The Mooney School for Boys, 1902-1908

The MOONEY SCHOOL FOR BOYS 1902-1908 was located on the south side of East Main Street with buildings west of the present Second Avenue. It was founded by William Dromgoole Mooney who came to Murfreesboro from Franklin where he and Mr. Wall had founded Battle Ground Academy.

On June 12, 1902, B. R. Abernathy and wife Anna S., W. M. Abernathy and wife Eliza G.,, all of Texas, deeded eleven acres of land to W. D. Mooney. The parcel was bounded on the north by the Murfreesboro-Woodbury Turnpike, on the east by Mrs. Florence Bilbro, on the west by Charles Cullom, and on the south by Dr. W. C. Bilbro. The property had been lots 9 and 15 in the division of the Matt B. Murfree estate.

W.D. Mooney School dorm room, 1904

The school plant consisted of the School Building with four white columns in the front, the Dormitory, and an athletic field behind the School Building.

Two courses of study were offered: classical for college preparatory and English for business. Strongly emphasized were team sports which included football, basketball, tennis, track, and gymnastics. Also available for participation were debating societies and a YMCA. The cost was $40 for tuition, $60 for board, and $5 for incidental library and physical training fees.

Teachers remembered, besides Mr. Mooney, were Mr. Anderson, Mr. Marshall, and Mr. Henderson.

Among the students were Will J. Miller, a distance runner, Homer Powell, Heland Smith, Fred Dorris, and Finley Dorris, all of Christiana, who commuted daily by train. Judge Granville Ridley, Howell Washington, and Grady Beesley were also day students. Alfred Miles finished at the ANDERSON SCHOOL and became first coach at MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE NORMAL in 1913.

Johnny “Red” Floyd became a football coach at NORMAL in 1917.

1904 football team

In 1902, Mooney’s football team defeated the University of Nashville and Sewanee. In 1905, Mooney furnished the Cumberland team that beat Vanderbilt. His boys at Vanderbilt won more Entrance Medals in Latin and Greek than boys from any other school and became All-Southern and All-American football players. Grantland Rice worked out with the MOONEY teams to learn fundamentals for his sports writing.

William Dromgoole Mooney was born in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1858. His mother was the oldest daughter of John Easter and Rebecca Branch Dromgoole of Murfreesboro. William was class valedictorian at Webb School, received A. B. and M. A. degrees from Southwestern Presbyterian University, and did post graduate study at the University of South Carolina. He was co-founder of Battle Ground Academy, founded the MOONEY SCHOOL in Murfreesboro, headed a private academy and then a public school system in Danville, Virginia, and became Major Mooney at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia, and in Hollywood, Florida. He retired to a home on Murphy Avenue in Nashville which former students had bought for him. He was cared for there in his later years by Louise Love Hicks, the half-aunt of May Love Miller, Mrs. W. J. Miller.

While in Murfreesboro the Mooney family lived in the J.W. Ewing house which had been built in 1856. The house is shown on the 1878 Beers Map. The Mooneys added two frame buildings for dormitories. This property became the BRISTOL NELSON PHYSIOLOGICAL SCHOOL and the LOUISA SCHOOL.

The MOONEY SCHOOL closed because of financial obligations which Mr. Mooney had assumed for a friend and then could not meet. On March 28, 1908, Trustees N. C. Maney, W. T. Smith, and John E. Richardson received from W. D. Mooney and wife Grace R. two parcels of land, the MOONEY SCHOOL and the residence-dormitory on Highland Street.

The school was operated the next year as ANDERSON SCHOOL FOR BOYS. The School Building was used at intervals as CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, by McFADDEN, and MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE.

It became EAST END GRAMMAR SCHOOL. The building was demolished
in 1933-1934.

SOURCES: Deed Book 42, p. 517; Book 49, p. 306. *Gene Sloan, “Mooney School’s Master,” The Daily News Journal Accent, Sept. 25, 1977, pp. 8-10. *Homer Pittard, “Famous Institutions Once Taught Local Students 100 Years Ago,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 12. *C. C. Sims, A History of
Rutherford Coiy Sims, 1947, p. 160. Tennessee. Department of Public Instruction, Biennial Retof Schools of Tennessee 1915-1916 1916, p. 112. Interviews, March 10, 1983, with Tom Cannon; March 21, 1983, with Will J. Miller, student. *Catherine Clark.

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