Patty wanted to see my favorite antebellum plantation in Nashville. And, because I’m memory challenged more this year than ever, I could only remember what it looked like from the road and that it started with a “B” so after driving all over Nashville to find the wrong one, we finally got to Belle Meade. Of course, they don’t put the GPS address on their brochures so we got lost amongst the synagogues and huge beautiful Buckhead-looking houses bt we did arrive.

We were able to walk around the grounds with Montana before the docent guided tour which did a world of good for us all. Days packed to the eyeballs in the truck meant we all bolted out of the truck like caged animals! Montana was so glad to smell grass and trees again (or the animals in them) that she didn’t take her nose from the ground until we made her go back into the truck!

Our first self-guided tour was at the original cabin built by John Harding in 1807. He and his wife started the legacy which became a world-famous horse breeding stable siring such famous horses as Secretariat, Seattle Slue and so many others that we can’t remember.

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This single couple created an empire from their strategically placed facilities where they carved out a cabin and a variety of services like blacksmith shop, gristmill, cotton gin and other services for the Chickasaw Trail which eventually became the Natchez Trace.

The John Harding’s eventually built the original plantation house.

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Patty and Montana in front of the Plantation house. No pictures could be taken on the inside of the house so you’ll have to go visit it yourself. It’s worth the trip.

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Montana at Belle Meade!IMG_4831BelleMeadeBkBack of Belle Meade Plantation house (as expanded by later generations). Belle Meade was managed by four generations of Harding’s. The final Harding died just a few months after his famous grandfather throwing the 5400 acre estate in serious financial difficulties. IMG_4832CoachHseA very small portion of the enormous coach house still full of sleighs, buggies and other related  memorabilia of the family and period.IMG_4839DollHseThe Victorian Dollhouse for the kids. I thought it very small in comparison. The children certainly didn’t rank as high as the company who visited who often received diamond earrings and stick pins as gifts at major celebrations. All children were in one small room off the major suite. IMG_4851.DairyJPGDairy house in same style as the main house.IMG_4852SlaveCabinThe most remarkable stories came from this slave cabin where, after the Civil War, key now freed slaves became the highest paid and valued employees of this huge enterprise called a plantation. Bob Green came to Belle Meade as a child whose knack for working with the horses was recognized and he not only lived with his family in the original cabin with his family but outlived all the Hardin’s. He was so loyal to his employers that, when financial difficulties meant selling off assets, he handed over his favorite saddle horse to be sold. It was bought for him for $25.00.What a lesson in history this one place it. I have only seen two other plantations worthy of this praise and they are in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Tomorrow, we’re off to see the wizard!

Happy Trails!

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