Thomas Landrum of Laurel, Mississippi didn’t set out to build a village. It just…happened.
The village started as a business of handcrafted pine furniture, which has now been in business for over 33 years, explained Deborah (Landrum) Upton.
“My dad said the grandchildren didn’t appreciate how the people used to live and how their ancestors lived, worked and built their homes.”
Tom Landrum took the kids into the woods where they logged the trees and had a portable sawmill come in cut the wood into boards. This family project started in 2003.
“There was no master plan,” said Deborah. “We started the first cabin. As soon as we got the cabin built we filled it with old things.”
Today, that one cabin is one of 70 buildings located in the beautifully landscaped Landrum’s Homestead & Village located off Highway 15 in Laurel. With exhibits, wagon rides, gem mining, nature trails, a Confederate soldier encampment, an Old West Shooting Gallery, and a Native American Village, every visitor steps back into the late 1800s. In addition, through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the Landrums created an educational display on the Civilian Conservation Corps and South Mississippi’s reforestation history to show the importance of preservation and conservation. Biscuits are cooked on an old wood stove and there is a nature trail and a small lake with a pier where people can feed the catfish. You can also play horseshoes and basketball.
“We do all kinds of groups and see a lot of families,” said Deborah. “Kids who come say it is their fifth time here. We have families that come on a regular basis because they can bring a picnic lunch or tour. They go at their own pace. Nobody is rushing you through.”
Deborah grew up as the oldest of five children and during their travels, they always used the back roads, never the interstates. Plus, they camped in a tent.
“Dad and Mom were always into history and preserving history,” said Deborah. “Dad always said that’s where you see things on the back roads.”
In today’s world of technology, a place like Landrum’s Homestead & Village is important to children. We don’t have conversations anymore, said Deborah. “What we’ve found is that when kids come here on a trip they can feel and see things and experience things they can’t get from a computer.”
The Landrum family always has a project going, but the one thing Deborah hopes people take home with them is a sense of family.
“This is my mom’s family land,” said Deborah. “We have a connection to the land. But when kids and other families are here, you see they are connected as well.”
At Landrum’s Homestead & Village, you hear and share stories of what was, but leave with a sense of heritage and an understanding of why heritage will always be important to future generations.
Open year round Monday – Saturday from 9 – 5
Photos courtesy of Landrum’s Homestead & Village
Originally published in Parents & Kids Magazine and Brad Smith