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TEXAS CONFEDERATE MUSEUM

TEXAS CONFEDERATE MUSEUM. The Texas Confederate Museum in Waco was originally located in Austin. The Capitol was completed on December 8, 1888, of granite given by Col. Nimrod L. Norton, S. W. Lacey and W. H. Westfall from their quarry. In appreciation the Twenty-first Legislature set aside a northwest corner room on the first floor of the Capitol in 1889 for their lifetime use. It was called the N. L. Norton Museum of Rock and Granite Collection. The United Daughters of the Confederacy in Austin organized the Albert Sidney Johnston chapter in 1897. They started collecting relics pertaining to the history of the South and the Civil War. The Daughters needed space to display their collection, and Norton, Lacey, and Westfall asked the legislature to designate their room for the Daughters' use. This was granted by a legislative act in April 1903. The museum opened under the management of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The president, Mrs. Cone Johnson, appointed Mrs. L. J. Storey regent of the museum. Regents or directors following Mrs. Storey were: Mrs. Forrest Farley in 1922, Mrs. W. T. Wroe in 1926, Mrs. Forrest Farley in 1932, Mrs. Joe Rowe in 1938, Mrs. Olin Culberson in 1965, Mrs. L. J. Gittinger in 1968, and Mrs. J. W. (Retta) Preston in 1982. In 1904 the appeal for relics as loans or gifts, "anything from an Indian arrow head to a Gatlin gun to the ragged bullet ridden jacket of the private to the uniform of his General," met with a hearty response. Some relic cases still in use were donated by Austin merchants in 1907. In 1913 A. B. Conley, superintendent of state buildings, requested that the room be vacated. The Supreme Court of Texas ruled that the Daughters had the legal right of occupancy until the legislature repealed its former act. In 1915 the Thirty-third Legislature left the Daughters in possession. In 1917 the Old Land Office Building on the southeast corner of the state Capitol grounds was empty, and there were rumors it would be torn down. The Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas appealed to Gov. James E. Ferguson to give them the building. As a result Governor Ferguson signed a bill giving the Daughters permanent quarters. In 1920 the Old Land Office Building was restored, and the Daughters of the Confederacy moved in. The museum was called the Texas Confederate Museum. It was open to the public on Tuesdays, and the UDC members were hosts. The public demanded more visiting days, and in January 1927 the state Board of Control employed and paid the salary of Capt. H. C. Wright, a Confederate veteran, to keep the museum open each day except Sunday. Wright resigned in 1933, and the state employed Jamie Harris. This time the salary was split in half with the UDC. This arrangement is still in effect. The title was hostess custodian and later curator. In 1954 Mrs. Mabel Huckaby was curator, followed by Mrs. Ben H. Sharpe in 1960, Mrs. Ethel McCutcheon in 1963, Mrs. Carol Perry in 1983, and Mrs. Florence Odom in 1984.

In 1929 the Texas Division, UDC, authorized Mrs. W. T. Wroe, regent, to catalogue the museum relics. This task was completed in 1934. The museum contains furniture, statues, weapons, books, portraits, thirty-three Confederate battle flags, and miscellaneous memorabilia of the Civil War period, including items from the Texas Confederate Home for Men, the Confederate Home for Women, the Richard (Dick) Dowling family collection, and Terry's Texas Rangers (Eighth Texas Cavalry). In 1989 the State of Texas asked the museum to move from the General Land Office building, which was to undergo extensive restoration. The Confederate memorabilia belonging to the museum was temporarily stored in a warehouse of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. In 1990, after more than 100 years in Austin, the Texas Confederate Museum moved to slightly smaller lodgings in the Helen Marie Taylor Museum Complex, a larger museum complex show casing the history of Waco.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Catalogue of the Confederate Museum, Austin, Texas, Maintained by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (Austin, 1935). History of Texas Land (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1958). Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Texas Division (1896-). San Antonio Express, April 6, 1930.

Retta Preston

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Retta Preston, "TEXAS CONFEDERATE MUSEUM," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lbt06), accessed April 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 8, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.