To say that Wade Reid was born into farming would be true. His 450-acre farm, named Warriors Ridge, has been in his family since at least 1717, although many of the official records from the farm that would have dated back to this time were destroyed when the Union Army burned the Pasquotank County Courthouse in 1862.
Reid’s 10th great-grandfather is George Durant, who is sometimes called “the father of North Carolina.” The Durant Family bible, printed in 1599, is displayed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Reid family is also a direct descendant of William Reed, who served at Governor of North Carolina from 1722-1724. They also have an ancestor, Thomas Reed, that served in George Washington’s army.
“My ancestors set a standard to follow,” Reid said. “They bought the land, they fought for their country and their legacy lives on through me and my children.” Today the farm is still very involved in production agriculture, growing hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, alfalfa, pumpkins and raising Santa Gertrudis cattle.
Reid and his wife Jill live in the house that his dad was born in and that his grandfather lived in, too. “Part of our house was built in 1846 and the main part was added on in 1900. The numerous large pecan trees were planted by my grandfather in 1901. There have been cattle on the farm for as long as anyone can remember. Before the 1950s there were just five or six dairy cows. The cream was separated and taken to the curb market, which was an early version of a farmers market, that the farm wives would visit once a week. Back then there wasn’t the abundance of products that you can now find at the grocery store.
My grandfather died in 1934 when my father was 13. My dad then looked after his mother and two sisters. He grew corn, soybeans, hay, cattle and occasionally grew cabbage and potatoes. He also raised breeder chickens. Up until I was about 30, we raised 4,000-5,000 hogs per year.”
Reid shares a special connection and a name with the grandfather he never met. “I was named after my grandfather, Wade, and some people say we favor. I found a picture of him from the 1900 St. Louis World’s Fair and I think we do, too. He had traveled to the fair to escort home a team of world champion mules. Even though I never met him, his brothers and sisters told me a lot of stories about him when I was growing up.”
One of those stories he heard while clearing land with his dad in the 1970s, when a man who was helping them found out his name. “He told me that a man named Wade Reid had saved his life when he was a baby,” Reid said. “He had been placed in a wooden barrel while his mother was digging potatoes at the house. The barrel rolled into the creek and my grandfather rescued him. Character was important to my grandfather and it is important to me. It is what was instilled in me and what I have instilled in my children.”
Reid farms the land with his son, Sam, who also lives and works on the farm full-time. Just like his dad he is a graduate of N.C. State University. Sam graduated from the Ag Institute, majoring in crop production. Not surprisingly, the junior Reid graduated at the top of his class. A popular fall crop on the farm is in part because of Sam’s interest in growing pumpkins.
“When Sam was about 12, he wanted to plant some pumpkins, so he started to plant more and more,” said Reid. “We have been messing around with pumpkins for probably 25 years now. We got serious about growing them about 15 years ago. Sam is really the pumpkin person – and the pumpkins do very well. We grow them on about six acres and sell them at the roadside stand as a self-service honor system. The stand is right across the road from the house.” The farm grows Magic Lantern, Mammoth Gold and white pumpkins.
Sam helps his dad on the farm- from tending crops to building barns. “This past winter we built a large barn for hay,” said Reid. Some of the boards were from an old barn that my dad and I tore down in the 1990s – that old barn had boards that were cut in the 1870s or 1890s. We also used wood from a tree that I had cut down in 1980. It was a large cypress that at one time I had considered entering into a North Carolina big tree contest. But the woodpeckers had gotten to it and we didn’t want it to die and the wood not be usable. We estimated that tree to be 386 years old, which means it sprouted as a sapling some time between Roanoke and Jamestown colonies.”
The Reid Family farm is steeped in legacy and tied to the very roots of what makes North Carolina. The history of this farm is tied to every event in this state from colonization, to the early years of the republic, through the Great Depression and into the 21st century.
It is just one of the 2,000 farms in the Century Farm Program. Each farm represents a family who has maintained continuous ownership of their farm for 100 years or more. Each of these farms tie into the rich agricultural history of North Carolina. Their families’ legacies are not lost because they live on in younger generations, like Sam Reid.
2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the NCDA&CS Century Farm Program. Century Farm families will gather at the 2021 N.C. State Fair for a reunion. Applications to join the Century Farm and Bicentennial Farm programs are online: https://www.ncagr.gov/paffairs/century/index.htm