Two historical markers will be placed on the sidewalk circling the center of Franklin’s town square. // Photo rendering submitted
By JOHN McBRYDE
Work continues on what has become known as the “fuller story,” and it’s possible the project’s historical markers won’t be placed in their designated spots in the town square area of Franklin until a related court case is settled.
A motion for summary judgment was filed by the attorney representing the Franklin chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and was to be heard in Williamson County Chancery Court on Tuesday, but Judge James Martin delayed the hearing until later this spring. The UDC is involved in a lawsuit with the city of Franklin to determine who owns the land in the center of the Franklin square where the Confederate monument known as “Chip” stands.
Organizers of the fuller story project — Franklin Community Church Pastor Kevin Riggs, Strong Tower Baptist Church Pastor Chris Williamson, Pastor Hewitt Sawyers of Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church and Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson — proposed last summer that historical markers be placed in the downtown Franklin area, including on land where the Confederate monument was placed in 1899 by the UDC. These markers would tell more about the complete story of Franklin’s history in the Civil War era with a focus on the standpoint of African-Americans.
The UDC’s objection to the placement of these markers led to the question of whether the organization or the city of Franklin owned the land. The city filed a lawsuit in September claiming ownership, and in February, Doug Jones, attorney for the local UDC chapter, filed a motion for a hearing that was scheduled for March 26. That will be rescheduled for later, likely in May.
Meanwhile, the fuller story men had revised their plans and said they would now place two markers on the sidewalk encircling the center of Franklin’s town square. Two more would be across the street in the area near the Williamson County Courthouse, along with a statue of a United States Colored Troops soldier.
As to how this delay will affect the timing of the placement of the historic markers, Riggs said it’s up to city of Franklin officials and ultimately Judge Martin’s ruling. But the consensus seems to be the case should be decided before markers are placed, even though they’re not planned to be erected on the property in question.
“We think by moving them at the bottom of the steps on the sidewalk around the circle, then that clearly puts it on city property because it’s a sidewalk,” Riggs said.
The fuller story group continues to look for a sculptor to work on the USCT soldier statue, and wording is still being fine-tuned on one of the markers.