MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — A historic mansion with ties to the Civil War is working on a project that will help share the stories of those who were enslaved there.
The Oaklands Mansion in Murfreesboro was owned by the Maney family. If you visit the mansion you’ll find lots of history on them, but very little when it comes to those who were enslaved there.
“We realized that our job is to interpret the history as best as we know it, so it’s important for us to continue our research so that we learn more and have new and fresh information about the history of this site to give our visitors,” said James Manning.
Manning is the Executive Director of the Oaklands Mansion. He says it was in 2019 when they began working with Audrey Creel on learning more about the Maney’s slaves.
“I had been to several tours where they were talking about enslavement from a very personal history, and I knew that we had that history in Murfreesboro, just no one had researched it and told it,” said Creel.
Creel’s research was first used for her undergraduate thesis, but soon she began to work with the museum where she found 85 individuals that had been enslaved at the property.
“Seeing a name and seeing on census records that this person is 85 and can’t read or write, that has just been so powerful to me,” she said. “Just to be able to see real impacts of what enslavement had done and being able to share that with other people.”
Creel has since moved and is working on the project remotely, but she and Manning are hoping to continue looking for more descendants.
“Many of our tourists are aware that this was a site that was built by enslaved African Americans, but we want to go beyond that and help them understand better what life was really like for enslaved people on the plantation,” said Manning. “It’s not like the movies make it out to be, it’s a much harsher reality.”
A harsh reality the museum hopes its visitors will finally get the opportunity to learn about.
“That is such an important part of the development of our community, and if we don’t learn that then we are at risk of repeating mistakes like that and not appreciating the contribution of everyone at the table,” said Manning.
If you have more information about the African Americans that were enslaved at the Oaklands Mansion or would like to know more you can find more information HERE.
You can also email Creel at Info@oaklandsmansion.org.