Thursday, October 5, 2017

When History Comes Alive - Part I

I am a Yankee at heart. I have lived my entire life in the great state of Maine and I have no intention of ever leaving. I've always enjoyed history but the thing I love most about history are stories. I love hearing how people lived in the past and imaging what their lives must have been like. Historical biographies are a favorite of mine. 

During our time in Franklin, TN earlier this year, I decided to do some exploring. Being the planner that I am I had spent some time figuring out what there was to see in Franklin so I knew there were some historical houses in the area. Apparently a large battle was fought right in Franklin as part of the Civil War. The houses had peaked my interest and I decided to go check them out one afternoon. In hindsight, I wish I had taken the entire day. 

The first stop was the Carter House. When I pulled up it didn't seem all that impressive. There was a small visitor center where you purchased your ticket. I bought a "value ticket" which allowed me entrance to this house and the other two that are part of The Battle of Franklin Trust. I arrived about twenty minutes before 11 and was told I could wander the grounds, but to meet by the "red building" for the tour to start on the hour. 

After poking around the small store and museum area in the welcome center, I headed up the hill to the house. I passed one other person on my way. On a Wednesday in the middle of February, the place wasn't exactly hopping with tourists. 

The red building which was an office for the family. 
The building next to it is the smokehouse. 

The brick building in the foreground is the kitchen. 
The house can be seen behind it.

One thing that had fascinated me about the Carter House information was that the bullet holes from the battle were never fixed. And as I walked around looking at the outside of the homes, you could definitely see where they had been struck time and time again. 

At 11 am, I was approached by an older gentleman, my tour guide. My tour group consisted of just me. I spent the next hour with Mr. Bobby as he explained the history of Carter House to me and showed me around the inside of the home. Unfortunately, like most historical homes, no photography is allowed inside. 

Mr. Bobby kindly posed for me at the end of the tour.

Mr. Carter built his farm near the outskirts of town. He and his wife lived their with their eight children who survived past infancy (they had 12 total). He operated a business in town but became a farmer. He grew his farm into 288 acres. He even had a cotton gin which meant he was a rather wealthy man, until the evening of November 30, 1864 when the Battle of Franklin was fought on his doorstep. 

The Carter house family along with some of their slaves and their neighbors, the Lotz family, hid in the basement while the battle raged around them. What made this battle so intense and different is that it began at 4pm (the sun was already starting to set at this point) and went on into the night. The families stayed huddled in the dark basement throughout the intense battle. There are chairs lined up there now with a name tag attached to each also listing their age. Some of the children were as young as 18 months. 

Stairs to the basement

The Carter family was never the same after. One of their sons was in the Confederate Army and was killed in the battle. He hadn't seen his family in quite some time and was brought home to die. Mr. Carter didn't have the bullet holes fixed as a reminder to all who saw them. His farm never recovered and he soon sold it and moved away from Tennessee. 

Mr. Bobby shared that there was actually a hole in the sleeping ell that had a cannon ball hole in it. 

As a northern girl, I was also fascinated by the way the house was arranged. The main part of the house had servant quarters upstairs. There was a master bedroom on the main floor as well as a parlor. The basement held storage rooms but also the dining room. And the white ell area had two bedrooms. The interesting part was that the bedrooms were not connected on the inside of the house. You had to walk outside to get there. Of course, one wouldn't want to do this during a Maine winter, but the weather is definitely milder in Tennessee so apparently this was normal.

Two bedrooms off the porch

I enjoyed myself so much at the Carter House that I headed across the street to the Lotz House next. 

1 comment:

Oh thank goodness! I'm not here all alone. Thanks for leaving me a comment. It helps that I'm not always talking to myself. Right? Hello?