Henry L. Rugeley Family


Family of
Dr. Henry L. Rugeley & Elizabeth Elmore Rugeley



Dr. H. L. Rugeley



The Rugeley family is one of the oldest in the county, and one of the most honored and prominent in all the affairs of the county since 1840 when John Rugeley came to Texas. John Rugeley was a native of South Carolina, but moved in 1824 to Mobile, Alabama, where he was a member of the state legislature; and in 1840 came to Texas, settling on Caney and clearing away one of the dense cane-breaks on that stream to make way for his plantation. He became interested in the public affairs of the then young Republic and was elected to Congress in 1843. He soon acquired considerable wealth by means of successful planting, sugar and cotton being the main products of his large plantation, these products being shipped through the port of Matagorda. He died in 1878 at the age of 84 years.


The only son surviving him by his first wife married in Alabama, was Edward S. Rugeley, born in 1830 in Alabama. The son also was successful in farming and in 1861 became Captain of a Matagorda company in the war between the states and was stationed at Matagorda to guard the coast. We have, some months ago, printed the tragic story of the destruction of most of this company during a fearful blizzard and gale, the command being ordered to the peninsular to resist a threatened attack by the Federals from a gunboat and the storm coming on just as the party embarked, wrecking the vessel in mid-bay. Edward S. Rugeley was after the war elected County Judge and served most satisfactorily in that position for six years. He was also a member of the constitutional convention in 1875, at the time of the disastrous storm on the coast, and which was so destructive to property at Matagorda and on the peninsular. He was active in the removal of the county seat from Matagorda to Bay City in 1895. Judge Rugeley was married in Alabama in 1845 to Miss Mary E. Smith, and to them were born three sons and five daughters, of whom Frank L., of Matagorda, Mrs. Caroline Blair, of Wharton, and also Mrs. Mary B. Brooks of Wharton are living.


Of the second marriage of John Rugeley also in Alabama, were several children of whom two are still living, prominent citizens of this city, Dr. Henry L., and Frank. Of ex-Sheriff Frank we had a sketch a few weeks ago. Dr. H. L. Rugeley the eldest, was born in the county January 12, 1838, and is therefore 78 years of age, an age it is the good fortune of few men to arrive at in the full possession of physical and mental strength. The Doctor has been a practitioner of medicine for about half a century up to the time he retired a few years ago. He served the people of the county as Health Officer a number of years, and gave good honest service to his people without any of the fol de rols of fancy pay of the modern day of practical politics. He was called to serve one term as County Commissioner. Dr. Rugeley married Miss Elizabeth Elmore in Walker County December 14th, 1865, and these two good people are living happily in Bay City, surrounded by prosperous children and numerous grand children.


The children living are Henry Rugeley of Bay City, Mrs. O. J. Doubek, of Austin, and Rowland Rugeley of Bay City.


The family has furnished to the county many useful citizens and from John Rugeley’s service in the Congress of the Texas Republic to the present time there has been faithful and efficient service to almost every branch of our government from members of this family.

The Matagorda County News and Midcoast Farmer, Friday, September 15, 1916             Photo: Dr. Rugeley, Elizabeth Elmore Rugeley, Marshall Elmore, Courtesy of Gerald R. Powell




Dr. H. L. Rugeley
(By Cora B. Moore)

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 Elizabeth Elmore, of Waverly. The real romance of these two lives began on December 14, 1865, when Elizabeth 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 sought 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 Doctor was fired with the same enthusiastic seal 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.

Matagorda County Tribune, Saturday, May 29, 1925                                                               Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Powell


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.


Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Sep. 18, 2011
May 5, 2013