Donations needed for upkeep of Historic Franklin Cemetery - WNEM TV 5

Donations needed for upkeep of Historic Franklin Cemetery

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It's a piece of Franklin's history that was almost forgotten. It was once the only cemetery blacks could be buried, in Williamson County, but fell in a deplorable state, until a feisty little lady stepped in to help.

Mattie B. Reeves has dedicated her life to helping others, and at age 97, she'll tell you she'll spend the rest of her life making sure Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery in Franklin is preserved.

"It was in terrible, terrible shape," Reeves said. "There were sink holes, and graves were dug out."

Over the years, the historic cemetery was neglected, until Reeves and a few friends stepped in.

"I hope it doesn't go back to the way it was," Reeves said.

Toussaint L'Ouverture dates back to the 1800s, and was once the only cemetery in Williamson County where blacks could be buried.

"It makes you feel awfully bad; there are some good people buried over there," she said.

The cemetery was recently added to the Historic Franklin cell phone tour.

"It's just a wealth of history here," said Connie Kinnard, who has family buried in the cemetery.

Reeves is now slowly handing off the responsibility for raising money, for the upkeep of the cemetery, to the next generation.

"We want to keep the grounds looking good for the community, but also honor the people who are buried here," Kinnard said.

The organization, TLO Cemetery Club is running on hard times, right now trying to pay the $1,000 to keep the grass cut twice a month.

"We have to keep it going," Reeves said. "This is the slowest year we've had in donations."

Even the pine trees in the cemetery are part of history. They were planted as a border, separating the all-black cemetery from the all-white one next to it.

Reeves' husband, mother and a child are already buried there. Her tombstone is already marked, and as she said, just awaiting her arrival.

"I went over there and looked at it. I said, ‘they cleaned my house for me.' I won't have to live in weeds and things," Reeves said.

If you would like to tour Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery it's located at the corner of Hillsboro Pike and Del Rio Pike in Franklin.

You can also donate to help with its upkeep and beautification, by contacting the TLO Cemetery Club by email at,

You can reach Kinnard at (615) 512-8803, or Lisa Taylor at (615) 482-2491.

Contributions are tax deductible.

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