Friends of Franklin Parks receive gift from the Harlin family to support restorations of Park at Harlinsdale Farm

Friends of Franklin Parks receive gift from the Harlin family to support restorations of Park at Harlinsdale Farm

At Harlinsdale Farm, from left: Harlinsdale Committee Member Ronald Ligon; FOFP Board Member Commissioner David Landrum; FOFP Executive Director Torrey Barnhill; FOFP Board Member Amy Cross Nance; Bill Harlin; Clay Harlin; Camille Harlin; FOFP Board Member Kevin Thompson; Tom Harlin; FOFP Board President Dr. Monty McInturff.


On January 3, Friends of Franklin Parks Executive Director Torrey Barnhill met with members of the Harlin family at Harlinsdale Park to receive a check for $7,200.

After family patriarch William Wirt “Bill” Harlin Jr. died last summer, the family decided to sell the remaining horses from a long line of acclaimed stallions.  The Harlin family and Harlinsdale Farm had become known in Tennessee equine society for these stallions dating all the way back to the 1930s.

The money, received from the sale of nine horses and two foals, will go to the Friends of Franklin Parks. An additional $1,000 will be accrued after the sale of one more horse.

“With my father’s passing, it was time to end it,” Clay Harlin said of the family business. “We’re all emotionally tied to it. It’s bittersweet.”

Harlin, 64, worked on the farm growing up, and has worked with his own children there. Though he is saddened by the end of his family’s legacy as horse breeders, he appreciates the work Barnhill and other Friends of Franklin Parks members have done to maintain the history of the farm.

“Now I really appreciate what the city has done because so many people are enjoying it and it has not been disturbed,” he said.

Barnhill said the Harlin family’s donation will go towards the renovation of the main barn. In the future, she hopes to keep preserving the farm’s history of animal husbandry and horse breeding. She is also intent on maintaining the park as a place for residents to visit.

Harlin expressed an interest in seeing programs at the farm to help those who are low-income or have special needs, like a petting zoo or animal therapy.

“My heart goes out to them,” he said. “There’s something about animal husbandry and horses that is medicinal.”

The donation by the Harlin family is the latest news about Friends of Franklin Parks, a 501(c)3 organization which recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city of Franklin to share city park responsibilities.

The organization also recently announced the addition of four new members to its Board of Directors, and named Adam Ballash its new board president.

Ballash, of Boyle Investment Company, helped form Friends of Franklin Parks and has served as vice president of the organization ever since. As vice president, he was able to oversee the construction of the Tractor Supply Co. Arena at the park.

Other new board members are:

Braton Machleit, owner of Buzz’d Fly Fishing and co-owner of Harpeth River Shuttle. He is a Centennial High School graduate and United States Navy veteran who returned to his hometown to pursue his passion for introducing people to the great outdoors and the Harpeth River. He lives in Franklin with his wife Molly, two children and a Labrador Retriever, Brookie, who often joins him on float trips.


Susan Smallwood, a longtime Williamson County resident and community volunteer. She has worked with organizations as varied as the TennesseeSeniorOlympics, TN Achieves and Friends of Franklin Parks’ ad hoc Harlinsdale Committee. She is a graduate of Barrington College and Trevecca Nazarene University who holds a graduate degree in medicine as a physician’s assistant. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of New Hope Academy. She chaired the Board in 2012 and 2014.

Katie Spence works as an internal audit manager with Jackson National Life, focusing on broker-dealer and investment advisory activities and other key risk areas across North America. Katie has more than 15 years of financial services experience in operations, compliance and internal audit. She also holds a variety of specialized industry certifications and licenses. She is an Investment Advisor Certified Compliance Professional with Series 7, 24, 63, 66 securities licenses. Her expertise will be particularly valuable to Friends of Franklin Parks on the development side. She is an avid cyclist and overall outdoor enthusiast, and will contribute to efforts surrounding connectivity of Franklin’s parks and other key initiatives.


Kevin Thompson is a founding partner at Thompson Burton PLLC. He is one of the most sought after attorneys in the country in the direct sales industry. He was recently selected as a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine, and is regularly quoted in the national media on legal matters and speaks at conferences throughout the world. He is a former All-American decathlete and a proud husband and father to four children.


About The Author

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

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