Museum History

Benny and Annette Fountain recently opened the Tarkil Branch Farm’s Homestead Museum, located on part of the working 375-acre farm.  The farm came into the family in 1912 when Willie Hunter (Grandfather of Benny Fountain) purchased the land.  In 1926, Willie sold 82 acres of land to David Fountain (Benny Fountain's father).  This 82 acre tract included the 1830's house proudly on display.  

  

Nothing is wasted or taken for granted here on the Tarkil Branch Farm. The Fountains have followed the wise lead of earlier generations and have put everything in their possession to good use. The home of David and Ludie Fountain, Benny’s parents, has been charmingly restored and now his daughter and her family live there, just across the road from the museum. When Benny replaced the windows in his own home, he used the old sash windows as display cases in the visitor’s center. 

People who know him donate their family artifacts or offer old buildings for the museum. They trust that he will honor their history and preserve it. Many of his exhibits come straight from his own life and childhood and that of his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.

The museum comprises 11 buildings, including a wonderfully preserved “Dogtrot” style farmhouse from the 1830s, a tobacco barn, a corncrib, a smokehouse, a country store and a chicken house which now serves as an exhibit hall. There’s also a modern visitors center with exhibits, a seating area for 60 or more people and bathroom facilities.

On four acres of land there are 32 exhibits featuring more than 850 items that elicit the sights, sounds, feel and even the smell, of bygone days on the farm. You’ll find feed sack dresses, antique quilts, and a foot pedal sewing machine. Handmade kitchen tables and chairs (many built by Benny’s grandfather), used for many years by the Fountain family, now provide comfort in the visitor’s center. The chicken house exhibit hall displays dozens of exhibits including one on the near forgotten art of gathering turpentine. You can find farm or kitchen tools for any purpose, a 1941 child’s buggy, and an antique bill for a hospital visit.

 

Keeping up the working farm has been an arduous process, requiring countless hours of hard work, but it is plainly "a labor of love".