Doe Creek Farm/Hoge Brothers Farm
In 1883, with the construction of the Greek Revival-style Sam and Mollie Hoge House, the seeds were planted for the success of the Hoge Brothers agricultural business in the twentieth-century. The Hoge Brothers were known for producing delicious apples and for selling well-bred livestock. The farm continued to expand throughout the 20th century, and, even today, individuals can visit the farm and pick apples. Additionally, the farm houses a kennel service and offers space that can be reserved for special events. On June 12th, 2017, the Doe Creek Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its economic significance in the area, for the cemetery, which included an African American burial ground, and for the architecture of the buildings associated with the farm.
Backstory and Context
When Samuel Sayers Hoge Sr. (1856-1927) married Mollie R. Price (1861-1950) in 1882, the couple began developing a farm on the hillside above the plantation ran by Samuel's father, Joseph Haven Hoge (1820-1898). Joseph had previously settled in the area in the 1840s and furnished supplies to Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. A Greek-Revival-style home was constructed in 1883 for the newlyweds, which, unlike Joseph's Sr. house that was lost to fire during renovations, has survived and is known today as the Sam and Mollie Hoge House. The two-story porch and the pedimented gable are two distinguishing features of the home. Additionally, other features include a coursed-rubble limestone foundation, replacement windows, and brick end chimneys (one original, one a replacement). The interior has a center-passage stair with turned detail, two and four panel doors, and Greek Revival mantels. Around the same time, a large, half-dovetailed log smokehouse and an additional building were constructed, and, in the twentieth-century, the additional building was repurposed as a storage facility for beekeeping equipment, which was used to ensure bee pollination for successful apple cultivation.
Sam Sr. and Mollie Hoge had three sons, who helped manage the farm in the early twentieth century: Joseph Haven Hoge Jr. (1884-1952), Albert Hammond Hoge (1885-1943), and Samuel Sayers Hoge Jr. (1892-1962). Joseph attended Roanoke College and opened his own business, the Bluefield Produce and Provision Company, in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1904. Additionally, he worked as a wholesale distributor for companies such as Kraft. Albert graduated from Richmond’s University College of Medicine in 1908 and commenced the practice of medicine in Bluefield in 1909 when he co-founded St. Luke’s Hospital. Unlike his brothers, Samuel Jr. stayed in Giles County and served on the board of directors of Bluefield Supply. Samuel Sr. and Mollie sold the three bothers thirty-five acres of farmland in 1923, which they used to plant an additional apple orchard, and the brother's connection to the produce and supply industries helped position them to enter into commercial apple production.
When Samuel Sr. passed away in 1927, the brothers bought the interest in the family farm and established the Hoge Brothers, a business that became well known for supplying delicious apples and well-bred livestock. The business helped contribute to the economic growth of Giles County, as it was the most successful orchard in Southwest Virginia. Since his brothers live in Bluefield, Sam Jr. oversaw the daily operations of the farm.
As the business continued to grow, new buildings were constructed to improve day-to-day operations. For example, when the Appalachian Electric Power built a transmission line through the property in 1937 and provided the family free use of electricity, a modern packing house was constructed, which had a loading dock, a grading room (since repurposed as a space for wedding receptions), a storage room in the basement, and a stamp room, thus resulting in more efficient shipping of apples. However, World War II caused a significant problem for the farm: a shortage of labor. Even after the war, the local Celanese plant drew labor away. During this time, however, additional migrant and tenant worker buildings were constructed to attract and keep labor, which helped sustain the business.
When Sam Jr. passed away on September 16th, 1962, his wife, Evelyn Meyrick Byrd Hoge , and her nephew William E. Hoge oversaw the daily operations of the farm until 1978, when the farm was sold to William and Rosemary Freeman. Today, the farm is ran by Georgia Haverty, the Freeman's daughter, and guests can visit and pick their own apples.
On June 12th, 2017, the Doe Creek Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its economic significance in the area and for the architecture of the encompassed buildings. Additional buildings that have been marked for preservation are a shelter with a chimney constructed around the same time as the house; the ruins of an early-twentieth century ice house; a concrete water tank behind the smokehouse that was used to mix water and pesticides to be sprayed on the fruit trees; a horse mounting block constructed in 1908; a sheep barn, a bull barn, a corncrib, and two hay barns during the mid-twentieth century; a scales house located between the sheep and bull barns that was used to weigh livestock and constructed in 1958; an outbuilding likely used as a chicken coop and as an outhouse in the mid-twentieth century; a foundation of a former barn ca. 1950s; and a spring box on the eastern mountainside that is still used in watering the apples.
Additionally, an African American cemetery with approximately twenty to thirty fieldstone grave markers is located on the south side of the farm and marked for preservation. The cemetery, which may predate the Sam and Mollie Hoge House, is assumed to have been in use from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, though the earliest inscribed stone is from the late-nineteenth century. The creation of the cemetery is likely associated with Joseph Hoge Sr., whose plantation was worked with slave labor. Upon freedom, many of the former slaves and their descendants remained in the Doe Creek area and, along with local whites and migrant workers, were employed by the Hoge brothers. One such individual was Thornton Parks, who was the de facto leader of the workers in the 1940s.
Fisher, Terri L. Giles County (Then and Now). Arcadia Publishing, 2011.
Freeman, Rosemary B. “Doe Creek Farm, Inc. aka Hoges Orchard.” Virginia Department of Historic Resources Preliminary Information Form, 1996.
Joseph Haven Hoge, Find a Grave. Accessed October 25th 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/104402885/joseph-haven-hoge.
Williams, Travis. Family Orchard's Fruitful Transition, The Roanoke Times. October 10th 2015. Accessed October 25th 2019. https://www.roanoke.com/news/local/family-orchard-s-fruitful-transition/article_ab9fb4f0-4155-5c2e-ba35-e7a207fe28ce.html.