(ROCKWALL, TX — June 11, 2018) When real estate professional Joe Katin first laid eyes on the 2,500 acres of property he had purchased known as the Boyd-Stimson Farm, he felt like he had stepped into a time warp.
“I felt like I was back in the 1850s. I thought, wow, this is bizarre,” Katin said.
According to collincountyhistory.com, the historic farm located off North Highway 205 was started back in 1851 by Joseph Boyd of Tennessee and Daniel M. Stimson of Virginia. It incorporates parts of land settled by Boyd and Stimson, and also includes lands purchased by another ancestor, Mordicia M. Boyd, in the latter part of 1874. The Barry family, believed to be some of the best polo players in the world, originated on the farm. Crops originally produced on the farm included cotton, corn, wheat, oats, bois d’arc posts, cattle and hogs. During World War II, German POWs from Rommel’s Afrika Corps, worked the land to provide food for American soldiers, yielding cotton, wheat, oats, hay, maize, cantaloupes, cattle and goats.
In 1974 the farm came under the ownership of Roland and Nannette Boyd, and O’Reda B. McCartney of McKinney. Roland was a highly successful trial lawyer and farmer, and was also very active in politics. He managed Sam Rayburn’s campaign for Congress in the 4th Congressional District. Through Rayburn, he became acquainted with a young Lyndon B. Johnson and became an early active Johnson supporter. The City of Lavon’s Texas Film Friendly Coordinator Charles Allen said he learned through friends related to John Abston, one of the very first settlers to the area and an American Revolutionary War veteran who was buried at Lakeview Cemetery on SH 78 and SH 6, that Lyndon B. Johnson would often visit the Boyds and shoot skeet on their farm.
After William Francis Boyd, the grandson of the original immigrant Joe Boyd, married Fannie Belle Stimson, the granddaughter of the original immigrant, Isaac Stimson, both the Boyd and Stimson families qualified for the 1974 Texas Family Land Heritage Program, conducted by Commissioner John C. White of the Texas Department of Agriculture. The farm became registered in the program, certifying that it has been maintained in continuous operation for more than 100 years by the same family.
Walking through the farm today, much of that rich history is still evident throughout the property. Tons of old farm equipment, some of it dating back to the early 1900s, can be found scattered throughout the farmland. Vintage handmade blacksmith tools hang on the fence near a cabin housing a cellar, where Katin and construction contractor Allen Aldrich found tons of empty wine bottles. The labels on the bottles indicate the wine was made from Champenelle grapes grown in the East Fork of the Trinity River Valley and produced in the “Back Yard Kitchen of the West Forty Bois D’Arc Farm.”
Katin said when he first took a tour of the property, a lot of the cabins were overgrown with weeds and poison oak. The ceilings of the cabins were very low, maybe not quite seven feet high, and steel bars could be found on all the windows. A blacksmith shop was located near the bottom of a hill on the property and was prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Katin bought the property with a plan to restore it while still preserving some of the farm’s historic roots and rustic feel.
“I fell in love with the place when I first took a tour of it. I love a challenge and I just wanted to fix what was here,” Katin said.
Aldrich and his crew have been hard at work slowly restoring the property from its run-down state, doing a total remodel on the cabins and turning them into attractive living spaces complete with beautiful cedar exteriors, and spacious interiors. Three windmills are installed adjacent to ponds full of crappie, bigmouth bass and catfish, adding to the stunning view of the open countryside.
Katin said he currently has no permanent plans as far as what he would like to do with the property, but said he thinks the farm has great potential to make a one-of-a-kind events center or possibly a wedding venue.
“It’s the perfect setting for really anything,” Katin said. “My hope is to share it with other people, so that folks can enjoy the way it looks and that country feel, and experience the wonder I felt when I first stepped onto the property.”
Story and photos by Austin Wells.
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