My Thurman ancestors were early Travis County Pioneers. They are now
buried on a hilltop in Hays County on private property. Originally, they
were buried in the Thurman cemetery at Teck, Texas. Their remains were
moved to Hays County about 1937. The Thurman farm was on the Colorado
River at the end of Thurman Bend Road which is now the Reserve on Lake
Travis. When the survey for Lake Travis was completed, most of the
Thurman property fell below the 714 MSL. This meant that their home and
cemetery would be flooded once the Mansfield Dam construction was finished, and the new lake filled. This is the family of my mother Alta Mae Puryear. Her Great-Great Grandfather was Henry Garrett (H.G.) Thurman Sr.
H.G. Thurman Sr. was born in Illinois. He married Judia Neal, and they
had their first child Andrew Jackson Thurman in 1847 and John Alexander
Hamilton Thurman the following year in Arkansas. The family arrived in
Travis County in 1849, settling in the Colorado River Valley about 20 miles
northwest of Austin.
They homesteaded and had four more children: Mary Jane Elizabeth,
Thomas Edward, Henry Garrett Jr., and Everett D. Thurman. When Texas
ceded from the Union in 1861, most of Thurman’s neighbors joined the
Confederacy to fight for the south. H.G. chose to fight for the north. At
thirty-eight years old, H.G. left his teenage sons to tend the farm and
protect their family from the Indians. I am sure my three Great Grandfather
Henry Thurman Sr. thought long and hard about picking up arms against
his neighbors. He went to Mexico and joined the Texas 1 st Regiment, Texas
Cavalry Company A. He entered as a private and was discharged November
4, 1865, as a corporal.
In the hill country, Union soldiers and sympathizers were often hanged,
and their homes burned for fighting against the Confederate States Army
(CSA). Apparently, his wife Judia and children kept the family secret. If
asked where Henry was, they said off fighting the war. Which he was! Just
not for the Confederacy.
It seems the family told and retold the story well! He lived sixty-seven years
on his Colorado River Farm. Outliving most who knew him in the early days
of Travis County. Everyone assumed H.G. was a confederate soldier when
he died in 1916. My mother told me he fought in the Civil War and that the
United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had placed a CSA marker at
his gravesite. I spent years searching for H.G.’s grave around Lake Travis
and assumed it was covered by the Lake. Through LCRA records, I found
where they had reinterned the Thurman family in Hays County.
I found H.G. Sr. buried next to his wife Judia. The CVA marker is inscribed
with H.G.’s name and Co. A Texas Cav CSA 1823-1916.
The UDC took on the task of marking every Confederate
soldier’s grave in Texas. Their goal was to complete the task
prior to the Texas Centennial of 1936. Many knew that H.G.
Sr. fought in the Civil War and assumed it was for the south. In a hurried
attempt to accomplish their goal, the UDC assumed as everyone else did
that H.G. Sr. was a Confederate soldier.
I am sure Grandpa Thurman has flipped over a few times in his coffin, as a
new Confederate flag was placed on his grave every Confederates Day for
nearly a century. He risked everything for what he believed in. I was proud
of him as a Confederate soldier, before learning recently that he was a
Union soldier. Regardless of the side he fought on, I am proud of my three Great Grandfather Henry Garrett Thurman Sr. RIP.
Should the CSA headstone be removed and replaced with a Union Army
headstone or left as is?
I would like to hear your thoughts and comments. Please leave your feedback below.
Pictures courtesy of Cathy and Thomas at Find a Grave.