May 1, 2019, by Barry Lamb
The rattle of musketry and small arms could be heard from the Elliott home that sat on the northwest corner of Lytle and Academy Streets during the morning of July 13, 1862. The nerves of the elderly widow, Adaline Bowman Elliott, must have been on edge that day as she pondered the intensity of the battle and what effect it might have on her and her children living with her. The raid of Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest that morning likely reminded Mrs. Elliott of her eldest son, Samuel Newton Elliott, who had moved to Texas in 1848 and was serving as a lieutenant in the 8th Texas Infantry, CSA, at that time.
Fortunately, the widow Elliott, her children, and her home survived the battle unscathed, but it would not be the last time that the war darkened the door of the Elliott home. Five months later, Confederate General Braxton Bragg would commandeer the place as his headquarters while the Army of Tennessee was encamped in and around Murfreesboro for several weeks prior to the Battle of Stones River. The house was likely used as a hospital following that great battle as were most of the large structures in the town.
The origin of the home dates back to 1848, when Amanda Elliott purchased the lot at the corner of Lytle and Academy from her afore mentioned son, Samuel Newton Elliott. The construction of the home was likely begun during the months subsequent to the purchase of the lot.
Mrs. Elliott and her grown children remained in the home throughout the balance of the tumultuous war years. She sold the place to John Basey Kimbro, a Murfreesboro alderman, who became president of the First National Bank of Murfreesboro during his residency of the home. Kimbro and his wife, Amanda Frazier Kimbro, raised their family of seven children there before selling the dwelling to William Northcraft Doughty in 1870.
Doughty, a former captain of Company I, 37th Indiana Infantry Regiment, USA, and direct ancestor of our fellow townsman and local history aficionado, Bill Ledbetter, had moved to Murfreesboro with his wife, Sarah Jane Abernathy Doughty, and their three children soon after the war and began a dry goods business known as the Freedmen’s Store. The captain later served as president of the Stones River National Bank during the 1870s and began a lumber business in 1881 known as the Doughty Manufacturing Company. He died in 1899 and his widow and daughter, Mamie, continued to live in the home. Mamie died in 1904 and her mother followed her in death in 1907.
The house became the dwelling place of George Washington Howse Jr. in 1908. The household consisted of his wife, Sarah “Lovie” Eakin Howse, and their two daughters, Elisa-beth Ophelia (Mrs. Granville Sumner Ridley Jr.), and Florence Valentine (Mrs. Bartholomew Newton White), grandparents of Rutherford County Historical Society President, Walter White.
In her book, “Falling Leaves”, Elisabeth Howse Ridley, described the home as a large rambling affair which consisted of a sitting room, parlor, dining room, and kitchen downstairs, and five bedrooms upstairs. The house was also surrounded by four porches, one for each side of the house.
During the occupancy of the Howse family, eerie and sometimes malevolent spirits manifested themselves upon the family, especially toward Elisabeth. Perhaps the spirits knew that she would later write about her experiences. In the afore mentioned book, Elisabeth described several visitations of these spirits which she believed were the spirits of the widow Doughty and her daughter Mamie. At times footsteps could be heard on one of the porches or the stairway. Often a sudden wind accompanied by a throaty chuckle would appear. One time she opened the door to the east side porch and a sudden wind came up and she could see a shadowy figure that uttered a hoarse chuckle crouched in the corner of the porch swing.
Perhaps the most terrifying incident that Elisabeth experienced was one night when she tried to sleep in Mamie Doughty’s old bedroom. She described it so adroitly: “I seemed to me the window curtains danced more wildly (that night). The chuckles became louder. The rustling drew nearer. Still I waited; then I felt icy fingers clutch my throat. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I could only silently pray, ‘God help me.’ One terrifying moment; then all was still.” Elisabeth often wondered if subsequent owners of the home had experienced similar apparitions.
The house became the domicile of William Archibald Miles, his wife, Wylene, and their four children in 1920. Mr. Miles was one of Murfreesboro’s first automobile dealers and has the distinction of being the only person to have served as both mayor of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County (then known as the chairman of the county court).
In 1928, a boiler exploded in the rear of the house and caused a fire that destroyed that portion of the home, greatly reducing the length of the structure. Mayor Miles lived in the home until his death in 1956.
The place has been owned by several families throughout the past 60 years and is presently divided into four apartments.