residents remembered in book
Williams to speak
June 5 in Pewee Valley
Helen E. McKinney
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.
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 books
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
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
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 Lees retreat after the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Pewee Valley Womans 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.
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 Haldemans 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 laundrys
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 Kentuckys 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
A lot of people have worked on this project, said Suzanne
Schimpeler, president of the Pewee Valley Historical Society. The historical
societys goal is to raise funding to purchase signage for the
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 days events is
posted at www.PeweeValley.org.
For more information on Rusty Williams or his book, visit his blogspot
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