Franklin, Tennessee, Native, Tom Murdic, Discovers African-Americans’ War Stories

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He calls himself a part-time lollygagger, a semiretired puzzler who spends his days tinkering with telescopes and chasing local history.

Mostly, he says, he just likes the thrill that comes with connecting the dots.

But among all the satisfying epiphanies — the moments when a new view of the world clicked into focus — there was one revelation that cut to Tom Murdic’s core: His ancestors were slaves.

It was about 20 years ago, and the Franklin native was cross-referencing the names of local slave owners with his family names, listed on rosters of contract laborers. Their locations matched.

“It was proof enough for me,” he said with uncharacteristic softness, sitting in the sun-filled living room of his home just off Columbia Avenue late on a recent morning.

In the years since then, local preservationists leading a major push to commemorate the Battle of Franklin have found an unlikely ally in Murdic, a former Williamson County commissioner and Franklin civic leader who can trace family roots in the area back to 1822.

As a black man, Murdic occupies an unusual place in the tight-knit world of Civil War preservation, largely the domain of white history buffs.

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Source: Tennessean | Jill Cowan, jcowan@tennessean.com

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