Civil War Trail plaques to be unveiled Monday

Friday, September 28, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Two Civil War Trail plaques posted in Marshall County will be dedicated in separate ceremonies Monday morning.

The first ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m. on the north lawn of the Courthouse in Lewisburg. The second is to begin at 11 a.m. in Cornersville's public park.

Civil War Trail plaques include text and images in a way that's been favorably compared to state historic markers such as one posted on the corner of First Avenue South and West Commerce Street. They're used to encourage heritage tourism and, therefore, are typically economic development projects.

A Civil War mascot - the rooster Jake Donelson - is the subject of the Civil War Trail plaque to be dedicated in Cornersville, where Company H, 3rd Tennessee Regiment, was organized in the spring of 1861 for service in the Confederate Army.

The topic for the plaque on the courthouse lawn has not been as well known as the storied bird. Two other plaques are planned; one will be at the boyhood home of Nathan Bedford Forrest near Caney Spring and Chapel Hill.

The plaques are funded through the Marshall County Tourism/Economic Development Committee, which administers money from the hotel-motel room tax.

Each sign costs $1,500, according to Mike Wiles, executive director of the countywide Joint Economic and Community Development Board.

The county's costs will be $6,000 over a period of two years, Wiles said.

"But we get a lot of benefits for that," he said, listing lifetime maintenance of the signs, highway directional signage so motorists may find the plaques and, among other things, inclusion on an Internet Web site.

"You can trace all the sites on the Internet," Wiles said. "Some people plan trips from site to site."

Mitch Bowman of Richmond, Va., created his own company to promote the plaques and heritage tourism. Bowman, a retired military pilot, started Civil War Trails and is its executive director.

Hundreds of courthouses have plaques posted nearby because of the program, according to Lynda Potts, a member of the Marshall County Historical Society.

Lee Curtis and Patricia Gray of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development are to attend the dedication ceremonies, Potts said.

"George McCanless, a descendant of Joe McCanless, who owned the rooster mascot, Jake Donelson, will participate in the Cornersville ceremony," Potts said. "County Mayor Joe Liggett will preside over the dedication of these exciting new tourism attractions for our county."