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"Capt. Ned"

September 12, 1822
December 21, 1897


May 7, 1825 - April 14, 1906

Captain Rugeley's Report

Pictures courtesy of E. S. Rugeley Chapter 542 United Daughters of the Confederacy, Bay City, Texas

Written by Rebecca Rugeley Livesay and Kitty Jinkins Livesay

This article appeared in
Historic Matagorda County , Volume II, pages 444-445 and used here with permission.

The sixth son of John Rugeley and Parthenia Irvin was Edward Salmon Rugeley, called "Ned," who was born on September 12, 1822 , in South Carolina. Ned attended the University of South Carolina and was admitted to the bar to practice law as a young man. Ned went to Alabama with his father and his family, and there he met and married Mary Eliza Smith on October 9, 1845. The young couple set out for Caney, Texas, that same year when Ned decided to seek his fortune as a sugar planter rather than return to the practice of law.

There were seven children born to Ned and Mary Eliza before the War Between the States disrupted all aspects of normalcy on the plantation. Later three more children were born to make ten in all.

Captain Ned equipped a cavalry company with his own money, and he and his home guard company was assigned to Colonel Reuben Brown's Regiment.  Captain Ned's company was stationed in Matagorda when the news arrived that one of the union gunboats sighted cruising in the Gulf as a part of the federal blockade had landed on the Matagorda Peninsula. A fort was being erected by the Union forces a scarce four miles from town! An attack force was assembled of 57 men, including some volunteers, a Confederate gunboat, a stern wheeler, and a transport. Captain Rugeley planned the expedition and commanded it, assisted by three other captains and three lieutenants.  The boats anchored offshore to await the cover of night.


Scouts reported only 60 Yankees, so the decision was made to begin the attack. Two lifeboats and a skiff were lowered into the water, which was only 5 feet deep, to carry the 57 men into battle to protect their homes from the Yankee invasion. Capt. Ned took the lead in the skiff with Captain Hill and seven men aboard. Suddenly, a ferocious norther with freezing winds enveloped the men. The warm, mild night and calm waters were transformed into bitter cold darkness in the wild, violent sea. The skiff was able to reach the gunboat in safety, but alas, the two lifeboats were swamped and the men thrown into the turbulent water. Twenty-two brave men were either drowned or frozen to death on that ill-fated night, December 30-31, 1863. One of the dead was the 17-year-old brother of Capt. Ned, James Abercrombie Rugeley, a volunteer.  This incident was one of the great tragedies to strike Texas during the Civil War.


Sadly, another son of John Rugeley's was killed in this war. Alphonzo Irvin Rugeley, fourth child of John and Parthenia, was shot while crossing the Mississippi River in a boat near Vicksburg . He was acting as a courier bringing gold from Texas . Yankees in a gunboat ordered Alphonzo to surrender, but he delayed long enough to throw the gold overboard rather than allow it to fall into the hands of Union forces.

After the War Between the States was over, Captain Ned went home to find his property diminished and his fields in ruins. He began again with a strong sense of purpose. He was elected as a Representative to the state Legislature. Later, he was proud to represent his district in the convention that formed the State Constitution. Captain Ned served for eight years as the first
County Judge of Matagorda Count when the county seat was moved to Bay City . Captain Edward Salmon Rugeley died on December 21, 1897 in Wharton. The Matagorda County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, named for Captain Rugeley, erected a monument on the courthouse square in Bay City in memory of "Our Confederate Soldiers Lest We Forget," which honors all Matagorda County Confederate casualties especially the 22 who perished under Capt. Rugeley's command.

Capt. E. S. Rugeley's camp at Winston's Point, Confederate Army, 1863



Capt. E. S. Rugeley Passes Over the Great Divide--
An Honored Citizen Gone.


Died, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. John Blair, on Tuesday morning [December 21, 1897] at Wharton, Capt. E. S. Rugeley, after a lingering illness, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Owing to the bad weather and condition of the roads, his remains were temporarily deposited in the city cemetery at Wharton, but will, at an early date be removed to the family burial grounds near Hardeman. His death, though not unexpected, has cast a gloom over our county, where he was held in high esteem by the entire citizenship. He was a resident of this county since '45, but temporarily moved to Wharton a few months ago. The BREEZE joins a large circle of friends in extending sympathy to the bereaved family. The following is a brief sketch of his life, for which we are indebted to the Wharton correspondent of the Post:

"In the passing away of Judge E. S. Rugeley a striking and notable figure of Texan history is removed. His father, Hon. John Rugeley, a member of the widely known and celebrated family of that name in South Carolina , was one of the early Texan patriots. He had lived in the state of Alabama previous to his coming to Texas, having served several times as a member of the legislature; coming to Texas in 1840, he settled in Matagorda county, where he engaged extensively in planting; he served also in the congress of the young republic and was until his death in 1878 a man of prominence and wealth. He left numerous descendants, who, like their people before them, are of note and value as citizens.

One of his sons, the subject of this sketch, Edward S. Rugeley, was born in the State of South Carolina seventy-five years ago [September 12, 1822]. Of a naturally bright and intellectual mind, he was prepared for the legal profession. Given the advantages of a classical education at the Columbia college in his native State, he was admitted to the bar when a very young man; coming to Texas about the time it was entering Statehood in 1845 [here he] engaged in the practice of his profession, and as a young man acquired fame and promise. Following in the footsteps of his father, with the accumulation of wealth came the desire to live the independent life of "lord of the manor." Giving up his profession, he was soon occupied with the duties of a planter, the rich soil of the famous Caney beckoning an invitation. With his father he was among the first to engage in the culture of sugar in South Texas ; their plant was an extensive one, with all the advantages of slave labor, which made it a profitable and paying industry. At the first bugle note of war which awakened the sections to strife, Judge Rugeley, then a man in the ___ and prime of life, threw his all into the cause which threatened the hearth___ of his loved Southland. He tendered his services to his adopted State, serving in Bates' and later in Brown's regiment, with the rank of captain throughout the war. Returning to his home at the close of the civil conflict, with the wreck and ruin of the war around him, his once vast property sadly diminished, he again began the struggle. His indomitable spirit was unconquered. Prosperity came with thrift and good management; he was again surrounded with every blessing of life. In 1875, in response to the almost unanimous call of his people, he represented his district in the convention which framed the present constitution of Texas . A number of years ago he gave up the life of a planter and served as judge of Matagorda county for several terms with credit to himself and left a record her citizens are proud of to-day.

Judge Rugeley was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Smith in Alabama in 1845. The marriage was a happy and prosperous one, and the couple have seen their children grow up around them to be their pride and consolation. Seven children blessed the union, of whom three sons, John, E. S., Jr., and Frank L. Rugeley, and two daughters, Mrs. John Blair and Mrs. P. G. Brooks, both of whom live in Wharton, survive. The sons live in Matagorda county.

Judge Edward Rugeley was a man made to be loved, honored and respected. Of a strikingly genial disposition, easy of approach, honest, open and high-minded, there were but few his peers. A true type of the chivalric spirits who in ante-bellum days strove so faithfully to make Texas grand and great.

And thus they fall, these grand old pioneers. Their like we shall not gaze on again. One by one they drift to the ground like autumn leaves. They have achieved their span; they have measured their space and will leave behind the record of their deeds and work written in bright letters of gold upon the fairest pages of the annals of their country for the children of posterity to praise and emulate.

Of him who now passes in review it can be said 'His life book is ___, he throws down his worldly burden and goes on his long rest a Christian by precept and example, a fair, pure man--while the tears of kindred and friend shall alike prove his worth.

The Bay City Breeze

E. S. Rugeley

Mary E. Rugeley
Wharton City Cemetery, Wharton, Texas
Photos courtesy of Gerald Powell

In Memorium.

It is hard to bid farewell forever, to those we love and death is always terrible, but when a young, lovely and useful woman passes on to the land of the silent sleepers, the heart feels that something loveley in the universe has ceased from existance and broods with an utter sense of desolation over the sad misfortune that should at once take from husband, children, father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, one so beloved by all who knew her well. "Those whom the god's love die young."

Lealia [Lelia] Elmore, wife of John Elmore and daughter of Judge E. S. Rugeley, of Matagorda County, died after a severe illness at her home on Caney the 22nd day of February, 1895, in the 33rd year of age, in the prime of life she is taken from us, leaving four beautiful little children, as frail, perishable keepsakes and remembrances of her existance. "The laws of God are inscrutable."

It cannot be that earth is our only abiding place, that life is a bubble, cast up by the ocean of eternity, to float a moment upon its waves and then sink forever in darkness and nothingness? Else why is it that the high and glorious aspirations of our hearts are forever unsatisfied, and finally, why is it that bright forms of human beauty are presented to our view and then taken from us, leaving the thousand streems of affections to flow back in an Alpine torrent upon our hearts.

Farewell, Lelia,

Thou are gone to the grave, but we cannot deplore thee;
Though sorrow and darkness encompass the tomb,
The Savior has passed through its portals before thee;
And the lamp of his love is the guide through the gloom.
Thou are gone to the grave--we no long hold thee,
Nor tread the rough paths of the world by thy side;
But the wide arms of memory are spread to enfold thee,
And sinners may hope, since the sinless hath died--
Thou are gone to the grave--and its mansion forsaken,
Perchance, they weak spirit, in doubt lingered long;
But the sunshine of Heaven, beamed bright on thy waking,
And the sound which thou heard was the seraphine's song.'
Requescat in Peace.                    K. W.

John A. Elmore Passes Away
Death Occurred Monday Afternoon After Illness Extending Over Some Months.


John A. Elmore died Monday at 2:06 o'clock p. m. at the Caney Valley Hospital, where he had been taken some ten days previously for treatment. His death was the result of Bright's disease, from which he had been a sufferer for many months.

The funeral was held Tuesday at 10:30 a. m. from the residence of Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Needham, the remains being followed to the cemetery by a large concourse of sorrowing relatives and friends. Religious services were held at the home, and then the Woodmen of the World, of which order Mr. Elmore had long been a member, took charge and under their auspices the remains were consigned to the grave. The hymns rendered by a few solo voices at the grave were beautiful and appropriate.

Deceased was a son of Col. H. M. and Elizabeth Patrick Elmore, and grandson of General John A. Elmore, a soldier of the American Revolution. He was born in Waverly, Walker county, Texas, on February 1, 1856. In the early 70s he served the state as a ranger in company with John Blair, and in 1879 came to Matagorda county, where he engaged in farming. In 1881 he was married to Miss Lelia Rugeley, daughter of Capt. E. S. Rugeley. The children born of this union are Marshal, Mina (now Mrs. John Reading), Ollie (Mrs. W. F. Needham), and John Archer. All of these are residents of Wharton except Mrs. Reading, who lives at Mart, Texas, but was here when her father breathed his last. Their mother died in February, 1895. In 1909 Mr. Elmore, then engaged in the contracting business in the Brownsville section of the state, was married to Miss Rosa Howell of Brownsville, and of this union two children were born, Joe McCain and Albert Croom, who with their mother are residents of Brownsville.

Mr. Elmore's health becoming so precarious some two years ago, he came here in the hope it would be improved, making his home with his children, but it gradually grew worse. A few months ago his sons sent him to Mineral Wells in the hope he would improve, which he seemingly did for a time, but not for long. A couple of weeks ago he became unable to get about and he was placed in the hospital and a trained nurse's services retained to attend his every want, but he never rallied enough to arouse hope that he would improve, but peacefully and quietly passed into the beyond on Monday afternoon.

Besides the children named, one sister, Mrs. (Dr.) Rugeley of Bay City survives of the immediate family.

Attending the funeral were a number of friends from other points.

Wharton Spectator, Friday, October 29, 1913


John A. Elmore - Husband of Leila Rebecca Rugeley Elmore
Wharton City Cemetery, Wharton, Texas

Photo courtesy of Gerald Powell

Chester Hamlin Rugeley
Born January 25th 1884
Age, 6 months
[Died January 5, 1926]

Son of
Francis Lewis "Frank" Rugeley &
Eliza Maria "Lile" Robbins Rugeley

Grandson of
Edward Salmon Rugeley & Mary Eliza Smith Rugeley

Husband of
Mary Dudley Greer Rugeley


Copyright 2005 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Feb. 1, 2005
Aug. 4, 2010