Living

Walter Lampton was big Beauvoir benefactor

By Murella H. Powell

COURTESY PAUL JERMYNWalter M. Lampton, the son of a Confederate veteran who supposedly gave this fountain to Beauvoir in Biloxi, once said, 'I will gladly share my last dollar with the old soldiers.'
COURTESY PAUL JERMYNWalter M. Lampton, the son of a Confederate veteran who supposedly gave this fountain to Beauvoir in Biloxi, once said, 'I will gladly share my last dollar with the old soldiers.'

The photo for this postcard of Beauvoir was taken between 1926 and 1940. It is believed but not certain that the fountain in front of the home was donated by Walter M. Lampton (1850-1930), whom the newspaper called "a millionaire philanthropist." This seems likely because from about 1910 until his death he was the old soldiers' best friend and Beauvoir's biggest benefactor.

Lampton, the son of a Confederate veteran, was a native of Magnolia, with a summer home near Beauvoir. A banker, Lampton gave countless small and many large donations to the home. For example, he funded the replacement of the old wooden grave markers in the cemetery with new concrete stones in 1921.

Lampton brought Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops from all over the state to visit Beauvoir, he sent the Beauvoir vets to Confederate veteran reunions, he spearheaded fundraisers to build the hospital and gave 10 percent of its total cost. He purchased the memorial furniture for the Winnie Davis Room and furnished special and holiday dinners.

The list goes on and on, but Lampton's most unusual gift was when he gave an elaborate wedding for a Beauvoir veteran and widow, even standing as best man. He then played Cupid by arranging with the Harrison County circuit clerk to pay for all of the marriage licenses for the matrimonially inclined residents of Beauvoir.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast's distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; or call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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