History of the Cleek Family Farm
The Charles and Margaret Cleek Family Farm, now operated primarily by their youngest daughter Kay and husband Zane Vanover was originally from lands claimed as a portion of the Pendleton land grant in 1756. The 3,000 acre land grant was given to Edmund Pendleton and remained primarily wilderness. In 1793 a log home was constructed by Samuel Moore on the property; according to Sullivan County records the property was known as Meadowplace. It is not currently known how Mr. Moore received the land from Pendleton. However, the original structure of the home he built is still present today on the property. Some county residents believe that the original log structure is the oldest home place in what is now present day Sullivan County. Samuel Moore’s daughter Letitia married John S. Gaines. Mr. Gaines and his wife received 160 acres as a bounty for his service in the War of 1812. It is on this land that they built a home on the area now known as the Exchange Place or Gaines-Preston Farm.
The current Exchange Place, a historical landmark in Kingsport, is located at 4812 Orebank Road. Gaines gradually increased his holdings to more than 2,000 acres, and in 1846 traded the western portion of the plantation, including the main house to John M. Preston. After the trade John and Letitia moved to the Meadowplace home built by her father and the property remained in the Gaines family for many years. For a few brief years the land was owned by the Crussell family and was then acquired by Vernon and Florence Cleek of Piney Flats in 1938. After the land acquisition the Cleeks’ moved to the Kingsport property. The family had two sons, Charles and Ed, who along with their father tended the land. The Cleek family referred to the farm as Valley Crest. One of the main components of their farm was the addition of a dairy herd. In addition to the cattle have been hogs, chickens, corn and tobacco production and vegetable crops. The dairy herd was dispersed in 1998 and the farm operation now includes primarily cattle and hay production. The property has been in agricultural production since Samuel Moore built the home in 1793 and has remained in the Cleek family since 1938.
In an attempt to help preserve the farm for future generations, and seeing a reduction in the number of farms as a part of our modern society, the addition of an agri-tourism portion to the farm has been created. This portion includes the addition of a corn-maze and agricultural education for the community. The opportunities are designed to be fun and informative for families. The corn maze will include interactive components for youth and adults with a goal of increasing awareness of where our food comes from and other agricultural knowledge. Visitors will be introduced to various fields of study including science, math and history all while enjoying their experience at Cleek Farm.