We arrived in Lebanon Tn in the sunshine, not wanting to waste any of this precious commodity, we set up camp pretty quick and drove into Nashville so we could get to the Belmont Mansion before it closed for the day. Don't know about the Belmont Mansion, well here is the story about the mansion and the lady that built it.
Adelica Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham,
Born Adelica Hayes to a wealthy Nashville family, her father was a judge, Presbyterian minister and a cousin of President Rutherfield Hayes. At 22 she married Isaac Franklin who was a cotton planter and slave trader, Franklin was 28 years older then Adelica and after seven years he died leaving her seven Louisiana cotton plantations a 2000 acre farm in Tennessee and 750 slaves.
Three years after his death she remarried to a Joseph Acklen, this is after she made him sign a prenuptial contract. It was at this time that they started building Belmont a 20,000 square-foot summer house, they summered in Nashville and spent the winters on the plantations in Louisiana, prior to the Civil War Acklen managed to triple her money.
During the war when the Union forces moved into Nashville Acklen, an out spoken southerner, fled to the plantations in Louisiana to prevent capture or execution, while down there he contacted an unknown illness and died. Adelica took here four children and made a trip to bring his body back to Nashville, during the trip two of the girls got sick and and back in Nashville both died within a month or so of each other.
Adelica was face with financial ruin, all she had was 2800 bales of cotton spread out on the Louisiana plantations, she went back to Louisiana and convinced the Commanding officer of the Confederate troops to loan her some wagons and men to transport the cotton to New Orleans so she could ship it to Richmond and sell it to the Confederacy. Before she could get all the cotton shipped a new Commanding Officer took over and refused to assist her in any way, now what would she do. She went to the Commanding Officer of the Union troops and told him that she needed his help getting the cotton to New Orleans so she could ship it to New York and sell it to the union. He agreed and all the cotton was loaded on a schooner and the Captain was given all the proper papers to pass through the Union blockade of New Orleans. Once the ship was past the Union blockade the captain sailed straight to London and sold the cotton to the Rothschilds for $960,000. When the cotton never showed up in New York or Richmond both army's wanted to know what happen, she told them that she had no idea of what happen to the ship or the cotton, since she never accepted payment from the Rothschilds, nothing could be proved against her.
Three weeks after the war she sailed to London and collected the money from the Rothschilds, she then spent a few years with her remaining children touring Europe on a spending spree, which is when she bought most of the artifacts that are in the mansion today. She returned from Europe and at age 50 married Dr. Cheatham who also signed a prenuptial agreement. After 20 years of marriage most of it spent at Belmont, she sold the mansion (valued at $250,000 for $56,000) left Nashville and Cheatam with her three adult children and moved to Washington D.C. Shortly later while on a shopping trip to New York she took ill and died.
The person that bought the mansion held a sale and sold everything in the mansion, with nothing left but bare walls he sold it to two ladies who used it to start up Belmont College. It is now about 90% restored and the center piece of Belmont University and is open for tours.
Why would we rush around for this, well Cathy does genealogy, has been for about 20 years now and is related through the Acklen part of the family. We never saw any of the family fortune but we did see the mansion, for a fee. So much for family ties.
Cheekwood Gardens, the Zoo and a Tornado
Cathy and I very seldom pass up a garden or zoo, it's a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday so we figured that they wouldn't be to crowded so we packed a lunch and took off for Nashville. First stop was Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, don't know if i would call this a garden, compared to some we've been to. There were a lot of trails and some very pretty areas thanks to the Red bud's and Dogwoods, but the only formal type gardens were around the big hall and restaurant that they rent out for party's and weddings near the front gate. The gardens was a freebee for us so we can't complain too much but I don't think that it's worth the $14.00 a head that they want for admission. Well as we always say “No cost No foul”.
Found out something interesting about the Dogwood, what looks like the pedals are actually the leafs and the bloom is the little thing in the center.
A couple of birds back on one of the trails.
Now its off to the Zoo, It took a little to find it but it was worth it, to start with this is another Freebee for us, it was a little more crowed then we thought it would be but not to bad. They have a lot of very nice displays and exhibits but the best part of a zoo is watching all the little kids running around and seeing the look of amazement on their faces when they see an animal for the first time. They had two baby white tigers that were born on December 14th 2008, all one wanted to do was sleep and the other one just wanted to play, with the sleeping one of course. This is a very clean well laid out zoo and worth the trip.
We normally spend a week in an area but are only here for three days, that's because we ran into some bad weather while in Crossville, thunderstorms, snow and weather alerts for tornado's, Spent 3 hours in the mens room with half the people in the park one night as a tornado touched down just a few miles from us. Which was better then being in this area, April 10th 2009 a large
tornado touched down in Murfreesboro, just 20 miles south of the park we are at in Lebanon, it passed right through town leaving a path of destroyed homes and businesses, about 142 in all. We tried to drive down and visit a few things that the news said were still open and undamaged, but traffic was so bad with the detours and emergency repairs crews that we turned around a gave up after a few blocks.