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Posted: 1394713875000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fortunato

The following was provided to me by Mr. Robert Fortunato who I mentioned earlier with permission to share.

“For most of the men in the Confederate soldiers’ homes, their military service was forty years behind them. But when they entered the home, they voluntarily returned to a quasi-military of life.

At the Kentucky Confederate Home they started at 6 a.m. with a cannon shot from a field artillery piece on the front lawn, and a color guard would raise the U. S. and Confederate flags over the building. The men would fall in for roll call and uniform inspection, then march off to breakfast. (Breakfast might include sliced ham, gravy, fried potatoes, biscuits, fruit preserves and coffee.)

If the weather was good, they might stroll the grounds after breakfast, or find a chair on one of the galleries, but the rules prohibited them from leaving the Home’s grounds without the commandant’s permission and a written furlough slip. (Some of the homes required men to perform several hours of “productive work” every day – farming, building repair, painting – unless they were on sick call.)

Dinner, served at midday, was the heaviest meal of the day, more suited to a farmer than a sedentary seventy-year-old. Afterwards, they might nap or pursue a hobby (like whittling, gardening or photography).

There were always games of checkers going on. The special days, though, were when they had some kind of entertainment. Ladies from the United Daughters of the Confederacy would often organize parties or recitals for the old vets. Religious services were held on Sundays and Wednesday night, usually conducted by a local preacher or traveling evangelist. The real treat was when touring vaudeville groups would stop in at the homes to perform for the old men. By the 1920’s, most homes had movie projectors, and local theaters would loan out prints of popular movies.

Misbehavior wasn’t tolerated, and most homes had a procedure much like a court-martial that could lead to confinement or discharge from the home. The Confederate soldiers’ home men lived up to standards never required of them in civilian life. Some thrived in the environment, others resisted to the point of expulsion.”

In 1906, a complaint was filed with the State about the living conditions, the food, the lodging and the medical care at the Confederate Home in Pewee Valley by a supposed veteran who had begged for temporary lodging there. It was thoroughly inspected and some of the findings included:

It was found that the charges were frivolous … The physicians in charge were found that the infirmary was “the best managed institution of its kind they had ever seen”. The committee found that “all rooms were in a most satisfactory condition; the beds were comfortable and clean, and well kept in every respect; the bath rooms and water closets and all the plumbing and sanitary arrangements were found to be without any objections whatever.” In examining the food provided, the committee noted that the food was of high quality, such as is furnished institutions like the Galt House, Louisville Hotel or Pendennis Club.”

Many of the old veterans are of course buried in the cemetery as shown by previous tips. Many were brought home for burial.

If one to learn the name of some of the veterans who lived at the Confederate Home, a census search will yield more information.

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