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Old City Cemetery and Rest Haven Cemetery of Franklin, Tennessee

By Laura Bentley

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These two old cemeteries are separated only by a road. They are both quiet old with Old City cemetery being the oldest. The Old City Cemetery contains a fair number of box tombs which is a favorite of mine but what makes this cemetery stand out is the unusual shapes of a few of the headstones as well as the graves of the Fountain Branch Carter family.

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Fountain Carter lived in a town that is now know for one of the bloodiest battles of the civil war, The Battle of Franklin which took place November 30th,1864. His son, Captain Tod Carter, was within yards of being at his fathers home when he was mortally wounded in the battle.

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He lay in his own yard over night, wounded and in the freezing cold, before he was finally found the next day and brought inside his home to be cared for. It is said that so many dead and wounded men lay in the yard it was hard to walk without stepping on bodies. This one battle resulted in about 10,000 dead, wounded, missing or captured soldiers.

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Captain Tod Carter is buried within the walls of Rest Haven cemetery that was established in 1855. His sister-in-law is buried nearby. I have not been able to find out why they weren’t buried in the Old City cemetery with other members of the Carter family.

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A few rows away from Captain Carter lies buried an Unknown soldier that was buried shortly after the Battle of Franklin. It is unclear which side he fought on. His story is unique as his body wasn’t located until recently during a building project.

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He was buried with full military honors and his grave contains a military headstone simply marked unknown soldier and as well as what appears to be some sort of old column from a building or home. There is also a plaque that gives some information on this Unknown Soldier.

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While visiting these two cemeteries be sure to look for the grave of Anarchy Cowles who was a freed slave, the Infant Marr sisters who lives ended tragically short, Fannie Courtney who was a teenager that cared for the wounded Union soldiers and the founder of Franklin, Ewen Cameron. The Old City cemetery was in need of some restoration when I last visited but the grounds were very well kept. Rest Haven is in great shape with the grounds neatly kept.

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This cemetery contains headstones marking the graves of men, women and children who lived, loved and made Franklin what it is today. You will also find the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers as well as some unmarked graves. For a list of names of those known buried at the Old City cemetery please visit the website, http://www.usgwarchives.org/tn/williamson/wilcems.html.

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While in Franklin be sure to walk through this quaint restored beautiful old Southern town as well as some of the surrounding streets to see some of the most lovely old buildings and homes. Also if you have time visit the Carter House Museum to hear the story of Captian Tod Carter as well as see the damage left by the historic battle which can be seen in the bullet riddled walls of several buildings on the property.

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