Fountain Inn, History, Local

Fountain Inn family restores historic barn and celebrates Patriotism

Editor’s note: We are republishing this wonderful story by Peggy Layton. In last month’s issue, we inadvertently printed an unedited version of this article. We apologize to Mrs. Layton. We hope you enjoy this article again.


By Peggy Layton

In 1940, Nye Willis and his wife, Leo Curry Willis, bought 50 acres of farm property just south of Fountain Inn, South Carolina, for $38 per acre with no access from Highway 14 south of town. Laurens County was contacted to cut a road to this property. A dirt road was cut and rightly named Willis Road. There were no other houses on Willis Road when the road was built to the farm. It remained a one-lane dirt wagon road straight to the Willis property for many years. A home was built in 1942 and Nye, Leo, and daughter, Peggy moved from Owings, South Carolina to this location. In 1947 an additional adjoining 30 acres were bought for $56 per acre. Cotton was planted annually on the majority of the acreage with two mules, Nell and Kate, along with minimum day labor. A tenant house was built later to house the families who helped work the farm.

Trees were cut on the farm, taken to the sawmill and boards were used to build this barn in 1942. Nye Willis, along with his friends and family members constructed the barn for the mules and milk cow. Peggy remembers the hayloft was always full of hay and a fun place to play with her cousins.

Nye Willis died at age 42 in 1953 with cancer. His wife, Leo Willis, continued to operate the cotton farm as long as cotton was profitable. She never missed a beat and worked very hard to provide for Peggy and herself. She died in 2006 at age 91 and always said, “hard work never killed anybody”.

Peggy and Louis Layton built a home and moved back to the farm in 2002. Articles of Organization for a Limited Liability Company in South Carolina were acquired in 2004 under the name NYELEO Farm, LLC.

The barn has been restored and painted within the last few years and mention was made that all red barns need an American flag. Considering a fabric flag would need to be replaced often due to weather and sun damage, it was decided to build a wooden flag; an exact replica of our American flag.
Gary Barbre, a friend of the Laytons, who handles all necessary routine daily chores on the farm, decided to take charge of this project and handcrafted this wooden precise replica of the American flag. He designed, constructed, and painted the flag with 13 stripes and 50 metal stars. It is 4 feet x 7 feet solid oak boards and weighs more than 150 pounds.

The Laytons thank Gary for this beautiful flag and all the work he does to help them every day.

The barn is now the home of a rescued horse named Tonto.■

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