of Oaklands Plantation
Oaklands plantation began in the late eighteen
teens when Dr. James Maney and his wife, Sallie Murfree Maney,
built a two-room brick house next to a large spring north of
Murfreesboro. In 1813, Sallie inherited 274 acres of
land north of the town named for her father, Colonel Hardee
Murfree. It was on this tract that the Maneys constructed what
would become one of the most elegant homes in Middle Tennessee.
two-room house was built on the hall-and-parlor plan, a design
that would have been familiar to the Maneys, who migrated from
eastern North Carolina to Tennessee. It was a well-constructed
one-and-a-half-story house with dormer windows and a chimney
at each end, and penciling on the brick mortar. At a
time when many people lived in log cabins, this small brick
house reflected permanence and distinction. Its appearance
was enhanced greatly in the 1820s when the Maneys attached
a two-story addition, in the Federal style, to the west gable
end of the original house. The new rooms included a parlor,
a front hall passage with a staircase, and a chamber over the
parlor that probably served as the Maney's first guest
bedroom. The only access from the old house to the new
addition was through a doorway on the first floor.
the Maney family at Oaklands was prospering and growing. In
the 1830s, their skilled slaves added a two-story ell consisting
of a dining room on the first floor, and children's bedrooms
directly above and to the rear of the original two-room house.
The workmen raised the ceiling height of the original two rooms
to two stories to allow for a more unified roofline, larger
second story rooms, and longer windows to bring in more light.
Maney died in 1857 and her husband retired from his medical
practice that same year. Dr. Maney lived in the
various households of his children until his death in 1872.
After Sallie's death, Oaklands passed into the hands
of her son Lewis and daughter-in-law, Rachel Adeline Cannon.
1857 to 1860, these second generation owners made extensive
renovations and additions that brought Oaklands to its present
Lewis and Rachel, the daughter of former
Tennessee governor Newton Cannon, were both accustomed to the
accompanied their elite social status. Aware of the latest
fashions in furnishings and architecture, they planned a new
Italianate addition that would totally eclipse the old plantation
house and make the manor more suitable for lavish entertaining.
Italianate-styled two-story front addition, designed by prominent
local architect Richard Sanders, included a library
and a front parlor separated by a hallway on the first floor.
At the rear of the front hall, the Maneys installed a magnificent
spiral staircase that led to two upstairs guest bedrooms, one
above the front parlor and one above the library. A
spacious central hall separated these guest bedrooms. The
exterior of this section featured a grand arched front entrance
on the first floor, heavy window surrounds and hood molding,
bracketed eaves, and an elegant second floor window that replicates
(on a smaller scale) the arched design of the front entrance
directly below. The entire facade was dominated by a
verandah of elaborate elongated chamfered arches and columns.
It is this piece of architectural extravagance that sets Oaklands
apart and has, in fact, become its hallmark.
Lewis and Adeline
did not have much time to enjoy their new home due to the outbreak
of the Civil War in 1861. By
then, Oaklands was the center of a rolling plantation that
grew cotton, tobacco, vegetables, and other crops. On
July 13, 1862, Confederate cavalrymen under Nathan Bedford
Forrest surprised and defeated Federal forces encamped on the
plantation grounds (front lawn of Oaklands) near the spring
and at the courthouse as part of a raid on Union-occupied Murfreesboro.
It is said that Lewis and Adeline's children watched
the fighting from the window of the second floor hallway. Union
Colonel William Duffield, commander of the 9th Michigan Infantry
Regiment, was wounded in the skirmish and taken into
the house, where he was treated by the family. The Confederates
accepted the surrender of Murfreesboro inside the mansion.
town remained in Confederate hands until the Union victory
at the December 31-January 2, 1862-63 Battle of Murfreesboro,
or Stones River,
the Federals regained control for the rest of the war.
family hosted many notable visitors while they resided at Oaklands.
The most prominent of these was Confederate
President Jefferson Davis, who stayed at Oaklands during his
December 12-14, 1862 visit to Murfreesboro. Other visitors
included John Bell (who ran against Abraham Lincoln and Stephen
Douglas in the 1860 Presidential election), Sarah Childress
Polk (the wife of President James K. Polk), naval officer and
oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury (cousin of Rachel Adeline),
Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Major General Leonidas Polk,
Brigadier General George Maney (commander of the 1st Tennessee
Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. and cousin of the Oaklands Maneys),
and various Union officers.
The Maneys, like many southern
planter families, experienced personal and economic hardship
as a result of the Civil War.
Lewis and Rachel Adeline lost two of their eight children to
in 1863. The abolition of slavery as a result of the war eliminated
the work force on the
Maney's plantations and therefore their principle source of
income. In 1872, Dr.
Maney filed a claim against the federal government in the amount
of $27,012 for property damage and losses incurred at Oaklands
during the war as the result of the activities of both armies.
The claim was ultimately rejected. Before the war, the Maneys
owned at least two plantations in Mississippi and each likely
experienced extensive damage during the war, although the extent
is not known. To alleviate their post-war financial difficulties,
the Maneys sold off portions of their Oaklands landholdings.
such transactions resulted in the creation of present-day Maney
Avenue and Evergreen Cemetery.
Maneys managed to retain possession of the plantation for almost
twenty years following the war. In 1884, Rachel
Adeline sold the house and 200 acres at public auction to cover
the debts of Lewis Maney, who died two years before. Elizabeth
Swoope of Memphis purchased the property. It was later
inherited by her brother, Leonidas Hayley, and then, following
his death, by Mrs. Swoope's daughter, Tempe Swoope Darrow.
A number of changes, mostly interior modernizations such as
addition of electricity and plumbing, were made during the
Swoope-Darrow period. When Tempe and her husband, George
Darrow, moved to their new home on Main Street in 1912, they
sold the house and some acreage to R. B. and Jennie Roberts.
Oaklands remained in the Roberts family until 1936 when they
to the Jetton family. The Jettons owned the home until
1957. A few years before then, Ms. Rebecca Jetton found
the house too large to maintain alone and moved to a local
Thus, from about 1954 to 1957, the mansion
was vacant and suffered from both neglect and vandalism. Woodwork,
frames, and many other architectural features were damaged
or stolen. The City of Murfreesboro purchased the property
from a local realtor in 1958.
When it became known that the
City planned to raze the mansion to build low-income housing
units, a group of concerned local
ladies mobilized to save Oaklands from this unceremonious fate.
In April 1959, they formed the Oaklands Association and lobbied
the City to deed the mansion to them. The City agreed
to do so, with the stipulation that the Association restore
the house and open it to the public within ten years. This
group of dedicated women, with financial help from local residents,
businesses, and groups, the State of Tennessee, and various
Association-sponsored membership drives and fund raisers, then
proceeded with the challenging task of cleaning, rehabilitating,
restoring, and refurnishing the house. Oaklands opened
to the public as a house museum in the early 1960s. Since
then, the Association has directed its energies toward preserving,
restoring, interpreting, and maintaining the mansion and its
grounds, collections, and furnishings.
Oaklands Historic House Museum welcomes several thousand
visitors each year, including special tour groups, school children
from Rutherford and surrounding counties, and people from
states and foreign countries.
Sallie Murfree Maney
Nathan Bedford Forrest