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Confederate Men's Home - Founded 127 Years Ago Today

One hundred and twenty-seven years ago today, the John Bell Hood Camp of Confederate Veterans obtained a state charter to found a convalescent home for Confederate veterans in Texas. With the help of the Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, funds were raised to purchase land here in Austin which became the Texas Confederate Men’s Home. Throughout its existence, more than 2,000 indigent or disabled veterans stayed in the home. Many of those veterans are buried here at the Texas State Cemetery. We have more than 2,200 Confederates and their spouses buried in the southeast corner of the Cemetery. Confederate Field, with its nearly uniform appearance of small rectangular headstones, is probably the most iconic image of the State Cemetery.

The first Confederate veteran to be interred here was a man named Sam Everett. Everett died in 1886. One of the largest tasks facing the Cemetery Research Department is to put a story behind the names of all of the Confederate veterans buried here. It’s a big task, and probably one that will never be fully completed. With many of the veterans, the only thing we have to document their lives and place them in history are their military service records and oftentimes those records are far from complete. Due to many reasons, including past fires at military archive buildings or misfiling, misspelled names or lax record keeping during the war, we have incomplete files on these men and their spouses. Sometimes all we have is the information on their headstones which is the case with Everett. He served in the Eighth Texas Cavalry, also known as Terry’s Texas Rangers; it was the most well-known Texas Confederate unit in the War other than Hood’s Texas Brigade. Terry’s Rangers was organized in Houston early in 1861 and that’s where Everett joined them. He served throughout the war. Everett (along with any other surviving Confederate) had no pension to fall back on after the War, unlike most Union soldiers. Therefore men like Everett who were indigent toward the end of their lives had no other place to go but institutions like the Confederate Men’s Home. When the decision was made or why the decision was made to bury the inmates of the Home at the State Cemetery is something that’s lost to history.

The Home was run on donations until 1891 when the State of Texas assumed control. The campus was located at 1600 West Sixth Street in Austin’s Clarksville neighborhood. The Home consisted of a large administration building, a hospital, living quarters and private cottages; by all accounts it was a pleasant place to live out your final years. The private cottages were used by married couples for the most part. When a married veteran died, their wives were usually sent to the Confederate Woman’s Home in North Austin.

The last Confederate veteran to be buried at the Cemetery from the Home was Lucius McAdams. McAdams served in Shelby’s “Iron Brigade” of the Trans-Mississippi Army and saw service until he was captured and held at Fort Smith, Arkansas until the end of the War.

The Home continued to be used even after the last Confederate veteran, a Thomas Riddle, died in 1953. Veterans from World War I and the Spanish American War stayed there until the Home closed in 1961. Today, the land is still used by the state. It was given to the University of Texas in 1971 and is married student housing still today. All that’s left of the old home is a historical marker on the site and the graves of some 2,000 men in East Austin.








 - Will Erwin