There were several extended families along with individuals who lived in slavery for multiple generations at Belmont Mansion In Nashville and the Franklin home of Fairvue in Sumner County, Tennessee. Below is a list of the African Americans who are recorded as having lived at either home, some as enslaved people prior to the war and others after the war as freed and paid servants.
The African Americans of Belmont Mansion
Betsy and Children
Betsy Betsy served as a house slave and came to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839. She is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate. She is also listed in the Joseph Acklen marriage contract of May 1849 as belonging to Adelicia and she appeared in an October 1857 legal document. She was the mother of Harriet, James, Alexander, Joseph, Amanda, and Ive.
Alexander was the son of Betsy and came to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839. He is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and again in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. He also appeared in an October 1857 legal
document. He was a sibling of Harriet, James (could be James Alexander), Joe/Joseph, Ive, and Amanda.
Amanda was the daughter of Betsy and came with her mother and siblings to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839. She is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. She also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. She was a sibling of Harriet, James, Alexander, Joe/Joseph, and Ive.
Amanda is possibly the same Amanda [with no last name given] buried in the Nashville City Cemetery on March 10, 1871. Most likely, she is the cook referenced in an October 1868 letter from Adelicia. By April 1869, Adelicia had a new cook.
Harriet was the daughter of Betsy and came to Adelicia with her mother and siblings to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839. She is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. She also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. She was the sibling of James, Alexander, Joe/Joseph, Ive, and Amanda.
Ive was the daughter of Betsy, born after September 1847 but before May 1849. She is listed in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia and appeared in an October 1857 legal document. She was the sibling of Harriet, James, Alexander, Joe/Joseph, and Amanda.
James was the son of Betsy and was possibly known as James Alexander. He came to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839 along with his mother and siblings. He is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. He also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. In a letter believed to be written November 13, 1862, Adelicia wrote of sending Jim (possibly this James) to her brother’s home in Brentwood, Tennessee, to get some turkeys. James was the sibling of Harriet, Alexander, Joe/Joseph, Ive, and Amanda. [McGavock Hayes papers TSLA Manuscript. # 785 (letter # 29 in Belmont Mansion files)
Joseph was the son of Betsy and came to Adelicia from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839 along with her mother and siblings. He was listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. He also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. Joseph was the sibling of Harriet, James, Alexander, Ive, and Amanda.
In 1860, Adelicia wrote that Joe was to help Mary put up lace curtains at Belmont. In November 1856, there are also accounts of a Joe who was to wash the flowerpots after Mr. McGrady (the gardener) emptied them. These accounts may be referencing this Joe/Joseph. In the 1880 and 1881 Nashville City Directories there is a Joseph Acklen listed as African American, working as a laborer at 121 N. Cherry Street. In 1880, his home address was N. Spruce near Gay, and in 1881, Quarry near Line. The 1881 directory listed another Joseph Acklen listed as African American, also working as a laborer at the Union Stockyard, with a residence on Clinton near Walnut.
Baker and Snowden Families
Baker, John was born ca. 1820. According to records dated September 28, 1847, he was a slave at Fairvue and listed as being 27 years old at the time. He was married to Betsy or Bettie Baker.
Baker, Betsy or Bettie was born ca. 1825 at Mount Vernon, Virginia, and was purchased by Isaac Franklin from John Washington, adopted son of George Washington. According to records dated September 28, 1847, she was a slave at Fairvue and listed as being 20 years old at the time. She was married to John Baker and was listed as having at least 9 children; the 1910 census noted 15 children with 6 still alive. She died in 1923 at Peach Valley in Sumner County, Tennessee.
Ruffin Baker, one of her sons, born ca. 1846, has more information on Betsy/Bettie listed under his own entry below. Besides Ruffin, according to some records, Betsy/Bettie also had a son Mark Baker, born in 1847 or 1853. He married Fannie who lived from 1861 to before 1900. Betsy/Bettie also had a daughter Hanna Baker born in February 1858. Mark and Hanna are easily traceable because Betsy/Bettie lived with her adult children near the end of her life. The 1900 census listed Hanna (age 42) as head of household, living with her brother Mark (age 53), nephews Willie (age 22), Mark (age 18), and another nephew whose name is illegible (age 15), and her mother Betsy/Bettie (age 80). In the 1910 census, Mark (age 56), Hanna (age 53), and Betsy/Bettie (age 90), are all residing together. In the 1920 census, Mark (age 68), lived with Hanna (age 64), and Betsy/Bettie (age 107, but more likely 101). It is noted Mark and Hanna could read and write; Betsy/Bettie could not read or write. The age discrepancies are within a logical margin of error for census records.
Ruffin was most likely the son of Bettie/Betsy and John Baker and was listed as being two years old on a September 28, 1847, inventory. He was born ca. 1846; married Mary Jane Sergeant (born 1850) on April 23, 1870. They had the following children: John (born 1869), Celina (born April 1882), Alex (born October 1892), and Anna May (born June 1893). Two grandchildren are also listed in the record: Brutus (born September 1892) and Margaret or Martha Ann (born August 1889). There is a Mark Baker who is likely the son of Ruffin (not listed in the notes above), born in April 1875, and married in 1895 to Hannah, also born in April 1875. According to the 1910 census, Mark and Hannah, both age 34, lived with their children, Henry, age 14 (born May 1896), Anthony, age 11 (born June 1899), Parker, age 8, Jennie, age 6, and another son, Dorsey, age 3.
Aggie: According to family tradition, Aggie was the personal maid to Adelicia and sometimes took care of the children. She traveled with the family to New York in 1866. While there, she met and married Sam. Aggie remained in New York until Sam’s death and then moved back to Fairvue. It is believed she is the mother of Eva Snowden Baker.
Baker, Eva Snowden was born ca. 1856, and died in 1939. According to family tradition, she was Adelicia's personal maid or personal dresser after the Civil War. It appears she was married three times. We believe her maiden name to be Snowden, but it is possible that her first marriage was to a Snowden, and then perhaps to a Lane and later a Baker, according to her children’s surnames. One of her marriages was to Mark Baker (b. ?, d. 1940). He was one of nine children of Betsy Baker, who was born in 1825 at Mount Vernon in Virginia and died in Sumner County. (The 1870 census for Sumner County listed an Eva, age 12, daughter of Richard Dixon, age 28, and his wife Hannah, age 22, and sister, Dinah, age 3. [This family is only a possible match for Eva Snowden Baker.] )
The 1900 census listed her as Eva Snowden, age 45, having eight children and head of the household. At least five of her children were by Mark Baker. In 1900, she lived with Peter Snowden, age 23 (born March 1877), Neal or Sarah Lane, age 17 (born May 1883, although some records say 1893), Gus Lane, age 13, (born August 1886 or 1889), Baby Love Baker, age 8 (born June 1891), Eldritch or Eldridge Baker, age 6 (born November 1894), Ruffin Baker, age 3, (born November 22, 1895 or 1896), and Bennie Baker, age 6 months (born November 1899). In 1900, she was living in the Peach Valley area of Sumner County with a number of other former slaves from Fairvue. She cannot be found in the 1910 census. In 1920, the Sumner County census listed her as 61 years old and living with Ben, age 40; an illegible male name, age 38; Wilkins, age 34; and Gertrude, age 30. The 1930 census listed her living in Peach Valley with her sister Sally Ann Smith, a widow. Eva is listed as being able to read and write.
Brutus and Fanny
Brutus was Isaac Franklin’s valet and was married to Fanny/Frances. Isaac's will granted ownership of Brutus to Adelicia. He was sent to Louisiana to work on the Angola Plantation then owned by Franklin's estate in September 1847 as he may have been involved in or sympathetic to the attempted murder of the overseer at Fairview.
Following Adelicia’s marriage to Joseph Acklen, he became Joseph’s valet. Brutus was sold in New Orleans in March or April 1857 for “drinking all winter and behaving very badly,”. Records indicate Adelicia wrote on April 29, 1857, that he had been sold in New Orleans from Angola Plantation. He was jailed on several occasions. He was sold again this time to a General Pike who brought him to Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brutus died on December 22, 1869, having by this time taken the last name of Jackson. A newspaper account recorded his recovery from heavy drinking.
Fanny/Frances was married to Brutus and served as a house slave. She came to Adelicia through Isaac Franklin's will. It is still unclear if she is the same Frances who was the children's nurse. (see entry below)
Maria and her Children
Maria was a house slave who came to Adelicia Acklen from Adelicia's father O.B. Hayes in 1839. She was listed in September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. She also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. Maria was mother to Ezekiel, William, and Mary Ann.
Ezekiel or Zeke was the son of Maria and came to Adelicia with his mother in 1839. He is listed in the September 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and in the May 1849 marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. Ezekiel was sibling of William and Mary Ann.
Mary Ann was the daughter of Maria and came to Adelicia with her mother Maria in 1839. She is listed in 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate and the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelcia. She also appeared in an October 1857 legal document. She was a sibling of Ezekiel and William.
In 1860, Adelicia wrote that Mary, with the help of Joe, was to put up lace curtains at Belmont. She was to regulate the house as well. Mary Ann could be Mary Fleming, an African American servant listed as working at Belmont in the 1870 census, 28 years old and born in Tennessee. Her actual age would be 31 in 1870 if she were a year old or less in 1839. The difference of 3 years is very much within the range of age discrepancies found in census records. For more information on Mary Fleming, see her listing under the “Other Servants and Estate Workers” section.
William Acklen was born between September 1847 and May 1849. William was the son of Maria, who was given to Adelicia by her father O.B. Hayes in 1839. While not listed on the 1847 inventory of Isaac Franklin’s estate, he is listed in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia.
In 1866, a William Acklen, age 19, a former slave of Adelicia's and a servant after the war, was called as a witness for damages that occurred at Belmont during the Civil War. This document indicated his birth year as 1847. An 1857 legal document listing slaves given to Adelicia by O.B. Hayes noted Maria, along with her children Ezekiel and Mary Ann, and then William. This name order may indicate William was likely born after 1847.
Other Known Listings For William Acklen
It is difficult to know whether any of the following men are the same William Acklen who lived at Belmont, but they are included here as reference.
William Acklen or William Acker was married to Rosa Powers by Reverend Lemon on September 28, 1865, in Davidson County. [Book 5, page 75]
William A. Acklen was married to Mary A. Boyd on April 4, 1889, by J.M. Mitchell in Davidson County. [Book 9, page 155]
The 1890 Nashville City Directory listed a William Acklen living on Deluge Street. This person is not listed in the 1889 or 1891 directory. A William (Billy) Acklen died July 31, 1890, age 70. He was born in Tennessee, married, and resided on Deluge Street. He died of dysentery, and his death was certified by Dr. Richard Cheatham [son of Adelicia’s third husband Dr. William A. Cheatham]. He was buried at Mt. Ararat Cemetery. This is probably not the same William Acklen as this man would have been born around 1820; the William in most of Belmont’s records would have been born ca. 1847. A Mary Acklen, widow of William, lived at 819 High Street in 1896.
William Acklen: The 1889 and 1890 Nashville City Directories listed William R. Acklen as a driver. By 1893, he was listed as a salesman. He is listed as a painter in the City Directories of 1900, 1902, 1903, 1909, and 1913.
William D. Acklen is listed in the 1900 directory as a porter.
Frances: The children’s nurse. She is possibility the same Frances/Fanny Jackson who was Brutus’ wife. Brutus was sold in April of 1857. She was mentioned in a letter by Adelicia, from Louisiana in December, 1857 as taking care of the baby. This letter was written to family in Tennessee and it was clear that they knew Frances. She was also mentioned in a letter from Adelicia in April of 1860. William later referred to her as the “family Nanny.”
Fred: Adelicia sends Fred with beans to her brother Oliver B. Hayes, Jr. Oliver lives at Midway in Brentwood, Tennessee. In an undated letter to Hayes June or July 1863. McGavock Hayes papers TSLA Manuscript. # 785. letter # 29 in Belmont Mansion files
Gant [aka Grant], Ben Ben was born ca. 1831 and was listed on the estate inventory at Fairvue on September 28, 1847. In 1848, Adelicia “hired” him, and he was still with her in September of 1854. By March of 1861, he was “attached” to the Angola Plantation and was married to Maria Gant [Grant] who was born ca. 1841. They had a son, also named Ben. Vertical Record at the Sumner County Archives, Mortgage Statement, March 15, 1861 in New Orleans.
George In a letter believed to be written Aug. 1862 Adelicia writes “George left this morning, gone no one knows where unless to the camp.” This is the same time Randolph was impressed by the Federal Army for building fortifications around the city. The camp would have been at Fort Negley. McGavock Hayes papers TSLA. Miscip. # 785 Letter to Oliver letter #31 in Belmont Mansion files
A George Apeland appears on the Employment Records of slaves and freed people for building of the Fortifications in Nashville, owner listed as Col. Apeland. As only the spoken name was given when men were recorded in the Federal Rolls and Acklen could be spelled in many variations this appears to be the same person. He worked for four months at a rate of $7 per month. He was never paid.
In 1870 a George Acklen shot Washing Harding after being attacked by him. They are working on the Capt. Hammer farm on Ewing Pike four miles from Nashville. This may or may not be the same person. March 19, 1870 Nashville Banner
In 1871 a G. Acklen married Lizzie Allen week ending Dec. 15, 1871. By 1880 he was in the St. Louis, Missouri census as George Ackland, 35 years old and married to Rose. He appears several times again with the notation that he can read, though not write. George passed away in 1921, years after his wife; both are buried in the National Register listed Greenwood Cemetery of St. Louis.
Georgiana was mentioned in Isaac Franklin's will and possibly was at Belmont Mansion. It is unclear in the will if she was given to Adelicia or attached to Fairview for Adelicia’s use as long as she remained at Fairview.
Gibbs, Rena was born ca. 1833 and was listed on the estate inventory at Fairvue on September 28, 1847, where she was part of the house staff. Her mother was Maria Gibbs, born ca. 1815. By September 1847, Rena had two younger sisters, Louisiana, born ca. 1838, and Rachael, born ca. 1841. She also had a brother, Martin, born ca. 1845.
She was “hired” by Adelicia in 1848 from the Trustees of the Franklin Institute for $70 a year. In November of 1857, she was mentioned in a letter as being at Belmont after the Acklens had left for Louisiana. Vertical Record at the Sumner County Archives.
Julia Anne was mentioned by Adelicia in a letter to her brother, but other references have yet to be found.
London was buried at Old City Cemetery on February 16, 1850, on the Poplar lot, at the cost of $2.00. At the time of death London was listed as slave of J.A.S. Acklen, but the cause of death and age were not recorded. London lived at Adelicia’s house on Cherry Street. Nashville City Cemetery Records (5-1862: 133). Found online at the Nashville Public Library website.
Manuela was “hired" by Adelicia in 1848 from the Trustees of the Franklin Institute for $50 per year. By September of 1854, she had two children, names unknown.
Marcius was mentioned in Isaac Franklin's will and possibly was at Belmont. It is unclear in the will if he was given to Adelicia or attached to Fairview for Adelicia’s use as long as he remained at Fairview.
Mortimer was listed in the May 1849 Joseph Acklen marriage contract as belonging to Adelicia. There is no record of him before or after this document.
Randolph was a slave impressed by the Federal Army to build Fort Negley in 1862. Employment Rolls and Nonpayment Rolls of Negroes Employed in the Defenses of Nashville, Tennessee, 1862-1863. File #98, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Rose was mentioned by Adelicia in a letter to her brother, but other references have yet to be found.
Salley was listed as a “servant to Cpl. Joseph A.S. Acklim” [sp] when she was buried at the Old City Cemetery on March 21, 1862, in the “Negro lot” at the cost of $4.00 at age 23. She died of “Pneumonie.” Nashville City Cemetery records (5-1862:133). Found online at the Nashville Public Library website.
Belmont Research by Family Groups and chronology research
by Erica Hayden, Ph.D., Trevecca Nazarene College
and Mark Brown, Belmont Mansion
On January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Day, Freedom Plaza was dedicated on the Belmont University campus to the lives of those individuals who lived and labored at Belmont Mansion as enslaved people. They worked in the house and in the gardens but their homes were on this site. To hear their names and something of their story listen to that dedication.
The above research includes the people whose names have been found in historic records. This list, however, may well be incomplete. Research continues in an effort to document all who lived and labored at Belmont Mansion.