Confederate Memorial Day

Former Confederate Home,
residents remembered in book

Author Williams to speak
June 5 in Pewee Valley

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

PEWEE VALLEY, Ky. (June 2010) – When freelance writer and historian Rusty Williams came across a historical marker for the former Kentucky Confederate Home in Pewee Valley, he knew he had stumbled across a forgotten story that had to be told.
Although nothing was left of the original building, Williams was fascinated that, “well into the 20th century, these old veterans of a war that had ended 60 years before still lived together, still saluted the old flags, still wore the old uniforms,” he said.
Intrigued by their stories he “was surprised that this final chapter of Civil War history had never been told at length, and I determined to tell it.”

Book Cover

My Old Confederate
Home book cover.

Instead of building an institutional home, Kentucky veterans purchased a former four-story resort hotel in Pewee Valley, known as the Villa Ridge Inn, built in 1889. This became the Kentucky Confederate Home, where as many as 300 men lived at one time. Up to 1,000 men lived in the home from 1902 to 1934.
The result of Williams’ efforts is a 352-page book released May 29 by the University Press of Kentucky titled, “My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans.” The book’s release coincides with the Confederate Memorial Day celebration, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 5 at various locations in Pewee Valley.
Williams will be the keynote speaker for a memorial service scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon.
“There are a lot of significant things happening on this day,” said Laura Eichenberger, Pewee Valley City Clerk. Each year for the past 105 years, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have conducted a free memorial service in the Confederate section of the Pewee Valley Cemetery located on Maple Ave.
This year, because of Williams’ book, the town of Pewee Valley has joined forces with the Pewee Valley Historical Society, said Eichenberger, to coordinate a special day to remember the Confederate Home and its residents. A shuttle bus will circulate between St. James Episcopal Church, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, St. Aloysius Catholic Church and the Pewee Valley Cemetery. Parking is available at all three church locations.
The festivities include The Generals’ Luncheon, served from noon to 2 p.m. at the Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church Family Life Center, 119 Central Ave. Reservations are required for this $25 luncheon, served by Designed-To-A-T. An authentic Civil War-era menu will be served, the same one prepared for Gen. Robert E. Lee and his officers at the Fairfield Inn during Lee’s retreat after the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Pewee Valley Woman’s Club will play host to a gift shop from noon to 4:30 p.m. where commemorative posters, souvenir programs and other items will be sold by the Pewee Valley Historical Society. Tour tickets can be purchased at this location to tour historic Sunnyside-Edgewood and Confederate Hill.

Rusty Williams


Sunnyside-Edgewood was the home of Walter N. Haldeman, founder of the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. It was confiscated by Union troops in 1861 because of Haldeman’s intense support of the South through his newspaper.
Confederate Hill is the site of the former Kentucky Confederate Home. The original Home burned in 1920, but remnants still exist, such as the drive leading to the main entrance, the house built from the laundry’s ruins and a cannon stand. Re-enactor Bob Fortunato will talk about what it was like to live at the Confederate Home.
Also at this site, Geoff Walden, Orphan Brigade Kinfolk Association, will discuss Kentucky’s Orphan Brigade during the Civil War, and Patti Beth Parrish Miller will describe what it was like living at the old laundry from 1962 to 1978.
The Little Colonel Players will sponsor a free performance of Civil War-era music by the Louisville Dulcimer Society at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the Little Colonel Playhouse. An Orphan Brigade Photo Exhibit will be on display throughout the day.
The Pewee Valley Historical Society will premier their Oral History Project at Town Hall from noon to 5 p.m. in which long-time residents share memories of life in the quaint town of Pewee Valley in videotaped interviews.
“A lot of people have worked on this project,” said Suzanne Schimpeler, president of the Pewee Valley Historical Society. The historical society’s goal is to raise funding to purchase signage for the Confederate Cemetery.
Thirty years ago, Confederate Memorial Day was a very festive occasion, with parades and boxed lunches, said Schimpeler. It is always celebrated on the first Saturday in June closest to the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America. “There are a lot of observances around the state.”
The event will also include a book signing by Williams from 1-3 p.m. Williams lived in Kentucky for eight years but now lives in Dallas.
“Sixteen lasting Confederate soldiers’ homes were organized and built between 1887 (Virginia) and 1929 (California), but the Kentucky Confederate Home was the brightest jewel in this necklace of homes draped across the Southern and Border states,” said Williams.

• For more information, contact Pewee Valley Town Hall at (502) 241-8343. A program for the day’s events is posted at www.PeweeValley.org. For more information on Rusty Williams or his book, visit his blogspot at http://MyOldConfederateHome.blogspot.com.

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