The sale of the Joy Ledbetter Trust farmland west of Cash, AR will mark the end of an era for the family but will also open new opportunities for others to build their own legacies. The farm, which has been donated to the Southern Baptist Foundation, is set to be sold on July 12th.
The land was originally settled by the Johnson family, who cleared it and farmed it for several generations. The Johnson Cemetery is still located on a cutout of one of those inherited parcels. During the time of settlement, western Craighead County was sparsely populated until railroad and timber industries entered. The timber boom did not last long; the city of Cash and surrounding area transformed from a lumber town into a farming community.
The Johnson land mostly passed from parents to children for several generations. Pearl Johnson, Joy Gregory Ledbetter’s mother, was one of those children. Pearl Johnson married Claud Gregory, who was a grocer/merchant in Cash and later a banker. Through the depression years, the Gregory’s were able to purchase additional land to add to what Pearl had inherited from her parents.
Joy Gregory Ledbetter grew up in the community of Cash and later moved to Jonesboro where she married Dr. Joseph Ledbetter. With no children to inherit the farm, Joy was inspired to see that the land used to support mission work, both in the US and internationally, by donating the land to those efforts. Joy was a devoted member and supporter of First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, AR. She had a strong admiration for missionaries and supported those efforts in many ways. She and her husband Joe travelled numerous times to both China and Africa, to visit Baptist missionaries in the field. In addition to hosting missionary families in her own home, she purchased and maintained an additional home in Jonesboro for missionaries and their families to occupy while on leave.
The Southern Baptist Foundation commissioned Glaub Farm Management and Hendrix Auction and Realty to sell the land by auction. The over 2,000-acre land sale is a testament to Joy Ledbetter’s legacy of service and support for missionaries. The proceeds from the land sale will provide continued support for missions and church planting for years to come.