February 16, 2012

The Drouillard House

We often sat on the front porch of the homeplace after dinner, listening in the dark to “brother” — the oldest of mother’s siblings — talk the Bible into flesh and blood. Sometimes, the stories turned to the mansion down the road built for a southern belle who shocked Nashville society with her marriage to a Union officer in September, 1864.

Relatives and friends of Mary Florence refused to attend her wedding to Capt. James Pierre Drouillard, an Ohio native and West Point graduate. So they moved west, to the hills and hollows of Cumberland Furnance, TN. Eventually they were accepted back into the Nashville fold. In the next century, mother’s friends lived in that home. The girls would drift slowly down the three-story spiral staircase, practicing for their grownup lives. So did I, once, when mother took me there.

So I always wondered about the girls as they moved along the stairway toward long-ago beaus waiting in the foyer. Did they see the faint outlines of a man in uniform standing in shadow? A wisp of a forever love conjured by bedtime stories and the embedded memories of a magnificent old home.


  1. Deron Bauman on February 16th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    A wisp of a forever love.

  2. Rick Neece on February 16th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    A wisp. Oh, Cece.

  3. picturerock on February 16th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Yes. Yes they did.

  4. Michael Smith on February 17th, 2012 at 11:20 am

    This, like your last several posts, has hit just the right…everything.

  5. Sheila Ryan on February 17th, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I like the temporary exile out west — all the way west to Cumberland Furnace, followed by the return of the expatriates to Nashville.

  6. Carole Corlew on February 17th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you very much for your comments. Shelia, Mary Florence inherited the furnace from her grandfather. When they returned to Nashville in 1886, Mary Florence was “one of its most colorful social queens.”

    And I’m the one in the house now, in recurring dreams. I recognize it the instant I see the red carpet. And then I go that staircase.