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Forsyth County’s foremost farmer reflects on 90 years
E.H. Reid stands next to the Allis Chalmers tractor that he’s owned and operated since his family bought it new in 1938. Before he had this tractor, Reid said he plowed the field behind a mule, starting at age 9, using a plow with the handles cut short because a full size one was too tall. - photo by Jim Dean

FORSYTH COUNTY — Local farmer E.H. Reid can still recall when his father bought the first tractor with rubber tires in Forsyth County, signaling the end of doing fieldwork behind horses and mules.

“Daddy bought [it] on May 10, 1938, and I started driving it, and I’m still driving one,” he said. “It cost $960 and the freight from Milwaukee was $36 … He got in 1938, I was 13 years old.”

Of course, Reid has many more memories in Forsyth, since the lifelong county resident celebrated his 90th birthday last weekend with more than 400 guests at the Reid Barn, owned by his son, Danny.

During a recent visit, Reid conceded he doesn’t get around as easy as he used to, but still works eight to 10 hours a day on his family’s farms.

“Well, I don’t feel like I did when I was younger, but I’m still getting around, still working,” he said. “I baled hay this morning. I got some more, I’m going to fix some bales [this afternoon.]

“I just enjoy doing something. I’m a lot more tired on Sunday if I don’t do something than if I work. I just like to do it.”

Since before the Civil War, the Reid family has farmed the land along what is now the intersection of Majors Road and Hwy. 9, which he remembers getting paved in 1953.

And Reid still lives in the family home, built by his grandfather, that he and nine of his 11 siblings were born in.

“I’ve been here all of my life,” he said. “My daddy’s daddy built this house in 1907, and he moved over here ... when he was 2 years old, and he lived here all of his life.”

Reid said he got a vivid reminder in 2014 of just how long he has been there.

“When I was 89 years old, which was last year, I baled hay in the field,” he said. “I picked cotton for [his neighbor] on my birthday, I was 9 years old. [His neighbor’s wife] cooked me a big, four-layer chocolate cake for my birthday.

“Then 80 years later — to the same day — I baled hay in that same field.”

Reid said his neighbor paid him 50 cents for every hundred pounds of cotton he picked. On that day, he was trying to make a dollar.

The Reid family has made quite an impression on the area. Sons Danny and Brad founded Reid & Reid, a local contracting company, and in 2008 the Reids were named farm family of the year by the Upper Chattahoochee River Soil and Water Conservation District.

And E.H. Reid has had some national impact too over the years.

In 1979, he took part in the National Tractorcade, a protest by farmers and the American Agriculture Movement over farm and food policy.

The Jan. 31, 1979, edition of the Forsyth County News features a photo of Reid preparing to make the 840-mile journey, which took eight days to cover.

“There was 5 miles long of our bunch and [we] had two more bunches before we went into Washington,” Reid said. “Nobody from Forsyth County was driving one, so I had some friends down in Butler ... I drove it from there to Washington.

“I wouldn’t do it again, but I’m proud I done it.”

Reid admits that times have changed, especially with the county’s growth over the past 20 years.

“We had 14 farms rented at one time,” he said. “The real estate people took over [the county] and building houses. We lost a lot of it … There’s 10 subdivisions going in [around his house]. That’s a big number of subdivisions.”