January 16, 2013 Edition

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Forehand receives
Century Farm honor

Relton Forehand (right), with his son, Harold Forehand, accepts the Arkansas Century Farm sign and certificate.

Relton Forehand is the first Lawrence County recipient of an Arkansas Century Farm designation under a new Arkansas Agriculture Department program. The program recognizes and honors families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

Butch Calhoun, secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department, made the presentation designating the Starnes & Forehand Farm as an Arkansas Century Farm on Dec. 18, 2012, in Batesville.

To qualify, the same family must have owned the farm for 100 years. The farm must include at least 10 acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Relton is the third generation owner of the 38-acre farm that his grandmother, Mattie Starnes, a young widow with three small daughters bought in March 1911. After purchasing the farm located in the Clear Lake Community, northwest of Walnut Ridge, she soon set about to build a new house and lived there until her death in 1923.

Her youngest daughter had died, so her daughters, Cratie and Beatrice, became the heirs of the land. Beatrice sold her half to Cratie and husband, Almus Forehand. The Forehands lived in the house Mattie built their entire married life of over 50 years, raising their three children, Liberty, Relton and Joyce, there. As soon as Relton was big enough to ride on the cultivator with his dad, he began "helping" him farm.

Relton continued to farm and after his marriage took over the entire farming operation with the help of his wife, Loyse (Pulliam). Relton and Loyse raised their three children, Janet, Jo Carol and Harold on the farm also, and Harold began "helping" his dad farm, as soon as he was big enough to ride on the tractor with him.

Several more land purchases through the years added to the size of the original 38-acre farm, and after the deaths of the elder Forehands, Relton and his wife acquired his sisters' shares. The house that his grandmother, Mattie, built had by this time burned. Harold continued to help his dad and is now operating the entire farm in addition to his own farm.

Since Relton's wife of nearly 64 years passed away in 2010, he continues to live on the farm where he has lived for 89 years.

In addition to his son, Harold, and daughters, Janet Tate and Jo Carol Phillips, he has four grandchildren, Jonathan Surles, Amy Hamann, Craig Phillips and Cameo Forehand, and five great-grandsons, Manny and Griffin Surles, Evan Hamann, Hunter Forehand and Dexter Phillips, to carry on the farm and his legacy.

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