PHOTO: An image of town square taken around 1900 by famed photographer Albert Kern./Courtesy of Dayton History Center
By BROOKE WANSER
In a lawsuit filed Friday by the City of Franklin against the United Daughters of the Confederacy, they assert the local chapter is not a recognized legal corporation.
After local religious and preservation leaders came to the city with a plan to create markers recognizing African-American history on the town’s square, UDC chapter #14 claimed ownership of the park on which a Confederate monument stands, and threatened legal action should the city allow the markers.
The local chapter, which is known as Franklin’s oldest historic preservation organization, was created in 1895.
Public records from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website show September 6, 1989 as the date the organization filed for business status.
But just four months later, in January of 1990, they filed articles of dissolution and termination.
Chapter President Cynda Ferguson did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the UDC’s legal counsel, Doug Jones.
The group is best known for chartering the monument of an unnamed Confederate soldier which stands on town square, known as “Chip” for a chip in his hat.
It was erected in 1899, after the county court, similar to today’s county commission, extended a deed to the UDC for the amount of land needed to build such a monument. That deed was never filed.
Each year on the November 30, 1864 anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, the group lays a wreath on the statue.
“The monument was erected to remember a particular group of people and what they went through,” said Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson, who advised the men seeking to place the new markers.
The new markers, he said, which would describe the former slave auctions that took place near the old county courthouse, would make some people uncomfortable.
“But that’s history,” he said. “If we avoid it, we never deal with it. No one is looking to assign blame or guilt, but it’s a fact.”