In 1972, Dennis Pearson purchased Hill Crest Miss Burgess from the Rucker Family of Hill Crest Farm in Deleplane, Virginia, as a youth heifer project. At the time, Dennis did not realize the impact this purchase would have, but he now credits it with laying the foundation that has contributed to his over 45 years in the cattle business.
By the time Dennis went to Virginia Tech in 1979, there was a small herd for his father, Harvey to manage. During this time, the breeding program was changed to crossbred show steer production and a Chianina bull was purchased to breed his Angus and Angus crossbred cows. This can partly be attributed to his Professor, Dr. Gary Minnish, who had a similar breeding program at the time. In the late 80’s, after much deliberation, his small herd was sold to provide Dennis and his wife Miriam with capital for the construction of their first home.
But the “cattle way of life” was in his blood and with Harvey retiring from his 40 year career as the Fauquier County Clerk, they decided to get back into the cattle business. In 1992, they purchased 12 registered Angus bred heifers-six from Dwight Houff and six from Mike McDowell-and Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm was established. Dennis credits his father with the day to day supervision and necessary “set of eyes” needed while he was commuting off the farm into DC to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Harvey would fix fence, detect for heats, sometimes feed, just do “whatever it took to make it work” while Dennis was away. When Dennis retired from USDA six years ago, Harvey’s responsibilities were eased considerably-to the point that Harvey will tell you he was fired! However, at age 92 he still drives from his house 6 miles away, to the farm on a daily basis to make sure Dennis is doing it right.
Success came early for Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm, and in 1996 a son of EXT out of one of the original heifers purchased, was the high selling bull at the Virginia BCIA Culpeper bull sale. Under Dr. Ike Eller’s scoring system, this bull was the only bull in the sale that scored an “A” for all categories, ranking in the top 10 percent of the breed for BW, WW, YW, and Milk EPD.
Since then, Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm bulls have performed very well at the Virginia BCIA bull test and sales. Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm has had the top breeder group several times, high indexing bulls, and numerous high sellers. Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm has been the Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association’s, Seedstock Producer of the Year and won the Virginia Angus Association’s, Bartenslager award. Additionally, through their conservation efforts, which include their cattle’s water sources being supplied by a Solar Powered Well system, they were named the conservation farmer of the year by the John Marshall Soil and Water District in 2000.
Dennis has served on the Virginia Angus Board of Directors. He has been a long time board member and past President of the Northern Virginia Angus Association. Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm has hosted the NVAA field day several times. Appointed by the Governor, he has served on the Virginia Beef Industry Council. He currently is a member of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association’s Policy Board. He serves on the board of directors for The Fauquier County Farm Bureau and Fauquier Livestock Exchange.
Miriam and Dennis raised their two children, Hunter and Rebecca, in an environment they considered special-on their farm! While showing cattle and hogs at the Fauquier County Show and Sale and Virginia State Fair, they learned the daily responsibilities, work ethic, and business skills it takes to be successful. Both Hunter and Rebecca graduated from the Pamplin Business School at Virginia Tech, continuing a good Hokie tradition started by their Grandfather. Harvey is a 1950 graduate of the Business School when it was called VPI. He attended VPI on the GI Bill after serving our country as a waste gunner on a B-17 in World War II, mainly flying missions on the Polesski oil fields and other eastern Eruopean targets. Harvey Pearson is truly a member of America’s Greatest Generation.
Established in 1992, 2017 marked the 25 year anniversary of Soldiers’ Hill Angus Farm. But as Dennis puts it, 2017 is just the start of the second 25 years in a business he truly loves-the registered Angus cattle business.