Providence Farm is a North Carolina Bicentennial Farm, meaning it has been in the same family for over 200 years. The farm sits in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina, in eastern Guilford county. The land that makes up the farm was originally part of the Nottingham settlement, a 30 square mile tract of 1 square mile sections that, in 1753, was sold to a group of Ulster Scots/Scotch-Irish, by John Cartaret, Earl of Granville. Cartaret was the son of one of the original Lord Proprietors of the Carolina Colony. This stretch of land ran from Horsepen Creek in the western part of Guilford county all the way to what is now McLeansville, in the eastern part of the county. These settlers built their farms along the "Buffallows," or as we know them today, North & South Buffalo Creeks. The industrious Scotch-Irish Presbyterians founded Buffalo Presbyterian Church as well as other churches and businesses. Court documents from the time show they were involved in their own governance, serving as magistrates and jury members. They were skillful and competent people, forming a strong community. One of these settlers was Thomas Donnell. Donnell purchased at least 6 of the square mile sections, one of which, section #3, is where Providence Farm is located today. Donnell did not keep all of his land, however, and sold portions of it to other settlers. Between 1778 and 1795, the land changed in boundary and ultimately came into the possession of Captain Andrew Wilson, Jr. 1795 marks the beginning of current family ownership of what's left of the original tract. Providence Farm proper is only a 19 acre piece of that tract. The history of the larger tract of land is as follows:
Captain Andrew Wilson fought in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. We believe that after the war, he continued to reside "in town" on his father's land (Andrew Wilson Sr. lived closer to Buffalo Presbyterian Church, west of the farm). Wilson purchased Providence Farm land in 1795 and built the first grist mill in the area on a stretch of land on South Buffalo Creek. Later, John C. Dick would purchase this part of the farm and run the mill. Just north of the bridge on Dicks Mill Road (on the southern stretch that runs from McLeansville Road to Huffine Mill Road) one can see the site of the original grist mill and the 1800s era miller's home. (This home is currently being renovated/restored by new owners who purchased the property in 2016.)
Two generations after Andrew Wilson's purchase of the land, David Rankin Sockwell married Mary Ann Wilson (Wilson's grand-daughter) on December 14, 1865. We aren't sure where Sockwell and his bride lived immediately following their nuptials but oral history says that when 2nd Lieutenant David Rankin Sockwell (Sockwell served as a cavalry officer in the Confederacy) returned from fighting in the Civil War he found the farm in a grave state, the livestock gone and the buildings having been burned by Union troops. The family (not sure who comprised the family) was living in a small outbuilding on the farm. This story has been handed down for generations in the McLeansville community. Guilford county deeds show DR & Mary (Wilson) Sockwell taking possession of the farm in 1866. Sockwell built a log cabin homestead uphill from a spring (what is now near the intersection of Huffine Mill Road and Dicks Mill Road). The log cabin Sockwell built was his home until his death in 1877, when he succumbed to illness from old wounds he received in the war. Sockwell's daughter, Lula Edith Sockwell (later Clapp) inherited part of the farm in 1877, and in 1897, she sold her portion to her sister, Minnie B. (Sockwell) Buchanan. In 1921 her son, Floyd returned from fighting in World War I and began construction on a farm house that was completed in 1922. Floyd eventually purchased the farm from his parents in 1927. Floyd & his wife, Nolie, had one child - Elizabeth. She and her husband, Robert Cobb, inherited the farm in 1987 and raised a cattle, a few commodity crops, and even made molasses in a cane mill that is still standing. In the fall of 2015, 19 acres of the larger farm was deeded to their son, Darrell Cobb, and his wife, Joy. Floyd's farmhouse was beyond repair so a similar home was built just west of the original 1922 home site. The current farm house was constructed based on a Stephen Jobe custom design that reflects the style of the 1922 home, and builder Gary Jobe used various materials salvaged from the 1922 home, including knotty pine floors as well as poplar and walnut wood that was felled and milled on the farm in the early 1900s. Providence Farm proper started as a small backyard poultry operation in a suburban neighborhood, but became the 19 acre farm owned by Darrell & Joy.
Several structures from the 1930s are still in use on the farm, including the gambrel roof main barn, the granary, and the old garage that has been repurposed into the poultry house, affectionately called Lil' Biddy House. The smokehouse was relocated to the north driveway and will eventually house part of the planned roadside farm market. Two tobacco barns and a pack house are also on the farm but in such disrepair at this writing as to be unusable.
While this land has a long family history, we look toward the future and our role in sharing the beauty and magic of this place as we promote connection with the land, sustainability, self reliance, and sound stewardship. We invite you to peruse the website for more information about the goings on out here at Providence.