Visiting Franklin Tennessee

Located just thirty minutes south of Nashville, Franklin, Tennessee is a beautiful, fast growing small city in the wealthiest county in Tennessee. The website for the city of Franklin, Tennesse explains the city is named after a famous founding father who was a friend of the man after whom the county is named. “The City of Franklin was founded October 26, 1799 and was named after Benjamin Franklin, a close friend of Dr. Hugh Williamson, a member of the Continental Congress for whom Williamson County was named.” Franklin was one of Tennessee’s wealthiest cities prior to the Civil War, but like most cities in the south, Franklin suffered huge losses due to the loss of slave labor. It has taken 120 years since the Civil War for the city of Franklin to rebuild it’s fiances to pre-Civil War levels.

Franklin has grown from a small agricultural town to a small city with lots to offer visitors and residents alike.  There are several shopping malls in the area, museums and Civil War sites, including the Carnton Plantation, the Carter House, and the McLemore House African American Museum.
Prior to the Civil War, Franklin’s economy was based on plantations. The Carnton Plantation, built by Randal McGavock, was the largest plantantion in the area with at least 39 slaves.  They grew wheat, corn, oats, hey and potatoes on the 500 acre farm. McGavock, who was mayor of Nashville for a time, also raised horses.  

McGavock’s son, John took over the plantation after his father’s death in 1843. In 1862, John McGavock sent his slaves to Alabama just ahead of the Union Army’s occupation of Nashville. On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin took place just a mile from the Carton Plantation. John’s wife, Carrie, who was still grieving the loss of three of their small children, took in the wounded soldiers and healed them as best as she could with the help of her two living children, Hattie and Winder. The book “The Widow of the South” written by Michael Shaara was based on the life of Carrie McGavock. The Carton Plantation is open daily and can be toured as part of a visit to Franklin.

Another historical home that played a pivotal part of the Battle of Franklin, the Carter House can be visited while in Franklin.  The Carter House was home to widower, Fountain Branch Carter, his family and 28 slaves. The 288 acre farm grew corn, grains and cotton.  The cotton gin, which was a 100 yards from the house would be the most recognized landmark in what was considered one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War. The Carter House was taken over by the Union Soldiers prior to the Battle of Franklin and used as a base during the battle.  The Carter family hid in the basement of the house during the battle that killed 2300 men, wounded 7000 and from which 1000 more were taken prisoner. The Carter Home is also open daily for tours.

The McLemore house was built by former slave Harvey McLemore. It is one of very few homes owned by ex-slaves still in existence. It is a part of the Carton Plantation/Carter House Museums and is open daily.  They also have an annual Juneteenth Celebration as part of a worldwide Juneteenth Celebration that celebrates the end of slavery.

The city of Franklin also hosts a number of festivals including the Franklin Main Street Brewfest the Saturday before St. Patrick’s day, Bluegrass Along the Harpeth in July, the Franklin Jazz Festival in September and the Pumpkinfest in October.  Franklin is a wonderful place to visit and a must see for any Civil War buff.