Oaklands Historic House Museum
This house museum shares the history of a Southern plantation from the perspective of planters with an emphasis on the wealth produced by enslaved persons and the disruption of that life as a result of secession, the Civil War, and the end of slavery. The historical landmark caters towards reenactments and serves as a wedding and event venue that presents a romantic view of the antebellum South as a time of prosperity. Often missing from this view is the hardships experienced by the enslaved persons or the lives of most residents of Murfreesboro. The plantation home belonged to the Maney family and is the only historic house museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Backstory and Context
In 1813, Sally Murfree Maney inherited 274 acres of land north of the town named for her father, Colonel Hardy Murfree. After Colonel Hardy Murfree died in 1809, Sally Murfree Maney and her husband Dr. James Maney then constructed what was eventually known as one of the most elegant houses in Middle Tennessee. The Oaklands Plantation construction began in the late 1800s, when the Maney's built a two-room brick house next to a large spring north of Murfreesboro. It was a very well built one-and-a-half-story house that had a chimney on each end of the home. A house such as this demonstrated distinction in a time in which most homes were log homes. The Maney's began to make new additions to the home. The first was the addition of a two-story portion to the end of the house and then they also added a two-story "ell."
After the death of Sally Maney, Adaline and Lewis Maney shared ownership with Dr. James Maney. The house helped many famous people and allowed them to stay there. One of these people was John Bell, an 1860 presidential candidate against Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The Maney's housed George Washington Custis Lee (son of Robert E. Lee), Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Sarah Childress Polk (the wife of President James K. Polk), naval officer and oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury (cousin of Rachel Adaline), Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Major General Leonidas Polk, Brigadier General George Maney (commander of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. and cousin of the Oaklands Maneys), and many Union officers. Adaline and Lewis did not get to enjoy their new home long before the Civil War broke out in 1861. The plantation then became a center for growing cotton, tobacco, vegetables, and other crops.
On July 13, 1862, Confederate soldiers under future Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest defeated American forces that were camped on the plantation grounds of the Oaklands. Lewis and Adaline's children may have watched this conflict unfold from the window on the second floor.
Today, the house museum serves as a wedding venue and caters to the romantic view of the antebellum period. The website of the museum includes sections for educational materials but as of 2019, none of these materials include anything specific about the number of enslaved persons, their names, or their experiences. Sites from the National Park Service, however, describe aspects of the lives of enslaved persons such as blacksmith Solomon Williams.
"History of Oaklands" http://oaklandsmuseum.org/history-of-oaklands/ accessed 8/27/19
Oakland Plantation History, National Park Service, Can River Creole. Accessed August 27th 2019. https://www.nps.gov/cari/learn/historyculture/oakland-plantation-history.htm.
Ziehl, Nell. Representing Slavery at Oaklands Plantation. M.A. Thesis, University of Georgia, vol. December 2003.