Cornersville students tour Lairdland Farms

Friday, September 19, 2014
Thomas Hughs, who is representing George H. Thomas, commander of the Union troops in Nashville, is pictured with local students. Hughs retired in 2010 and now spends his time teaching students about the Civil War. "Everyone tries to do things that keep the students' attention while having fun as well. The teachers say they learn more here in one day than they would reading from the book," said Hughs. Altogether he has about 700 books about the Civil War, and studied extensively to learn to play the part of Thomas.

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, students from Delphine Hockett's fifth grade social studies class visited Lairdland Farms, located between Cornersville and Pulaski.

The land of Lairdland Farms was purchased by John Laird after the state of North Carolina gave him a 5,000-acre land grant in appreciation for his service in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In 1857, John's youngest son, Robert H. Laird, purchased the property from Thomas J. Lane, his brother-in-law, who built the original home in 1831. From that time on it has been called Lairdland Farms.

The home is now owned by Don and Bennita Rouleau who bought the farm in 2002.

The 8th Annual Civil War Living History three-day event featured re-enactors from the 19th Alabama Civilian Corp who set up educational tents. The students went from tent to tent learning about raising bees, making molasses, and spinning wool. They also learned what the medical tents were like, how the soldiers cooked on an open fire, and what everyday life was like during the war.

"We are about to begin our studies over the Civil War. I bring my students here every year because I think it really helps them with their studies and gives them a hands-on experience on what life in the time was like," said Hockett.

The historical home, which appeared on "Tennessee Crossroads" on NPT, features a museum of Don Rouleau's collectibles such as old guns, coins, and pocket watches. The walls of the home have murals painted by John Kiser of Cornersville. After several years of major restoration work, in May 2005 the Rouleaus were awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Tennessee Historical Commission for preservation and restoration of the historic property. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1995, in 2008 Lairdland Farm House was the second site in the state designated as an official stop along the Tennessee Civil War Trail.

Don Rouleau, who was in the Marine Corps from 1963-1968 with one deployment to Vietnam, has been collecting historical memorabilia since starting his coin collection in fifth or sixth grade. He loves collectibles so much that instead of purchasing an engagement ring for Bennita, he purchased her a Mississippi rifle by Eli Whitney. "I purchased her a rifle instead of buying a ring because if she told me no, I'd get to keep my gun," said Don.

He converted a portion of the building into a Civil War museum filled with artifacts, clothing, military weaponry and equipment, and numerous other pieces from his private collection, while his wife decorated the rest of the home with their lifetime accumulation of antiques, collectibles, and memorabilia.

"We feel fortunate to live in a place filled with so much history," Don Rouleau said.