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Massengill, James and Helen

James David Massengill (1923-1995) and Helen Mae Lee Massengill (1924-2013) resided in the Meadow township for the 53 years of their marriage. He was a devoted father, entrepreneur, inventor, and farmer who pioneered in the tobacco and sweet potato industries. He was devoted to his wife, Helen, a dedicated mother, family and church leader, and an energetic and tireless worker.

He was a leader in the mechanization of tobacco farming and was one of the first to advance bulk tobacco technology. He frequently designed and built his own farming equipment to enhance his productivity. One notable invention was a wooden, single level tobacco harvester pulled by a tractor which he later modified using metals. It seated 8 workers and one carrier: 4 loopers, 4 croppers, and a worker who carried the strung tobacco sticks to a trailer that was pulled behind the harvester. It was the first mechanized step beyond the mule and cart.

He successfully ran for over 20 years the largest tobacco farming operation in Johnston County, 655 acres in the Meadow community from 1957-1977. In the operation of this farming enterprise, he employed a large number of farming families spanning the entire Johnston County and Bentonville areas. James was a board member of the Johnson County Farm Bureau.

Those who knew him would testify of his impeccable character. He was a dedicated family man, philanthropist, and church leader, and was very attentive to the needs of those around him. He frequently helped needy families. He was a conscientious church member, leader, and teacher, donating the materials, manpower, and expertise for the building of the fellowship hall at New Zealand Pentecostal Free Will Baptist church. A model and shining example of selfless Christian faith, he frequently lead his family in personally visiting and providing toys, necessities, and food to the poor. Many families were thrilled to receive a family visit from the Massengills at Christmastime. He loved classic antique cars and traveling. An avid music lover, he played harmonica and encouraged his daughter to become a church pianist and teacher. He was a mentor to his sons and grandchildren as well, who became leaders in business, construction, and farming industries.

Family members are Jimmy Nelson, John David, Tony Wood, and Helen Ann Massengill.

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