September/October 2019, Froe Chips Researched and written by Barry Lamb
It is a common occurrence during times of war that a wounded soldier feels a special bond for a nurse who is taking care of them. The intense anxieties of battle and one’s own welfare while in the army, coupled with the care and nurturing of a kind and beautiful female nurse often provide fertile ground for romance to blossom. Such was the case of Captain Charles Oscar Thomas of the 9th Michigan Infantry Regiment, USA, who had been wounded in action at Murfreesboro in 1862, and Eliza Read Williams, who resided in the home under discussion in this article. Miss Williams was a step daughter of Edward Leland Jordan Sr., the brother of two of this writer’s direct ancestors, and his third wife, Mildred Hopson Williams Jordan.
The Jordan-Ewing-Nelson-McElroy home, formerly located at 512 North Highland Avenue, was built in 1856 by Dr. Ford Norfleet of Montgomery County, Tennessee. Dr. Norfleet was a brother-in-law of Mildred Hopson Williams Jordan. He never resided in the house, but instead sold it to Edward Leland Jordan in 1860. Jordan was a well known bank president in Murfreesboro and also served as the mayor of the town from 1868-1869. He and his family spent the dark years of the Civil War residing in the house and when the Union army occupied Murfreesboro during the early months of 1862, the 9th Michigan Infantry Regiment, USA, camped on the vast acreage of the plantation.
Jordan sold the home in 1866 to Edwin Hickman Ewing. Mr. Ewing was considered to be an intellectual and a personal friend of Daniel Webster. He was also a congressman, scholar, writer, attorney, and associate justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. He was a direct ancestor of Walter White, president of the Rutherford County Historical Society.
The house remained in the possession of the Ewing family until 1903, when it was sold to William Dromgoole Mooney. George D. Nelson and his wife, Cora Bristol Nelson, purchased the place in 1911. During the residency of the Nelson family, Mrs. Nelson initiated a school for special needs children in the home and conducted it there for many years.
It is believed that Frank and Nancy McElroy took over the school around 1940 before purchasing the house from the Nelsons in 1950.
During the later years of the house’s existence, the place was known as the Louisa Developmental Center. It was sold to the Middle Tennessee Medical Center during the mid 1990s and razed to build medical offices, thus causing the loss of another Murfreesboro historic landmark.