Prior to the end of the American Civil War, Belle Meade Plantation was home to a large population of enslaved African Americans. The Harding family was one of the largest slave-holding families in Nashville.
Although most of the enslaved population of Belle Meade lived in the quarters, some actually lived in the mansion. Each member of the Harding family had a personal servant to attend to their needs, both at home and while traveling. Enslaved attendants usually slept at the foot of the bed of their master or mistress. Enslaved women with children near the age of those of their master served as wet nurses and nannies, tending and nursing their master’s children along side their own.