The Perryman’s Family Farm Through the Generations

Friday 05 April 2024

By Stacie Collins, Ph. D.  

In the early to mid-1940s, Curtis Perryman of Neshoba County and Walter Fulton of Kemper were cattle and tree farmers in Mississippi. They grew other crops, such as cotton and vegetables. Over the years, they took time to explain the value of land and the importance of growing your food. Both Curtis and Walter held jobs in addition to farming. Curtis was a dairy farmer and an educator. He had a very distinct love for farming that stemmed from his childhood as the son of the county agent for Negro farmers during the 1920s. Walter was a blue-collar worker at U. S. Motors, which Emerson later purchased before he retired. Both of their wives were homemakers and periodically held jobs outside the home for only short periods. Over the years, the families were blessed with children. Curtis and Louise Perryman had one girl – Dixie, and three boys – Jimmie, Walter, Homer, and Willie. Walter and Minnie had two girls – Walterine and Alice.  

Fast forwarding to the mid-1970s, Walter, son of the late Curtis and Louise Perryman, and Alice, daughter of the late Walter and Minnie Fulton, married and continued the tradition of the two families. Walter and Alice, like their parents, held jobs outside of the home and in addition to farming. Both were educators who invested 25+ years of service in educating children. For over 20 years, Walter and Alice worked raised Jersey, Black Angus, and Herford cattle and invested in a tree farm. They grew market vegetables such as peas and cucumbers in the summer and used this time to teach their children about work ethic, farming, and harvesting crops. This became a practice that took a substantial amount of time during holiday breaks and after their workday, prepping the land and ensuring the cattle were taken care of properly. While farming has been a hobby for generations in the two families, it was also an effort to build and share wealth with future generations. In 1995, the family experienced the passing of the late Walter Perryman. 

After the passing of Walter, Alice and her son continued the legacy of farming while he attended Mississippi State University, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Alice shared memories of how her son’s gift and interest in “how things work” played a significant role in farming. Alice Said, “Walter Fitzgerald kept all the equipment in great condition. He would bail hay and continue doing what his dad taught him.” Upon graduation, Walter Fitzgerald secured a job that took him to Houston, TX. Alice and Ashley, her youngest daughter, keep the cattle farm going for a while, but the family later decided to continue the tree farms and give up cattle farming for a while. 

In 2012, Alice and her oldest daughter, Stacie, also an educator, decided to give farming another try. All the family members (Alice, Stacie, Walter, and Ashley) now work together to research and take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about farming and managing to increase productivity. With the help of the local county agent office, an appointment to the local Forestry Commission, and Mr. Frank Taylor and Mr. Allen McReynolds of the Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, Alice and the children have received some excellent advice over the years. 

On July 29, 2023, Mr. Allen McReynolds visited the Perryman Farm, provided guidance on beaver trapping, and shared his expertise in agriculture. Mr. McReynolds and Mr. Taylor provided pointers on the importance of continuing to rotate cattle, reviewed the current implementation of management plans, and provided additional resources that we could look into to enhance the farm. In conclusion, Alice’s dream is to instill into her granddaughters the love and appreciation of land ownership and interest in farming passed across the generations of the Perryman and Fulton families. 

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