Judge Edwin Ewing, a forgotten political powerhouse

March 14, 2010, Mike West, The Murfreesboro Post

Editor’s note: This article concludes the series.

Following the Civil war, Edwin Ewing lived in Murfreesboro with one of his daughters on North Highland Drive.

Built in 1856 by Dr. Ford Norfleet, the home was a two-story brick and one of the finest of its time. Norfleet never lived in the home, which was sold to E.L. Jordan who was married to Norfleet’s sister. The house was featured in the 1942 book, ‘Heartstones‘ by Mary B. Hughes and was described as the Ewing-McElroy House.

Despite the war, Ewing remained politically prominent to the point where the New York Times wrote an editorial questioning his request for amnesty in the post-war days. “The Union between the North and the South was at an end forever and he had no hope of its restoration, the editorial quoted Ewing as saying. He regarded this as a war of subjugation, and would never consent to such a domination as was attempted to be established over us. We see it now stated that this same EDWIN H. EWING has expressed his readiness to accept amnesty on the conditions of the President’s Proclamation, and freely urges the same step upon his friends, the Times said. But Ewing received amnesty and continued his law practice.

After the war, Ewing’s son, Josiah and his wife, moved into the house, which was purchased by Ewing’s father. Judge Ewing moved into the house as well. The home became known for its parties and elaborate flower garden, which featured beds of lilies and roses, bordered by violets. The gardens paths radiated to a honey-sucked covered summerhouse to the left of the two-story brick structure. Judge Ewing would take evening promenades on the long second-story balcony at the rear of the house, which was built traditionally with four bedrooms on the second floor and the parlor, dining and other public rooms on the ground floor.

While the Ewing’s occupied the dwelling, it was the scene of four lavish weddings. Following the death of Judge Ewing (in 1902) and his son, the home was sold to Professor W.M. Mooney, who attempted to establish a boys school there. When the school failed, the property reverted to Mrs. Ewing’s control. She ultimately sold it to Mrs. George D. Nelson, who established a home for handicapped children there. Later the home was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. McElroy, who continued to operate a school there. Ultimately, the land was purchased by Middle Tennessee Medical Center and the house was demolished, making way for MTMCs Bell Street Center.

As for Judge Ewing, he was laid to rest in the Murfreesboro City Cemetery on Vine Street, where he remains an almost forgotten figure in Tennessee’s history.

For further reading:

The Jordan-Ewing-Nelson-McElroy home

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