“I’ve always loved a good ghost story. In my family, even backyard camp outs or indoor sleepovers meant a scary story or two. I was never what you’d call a true believer, though, until I started leading tours and seeing certain things over and over again. Then, at some point, I had to admit something was happening I couldn’t explain,” says Alicia King Marshall.
Alicia is the founder of Franklin Walking Tours, where she gets to tell the storied past of our beloved city. “I’ve been leading tours in historic Franklin for years. Unfortunately, the company I was working for closed in 2020, then sold,” she explains. “I missed it terribly, so I decided to open Franklin Walking Tours earlier this year. I am thrilled to be back out there, talking about Franklin’s fascinating past and exciting present.”
Alicia finds the city of Franklin to be perfect for the tours she provides due to its uniqueness and history since 1799. “How many small towns can trace the steps of three former presidents through their streets and buildings the way we can? Is there another town anywhere that’s been home to more celebrities per capita? So many guests book a tour expecting to hear nothing but the Battle of Franklin, which we can do,” she says. “But we have plenty of stories from before and after November 30, 1864.”
Franklin Walking Tours offers a variety of tours for a variety of audiences and history buffs. “My morning tour is called Franklin Charm. It’s a two-hour stroll through downtown, as I describe the major events that shaped Franklin and visit the places where significant past residents lived and worked,” she says. “We meet business owners and learn about their shops and their buildings’ history. We go inside at several stops, covering historical events that took place long ago or famous musicians who played there last week. We end at a local bakery, where each guest gets a treat before we say goodbye.”
Alicia says that more and more influencers are coming here, and they want content and unique backdrops. “My Picture Perfect tour is the answer. I show them all the best spots - some classic, others hidden. We talk about whatever interests them as we move from spot to spot - history, hauntings, true crime, etc. This tour is also popular for birthday parties, girls’ weekends, and even a proposal! Guests can schedule a professional photographer when booking, have their guide take their photos, or take their own.”
One could learn about the history, or one can learn about the spooky history. In October, Alicia offers many more tours, especially those with a more haunting tone. “When it gets dark out, so do my tours. Grim & Ghostly is my crime and hauntings tour. Available Friday and Saturday year-round, every night in October, or by appointment. This tour is exactly what it sounds like. We wind through the streets of downtown Franklin, stopping to tell about the worst things that have happened in the buildings we pass. I share photos taken by previous guests and tell stories about ghosts and their activities that have no logical explanation. New stories are frequently added as people tell me what they’ve experienced.”
Alicia tells us that Franklin Walking Tours is presenting the second Psychic Walk on October 9th. Celebrity psychic Deb Lantz, will return to Franklin to walk the haunted streets of our historic district. You may recognize her if you watch paranormal shows. She’ll give mini-readings when led and share her impressions as she goes. I then give whatever historical context I can before moving on. Her June event was very powerful, and I’m thrilled she has agreed to do it again. I still get the chills when I think of some of the things she shared with guests. It was incredible,” she says.
Private tours are offered throughout the year with Franklin Walking Tours, which are great options for bachelorette parties, family getaways, office team-building, school groups, church outings, and anyone with a specific focus. “For instance, I’m hosting a group this week who are only interested in certain Civil War events,’ Alicia explains. “I created a special itinerary just for them, which is something I love to do.”
Now, with the spookiest month of the year upon us, most of us are ready for tours that will raise the hairs on the backs of our necks. Alicia says that October is the busiest month for walking tours of all kinds in Franklin, with tours every day and night. “I have several people ready to jump in and help, including Brandon Schexnayder, of the popular Southern Gothic podcast. He recently asked me to co-host a new podcast, GHOST TOUR, featuring top ghost tour guides from all over the US and Canada. Our first episode was released in September, and people have been very receptive! Which is great, because we really want to produce season two. We have some exciting twists and surprises planned. So I’ll let you in on a secret. Our final episode this season will be guest-hosted by the stars of Ghostly Talk podcast!”
“I’ve always been open to the unknown but never had a concrete approach to hauntings until I started giving ghost tours,” she says. “I wanted to lead history tours, but the ghost tour is where I started. I soon noticed very specific things happening that I couldn’t explain. A certain image is often seen in one window of one house. It’s never seen at another house or in another window. Outside another building, guests often hear a particular sound. It’s always the same sound and never reported anywhere else. Clearly, something is going on here, and it sure sounds like ghostly activity.”
One may think that the obvious locations would be the most “haunted,” as they say - such as Carnton and the Lotz House. But Alicia has a different location that she says is the most haunted, in her opinion. “People have long said that Cherry Manor on 3rd Avenue North is the most active building in Franklin, possibly all of Tennessee. After going there thousands of times over the years, I would have to agree. It’s the only negative or dark haunting on any of my routes, and it affects some people physically. While it draws many visitors here, I wish it wasn’t so well known because I don’t enjoy being close to the building every night. I stay off the porch and go to the next spot as soon as possible while I wait for my guests when they’re ready to move on. The photos people have taken there are chilling, and (after checking them for any signs of tampering), I share them on my tours.”
Alicia knows Franklin’s storied past but is always welcoming others to share their stories with her as well. “I’m always excited to hear people’s Franklin ghost stories. When someone tells me about something that happened in the historic district, I go straight to the Williamson County Archives to find corroborating court records, newspaper articles, etc. If I can’t find what I need, I go to the boss - County Historian Rick Warwick. He always has the answers. So, if you’re reading this and know of something criminal or ghostly that relates to downtown Franklin, please reach out. I love when I’m walking down Main Street, and someone asks, ‘Are you the ghost lady?’ I say ‘yes; what do you have for me?’”
To learn more about the different tours offered with Franklin Walking Tours
or to book your tour, visit