The 116 acres of land that is "Alderman Farms" just outside of Brookhaven, Mississippi was originally part of an entire Section of land (640 acres) obtained by Tommy's great-great grandfather, Enoch, as a land grant from the United States government in the 1800's. Through the many years since then, a good many of those original acres wound up in the hands of now distant relatives, plus the section of land directly south of the original came into the family through marriage. Eventually, approximately 360 acres of land remained in Tommy's line, from Enoch to William Thomas Alderman, then to John Wesley Alderman, Tommy's grandfather.
Tommy's father, Ralph Thomas Alderman, was one of four children born to John Wesley Alderman. When the time came for John Wesley to distribute the land to his children, he did so in the following manner:
The oldest son was to get 80 acres and a house.
Each of the two daughters would also get 80 acres and a house (one of which was in the southern section mentioned above).
That left my Dad's portion, which was 120 acres instead of 80 for two reasons - there was no house on the portion, and it was covered with "worthless timber." Funny how things change. In those days, pine trees were things that got in the way of farming - they needed to be removed in order to plant crops. Today, however, pine trees are the number one cash crop in Mississippi. Tommy's father smiled about that turn-around many times.
It was also just as well that there was no house on the portion deeded to Ralph, as he had no intention of living there. When the opportunity to move to Baton Rouge for an excellent job at the Exxon Refinery (now ExxonMobil), he jumped at the chance. He would ultimately retire from Exxon after a long and prosperous career.
Ralph settled his family in Baker, LA, just north of Baton Rouge. Tommy was born in Louisiana, and his only sister, Sheila, spent all but her first few years there.
Throughout most of his younger days, Tommy can remember only a few trips to the "family property" in Mississippi. With both of his parents growing up during the depression, working their fingers to the bone from daylight to dark, neither held particularly fond memories of the land. Therefore Tommy didn't have much of a chance to develop fond memories of it either. Until he met Patti, that is.
Patti's father, who died when she was eight years old, had instilled a love of camping in his youngest daughter. Though Tommy hadn't done much camping in his life before marrying Patti, he was happy to take up the pastime in order to please her.
Coincidentally, a favorite childhood camping spot for Patti's family was the "Clear Springs" recreational area near Roxie, MS, not far from the land of Tommy's heritage. After several camping trips to Clear Springs, Tommy said to Patti one day, almost in passing, "You know, we have some property not too far from here."
It was love at first sight, and they never camped at Clear Springs again.
Before long, in fact, Tommy solicited the assistance of several friends with carpentry skills who chipped in to build a camp house on the very spot where the "old house" used to sit - the house in which Tommy's dad was born. That house burned to the ground when Ralph was 10 years old, and was completely consumed except for portions of the brick chimney and brick walkway.
After spending an entire spring holiday in the cabin, camping for a little more than a week in the fresh air, it wasn't long before Tommy and Patti knew that they'd found their home.
So in the fall of 2000, Tommy & Patti loaded up the family (including the goats & chickens), and headed for the hills. The rest is, as they say, history - but it's history...and heritage...still in the making.
Edited to Add: Here is a link to a video supplement to this blog, filmed at the Alderman Family Cemetery:
Homestead Heritage - Alderman Ancestry - How we ended up here at Alderman Farms
[Note: the Alderman Family Cemetery was established by W.T. Alderman, who deeded 1 acre of the property to the cemetery itself, thereby ensuring it could never be sold. That transaction cut the 120 acres down to 119. Additionally, he deeded another 3 acres to establish a small church nearby, which explains the 116 acres Tommy & Patti now occupy.]