Franklin groups, individuals write letters of support for “Fuller Story” initiative, will present to Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday


Franklin groups, individuals write letters of support for “Fuller Story” initiative, will present to Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday

PHOTO: Franklin’s town square, seen during the Veteran’s Day parade, Friday, November 10, 2017./Brooke Wanser

By BROOKE WANSER

As a legal question on ownership of town square property moves through court, several local groups have come out in support of the “Fuller Story” historic markers proposed for downtown Franklin.

Williamson, Inc., Visit Franklin, the Heritage Foundation and several others have written letters in support of the historic markers slated to tell a “fuller story,” which will be presented and discussed at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Tuesday night.

That story includes the treatment of slaves in the county, who were bought and sold at an auction house, near where the old county courthouse stands on town square, in the early 1800s.

A coalition of faith leaders and historic preservationists presented a plan to install four new historic markers on town square and create a statue of a United States Colored Troops soldier at a meeting on August 14, which was later met with backlash by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who claim they own the land.

Legal question

A complaint filed on August 31 by city attorney Shauna Billingsley against the United Daughters of the Confederacy seeks to discover who actually owns the town square park land.

The central point is a Confederate monument erected by the UDC in 1899.

The complaint noted the Franklin Chapter #14 of the UDC was dissolved in 1990 and is no longer an official organization.

Nevertheless, the UDC is represented by Nashville attorney Doug Jones, who has threatened to sue the city if they install the proposed markers.

On a document filed in court September 18, Jones responded affirmatively to a waiver of service of summons, acknowledging his receipt of the complaint. Jones has 60 days to file a response.

Community responds

Former Williamson County Commissioner Mary Mills, who helped found the African-American Heritage Society, wrote in her letter that “Franklin has experienced some racial problems, but nothing like that experienced by the citizens of Charlottesville, Va. I pray that this never happens here.”

“We believe presenting a more complete account of Franklin’s shared history provide an opportunity to more fully educate our community and visitors to our community,” wrote Williamson Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen. “We also believe these markers will present Franklin’s history in an inclusive manner, which is incredibly important to our organization and our business community.”

“Truly the bitter memories of slavery and struggles for freedom also brings attention to survival and perseverance of lost heroes. . . African-American men and women, never truly recognized, but whom fought many battles,” wrote local historian and author Thelma Battle. “Many of those battles were not battlefields of the Civil War, but of everyday living with slavery and its legacy.”

A seven-page petition filled with names of citizens in favor of the markers will also be presented.

Here is a full list of the organizations who have written letters in support of the initiative.

  • Williamson, Inc., Williamson County Chamber of Commerce
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Franklin’s Charge
  • Visit Franklin Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Battlefield Preservation Commission
  • Mary Mills, former Williamson County educator and commissioner
  • Charlie Weir, Head Pastor of Gateway Franklin
  • Thelma Battle, author and historian
  • Save the Franklin Battlefield

The meeting begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at brooke.wanser@homepagemediagroup.com. Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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