Texas Confederate Museum

By: Retta Preston

Revised by: Hilda Kelly Bell and Cynthia Loveless Harriman

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: February 2, 2018

The Texas Confederate Museum originated 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 was met with a hearty response as many artifacts were given by the veterans and their families. Some relic cases 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 The Supreme Court of Texas ruled that the Daughters had the legal right of occupancy until the legislature repealed its former act.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. The title was Hostess Custodian and later changed to Curator and then Director. 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 and Adena and Sharon Hardin in 1986 to1988.

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 textiles, furniture, statues, weapons, paper, books, portraits, thirty-three Confederate battle flags (the largest historic Texas flag collection in the state), and miscellaneous artifacts 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, Hood's Texas Brigade, and Terry's Texas Rangers (Eighth Texas Cavalry). During the renovation of the old General Land Office building in 1988, the Texas Confederate Museum was temporarily stored in a warehouse of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the direction of UDC President Edith F. Williams and Daisy Jane Alberthal.

From 1990 to 1992 the collection was held by the Helen Marie Taylor Museum in Waco, but returned to temporary storage for two years while the Texas Association of Museums, Summerlee Foundation, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy sought a permanent repository. In 1994, an agreement with Hill College in Hillsboro placed the collection on display at the Texas Heritage Museum (formerly the Confederate Research Center) until 2000, when the agreement terminated.

The collection returned to temporary storage at Baylor University where it was inventoried and catalogued. It then was stored in Fort Worth while the collection underwent conservation. Management of the collection between 1992 to 2000 was under the guidance of Director Cynthia Loveless Harriman, President Sherry S. Davis and President Esther F. Sims. During this time, items from the collection were loaned to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Museum of Southern History in Houston, Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin, Great Hall of the Capitol in Washington D.C., El Paso Museum of Art, George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. In 2002, a North Texas businessman, Ray Richey, offered to house the UDC collection in the new Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth. Meanwhile, the Haley Memorial Library and History Center in Midland arranged to house the UDC Texas Confederate Museum paper collection making it available for research. On January 24, 2006 the Texas Civil War Museum opened to the public in White Settlement. The Texas Confederate Museum Collection is directed by a Museum Board of Trustees appointed for four year, staggered terms by the Executive Board Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy®.

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.

  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • General History Museums
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Retta Preston Revised by Hilda Kelly Bell and Cynthia Loveless Harriman, “Texas Confederate Museum,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-confederate-museum.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

October 1, 1995
February 2, 2018

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: