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Kennesaw Farm

Kennesaw was built on Nashville Pike between Hendersonville and Gallatin.

Washington LaFayette “Fate” Baber (1824-1863) and Martha Jane Trevilian Baber (1830-1916) erected the 2 story Federal style mansion in 1856. They wed in 1855. Baber was the son of Thomas and Lucy Baber of Bellemont. Legend has it that Albert Claiborn (A.C.) Franklin was gambling with Baber on a Mississippi river boat, and Franklin won Kennesaw and 292 acres on a bet. Franklin (1812-1874) was the brother of Isaac Franklin of Fairvue and was married to Henrietta E. Watkins (1814-1852). After Henrietta died, Franklin wed Sarah Jane “Sally” Watkins (1830-1861) in 1855. A.C.’s brother, Isaac, owned Fairvue Plantation across the road. Franklin focused the farm on thoroughbred breeding with tremendous success.

Over his lifetime, A.C. put together nearly 1,400 acres. During the middle to late 19th century, Sumner Co. and central middle Tennessee was the focus of the race horse world. Evidently, Tennessee’s bluegrass was comparable or even better than that of Kentucky. Laws against gambling and the Prohibition era changed things and helped end Tennessee horse racing dominance.

After A.C.’s death in 1867, his son, Capt. James Franklin (1840-1891), inherited 303 acres and the mansion and continued running the farm. James was married to Betty Pegram Humphries (1845-1917). Later, their son, Harry Franklin (1876-1949) and Elizabeth Pierce Franklin (1877-1941), inherited the property. Kennesaw had great success in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

In 1913, Isaac Calvert McMahan (1849-1932) and Sarah Esther Henderson McMahan (1855-1938) bought Kennesaw. They wed in 1874. McMahan partnered with James Wellington to run a very successful thoroughbred breeding farm until 2004. In 2004, the mansion and 300 acres of land were bought by developers. From 2005-2014, Kennesaw was renovated, renamed Kennesaw Farms, and offered special event and wedding hosting. See Bellemont/ Fox Hall, Fairvue

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