United Daughters of the Confederacy

By: Esther F. Sims

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: August 20, 2020

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The United Daughters of the Confederacy developed from local aid societies that operated throughout the South during the Civil War. These groups of Southern women gathered to sew, prepare bandages, and entertain to raise money for the Confederate cause. During the war they cared for the sick and wounded and prepared food for the soldiers. After the war the organizations operated as auxiliaries to Confederate soldiers' homes and continued to aid in whatever manner possible during the rigors of Reconstruction. By the early 1890s the local groups had affiliated into state organizations in Missouri, Tennessee, and Georgia. Correspondence between Caroline M. Goodlett of Nashville, Tennessee, and Mrs. L. H. Raines of Savannah, Georgia, resulted in a call for a meeting in Nashville to form a permanent organization. The three state groups united on September 10, 1894, into a single society with one name, one purpose, and one insignia for all women's organizations of the South with the purpose of honoring and serving the men and women of the Confederacy. The name Daughters of the Confederacy was suggested after Gen. John B. Gordon so introduced Winnie Davis to the veterans; several of the groups during the 1860s had also used similar names. Texas was represented at the meeting in Nashville in September 1894 by Mrs. J. C. Myers of Dallas. The name of the organization was changed to United Daughters of the Confederacy at the second meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1895. The Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized by Katie Cabell Muse in Victoria, Texas, on May 25, 1896. The Texas Division was incorporated by the state of Texas in Travis County on January 21, 1905. Texas had eighty-four active chapters and 3,305 members as of August 31, 1994. The purposes of the organization as set forth in the original articles of incorporation are to honor the memory of those who served or fell in service and to protect and mark places made historic by Southern valor; to fulfill the sacred duty and obligation toward the survivors and those dependent upon them; to collect and preserve materials for a history of the Civil War and to record the role taken by veterans and women of the South in endurance of hardship and patriotic devotion during and after the war; to assist the descendants of worthy Confederates in securing proper education; and to bring into the organization all women eligible as descendants of Confederate veterans and to cherish the ties of friendship of those of kindred ancestry and patriotism.

The Texas Division has been active in marking historic locations. During the 1960s the Texas Division erected a monument in Little Mound Cemetery, near Gilmer, honoring Emma Sansom, a Confederate heroine from Alabama. It also erected a monument in Hereford honoring the memory of three donors of a tract of land that was deeded to the Texas Division. The organization was influential in persuading the state to erect a marker at Baytown, near the site of Bayland Orphans' Home for Boys. In addition, many courthouse lawns in Texas have a memorial monument to Confederate veterans from that county erected by the local Daughters. Confederate veterans' graves are actively sought and marked by the appropriate government marker and dedicated by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Memorial observances are held annually to remember not only the Confederate veterans but veterans of all wars. The Texas Division sponsored the Texas Confederate Home and the Confederate Woman's Home when those facilities were needed. The Confederate Home for Men closed after it was no longer needed to care for the aging veterans. Under the administration of Mrs. R. W. Widener, president from 1962 to 1964, approval of the membership was obtained to close the Confederate Woman's Home in Austin. The home had been deeded to the state of Texas in 1911, and all expenses of its operation since that date had been paid by the state. The home was officially closed in September 1966; only one Confederate widow remained living at that time. The Mrs. Norman V. Randolph Relief Fund, established in 1910, provides a monthly assistance check to Daughters who are not in a nursing home environment. Special donations are made at Easter and Christmas. In 1994 ten Daughters were enrolled in this program.

Donations such as that of George W. Littlefield for the study of Southern history are encouraged. Thousands of dollars in scholarships are given each year to descendants of Confederate veterans. Local chapter scholarships, as well as division and general scholarships, are awarded annually. Some are restricted to certain colleges, universities, or fields of study. The Albert Sidney Johnston saber is awarded annually to the outstanding cadet at Texas A&M University. The general organization also awards various items to outstanding performers at service academies each year. An auxiliary organization known as the Children of the Confederacy is sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It is open to boys and girls from birth to eighteen years of age descended from Confederate veterans. The aims and purposes of the organization mirror those of the adult organization. The Texas Division also maintains the Texas Confederate Museum.

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  • Women
  • Organizations
  • Patriotic-Hereditary Organizations
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

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

Esther F. Sims, “United Daughters of the Confederacy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/united-daughters-of-the-confederacy.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 20, 2020

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