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.

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About Carole Corlew

I am a freelance writer and editor. I spent years in the news business, primarily as an editor. I started out in newspapers, but soon found the "wires" more suitable for the restless soul. Despite that, I've now lived in the Washington, D.C. area for 30 years, in D.C., Baltimore and now Virginia. When we moved to Virginia, just a few miles from the capital, my Iowa-born husband quipped that I had insisted on that location so I could be "a few steps closer to her beloved deep south." We have a teenage son.

6 thoughts on “The Drouillard House

  1. Sheila Ryan

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

  2. Carole Corlew

    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.

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