Thursday, February 22, 2018

HGB Ep. 246 - Carnton Plantation

Moment in Oddity - Legend of "Mountain" Tom Clark
Suggested by: Elizabeth Fatica

There was a time in the late 1800s when northwest Alabama and southern middle Tennessee struggled to maintain law and order. Criminal men formed gangs of thieves, murderers and bushwhackers and they would terrorize people living in small towns. The most notorious gang at this time was the Clifton Shebang, which were nicknamed the Buggers. A man named Thomas Clark was their leader. Everybody called him Mountain Tom and he was one bad dude. He deserted from both the Union and Confederate armies. By 1872, he claimed to have killed nineteen people, which included three people at the Wilson Plantation, three Confederate soldiers and a child. His gang had already raided the town of Florence in Alabama once before and in September of that year, they decided to hit it again. The townspeople were fed up and Florence City Marshal William Edward Blair rounded up a posse to head out at sunrise in pursuit of the gang of three men. They caught up with the outlaws and when Mountain Tom saw that they were outgunned, the gang surrendered. The men were taken back to Florence and thrown into the jail. Around midnight, a crowd of people gathered outside the jail set on bringing justice their way to the outlaws. They pulled guns on the jailer who refused to give them the key and took the men to a vacant lot across Pine Street, behind the old Masonic lodge and hanged them from a large tree in the lot. Three graves had already been dug for the men, but one of the men on the burial detail remembered hearing Clark boast that “no one will ever run over Tom Clark.” He told the others that were with him that instead of burying Mountain Tom in the cemetery, that they should bury him underneath East Tennessee Street so that everyone would “run over” Tom Clark. So, the notorious gang leader who boasted that no one would ever run over him, now lies buried near the center of Tennessee Street and to this day is still be run over daily and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - National Foundation Day in Japan

In the month of February, on the 11th, in 660 BC, the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, ascended to the throne and that is today celebrated in Japan as National Foundation Day. During earlier periods in Japan, people were more loyal to regional leaders than national leaders, like the Shogun or the Emperor. Shintoism also had a number of deities that caused citizens to have competing loyalties. The government of Meiji Japan wanted to change this practice and it designated the National Foundation Day as part of the modernization of Japan by the Meiji Restoration. The Emperor had just been treated as one of the many Shinto gods. The Meiji government wanted the emperor to be worshiped as THE god and it promoted the imperial cult of emperor-worship. They hoped this would ensure loyalty to the national government in Tokyo and outweigh any regional loyalties. In its original form, the holiday was named Empire Day. Empire Day was abolished following the surrender of Japan after World War II. The commemorative holiday was re-established as National Foundation Day in 1966. Obviously, Japan no longer has an Emperor, so all references to such a leader have been stripped from the holiday and it is treated as a day to express patriotism and love of the nation. Customs include the raising of Japanese national flags and reflection on the meaning of Japanese citizenship.

Carnton Plantation (Suggested by listener and EP: Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs)

Franklin was a small town in Tennessee when the Civil War erupted. The war would bring the deadly Battle of Franklin to the city, leaving behind scars that would forever change the landscape of Franklin in various ways. Nearly forty years before the war, a plantation named Carnton would be built that would soon become the premier farm in the county. The plantation would play witness not only to the battle, but to political intrigue and much death and pain. For this reason, there are those who claim that Carnton is haunted. And there are many stories of paranormal experiences that feature many different spirits. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Carnton Plantation!

Abram Maury, Jr. was a state senator who founded the city of Franklin on October 26, 1799. He named the town for Benjamin Franklin. Randal McGavock was born in 1768 in the state of Virginia. He eventually migrated to Tennessee and got involved in politics. Because of the politics, he became friends with President James K. Polk and President Andrew Jackson. He served as mayor of Nashville a one-year term in 1824. McGavok completed construction on his mansion, that he named Carnton, in 1826. The property was named after his father’s birthplace in County Antrim, Ireland. The name “Carnton“ is from the Gaelic word cairn which means “a pile of stones.” A smokehouse was the first building built at Carnton and this was in 1815. This smokehouse would eventually be connected to the main house by a two-story kitchen wing. The mansion sat on 1,400 acres and was run as a plantation with crops that included wheat, corn, oats, hay, and potatoes. The McGavocks were also involved in raising and breeding livestock and thoroughbred horses.

The mansion had eleven rooms and was built in the Federal style out of red brick. The foundation was limestone with a tin roof, two dormer windows and projecting end chimneys. The house was two stories with a central pedimented portico that was Greek Revival-styled. The two-story portico contained four, square Ionic columns with beveled recessed panels and a vase shape balustrade on each level. The fascia above the first level had decorative scrollwork and the doorway was flanked by columns and sidelights, with a semi-circular fanlight above. The back of the mansion had a two-level Greek Revival gallery with seven two-story Doric columns. The open roofed porch ran the length of the house. The inside of Carton was just as grand. The interior style was Greek Revival with faux painting, carpets and a variety of wallpapers. The parlor had a Greek Revival fireplace mantel and on the mantel sat a clock that still remains today as one of several pieces that are original to the McGavock family. A 200-piece china set in the dining room is original as well. A rocking chair was given to the family by President Andrew Jackson and that still remains.

McGavock not only ran a farm, but he wanted gardens on the property. He started by planting cedars along the driveway leading up to the house. His son would add to this with more cedars and boxwoods. Randal's son, John, was a fan of Andrew Jackson Downing who was considered the father of American landscape architecture and he modeled a 1 acre garden that was on the west side of the house after Downing's designs. Square mini vegetable gardens were bordered by ornamental shrubs with a large white picket fence around the entire garden. The garden eventually fell into neglect in later years, but was recreated in 1996. The peony, daffodil and hosta collection of flowers found on the plantation today is composed entirely of varieties available in Middle Tennessee prior to 1869. For the green thumbs and flower lovers in the listenership, you'll be interested to know that Carnton Plantation houses the largest historic daffodil collection in the South. There are 40 varieties in the collection that date back before 1869.

Slaves were a part of the work force at Carnton Plantation and this continued even after Randal McGavock died in 1843. His son John inherited the property. He married his cousin Carrie Winder of Ducros Plantation and the couple had five children. Only two of them would survive to adulthood. John's  net worth grew to about $339,000 in 1860, which is equal to about $9.7 million in 2018. When the Civil War started, John sent most of his slaves to Louisiana, so they wouldn't be taken by the authorities. John was too old at 46 to join the fight, but he did help and support groups of Southern soldiers. His wife sewed uniforms for relatives and friends. When Federal troops took control of Middle Tennessee they found out about the McGavocks’ efforts with aiding the South, and the Union took thousands of dollars of grain, horses, cattle and timber from Carnton Plantation.

The last great battle of the Civil War and one of the bloodiest battles, the Battle of Franklin, came to Franklin, Tennessee on the afternoon of November 30, 1864. The battle would rage across the town and forever change the landscape. As was the case with so many towns during the Civil War, most buildings were used as field hospitals. Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood led his 33,000-man Army of Tennessee into Franklin where the Union's Major General John Schofield had already set a strong defensive line south of town with his 30,000 men. Hood's army took up a position two miles from the Union forces with rolling farmland between them. At 4pm, Hood sent his troops out in two columns from the west and the east. This tactic proved successful and the Union defense collapsed and fell back into a line closer to the city of Franklin.

The next portion of the battle involved a massive frontal assault larger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. By the time this happened, it was already dark, so much of this skirmish was in the dark. The Union was having a hard time gaining ground until a brigade led by Col. Emerson Opdycke arrived. Confederate Gen. Stephen D. Lee's corps re-enforced Hood's left, but it was not enough and Hood's forces were driven back and suffered heavy losses. The Confederates suffered over 6,200 casualties, which included six dead Confederate generals. Total casualties for both sides numbered over 8,500. The Union left Franklin and left their wounded behind. Hood would continue on to Nashville for the later Battle of Nashville.

Carnton Plantation became the largest temporary field hospital after the Battle of Franklin. A staff officer wrote that "the wounded, in hundreds, were brought to [the house] during the battle, and all the night after. And when the noble old house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dead filled that." That is quite the visual. Add to that the fact that on Carnton's back porch four Confederate generals’ bodies were laid out. These were Patrick R. Cleburne, Hiram B. Granbury, John Adams, and Otho F. Strahl. The McGavocks tended to nearly 300 soldiers inside their home. Half of those men had died by the next morning. Those that had survived were spread all throughout the property, including the slave quarters. Carrie McGavock's dress was blood soaked at the bottom. The McGavocks' seven year-old son Winder and nine year-old daughter Hattie, both witnessed everything and pitched in to help. To this day, Carnton still serves as witness to the events of the horrible battle. Many of the floors are still stained from blood. The heaviest stains are found in one of the southern facing bedrooms because it served as the operating room.

Following the battle, the people of Franklin were tasked with burying the dead, which numbered 2,500. According to George Cowan's "History of McGavock Confederate Cemetery," "All of the Confederate dead were buried as nearly as possible by states, close to where they fell, and wooden headboards were placed at each grave with the name, company and regiment painted or written on them." Over the next eighteen months, the markers rotted and the writing disappeared. Many of the Union soldiers were re-interred in 1865 at the Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The McGavock's wanted to do something more formal and in 1866, they set aside two acres of their land for a cemetery. The citizens of Franklin raised the funds that would be needed for the intense process of exhuming and reburying the soldiers. A man named George Cuppett led a team that moved the 1,481 soldiers. One civilian was buried in the cemetery as well. This was George's brother Marcellus, who had died during the process of the reburials. The original names and identities of the soldiers were recorded in a cemetery record book by Cuppett and he gave this to Carrie McGavock . The graveyard is called the McGavock Confederate Cemetery and it is the largest privately owned military cemetery in the United States. The McGavocks maintained the cemetery for the rest of their lives. The cemetery is organized by state with thirteen sections separated by a 14-foot pathway. Today, the cemetery is maintained by The Franklin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

After the war, Carnton Plantation continued under a sharecropping arrangement with former slaves. John died in 1893, so Carrie managed everything, particularly the cemetery, until here death in 1905. A prayer in the Confederate Veteran magazine mentioned Carrie McGavock in 1905, "We thank thee for the . . . feeble knees she lifted up, for the many hearts she comforted, the needy ones she supplied, the sick she ministered unto, and the boys she found in abject want and mothered and reared into worthy manhood. In the last day they will rise up and call her blessed. Today she is not, because thou hast taken her; and we are left to sorrow for the Good Samaritan of Williamson County, a name richly merited by her." Winder inherited the plantation, but he died two years after that in 1907. His widow eventually sold the mansion in 1911,bringing to a close a century of family ownership.The story from this point is similar to others where the home passes through several hands and falls into disrepair starting in the 1960s. The Carnton Association formed in 1977 to raise money to buy and restore the mansion. This restoration was completed in the late 1990s. Today, the site is maintained by The Battle of Franklin Trust, a non-profit organization which also manages the Carter House. The house is open for tours Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and on Sunday from noon to 5pm.

There are many hauntings happening at the plantation and they mainly seem to date back to the Civil War. Carrie McGavock cared deeply about the fact that so many men lost their lives at Carnton. That is why it was important for them to designate the cemetery. Her spirit is sometimes seen as a full-bodied apparition on the back porch that overlooks the Civil War cemetery. She is either standing or sitting and some witnesses claim that she floats over the backyard. Many believe she is watching over the cemetery. She would be our Lady in White here because she is generally seen in a long white dress. A tour guide at the mansion, Margie Thessin, claimed that her daughter saw Carrie's ghost wearing a long pink gown.

The most seen apparitions belong to dead soldiers. The activity heightens at dusk when the battle was fought. It would seem one of the general's spirits is at unrest. The ghost is thought to belong to General Pat Cleburne since he matches the description of Cleburne with a mustache, a short beard and piercing eyes. He is een pacing the back porch and looking very worried as though he is fretting over the well-being of his men. A descendant of one of the men who was buried at the plantation visited one evening after the mansion was already closed to visitors. He decided to walk around the property and followed a path to the the rear of the mansion. He was shocked to find a shadowy man wearing a uniform standing next to a horse as though he was preparing to get in the saddle when he arrived at the back. He figured it was a re-enactor until the horse disappeared. The visitor saw another man dressed as a Confederate on the back porch so he asked him, “What happened to his horse?” The soldier replied that it must have been shot just like his own horse was shot. He expressed that he was very concerned now because they would be at the mercy of the enemy without horses. He also told the visitor that he better make sure he had a pistol.

The man chuckled to himself and decided to go with the little act and asked what kind of gun the soldier used and informed him that he had no gun. The soldier became alarmed and turned to another soldier on the porch and said, "Well if we are going to die, let us die like men." He threw his hat in the air forcefully and vanished. The visitor then heard the sequence of the sounds of battle and a yell that said, "Charge men! Charge." Then a swell of the sound of shots, shells, muskets and cannons filled the air. A cacophony of rebel yells followed. And it was then that the visitor realized he had been standing among a group of ghosts. He ran terrified to his car. He felt as though he really were in the middle of a battle. He returned to the plantation the next day when it was open and he realized that the ghost on the porch had been General Pat Cleburne .

Two spirits haunt the kitchen area of the mansion. In the 1840s, a young house servant girl was murdered in the kitchen by a jealous field hand who had become infatuated with her. She rejected his advances and he strangled her. Her spirit seems to have remained and is a mischievous spirit who likes to play tricks on the living. A curator at the house heard some noises from the small, enclosed porch off the back of the house and decided to see what was going on. When she got back there, she found two panes of glass that had been taken down from a box of panes. Each was placed nicely on either side of the door. Not somewhere an employee would place them, not to mention that there was no reason to have the panes pulled out of the box. She thought it was the girl who had been murdered.
The other spirit is thought to belong to a head cook who had worked for the family during the Civil War years. This apparition has been seen floating in the hallway, near the kitchen. Disembodied bustling noises are heard coming from the kitchen that include banging dishes and running water.

Other spirits found inside the house include a soldier who stays in one of the bedrooms. A picture of the mansion that was hanging on the wall in that bedroom has mysteriously crashed to the floor. Another time, that same picture was found on top of the floor heater, where it could not have fallen.   
A beautiful young girl, with long brown hair appeared to a workman when he was in the second floor hallway. He quickly ran down the stairs when he realized she was transparent. After that, workmen started going upstairs in pairs.  

Carnton Plantation was the scene of a horrible battle, but even more, it was a place of immense pain and death. These kinds of emotions tend to feed paranormal activity and that seems to be the case here. Here we have another battlefield where the soldiers still seem to think they are fighting the war. And Carrie McGavok is still watching over the graveyard in the same way that she did when living. Is Carnton Plantation haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Picture that Drea took that we mentioned on this episode:

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