Ned T. Ellis, Sr.
Ned Ellis was born in Fort Deposit, Alabama, part of a family who arrived in south Alabama in the 1850’s with little more than a few head of livestock and an agrarian tradition.
Ellis attended Auburn University in the ROTC program, and during his junior year, met and married May Marshall Green. He graduated from Auburn in 1953 with a degree in ag science and began a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, completing his service at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as an instructor in the gunnery department.
Ellis returned to Alabama in 1955. Under his direction, Circle E, the family farm, branched into the dairy business, with Ellis adopting innovative management strategies. He was the first dairyman in Lowndes County to use free-stall housing for dairy cows. In 1967, Ellis converted the farm to beef cattle production. Using progressive research, he was one of the first producers in the county to participate in a performance testing program designed as a comprehensive system for tracking production.
In 1972, Ellis became interested in the Chiangus breed. This cross between Italian Chianina and American Angus was immediately recognized as an optimum blend of breeds to produce lean, highquality meat. Today, Ellis is considered to be a pioneer in Chiangus production. His involvement in the cattle industry includes serving as president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, president of the Southeastern Livestock Exposition, and chairman of the board of CattleFax, the member-owned marketing arm of the National Cattlemen’s Association.
In 1965, Ellis became a partner in Priester’s Pecans. By 2001, the next generations of the Ellis clan had taken on management and ownership roles in Circle E and Priester’s, freeing Ellis to move on to his next venture.
Ellis was one of the principle organizers of the First Lowndes Bank which helped entice Hyundai to Lowndes County. He is now president of the bank. Ellis’ son, Thomas, serves on the bank’s board. He says, “Our father taught us to be honest and give an honest day’s work. We learned not to be afraid to try something new. His view on things is to do your best and take what comes.”
May and Ned Ellis have four children: Marsha Cook, Katie Madaris, Thomas Ellis Jr., and Ellen Burkett. The next generation is well established with nine grandchildren.