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Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery added to cell phone tour

As part of Black History Month, the Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery, established in 1884, was added to the Historic Franklin Parks Cell Phone Tour.

A sneak preview of the cemetery stop will be featured on the City of Franklin website on Monday, Feb. 25th in honor of Black History Month. More information can be found at www.franklintn.gov/parks. The official tour stop will be launched with a ceremony in April.

"There is a lot of history at the Toussaint L'Overture Cemetery and this cell phone tour stop will help educate visitors and residents," Mayor Ken Moore said. Moore, joined other members of Leadership Franklin, including Charita Upkins, Sara Butler, Valerie Caldwell-Buford and Will Reid to add the cemetery to the Cell Phone Tour Route.

The Cell Phone Tour, which was launched last summer, features stops at various Franklin locations, such as The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, Eastern Flank Battle Park and Winstead Hill. Other cemetery stops include Rest Haven Cemetery and City Cemetery.

Toussaint L'Overture Cemetery is named after a slave leader whose rebellion led to Haiti's independence in 1804. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

According to Williamson County in Black and White, a book written by Rick Warwick of the Heritage Foundation, Henry Ewing, a local contractor, called upon members of the community to form an association to purchase land, four acres for $400. The 44 members who joined to form the Mt. L'Ouverture Association included Ewing, Sam Carothers, Caeser McEwen and Mollie Gadsey and signed papers in January of 1884, just 19 years after the Civil War.

The audio tour introduces several of the prominent Franklin residents buried in the cemetery. It begins with an introduction from Mayor Moore and includes the voices of Toby Mac, Melinda Doolittle, WSMV Newscaster Tom Randles, Strongtower Church Pastor Chris Williamson, Historian Thelma Battle and Community Leader Tommy Murdic.

The late Rev. John Thomas Patton, who founded the Patton Brothers Funeral Home in 1882 in Franklin at the age of 23, is described in the beginning of the tour. Patton was joined by his brothers, Jasper, Daniel and George later. The business, which is active today, operates out of Nashville and is the oldest African-American funeral home in middle Tennessee.

"It was a joy working on this project and bringing these stories to life,” Upkins said. “We are so fortunate to have these famous individuals add their voices to help preserve our history in Franklin."
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