It is easy to forget that Adelicia and her family where not the only ones who lived at Belmont Mansion. According to the 1860 census, 32 slaves between the ages of 45 and 1 were at Belmont. However, the estate was also home to numerous employees who worked as overseers, gardeners, housekeepers, and even tutors for the children.
Recently our director, Mark Brown, visited Mt. Olivet Cemetery to take some photos of the Acklen masoleum where several family members including, Adelicia herself, are buried. However, while there he also located the graves of three former Belmont employees including Valentine Fischer, Leon Geny, and Henry Gray.
Valentine Fischer was originally from Germany. His family was into bee-keeping and gardening. He immigrated to the US in 1857 but did not come to Belmont as a gardener until 1880. It is unclear when he left Belmont but by 1892 he is listed in a Nashville city directory as a florist. Valentine died on November 7, 1900. Since he never married he left estate to several nieces and nephews, including one that was still living in Germany.
Leon Geny was originally from France. According to family tradition, Leon and his brother came to Nashville specifically to design Belmont’s gardens. In 1874 he and his wife bought five acres of land near Belmont for $2,500 and grew plants and flowers which they sold at the farmer’s market in Nashville. He died on January 24, 1878. However, Nashville city directories into the 20th century continue to list a Leon Geny (probably a nephew) as a gardener and florist. There is still a florist shop in Nashville today which traces its history back to Leon Geny.
Henry Gray was originally from England. Over the years he was employed not only at Belmont, but at the Tennessee Insane Asylum and Edgefield Nursery (where he was a partner with William Heaver). He also worked as a florist and a grocer. He died November 4, 1916.
For more information about these men, other estate employees, or slavery at Belmont, check out the History page on our website and the tabs titled Slavery at Belmont or Estate Employees.