Carter House: History


In 1830, Fountain Branch Carter built a one-and-a-half story brick house just south of downtown Franklin for his small family. He and his wife Polly had twelve children, eight of whom reached adulthood. The sons included Moscow Branch (1825), James Fountain (1831), Theodrick IV “Tod” (1840), and Francis Watkins (1842). The daughters were Mary Alice (1835), Sarah Holcomb (1837), Annie Vick (1838), and Frances Hodge (1844).

Though Fountain had successfully operated a business in town, following the construction of his new home he had the opportunity to pursue farming. In just twenty years the Carter farm grew from nineteen acres to two hundred and eighty-eight. Fountain also added a cotton gin which increased the farm’s value and production immensely.

On November 30, 1864, the Battle of Franklin raged across the fields south of town, scarring the landscape, claiming the lives of thousands and changing life on the Carter farm forever.

Before daybreak Federal Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox woke the Carter family, took possession of the house and made the parlor his headquarters. The fighting began at 4 pm in the waning afternoon sunlight when 20,000 Confederates attacked a similar number of entrenched Federals. The Carter family, the Lotz family from across the street, and several Carter slaves took refuge in the north room of the basement as the battle raged around their home.

Fountain Branch Carter’s son Tod was serving as an aide to Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas Benton Smith during the Battle of Franklin and was mortally wounded in the fight.  He was shot down leading a desperate charge just southwest of his childhood home. Tod was brought to the house where he died two days later.

In the years following the war, the Carter family made efforts to rebuild their farm and revive their livelihood. But the farm was never again as profitable as it was before the war. Moscow Carter sold the house and land in 1896.

Carter House was purchased by the State of Tennessee in 1951 and it was first opened to the public in 1953. Today it is managed, along with Carnton, by The Battle of Franklin Trust and is dedicated to the Carter family and all Americans who fought in this battle. Their legacy is our mission.