McCutcheon Family Papers
An Inventory to the Collection
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.
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.
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.
A friend of Josephine McCutcheaon Dennis donated the collection on July 12, 2013.
McCutcheon Family Papers (AR.2013.021). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2013/037
Donation Date: July 12, 2013
Final Processing and Finding Aid By: Jordan Mitchell and Mark Davidson, November 21, 2013.
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