Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Adelicia Acklen

  

  Adelicia Hayes Acklen was in many ways a real life Scarlet Ohara. She was born in 1817 and died in 1887 and is buried, with two of her three husbands, in a Mt. Olivet Cemetery crypt in Nashville. She didn't like her third husband very much. Her first husband, Isaac Franklin, was 50 years old and Adelicia was 22 when they married in 1839. Isaac made her a wealthy woman upon his death in 1846. He was said to be the most successful slave trader in American history which is nothing to be proud of. Even slave owners looked down on slave traders. It is kind of like the modern way that we look at drug dealers as opposed to drug users. She inherited two large plantations in Louisiana and 600 slaves. This was a huge amount of slaves and a large economic investment for the time when the average slave holder owned no more than 5 slaves. She also inherited the famous Fairview Mansion in Gallatin Tn.

  In 1849 she married Joseph Acklen. They had six children together but their twins died of scarlet fever. Together they built the Belmont Mansion which in French means beautiful mountain. The mansion had 36 rooms and was 19,000 square feet. It was their summer home to escape the unhealthy Louisiana mosquito's and heat. The mansion had a bowling alley, art gallery, gardens, conservatories, a lake, and a zoo, that was open to the public. Joseph Acklen was a local lawyer that made her even richer. By the time of his death in 1863 they owned seven plantations in Louisiana and over 1000 slaves. By comparison Thomas Jefferson only owned about 300 and he inherited most of those from his wife Martha Randolph Jefferson when her father died. It is said that she was the richest woman in the South.

  With her husbands death she had no way of selling the 2800 bales of cotton harvested in Louisiana that year. She embarked on a dangerous trip down the Mississippi River bribing both Union and Confederate's in order to pass through their lines. In the end she was able to bribe a Union gunboat captain to carry her cotton to a waiting ship which transported it to Liverpool England. There it sold for 960,000 dollars and was deposited in an English bank where it could not be confiscated by the Union Army. This was a huge amount of money in 1863. She was one of the few wealthy Southerners that was able to preserve their wealth after the war was over. During the war she was able to preserve Belmont Mansion from destruction by the Union Army because of family connections in New England. It was Union Gen. Wood's Headquarters during the Battle of Nashville. Union battle lines ran through her property and as many as 3,000 troops occupied her land but the mansion itself was not damaged. The first picture of course is Adelicia about 1846. The second is the mansion, which is the centerpiece of Belmont University. The third is Adelicia's favorite statue that stood in the mansion during her lifetime and is now standing in her crypt at Mt. Olivet.







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