Those Who Were Enslaved at Belmont Mansion
While slavery is often associated with large plantations, the institution permeated Southern culture. Belmont Mansion, or Belle Monte as it was known in the 19th century, was not a plantation, but the labor of a large number of enslaved people was utilized to operate the estate.
The staff at Belmont Mansion continues to seek and find new information about the people who were enslaved here. To that end, we invite researchers and descendants to share any information on the enslaved population of Belmont Mansion. Discovering the details that complete the story comes from many sources: family stories, papers and letters, and legal documents. Join with us on the journey to telling a more complete 19th century history; a journey best done in partnership.
Mrs. Baker's portrait allows the museum the opportunity to put a face to one of the many named individuals who lived and worked at Belmont Mansion as either an enslaved person or a person of color who was freed after the Civil War.
Eva Snowden (1856-1941) by Gladys Wear Ligon (1892-1987). Eva lived as an enslaved person at Fairvue, the property owned by Isaac Franklin, Adelicia Acklen’s first husband. According to tradition, Eva later worked as Adelicia Acklen’s personal maid at Belmont Mansion. Her partner, Mark Baker, was born at Farivue as the son of Betsy Baker, a woman who had been purchased by Isaac Franklin from Gen. John Washington, nephew of President George Washington.
The artist, Gladys Wear Ligon, graduated from Ward-Belmont College (the predecessor of Belmont University) with a certificate in art in 1916. She was a friend of Ellen Wemys, then the owner of Fairvue, who commissioned this portrait and documented in photos some of the men and women who had lived and worked as enslaved people at the house. The portrait was likely done from a photograph as it was done sometime between 1939 and 1950.