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RURAL LAND USE IN FRANKLIN COUNTY, TENNESSEE Thomas G. Gault Indiana State College Franklin County is located in the southeastern part of Middle Tennessee (Figure 1) . It consists of 560 square miles of land which cuts across three physiographic divisions of Tennessee.1 The study of the county is interesting to the geographer due to its transitional position between the Cumberland Plateau and the Nashville Basin. Also, the county lies in a transitional position between the general farming region to the north and the cotton belt to the south. Studies have been made of the Plateau and also of the Nashville Basin, but to the writer's knowledge no complete study has been attempted which anaylses an area cutting across the border of these regions to ascertain how adjustment is made from one to the other. The study was limited to rural land use by definition. All built-up areas contiguous to incorporated places were considered as urban land use and not included in the study of the county. It is recognized from the outset that much of the urban land use within these towns is directly or indirectly related to rural land use but could not be included in a study of this size. FRANKLIN COUNTY, TENNESSEE GENERAL LOCATION KENTUCKY VIRGINIA Knoxvllie MIDDLE TENNESSEE Memphis MISSISSIPPI GEORGIA FRANKLIN COUNTY M LES Fig. 1 32 Historical Background The history of this area is tied to the history of the South. Long before the arrival of white man, Franklin County was a part of the Eastern Hardwood Wilderness. As far as is known no Indian tribes resided in the area permanently. The area was a part of a region frequented by tribes of both the South and the North. These early dwellers of the area made little use of the area except for its fish and game, which were bountiful. It is not known how early white man first crossed this area, but Tennessee became the sixteenth state in 1796 and shortly thereafter, in 1800, the first known white settler took up residence in what is now Franklin County.2 Early settlers came chiefly from North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia via the Nashville Basin and moved into the area to escape the planter competition in the Basin.3 These settlers arrived first as squatters who lived first by hunting, fishing and home gardening. Then came the Revolutionary war veterans who took up large land holdings with permission of North Carolina. Next came those who obtained land grants from Tennessee, usually these grants were of approximately 200 acres. These early settlers developed a selfsufficient agricultural economy and left an imprint upon the land use in the county which has persisted into the mid-twentieth century. Probably, the outstanding problems in land use today in the county can be traced directly to the traditions and customs of farming in those earlier years. The most persistent problems are: poor attitudes toward conservation of the land, and the reliance upon crops known to be unprofitable and soil-robbing. Large land holdings soon disappeared, due to lack of labor in the county, and the small middle class farmer has become predominant. Few families in the area come close to fitting Pearl Buck's description of "poor whites". On the other hand no large planter class developed due to the lack of a navigable stream of adequate size to transport cotton bales to market. Early farmers of Franklin County could be described as socially and economically between the Southern Highlanders and the Planter Class of the South. They long retained the pioneer economy, owned only a limited number of slaves, and did general subsistence farming. They were a sturdy, independent, and intelligent folk with little education. The early economy belonged to that part of the South sometimes referred to as the "hog and hominy" section because of its dependence upon corn and pork for its diet. The county produced a surplus of these items and exported this south and west into the Cotton Belt. The principal income was from pork which could be walked to market, though production for an outside market was limited by the great amount of time and effort necessary to market it. 33...


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