Haunted Tennessee Plantations: Wheatlands & Carnton
A Dark Past
The history surrounding plantations and Antebellum homes is soaked in blood and mistreatment. The shadow this time left behind on the United States will never truly fade away. Hundreds of years of suffering, heartbreak, and pain surround these plantations, as thousands of individuals were forcibly removed from their homes and forced to work the lands and farms here. With such dark pasts, it would be almost impossible for these places to have come out unscathed. Read on below to find out who (or what) still wanders the acres of these two haunted Tennessee plantations.
In the ever-so-beautiful Wears Valley and home to Dollywood lies Sevierville, Tennessee. Now a huge tourist trap with large comical restaurants and statues lining its main streets, the area wasn’t always filled with joy and happiness. Named after its large annual wheat crop, Wheatlands is a true Antebellum style plantation. It was established as a family farm by Revolutionary War veteran Timothy Chandler in 1791. Chandler’s son, John, took over the plantation in 1819 and under his direction the farm grew to be one of Sevier County’s largest plantations, covering 3,700 acres. Once the slaves that worked these acres were freed, they inherited parts of Wheatlands in 1875 and formed the Chandler Gap community in the hills just south of the plantation. Chandler owned 15 slaves who worked the plantation here, including fifteen horses, forty head of cattle, and 300 hogs. There was also pounds crops being harvested, honey, and even whiskey coming from the plantation’s distillery.
Nothing but A Tragic Past at Wheatlands
The plantation has witnessed over 70 murders and deaths within its walls. Most of these murders have extensive reports backing them, which lends credit to the gruesome history of the home. The grounds were even battlegrounds during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. There was an estimated 28 Cherokee people who were massacred in the Battle of Boyd’s Creek, who are now buried in a mass grave behind the home itself. Fifty slave gravesites are also located on the property. When visitors walk into the parlor, they are greeted by the bloodstains on the floorboards from a father who was slain by his own son, which has caused one of the most famous hauntings at Wheatlands. The Chandler Family ghosts are also said to linger here in the hallways of the gorgeous home. Many sightings of these forlorn spirits have been reported over the years. Slave children have been witnessed running about, playing on the grounds. An apparition of a young girl in a blue dress has also been seen within the house, running up and down the stairs. Shadows and objects have been moved without explanation, and the gravesite areas are active with disembodied voices.
History has not been kind to the Wheatlands property, and it seems as if the land is a magnet for the dead, as the original builder, a Freemason, purposely built the home right atop a giant geode!
The Carnton Plantation played a huge role during and immediately after Franklin’s Battle during the American Civil War. Carnton is a red-brick federal style 11-room residence, completed in 1826 by prominent politician Randal McGavock using slave labor. Built on a limestone foundation, which is said to amplify spiritual energy, the mansion was home to the McGavock family. Cedars line the driveway leading up to the home, giving it a true Antebellum look. To the northwest of the home, a 2-acre family cemetery sits. The soldiers that died in the Battle of Franklin are also buried there. The home itself was used as the largest field hospital for the injured soldiers during the battle. More than 1,750 men lost their lives in the battle, and more than 300 were treated, and 150 died right on the grounds on the first night. Four Confederate general’s bodies were laid out for a few hours after the battle ended on the back porch.
A Bit of Gruesome Haunted History
1,700 Confederate soldiers are buried here, making this the largest Confederate graveyard in the entire South. A ghost of a young girl has been seen in the home’s kitchen who is said to have been murdered before the war by a jealous suitor whom she rejected. She is told to sweep the floors at dusk still. The spirits here enjoy the autumn months most, probably due to the summer heat pushing anyone around indoors. At dusk during October, visitors may see the ghost of a woman floating across the back porch or even the spirits of fallen soldiers out on the fields. A Confederate general has also been reported pacing the front bottom porch during the fall as well. A mischievous spirit is reported here most often, and when the home’s curator heard some strange noises coming from the enclosed back porch, she went to investigate. She found two panes of glass taken down from a shelf and placed against the back door. She believes this sly spirit is that of the murdered young girl. The floating head of the cook who worked for the family during the Civil War has also been spotted floating through the hallway and kitchen areas. She can be heard bustling around the kitchen, going about her various duties.
The hauntings don’t stop there! A lady in white, a soldier, a young girl with brown hair, and Native American spirits have also been reported in the bedrooms, the back porch, and the grounds surrounding the home.
One report from a visitor who had an ancestor fight in the Battle of Franklin is truly chilling. Found on the Haunted Houses website, the report is as follows:
‘A man, Mr. P, who had an ancestor fight in the Franklin battle came at just after 5:00 PM to see Carnton Mansion, but it was closed, so he walked around the place, on a path that led to the back of the mansion, trying to soak up the atmosphere, and thinking about his relative who fought here and survived. Near the porch, he saw the silhouette of a man that he thought was about to get on a horse, but the horse vanished. Noticing another man on the porch, Mr. P asked him what had happened to the horse. The man explained that the horse was shot from under the other soldier like his horse had been earlier.’
Obviously, the two men that Mr. P had seen were not physical beings but ghostly ones. He conversed with two Civil War soldiers’ spirits, peeking into the harsh world that his ancestor had fought through. One can only imagine the feelings this must have brought forth. It was almost as if fate had it that Mr. P would wander around the grounds instead of going inside for the normal tours. Almost as if he was meant to meet these two spectral men. Many visitors have reported seeing these men, moving about the grounds and even trotting away into the horizon on ghastly stallions.
Haunted Now, and Beyond
Spooky, right? The spirits here at Carnton Plantation are living out the past day after day, remembering the battles of all kinds that they endured. Places like Carnton and Wheatlands Plantations live as physical reminders to us of our past, no matter how horrid it may be. Structures that house the restless spirits of ages gone by. Carnton and Wheatlands aren’t the only two haunted plantations in the area, which comes as no surprise due to their dramatic histories.
So, there you have it, a couple of Tennessee’s most famously haunted plantations and their underlying stories and secrets. We’ll leave you with this small quote by the great B.B. King… ‘I was born on a plantation, and things weren’t so good. We didn’t have any money. I never thought of the word ‘poor’ ’til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you’re not doing so well. And your restroom is not inside the house.’ Stay tuned for further articles on other Tennessee plantations and antebellum homes that hold more history than one could even imagine!
For more hauntings in Nashville, check out our Top 10 Most Haunted Locations list!
Featured Image Courtesy of GetArchive