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Photo by Landry76

Carnton was built by Randal McGavock (1766-1843) and Sarah Dougherty Rodgers McGavock (1786-1854) in 1826 as a red brick Federal style home south of Franklin.

Its current address is 1345 Eastern Flank Cir. The McGavocks improved the 1,000 acre property to become one of the best farms in Williamson County. Randal served as mayor of Nashville, 1824-25. After his single term, he built Carnton. Sarah’s brother-in-law was Felix Grundy. Their daughter, Elizabeth, married William Giles Harding of Belle Meade Plantation.

With Randal’s death, Carnton went to Sarah for her lifetime, then to their son, John. Son, John McGavock (1815-1893), inherited the farm at his mothers’s death. He married Carrie Elizabeth Winder (1829-1905) of Louisiana in 1848. Carrie was a good friend of Rachel Jackson who helped her lay out part of the carriageway and gardens. “McGavock’s Grove” was known for famous people to visit and debate the issues of the day: Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Maury, Isham Harris, Father Ryan, Grundy & Bell. Carnton is an important historic site because the house was in the middle of the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin and because an astounding five Confederate generals were killed in that combat - which was an unheard of situation and tragedy. The fallen officers were laid out on the back porch at Carnton. They were generals Cleborne, Gist, Adams, Granberry & Strahl. In 1866 Col. John and Carrie McGavock established a 2-acre large Confederate cemetery for the 1,500 Confederate casualties.

After the Civil War, John kept the farm going with sharecropper arrangements. Carrie managed the farm until her death in 1905. [Their nephew, James McGavock, built Blue Fountain/ McGavock-Gatewood-Webb house.]

Their son, Winder McGavock (1857-1907) inherited property and lived there with his wife Susie Lee Ewing McGavock (1863-1931). Winder died two years later. His family left Carnton and lived in Franklin. Then Susie Lee left the property in 1911. From 1911-the late 1960s, Carnton was abandoned and fell into bad shape. W. H. and Mary Dedman Glass purchased a portion of the troubled property and built Walnut Hill.

In the 1950s, Dr. Wiliam Daniel (W.D.) Sugg (1897-1981) and Ruth Caroline Dickinson Sugg purchased the 12 acres and the Carnton structure and held it for years - they resided in Bradenton, Florida. They wed in 1948. Dr. Sugg practiced medicine there: Early in the 20th century, he was the only surgeon south of Tampa on Florida’s west coast, owned most of the future Holmes Beach, and co-owned Shaw’s Point. He was a founder of Manatee Memorial Hospital, in 1949 a founder of the Florida West Coast Symphony, and of the South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium.

Dr. Sugg was a Franklin, TN native, attended Battleground Academy and Vanderbilt, and had intended to retire to Franklin.

In 1973 historic preservationists Mark and Freda Garrett, along with many others, held a ball-style party and took donations to help preserve the Carnton property. A main reason for the preservation effort was that Carnton remains known for the musket ball marks on its walls and the bloodstains from the Confederate general casualties. By 1977, the Carnton property was threatened by the proposed development of a golf course with Carnton as a proposed clubhouse. To preserve Franklin history for posterity, in 1977, the Suggs donated Carnton and 10 acres to Carnton Association.

It is now managed by The Battle of Franklin Trust. Carnton was named for a family estate in County Antrim, Ireland and is derived from Gaelic cairn meaning “a pile of stone.” NRHP 1973 See Belle Meade, Blue Fountain, Midway, Walnut Hill


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