Milky Way Farm found its beginning in a nickel candy bar. Frank C. Mars, founder of The Mar-O-Bar Company, fell in love with Southern Middle Tennessee and bought the land that would become Milky Way Farm in the fall of 1930. He continued purchasing surrounding countryside until the Milky Way reached 2,805 acres.
Over the next several years, Mars developed the working farm adding 35 miles of fence, 30 barns, 70 cottages and a score of outbuildings, among them the famous “Crooked Sheep Barn.” A handful of the original barns still stand and will be incorporated into Milky Way’s resurrection for various equestrian activities and village shops.
The Life of the Farm and it’s Founder
- Franklin Clarence Mars was born September 24, 1883 in Hancock, Michigan
- At an early age, Frank contracted polio and was unable to walk without a cane for the rest of his life
- Frank’s father was a gristmill operator, first in Pennsylvania and later in St. Paul, Minnesota where the family moved while Frank was still young
- Frank’s mother taught him the art and process of kichen candymaking and other confections
- By Frank’s high school years he had mastered most of his mother’s recipes and began experimenting on his own
- At age 19, Frank was running a wholesale candy firm in Minneapolis
- At the age of 21, Frank Mars was a salesman for the Ziegler Candy Company
- At age 31 (1914), Frank founded the MAR-O-BAR company and named a new candy bar the same name
- In 1923, Frank Mars decided to create a hard chocolate coating around a nougat center which resulted in the Milky Way candy bar
- In 1926, the success of his Milky Way creation necessitated a company move to Chicago, Illinois. Accessibility to a nationwide railway system was the primary influence. His company was now called Mars Inc.
- By 1929, the Milky Way candy bar was the # 1 candy bar in the United States
- In 1929, Frank Mars was introduced to Lynnville, Tennessee in Giles County by the Schueler Family who owned a box company in Chicago that supplied Mars Inc.
- By 1930, Milky Way was the # 1 selling candy bar in the world
- In 1930, Frank Mars introduced the Snickers candy bar with the addition of peanuts and caramel
- In 1930-31, Frank Mars acquired tracts of land in Giles County to total 2,805 acres
- In 1931, Frank Mars built the original home club house which burned to the ground within a few months
- In 1931-32, Frank Mars rebuilt the Manor House as it stands today out of stone from his 2,800 acre estate (25,000 square feet, 21 bedrooms, 14 baths, and two ½ baths)
- In 1931-34, a total of 30 barns, 70 cottages, a Mausoleum and the world famous “crooked sheep barn” were built
- In 1931-34, as many as 935 local hired hands were working for $.50 a day at Milky Way Farm
- In 1932, Frank Mars introduced the Three Musketeer candy bar
- In 1932, Frank designed and built the Milky Way race track where many champion thoroughbreds were trained including the 1940 Kentucky Derby Winner, Gallahadion
- In 1931-34, Milky Way Farm was home to five nationally known livestock operations: Hereford cattle, thoroughbred horses, commercial dairy, beef cattle and Hampshire sheep
- The dining room table measures 12’ x 28’ and can seat up to 40 people.
- The Manor House swimming pool was one of the first privately owned pools in the state of Tennessee.
- The photographs of Frank and Ethel Mars hanging in the Manor House were taken in 1931
- In 1931-34, Milky Way Farm was home to over 50 miles of fence, 35 miles of road and 35 acres of buildings under roof
- In 1931, Frank Mars chose a spot on the farm where he wished to be laid to rest called the Mausoleum. He had a “heart” chiseled into the stone at the entrance.
- On April 8, 1934, Frank Mars died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland of kidney failure at the age of 51
- Ethel Mars continued to successfully run Milky Way Farm after the death of Frank and, in fact, produced several champion thoroughbred horses including the 1940 Kentucky Derby Winner, Gallahadion
- In 1941, with her own health failing, Ethel Mars moved Frank Mars and the Mausoleum to Chicago and later to Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota
- In 1945, on Christmas Day, Ethel Mars died. Eight months prior to her death she sold Milky Way Farm in a real estate and livestock transaction that at that time was the largest in Tennessee history. Both Ethel and Frank now rest in the Mars Mausoleum in Minnesota