Yankee Captain Found Opportunity Here

As published by the Daily news Journal, Sunday, February 20, 2011DoughtyPortrait1PNG

By Greg Tucker, gregorytucker@bellsouth.net

This Yankee came south to quell the rebellion.  Seriously wounded at Stones River, he  recuperated in a local home.  After the war he  returned to Rutherford to make it his home.  He also made a fortune.

William Northcraft Doughty was born in Virginia in 1820, but soon moved to Ohio and then to Rush County, Indiana, with his family.  By 1860, the 41-year-old Doughty was established as a  prosperous merchant and lawyer, married to Sara Jane Abernathy, and the father of four surviving children.

In 1861 Doughty joined the Union Army’s 37th Indiana Regiment, Company I, and was given the rank of captain.  An aggressive leader, he was wounded three times before suffering serious  injuries at the Battle of Stones River, which ended his military career.  He was relieved of duty and  nursed in a Murfreesboro household until able to return to his home in Indiana.

According to one account of family history, the friendships Doughty made during his recuperation “were so strong” that he moved his family to Murfreesboro soon after the war ended.  He opened a business on the northwest corner of the square in Murfreesboro, and resided on the northwest corner of the East Lytle and North Academy intersection.  (The “Doughty House” still stands, but the brick and wood exterior is now covered with stucco.  Two other houses share the once-extensive yard and garden.)

Prospering as a lumber trader, general merchant and attorney, Doughty was among the founders of the First National Bank of Murfreesboro in 1869, according to Murfreesboro historian C.C. Henderson, and served as the bank’s vice president.  A second national bank in Rutherford County, Stones River National Bank, was organized in 1872 with Doughty as the bank president.

Among the various advantages of status as a “national bank” was the authority to issue “national currency.”  Before the Civil War banks issued the only paper currency and such “bank notes” were good only to the extent the issuing bank was financially sound.  The National Banking Act of 1863 established a system of “national banks” empowered to issue “National Bank Notes” subject to federal requirements.  These banks had to purchase bonds deposited with the U.S. Treasury and issue currency in amounts totaling no more than 90 percent of the face value of the bonds.

The 1863 Act had two purposes: 1) to raise money to finance the war; and 2) to protect the public from currency issued by fraudulent or poorly-managed banks.  The Act also levied a substantial tax on currency issued by state-chartered or private banks.  This “constitutionally-questionable” tax effectively gave the national banks a monopoly on issuance of U.S. currency.

The actual printing of bank notes in 1863 was left to the private sector, and several large bank note firms competed for the business.  One of the more successful was the Continental Bank Note Company (New York) that was hired to print the currency issued by the Stones River National Bank.  This business ended in 1876, however, when the government assumed responsibility for printing all currency.

During the post-war period of rapid financial growth and industrial development, the Stones River Utility Works purchased 11 acres on Salem Pike (on the west bank of Lytle Creek) and built what came to be known as “the Bucket Factory.” (The property deed given by Thomas B. Darragh is dated May 1, 1871.)  Doughty and the Stones River National Bank were apparently involved in financing this venture and held a note on Stones River Utility.

By 1878, however, the Bucket Factory was in distress, the note was in default and the bank went to court.  In a sale ordered by the Chancery Court, the buyer of the Bucket Factory was W.N. Doughty.  In January 1879, Doughty began transferring his business interests to his son Edwin Logan Doughty.  This probably coincided with Doughty’s retirement from the bank presidency and the beginning of his tenure as a member of the local judiciary.

During the 1880s, the Doughty family owned not only the business on the square with a substantial inventory of locally made furniture and carpets (the E.L. Doughty & Co. store), but also the Doughty Mfg. Co. (furniture and “red cedar ware”) and the E.L. Doughty, Bro. & Co. (red cedar buckets, churn tubs and “celebrated moth-proof chests”).  The financially-troubled Bucket Factory was sold to Prewitt-Spur & Co., a Nashville-based firm, in 1885.

Although all of his business assets had been transferred to his son by February 1884, W.N. Doughty continued as “manager” of the manufacturing company until shortly before his death in 1889.  According to a newspaper account, services for Judge W.N. Doughty “were preached at the Methodist church” before “one of the largest crowds we ever saw in Murfreesboro…”

Doughty was eulogized as “an energetic and public-spirited citizen, adding as much to the material prosperity of his adopted home as any man in it.”

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