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Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings in Williamson County, Tennessee Book Publication Announcement

What was Special Collections doing during the covid-19 shelter-at-home mandate?

We’re glad you asked! Your Special Collection librarians were right here, working hard on compiling and editing a new book for our department, and for you! As much as we didn’t like the circumstances, we welcomed this time to focus on bringing our work to completion. We fully intend to have our new book available for purchase and/or perusal sometime in June, barring any unforeseen circumstances. 

What is the title?

The long title is: 

Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings: A Further Look at the Popular Series, “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen,” Published in The Review-Appeal, 1966-1968, in Franklin, Tennessee

What made you compile a book? 

Inspiration. It’s as simple as that. Nearly two years ago, an old box of donated items provided  hours of delight and entertainment as we combed through its contents. Among the assorted papers, we found a nearly complete set of Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” clippings which, we soon discovered, ran as a series between the years 1966-1968. We were intrigued by this Review-Appeal appointed group of outstanding citizens, so highly regarded that each face was individually hand drawn by Tennessean staff artist, Bill Duke. 

Why these citizens?

Each generation recognizes those among us who stand out, the ones getting things done, the ones everyone either knows or “knows of.” How the Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” series came into being is a bit of a mystery, as well as their selection process. It seemed to have just appeared out of the blue, with no introduction and no conclusion. However, once re-discovered, we quickly recognized that this collection of citizen portraits gave us a unique snapshot of Williamson County and some, but not all, of the more visible citizens of the late 1960s, and that in itself was significant. While our nation was in the throes of political turmoil and cultural revolution, it would seem that business and life went on as usual in Williamson County.

Why is this book important?

As we began to wonder how the lives of these “Excellent Citizens” played out and what it would look like to read their end-of-life story, we set out to locate their obituaries and other articles. After compiling a fair amount of additional material, it was easy to see the treasure we had unearthed. We knew if we could get this all into a book, it would become an important resource for present and future researchers in finding family connections and aiding their understanding of these citizens and their place in our midst. For added interest, we threaded in ads of the era found in the Review-Appeal, The Williamson Leader, and the local Franklin phone directory. We also used quotations and excerpts from other local sources whenever possible.

Are any of the Excellent Citizens still living?

Yes, only about 10. For those citizens who are still living, we sent letters or called asking for their help, or their family’s help, in creating an updated entry for them. Most were happy to do so. And as word got out, some families of those citizens already gone were eager to help as well. In that way, we were able to amass original and important additional content for many of our living and deceased Excellent Citizens.

Are there other books about local people from Williamson County?

Yes, there are quite a few wonderful biographies, and several narratives of life in Franklin which are very  entertaining as well as factual. We are eager to point out to our readers works such as Who’s Who in Williamson County by Jane Bowman Owen, Who’s Who in Williamson County by Nat Osborne, Jr., and Who’s Who in Williamson County by Derry Carlisle, reprints of the Review-Appeal column of the same name published over a span of 35 years, all colorfully written and re-published by Rick Warwick. We also encourage our patrons to read the narratives of locals who have chronicled their own lives in Williamson County during this era, and in doing so, have animated the lives of many other citizens, some featured in our book. Look for works by Leonard Isaacs, Russ Farnsworth, Bill Peach, Bobby Langley, Jimmy Gentry, W.C. Yates, and others. Many of these are available to check out at WCPL.

Why are these 143 citizens important?

In today’s world, we have “social media” and “influencers,” but these men and women of the late 1960s were influential — they were doers, and their lives reflected their interaction with and influence in the community. For a time, they were all here in this one place, together, the stalwarts of their day. We hope this book, which we have painstakingly compiled and edited, will provide its readers and researchers with a useful resource as well as a source of memories of a time gone by, now known as The Sixties. 

Watch for details about our new book, Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings, coming out soon!

From the Special Collections Department

Marcia P. Fraser and Ashleigh M. Florida

Ghosts of Franklin

By Amy Shropshire, Reference Department

Nothing sends a shiver down the spine like a good ghost story, except maybe seeing a real ghost! Franklin is chock full of tales of the supernatural, spirits coming to visit this earthly plane and frightening the daylights out of folks. Franklin is so haunted that walking tours downtown take you through some of the haunted places daily, and entire museums are set up to accommodate spectral visitors. National Paranormal Day seems a great day to explore these historic places and maybe check out a book about ghosts.

Just a few blocks from the library are the Lotz House and the Carter House, two haunted pieces of Civil War history. During the Second Battle of Franklin the Lotz family and other civilians gathered in the basement of the brick Carter House, huddled together as the battle raged about them. When they emerged 17 hours later, dead bodies littered the ground from the battle between the two houses. Thousands of bullet holes are still visible in the brick. One of the Carter sons fought in the battle and was mortally wounded and died days later at the home. The young Lotz twins also died after playing near a stream because the union soldiers had poisoned the water supply in anticipation of defeat.

A Dead Civil War Soldier Created by Edouard Manet in 1871

Further south, the Carnton Plantation House has its own tales of ghastly visitations. Countless soldiers died there as it was used as a field hospital. The apparition of a jawless floating head recalls the story of a soldier that lost his jaw and died of starvation. Blood stains are still present, dark shoe prints of the surgeon that stood amputating limbs for hours and reportedly chucking the spare limbs out the window. The property contains the largest Confederate graveyard in the south. The bodies that populate it however, have been interred for a second time. After the Second Battle of Franklin the bodies were simply buried where they fell, before the graveyard was donated. Perhaps these disturbed graves are responsible for the appearance of ghostly soldiers.

Ghost sightings have been reported at all these houses. At the Lotz House, Civil War soldiers appear with accompanying fog and at the Carnton Plantation, the lady of the house appears in windows and on balconies to wave toward the cemetery. A bandaged soldier has been known to appear sitting on the bed where the Carter’s son died after being wounded in battle. Closer to downtown, the courthouse has been known for ghost sightings, where lynchings, hangings, and branding of criminals took place. Along third avenue several businesses that are currently open  claim hauntings.

Bullets and Bayonets Book

Celebrate National Paranormal Day with something to chill the blood. Take a stroll through these haunted places with a tour group downtown or walk into a tour at Lotz House to chase down some ghost sightings of your own. Book ahead for a tour of the Carter house and Carnton Plantation to see if you can rustle up a spook or two. To fuel your ghost hunting, come check out a book at the library to gather more info about the local specters and spirits. Also, take a look at the fabulous book Bullets and Bayonets that was written and created by the employees of the Williamson County Public Library System.  Happy hunting!


Books:

  • Bullets and bayonets : a Battle of Franklin primer : a Sesquicentennial project of the Williamson County Public Library compiled by the staff of the Williamson County Public Library (J 973.737 BUL)
  • Tennessee Ghosts they are among us by Lynne L. Hall (133.109768 HAL)
  • Haunted Battlefieds of the South by Bryan Bush and Thomas Freese (133.10975 BUS)
  • Ghosts of Franklin: Tennessee’s most haunted town by Margie Gould Thessin (133.10973 THE)
  • Carnton Plantation Ghost Stories by Lochlainn Seabrook (133.10973 SEA)

Resources:

What Is Special Collections, Anyway?

By Cindy Schuchardt, Special Collections

If you’ve wandered the library looking for that next great read, you may have braved the stairs and checked out our non-fiction section, teen room, rotunda area, and computer learning lab.  As you continued to explore the second floor, perhaps you saw the “Special Collections” signage, beckoning you to a mysterious room tucked back in the corner behind the printers. Special Collections? What is that… a place to donate to your favorite charitable organization?  No.

The collections that we feature are books, periodicals and other specialized resources that relate to genealogy and local history. If you’ve wanted to research your ancestry or learn more about the history of Williamson County or Tennessee, then come in for a visit! Here’s a look at what Special Collections has to offer:

  • Books and periodicals that take you on a journey from European Genealogy and History, to S. Genealogy &  History, to Tennessee History &  Periodicals.  From there, materials explore various Tennessee counties, nearby states, and family biographies.
  • The Local Authors Collection, consisting of books published by Williamson County residents, past and present.
  • A View Scan microfilm reader, which allows you to browse through local microfilm records: newspapers that date back to the early 1800s, court records, deeds, and marriage records.
  • The Epson Perfection Pro scanner, with plastic frame adapters that make it easy to capture crisp digital (and printable) images from 35mm slides, film strips, and variously sized photographs and negatives.
  • A copy stand to help you take well-focused lighted images of publications and objects of all shapes and sizes.
  • Our giant map case, located in the Williamson Room. This five-drawered beauty allows us to store most large maps flat, making them easier for you to find and read.
  • An array of online materials, including free in-library use of Ancestry without a subscription and free in-library Affiliate Access to FamilySearch from your free personal account.
  • The Thelma Battle Collection, which includes access to photographs, funeral programs and family files of African Americans in Williamson County from the 1800s through today,
  • The Richard Carlton Fulcher database, which features excerpts of local court records that document persons of African descent in Williamson County from its founding in 1799 until the early 1900s.
  • The Genealogy and Local History database, including newspaper birth announcements and indices to family files, Veterans information, local news and magazine articles, and the Edith Rucker Whitley Collection. The latter consists of more than 2,300 notebooks of genealogical research compiled by Mrs. Whitley during her lifetime, organized by surname
  • A database of Williamson County obituaries compiled by library staff and volunteers.

Really, there is so much more than I can tell you about here.  Are you a Civil War buff or perhaps an aficionado of historic homes?  Do you want to dig deeper into your family tree but need some help getting started?  Do you need to find an old court record or want to discover where a relative is buried?  Perhaps we can help!  It is important to note, however, that we are not professional genealogists.  We don’t guarantee answers, but we do strive to deliver courteous, professional assistance to help you with your ancestry and local history research needs.

Surely there must be a catch? We only have some minor restrictions. To protect our materials, no food or beverages are allowed in Special Collections, and items here are not available for checkout.  You may only access our materials during scheduled department hours: from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, with extended hours until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  The department is closed on Sundays and on scheduled library holidays.

Now that you know what Special Collections is all about, why not plan a visit?  We look forward to meeting you!

The NEW Genealogy and Local History Database!!!

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian

The Special Collections Department has a new swanky database format with a wealth of genealogy and Williamson County historical information, available here. Below are some highlights of what you can find:

  • Local History News Database: Contains a selection of over 7,000 local news stories, and growing.
  • Obituaries: Contains over 50,000 Williamson County Obituaries and growing.
  • Index to the Edith Whitley Collection: Whitley was a professional genealogist who compiled a wealth of unique family research material in her 50 plus year career in Nashville. This material has not yet been digitized or microfilmed, and is thus unique to the Special Collections department.
  • Databases on Williamson County Births, Cookbooks, Families, Magazines, Maps, Marriages, and Veterans

We are especially strong in local African American history and Genealogy thanks to two outstanding collections; the Thelma Battle Collection and the Richard C. Fulcher Collection. In the Thelma Battle collection, there is a wealth of information on bank records, bills of sale, cemetery records, census records, churches, local community history, craftsmen, deaths, deeds, funeral program index, labor contracts, marriages, politicians, social organizations, slave genealogies, schools, and more – including an index to some of the popular exhibits of her large collection of local African American related photographs. The Richard Fulcher database contains a partial index of that collection, covering County records and court excerpts related to Williamson County African American Families.Database 2 image

Each one of these collections is individually searchable, or you can browse, by clicking on the Collection Links page. What makes this new format really exciting however, are some of the new features available through the Search tab. Using the KEYWORD search tab, we now have the ability to search multiple databases simultaneously. In the dropdown menu, simply hold the “Ctrl” key and click all of the databases you are interested in searching. In addition, the FIELD search tab allows you to be far more specific in searching individual databases than was previously possible.

As always, the Special Collections staff is available to answer any questions you might have in navigating the new format or giving you more information about the specific collections. Reach us at 615-595-1246 or email SPCOLL@williamson-tn.org.

Heritage in a Cookbook

by Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian

When the Genealogy Department (Now Special Collections and Local History) was established at the Williamson County Library in 1993, the head of the department envisioned among its holdings a cookbook collection that would preserve women’s names for posterity, which are so hard for genealogy seekers to find in the old records. Ahead of her time, genealogy and local history librarians over the country are now promoting cookbook collections on their web sites, not just for containing women’s names but for representing the heritage of communities, ethnic groups, and individual families. For example, the Minnesota Historical Society Library in St. Paul Minnesota has an excellent web page identifying cookbooks by the type of orga080801_cookbook1_sillonizations publishing them. The categories given are Business, Church, Community, Ethnic, Family, and Fundraising/Charitable. The Genealogical and Local History Library of the Hayner Public Library District, Alton, Illinois has a year long display of some of their cookbooks (April 2014-April 2015) pictured and discussed on the web. The latest craze posted on various genealogy web sites is “How To” create family a cookbook, seeking recipes and family stories from older members of one’s family (http://genealogy.about.com; www.genealogyspot.com; www.familytreemagazine.com (Family Tree Magazine Oct 27, 2011).  And our Special Collections Departments has many cookbooks falling into the different categories representing the social history of Williamson County and Tennessee.

  1. (1) Business:
    1. We’re Cooking, the City of Franklin Employees’ Cookbook, 1998 (including men)
    2. The Art of Cooking in Franklin by Franklin Business & Professional Women’s Club 1971.
  2. (2) Church:
    1. Several 1970’-1990’s, representing Brentwood, Grassland, Triune, Peytonsville, Franklin
  3. (3) Community:
    1. Stick a Fork In It by Leipers Fork, 2010;
    2. South Harpeth Cookbook, no date.
  4. (4) Ethnic:
    1. The Heart of the Taste (African American) 2004
  5. (5) Family;
    1. Henrietta Bates Family and Friends Cookbook 2007;
    2. Cucina Mia Present/ Mahowdoya?, 2000,recipies of the DiVito family of Franklin (Italian) ;
    3. Reid Family Recipes, Allsboro, Alabama, 2009, but with Franklin ties.
  6. (6) Fundraising:
    1. A Medley of Grand Ole Recipes by the Brentwood High School Band 1992;
    2. Several by local elementary schools giving the name of the parents, child and grade the child is in;
    3. 25th Anniversary Republican Women of Williamson County

The Special Collections Department is currently compiling a data base of the individuals named in our cookbook collection, many of whom, from the earlier books, are now deceased.

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