It started with a name and a question. A woman told Tyler resident Gene Davenport, who enjoyed researching genealogy, that she wanted to know more about the family history of a man named Pinkney Davenport Clancy.
Davenport found out what he could about the man, reported it to the woman who had inquired and moved on. But then he came across a published photo of Clancy with 11 other Confederate veterans in front of the Tyler Woman’s Building.
That picture was all it took to put Davenport on a path of research for about one year as he tried to find out all he could about the men in the photos along with those veterans who couldn’t attend.
What he learned fills a two-inch-thick binder in the Tyler Public Library’s local history/genealogy room, and it’s a resource Davenport hopes some of their descendants will find useful.
“There were those that fought in this war that were able to make it out and the casualties for both sides of it were tremendous,” said the 86-year-old Tyler resident. “But these guys had served and made it back and were just gathering together there.”
On Oct. 28, 1933, 80 years ago today, 12 Smith County Confederate veterans met in Tyler. Ten other Confederate veterans were believed to be alive and residing in the county at the time but were unable to attend, according to articles in The Tyler Journal and the Courier-Times--Telegraph at the time.
The veterans who attended ranged in age from 85 to 96 years old and included one man who celebrated his birthday the day of the event, according to an article in the Oct. 29, 1933, Courier-Times--Telegraph.
The Peoples National Bank sponsored the luncheon, which was held at the Tyler Woman’s Building. However, the soldiers met at the bank building beforehand.
A chartered bus with a sign reading “Smith County Confederate Veterans” carried them to the Tyler Woman’s Building.
On the way, four mounted officers from the 112th Cavalry troop, stationed in Tyler, met the veterans on South Broadway. The officers were carrying the Confederate and United States flags, according to the article.
Once the veterans arrived at the woman’s building, they were treated to an elaborate event.
Inside the banquet hall, decorations featured red and white roses and blue larkspur bouquets, along with Confederate, Texas and U.S. flags.
The soldiers and guests marched from the reception to the banquet rooms to the tune of “Dixie,” while later on women sang “old-time melodies,” such as “When You and I Were Young, Maggie,” according to the article.
Mrs. Roy C. Owens presented a poem written by Therese Lindsey entitled “To the Confederate Soldiers.”
“These faltering, faithful men are here, a wasted, tiny band/Knit close together with that past they only understand/How fresh for them the drum and call, the vision of a Lee/The press and passion for a cause that would not let them be!/And then, how wasted was the land, and arrogant the foe/Why will mankind re-enter wars when this is always so?/Not every day was dark for you; where many brave men meet.
The camaraderie of loyal friends is always sweet/And we remembering through the years, affectionately do/What tribute that a people may to honor you.”
In addressing the group, Judge S. A. Lindsey, Peoples National Bank’s chairman of the board, said it was a joy to have the veterans as guests and to see them enjoy themselves.
“We have not forgotten what you men did when you donned the grey uniforms of Civil War days and suffered the heat of summer, the cold of winter, the privations enforced, the dreadful homesickness and the thousand other horrors which always accompany war,” he said, according to the account. “There has never been a word said against the heroism of the Confederate soldiers. We want to tell you again today, that (we) are ever mindful of your splendid sacrifices and your admirable courage in those dark days.”
Gen. James T. Clinkscales, 93, who previously had lived in Smith County, but at the time of the event lived in San Antonio, attended and sang the Civil War song “Goober Peas,” which elicited “a storm of applause from soldiers and guests alike,” according to the article.
After all in attendance sang “How Firm a Foundation,” the soldiers posed for a photograph in front of the Woman’s Building.
Of the 12 veterans who attended the event, all of them died by 1941, according to Davenport’s research.