hammer purchased Wakefield Dairy in 1934 along with several other properties in the Tenth District of Knox County. It was Mr. Hammer’s intention to retire, but by 1940, Mr. Hammer had the farm up for sale again and had introduced his first line of Hammer stores in Guntersville, Alabama. One can assume that his additional land holdings were added to the initial 215 acres of Wakefield thus increasing the sale acreage.

The property changed hands several times, and at one time was owned by Sani-Seal until it was sold and subdivided in an Absolute Action in 1954. This auction included the sale of the “home place” on Lovell Road. The actual location of Wakefield Farm/Dairy can now be authenticated but it remains a mystery as to how it came to be named Wakefield.

Mona Isbell Smith is a retired computer systems analyst who enjoys freelancing.

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