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Mansfield House: Whig & Psychology

Updated: May 20

Was at the current address of 915 Blanton Ave. off Murfreesboro Rd. west of Spence Lane.

Built prior to 1816

Mansfield was built Robert Coleman Foster (1769-1844) and Ann Slaughter Hubbard Foster (1770-1850). The Foster came down from Bardstown, KY to Nashville with their family. Foster was an attorney who served in the Tennessee House of Representative (1803-0-7) and State Senate (1809-15)(1825-27).

The plantation was inherited by their son Hon. Ephraim Hubbard Foster (1794-1854) and Jennet (Jane) Mebane Lytle Foster (1792-1847). The plantation eventually stretched from Foster Ave. to the Interstate 24 area.

Foster became a successful Nashville attorney. Early in his life, he had ridden with Andrew Jackson against the Creek Indians; later he and Jackson became political enemies. Foster was a leader in the Whig party and served in Tennessee House of Reps 1829-1831, 1835-1837 - each time as Speaker). He also served in the Tennessee General Assembly in the Senate in place of Felix Grundy - 1838-1839, 1843-1845. [Jane’s first husband was John Dickinson.] One of their daughters, Saidee “Sally” Foster married Benjamin F. Cockrill, son of Mark Cockrill of Mt. Solitude and Cockrill Spring.

After Ephraim’s death, Mansfield was sold to Andrew Ewing (1813-1864) and his wife Rowena Josey Ewing (1820-1903) in 1855. Ewing was an attorney and served as Davidson County Clerk from 1783-1813. He was elected to Congress and served from 1849-1851. Ewing served in the Confederacy and rose to colonel. During the Civil War, Mansfield was used first as a Federal barracks, and then as a Confederate hospital. Sadly, the CSA troops cut down most of the trees on the estate. Foster died near the end of the Civil War in military service.

By 1911, Capt. John Watson Morton, Jr. (1842-1914) owned Mansfield. He wed Annie Payne Humphreys Morton (1846-1899) in 1869 and Ellen Bourne Tynes Morton (1835-1912) in 1901. After the Civil War, he studied medicine at University of Tennessee and practiced for a couple years before changing to farming and then government. From 1882-1886, he served as assistant commissioner of agriculture and then from 1901-1909 secretary of state for Tennessee. In the 1890s, Morton edited the Tennessee Farmer. He published memoirs titled: “ The Artillery of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry” of which he had served as Chief of Artillery.

About 1910, Dr. Smiley Jordan Blanton (1882-1966) and Margaret Leslie Gray Blanton (1887-1973) owned the property. They wed in 1910. Dr. Blanton was an associate professor of clinical psychology in 1943-46. He had been an important student with Dr. Sigmund Freud in Vienna and in London. Later, he taught at other universities and co-founded the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in 1951.

In 1970, William I. Morris leased the remaining 3.5 acres to open a country club - plans failed. The Sain family gained control of the property and opened an orphange. In 1974, Mansfield was operating as a Christian orphanage and owned by Anne Johnson (Mrs. George T.) Sain. It ran for several years, but closed. In 1979, the home burned down. The family names are remembered locally: Blanton Ave., Hill Ave., Cole Ave., and Foster Ave. See Cockrill properties-Westover, Cockrill Springs


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