"It is hoped that the younger generations, which have witnessed their unselfish devotion will emulate their virtues."
Memorializing the Confederate Dead
Immediately after the Civil War, Southern women began efforts to care for and memorialize the Confederate dead. Women in Winchester, Virginia, formed an association in 1865 to move the dead buried at scattered battlefields to a single cemetery. Their success inspired women across the South. Independent groups, known simply as Ladies' Memorial Associations, flourished.
Phillip County Memorial Association
In May 1869, a group of women formed the Phillips County Memorial Association. They wanted a beautiful cemetery, each grave marked with a marble stone, where the remains of Confederate soldiers would be cared for forever.
The group elected Mrs. John T. Jones of Lexa and Mary Lambert of Helena as President and Vice-President, respectively. The women immediately began soliciting support for their mission.
Mrs. John T. Jones, This drawing appeared in the Helena World in 1892.
Helena's Confederate Cemetery
Support for the Memorial Association's plans came almost immediately from Helena businessmen Henry P. Coolidge, Henry C. Rightor and Albertus Wilkins. The trio donated this plot of
land, which the women named Confederate Hill. By April 1870, the Association had moved remains of twenty-three soldiers to the new cemetery. Many had died in the July 1863 Battle of Helena.
Each year, the Association decorated the graves, reminding people of the sacrifice these men had made. Confederate veterans applauded the women and requested to be buried in the cemetery when they died. Today, over one hundred men rest in Confederate Cemetery.
The ladies' memorial Association movement was not confined to the South. Here, women decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who died in Elmira, New York.