The Carter House

The Carter House postcard
Apple Trees in Bloom
Apple Trees in Bloom
Apple Blossoms
Apple Blossoms
Battlefield Sign
Spring Vegetables
Spring Vegetables
Summer Vegetables
Harvesting Beans
Harvesting Okra
Volunteers Planting Osage Orange Hedge
Carter House Volunteers
Carter House Volunteers
Herb Garden
Slave Cabin
Heirloom Peony Bed
Orchard In Winter
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In 1830, Fountain Branch Carter built a 1.5 story brick house just south of downtown Franklin for his small family. He and his wife Polly had 12 children, 8 of whom reached adulthood. In just 20 years the Carter farm grew from 19 acres to 288.
On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin raged across the fields south of town, scarring the landscape, claiming the lives of thousands and changing life on the Carter farm forever. Before daybreak Federal Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox woke the Carter family, took possession of the house, and made the parlor his headquarters. The fighting began in the waning afternoon sunlight when 20,000 Confederates attacked a similar number of entrenched Federals. The Carter family, a neighboring family, and several Carter slaves took refuge in the north room of the basement as the battle raged around their home.
In the years following the war, the Carter family made efforts to rebuild their farm and revive their livelihood. But the farm was never again as profitable as it was before the war. Eldest son Moscow Carter sold the house and land in 1896. Carter House was purchased by the State of TN in 1951 and it was first opened to the public in 1953. Today it is managed, along with Carnton, by The Battle of Franklin Trust and is dedicated to the Carter family and all Americans who fought in this battle.

Moscow Carter maintained meticulous journal entries of the restored garden and orchard from the early 1870’s. The discovery of this journal has provided the compass for the restoration of this historic property. The orchard was started in 2012, after clearing a decrepit chain link fence, brush, and debris. WCMGA volunteers were instrumental in clearing the property, and planting the orchard and vegetable garden. Carter had planted roughly 400 apple and peach trees. The orchard currently has 69 trees; 50 apple and 19 peach. Both varietals are grown in the same row order as Carter had planted after the battle. WCMGA volunteers have been able to find and successfully grow all 7 original varietals of apple trees and 2 of 10 peach varietals that were planted in 1870. These heirloom trees are more susceptible to disease than modern cultivars; therefore, a comprehensive spray program is required. The local UT professionals assist WCMGA volunteers in identifying problems and taking corrective action. 

WCMGA volunteers have planted the traditional vegetables of the day (squash, potato, okra, beans, beets, cabbage, and various leaf vegetables) beginning in 2012 in the location that was Carter’s “Fall” garden. His large “Summer” vegetable garden, according to archived photos, was located on property recently purchased that has become part of Franklin’s new “Carter Hill Battlefield Park”. The garden and the orchard have been protected much as it would have been in the mid-1860’s by an Osage-Orange hedge. Over 150 are being pruned into an impenetrable hedge that 19th century farmers claimed to be “horse high, bull strong, and hog tight”. The hedge has dense foliage and limbs with large thorns that are strong and flexible. Osage-Orange trees were used to make bows by Native American Indians, and were widely used for fences, posts, and as ornamental specimen trees in the early 19th century. The food harvested from the gardens and orchard is donated to various local organizations. WCMGA volunteers annually donate over 1000 hours to maintain and further develop the gardens and orchard at Carter House and meets every Tuesday morning during the growing season.

Check out the article: "Gardens at Carnton and Carter House Combine History and Horticulture"

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