Today’s post is a reprint from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” from Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI (1902). Deupree’s article contained no picture of Eagle’s Nest, so I am including a badly photocopied image from Linton Weeks’ Clarksdale and Coahoma County: A History (Clarksdale, MS: Carnege Public Library, 1982) to help visualize the scene Deupree describes.
The home of James L. Alcorn, in Coahoma county, received its name in a most natural way; an eagle had built her nest for many years in a large cottonwood tree in a field adjoining the park which surrounds the residence. In alloting work to the plantation laborers the supervisor spoke of it as the Eagle-nest field, thus the plantation and the home became known as “Eagle’s Nest.” There are several nests of these birds in the cypress brakes just back of the buildings.
The home is a large modern frame structure. The lumber was cut from the forests on the plantation, and dressed by hand under the supervision of Gen. Alcorn. The house has five wide halls, twenty-two large, high ceiled rooms, made home-like and cheerful by ingle-nooks, cozy corners and numerous broad windows. Three bay windows open on the blue waters of the lake on which the home fronts. Broad verandas extend around three sides of the house; the whole surmounted by an observatory commanding a view of beautiful Swan lake, the park, and the broad fields of corn and cotton, the whole making a pictures never surpassed in natural beauty. Mrs. Alcorn tells the following interesting story as to the way the lake received its name:
“In the early days it was a feeding ground for numbers of wild swans. A huntsman on one occasion shot, and broke the wing of one of these graceful birds. It could never again leave the lake; year after year it welcomed the coming of its fellows with glad cries, and pined in sorrow when they plumed their broad wings and took flight for new feeding grounds; it was pitiable to see its efforts to follow. Since then the pretty sheet of water has been called Swan’s Lake. Upon the shore of this lake stands the tree in which the great eagle mentioned above built her nest. She showed both judgment and taste in the selection of a home; for the waters of the lake furnished an abundance of food for her young, and the view is one of unsurpassed beauty.”
The axmen were directed to leave that tree untouched when the field was enlarged by clearing the southern part of the park; but the careless, thoughtless, destroyer of the forest, regardless of orders belted this monarch of ages. The grounds immediately about the house are shaded by large oak, magnolia, holly, and varnish trees. The gardens are gorgeous with bloom from the coming of the dainty snowdrop and purple violet of spring to the asters of the late autumn. In the park, near the southern limit, is a large Indian mound, and on this mound sleeps James L. Alcorn, his grave marked by a marble statue of himself. Near by rest the remains of four sons. Two died in defense of their home and country. Major Alcorn, the eldest, was as brave and true a soldier as ever went to the front of battle. Henry, the second son, then a lad of seventeen years, captured and taken to Camp Chase, contracted typhoid fever and died on the way home an exchanged prisoner, and now sleeps beside his father on the old Indian mound. The wide halls and lofty rooms of this stately home that once echoed to the tread of busy feet, are now silent, and deserted by all save the widowed mother.
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI (1902), pp. 249-250.
This post is part of a series taken from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” published in 1903. Want to read others in the series?