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Willis Franklin Cude







Willis Franklin Cude was born on April 4, 1844 and died on November 7, 1932.  He is buried in the Pearsall Cemetery in Pearsall, Frio County, Texas.  His father was William A. Cude, born 1801 in Tennessee and him mother was Lilly Ellen Winters, born Dec. 19, 1822 in Tennessee. Willis was married to Mary Elizabeth Harrell . Willis and Mary had  the following children; Milvern, Elmer, Lillie, Myra, Alice, Scott, Bessie, Albert, Roy, Jack , Mamie and Tim. Willis filed for a Confederate Pension from Frio county.  Pension No. 15223.  He served from 1861 - May 20, 1865.  



Willis enlisted on Sept. 23, 1861 in Brownsville, TX. at  Ft. Brown.   He is listed as 17 years old on his enlistment record. His enlistment officer was Capt. John Donelson. His term of enlistment was for 12 months. The Cavalry valued Willis' horse at worth $50.00 and his equipment at $ 15.00.On the muster roll of June 1, 1862 Willis is listed as "On detached service with Coast Guard." (Note, I don 't think this is the Coast Guard as we know it today. The Coast Guard was a group of men that were assigned to watch the coast for Union vessels that might be approaching.)  In June of 1862 he was paid $39.20  for use of his personal horse. 


On the muster roll of June 30, 1863 it is reported that Willis was a prisoner of war and that he was captured on June 21, 1863 at LaFourche Crossing. Evidently Willis had reenlisted on June 26, 1862 under Capt. Donelson while at Escondido. His period of enlistment was listed as "War", evidently meaning for the duration of the war. On the roll of Aug. 1863 he is still listed as a prisoner.  On a "Regimental Return" record dated April 1864 Willis is listed as " Detached with Capt. Cloud. "Duty not known".  There is something confusing about these records because other records show that he was paroled as a prisoner on July 25, 1865. Perhaps he was captured a second time. On May 1864 he is reported as " On furlough for twelve days since May 30, 1864.


Record 5 - Not dated, but may be a prisoner of war exchange.


Military Records and information submitted by Michael Tope.







I was born on the banks of the San Jacinto River, in Montgomery County, Texas, April 4, 1844, while Texas was still a Republic with a president and a cabinet of officers. In 1845 we were annexed to the United States which gladdened the hearts of the few people in Texas at that time. I will relate a few things which I heard from the lips of some of General Sam Houston's soldiers about the battle of San Jacinto. My mother had three brothers who were in that battle, Billie Winters, John Winters and J. W. Winters. "Uncle Jim" as we called him, died at Frio county some twenty years ago. He often told me about that fight, and said it did not last longer than thirty minutes. They killed six hundred Mexicans and captured about six hundred, among the prisoners being General Santa Anna. Three Americans were killed and four wounded; General Houston and Billie Winters were among those who received wounds. My mother was camped within hearing distance of the battle. The first news she had from the battlefield was to the effect that Gen. Houston's forces were all killed, but in a little while word came that the Mexican army had been defeated and utterly routed. My stepfather, Charles A. Edwards was a cavalry officer under Captain Lamar, but was on scout duty with Lieutenant Karnes when the battle occurred.

During the early days in Texas there were no farming impliments. Horse collars were made from shucks, plow lines from rawhide, wagon wheels were sawed from a sweet-gum log, which served to good advantage. In the winter of 1849 we sold our home, bought two large wagons at Huntsville, and moved to Lavaca Creek, twelve miles from Halletsville, the county seat. In 1861 I joined a Texas Ranger Company. John Donaldson was my captain under Col J.S. Ford at Brownsville. When we arrived at Brownsville we camped in the fort there. There were twenty recruits in our bunch; my brother, A.J. Cude, recruited for the company. There I heard my first bugle call, and when I asked brother Jack what it was he told me it was the rations call. He went to get the rations and returned with some sacks of grub. He informed me that some soap was in one of the sacks and as I wanted to wash out some of my clothes I took out what I supposed to be a cake of soap, went down to the river and used it. When I got back I complained to him that the soap was no good. When he looked at it he gave a hearty laugh and informed me that I had not used soap, the stuff was peloncia (Mexican sugar).

We remained on the border about a year, guarding the Rio Grande from its mouth to Rio Grande City. In June 1862, we left the border service and went to San Antonio and joined the Second Texas Cavalry under Col. Charley Pryon. James Walker was Lieutenant Colonel. He was placed in Sibley's Brigade and Bankhead McGruder was our General. In October we were ordered to the coast near the mouth of the Brazos, where it was said Union forces were landing. Later we were ordered to Houston, and about the middle of December the Yankees captured Galveston. A call was made for volunteers to go on the steamboats to go to Galveston. As most of the volunteers were cavalrymen and as they had to fight on water they took the name "horse marines". Gen MaGruder recaptured Galveston after a fight lasting less than an hour. This battle was fought on the first day of January 1863. We captured one warship and two transports, sunk one warship and captured about five hundred prisoners. We had two steamboats with about two hundred men on each boat. One of our boats was sunk, but it was in shallow water and no one was drowned. Captain Pryon remained on the Island until June and was sent to Louisiana. General Tom Green was now our commander and our brigade soon joined the Confederate army under General Taylor. General Banks' Union army was on the way to Texas, 35,000 strong. Our army numbered about 17,000 men, and was composed of Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana troops.

The two armies met about the 15th of June and fought a three days battle in which Banks was defeated. We captured several thousand prisoners and many wagon loads of supplies.
After this I was in a number of desperate engagements and was captured and taken to City Poit, Va. Later we were taken to Jackson, Mississippi on parole. After we reached Jackson, Mississippi, four of us left there one night and walked from there to Beaumont, Texas, in 16 days. My shoes had worn out and when I got to Houston I went to a store and bought a new pair and told the clerk to charge them to Jeff Davis.

My experience was hard on me and I endured many hardships and privations, sleeping on the bare ground nearly three months after I was captured. In 1864 our regiment was stationed on Galveston Island and remained there until the end of the war, and we had an easy time there. Our duty was to ride the beach five miles and back every two hours and watch on a signal station day and night. The enemy's warships would come around and shell us occasionally, but never any of us got covered up with sand except one time when one of the big shells weighing 164 pounds hit near us.

In the summer of 1864 yellow fever broke out in Galveston and fourteen members of our company were stricken. Captain C.D. McRae and James Cowley died. Our Company was camped on the west end of the Island during the last year of the war.

In the fall of 1865 I went to school at Moulton, Lavaca County and in 1866 I went to Live Oak County where I secured a wagon and ox team and hauled freight from Indianola to San Antonio. That fall I hired to a man named H. Williams who lived on Lagorta Creek, 30 miles from Oakville. Only a very few settlements were there at that time. One family named Weaver lived about a mile from the Williams place, and there were two grown girls in the Weaver family. These girls would assist their father in hunting cattle and carried their pistols with them where ever they went. They had a pack of hounds and hunted with them. One day they found where a panther had killed a colt belonging to their father, ten miles from their home, so they came to the Williams ranch and got two of Mr. Williams' daughters to go with them to hunt the panther. About 1 o'clock in the morning two of the girls came back to get help to kill the panther as they had found it. Mr. Williams sent me to help them , giving me an old Anfield rifle to use. We reached the place where the other two girls were about daylight and found they had the panther treed.

I dismounted and took a shot at him, the ball passing through his foot and causing him to jump out and make for me. I could not run for those four girls were all looking at me, and expected me to do something. Luckily one of the dogs laid hold of the panther about that time and things got interesting. The other dogs took a hand in the fight and the panther whipped them all fearfully mangling some of them. I rushed in and killed it by beating it over the head with my gun. I have been a friend to dogs ever since.

In 1867 I made a crop in Gonzales county, and in the fall of the year I drove my first cattle, going to Houston for a man named Tumlinson with about fifty head. I made ten bales of cotton that year and collected $15 per bale for war taxes.

I made my first trip up the trail to Kansas in 1868 and other trips followed, accounts of which are given in Vol I of this book.

On January 2, 1872, I married Miss Mary Harrell. Her hair was black then, but it is not now, for time had changed it to a silvery gray. I often think of the many changes that have occurred during the last 49 years. My wife's father was Melvin Harrell and he deserves worthy mention in the history of the Old Trail Drivers of Texas. He went to Kansas several times with cattle. During the Civil War he drove cattle to Louisiana for the Confederate Army. Previous to the Civil War in 1846, he joined a company under Dawson, about 50 men in all and when they reached the Salado near San Antonio they were surrounded by a large force of Mexican Cavalry and captured, only three Americans making their escape. Mr. Harrell was wounded with Sabre cuts and was taken to Mexico City and imprisoned for 12 months. He told me the Mexicans were very kind to him while he was in the hospital there. When he was released he went to Vera Cruz and sailed to New Orleans. Students of Texas History are familiar with acts of the massacre of Dawson's Men.


Source:  "The Trail Drivers of Texas". The first publishing was 1920-1923 and the sketches were written by the charter members of The Old Time Trail Drivers Association (now the Old Trail Drivers Association of Texas).  The second edition was printed   (Two Volumes in One) in 1925 and contained additional sketches by trail drivers. The last edition was reprinted and published by Argosy-Antiquarian Ltd. in 1963. It was a limited edition run of 750 copies. Of the 750 copies, 97 were specially bound in leather and numbered, of which 85 were offered for sale.  These two volumes were compiled and edited by J. Marvin Hunter, Published under the direction of George W. Saunders, President and Organizaer Old Time Trail Driver's Association. Introduction by Harry Sinclair Drago. by Argosy-Antiquarian Ltd. New York 1963.  As far as I know, the volumes are out of print. The most recent publication contains sketches by many, many individuals who were trail drivers, or in some way contributed to that short period of history.




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This page was last updated on April 15, 2002