Austin History Center

McCutcheon Family Papers

An Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: McCutcheon, Ethel Catherine Johnson
Creator: Dennis, Josephine McCutcheon
Title: McCutcheon Family Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1897-1999
Bulk Dates: circa 1940-1995
Abstract: Ethel and Joe McCutcheon served as either members or administrators of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Texas Confederate Homes, and the Texas Confederate Museum. The collection consists primarily of correspondence (both personal and professional), annual reports, gift inventories, bills, clippings, histories, photographs, albums, and scrapbooks. Also included in the collection are personal family papers pertaining to Joe and Ethel's daughter Josephine, and her son J. Earl Dennis Jr.
Identification: AR.2013.021
Quantity: 2.6 linear feet (4 text boxes and 1 oversized photo album)
Location Archives Stacks, Outer Vault
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Ethel Catherine Johnson McCutcheon (née Johnson, December 2, 1897-March 18, 1995) was born in Austin on December 2, 1897. She was the daughter of Gustave and Julia Etta Cooper Johnson, sister of Gussie Lee Johnson Davenport (1905-2004) and Janie May Johnson Greer (1904-1997), and granddaughter of Charles Johnson (1829-1904), a Swedish immigrant who came to the United States in 1854. Charles Johnson bought the historic Deep Eddy property, located just west of what is now MoPac Expressway and on the Colorado River, in 1857. He originally envisioned that the property would be a rock quarry and limekiln and bought the 39-3/4 acres for $30.00 per acre. The large house he built at 404 Atlantic Street in 1858, was purchased by Travis post No. 76 of The American Legion in 1924, and rechristened the American Legion Home.

On September 18, 1917, Ethel and Joseph ("Joe") Alfred McCutcheon (March 3, 1880-October 18, 1969) married. Joe, the youngest of eight children, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to James and Sally Emily Martin McCutcheon. Following James's death in 1882, Sally moved her children to Manor, Texas. Shortly after their arrival, she too passed away. The siblings had to be separated, and on May 10, 1900 Joe entered the Confederate Home for Men. The Home, chartered in 1884, was created to house and care for disabled and indigent Confederate veterans.

In the early 1900s, professional trades were often learned by being trained "on the job" at sizeable manufacturers located in the country's industrial hubs. After taking correspondence courses, Joe set off for St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities so that he could accrue the experience necessary to become an engineer. Following his marriage to Ethel, Joe found work installing machinery at the San Antonio Texas State Hospital. Soon after, Joe returned to the Confederate Home for Men, where he worked variously as the Chief Engineer, Storekeeper, Account, and, from 1941-1954, Superintendent. In order to hold this final position, it was required that the appointee be a Confederate soldier, or the son of a Confederate veteran-Joe's father, James, had enlisted on December 9, 1861, and served in the Confederacy as a Corporal in Company I, 12th Regiment of the Alabama Cavalry.

Ethel shared with a Joe an interest in preserving the Confederate legacy. Based upon the record of her grandfather Lewis Cooper, of Captain R. Loggins's Co. E, 23rd Brigade, General John Sayles's 4th Infantry Regiment, Texas State Troops, she joined the Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter #105 of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) on May 14, 1935. Ethel acted as the Chapter's Honorary Division President for many years. By her involvement in the UDC, Ethel worked closely with her husband in administering both the Confederate Home for Men, and Women-the latter having been established in 1908 to provide for the soldiers' widows. From 1963-1983, she also functioned as the Curator of the Confederate Museum in the Old Land Office Building on the State Capitol grounds.

Ethel and Joe's daughter, Josephine McCutcheon Dennis (July 24, 1919-November 7, 2007), was employed as a teacher for many years. Josephine married Julian Earl Dennis (1919-1965). They had a son, Julian Earl Dennis, Jr.

As the number of Confederate veterans still living began to dwindle, Joe and Ethel oversaw the Home through its transition in 1943 to the unaffiliated Senile Institution. Joe died on October 18, 1969, but Ethel continued her work with the Museum, passing on March 18, 1995, at 97 years of age. Josephine died on November 7, 2007.

Scope and Contents

The McCutcheon Family Papers focus not only on the family unit, but also the history of a number of Texas institutions, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Texas Confederate Homes, and the Texas Confederate Museum. The collection is divided into two series: I. Ethel and Joe McCutcheon series, and II. Josephine, J. Earl, and J. Earl ("Denny") Dennis Jr. series.

The Ethel and Joe McCutcheon series (1897-1995) deals mostly with their involvement with Confederate organizations and institutions in Austin, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Confederate Museum, the Confederate men's and women's homes. The series contains personal and professional correspondence, greeting cards, annual reports of the organizations, gift inventories for the Museum, newspaper clippings, historical and legal documents, publications, photographs, and albums.

The Family Materials subseries (1897-1995, undated) consists of historical narratives, birth certificates, death notices, burial arrangements, and clippings pertaining to Ethel, Joe, the Confederate Home for Men, Deep Eddy, and the American Legion Home. The correspondence contains those missives of a personal nature received by Ethel. Present are a great number of greetings cards and letters, and a few postcards. Many of the letters were written to Ethel's grandson, Denny, from his mother and father. Denny was living with Ethel at the time and Ethel was often mentioned as an additional correspondent. Although perhaps not as broadly appealing as many of the collection's other documents, the epistles offer a good sense of familial dynamics, and provide an interesting glimpse into the earlier stages of the relationship between Josephine and her son. Also included are Ethel's photograph albums as well as loose photos. The images display the multiple generations of the McCutcheon family, with a particular emphasis on Ethel, Joe, Josephine, J. Earl, and Denny.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy subseries (1941-1991, undated) documents Ethel's involvement with the UDC over the years, as evidenced by membership cards, documents relating to event coordination, reports, publications, and correspondence. Its value rests not only in revealing the direct connection between the UDC and a member, but also offers the opportunity to trace the official organizational connections between the UDC and the other Confederate institutions with which Ethel and Joe were involved (as will subsequent subseries).

The Daughters of the Confederacy Museum subseries (1963-1982) documents those twenty years during which Ethel was employed as the Museum's Curator. Her annual reports describe the shifting state of the Museum, while her inventories of gifts that the Museum received present an invaluable look at the nature and scope of its holdings. There are also financial receipts pertaining to state sales tax.

The Confederate Homes subseries (1896-1954, undated) includes materials related to both Ethel's work at the home where she served as chairman, and those doings of her husband, Joe, during his thirteen-year tenure as superintendent. Myriad newspaper and magazine clippings offer insight into others' views concerning the Home and its goings on. These documents demonstrate the effort required to administer an institution such as the Home.

The Josephine, J. Earl, and J. Earl ("Denny") Dennis Jr. series (1961-1999) contains family and legal materials. The collection of biographical materials consist of a few publications relating to Josephine's husband, J. Earl Dennis that offer some context as to what it was like to be employed by the state of Texas in the 1960s, as well as various documents from Denny's childhood, including a small notebook, with handwriting exercises, poems, and arithmetic, which is poor condition, and seems to have been used by many parties over the years. The correspondence is comprised mostly of letters from Denny to Josephine relating to finances. The legal materials contain a deed to a plot of land Josephine purchased in Austin, and her signed Power of Attorney document.


Collection is arranged into two series, with associated subseries:
I. Ethel and Joe McCutcheon
  • Family Materials
  • United Daughters of the Confederacy
  • Daughters of the Confederacy Museum
  • Confederate Homes
II. Josephine, J. Earl, and J. Earl ("Denny") Dennis Jr.


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
McCutcheon, Ethel Catherine Johnson, 1897-1995.
McCutcheon, Joseph ("Joe") Alfred, 1880-1969.
Dennis, Josephine McCutcheon, 1919-2007.
Dennis, J. (Julian) Earl, 1919-1965.
Dennis, Julian Earl ("Denny"), Jr.
United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Daughters of the Confederacy Museum.
Confederate Home for Men.
Confederate Woman's Home.
Confederate Homes Committee.
United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Daughters of the Confederacy Museum.
Confederate Home for Men.
Confederate Woman's Home.
Confederate Homes Committee.
Museums--Daughters of the Confederacy Museum.
Parks--Deep Eddy.
Patriotic Societies--United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Veterans--American Legion.
Austin (Tex.)
Travis County (Tex.)
Document Types:
Administrative documents.
Newspaper clippings.
Greeting cards.
Personal notes.
Student report cards.
Photographic negatives.

Related Material

  1. Austin Files (Austin History Center)
    • AF Biography-Johnson, Charles
    • AF Subject-American Legion (2 folders) V0600 (13)
    • AF Subject-Confederate Home for Men P6150 (19)
    • AF Subject-Confederate Home for Men (General) C6400
    • AF Subject-Confederate Women's Home C6600
    • AF Subject-Daughters of the Confederacy Museum L1400 (1)
    • AF Subject-Deep Eddy P6150 (57)
    • AF Subject-Land Office Building (1856-1917), (1961- ) (General) L1400 (1) M9100 B6824
    • AF Subject-United Daughters of the Confederacy P1900 (U1000)
  2. Manuscripts Collections
    • AR.1991.062 United Daughters of the Confederacy-Albert Sydney Johnston Chapter No. 105 Scrapbooks
    • AR.V.005 Deep Eddy-Brackenridge Residents' Association Papers
  3. General Collection
    • A 973.7464074 CA United Daughters of the Confederacy. Texas Division. Catalogue of the Confederate Museum Maintained by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Texas Division, 1935.
    • A 362.6 TEM 1891 Texas Confederate Home for Men. Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Texas Confederate Home, 1892.
    • A 362.6 TEM 1914 Texas. Confederate Home for Men. Report of the Board of Managers and Superintendent, Texas Confederate Home for Men, 1914.
    • A 362.6 TE 1916 Texas. Confederate Women's Home. Report of the Board of Managers and Superintendent, Texas Confederate Women's Home.
    • A 725.594 ST Stocklin, Barbara Ann. The Texas Confederate Woman's Home: A Case Study In Historic Preservation And Neighborhood Conservation Planning, 1991.
  4. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
    • 1979; 82-035 United Daughters of the Confederacy Papers

Separated Material

Unsigned or otherwise unremarkable greeting cards, postcards, and duplicate photos and documents have been deaccessioned. Fragile newspaper clippings have been photocopied and similarly removed. Due to privacy concerns, medical and certain financial records have been deaccessioned.

The following published books have been deaccessioned. Two of these books, History of Texas Land and History of Travis County and Austin, 1839-1899, were already in the AHC's collection. The remaining titles are out of scope of the collection.

  1. Asch, Sholem, Mary
  2. Barkley, Mary Starr, History of Travis County and Austin, 1839-1899, 1962
  3. Beasley, Manley, and Robert H. Hensley, Alive By His Life: A Personal Encounter with Terminal Illness
  4. Cox, Mamie Wynne, The Romantic Flags of Texas
  5. Douglas, Lloyd C., The Big Fisherman
  6. Evans, Richard L., …An Open Door… Vol. II-Thoughts for One Hundred Days
  7. Evans, Richard L., …An Open Road… Vol. III-Thoughts for One Hundred Days
  8. Evans, Richard L., Thoughts… For One Hundred Days
  9. Evans, Richard L., Volume Four: Thoughts for One Hundred Days
  10. Graham, Ruth Bell, It's My Turn
  11. Norman, Elsie Frisbie, ed., Songs of Gamma Phi Beta, 1874-1936, 6th ed.
  12. Our Response to God, Far and Near
  13. Reader's Digest Condensed Books-Volume I, 1958
  14. Sadler, Jerry, History of Texas Land
  15. Taylor, Austin, et al., ed., New Ideal Gospel Hymn Book
  16. The Good News According to John
  17. The World's One Hundred Best Short Stories
  18. This Is Not the Shape of Your Heart, Physically, Morally-or Spiritually
  19. Widener, Ralph W. "Confederate Monuments: Enduring Symbols of the South and the War Between the States"

Administrative Information

Custodial History

A friend of Josephine McCutcheaon Dennis donated the collection on July 12, 2013.

Preferred Citation

McCutcheon Family Papers (AR.2013.021). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2013/037

Donation Date: July 12, 2013

Processing Information

Final Processing and Finding Aid By: Jordan Mitchell and Mark Davidson, November 21, 2013.

Alternative Form Available

Photo album #152 is in fragile condition. Photocopies of the pages were created for viewing and can be found in Box 3, Folder 4.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Ethel and Joe McCutcheon, 1897-1995, undated

Family Materials, 1897-1995, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Biographical materials, 1897-1995, undated
2 Historical materials, 1958-1992, undated
Box Folder
qAR 064/029 qAR Historical material – Gustave Johnson broadside (Elected Inspectors General), 1921
Box Folder
1 3 Correspondence, 1945-1992, undated
4 J. Earl Dennis Jr. ("Denny) correspondence, 1960-1961, undated
5 Greeting cards, 1958-1978, undated
6 Greeting cards, 1980-1986, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Photographs, circa 1920-circa 1995, undated
2 Photographs, circa 1920-circa 1995, undated
3 Photographs, slides, circa 1920-circa 1995, undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negatives drawer Photographic negatives, 1920-circa 1995, undated
Box Folder
2 4 Photo album, "Josephine's early childhood," 1919-1926, undated
5 Photo album, circa 1940-circa 1960, undated
6 Photo album, circa 1940-circa 1960, undated
Box Folder
3 1 Photo album, circa 1940-circa 1976, undated
2 Photo album, 1928-circa 1958, undated
3 Photo albums, 1928-circa 1958, undated
4 Photo album (preservation photocopies of photo album #152), 1919-1959, undated
Location PhotoAlbum
Outer Vault #152 Photo album, 1919-circa 1950, undated
The pages of this photo album are very fragile. Please use the preservation photocopies found in Box 3, Folder 4 for viewing.
United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1980-1988, undated
Box Folder
3 5 Historical materials, 1951-1988, undated
6 Correspondence, 1951-1991
Daughters of the Confederacy Museum 1963-1982, undated
Box Folder
3 7 Historical materials, undated
8 Correspondence, 1969, 1972, 1974
9 Annual reports, 1964-1982, undated
Box Folder
4 1 Annual gifts received and transferred, 1963-1982
2 Sales tax receipts, 1963-1979
3 Event programs, 1982
Confederate Homes, 1896-1954, undated
Box Folder
4 4 Historical materials, 1896-1950, undated
5 Correspondence, 1948-1954
6 Reports, 1942-1952, undated

II. Josephine, J. Earl, and J. Earl ("Denny") Dennis Jr., circa 1960s-1999

Box Folder
4 7 Biographical materials, 1961-1982, undated
8 Correspondence, 1976
9 Legal materials, 1973, 1999