Cannon Farm listed on National Register of Historic Places

By Carrie A. Mizell
Cannon Farm, a 19th century board and batten farmstead near Bell, is the first Gilchrist County landmark listed to the National Register of Historic Places.
In late 2013, the National Park Service acknowledged the significance of Bob and Beulah Cannon’s farm, specifically in the categories of agriculture and architecture.

Bob Cannon married Beulah Weeks in 1928 at the Weeks home north of Bell. Bob’s parents were William Jackson Cannon and Henrietta (Townsend) Cannon. Beulah’s parents were Bedford “Doke” Weeks and Areea (Schofield) Weeks. In 1931, Beulah’s parents deeded Bob and Beulah 60 acres that included the Townsend School, which was a one-room schoolhouse, constructed in 1898 and used up until 1928. From 1928 to 1931, it was used as the Weeks’ farm storage. It wasn’t until the fall of 1931, that the structure became Cannon Farm.
Not only did Bob farm his land, growing watermelons, peanuts, field corn and tobacco, but he also drove the school bus for many years.
According to Miles Prescott, his great uncle, Bob Cannon established a prosperous family-run farm that contributed to the local economy.
Bob Cannon’s niece Martel gave the following account of life on Cannon Farm:
“When [my] daddy Miles Hall passed away on October 3, 1944, he left a 35-year-old wife with six daughters between ages 3-12, on a 200 acre farm. Down the road, a quarter of a mile, lived her baby brother, Bob Cannon with his wife, Beulah, and four children (Clark, Wallace, Yvonne and Ray). After daddy’s funeral, Uncle Bob told mama he would farm her place and his. Almost instantly, we became a family of 13…We were one big family working together in every work detail that needed to be done. We all went to the fields together and worked side by side. Sometimes we rode in the back of Uncle Bob’s little truck. That was really fun for us. The Lord really looked over us because we did some stupid things sometimes, like running behind the truck holding onto the tailgate, or dragging our feet in the sand as he drove down the sandy roads. Most of the time we went to the fields in the wagon. It must have been some picture, all of us heading down rows to be hoed, or with buckets of lime going up and down the rows putting a handful on each plant. We could complete a field of corn, peanuts, watermelons, or tobacco in no time with 10 or 11 people pitching in. Pulling fodder and breaking corn went pretty fast too. It was fun to ride on top of a wagon load of fodder. I think we had a mule named “Kitt” and one named “Kate.” They were brown in color. Uncle Bob’s horse was white, and I don’t remember its name. I remember them planting rows and rows of peas in the fields. When they were ready for canning, we all loaded into the truck with several number three wash tubs and went to the pea patch. Each had a bucket to put the peas in as we picked. The tubs were left at the end of the rows, by the road, to be filled up. It must have not taken us long to pick them, or to shell them for canning. For some reason, on canning days, we girls had to hunt up all the canning jars and wash them. Must be we played with them and they were not stored in the fruit room where they should have been. While mama, Uncle Bob and all the children did the field work, Aunt Beulah and June prepared dinner or noon meal for everyone, bless her soul. She sure cooked a lot of pots of beans, peas, corn, butter beans, squash, okra, potatoes, ham and bacon and hundreds of spiders [a cast iron frying pan] of cornbread and biscuits. We must have gone through a zillion gallons of iced tea or cool aid. Uncle Bob always said grace, or asked the blessing. We always had a rest time after eating. Also this was the hottest part of the day. About 2:00 it was time to go back to work.”
Cannon Farm is a square-shaped, 25 foot wide by 34 foot long wood frame house located west of US 129, in northwest Gilchrist County. The current farm consists of 10 acres, with one acre nominated to the National Register. The oldest part of the house was built in 1898 with several later additions. Today, the farm consists of three historic buildings and one historic structure, including a corn crib, sugar kettle shed, tobacco barn and pack house.
After Cannon Farm was deemed a Century Pioneer Family Farm by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2000, Miles Prescott began working toward the National Register of Historic Places designation. It was a lengthy process that came to fruition on November 12, 2013 when Prescott received notification from the Florida Department of State stating that Cannon Farm would forevermore be deemed one of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.
Descendants of the Cannon family extend their grateful appreciation to Florida Historic Preservationist Bob Jones for the assistance and support during the Cannon Farm National Register nomination process.
Cannon Farm is privately owned and is not open to the public for visitation.