Growing Up in Franklin Tennessee by Sara Avalyn Berry Swain

This is the story of Sara Avalyn Berry Swain. What follows is a glimpse of a young girl growing up in the Old South in Franklin, Tennessee in a happy and loving family and in a community filled with relatives and friends.

Avalyn would not change anything for the world. It was exciting times, full of adventure and play and good friendship. Her mother and father (Sara McGavock Roberts Berry and Tyler Berry, Jr.) were always loving and supportive in her formative years, and her older brother (Tyler Berry III) always looked out for and defended his little sister whenever the occasion arose.

In her early teens, the family moved about five miles south from the city to the country, from this house at 230 Third Avenue South to Rural Plains, now part of Berry Farms, both residences situated in Williamson County, Tennessee. The 600-acres of land that is presently Berry Farms was owned by the Roberts and Berry families from three parcels – Rural Plains, Reams Fleming and Chadwell Place.

Avalyn has given Lovely Franklin permission to share her book, Growing Up in Franklin, which is now out of print. Please enjoy her remarkable childhood in Franklin, Tennessee during the 1940-50s in her own words…

Avalyn Berry Swain in Her Own Words

Sara Avalyn Berry

Tennessee’s state bird is the mockingbird. “To Kill A Mockingbird” was based upon my life. I was Scout. Daddy was Atticus. Miss Morgan was Boo. Many of the other characters in the story were my relatives, friends, and people in my neighborhood. At least that is what I always thought.

My family, on both mother’s and dad’s side, were Southerners to the core. There were a lot of lawyers and doctors in our family’s history. For the most part, our ancestors came from England and Germany in the 1700s, except for some Scotch-Irish, Norman, Prussian, and others of similar temperament and persuasion. Dad’s people came from Amherst County, Virginia. Mother’s people, of English and Welsh ancestry, came from Georgia, Alabama, and Pulaski, Tennessee. They were the Adams, Clays, Lees, Tylers, McBrides, Ewings, Halfacres, Hucksteps, Flemings, Russells, and of course, the Berrys and Roberts. In 1773, on Daniel Boone’s first attempt to settle Kentucky, near Powell Valley, Virginia, my ancestor, 16-year-old Henry Russell, and James Boone, Daniel’s eldest son, were captured by Indians and tortured to death.

They fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 (Brigadier General William “Buck” Martin served on Andrew Jackson’s staff at New Orleans), the War Between the States, World War I, World War II, and other odds and ends battles and wars that Tennessee Volunteers did not want to miss out on. General Martin constructed the Homeplace that is still located in the northeastern corner of Rural Plains at Berry Farm’s Town Center. He is buried in the Martin-Hughes Cemetery on the property.

Growing Up in Franklin, Tennessee

Mother and Dad were still dating in this photo. My brother and I can thank our parents for our love of nature and the outdoors.

Ben Franklin was our town’s namesake. Franklin was founded in 1799, just three years after Tennessee became the 16th state admitted to the union. About 21 miles south of Nashville, it had around 4,500 inhabitants when I was a child in the 1940s. Its rural character was influenced by tobacco farmers, cattlemen, horsemen, mountain men, moonshiners and the like. Everybody knew everybody and everything that was going on.

Mother and me, probably taken at 236 Third Avenue South in Franklin.

Standing guard over the antebellum Williamson County Courthouse and in the center of the Public Square, was the stately statue of the lone Confederate Soldier, facing South, with his rifle at rest. The Daughters of the Confederacy had commissioned the patriotic monument. In 1899, it was presented to the city with great hoopla, parades with the Stars and Bars proudly flying, speeches, exuberant singing of “Dixie” and joyous celebration, or so I was told by my grandfather.

Photo courtesy of Rick Warwick

As a border state, Tennessee saw more battles than any other state, except for Virginia, in the War Between the States, the only name used in referring to that war. It was considered blasphemous to use the term civil war.

Photo courtesy of Rick Warwick

My grandfather, Walter Aiken Roberts was born June 4, 1865 in Pulaski (Giles County) Tennessee, just two months after the Civil War ended. His father had served as a doctor during the war, Dr. Joseph Coleman Roberts.

Grandfather Walter Aiken Roberts – The Developer of Main Street Franklin

Me and Gran Gran (Walter Aiken Roberts)

My grandfather was a successful banker, local land developer, and realtor. I will always remember Gran Gran as a very kind, generous, and modest man. He was the original owner of our family home at 230 3rd Avenue South.

Walter A. Roberts Dry Goods (presently The Grilled Cheeserie and Tin Cottage) at 334 Main Street, Franklin, TN.

He was known as the “Developer of Main Street Franklin.” He owned these addresses on Main Street – 344, 342, 340, 338, 334, 326, and 324. Read Lovely Franklin’s story about Walter Aiken Roberts here.

Avalyn’s grandfather was Walter Aiken Roberts, pictured in the middle with the black suit and mustache. This is his Roberts Dry Goods staff located at 334 Main Street (presently Tin Cottage and The Grilled Cheeserie).

My Grandfather Walter A. Roberts volunteered for WWI, but was too old for the Army. He was accepted by the Red Cross and served in France. He might have been an ambulance driver, but I am not sure. He brought back a German Iron Cross as a souvenir. I remember Mother routinely wearing it around her neck on a chain.

Avalyn’s grandfather, Walter Aiken Roberts, at their 3rd Avenue home.

Buddy, my brother, reminded me that while Gran Gran did not attend BGA, he made it possible for a number of boys to attend BGA by paying for their tuition. In fact, for many years, a gold pocket watch was given in his honor annually to honor the Best All-Round Student. Why Mother and her sisters decided to not give the watch in his name, I do not know? Now, the “Pinkerton Watch” is given by the Pinkerton family. 

Gran Gran’s firm was called Roberts and Green. You can still see the “Roberts” name in stone at the top of his building on Main Street (now the Savory Spice Shop). His partner was Curtis Green, an old and long-standing Franklin family.

Grandfather Roberts was a Visionary and Franklin’s First Preservationist

In 1948, Grandfather Roberts had the vision and foresight concerning the historical need to preserve at least a portion of the land involved in the November 30, 1864 Battle of Franklin, some 84 years before. He chose the high ground adjacent to Columbia Pike and south of Franklin that was used as the main Confederate Command Post, known as Winstead Hill. 

Historic marker honoring Walter Aiken Roberts (on Murfreesboro Road near downtown Franklin, TN)

After acquiring the nine acres, including the hilltop, he turned around, and for the sake of posterity and historical preservation, donated his purchase to the Franklin Chapter No. 14 Daughters of the Confederacy. This initial action by my Grandfather Roberts really served as the visionary impetus for the subsequent massive and very worthy Save the Battlefield project.  

Reverse side of the historic marker honoring Walter Aiken Roberts (on Murfreesboro Road near downtown Franklin, TN)

Prior to battle, General O.F. Strahl told his troops: “Boys, this will be short but desperate.” He was right and he died heroically leading his men. Six Confederate generals and 8,578 infantrymen (6,282 Confederate and 2,326 Union) were killed between 3PM and 9PM that tragic day. The Battle of Franklin holds many unique distinctions. Among them, the clash was one of the few night battles of the War. It also was one of the smallest battlefields – only two miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It lasted only five hours, but historians call it “the bloodiest hours of the American Civil War.” It pitted General John Hood for the Confederates against Major General John Schofield for the Union.

The 1st Battle of Franklin, Douglass Church, Now Berry Farms

Avalyn presented Williamson County Historian, Rick Warwick, a copy of the map of the 1st Battle of Franklin located in the general vicinity of Berry Farms.

I had relatives who rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest and were in the thick of fighting. In fact, his long-time valued Chief of Artillery, Captain Samuel L. Freeman, was the sole fatality of this 1st Battle of Franklin (Douglass Church) on April 10, 1863 at Rural Plains (Warren Place) at its northwest corner at Lewisburg Pike and Old Peytonsville Road. Now the present-day Berry Farms.

My cousin Fannie Park lived across the street. Her great-grandfather, Dr. James Duvall Wallis, was a surgeon with Forrest’s Cavalry who remain behind to care for the anticipated casualties of the upcoming Battle of Franklin. He cared for the wounded at the Carter House and other locations, and in the process met his future wife, Miss Frances (Fannie) Park, a Franklin resident. Their daughter, Gertrude Wallis married Alexander Ewing, who was the brother to my grandmother, Sallie Ewing Roberts.

Sallie Ewing Roberts, wife of my Grandfather Walter A. Roberts

A 21-year-old ancestor, Joseph McBride “Mac” Halfacre, was shot dead by a Union soldier when he was serving as a courier in Martin’s Tennessee High Cavalry and was halted at a roadblock near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Mack’s two sisters Olivia and Addie Halfacre received sad news through a letter that their brother had been killed. Part of the letter said, “I will not detail at length the circumstances pertaining to this awful occurrence but will suffice it to say that he died the bravest of the brave and the noblest of the noble.”

“The Olivia Building” in Berry Farms is named after Olivia Halfacre.

I remember being told how his father, Henry Halfacre, was summoned to pick up the body of his son in the wagon and return it to Franklin for burial at the family cemetery on Highland Hall’s Reams Fleming Place near Berry Farms.

Highland Hall – The Reams Fleming Homeplace

Majestic and solid described Highland Hall. It was the largest home in Middle Tennessee in the mid-19th Century, the ancestral home of the Halfacre, Reams and Fleming families of Franklin and Williamson County, Tennessee, overlooking its more than 2,200 acres of picturesque pasture, fields and woods.

Completed in 1850, Highland Hall, Avalyn commissioned Pat Dale to paint the home as it once looked before being torn down in the 1960s.

Constructed of 100% Tennessee brick (the bricks were cast and baked in a kiln located on the bluff near the home), the four-story structure was commenced in 1845 by Mr. McAlphin, contractor and carpenter, and completed in 1850.

Originally, Highland Hall (named by Priscilla McBride Halfacre in honor of her Scottish Highlands), fronted on the Meridian Road, but with the subsequent construction of the Lewisburg-Franklin Turnpike, a second and identical front porch was added to the back or west side of the mansion to face the turnpike. 

Daddy shared one story from his family homestead, Highland Hall. One day, a band of pillaging Yankees arrived and demanded food. A servant refused to disclose the whereabouts of stored provisions (hidden in a space behind a chimney). They shot him dead and left his body on the dogtrot. 

I was told that three members of the Berry family in Virginia were killed in the War. Maybe you can understand why I once made the statement that I did not really care to venture above the Mason Dixon Line. One thing is for sure, none of our family ever backed away from a good fight or shirked their duty to their country, ever.

I was fortunate in the early 1960’s to see the once majestic Highland Hall, but in a vacant and very dilapidated condition. A few years afterwards, it was torn down. 

The Haynes-Berry House, Now the LeHew Mansion at Franklin Grove

Haynes-Berry House, now Lehew Mansion. Photo courtesy of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN. Photo credit: Daniel C. White Photography.

Daddy’s family owned the old Berry Place that was located on Berry Circle. (This is the Haynes-Berry house, now the LeHew Mansion next to Franklin Grove, formerly the O’More College of Design. Mr. Haynes, owner of a downtown hardware store, paid Nashville architect, Hugh Cathcart Thompson $6,000 to construct the home. Thompson is famous for designing the Ryman Auditorium and Franklin’s Watson House. It was completed in the 1890’s and in the style of Romanesque Revival with Eastlake with High Queen Anne touches. The Heritage Foundation recently restored this beloved family home and is the new home of Williamson, Inc.).

Cabell Rives Berry – Avalyn’s Great Grandfather on her father’s side.

It was later the home of my father’s grandparents, Cabell Rives Berry and Mary Oden Berry. Cabell was born July 4, 1848 in Amherst County, Virginia. After he served in the Civil War, he moved to Tennessee. He and Mary had four children, Cabell R., Tyler, Walter L., and Emma. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1883, representing Williamson and Maury Counties. In 1885, he was elected to the Tennessee Senate, where he was named as Speaker. He was one of the youngest members of the Senate when elected.  After he retired from the Senate in 1891, he served three terms as mayor of Franklin, Tennessee. After serving as mayor, he continued to practice law until his death in 1910. He is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Haynes-Berry House in Franklin with Franklin Grove in the distance.

When I was little, my Aunt Emma lived at the Berry homeplace. I have one funny memory when I would visit the Berry House. Aunt Emma would always warn me not to touch the snapping turtles in the garden pond because they would bite me. She was the sister of my Grandfather Tyler Berry, Sr. Grandfather Berry was not around much, since he lived and worked in Washington, D.C. He was a federal judge with the Federal Communications Commission. He would come back to Franklin for short visits. 

My Grandparents – Tyler Berry, Sr. and Elizabeth Avalyn Fleming Berry

Tyler Berry, Sr.

My grandfather Tyler Berry, Sr. was a prominent lawyer, emulating the footsteps of his father, the Honorable Cabell Rives Berry, soldier, lawyer, and statesman. He was born in Franklin, Tennessee on September 16, 1882. He received his earlier education in the public schools of Franklin and under private tutors, later graduating from Mooney’s Battle Ground Academy.

He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1907 with a Bachelor of Law degree and practiced law as an associate of his father in Franklin. He served as Deputy Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court of Williamson County. He was elected to the Tennessee Senate serving the twenty-third district. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and married Avalyn Fleming on March 31, 1911.

Elizabeth Avalyn Fleming Berry

My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Avalyn Fleming Berry, and I were named after her grandmother, Elizabeth Avalyn Brooks who was married to Dr. Sam Fleming. I was told she was a very astute businesswoman and creative, traits my children and I have been blessed with.

She passed away early, leaving her only child, my father Tyler Berry, Jr. to learn to fend for himself and be independent. She would have been very proud of all my father’s accomplishments and the happiness and joy he brought to his family and to so many other people.

I never knew my grandmothers, Sallie Ewing Roberts or Elizabeth Avalyn Fleming Berry, because they sadly passed away before I was born.

Cousin Minnie Pearl (Sarah Cannon) and Other Relatives

Cousin Minnie Pearl

A fun fact is Sarah Cannon (aka Minnie Pearl) was related to our family because her husband Henry and Sam were descendants of Newton Cannon, twice governor of Tennessee. Read Lovely Franklin’s story on Sarah Cannon’s grandparent’s historic home in Franklin.

Governor Cannon’s grandson Newton B. Cannon was married to Virginia Brown McEwen Cannon. “Jennie” was the daughter of John B. McEwen, Mayor of Franklin during the Civil War. Read Lovely Franklin’s story on Mayor John B. McEwen historic Franklin home.

Other relatives on my dad’s side included Uncle Reamy (Reams Fleming). He lived on Goose Creek Lane with his wife, Aunt Beulah. When we later moved to the country, I would walk over to their house to borrow the phone since we did not have a telephone. I still remember how exciting the day was when our telephone was finally installed. I called all my friends to tell them “my” new number. 

My Wonderful Daddy, Tyler Berry, Jr.

My father, Tyler Rieves Berry, Jr., said “I was born 1912 in the Berry House in Franklin, upstairs over the dining room in Uncle Walter’s room. We moved three times to the country.” Grandfather owned the toll road on Lewisburg Pike from the Franklin city limits to Murray Court.

Grandfather Cabell Rives Berry had died, so the family lived in town so that they could take care of Grandmother Berry. In 1915 or 1916, Grandmother Reams was living on the farm (Highland Hall). We went out to the homeplace so that we could take care of Grandmother Reams. In 1922 or 1923, we moved back to Franklin to be with Grandmother Berry.

Tyler Berry II

Later in his youth, Daddy lived in the country (at Highland Hall on the Reams Fleming Place) and loved the wilderness. He loved hunting, fishing and camping. Every morning, he would wake up at 4AM and “run his 20 or 30 traps” which he had set the day before in the hills and valleys surrounding their home. The pelts of mink, raccoon, possum, and polecats (skunks) he would sell in town.

He loved growing up on the Reams Fleming Place and Chadwell Place. His favorite haunt was the outdoors, especially hunting, shooting, and fishing. After school, he would chop wood. He even dug and set 144 fence posts all by himself.

In Jane Bowman Owen’s book, Who’s Who in Williamson County, she described my father Tyler Berry, Jr. as “a splendid specimen – 6’2″ tall, broad shouldered, well built, and an eye that is clear and convincing.”

Much of his boyhood was spent on the old Reams farm on Lewisburg Pike which has been in the family for four generations. He attended Battle Ground Academy. I believe he was the quarterback and known as a smooth and fast runner. He later graduated from Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. When World War II arrived, that volunteer spirit for action consumed him. He served overseas in the Pacific Theatre.

The BGA football team in 1928. Tyler Berry, Jr. is pictured on the top row, 7th from the left.

During World War II, he and a fellow Tennessee sharpshooter were credited with extricating an Infantry Battalion from a roadblock by firing a 155 “Long Tom” howitzer direct fire at distant tanks blocking the advance and destroying them.

After World War II, Daddy returned home from the South Pacific, Luzon, and the Philippines, where he had put to good use some of his woodsman’s skills, keen eyesight, and sharpshooter’s abilities in defeating the Japanese. After cessation of hostilities, he served in the War Crimes trial as a member of the defense team for a high-ranking Japanese officer, I believe, an admiral. Despite his best efforts and valiant defense, his client was hanged.

Tyler Berry II

For generations, Daddy’s ancestors have been professional men. The Flemings were mostly doctors while the Berrys leaned toward law. His great-great-grandfather was Dr. Samuel Fleming. Daddy received his law degree from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Tyler Berry II

My father had formed his law practice with E.W. Eggleston in Franklin. He practiced for over 35 years while raising my brother, Tyler III, and myself with my mother, Sara McGavock Robert Berry.

He was a skilled attorney. Everyone wanted to be represented by him. He was resourceful, determined and persuasive with juries. On numerous occasions, he was able to succeed in freeing his innocent clients from the clutches of justice. One case permitted him to utilize his ballistics expertise to successfully cross-examine a so-called ballistics expert and win deserved freedom for his client.

Tyler Berry, Jr

Daddy would answer the telephone, “All Right” instead of “Hello”. Williamson County Historian Rick Warwick tells us that others in Franklin also did this, apparently somewhat of a local Franklin custom.

His law practice was always interesting in his representation that ran the gamut from Tennessee citizens to banks to Williamson County and many others, with even a few moonshiners from the “Little Texas” neighborhood just east of his home at Highland Hall on the Reams Fleming Place.

He also served his Franklin community as a civic leader as alderman for the Ward 2 and member of the Methodist Church. He was a forceful spokesman for fairness, justice, and equality.

Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington seated and his good friend Tyler Berry, Jr.

In 1958, my father worked with Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington to sign legislation for the construction of Interstate 65. It created a 121.7 mile north-south freeway through Robertson, Sumner, Davidson, Williamson, Maury, Marshall, and Giles Counties. It went through our family farms at Rural Plains and Reams Fleming.

Reams Fleming looking north toward I-65 South.

I was always very proud of my dad and considered him to be the archetypical Tennessean. He was an American patriot, soldier, lawyer, outdoorsman, sharpshooter, farmer and defender of free and individual liberties as a trial lawyer. He was the founder and original conceptualizer of Berry Farms.

Tyler Berry II in front of his law firm Berry & Berry located in the Roberts Building on Franklin’s Public Square.

My Beloved Mother, Sara McGavock Roberts Berry

My parents married in 1931. My mother, Sara McGavock Roberts Berry, grew up living with her two older sisters, Susie and Ewing at 230 3rd Avenue South in Franklin. Her parents, Walter Aiken and Sallie Ewing Roberts, played a vital role in developing downtown Franklin.

Bill McGavock’s Birthday Party on Third Avenue South – Mary, Bill McGavock, Sara Roberts (my mother), Ed McGavock, Carmark Armistead, Walter Pegram, Sam Fleming, and Elsie King.

My mother was very organized and thrived on her social work and helping others. She graduated from BGA during that brief period of time when women were part of the student body. Later, it again became co-ed, as it is today.

Sara Roberts Berry

Mother was always inviting people out to our home (in Franklin first, and then to Rural Plains) for a meal. Mother ran the house with the help of “Aunt Dot” (a.k.a. Clara Mae Gosey), “Sir” Thomas Steele (who Mother helped to obtain from the county his birth certificate), Robert King, Little Pat and Little Emma, and later Josie Chunn, we enjoyed the best Southern cooking imaginable. Fried chicken, fried corn, hominy grits, fresh corn, peaches, beans, apples, watermelon and tomatoes; and the best chow-chow pickle homemade preserves and jelly, much wonderful Southern food, chess pies, and similar tasty morsels of food.

Mother welcomed many people into our home to have a meal with our family. Any children of friends or relatives from Atlanta or other locales who might be attending BGA or Vanderbilt were always given an invitation for Sunday dinner. Saturday dinners were reserved for Daddy’s clients, friends, other lawyers and judges for good food and good conversation.

My beloved mother Sara Roberts Berry

Mother attended Randolph-Macon College and later received her master’s degree in social work from Peabody College. She worked for the county welfare department. Daddy was not totally in favor of what she did, since he did not really believe in the concept of welfare. But Mother had a kind heart and loved helping people. She had many humorous stories to tell about her casework.

As a devoted student of the Bible, she was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Franklin. She especially loved teaching children and had a special gift from God in relating to them. The church dedicated the Sara McGavock Robert Berry Library in her honor.

Sara McGavock Roberts Berry at Rural Plains

Mother motivated me with positive teachings like, “Make people happy to be around you,” and “Look at yourself in the mirror and then forget yourself.” I work each day to live up to the expectations and high standards of my beloved Mother.

My Grand Life at 230 3rd Avenue South

Avalyn’s Childhood Home – 230 3rd Avenue South in Franklin

I grew up on Third Avenue South in the house my Grandfather Walter A. Roberts built for his family. The house was a gingerbread frame design with a small stone-like wall between the front yard and the sidewalk. Our address was 230. Our telephone number was 376. We kids would sit on the wall and enjoy watching the world go by. Simple times. Today, Mayor Ken and Linda Moore live in our family home, which they have restored to A-1 condition. Read Lovely Franklin’s backstory on my family’s homeplace.

Avalyn with her daddy, Tyler Berry Jr., and brother, Buddy

The McGavock’s lived next door to us to the south. Cousin Johnny Mac, Winder, Miss Mary, and their daughter Martha. Mother’s sister, Susie, was married to Winder McGavock, the son of John and Carrie McGavock who lived at Carnton. Winder would come over to our house at night for a game of chess with my dad. 

I would mosey over to the McGavock house next door. Johnny McGavock would say to me, “Come here Avalyn and I will give you 10 cents to sweep my sidewalk,” or “Here is a bucket of water so that you can paint my back steps.” I would start at the top and by the time I was to the bottom step, the top steps would have dried, and I would have to start again! I had a lot of energy, so I did not mind it. In fact, my mother used to time me running around the house, always encouraging me to better my time! I was pretty fast. These were simple, but fun days on 3rd Avenue.

Sitting on our wall in the front yard with my favorite doll and watching all the cars and trucks drive by on Third Avenue South.

On summer nights, the adults would sit in our side yard in lawn chairs, the Beasleys, Fanny and Faxon, Mom and Dad, Sam Ewin and anyone else, while we children would catch lightning bugs. What a fun street.

Mr. and Mrs. Park Marshall (a former Franklin mayor and author of history for both Franklin and Williamson County) lived on the northside. The house was built by Mr. Saunders who opened a school in the building in 1805. Park Marshall’s father, John, was one of Tennessee’s most distinguished lawyers and book collectors. 

The sugar maple tree between the sidewalk and the street was the best climbing tree in town. I spent much of my waking hours perfecting my climbing skills in the upper branches of that tree, and I felt that I was on par with the monkeys as far as tree-climbing skills were concerned.

Avalyn Berry Swain Age 6

There was another large sugar maple in the backyard. My Dad put up an old-fashioned rope swing with a wide solid board seat. I would swing so high on the swing that it would frighten me, but I would then push even higher.

The exposed root system of the maple tree was used by me to construct towns and play with toy cars and the like. I would spend hours driving my little cars around the base of the tree, having made imaginary stores and homes. It was a wonderful way to spend a morning. My dog Vandy, a cocker spaniel, was my constant companion. She was smart and always stood her ground.

My next-door neighbor, Mrs. Mary McGavock, was very ill. I would go over to talk with her and Johnny Mac. When I walked home from Franklin Elementary School at Five Points, I would pass by the little church that sat on the corner of 4th and Margin Streets.

The yard was filled with buttercups, or some called daffodils. I thought of Miss Mary and decided to pick some flowers for her. I was so proud of my bouquet and decided to go to her house to give her my gift. 

All dressed up for church. You can see Federal Judge Frank Gray’s house across Third Avenue from our house.

When I went home and proudly told my mother of my kind deed, or so I thought, she said go take those flowers back to the church. I was crushed, but I went over to Miss Mary and told her I had to take back the flowers and return them to the minister’s wife. The parsonage was the house on Margin, next to the church.

I went to the parsonage door, knocked on the door and when the minister’s wife came to the door, I told her that my mother had instructed me to return the flowers since I had not asked for permission to take them. The kind minister’s wife told me that it was not necessary since she understood the reason, I had picked the flowers. However, I told her my mother had told me that the flowers must be returned, and they were. 

My favorite baby buggy carrying my favorite doll on another Third Avenue stroll.

I could be a little head strong as a child. I was often reminded of the time when we were at a family gathering at Aunt Tu’s (Susie Lee Roberts Briggs), and I expressed my rebellion to something or another by stamping my foot and saying I was not going to do it. To this day, I periodically use the expression that I learned as a child stating, “I don’t give a hoot and a holler!’

Avalyn Berry Swain seated in her living room chair with friends Marietta Eggleston (left) and Eunetta Mayberry (right) sitting on the arm of the chair.

One of our fun adventures was when the horse and buggy grocery delivery cart would come down 3rd Avenue. If we, children, were sitting outside my house and with nothing else to do, we would hop on the tailgate of the buggy and ride out Murfreesboro Road, turning up Eddy Lane for his first stop. The driver knew we were aboard, but only frowned and said nothing to us. We would hop off, while he unloaded, and continue the ride over to Liberty Pike, then down to Nashville Pike and back to the Franklin Square. From there we would walk up 3rd Avenue back home.

Avalyn Berry

Since we were only about two blocks from his law office on the public square, Daddy would walk to work. When he came home for dinner (the large noon meal) and for supper (the light evening meal), I loved to run to meet him and walk back to the house with him. I used that time to tell him all the adventures I had pursued that day and ask him questions about his law cases.

Ruth, Clara Mae Gosey “Aunt Dot”, Buddy and Avalyn

Accompanying Aunt Dot anywhere was always great fun. My favorite treat was to sit in the movie theatre balcony with her, but that was a rare treat. Generally, she ordered me to sit on the main floor. I loved to visit her home on Glass Street located in the “Hard Bargain” neighborhood of Franklin, the street’s name always sparked my imagination. 

There was no grass in the front yard, but the dirt was kept clean by a periodic sweeping with a broom, at least as long as it was dry. In the backyard was an old, abandoned Model T Ford which was fun to “drive” and play in. Her husband, Bill Gosey, was always kind to me and very cheerful and a pleasure to be around.

I remember one winter day growing up in Franklin the snow and sleet started falling, and before long it turned into a storm for the Franklin record book. All electricity was lost throughout the town and county. We were lucky in that being on the Dan German hospital line, we were without electricity for only three days, when others were without electricity for a much longer period of time. For a child it was an exciting time. 

Avalyn and her mother Sara

The Post Hotel called around town to see if any of the Franklinites could and would be willing to house stranded travelers. Mother of course said, “yes.” A couple came to our door, and Mother fed them, and they slept in my brother’s room. The next morning, they left early in the morning to continue on their journey and try to reach their destination.

My Dad had all sorts of camping and hunting equipment, including a good deal of cooking gear. He brought his cooking gear out of storage and happily put it to use during the snowstorm. Mother made biscuits and cooked them on Dad’s reflector oven in the fireplace. Along with our supper, we had hot biscuits and jam, a real treat in a blizzard. During the day, Dad pulled me on a sled down Third Avenue. I can still remember the crunch of his feet as he walked along on the ice that covered the snow. Third Avenue was like a fairyland with the trees glistening from the ice. The road was completely covered, with no cars and only a very few people out in the aftermath of the ice storm. 

Favorite Franklin Memories

The Roberts Building – Public Square Franklin, TN

The Roberts Building on Franklin’s Public Square was the home to my family’s law office for several generations on my father’s side: my great grandfather Cabell Rives Berry, my grandfather Tyler Berry, my dad Tyler Berry, Jr., and my brother Tyler Berry III all practiced law in this building that was originally owned by my grandfather on my mother’s side.

Willow Plunge

Summers were spent at Willow Plunge, and occasionally down at Primm Springs in the First District. The Claiborne H. Kinnard, Jr. family owned and operated Willow Plunge, located on Lewisburg Pike. The best part of Willow Plunge was Miss Kennedy’s chess pies. When we saw her coming, we would all run to the Snack Shed, in order to be sure, we got one or two.

Chapman’s Pie Wagon on the corner of the square in 1922.

Main Street Franklin and downtown were always busy and exciting. I would walk, roller skate, or ride my bicycle around town. Some nights my family would eat at Chapman’s Pie Wagon on the Public Square. My Mother said he had the best steaks in town. He pan-fried his steaks, served with their own juice and a piece of toasted toast. Quite delicious. 

On other occasions I would stop in my Grandfather Roberts’ real estate office (Roberts & Green Building at 326 Main Street, currently Imago Dei) and ask for a nickel to go to Gray Drug Store for chocolate milk with ice cream. 

Avalyn’s grandfather Walter Aiken Roberts (left) at Gray Drug Store

Or I would venture over to the Ben Franklin store to see what toy or make up there was. Downtown was a child’s haven, Gray Drug store, Ben Franklin’s dime store, my grandfather’s office or his dry goods building, my dad’s office, my cousin Johnny Green’s office or stores where Mother and I knew everyone. 

Franklin was family and friends, and everyone knew all. Those were wonderful days, when children had no fears or concerns for unsafe conditions.

My Brother Buddy

Tyler Berry III

I loved my brother and affectionately always called him “Buddy.” He loved me and never failed to help or support me whenever the need arose, which happened often when we were growing up. I was always proud of my big brother, who called me “Sissy.”

When we went to Franklin Elementary School, he would double ride me (I would sit on the cross bar) on his bicycle to school, where he was in the 7th Grade, and I was in the 1st Grade. For high school, Buddy attended and graduated from Battle Ground Academy. He was voted Best Looking, Best All-Around Guy, and Most Likely to Succeed. I believe he was the quarterback of the football team and was known as a smooth and fast runner.

Johnny Green, Avalyn Berry Swain, Tyler Berry III “Buddy”

My big brother, Buddy, was my hero. Whenever he was home, he always looked out for me. He would help me with my studies whenever I needed help. His platinum blond hair and handsome chiseled facial features, along with being the football team’s quarterback and captain made him liked and admired by everyone. And, he was always nice to my friends, and me, well, at least most of the time.

Buddy was in the United States Navy, and later graduated from Vanderbilt School of Law. Buddy returned to Franklin to practice law with our father, a profession that both his grandfather and great grandfather had excelled. Their law firm was Berry & Berry, where Buddy especially enjoyed real estate law. He had great patience with people and served as President of the Williamson County Bar Association and practiced law in Franklin for 33 years.

I remember my brother as a true Southerner and lover of history, always having a story to tell, always having the time to listen to others, a kindness about him that prevented him from speaking ill about others. He was an all-around nice guy. He passed away in 1998, I truly miss him.

My Cousins

Relatives of both my mother and father were all around us, more on my mother’s side of the family. On my mother’s side, the original Third Avenue (230) was the home of Mother, her two sisters, Susie Lee, Ewing and their mother and father, Walter and Sallie Ewing Roberts. 

Front Row: Sara McGavock Roberts Berry, Walter Aiken Roberts, Sara Avalyn Berry Swain, and Elizabeth Hanner Roberts (Mr. Robert’s 2nd Wife). Back Row: John M. Green, Ewing Roberts Green, Susie Lee “Tu” Roberts Briggs, Tyler Berry III, Sarah “Sa” E. Briggs Naylor, and Walter R. Green.

Behind us on Fourth Avenue South (227) lived Uncle John (“Big John”) Green, Aunt Ewing Green and their two sons and my cousins, Walter Roberts Green and Johnny Merritt Green. Their house backed up to our house. Later Aunt Ewing, Uncle John and the boys moved out to the land-grant property on Murfreesboro Road, known as “Ewingcrest” in the “Ewingville Community.” This was the original Ewing home Grandfather Roberts bought back that was part of 640 acres granted to Captain Alexander Ewing after his service in the Revolutionary War. The next generation continued to live in their family homes.

Uncle John and Aunt Ewing had a barn that the boys used as a secret retreat and clubhouse. Once I remember seeing my brother, Buddy, hauling his desk over the back fence, following some sort of dispute with the other boys.

Ewingcrest

Both my mother and her sister, Aunt Ewing, kept chickens in their backyards. Mother would decide to have chicken for dinner and ask Aunt Dot to go out in our backyard and kill a chicken, which she would do either by wringing its neck or chopping its head off. When my beloved cocker spaniel, Vandy, would kill one of Aunt Ewing’s chickens, there was hell to pay. 

The Wedding of John Merritt Green, Jr. and Louise Nunnelly Green

Next door at 238 3rd Avenue South was my Grandmother Sallie Ewing Roberts’ sister, Susie Lee Ewing McGavock, Johnny Mac, Miss Mary, Martha, Bill and Winder (John McGavock’s brother) McGavock. My cousin Margaret Martin lives there today.

1st Row – Sara Berry, Mary McGavock, Tom Pointer, 2nd Row – John McGavock, Sara Briggs, Avalyn Berry, and Tyler Berry III

Across the street (243) was Sallie’s and Susie Lee’s brother, Alexander Hughes Ewing, and his wife Gertrude (Wallis) and their two children, son Alexander Ewing (“Uncle Bud”) and daughter, Fannie Park. She was my pretty cousin, Fannie, who lived in the only home she has ever known during her lifetime. 

In the middle of the block (219) lived Aunt Cynthia and Sam Fleming (parents to Sam M. Fleming, and Mickey Fleming Farrer and Jennie Fleming Mizell), a brother to my Dad’s grandfather, William (“Buck”) Clifton Fleming. When it came to saying grace before a meal, Aunt Cynthia was without equal!

1st Row – Tyler Berry II, Earl Beasley, Avalyn Berry, 2nd Row – Faxon Small, Elsie Beasley, Fannie Park Ewing, Winder McGavock, 3rd Row – Johnny Green, John Beasley, Earl Beasley, Tyler Berry III

At Battle Ground Academy (where George Briggs was Headmaster) were Susie Lee (Aunt “Tu”) Briggs and my other pretty cousin Sara Briggs (“Sa”). Scattered over Franklin were other cousins and relatives. This sure tended to keep a person on the straight and narrow.

I loved going to all the homes and seeing my relatives. Everyone was so warm, friendly, and interesting. There were no secrets, and if you did anything wrong, your parents knew it in lightning time.

Avalyn and Cousin John Merritt Green, Jr.

My cousin Johnny Green was always kind to me, and did he have the energy! In 1950, the Franklin Police Department asked my cousin Johnny to start a Boy Scout Troop for local boys. This began a volunteer career spanning 69 years, making him one of the longest tenured Scoutmasters in the country. Read our backstory on John Merritt Green, Jr. here.

Cousin Johnny and Avalyn’s Grandson Austin

He organized Troop 137 at his barn at Ewingcrest with five scouts and the troop now has over 100 Scouts. The troop meets on his family farm every week. He has been credited with encouraging over 225 young men to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout.

Tree Climbing

Avalyn on the right with friends. Notice the magnificent Watson House behind them.

Growing up on 3rd Avenue, I loved tree climbing, and I was good at it. We were home in Franklin, at Easter, and after church Mrs. Covington came over to talk with me. She always reminds me of when I was young, every Sunday after church she would look out her window and there I was up in the tree. I really became an expert at climbing trees and even taught others the skill of tree climbing.

Well, I decided that everyone needs rules for tree climbing. In fact, I once wrote the following essay on my tree climbing experiences in my youth. Here’s my essay..

“Have you climbed a tree lately? Do you remember what your favorite pastime was when you were a child? Well, one of mine was climbing trees.

Rule #1 – The first rule is to find a good tree. The best trees for climbing are the maples for their branches come close to the ground for easy reaching. Even if I had to use a stool to reach the first limb, maples were still the best. Another reason that maple trees were good climbing trees was that the limbs were so spaced on the trees, that they made a natural spiral staircase. 

The limbs on the maple were strong with no problem of breaking, yet on the end of the limb was limber so a child could use it as a lowering device. You could hold on to the limb and it would slowly move downward carrying you with it. The bark on the trees was smoother and made easier gripping. It would not hurt the palms of your hand. The maple was undoubtedly my favorite tree to climb. 

Oaks were too high to reach the first limb and their branches too massive for easy gripping. Pine trees are too sticky, and their branches too closely spaced together to be able to climb with ease. Crabs, cherry, or other fruit trees are too small.

Rule #2 – Second rule of climbing is having good upper body strength. I at one time was able to chin myself, which meant I could pull myself up from limb to limb fairly easily.

Rule #3 Third rule was being sure footed. When you place your feet on the limb, they must stay positioned till you are able to get a good handgrip. Coming up or down hanging from limbs, your feet must be placed securely on the limb and have a sure footing. Agility is important.

Rule #4 – Fourth rule was to be fearless. This is the dividing point for most of my friends. They were willing to climb to the first level of limbs, but no farther. The purpose of tree climbing was to climb to the top of the tree at least to the part that could support you and look out. This gave you a wonderful command post to look out over the houses and yards to distant points. There you would find a tree that you wanted to go find so you could climb it and see beyond that. 

Climbing trees was a wonderful adventure. It gave one such power, by being so tall and having the advantage over those little people below. From your perch high above, the world was wonderfully childlike.

The Neighborhood – Boys, Boys, Boys

It was my lot in life to be surrounded by boys, boys, boys in our neighborhood. The ratio was something like 1 to 10. They would practice their practical jokes on me and torment me at the slightest provocation. Anyway, the end result was that it toughened me up and made me able to handle about any situation.

They included my brother Buddy, my cousins Walter and Johnny Green, neighbors, John and Earl Beasley, George Trabue, friends of Buddy, Joe Eggleston, Jack Schmidt, and a host of their buddies.

Buddy, Avalyn, and Glen Eddington, Jr. (his father was the Headmaster at BGA)

When I would play tag or hide-and-seek with my brother, cousins, and neighborhood boys, they would make me “It”. They would often use chalk to draw arrows on the sidewalk to show the direction they had gone, but when I got tired of always chasing the boys, I would ask Mrs. Marshall (224 3rd Ave S) if I could come into her house to escape the boys.

I could always find refuge from them at her house. We would sit in her rocking chair in her back room in front of the fireplace. I would look out the window and watch the group of boys, knowing that they would never even try to come up on the Morgan porch since they were afraid of Miss Morgan.

Avalyn Berry

If she were out sweeping, she would never give my hiding place inside the house away. She always let me in, and I would sit with her in her chairs and watch the boys scurrying around outside. They knew where I was but were not about to confront Mrs. Marshall!

I remember on cold days seeing Mr. Marshall’s long johns on their clothesline, stiff as a board, and watching the flying squirrels high up in the oak trees in the Marshall’s back yard. 

I think my mother considered me to be a bit of a tomboy. I considered it a good challenge and always held my own with the boys. They were all older than I was, but still liked to tease me and make me the target of their practical jokes and tricks. 

Miss Willie North’s Kindergarten Class in her home for Patti Andrews’ 5th Birthday

My childhood friends in Franklin included Dee Ewin, Cousin Margaret Ewin Martin, Mary Lindsey Polk, Beverly Overbey, Caroline Gibbs, Virginia Givens, and Polly Akin, Margaret Ann Beasley, and Mary Jo Anderson. The boys included, Tandy Rice, Bill Haralson, Bill Bethurum, and of course my boy cousins and Buddy’s friends.

Franklin Grade School Girls Basketball Team – Avalyn is in front, fourth from the left

After graduating from Vanderbilt University and later obtaining my teaching certificate from Peabody College, my good friend Beverly Overbey and I secured teaching jobs in Huntsville, Alabama. We taught 3rd grade at Highlands Elementary School.

Life at Rural Plains

During my teenage years, my family moved from home in downtown Franklin to our farm at Rural Plains, about five miles to the South out Lewisburg Pike.

Rural Plains – The Berry Family Farm

My maternal grandfather, Walter A. Roberts (“Gran Gran”) deserves a lot of credit. After the War, his family was left penniless. From there he worked hard and became a successful land developer in Williamson County. He gave each of his three daughters a farm, as well as commercial property in Franklin. My mother received this property.

Much of the surrounding land bore witness to the Civil War firsthand. During the war years, the Confederate warriors rode and skirmished with the Federals in the surrounding picturesque hills and forests, the most significant one being the 1st Battle of Franklin (Douglass Church) on April 10, 1863, along Lewisburg Turnpike on the John Hughes Place. In fact, at least three Civil War skirmishes were fought on the property, the most significant of which occurred on April 19, 1863, when part of the Third Tennessee Cavalry, led by Colonel James W. Stames with Freeman’s Battery bringing up the rear, passed along the Lewisburg Turnpike. The Fourth U.S. Cavalry attacked the Battery, killing Captain Samuel Freeman and several others in the process.

Rural Plains was originally constructed and owned by a transplanted Virginian named Colonel William “Buck” Martin. He served under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812 in New Orleans. Subsequent owners of Rural Plains include John and Sally Martin Hughes, Dr. Samuel and Rachel Hughes Henderson, my grandparents Walter A. and Sallie Ewing Roberts, and my parents Tyler and Sara McGavock Roberts Berry.

The Berry Home at Rural Plains

Rural Plains was a quintessential Southern home traditionally designed with symmetry, balance, and elegance. My father’s family are direct descendants of Colonel “Buck” Martin who first settled on the property in the early 1800′s. The original homestead was built sometime between 1806 and 1812, prior to Colonel Martin’s departure to fight in the War of 1812.

Originally named Meadowbrook, the rolling, picturesque, and beautiful middle Tennessee hills and dales surrounding it were loved, appreciated, and respected. After serving on Andrew Jackson’s staff in New Orleans, Colonel Martin returned to his middle Tennessee home, lovingly referred to as “Rural Plains”, and convinced his sister Sally Martin Hughes and her husband, John, to leave Virginia for a visit. Being struck by the beauty of the area, John and Sally Hughes decided to make it their home as well and proceeded to build a new, larger brick home on the property around 1830.

When my great-grandfather Fleming owned part of Lewisburg Pike (a toll road), at the stone bridge sat a house, and stretched around the road, blocking it, was a long pole. At this point anyone traveling, would stop and pay a toll. Dad said the man, who ran the toll stop, sat on his porch and had rigged up a device so he would not have to move off his porch, but was able to raise the bar from a sitting position after being paid. Then the horse with rider, buggy or whatever would move through after paying the toll. 

Rural Plains – The Berry Homeplace

In the family cemetery outback, an ancestor of Grandmother Ewing, Lt. Col. John Martin is buried. Two old family cemeteries are located on our farm. Behind the house at Rural Plains was the Martin-Henderson family cemetery, which contained a small brick structure. On the hill of the Reams Fleming part of the farm was the Halfacre-Reams family cemetery, which included a stone wall surrounding it.

Five Mile Creek – Rural Plains

The dining room was built overlooking Five Mile Creek where geese congregated and swam and wild roses grew at random, painting the perfect picture of pastoral serenity and beauty. The Rural Plains home still stands on the northwest track of Berry Farms and will remain an integral part of its development.

We often strolled down to the creek to see what adventures awaited us. The creek was always a wonderful place to watch the minnows or see tadpoles swim. We would roll up our jeans, take off our shoes, and wade into the cool running water. The cows were also found among the trees, seeking shade.

Dad always loved firearms and shooting. He honed his shooting skills at his primary shooting range on Reams Fleming and also behind our home at Rural Plains. The current location of Dave Ramsey’s headquarters – Ramsey Solutions.

Tyler Berry’s shooting range at Rural Plains, the land is now owned by Dave Ramsey for his Ramsey Solutions corporate headquarters.

While his favorite rifle was the pre-1964 Winchester .270, he also used his .458 Giffin & Howe Winchester Magnum, Griffin & Howe 22-250 Winchester, 300 Magnum Winchester, as well as various varmint rifles to dispatch groundhogs, wild dogs, coyotes, polecats, squirrels and rabbits. 

Daddy’s reputation for being a crack shot was well-known (following WWII, for $50 he purchased 10,000 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition and about wore out his Model 1911 Colt automatic firing the entire supply of ammo). 

Later in life, he had constructed a stone structure (with working fireplace and chimney), say, 20’ x 20’, maybe 40’ to the rear of Rural Plains, which he affectionately and with a good sense of humor named Berry’s Folly. I believe it was due to the expense involved that was mostly for his pure use and enjoyment. In my opinion, it was an excellent investment.

Mother would drive the Chevrolet pickup truck to church. I would ask her to drop me off a block ahead, since I was so embarrassed to be seen in our old farm pickup.

I always said my horse Nellie’s name was a misnomer. Nellie sounds tame, but tame she was not. Anytime I wanted to ride Nellie, I had to literally run her down in the pasture and out trick her to catch her to ride. But, once in the saddle, she was a joy to ride through the fields and across the creeks of Rural Plains and the surrounding country.

I had two close calls riding her. The first time was when we were in a creek bed, and for some reason she spooked and leaped up the side of the creek toward a large tree and overhanging limb; so, I jumped off and she ended up wedged under the branch. We had to work her free. 

The second close call I had with her was when I was riding at a fast pace, the saddle slid under her stomach, for she could blow up her stomach while being saddled, but fortunately with my agility and hanging onto her mane, I pulled myself up on her bare back. 

Rural Plains Barn

Over the years, while tilling the soil and being on the farm, my dad picked up many arrowheads and other Indian artifacts. It would seem to confirm that the beautiful creeks and hills and pastures of Rural Plains have witnessed a great deal of history in the making over the years, including Indians, pioneers, cavalrymen during the War, and many others.

Tyler Berry II and daughter Avalyn Berry Swain at Rural Plains

After we first moved from Franklin to the country, we noticed an old schoolhouse next to the road. Men would go there to drink and make noise. My Dad got his gun, took off down our driveway and crossed Old Peytonsville Road. My Mother and I watched out the second-floor window. All of a sudden, all was quiet. Then the men scattered, took off in their cars and did not come back again. My Dad told Curtis Green who owned the property, and Curtis had the building torn down.

When Daddy and I would go hiking or hunting in the woods, if we came across a still, he would caution me to avoid it and to go about our business. Daddy often was hired by the moonshiners and was almost always successful in securing the dropping of charges. One time, I was with Dad on the Chadwell Place checking the fence rows and he said, “Sissy, don’t look or stare, but there is a still on the other side of the fence.”

On one occasion when Dad and I were at Henpeck Market to vote, he pointed out Dyke Bennett, an infamous local legend allegedly for his moonshining in “Little Texas” and for having killed his son in an argument over the moonshine. That really made my day. It was like taming the wild west. 

Berry Farms – A Preservation of the Berry and Roberts Family Legacy

The 600 acres of Berry Farms was formed by combining the farmland of both my parent’s families. Some have called it a love story. Our family’s Rural Plains home stands today as one of Williamson County’s great historic homes having been beautifully restored by my parents.

Phil Fawcett, Boyle’s Nashville Managing Partner and Joesph Gibbs, Partner with Bradley Law Firm

I could see that the town of Franklin was going to be moving toward us down I-65 South. With progress coming, you can only stand still for so long, and I wanted to keep this property as a unit and not piecemeal it. We went to a lot of different people and the Boyle’s were in tune with what I had always wanted for this property. I want the history and heritage to relate to it. This area is the gateway to Williamson County, and we wanted it to be something we can all be proud of. So, we formed a joint venture with Boyle.

Berry Farms was Dad’s vision for the future. While he, Mother, Buddy, and I all loved the farmland and the small-town atmosphere, Dad recognized change was inevitable. With the construction of I-65, the Northerner’s had a new route to the South, and especially Florida.

With our land being on three sides of the interchange, we had a choice of either guiding the next use of the land, or just selling it to someone else who would do so.

While Dad was not here to choose the development partner for our family, I do trust that he would affirm and approve of the choice of Boyle Investment Company, a recognized professional organization, run by professionals, with many successful developments under their belt including McEwen Northside, CityPark Brentwood, and Capitol View in Nashville.

Our family legacy will continue to be preserved for generations to come through the Berry Farms planned community.

Located right off Interstate 65 at Peytonsville Road, the 600 acres is a twenty-year planned development. This mixed-use master plan community combines homes, retail, hotels, along with various services like dental, eye care, animal care, along with health, and fitness.

Corporate offices like Lee Company and Ramsey Solutions are located on the property. The road “Sara Boulevard” was named after my mother, and all the roads are historically significant.

There are several common areas for families to enjoy including The Plunge pool named after Franklin’s beloved Willow Plunge. The picnic tables in the playground area were made from wood from barns on our property.

At Berry Farms, the office and shopping districts, along with the residential neighborhoods, are all designed with unique public space to connect people with each other and the surrounding mixed-use environment. There is no more special place than Berry Farms for living, making memories, and building a future.

Final Thoughts

My husband Tim Swain and I are still happily married. He too is an attorney and we moved to Peoria so that he could practice law soon after we married. We raised four wonderful children, Devan, Alicia, Trace, and Kristan. Our daughter Kristan lives in Franklin and has a law and real estate background. She continues to represent our family in my beloved Franklin community.

By this time, you probably have gathered that I not only loved my Dad, but really adored and respected him. But not for Dad, I would not be writing this book. I certainly would not have had the wonderful life experiences to tell you about and pass along to my children and grandchildren, and the Berry Farms development would never have occurred.

The Berry Family – Tyler, Sara, Avalyn, and Buddy

What wonderful memories I have of growing up in Franklin! It was filled with relatives, aunts, uncles, close cousins, distant cousins, and so forth. It was a wonderful place to grow up. Just as pictured, a small Southern town with a slow pace, where family and church were the two important elements. 

It was a close-knit town. Where the inhabitants’ forefathers had come and settled the area, the generations had continued. It was a town of familiar people, who knew each other’s father, mother, grandmother, and so forth. 

Growing up in Franklin was a real once in a lifetime experience. What a great adventure and how fortunate was I to have experienced such a wonderful life.

Sara Avalyn Berry Swain

Special Thanks: I am truly humbled and indebted to Avalyn for allowing us to share the majority of her priceless book, Growing Up in Franklin, on our blog. The book is out of print, and we felt it was important that her wonderful childhood memories not be forgotten but shared with the Franklin community and to everyone who loves and adores this magical town. -Buffie Baril, Lovely Franklin

Also, thank you to our wonderful photographer Trenton Lee Photography for the Berry Farms photos.

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2 Comments

  1. I also feel very blessed to have been born in Franklin (1941). Was raised on Columbia Avenue across from the Carter House and old FHS. After school I went to work (50 years) at Williamson County Bank where I came to know so many wonderful people including Mr. Berry. I’ve certainly seen a lot of changes but have no desire to live anywhere else. Currently near Berry Farms on Henpeck Lane.

  2. Many thanks to Avalyn Berry Swain for sharing her fascinating account of growing up in Franklin. Living in downtown Franklin, I am even more appreciative of how the Berry family has helped to shape our beloved little village.

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