As told to Dave Ongie by Sandy Dunn
We live in a region filled with so much history. From Rocky Mount and the exploits of Daniel Boone to Jesse Duncan’s grave and William Bean’s cabin, those who came before us have left a rich legacy.
Agriculture has played a major role in our region throughout history, and farming remains vital to this day in Northeast Tennessee. But very few farms can match the history of the Brumit Family Farm in Boones Creek, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
The farm was established in 1819 by John and Elizabeth Fulmer when they acquired 135 acres of land, and it has stayed in the same family ever since. Two hundred years is a long time, and as someone recently said to the Brumit family, “What stories the land could tell.”
Stories have been handed down from one generation of the family to the next recounting the history of the property. John Fulmer was a veteran of the War of 1812. During the Civil War, soldiers camped under a large oak tree that once stood near the house. The farm once held a sawmill, which has been lost to time. Grade-A dairy and beef have been produced over the years. Cattle, sheep and horses have been raised and tobacco, corn, hay, wheat and silage have been harvested.
John and Elizabeth Fulmer passed the land down to John Wesley Fulmer – their grandson – in 1897. John Wesley and his wife Trephenia had four daughters, including Hannah Ellen Fulmer, who married William R. Brumit and had two children – Roy Raymond Brumit and Verbena Pearl Brumit. When the property was transferred to Roy in 1922, it stayed in the family but passed out of the Fulmer name for the first time.
Roy Brumit and his wife Maurine had four children, including a son named Robert Fulmer Brumit, who inherited the farm in 1974. Robert passed the farm on to his wife Mary Ford Brumit in 1988, and Mary owns the farm to this day. Angus beef cattle are raised and hay is grown on 65 acres.
Roy and Mary’s children – Sam W. Brumit and Sandra Brumit Dunn are the seventh generation of the Fulmer/Brumit line. Sandra and her husband Doug built their home on the farm in 1994 and help Mary with the daily operations.
As the Dunns help Mary Brumit keep the farm running smoothly, they are sure their ancestors are continuing to look down at them, very pleased at times and other times saying, “What are you thinking? You know better than that!”
Farming is not easy work, and the Brumits, Fulmers and Dunns have all made their share of sacrifices. Sandra’s father Robert “Bob” Brumit was a schoolteacher before becoming a Farm Bureau agent for 25 years in Washington County. That meant farming took place after work, after dark and on Saturdays.
After Robert passed away 31 years ago, Mary Brumit made the brave decision to keep on farming. The family has persevered through the good times and the bad ever since, just as their ancestors did. Whether it is the Great Depression, the loss of a loved one, racing to beat the rain or praying for rain to fall, there is never a shortage of challenges for farmers.
Five years ago, Doug suffered a spinal cord injury that left Mary seriously considering whether it was time to part with the farm. But her daughter and son-in-law did some pretty fast talking to convince her to endure the latest setback. Doug told his therapist, “Get me back on the tractor,” and by the following spring, Doug was back out mowing hay.
Two hundred years of history offers plenty of perspective. There have been highs and lows, ups and downs, but every farmer knows spring always follows winter, and the land comes alive again. Some time back, an old tobacco barn bearing an Arrowhead Star quilt square painted by the art department at Boones Creek Middle School was blown down in a storm. A new barn was built to take its place, and the square was rehung on the new structure, which is part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail.
Time marches on, and so do the Dunns, just like the Brumits and Fulmers before them. The challenges are many, but so are the rewards. The farm echoes with memories of laughter and singing, of family and friends working side by side in the hay fields and tobacco barns sharing stories that will hopefully be told for many years to come.