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Confederate Obituaries

These obituaries were collected by Kathleen Tatum and first appeared in the 12th volume of the  Matagorda County Genealogical Society quarterly, Oak Leaves. They were re-typed for this page by Janet L. Davis.


Taps Sounds for Old Confederate In Austin Hospital


Edgar Silas Billings was born at Mt. Jackson, Shenandoah County, Virginia, September 3, 1846. Died in the Confederate Hospital at Austin, Texas, at 9 p. m. November 21, 1926.


He was converted and joined the church in his boyhood days.


At the age of 15 years, he entered the Civil War on the side of the South, serving as a member of the 11th Regiment, Rosser's Brigade, Stewart's Cavalry, Army of Northern Virginia.


He came to Texas about 1870 where he was active in organizing schools, Sunday Schools and other pioneer works. He was a charter member of the Methodist Church at Mary's Creek, near Ft. Worth.


On December 23, 1874, he was married to Sarah Harding Brown, near Ft. Worth, Texas.


This union 13 children were born--5 boys and 8 girls, 5 of whom died in infancy.


Those surviving are: Mrs. E. S. Billings and his 8 children, Mrs. S. J. Hailey, of Lindale, Texas; O. F. Billings, of Whittenburg, Texas; Mrs. Jack Phillips and Mrs. W. O. Goodnight of Quanah, Texas; Mrs. J. Rex Golston, of Weatherford, Texas; Mrs. C. L. Haynes of Palacios, Texas; Louise Billings of Houston, Texas; Mrs. L. G. Kimbrough, of Birmingham, Alabama; and his brother M. C. Billings, of Palacios.


He came to Palacios in 1915 where he has made his home until he was carried to the Hospital a short time ago.


His funeral from the First Methodist Church, which he had loved and served, was ably conducted by Rev. Coleman, assisted by Dr. Driskill.


The Palacios Beacon, Thursday, November 25, 1926, page 1





Native Texas, Confederate Veteran

Early Day Business Leader,

Dies in California.


Houston Post, Monday September 5, 1921


The body of Guy M. Bryan Jr.,  who died Saturday at Santa Barbara, Cal., will arrive in Houston at 9:15 o’clock Tuesday morning, according to a telegram received Sunday by Lewis R. Bryan, a cousin of the deceased, from Mrs. Frank H. Hervey, a daughter of the dead man.  Mrs. Hervey will accompany the remains from California.


Arriving in Houston, the remains will be taken to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Hervey,  418 West Alabama Avenue.  On Tuesday night the funeral party will leave for Brazoria, where the body will be buried Wednesday morning in the family plot in Gulf Prairie Cemetery.


Guy M. Bryan Jr. was born January 25, 1843, on the Durazno plantation at Gulf Prairie, Brazoria County, about eight miles Freeport.  His father, William Joel Bryan, had settled on the Durazno plantation three years previously, being accompanied by his mother, Mrs. James F. Perry, a sister of General Stephen F. Austin.  The dead man was named for his uncle, Guy M. Bryan, who served in both houses of the State legislature and in the national congress prior to the Civil War.  At that time he and Judge Reagan were the only two congressman from the Lone Star State.


With the outbreak of the war between the States, Guy M. Bryan Jr., then only 18 years of age, volunteered on the side of the Confederacy, serving with Colonel R. R. Bryan’s regiment.  In 1867, when the H. and T. C. Railroad reached what is now the city of Bryan, Texas. Guy M. Bryan Jr. settled there and became interested in the cotton commission business and banking.  He was vice president of the First National Bank of Bryan from the time of its organization until his death, retaining his interest in that institution after he retired from other commercial pursuits in 1898.  Mr. Bryan came to Houston then to make his home and had lived here the past 22 years.


Surviving the pioneer Texan are Mrs. Lucy Bryan Hervey, the wife of Frank H. Hervey of 418 West Alabama Avenue, Houston: Mrs. M. Austin Bryan, widow of a brother who died in 1894, also of Houston; Mrs. Sam I. Bryan, widow of another brother, of San Antonio; Guy M. Bryan vice president of the Lumberman’s National Bank of Houston, a first cousin; Mrs. W. Jack Bryan, a widow of another first cousin; Mrs. J. L. Perry and the Hon. E. L. Perry, both of whom were first cousins; Mrs. Laura Bryan Parker, wife of Edward W. Parker of Philadelphia; Lewis R. Bryan, practicing attorney of Houston, a son of Moses Austin Bryan, an uncle of the deceased; Austin Y. Bryan of Houston, also a son of Moses Austin Bryan; Mrs. T. J. Stratton, younger sister, of Brazoria; Mrs. Fred A. Brock of Angleton, and Sam I. Stratton of Freeport, niece and nephew, respectively, of the deceased.



August 25, 1916


Matagorda, Texas. August 25.—Mr. A. C. Burkhart, who died at his home here Tuesday evening, after a protracted illness, was buried at the Matagorda Cemetery Wednesday afternoon.


There being no Episcopal minister, of which denomination the family belong. Rev. L. E. Selfridge, the Presbyterian divine of Bay City, conducted the funeral services at the home and concluded at the grave.


There was appropriate singing by an impromptu choir.


A large number of friends and relatives followed the remains to the cemetery and despite the recent storm, the grave was lined and covered with beautiful flowers, contributed by relatives and friends.


Another weary body is freed from pain, another soul escaped from mortal temple to be transplanted in higher and holier realms from which there is no returning and where peace and joy reign everlasting.


Over this there should only be rejoicing as the subject had passed the age allotted to man, yet such is human nature that loved ones crave that presence which they know is far happier than this world’s goods could ever make it.


Death is the gate to eternal life and all have to pass through its portals to reach that life, hence “Ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also, which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”


Mr. Burkhart belonged to the old Burkhart family, was born in Philadelphia and arrived here with his parents in the late 40’s when but a child.


He was an ex-Confederate soldier and was married at the close of war to Miss Emma Norris of Brazoria County.


Of this union there were six children, all of whom, with his widow, survive him.


The children are J. N. Burkhart of Beaumont, A. C. Burkhart, Jr. of Salem, Oregon; H. G. Burkhart of Bay City, C. W. Burkhart of Matagorda, Mrs. T. W. Davidson of Marshall, Mrs. Mary B. Parris of Matagorda.




February 15, 1918


News of the death of Mr. R. J. Capps reached here yesterday from his old home of Central Valley, Miss. where for the past eight months he has been living on the old homestead with an only sister.  The death followed an illness of many years standing and for the relief of which Mr. Capps went to Mississippi.


Decedent was a member of Forest’s cavalry and did valiant service throughout the Civil War.  At one time he was sheriff of Atascosa County, Texas.  He was buried in the old family burial grounds at Central Valley.  His wife and daughter, Mrs. H. G. Jamieson, of this city survive him.


Mr. Capps moved with his family to Bay City in 1901 and continued in business here until about a year ago when his health failed him completely.  He was well known throughout the county.  Mr. Capps took a keen delight in politics and kept well posted on all the events of the times until he reached a point when these things were of no more interest to him.  He was a man of positive character and opinion, frank in expression, open in character and honest in business dealings.


The writer has known Mr. Capps for twenty-two years.  Back in the old days in Lockhart, he would visit our office regularly and discuss public matters of the times.  He was of the old school and wavered in his faith or changed from what he conceived to be the right side of any question.


We have lost a dear good friends a friend in whose association we found many a pleasure and hours profitably spent. 


To his good wife and the daughter we extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy.






Heart Trouble Assigned as Cause for Sudden Demise

Which is Shock to the Whole Community


Houston Post, December 24, 1912



William Davis Cleveland, senior member of the firm of William D. Cleveland & Sons, wholesale grocers and cotton factors, well known throughout the state, died suddenly at 5:15 Sunday afternoon at his residence, 806 San Jacinto Street.   Heart trouble was assigned by Dr. J. W. Scott, the attending physician, as the cause.


Mr. Cleveland was in his usual good health until about an hour before death.  At dinner he appeared in fine spirits, talking and joking jovially with the members of his family, who took dinner with him.  After dinner he sat in the parlor during the afternoon, smoking and conversing with his brother in law, B. R. Latham.


After 4:15 o’clock Mr. Cleveland complained of a shortage of breath.  The members of the family who had dined and spent the afternoon with him had departed only a few minutes before with the exception of his daughter, Mrs. Eleanor Calhoun.  She was the first to minister to him and she summoned a physician.  Dr. Scott arrived a few minutes before the end came, and was with him the last minute.  All members of the family, who are in the city, were sent for but only his sons and daughter were with him at the time of his death.  The others arrived shortly afterward.


Mr. Cleveland was supposed to be in the best of health and had never complained of heart trouble to any extent.  Only twice before had he complained of a shortage of breath, similar to that which caused his death.  Neither time was it considered serious.


Mr. Cleveland was one of the most prominent business men in Houston having been located in the city since 1858, with the exception of the four years he spent in the Confederate Army.  At the close of the war he returned to Houston and associated himself with the Alex Sessums Company.  At the death of Mr. Sessums, Mr. Cleveland succeeded to the head of the company, and has spent his life building it up to the high position it now holds in Houston commercial circles.


Mr. Cleveland is survived by two sons, William D., Jr., and A. S. , and five daughters, Mrs. Eleanor Calhoun of Houston; Mrs. Tina Schoolfield of Mullins,  S. C. ; Mrs. C. H. Lucy of New Orleans; Mrs. Alma Souissatt of Nashville, and Mrs. H. W. Benjamin of Chattanooga.  All of his daughters, with the exception of Mrs. Calhoun are out of the city. They were notified of the death Sunday night.


Was Well at Dinner


The last dinner of the deceased was enjoyed with members of his family.  They remained with him until shortly before he was stricken.  Mrs. Calhoun alone was with him at the time his condition became serious.


In addition to being prominent in commercial affairs Mr. Cleveland was one of the leaders in Christ Episcopal Church, being junior warden for over 20 years, and never missing a service during the period that he served in that capacity.  He was also superintendent of the Sunday school for a like length of time, occupying the position until a few years ago when he was succeeded by his son.


With all his personal interests Mr. Cleveland was a leader in other enterprises in the city, being one of the organizers of the Houston Cotton Exchange and the president of that organization for a number of years.  He has also served as director of various banking institutions here.


Served in Confederate Army.


Mr. Cleveland was 73 years old on September 1, this year.  He was born and spent his boyhood days in Salem, Ala.  He came to Texas at the age of 20 and has made this city his home continuously since that time.  During the first two years in Texas he was employed as a clerk.  When the war between the states broke out he joined Company B. of Terry’s Texas Rangers, an independent regiment, and served in the Confederate Army until the close of the war.


One of the first persons to call at the residence Sunday evening after the news of his death had been announced was Major B. F. Weems, who was a messmate of Mr. Cleveland during the entire period of war.


Mr. Cleveland’s company was under the command of Captain John A. Wharton and the command started first to join General Lee in Virginia.  The regiment’s orders were changed later, however, and it was attached to the army of Tennessee, under General Albert Sidney Johnston.  Two years later the regiment was made a part of Forrest’s command and after that was attached to Wheeler’s Cavalry.  On the surrender of the army he returned to Houston and has lived here since then.


Never Sought Political Office.


Though, Mr. Cleveland has always been prominent here he has never sought political office and has often refused nominations for different honors which were tendered him by his friends.  His service on the School Commission one term was the extent of his political career.


Mr. Cleveland was married only a few years after the war to a Houston girl, Miss Latham.  Mrs. Cleveland died in 1900.


Mr. Cleveland had never considered that his work was done.  He was considering plans for the enlargement of his business until the time of his death, a part of them being the interest he has been taking in the building of new cotton compressers and warehouses.





Mr. J. H. Cobb, 97 years, 3 months and 14 days, died this morning at 7:25 at his home.


Mr. Cobb was the last confederate veteran in a five county area.


He was a member of the Terry Texas Rangers.


He is survived by his wife, three sons, Harper, Heywood, and Walton and two daughters, Mrs. Elizabeth Meredith and Mrs. Cayloma Roberts.


Funeral arrangements will be held from the Walker-Matchett Funeral Home, Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.  Burial will be in Cedarvale Cemetery.  May 15, 1939





January 2, 1920


Judge A. Currie, an ex-confederate soldier, a former citizen of Matagorda County, a former commissioner of the county and recently making his home in North Carolina was found dead in his bed at the Stockton House this morning.


For years in Bay City it has been the custom of the ex-confederate veterans to meet on New Year’s Eve at the banquet board and to pass the old year into the new in celebration.  Judge Currie has been a constant attendant upon these annual affairs and made the visit this year from his home in North Carolina to “meet with the boys.”


Yesterday he was mingling with his friends on the streets and last night enjoyed the festivities keenly.  At a late hour he retired with Mr. C. P. Zipprian, a brother veteran, the two occupying the same room.  This morning Mr. Zipprian in awakening tried to arouse Judge Currie but found him dead.


The Tribune has not been apprised of any of the funeral arrangements.



(By Cora B. Moore)

May 23, 1925 

Henry L. Rugeley was born into the family of John and Eliza Colgin Rugeley on January 12, 1838, and passed into the beyond on May 6, 1925.  In that span of years a man of great usefulness walked among men, and then passed them by.  His father and mother lived in Lowdenboro, Alabama, until the year 1846, when they came with their children to find fame and fortune in the wilderness of Texas.

Their boys grew to manhood, and Henry L. decided on his career—at the age of 21 years, he graduated from the University of North Carolina with his A. B. degree and went at once to the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1861 with his M. D. degree.

Along about this time came the high call to service in defense of his home land.  He enlisted in the Confederate army and became a member of Brown’s regiment for only a short time.  He was transferred to De Bray’s regiment, where he served as assistant surgeon of the army during the entire war period.  Returning to his home he met and wooed the charming Elisabeth Elmore of Waverly.  The real romance of these two lives began on December 14, 1865, when Elisabeth became the wife of the young surgeon, Dr. H.  L. Rugeley.  From that day their lives were blessings to the community in which they lived.  Their services were never sough in vain, and while her doctor husband diagnosed and prescribed the wife administered and nursed.  They had trying times—times of hardship and self denial in their professional lives, but through it all, and from it all, came the grand characters of Dr. and Mrs. H. L. Rugeley.

The writer had the honor of the friendship of these two great characters, and many many times have we listened to the Doctor tell of his escapades as a college boy, also of the dreadful scenes of later years in which he served the Confederate army.  They were Dr. and Mrs. Rugeley, people of the old South, they believed in her rights—her greatness and her nobility.  To the end of their lives, they lived for the Southland.

Their life in Bay City, rather in Matagorda County, is part of the history of the county.  They helped lay the foundation of the very prosperity we younger ones now enjoy.  Their lives were fruitful in that they gave of themselves to all that was for the good and lasting—scorning everything that did not meet with their ideals of honor and chivalry.

In the passing of Dr. Rugeley, one of the striking and notable characters of Texas is removed.  His heritage was lofty ideals, intelligence, endurance.  His father and his father’s father put these ambitions into their own lives, and “like father, like son,” the Dr. was fired with the same enthusiastic zeal as were his ancestors.  Dr. Rugeley lived the life of a Southern gentleman and died the death of one who had lived his life and served his people.

His funeral at the Methodist Church attested the love and esteem in which Matagorda County held him.  His going was made less sad by the expression of love and sympathy from the throng of friends assembled to mingle tears with the sons and the daughters left without father and mother. The children, grandchildren and great grand children have a memory worth all the world in the lives of Dr. and Mrs. H. L. Rugeley, lived so worthily and died in the faith of their christian religion.


In Memoriam.


Horace Yeamans Sr. died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. D. Bruce, in Matagorda, Texas, April 30th, 1904, after an illness of about ten days occasioned by a slight fall, together with old age.


The subject of this sketch was born in the state of New York, July 5, 1812, and immigrated to Texas with his parents and grandparents and landed in the town of Matagorda, Dec. 16, 1829, there being only two or three houses that constituted the town.  He shortly afterwards move to Brazoria Co., with his parents, where he farmed one year under many difficulties and then to Kenner’s Prairie where he remained fifteen years and then went to Cash’s Creek where he was married in 1844 to Miss Eliza Baxter, daughter of Robt. Baxter, Sr., late from England, who preceded him to the glory land forty-six years, and in Aug. 1900 he came to live with his daughter in Matagorda where he remained until his death.


To him were born seven children; namely, B. A. Yeamans of Trespalacios, Dan Yeamans of San Antonio, Horace Yeamans of Cash’s Creek, Mrs. Annie O’Neill and Mrs. C. D. Bruce of Matagorda and Mrs. C. C. Smith of Bay City, one daughter having died in 1861 at the age of ten years.  He leaves 27 grand children and six great-grandchildren and a sister who will be 91 years old in June.


He united with the Baptist church in early life and lived a consistent Christian life for about seventy-five years, leaving an example worthy to be imitated.  He was also an old Mexican war veteran.


The funeral services were conducted at the Baptist Church by Rev. J. B. Armstrong, his pastor, and his remains were laid to rest in the Matagorda cemetery, there to await the resurrection morn when “the dead in Christ shall rise.”


Weep not, dear ones, as those who have no hope; a few more sad separations, a few more heartaches, a few more burning tears, a few more fleeting years and all will be over, and then the grand reunion on that beautiful shore, where sorrow, pain and death are felt and feared no more.


Farewell, dear father; We know and feel,

That thou art gone to rest,

God has said to such as thee,

“Come dwell among the blest.”


Yes, thou art gone to rest,

And free from every care.

God helps the sorrowing ones

Their heavy burdens bear.


Thou hast trod the rugged path of life,

And stemmed its oceans foam,

But now thou art borne on angel’s wings,

To that blest and heavenly home.


Surely soon we’ll meet again

Beyond the crystal sea

And praise around God’s heavenly home

And be again with thee.


Farewell, farewell ‘tis sad indeed

When we know that we must part

But Jesus knows our every need,

And soothes the aching heart.



Photo courtesy of Faye Cunningham

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Copyright 2007 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Feb. 23, 2007
May 19, 2007