The Confederate Woman’s Home

Posted by junketseo in Haunted Austin Ghost Tour
The Confederate Woman’s Home - Photo

From 1861 to 1865, the Civil War left an imprint on cities and sprawling countryside all across the United States. Today, many of these locations still echo the sounds of war, the spirits of the fallen locked in an eternal struggle. Not every ghost of war has direct ties to blood-soaked grounds; some never saw or trained for combat. Instead, they lived with heavy hearts or suffered through weeks or months of not knowing if their loved one would return safely. 


Those women earned the right to be cared for, partially widows whose husbands never returned from the war. So, in 1908, a solution was devised in Austin that provided a select group of women affected by the Civil War with the accommodations needed to live comfortably without worrying about finances. The stately home took in thousands of women, offering them respite until they felt it was their time to pass away peacefully.


Many who called the building home never left the grounds. In the years since opening up to the women of the Confederacy, the home has become a hotspot for the supernatural. Over 100 years of history linger in the air, some manifesting as the spirits of the deceased.


Who are the ghosts of the Confederate Women’s Home?


Though the women of the Confederacy were welcomed into the home with open arms, they weren’t the only occupants over the building’s lengthy lifespan. Later, it was converted into a home for special needs children, and the Confederate Woman’s Home had more than just a handful of spirits roaming about. Come and greet these apparitions on a haunted Austin ghost tour.


Widows of the Confederacy


Long after the spoils of the Civil War subsided, many turned to honoring those who fought for their side in the conflict. For Confederate veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy was formed. The women’s heritage organization founded in 1894 shifted focus a little after the turn of the 20th century, recognizing that it wasn’t only veterans who felt the weight of the war.


It’s an inevitability that war breeds death, and from that death are tragic figures left to mourn and feel eternal heartbreak. During the Civil War, over 600,000 dead littered the battlegrounds, leaving behind families that depended on their livelihoods to survive. Even those who were lucky enough to receive their long-awaited knock on the door and firm embrace from a loved one thought lost to battle survived through hell. Who’s to say they all don’t deserve recognition and aid when the time comes that it’s needed?


That was the purpose of Austin’s Confederate Woman’s Home, which opened in 1908 as a home for the widows of honorably discharged Confederate soldiers. The home served as a complement to the Texas Confederate House, which operated as a space for disabled and poor Confederate veterans. Often, the women at the women’s home were related to men cared for by the Confederate house.


The Last Stop for Many


The home accommodated women 60 years or older, married to or widowed by former Confederate soldiers, who couldn’t financially support themselves. Due to the age of most residents, the Confederate Woman’s House became the site of many deaths, especially after the state of Texas took ownership in 1911 and expanded upon the original 15 bedrooms. 


The additions included a brick hospital added in 1916 and an additional hospital annex in 1924. Admissions to the home increased over the years, forcing the state to add 24 new bedrooms. The more women moved in, though, the more the home became the last stop for widows of the Confederacy.


By 1930, admissions into the home started to decline, and within 36 years, only three residents remained. After moving them into a nursing home, the state shut down the Confederate Woman’s Home, officially closing the doors on a facility that had helped over 3,000 women. 

The New Tenants of the Confederate Woman’s Home 


Over the years, the facility that once housed the widows of Confederate soldiers underwent several changes, always welcoming new tenants.


In 1972, the state repurposed the property, lowering the age of those it helped by turning it into housing for special needs students from the School for the Deaf, Blind, and Orphans. This was a short-term operation, though, and within a decade, the students were integrated into the newly named Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. 


Today, the Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE) of Central Texas use parts of the 20th-century building for their offices, but they’re not alone. Not long after it opened its doors in the 1900s, anyone who stepped inside the main facility was never alone. The living may have gotten the most use out of the building, but the residual departed will continue to do so no matter who moves in.


The Spirits of the Woman’s Home


There’s no official record of how many women—and even children—passed away inside the historic building. The ethereal forms of several women have been spotted roaming the grounds, forever tied to the last place they were most familiar with. Occasionally, someone can be seen using what used to be the parlor, as if nearly 100 years haven’t passed since they last called the building home.


If it’s not the ripples of memories of Confederate widows, it’s the sounds of children resonating throughout the halls. Laughter and screaming are commonly heard, sometimes followed by the stomp of tiny feet that may belong to the little boy and girl believed to still play on the property.


The Confederate Woman’s Home wasn’t a place known for its negative energy, and it wasn’t the site of murders and nefarious activities. For many years, it was simply where people came to live comfortably until it was their time to go, and because of that, there’s a welcoming air that almost encourages passersby to break their stride, stop in, and say “Hi!” to the remaining ghosts of the Civil War.


You can venture to more haunted locations by booking an Austin ghost tour with Austin Ghosts. You should also take a moment to read more about the ghosts of the Civil War and Austin’s haunted hotspots on our blog. Be sure to follow our socials on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.