History of Old
Fairvue, Part One – The Franklin Era
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From the prehistoric
stone-grave natives to today’s beautiful development, it’s hard to
name a more scenic or historic area than the first Bluegrass
district of Tennessee.
Centuries ago the
Woodlands Indians chose these rich creek bottoms to hunt, farm and
bury their dead in stone-lined graves. When the first pioneers came
in the 1770s, they chose the same rich lands along a creek they
named Station Camp, after the earliest hunters’ shelters. Five
Franklin brothers claimed the best of the land, and built their
substantial homes along the creek, sheltering in the shadow of a
promontory that river travelers knew as Pilot’s Knob. One brother
gained fame throughout the South, grew extremely rich and built a
spectacular mansion as a crown for his two thousand fertile acres.
He called it Fairvue.
Fairvue Plantation with
Icehouse - Bill Puryear - 12"x24" - Oil on Panel
But beautiful Fairvue
has a dark side, for it was built on the backs of humans sold in
bondage. Isaac Franklin was the largest slave trader in America.
The old Buffalo trace
that ran in front of the house became the main stage route for
traversing Cumberland country. Along it came one day the lovely
Adelicia Hayes from Nashville, bound to see friends in Gallatin.
Forced to take shelter from a storm in the mansion, whose owner was
away at the time, she took a look around and announced, “I set my
cap for the master of this house.”
twenty-eight years her senior, but they had eleven years and four
children together. Unfortunately, none of them survived to live as
adults, and Isaac’s will, which left Adelicia rich, but bequeathed
the remainder to found an academy for the poor students of Sumner
County, was broken in Louisiana courts, which ruled it a perpetuity.
Adelicia took the money and built, with her second husband, Belmont
Mansion in Nashville, which today is the centerpiece of the college.
Isaac’s magnificent tomb, like his fortune, was built on sand, and
tumbled away. The Civil War saw both Fairvue as well as Adelicia’s
Belmont occupied by the Yankees, but she managed to convert her
cotton to gold, which she removed to London. Adelicia became one of
the wealthiest women of the South, eventually selling both Fairvue
and Belmont and moving to Washington, D.C. After three husbands and
ten children, she died at the age of seventy, while on a shopping
trip to New York City.
limestone blocks of Isaac's ruined tomb are featured today in the
entrance gates to the Fairvue Plantation development.