Rattle and Snap Papers

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Title: Rattle and Snap Papers

Dates: 1845-1979

Creator: Unknown

Summary/Abstract: The papers consist entirely of photocopied materials pertaining to the history of the Rattle and Snap plantation and home, built by George Polk in 1845.  A large segment of the information pertains to the Polk family and their history while residing at Rattle and Snap.  This collection provides an excellent resource on the history of the Rattle and Snap home and grounds.

Quantity/Physical Description: Approximately .5 linear feet

Language(s): English

Repository: Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (615) 898-2632

Restrictions on Access: None

Copyright: It is presumed that corporate and individual copyrights in manuscripts, photographs, and other materials have been retained by the copyright owners. Copyright restrictions apply. Users of materials should seek necessary permissions from the copyright holders to comply with U.S. copyright laws.

Preferred Citation: (Box Number, Folder Number), Rattle and Snap Papers, Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Acquisition: Unknown, accessioned in 1999

Processed By: Original processor undetermined.

Arrangement: There are thirteen folders arranged in this collection by no clear pattern. For more information, see the inventory on page three of this finding aid.

Biographical Note: Rattle and Snap was a home built for George Polk, a cousin of President James K. Polk, in 1845. He and his three brothers inherited land in Maury County that their father had supposedly won from the Governor of North Carolina. According to family tradition, Colonel William Polk won the land from the governor in a game of beans called Rattle and Snap. While all of the brothers built homes on the land that they divided amongst themselves, George’s home was the largest, most ornate, and carried a name to pay tribute to its acquisition.

Art historian John Kiser commented on Rattle and Snap saying, “most people of the time had four columns, Andrew Jackson managed to have six, but George Polk had ten.” George’s home was built on a scale and in a style unseen in the area at that time. Most of the labor was completed by skilled slaves owned by the Polk family, but George commissioned the columns from a factory in Cincinnati. These were floated down the Ohio River and then up the Cumberland River where they were unloaded in Nashville. There they were loaded onto oxcarts which carried the load to Maury County.

George and his family lived an extravagant planter lifestyle and flirted with financial disaster for many years. When the Civil War arrived, the Polk family sided with the Confederacy and suffered significant financial losses by the end of the war. In 1867 George Polk was bankrupt and sold his home to the Granberry family who renamed the home Oakwood Hall.

The Granberrys lived at Oakwood Hall for nearly fifty years, but, after this, the home had many owners. At one point it was inhabited by tenant farmers who also used the home as a barn to store hay. For many years, the home was empty and open to the elements. In the 1950s the Babcock family bought the house and began much needed restoration work. On November 11, 1972, the property was designated as a National Historic Landmark. In 1979, the Evans family bought the house and continued the tradition of renovations.

Scope and Content: The papers consist entirely of photocopied materials pertaining to the history of the Rattle and Snap plantation and home.  A large segment of the information pertains to the Polk family and their history while residing at Rattle and Snap.  Also included are records of the gardens, landscaping, architecture, renovations, and the National Register Nomination. 

Associated Materials: There are no known associated materials.

Related Collections: There are no known related collections.

Subject Terms

Persons
Polk, George

Places
Maury County, Tennessee

Subjects (General)
Civil War
Historic homes

Material Types:
Photocopies

Collection Inventory:

Folder

Description of Contents

01

National Register Nomination

02

Tour Script

03

Rattle & Snap Gardens

04

Rattle & Snap Renovation

05

History of Rattle & Snap

06

Civil War

07

Maps

08

Maury County

09

Polk Correspondence

10

Polk Correspondence

11

Polk Family

12

Women — Polks

13

St. John's Church