When Adelicia graduated from the Nashville Female Academy at sixteen she did so with the highest honors. What would her education have consisted of?
Rhetoric, orthography, spelling, syntax, reading, geography, history, arithmetic, painting, drawing, music, recitation, grammar, writing, etymology, and prosody.
Which, if any, of her husbands could be considered the love of her life or was it perhaps the boy she was engaged to at seventeen who died of typhoid?
It is difficult to say. She loved each differently, was a different age and at a different stage in her life. Each husband brought something to the table. I do have my idea…as she ages and reflects.
Adelicia’s first husband, Isaac Franklin, was fifty to her twenty-two. There’s evidence that there was true affection between them. Did Adelicia choose Franklin or was their marriage arranged.
The marriage was not arranged. She “set her cap for him.” There is evidence of true affection between the two. Each brought something to the table.
I can’t imagine the grief Adelicia suffered by losing her first four children all before the age of 11. Do you think parents in the past were more inured to a child’s death?
Actually, Adelicia lost five children before Emma’s death at age eleven. She lost the first three Franklin children, two little girls by Acklen, then Emma Franklin. I do not believe the loss of a child was felt any less in previous centuries than in our present one. A mother’s heart is a mother’s heart, regardless of the time period.
Did her children’s deaths have a lasting effect on Adelicia?
Yes. She often reflected on their deaths with great sorrow. Only four of her ten children lived to maturity.
When Franklin died he left the widowed Adelicia a fortune estimated at $1million, a substantial amount at any time, what would that be in today’s dollars?
The numbers vary as to the exact amount left by Franklin. Nine hundred thousand dollars in 1846, converts to between twenty-one and twenty-seven million dollars in today’s market.
Did Franklin teach Adelicia the finer points of estate management and business or did she learn these prior to their marriage?
Adelicia was quick and astute by nature. She was also observant…and learned much from managing Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin,Tennessee, as its mistress. She was fascinated with Isaac’s ability to turn money into more money through wise investments. She also oversaw the households of their homes in Louisiana.
I read how Adelicia audaciously saved her cotton and a large portion of her fortune from both the Union and the Confederacy. Can you share the highlights of this fascinating story with those who haven’t had the pleasure?
It is factual that Adelicia’s cotton left the plantations in West Feliciana on Union wagons, pulled by Union mules and under guard of Confederate troops. The command to allow Mrs.Acklen to do this was from orders very high in the ranks of both North and South. You must read the novel to discover how this was accomplished.
When Adelicia and her children traveled to England to collect the proceeds from her cotton sale did they proceed to do a European “Grand Tour?”
She did not necessarily go there to “collect.” She and the children did spend much time touring in Europe, and she did see to her fortune, accordingly.
Depending on what you read, Adelicia is said to have received 920,000, one million, or two million for the cotton she saved and sold to the Rothschild’s. How much did she earn from the sale?
Cotton was selling at the rate of $1.89- $1.91 per pound in 1863-1864. Adelicia earned approximately four-to six million dollars. I will let you know more when I do further calculations. The cotton was not sold to the Rothschild’s only.
It’s fascinating and very forward thinking that Adelicia had Col. J. A.S. Acklen and Dr. W.A. Cheatham sign a pre-nuptial agreement. Would that have been considered “unmanly” at the time, especially as Acklen was such an astute businessman who helped triple Adelicia’s fortune?
Pre-nuptial agreements were not that uncommon, however, Adelicia made certain that neither husband would own or have control of her land, money or investments. It would not have been considered unmanly. Many men married into money then as they do now. There is no record to indicate that Col.Acklen’s business acumen helped to increase Adelicia’s fortune. Many were involved, including Adelicia. Her fortune from Mr.Franklin had more than doubled before her marriage to Col.Acklen.
Did Col. Acklen receive a salary for his efforts on his wife’s behalf?
There is no data to indicate one way or the other. He obviously profited from the marriage, (style of living) as did Adelicia from her marriage to Isaac Franklin.
Please tell us about Belmont, the “summer villa” they constructed together.
It contained an aviary, bowling alley, art gallery, lake, lavish gardens and of all things, a zoo that she opened to the public. You must visit Belmont Mansion in Nashville! Although the mansion, gazebos and water tower are all that remain, it is easy to visualize the extent and grandeur of the grounds that consisted of 167 acres.
Was Belmont considered extravagant or extreme for the times?
Belle Monte was considered extravagant, lavish and “extreme.” An interesting fact is the description recorded by a Union officer in his diary of the mansion and its grounds. Adelicia once replied to an acquaintance who had asked about her extravagance, “My dear, extravagance is when one cannot afford it. I have never been extravagant.”
Do you think Adelicia’s ghost walks the halls of Belmont as some claim?
Ghosts appear in many old homes, according to some. I have not encountered a ghost at Belle Monte, however, I do feel a familiar presence there. I was asked by my hostess at Fairvue to “discover” which room had been Adelicia’s. I think I selected the correct one.
Was Adelicia considered eccentric during her lifetime or was she largely admired?
Maybe a bit of both? Adelicia was both admired and envied, mostly the latter.
Are there any conjectures on why Adelicia sold Belmont and left Dr. Cheatham after twenty years of marriage?
Yes. A good question. This will appear in the sequel.
I understand Adelicia was quite the equestrian, was that a lifelong love?
Have you ever considered a Sassy Southern Women, or something along those lines, or has it always been Adelicia for you?
Many titles have been brought to my attention. From the onset, I have wanted the title to be ADELICIA.
Does Adelicia have any surviving relations?
Yes. Some great, great, great, greats.
I had never heard of Adelicia before but find her fascinating and look forward to reading ADELICIA.
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit Manic Readers, Joyce.
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