Fontaine, Sydney Thurston (1838–1912)

By: Jennifer Eckel

Type: Biography

Published: April 6, 2011

Sydney T. Fontaine, Confederate officer, was born on November 30, 1838, in Houston, Texas, to Henry W. W. Fontaine and Susan E. Bryson. By 1850 Fontaine became a resident of Galveston, and by 1860 he was a law student who enlisted in the Confederate Army in April 1861.

Fontaine enlisted as first lieutenant of Company A, Cook's Regiment of Heavy Artillery, on May 13, 1861, and was stationed at Galveston, for the first years of the war. After the battle of Galveston, in which Fontaine served, he was promoted to captain on June 25, 1861, and to major on July 19, 1864. On January 28, 1863, he was on leave as a witness during a court martial. He was named Chief of Artillery and Ordinance for the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona on December 28, 1863. Fontaine served in that capacity throughout the war and was discharged in 1865 in Houston.

Following the war, Sydney Fontaine returned to Galveston to work as a prominent attorney and later a judge. In 1869 he ran for district clerk against a black candidate. In 1871 he helped survey Galveston Island for the General Land Office in Austin. On June 19, 1873, in Harris, Texas, he married Julia Wood Washington of Columbus, Colorado County, Texas. The couple produced five children and resided in Galveston through 1895 when Julia helped to found the city's chapter of the Texas Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1898 he was a member of the Knights of Pythias at Lodge #244 in Galveston. He died on September 5, 1912, and is buried at the Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston.

Dallas Morning News, January 30, 1898. Galveston Tri-Weekly News, September 3, 1869; December 1, 1869. Mamie Yeary, Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray, 1861–1865, (McGregor, Texas: 1912; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Mornwseseazingside, 1912).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Jennifer Eckel, “Fontaine, Sydney Thurston,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 6, 2011

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