IN MEMORY OF MRS. H. L. RUGELEY.
By Mrs. Cora B. Moore, Historian U. D. C.
When Mrs. H. L. Rugeley of Bay City closed her eyes in the eternal sleep, Saturday morning, Feb. 24, 1923, there passed into the Glory Land one of God's own gentle noble souls.
On the sixth day of January, 1846, a baby girl came into the home of Henry Marshall Elmore and Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, in Mason County Alabama--a little brown eyed girl, and they called her Elizabeth, for the mother. In a few years this little baby grew into childhood and came to Texas with their parents, they choosing for a home the little village of Waverley in Walker County. There Colonel Elmore builded for himself and family a typical three-story old Southern home of red brick--surrounded it with orchards--gardens, servant quarters and everything suggestive of the Southern Gentleman. It was in this atmosphere that Elizabeth Elmore spent her girls of days, and had instilled in her heart and life by Christian parents the noble traits that made Mrs. Rugeley the grand character she was. Her mother passed over into the Beyond in 1860, leaving her little daughter the idol and companion of her father and brothers. In this home gathered man, now famous in Texas and Southern history, to discuss the trend of the times which they could see was tending toward war. The older men, like General Houston, pleading for peace and compromise, against the fiery argument of the younger men just coming into political prominence. All these things made deep impressions on Elizabeth Elmore. She imbibed the very spirit of the South and Southern history. The time passed. At the outbreak of the war and the call to arms, Col. Elmore was past the acceptable age to go to the front, so he volunteered as a private in Capt. Sim's Company. When the 20th Regiment of Texas was organized, he was elected colonel and went to Galveston, which he was in charge of all the troops on the island. All during these months and years the daughter never left her father's side--but was a ray of sunshine in the camps, in the hospitals administering to the comfort of the soldier boys. All these experiences made her to realize that you wrote sacrifices made by the people of the Southland. She knew the devotion of the men who served with General Lee. It was natural that she would serve her country and her way. She came of Scotch-Irish ancestry--a people of strong physique and vigorous intellect, who were prominent in the early history of our land. Her grandfather, Gen. Ludlow Elmore of South Carolina was a soldier in the Revolution. Her uncles served as governors, senators and many other high political positions, their keen intellects serving in times of stress to solve many national problems. On December 14, 1865, Elizabeth Elmore and Dr. H. L. Rugeley were married at the old Elmore home in Waverley. Too them was granted long life of happy companionship. Nine children came into their home of whom Mr. Henry Rugeley, Mrs. O. J. Doubek and Mr. Rowland Rugeley are left to cherish the memory of a wonderful mother. The eldest daughter, Elmore, was married to Mr. Frank Compton in 1887, but death called her away in 1896, and her going left five little ones motherless. These little children found a mother-heart in their grandmother, Mrs. Rugeley, who devoted all her days to them and she was spared to see them all educated and grown. A very peculiar joy came to her but she was permitted to name her first great-grandchild Frank Hawkins Lewis.
During the World War, Mrs. Rugeley worked in unceasingly, knitting in the beautiful even manner she had learned in her girlhood days. She was ready at any and all times to cheerfully assist in any way.
Such is a brief sketch of a life that was has been a blessing to the world, as she touched people here and there. A woman of very unusual intellect, strong Christian character, undying devotion to her dear old Southland, a patriotism born of inherent principles--a loyal friend, a lover of the true and beautiful, an artist in the crafts of her youth. Mrs. H. L. Rugeley was rightly the center of the community which was honored with her presence. Her later days were full of work in her loved U. D. C. She lived for that, she worked for that--her time was occupied teaching those of us younger in years the sublimity of our Southern inheritance. Her gracious personality made her one to be sought after, and in the early history of Bay City hers was the hand and mind that guided in church work, civic pride, educational lines and social life. She was also the leading spirit in the Cemetery Association. Her going away will cause a vacant chair in many, many places. She had been a member of the Methodist Church since early childhood, and until recent years took a very active part in all religious affairs. From a Bible she received the inspiration that sustained her in the long life of sacrifice that was hers. She possessed to a marked degree Faith, Loyalty, and Optimism. Her family, her home, her friends, her town, her county, her state, her country were the best, and always right. Her children and grandchildren are rich in the legacy she left them--a life without a shadow. Her husband and companion of 57 years is lonely because she is no more. They celebrated their golden wedding a few years ago, at which time many friends met and rejoiced with them. It is given to few couples to do the world the kind deeds that Dr. and Mrs. Rugeley were permitted to do. The U. D. C. has lost its inspiration of all its meetings. We scarcely know how to even try to meet, and plan for the future without her, our Life President. She organized this chapter and has been its very life ever since. Just the day before she was stricken, she called me to “come down” as she had some letters to read to me--letters she received from the Confederate home in Austin, thanking her for our part in installing a radio in the Home for the veterans. She said with tears streaming down her cheeks: “Poor old boys--they get so lonely and this will give them so much pleasure.”
The deep love fell for Mrs. Rugeley was expressed in the wonderful array of floral offerings sent to make beautiful and fragrant her last long home,--symbolic of the beauty and fragrance of her life among us.
Mrs. Rugeley, our leader, we love you, and shall try our hardest to carry on the work so dear to your loyal Southern heart. We express our sympathy to them made sad and lonely by your going. There is an anguish we cannot know.
We shall do our best to attain the ideal she set before us in your life--ever looking for the home where “separations come not, and goodbyes are never said,” and where God shall wipe away all tears.
Newspaper and date unknown.