Dan Epright, The Murfreesboro Post, October 6, 2017
More than 1,750 school children, not counting parents, teachers and chaperones, descended on the Sam Davis Home September 28-29 for the 34th Annual Heritage Days at the historic home of the Boy Hero of the Confederacy.
Students absorbed living history lessons with tours and demonstrations conducted by a host of Civil War and earlier-era historically accurate reenactors.
The well-dressed man in the period hat and vest manning the Sam Davis home smokehouse demonstration, Pettus Read, is a Rutherford County Commissioner and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Sam Davis Home.
“I’m teaching the children about how the meat was cured during the 1860s, here at the smokehouse,” Read said. “We have so many children who do not understand that process and how they maintained their food here on the farm.”
Read is proud of the Sam Davis home and some of the new initiatives set under Tiffany Johnson, the home’s executive director.
“Everything’s going really well here. We have even changed the way we do farming here, how we rotate the crops, control erosion and maintain the soil,” he said.
Many of the hundred plus acres of the Sam Davis Home property are farmed: 85 acres near Nissan Boulevard, 14 in front of the Sam Davis Home, and another 16 acres on the rest of the property.
Chris Gray, a teacher at Smyrna’s Rock Springs Middle School and advisor for the Junior Beta Club Honor Society, escorted his students to the event, where they helped with period demonstrations as a part of their community outreach and leadership development mission.
“A lot of them led the demonstrations themselves,” Gray said. “They did an excellent job. The students are the best part of teaching,” he said. “In middle school, there is never a dull moment.”
Jeremy Blackwell, a park ranger at Long Hunter State Park, served as a historical reenactor of a Long Hunter, in period linen costume and regalia, with leggings, broad brimmed hat, and a flintlock musket.
“A Long Hunter is a person, usually a farmer, that left his home in Virginia or the Carolinas and came to Tennessee and Kentucky to hunt during the winter months for furs and pelts to sell to make money,” Blackwell said. “A lot of them were third and fourth sons so they didn’t inherit land, and earned money hunting so they could buy their own land and start their own life.” Blackwell said his reenactment is fun and satisfying.
“This is a fun event. History is a wonderful thing, without it we lose sight of who we are.”
Tom Wood, a retired construction manager for David Lipscomb University, portrayed a Confederate medical service officer surgeon, accompanied by his spouse, Nancy, a retired Mt. Juliet English teacher who portrayed the surgeon’s society wife and pharmacist.
“I have original Civil War medical instruments, medicines and medical accoutrements that surgeons would have used in the Civil War,” Tom Wood said. “I love teaching history to a younger generation to keep history alive for the next generation.”
Nancy Wood, costumed in a period day dress, helps her surgeon-reenacting husband with the pharmacy.
“It’s something we can do together and I love doing it,” she said. “It’s very fun. In addition to helping with the surgeon’s pharmacy, I talk about women’s roles during the Civil War and what they would contribute.”
Jon Fleet, director of events and marketing for the Sam Davis Home, said the Heritage Day event went very well.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun for the school kids, families and the general public,” he said. “There were plenty of reenactors and we are very happy to see them out here.”
Hannah Sanders, the director of education for the Sam Davis Home said, “I think when kids are in the classroom, they learn a lot of history, but when they come here and experience history first hand, it really starts to click for them. It was great to see something that you had been planning implemented and seeing everyone had a good time.”