Lawyer, Planter, Businessman, Veteran of the Texas Revolution
|Born:||July 6, 1816, Huntsville|
|Died:||September 11, 1863, Angola Plantation, West Feliciana Parish, LA|
• Death was the result of a carriage accident
• Biography of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham, Joseph Acklen's wife: "She was the daughter of Oliver Bliss Hayes, a prominent Nashville lawyer, judge, Presbyterian minister, land speculator, and cousin to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Born in Nashville, TN in 1817, she was engaged at age 17 to Alphonse Gibbs when he precipitously died. Five years later in 1839 she married a 50-year old wealthy cotton planter and slave-trader, Isaac Franklin. They were married for seven years with four children (all died in childhood) when Isaac died of a stomach virus while tending to his plantations in Louisiana; the widow Adelicia Acklen was left with an inheritance of $1 million that included seven Louisiana cotton plantations, the two-thousand-acre Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, Tennessee, more than 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas, stocks and bonds, and 750 slaves.
Adelicia married her second husband, Colonel Joseph A. S. Acklen, in 1849. Joseph, a handsome attorney from Huntsville, Alabama, didn't quite sweep Adelicia off her feet; two days before they were to be married, Adelicia presented Joseph with a prenuptial agreement specifying that she would be sole owner and final authority over all the properties she brought into the marriage. The couple began immediate construction of Belmont (completed in 1853), a twenty-thousand-square-foot summer villa, with 36 rooms, including an art gallery, conservatories, lavish gardens, aviary, lake and zoo. The Acklen's with their four surviving children (two died in childhood) lived a sumptuous lifestyle, traveling between Belmont in the summer and their Louisiana plantations in the winter. The Acklen's entertained such notables as President Andrew Johnson, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, socialite Octavia La Vert, philosopher Thomas Huxley, and soldier of fortune William Walker, as well as numerous Confederate officers and political figures. Joseph was a superb businessman and plantation manager, who gave up his law practice to manage the family businesses, to triple his wife's fortune by 1860.
Joseph died in 1863 at the Angola plantation in Louisiana, age 47, a carriage accident during the Civil War, and shortly thereafter Adelicia journeyed to Louisiana in an attempt to save the nearly 3,000 bales of cotton stranded on the Acklen plantations. She faced financial ruin when the Confederate army threatened to burn her cotton to keep it from falling into Union possession. She hired a gunboat to take her down the Mississippi River, and first negotiated with the Confederate's not to go on a raid to burn the cotton. Next she charmed the Union to release the cotton to her and to take it by wagon to New Orleans. In New Orleans, the bottom fell out of the cotton market price. Discovering that cotton was in high demand in England, she managed to get her cotton on a ship to Liverpool where it was sold to the Rothchilds of London for a reported $960,000 in gold.
In 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered and the Civil War was over. Three weeks during the summer of 1865, Adelicia and her children sailed for England to retrieve the money made from this cotton sale, after which she took her family on a European Vacation. They went to France and was presented to the court of Napoleon III. In February 1866, she was in Italy where she bought some statues for Belmont Mansion. Sometime later during 1866 came back home. In 1867 the fifty-year-old Adelicia Acklen married Dr. William Archer Cheatham, a respected Nashville physician. Cheatham also signed a prenuptial agreement. The wedding was held at the Belmont mansion and 2,000 people were invited. Napoleon III was on the guest list but couldn't come. Instead he sent Adelicia a gift, a diamond tiara which she wore to the reception. The couple was married for 17 years before the separated for unknown reasons. In early in 1887 Adelicia sold Belmont (now part of Belmont College) and left Nashville. Adelicia relocated to Washington, DC. with her daughter Pauline, her last surviving daughter. She died from pneumonia in New York City on May 4, 1887, while on a buying trip from her new home in Washington, DC, survived by one daughter, and three sons; her son Joseph was a U.S. Representative from Louisiana (and a proponent of women's suffrage)." - HayGenealogy.com
• At one point, the Acklens were the wealthiest family in both Tennessee and Louisiana. - Find A Grave
• Married: May 9, 1849, at Nashville, Tenn., Adelicla (Hayes) Franklin, born March 15, 1817, daughter of Rev. Oliver Bliss and Sarah Clemons (Hightower) Hayes, who lived at "Rokeby," near Nashville, Tenn., the former a descendant through his mother of the Rev. Charles Chauncey, second president of Harvard University, and a relative of the Eyre family in England, the latter maternally descended from the English family of Clements; granddaughter of Dr. Richard Hightower. - Alabama Biography
• "According to the family's stories, Joseph died at the family's Louisiana plantation. He had gone there to oversee and protect their economic interests during the Civil War. While there, his carriage plunged into a bayou, he walked home in wet clothes and that led to a fatal fever." - HayGenealogy.com
• Joseph and Adelicia were married 14 years and had six children but the twins died of scarlet fever.
• "Joseph and Adelicia built the villa of 'Belmont', near Nashville, Tenn., now Belmont College, which is said to have been the finest private residence in the Southern States prior to the War of Secession." - Alabama Biography
• "The Belmont is the second largest antebellum home still standing in the United States." - Find A Grave
• His son Joseph was an attorney, US Representative from Louisiana, the first game warden for Tennessee, and earned notoriety as legal counsel for the Tennessee suffragettes.
• "The Acklens built, furnished, and landscaped one of the most elaborate antebellum homes in the South, with 36 rooms and 19,000 sq. ft. The estate contained an art gallery, conservatories, lavish gardens, aviary, lake and zoo. The Grand Salon is considered by architectural historians to be the most elaborate domestic interior built in antebellum Tennessee." - waymarking.com
• Joseph's early life centered in Huntsville, but after his marriage to Adelicia, his focus shifted to their businesses mostly in Tennesse and Louisiana.
• United States attorney of Alabama under Presidents Van Buren, Tyler and Polk. - Alabama Biography
• "The Acklen's entertained such notables as President Andrew Johnson, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, socialite Octavia La Vert, philosopher Thomas Huxley, and soldier of fortune William Walker, as well as numerous Confederate officers and political figures." - HayGenealogy.com
• "Two days before they were to be married, Adelicia presented Joseph with a prenuptial agreement specifying that she would be sole owner and final authority over all the properties she brought into the marriage." - HayGenealogy.com
• "Joseph was a superb businessman and plantation manager, who gave up his law practice to manage the family businesses, to triple his wife's fortune by 1860." - HayGenealogy.com
• "He was owner of seven plantations on the Mississippi River, and is said to have had 1,100 slaves." - Alabama Biography
• "He served with the rank of colonel in the Mexican War, 1846-1848, and was promoted for personal bravery." - Alabama Biography
• Father of:
1. Joseph Hayes Acklin, born May 20, 1850 in Nashville, TN; Died Sept. 28, 1938; Married Hattie Leonora Bethell; Joseph was an attorney, US Representative from Louisiana, the first game warden for Tennessee, and earned notoriety as legal counsel for the Tennessee suffragettes.
2. Corrine Acklin, born about 1852; Died about 1852; Both twins died young
3. Laura Victoria Acklin, born about 1852; Died Jan 25, 1955, Angola Plantation, Louisiana (Both twins died young)
4. William Hayes Acklin, born September 6, 1855, at Belmont, Davidson County, Tenn.; lawyer; educated at Neuilly, France, at Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, Tenn., and a graduate of the Law School of Vanderbilt University, Tenn.; author of "Sterope," "Sketches of Travel;" translator, from the French, of "Essays on Bancroft, Longfellow, Sidney Lanier," resides in Nashville, Tenn Died 1940.
5. Claude Acklin, born July 25, 1857, educated at Norwood, Va., and at Southwestern Presbyterian University, Clarkesville, Tenn. Pauline Acklin b: 10 Oct 1859 in TennesseeRelated Links:
• Alabama Biography - History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3, by Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, © 1921, p. 7.
• Belmont Mansion Website - His home in Nashville.
• Find A Grave - Bio Author: Jonathan Malcolm Lampley
• HayGenealogy.com - Bio of his wife Adelicia with references to Joseph
• Nashville-Vacation-Fun.com - Tells the story of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham, Joseph's wife, and the Belmont Mansion (Originally found at http://www.nashville-vacation-fun.com/belmont-mansion.html.)
• reocities.com - Geneology site listing Joseph in the Third Generation with his wife, Adelicia Hayes, born 1817. It also tells of her connections saying she was a close friend of Mrs. James K. Polk and says she was entertained in the court of Queen Victoria and by Emperor Napolean III of France. (Originally found at http://reocities.com/Heartland/hills/7286/Acklen.htm.)
• Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture - Bio for Joseph's wife, Adelicia
• waymarking.com - Biographical information plus a description of the mausoleum in Mount Olivet Cemetery where Joseph is buried.
The Following Pages Link to this Page:
• Alabama Biography
• Elizabeth Hunt Acklen
• John R. H. Acklen
• Samuel Black Acklen
• William Hunt Acklen