Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Agriculture and Gardening
Fertile, Productive Farmland
The diverse geology of Middle Tennessee resulted in a variety of agriculture, from subsistence farming on the rough terrain of the Cumberland Plateau to the plantations founded on the rich, productive farmland of the Central Basin.
The Central Basin of Middle Tennessee was called the “Garden” by early settlers and later historians for its rich farmland. Cotton was predominate crop during the Antebellum era, and later tobacco, hay and corn were grown here. All of these crops continue to be cultivated in the Central Basin. The area slash became a key livestock center, from dairy cattle to the world renowned Tennessee Walking Horse.
The general progression of agriculture in the region was settlement and subsistence farming from 1780 to 1850, expansion of the market economy from 1850 to 1900 and rural reform and agriculture from 1900 to 1945.
Farming for Consumption and Sale
During the Maneys’ time, corn was largely grown for use by the landowner and his slaves or employees and was only sold if the harvest exceeded these needs. Cotton and tobacco were usually raised wholly for sale, while livestock was raised for income
The Maneys’ wealth enabled them to employ a Scottish gardener, nicknamed Mac, to care for the grounds and what is believed to have been the kitchen and vegetable gardens.
The Impact of the Civil War
Agriculture, like the rest of the Southern economy, was greatly damaged by the Civil War. The war destroyed much of Middle Tennessee’s railroad system, ruined the existing agricultural economy and slowed efforts by the government to expand it.
The presence of troops and the damage of battles were not the only reasons for the blow to agriculture. Many of the men who owned and farmed the lands left to fight in the war and many did not return, or returned to find their farms in shambles. The end of slavery also removed the cheap labor which this agricultural economy depended.
Key crops such as tobacco, cotton, wheat and livestock hides remained in high demand after the war and were used to promote Tennessee resources during the 1870s and 1880s. In addition, the rebuilding of the railroads following the war also promoted increased agriculture production and the introduction of new crops across the state.
Gardens for All Reasons
It is very likely that the Maneys maintained an herb garden to grow herbs with medicinal, aromatic, insect repellent, culinary, dye and other uses.
The Heritage Herb Society has created an herb garden at Oaklands to help visitors better understand the cultivation and use of herbs in daily life. The garden is located behind the house near the original location of the kitchen and root cellar.
Foliage for Fashion
Trees and plants and their leaves and seeds were used to produce dyes during the Civil War when commercial goods were limited. Willow and walnut were mixed with copperas to produce black dye. Southern women made copperas during the war by soaking rusting iron in vinegar.
For Confederate troops the problem of resupplying new or replacement clothing became critical. The blockade had deprived the South of imported cloth. Homespun uniforms dyed with the oily nut of the white walnut mixed with copperas to an earth-colored tan or “butternut,” rapidly replaced the imported gray cloth worn by the Confederate soldier in the early years of the war.
Location. 35° 51.267′ N, 86° 23.049′ W. Marker is in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in Rutherford Touch for map. This marker is located to the left as you enter the park of the Maney House/Museum. Marker is at or near this postal address: 900 N Maney Ave, Murfreesboro TN 37130, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Oaklands Mansion (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Forrest’s Murfreesboro Raid (about 300 feet away); The Civil War (about 400 feet away); Wetland Plants and Animals (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Oaklands Mansion (about 400 feet away); The Maney Family (about 400 feet away); N. B. Forrest's Raid on Murfreesboro (about 600 feet away); Evergreen Cemetery (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Murfreesboro.
Also see . . . Oaklands Mansion. (Submitted on November 30, 2015.)
Categories. • Agriculture • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 27, 2015, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 182 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on November 27, 2015, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.