Fanny Garlington (Mrs. Billy Bud) is a first cousin of the webmaster's great grandmother
William Alexander Gill
William A. Gill, known as Billy Bud, was born June 28, 1843 at the Bosqueville Plantation near Waco, Texas and died at the age of 46 in Comanche County, Texas on June 12, 1889. He and his wife, Fannie, are both buried at Buffalo Cemetery in that County having had their remains moved from the family plot because of the creation of Lake Proctor. Fannie had died in 1877 shortly after the birth of her last child at the young age of 27. Together, they had a total of seven children, two being born in Brazil, with the second born passing away as an infant and buried in Brazil in 1867. The other five were all born in Texas.
Billy married secondly on May 22, 1887 to Naomi Lee “Lee” Dossett, from Ken- ucky. She was 18 and he was 44 years old at the time of their marriage. Billy and Lee had one daughter, Willie Lee Gill, born August 10, 1889. Willie was born after Billy had died two months prior. Lee went on and married secondly, Albert G. “Agee” Gowan on August 20, 1891, in Comanche County. Together they had eight children.
William Alexander Gill had enlisted in the Confederate Army early in 1861 in Company “A” 7th Texas Infantry, Gen. Granbury’s Brigade. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Fort Donelson, but made his escape from prison camp and rejoined his regiment at Port Hudson.) (Fort Donelson Battle was Feb. 12-16, 1862.
The South had held Vicksburg for 8 months. (Nov. 1862 to July 1863). A chain across the river had stopped the gunboats & the South still held 200 miles of the river (Miss.) and Vicksburg. They were completely sur-rounded by Grant’s army - 3 lines, and had been on ½ rations for months. Now they were out of food and ammunition, the chain had finally been cut and the gun boats had driven them from the River’s edge. The Captain called for a volunteer to take a message through the enemy lines to Gen. Joseph E. Johnson. Billy was the only one that volunteered. He was a big man, tall, extra wide shoulders. The Capt. Wanted a smaller man for he felt he’d have a better chance to slip undetected through the enemy lines, but he had to take him as no one else offered to go.
Under cover of darkness, he slipped out and waited his chance. The two sentries would pass each other, then the 1st man would call out “All’s Well” & the 2nd would answer him. He jumped the 1st Sentry, knocked him out and broke his gun, then answered his call. Then he knocked out the 2nd man. He used the same tactics and made his way through all three lines to safety. Jess Coleman of Comanche watched William escape to safety. Not sure whether this was his escape from Fort Donelson or through the lines at Vicksburg. After he escaped, he met up with 8th Texas Calvary under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and joined them, fighting with them for several months. It was Gen. Forrest who is said to have “Cut his way out and escaped with his command” at Fort Donelson. He refused to surrender. He was probably the greatest Confederate Cavalryman and to him is attributed this formula for victory: “Get there fustest with the mostest men!” William met up with the 8th Calvary in Kentucky. After several months with the 8th, he rejoined the 7th in time to be in the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862. It was in this battle that his horse was killed. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
At the Battle of Vicksburg they called for volunteers to man the guns. Sharp- shooters were picking off the men as fast as they manned the guns. William teased the Capt. and said “I’m not big and able bodied.” He was the biggest one there - not fat. He took over the gun and manned it. He was an expert sharp shooter. (At home, he killed chickens for meals by shooting off heads with carbine type Winchester 44. He used this gun all through his career in the Texas Ranger Service.)
He was injured at Vicksburg. A shot hit him in the chest, but his big silver watch took the blow and saved his life, though the flesh all around was shattered.
William's son, Fleet, said that his father was in North Carolina when he was discharged from the Army, so he must have been with Joseph E. Johnston when he surrendered at Bentonville, N.C., after Hood’s barefoot retreat from Nashville. History tells us that when the men were discharged to return home, they received one Mexican dollar and twenty - five cents for those four bloody years of war. According to his daughter, Faye, Billy Bud was quite a “walker”, for he walked all the way home to Waco, Texas from North Carolina, stopping by Tennessee to visit relatives.
After the war, Billy returned to the Bosqueville Plantation.
Not long after his return home, he married Fannie Garlington on November 12, 1866, in McLennan County, Texas, probably in Bosqueville. Her family was from Mississippi and Louisiana and had eventually settled at Waco after a short stay in Drew County, Arkansas. They were neighbors to the Gills in McLennan County. The first time William saw Fannie was the result of his brother and him finding a package of candy in the road. They followed the fresh wagon tracks made in the dirt road, looking for the owner, and it led them straight to the Weaver-Garlington place. The adults had been to town and bought the candy for the children, losing it on the way home. There, William was introduced to Fanny, who was very beautiful. They danced many a set during their courtship.
Fannie Garlington, her mother Sarah A. Weaver Garlington, and two siblings made their home with Othniel Weaver, Sarah's father. Fannie's father, Stephen W. Garlington, had died about 1859 (He had received a Homestead and Cash Entry Patent for Drew County Arkansas in July of 1859 and must have died shortly thereafter.) Apparently, Stephen (Sarah’s husband) and his family had only been in Arkansas a few years, receiving an earlier cash entry patent in 1856. In 1850 he was married to Sarah and living in Louisiana. We would have to assume that the Weaver family was also in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana and that they all had moved together to Arkansas as an extended family. By 1860, Stephen was dead at age 31 and the Widow Sarah with her family had moved in with her father. Sometime prior to 1866, the Weaver–Garlington family again moved to their new location just north of Waco, Texas. The Weaver family was originally from the 96 District, South Carolina where Othniel’s grandfather was murdered by the Tories during the American Revolution in 1781. He was 90 years old. The family then relocated to Early County, Georgia where in 1818, Othniel’s father was killed by the Indians. The family then relocated to Louisiana… then to Drew County, Arkansas.
McMullan had secured the English Brig Derby for $7,500.00. It was to be outfitted for the transport of 150 colonists. The Derby, was rated at 213 tons and did provide enough space for at least 30 families, as well as baggage and moderate amounts of farm equipment and implements. It normally carried a crew of eight to ten men and was commanded by Captain Alexander Causse.
McMullan had gathered one hundred forty-six Texans and eight Louisianians – Plantation owners their families, and their entourage – to make the journey. Among the group were McMullan’s mother, two of his sisters, and a brother- in-law. (Some from Waco and Bosqueville). By the standard of the time, the passen-gers were relatively prosperous. They had sufficient funds to charter a ship and outfit it for the voyage at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. To modify the Derby for the emigrants, the settlers had had additional bunks, partitions, living accommodations constructed on the vessel, but even so, space and comfort were at a premium. The passageway between the living quarters were so narrow that only one person could move through at a time. A hole had been cut in the forward cabin to allow air to enter the below decks sleeping quarters.
The cargo the the settlers carried with them was valued at twenty-eight thousand dollars. They took along seeds, plows, and other agricultural implements, wagons, and machinery. Several cotton gins and gristmills and metal forging equipment added considerable weight to the cargo. They carried their firearms, cats and hunting dogs as well. To fit such extensive cargo and so many passengers into the ship had required careful planning. The Derby, which was twenty-eight feet wide and ninety-eight feet long, had only the interior space of a medium-sized house for cargo, crew, and 154 passengers.
to meet up at Millican, the northernmost railroad station of the Houston and Texas Central Railway, in Bra-zos County. None of these Texans had ever ridden on a train before. In order to conserve money the group rented a baggage car that could carry the families and their belongings. Although less than comfortable, the baggage car fit the bill. The trip to Houston was cold, miserable and almost unbearable. After a short stop, the train proceeded to Galveston, which took the rest of the night. That morning they arrived in Galveston. These colonists had set up a tent city on the beach while awaiting other colonists to join them, thus negating the need for hotels or boarding houses.
Billy, Fannie, Othniel and the rest of the family were not part of the group that took the train, they, instead covered the distance from Waco to Galveston in covered wagons and on horseback. By mid-December, they along with the other extended families arrived in Galveston and joined the others who had arrived earlier, on the beach.
Altogether there were twenty-four families in the emigrant group with Mr. Weaver (known as Parson) being the oldest at 72 years of age. The average age was thirty three. There were twenty-seven women, sixty child-ren under 18, and sixty-seven men, with twenty-two being bachelors, of which most were former Conf-ederates. Many were small farmers, but there was a good many professional people represented.
After many delays in New Orleans, on December 22, 1866, the Derby left for Galveston with her crew of ten. Captain Causse was in charge, sailing under the British flag. He arrived in Galveston on January 8, 1867 which provided guarded optimism for those settlers still encamped on the beach.
The condition of the ship was brought to attention of the Port officials; and after some repairs were made. Unfortunately, there were still several small leaks that were not adequately remedied which will play a role later on in the trip. The ever-crooked Union Port Authority in Galveston forced another payment from the emigrants before the ship was cleared to go. After cramming everything they could on the little ship, every-one finally boarded.
The ship with its 150 odd people, sailed up the coast past New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. The first day after the Derby has left the yellow waters of the Delta, it sailed on a Southeast course. The second day out from the Crescent City, the winds became baffling and variable, and continued that way until February 8, when they became calm. The brig became virtually adrift, moving only as fast as the Gulf Stream would take it. As the ship sailed closer to Cuba, the breezes picked up and shipboard life became routine... with the pas-sengers basking in the warm sun, or trying to learn Portuguese from Mr. McMullen.
On February 9, there was no inkling that any problems might be encountered. By mid-afternoon, the wel-comed breezes turned into a high wind as a squall line bore down on the Derby from the northwest. As the norther hit, the sea quickly assumed the proportions of a tropical storm. With great difficulty, the Captain held the wheel. After dark, the fury of the storm increased. By 9 pm the yardarms were touching the water. A small leak that had been apparent since the onset of the trip worsened. Water poured from a crack, adding depth to that which had spilled below deck from the open hatches. Some of the passengers took to manning manual pumps. By 4 am one of the passengers on deck saw the rocks of Cuba no more than 1000 yards away. The Derby struck a reef. All the passengers rushed to the central salon while it was discovered that the crew was trying to lower one of only two life boat to escape. The crew quickly changed their minds when the lead-ers of the Texans, who had ordered them to stop, reinforced their request with drawn revolvers.
The huge waves continued to pound the ship against the rocks. She was taking on water rapidly and seemed to be sinking fast. The passengers and crew thought that all hope was lost when a gigantic wave carried the Derby pell-mell towards the rocky shore, dropping the ship as if it were a toy almost on the beach – solidly wedged between boulders. Thankfully the ship held together. Remarkably, the only injury was to Mr. C. A. Crawley, formerly of Fairfield Texas, who was thrown off of a table where he had been sleeping and broke his collarbone.
Obviously, the wreck of the Derby necessitated a new assessment by all as to the future course of action.
Of immediate concern was the abandonment of the ship. With great difficulty, the passengers and most of the water-logged possessions were safely unloaded and taken to the beach. Although the wreck had occurred on a desolate shore with no dwellings in sight, persons who lived nearby soon appeared and spread the word to the nearby settlement of Plaza de Banes of the fate of the Derby and two other ships that had also been wrecked during the storm, one carrying 500 Chinese laborers, miraculously suffering the loss of only one life.
From family notes as related by his son, Fleet Gill:
"One night Pa was one of the men on watch and they caught a Cuban carrying off their belongings. They knew they were supposed to turn him over to the authorities, but the man begged so piteously because under Cuban law he’d be thrown into a dungeon for 4 or 5 years. Pa and the other man guarding the pri-soner talked it over and decided to let him escape. They pretended to be asleep and the prisoner slipped away. Immediately they “Discovered” him to be missing, so the other guard pretended to shoot at him so he would run faster. They found the prisoner dead, where one shot had accidentally reached him. Soldiers came and investigated, trying to find out who actually killed him. But no one except Pa knew for sure that they hadn’t. Pa hadn’t fired his gun, so he hid in the ship until the soldiers were gone so he wouldn’t have to swear a lie about the incident."
In another case or perhaps the same one in a different version: Cubans had begun to gather near the ship and some had started carrying away belongings that had floated away from the raft. As the colonists watched, one of the Cubans came up to the side of the ship, grabbed an armload of goods, and scampered away. Jess Wright leaned over the side and pumped three bullets into the man at a distance of sixty feet. The rest of the crowd on the shore scattered at the crack of the gun. Wright's hasty action was not well-received by the Cuban authorities, and had it not been for the intercession of Confederates in Cuba, who had made friends with government officials there, Wright would probably have been marched against a firing squad wall.
It was now up to Mr. McMullan to try to resolve this very unfortunate situation. On February 22, he arrived at the Brazilian Embassy in Havana. He eventually found his way to New York on February 18th. He had vir-tually no money and had been advanced some funds from acquaintances. What money he did have was lost in the ship wreck.
After much discussion, the Brazilian Consul in New York agreed to provide assistance to the stranded group.
While all the negotiations and arrangements were being made in New York, the colonists were still being treated By Juan Vermay, described by the col- onists as “The noblest of men”. He personally went to Havana to raise money for the group of stranded emigrants.
The good news for the colonists was that about three-quarters of their supplies and baggage were salvageable.
While in New York, with the help of the Brazilian Consul, McMullen was able to secure the Collins Hotel in that city for his group of Texans. He also was able to arrange transport for his group to travel to New York in order to catch yet still another steamer for Rio. Through the ever generous Juan Vermay, the group was transported to the nearest train station for the next leg of their odyssey to Havana.
After the thirty-mile train trip to Havana the Texans were set up in their new temporary housing provided by the Brazilian government. The citizens of Havana, aware of the plight of the group offered a widespread as-sortment of aid; including clothes, food and money. To this, the Texans were most grateful. A special thanks was given to Juan Vermay who had put up the entire group at no cost for almost a month.
On March 13, the side-wheel steamer, Mariposa arrived in Havana. Unfortunately, most of the stateroom on that ship were already taken so the majority of the group had to settle for steerage. Again, the weather was not on the side of the Texans as the ship ran into storm after storm, finally having to put in at Norfolk for four days where at least one family said enough is enough. That was the William B. Nettle family. They decided that it was preferable to deal with Yankees in Texas than to get back on a ship. From the deck the passengers could see Fortress Monroe, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was being held in a cell. They cheered and yelled, but were too far away for President Davis to hear them.
Due to the storms, and the delay that they had caused, the ship that had been procured for the colonists “Merrimac” in New York, sailed without them to Rio. Instead, the colonists found themselves still stranded at Fortress Monroe in Virginia. Finally on March 26, the Mariposa arrived in New York.
The travelers were soon ensconced at the Collins Hotel on Canal Street in New York City, for a month-long wait for passage to Brazil. While in New York, the southerners were warmly welcomed by ex-Confederates who had moved there, and in newspapers covered their arrival. Generally speaking, they looked to be in pretty good shape, considering what they had gone through. The Collins Hotel was at best adequate. All am-enities had been removed including furniture by the owner. At least the old hotel kept the group warm and dry in the freezing weather. Not having winter clothes, the colonists were forced to don several sets of clothes for warmth with the best set on top. The majority of the men proudly wore their uniforms of Confederate gray. Assistance finally arrived from sympathetic New Yorkers, especially from former Confederate , as a result of an appeal in the New York Times. The Methodist Church proved particularly helpful.
Fresh from his scrape with the Cuban law, "Cowboy" Jess Wright once again found cause to draw his guns. His hunting dogs, who had miraculously survived the wreck of the Derby, were stolen from the docks where the Mariposa had berthed; so, strapping on his six-shooters, he stalked the thieves through the streets of the big city. His method was simple and direct, he whistled for the dogs as he tramped up and down the side-walks. Finally, in front of a saloon he whistled again and immediately heard the two hounds begin to howl. The gray-clad westerner, like the fearless troops at Gettysburg, pulled out both pistols and charged. He slammed through the swinging doors and pointed the guns, demanding the animals. He got them with little difficulty. This is not the last time we will see Mr. Jess Wright.
The Texans planned to leave New York for Rio De Janeiro on the steamer North America on April 22. The McMullen group was to be joined by a couple of other Confederate emigrant groups including that of Dr. James McFadden Gaston of South Carolina with over one hundred emigrants, that were also heading south to Brazil. A Mr. O'Reilly, a young Irishman .whose first name has not been found in any accounts of the colony, joined the McMullan party in New York City. He was looking for adventure, and, after arrival in Rio de Janeiro, he and another young man named Dillard, joined the Brazilian Army to fight against Paraguay in order to collect the bonus offered by the government. At the front, however, both men deserted and joined the Paraguayans to collect another bonus. They were later captured by the Brazilians, court-martialed and shot. Mr. Dillard, first name also unknown, was part of the original McMullan group and had sailed on the Derby, meeting up with Mr. O'Reilly in New York.
The prospect for a pleasant journey south aboard the North America seemed dim. Even though the ship was one of the best and largest steamships on the South America run, it was renowned for its lack of courtesy, service or comfort - especially for those passengers stuck in steerage where, unfortunately, most of the ex-confederates were berthed.
The trip south was relatively uneventful, however, when the ship pulled into the port at Rio, it collided with another ship, causing a large hole in the bow. To stem the large flow of water that was pouring into the hold, the crew rigged up a temporary patch consisting of a large sail. The emigrants could not wait to get off. After processing by port authorities, the colonists received instructions to proceed to the so-called Emigrant Hotel, also called the Government House, which had been converted into temporary quarters for the expected arrivals from the United States.
The McMullen group only stayed a couple of days in Rio, as on May 25, they boarded the Marmiam and head-ed south towards Sao Paulo in route to their final destination, Igaupe, the nearest town to their new land grants.
Unfortunately for the Texans, arrangements for housing had not been made and the group was not aware that the next small steamer to steam up river would not be available for at least a month. A large house was scoured up, but the remainder of the group had to settle for a tent city in the street. The entire group was now virtually destitute and were on the brink of starvation, being reduced to bananas and water. For-
tunately the Brazilian government came through through in time with provisions. The donation of food supplies increased speculation among the colonists that before long additional support, including tools, and perhaps, even money, would be forthcoming.
By the time the steamer was available to begin the shuttle of the colonists up the Ribeira de Iguape, all were ready and anxious to go. Finally the promised land appeared to be a reality.
All would be surprised to learn that the colony lands were indeed large -- probably larger than McMullan or the officials in Brazil anticipated. The previously unchartered headwaters of the Sao Lourenco River and the lands between Peruibe on the coast and Conceicao, all previously ceded to McMullan, were found to contain over 53 square leagues, or nearly 500 square miles, an area half the size of Rhode Island.
As a dark and gloomy morning appeared on June 8, the situation was un- changed. The bar held the steamer tight. The craft had to be freed, never-the- less, and to do so, all the able-bodied men climbed into the watery sand and pushed time and time again on the boat's stern as the little steam engine revved to maximum speed. Finally, the vessel moved, and the men crawled back on board, tired, but anxious to continue. They did not guess that the boat would become stranded again two hours later, and the frustrating procedure would have to be repeated. Their journey continued and on June 9 the steamboat pulled ashore and its passengers dis-embarked. They had come as far as was safe for the steamer and would continue in two large wooden dugout canoes that were expected from settlements upriver. The canoes did arrive and the next morning the Texans continued up the Ribeira under misty, cloudy skies. One settler grumbled "Only mud and water everywhere."
The group traveled four more days and finally entered the mouth of the Juquia River on June 16, a welcome sign, for that meant they were close to the “Government House” constructed for the colonists at Morro Ro-dondo, which was The McMullan property. They arrived on the 18th and found that the house was in bad repair and generally disagreeable. William Bowen, a close friend of McMullan had already been in the area a year. He took the ill Mr. McMullan to his own home and put him to bed. He then met with all the other travelers to see what plans needed to be made.
Late in the morning of June 19, Billy Bud Gill, who had left the rest of the colonists at Iguape, including his then pregnant wife Fannie, to investigate other available lands further into the interior of Brazil, arrived at Morro Rodondo overland from Campinas, a prospering town to the north of the village of Sao Paulo. Al-though no detailed findings seem to have been noted, a man named Tully reported that he and Gill inves-tigated properties at Soracaha due north of Morro Rodondo on the Estrada Real. Gill described the property as mountainous but rich, and stated that he had been offered 18,000 coffee trees and 9,000 acres of land by a Colonel White for $6,000.00. Upon completion of the reports by Gill and Tully, fourteen men left by canoe for the upper Sao Lourenco.
From family notes as related by Fleet Gill:
"Pa, being such a good “walker,” was chosen to help select a site for their new home along with another young man. They walked around 1000 miles up the Amazon River looking for a place to settle. The two men selected 3 places from which a final choice was to be made. The first was Santa Rem; 100 miles further was another site, west of San Paula. Here they left their canoes and had to travel across country; the site they finally selected was named “America Villa.”
The men had to travel only six miles up the river before they reached the McMullan's grant, which was pro-nounced “nothing extra, clay and sand.” In general, the more they traveled up river, the more pessimistic they became. They passed one large coffee plantation, which was decaying. All of the leaves on the trees were either dead or dying. It was probable that at this point the men were starting to question the decision on the selection of lands.
Fortunately, after they reached the main junction of the Sao Lourenco with the Itariri, the prospects quickly improved. By June 26, the previous misgivings had completely turned around as the region was described as a beautiful valley capable of supporting at least 800 families, with plenty of room for everyone. The stage was now set for the remainder of the colonists to come up river to the Sao Lourenco’s tributaries. By the end of June, the last contingent of Americans prepared to leave Iguape for “El Dorado” as the McMullan colony was by then called.
At Iguape, the colonists boarded a steamer for the trip up river. After a full day’s ride, the steamer came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the river. As none of the colonists could speak Portuguese, they were unable to question the boatmen as to the reason for their halt. The answer came quickly when three large dugout ca-noes pulled up alongside the steamer. Two of the canoes were reserved for the women, children, and bag-gage, while the third one was reserved for the men. The coming of the night brought a cold, chilling rain. Another miserable boat trip awaited them. In pitch dark blackness on a large unfamiliar river, the canoes made there way. The sky, every once in a while, was lit up by lightning. Thoroughly soaked, the canoes car-rying the women and children, arrived at a small dock around midnight. There they met an Englishman, Clement H. Wilmot, as well as several men of the McMullan party, who had arrived on an earlier canoe. The men helped the wet and bedraggled emigrants up a long slippery path to the home of a local rice planter. Wilmot took them to a large storage building filled with rice. He told the women to cover their children’s heads, especially their ears then crawl into the rice. All slept soundly and emerged “dry as powder” the next morning.
The canoe carrying the men missed the small pier in the rain and darkness and ended up docking a short distance away, where they found a small hut. Unlike the women, they were wet and tired had no place to sleep. They built a fire and hoped that their families fared better.
The next morning dawned clear and bright. The men made their way back down to the Rice Plantation where they found their families fared a lot better than they did. After a warm meal, all prepared to climb back into the canoes for the last leg of the trip. Family by family left in canoes for the trip up river. One family, the Radcliffs, had to make a stop when Mrs. Radcliff, long expectant, gave birth. This was the first child born in Brazil from the McMullan party. Their little daughter was named Maude. After a few more stops the family groups reached their destination : Morro Rodondo, where there had been previously built a “Government House” The large building was constructed of palm slats, set up “picket fashion” three inches apart, then covered with palm branches. The barracks-type dwelling had no inside divisions, no windows, and a door at each end. It hardly represented a welcome sight but was a lot better than no housing at all. It was not large enough to accommodate all of the group, so the ones not able to fit in, set up tents for their temporary stay. Within days, the colonists believed, all would be able to leave to go up river to select their own plots of land.
The Brazilian government made arrangements for food. A commissary was constructed, and each family drew foodstuffs on a regular basis, just like soldiers in camp. Without the support of the Brazilians, the situation would have become dire indeed.
Delays were inevitable, including the untimely, yet unexpected death of the leader of the colony, Frank Mc-Mullan. He had suffered from the effects of tuberculosis for years and finally succumbed on September 29, in Iguape. Most of the Texans had come back to Iguape for the final days and after McMullan’s death some would not return up river to the colony. Those not returning, decided to stay in more populated areas such as Sao Paolo and Campinas. The news of McMullan’s death was widely spread, both in Brazil and in the United States…South and North. McMullan’s burial presented challenges as Brazil was a Roman Catholic country and the only cemetery in Iguape was Catholic, which refused to bury the Protestant American. The plight soon became known, and a German immigrant stood up and offered his “backyard” for a burial site. The family, having no other options thankfully accepted the offer.
Many of the colonists did go back to the headwaters of the Sao Lourenco. But some, as early as June , 1867, located lands within the colony site for their own use. Many difficulties were encountered on the river, particularly waterfalls and snags, which prevented easy access by water. Perhaps the worst of these was at the junction of the Sao Lourenco and the Itariri, where three huge waterfalls slowed progress. In the main channel, the water fell straight down about twenty feet with terrible force. However, a side stream offered a gradual descent over rocks and boulders for over one hundred yards, with waters foaming along between, leaving the rock bare. The wooden canoes, too heavy for portage, had to be pushed, pulled, and lifted with poles to get up each fall. The slightest mistake meant certain death. In the mean time, the boat had to be lifted and forced by the men seemingly beyond human power. Baggage had to be carried from boulder to boulder in jumps.
The main tributaries that fed into the Itariri – The Peixe, the Guambaha, the Azeite, and the Ariado, all sup-plied huge amounts of cold, clear water to the Itariri and the Sao Lourenco. On these four streams, the Mc-Mullan colonists settled. In their movement into the region they first encountered the Peixi, so called because of the large number of fish it harbored. The second was the Guanhanha, or “land without evil,” and the third was the Azeite, or “River of oil.” The Ariado, like the others, was enveloped by thick, green forests, leopards, and seemed to be the “outer limits” to the Texans, who had never seen vegetation so dense.
On the Ariado settled the Alfred I. Smith family as did William Bowen and his family. Nelson Tarver and his family settled on a little branch of the Ariado near the junction of the main river, the Azeiti. On the Guam-hanha, the stream west of the Ariado, several American families found themselves homes. Parson E. H. Quillin lived there, as did the Fielder brothers, the Greens, and the Beasleys. Bachelor William Hargrove built a house on the river bank. Jesse Wright and his family, as well as his infamous hounds, also found a home on the Guamhanha. Othniel Weaver and his family, including Billy Bud and Fannie Gill, decided to homestead on the Peixe River, They planted crops and found that the ground was so fertile that two sweet potato slips would cover a whole acre. The family stayed 3 years. Two children were born in Brazil: Willie Antonio and Charlie Tillman. Charlie Tillman was named for Charlie Tillman who was the Democrat, Gov-ernor of South Carolina and running for President of the United States. (This information was in family notes, but unfortunately, is just a tradition. The South Carolina Governor (Tillman) was in office years later and was only 21 years old in 1867 – not having made a name for himself yet. Also his name was Benjamin, not Charles) Charlie died and was buried in Brazil. (From the manifest of the British Lion we see that there is listed an infant, less than a year old, named Charles Gill with the Gill-Weaver family. It could be that the manifest was written in advance of sailing and that Charlie had died prior to sailing and was in fact buried in Brazil. Charlie was not listed on the Texas Census in 1870 taken a year later) The Garners and the Cooks also became neighbors of the Weavers, settling on the Peixi. Several others also settled on the Peixi River, but no record has been found as to who they were.
The general sense of well-being that existed on the colony lands camouflaged a power struggle that had been developing since Frank McMullan’s death. After much wrangling between the two parties involved, a letter was drafted to the Brazilian Secretary of Agriculture about the situation. Among the sixteen sig natories on the letter included: Othniel Weaver, Daniel Weaver, Riley Weaver and William A. Gill (Billy Bud).
More troubles occurred when unexplainably, the government food supply was shut off. An appeal for assis-tance was made to the government which did result in money being sent to the Mayor of Iguape, but the items purchased and sent up river were of very poor quality. The meat was spoiled and inedible. The flour proved to be so bad that it was used only as food for the pigs. No coffee or sugar was supplied.
Earlier requests to the government for a road to be built was finally approved but it was virtually too late for the struggling colonists. As crops matured and most of it in decent condition there were absolutely no buyers or a reasonable way to get it to market. Desperate, the farmers sold for a pittance or gave away months of hard labor. For many, this became the last straw, and they packed their bags and returned to Iauape, Rio, or the United States. On November 7, the four-member George A. Linn family boarded the steamer Ella S. Thayer for New Orleans.
At this point, clearly the colony was falling apart. This Brazilian adventure took on a new aspect for all con-cerned. The emigrants attempted to settle on colony lands, but were delayed by the sickness and death of their leader, Frank McMullan. The power struggle that developed within the colony only served to split the colony. The exhaustion of money and food supplies was a final blow. When the road was not completed and crops found no markets, there was no doubt in the minds of most colonists that, to survive, they would have to leave the Sao Lourenco and go to a region more suited to their experience. Most of the Texans did not abandon their fervent dreams for an exciting new life in an unexplored new land.
By early 1869 many of the colonists began moving out to other more suitable areas which were more popu-lated and offered more opportunity, mainly to the area of Santa Barbara and its sister city Americana. Some, however, returned to the United States, including the Weavers, Garlington, and Billy Bud with Fannie and child.
Jeff Wright, with the hounds, found himself moving to Retiro, near the communities of Americana and Santa Barbara.. He was a neighbor of one of the most successful and prosperous Confederados in that area, Mr. Harvey Hall. Mr. Hall was a wealthy plantation owner from Columbus, Georgia who in 1866 sold all his possessions and land for 10 cents to the dollar and moved to Brazil to start over. Through hardwork and perseverance, he succeeded in creating a duplicate plantation and plantation home on the Capivari River, near Americana. Crowning the estate was a spacious, typical Old South mansion, a restful respite for guests and travelers. Mr. Hall became very successful, bringing in other fellow Geor- gians by newspaper adver-tisements, such as blacksmiths, house builders, furniture and wagon makers to join the colony there.
One day in October, 1877, eleven years after he had come down to this strange land, he was shot dead by Jess Wright, the Texas Cowboy, in a field near his home. There were no witnesses, but it was surmised that the shooting had followed an argument between the two men. An apparent feud between the two men came to a climax over Hall's shooting one of the cowboy's mule who had wandered into Hall's plantation and was tram-pling the cotton fields. In a rage Wright approached Hall and demanded satisfaction. Within minutes Hall lay dead.
After saying a quick goodbye to his wife and family. Wright fled the colony. Before nightfall a posse of Con-federados an Brazilian State Guard came looking for him, but Wright had caught a ride on a passing train and was in the port city of Santos, one hundred miles away, by the next morning. From there he caught a ship to New Orleans, safely out of reach. We do not know if he took his hounds with him. Both families were prominent. The Wrights had their friends and the Halls had theirs, and the ugly incident marred relation-ships within the colony for years to come. Things were especially bad for those who helped Mrs. Wright and the children go to Texas to join her fugitive husband, now employed as a lawman. The belief was that Jess had learned to use his six-shooter too well during the Civil War. Charlie Hall, son of the deceased, plan- ned to go to Texas and hunt down Mr. Wright and settle the score. Cooler heads prevailed and he was dissuaded by his younger brother and the matter was eventually dropped.
Charlie Hall, his son, died in 1910 and the old home place remained in the family until 1917 when his widow sold it to a wealthy pharmacist in Americana. It was turned into a school, and is still in operation today.
By mid-May families started to give up and leave. The three members of the John Baxter family, without money and desperate, were allowed to return to the United States on the U. S. Warship Guerriere on May 31, 1969. On September 6 of the same year, The Gills, Weavers and Garlingtons boarded the British Lion at Rio de Janeiro, en route to New Orleans.
Brigantine, two-masted sailing ship with square rigging on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigging on the mainmast. The term originated with the two-masted ships, also powered by oars, on which pirates, or sea brigands, terrorized the Mediterranean in the 16th century. In northern European waters the brigantine became purely a sailing ship. Its gaff-rigged mainsail dist-inguished it from the completely square-rigged brig, though the two terms came to be used interchangeably. For example, brigan-tines with square topsails above the gaffed mainsail were called true brigan-tines, whereas those with no square sails at all on the mainmast were called herma-phrodite brigs or brig-schooners.
mother, Nancy two of his sisters, Lou and Victoria, and a brother- in-law. (Some from Waco and Bosqueville). By the standard of the time, the passengers were relatively prosperous. They had sufficient funds to charter a ship and outfit it for the voyage at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. To modify the Derby for the emigrants, the settlers had had additional bunks, partitions, living accommo-dations constructed on the vessel, but even so, space and comfort were at a premium. The pas-sageway between the living quarters were so narrow that only one person could move through at a time. A hole had been cut in the forward cabin to allow air to enter the below decks sleeping quarters.
The cargo the the settlers carried with them was valued at twenty-eight thousand dollars. They took along seeds, plows, and other agricultural imple-ments, wagons, and machinery. Several cotton gins and gristmills and metal forging equipment added considerable weight to the cargo. They carried their firearms, cats and hunting dogs as well. To fit such extensive cargo and so many passengers into the ship had required careful planning. The Derby, which was twenty-eight feet wide and ninety-eight feet long, had only the interior space of a medium-sized house for cargo, crew, and 154 passengers.
Passage was paid by the group in advance with a promise that the Brazilian government would reimburse them upon arrival, as was the agreent bet- ween McMullen and the Brazilians.
The port of Galveston presented its own special problems. Washington D.C. had sent General Sheridan down to Texas to prevent Confederates from crossing the Mexican border and setting up a government-in-exile. He had done his job so well that even the French army and its Foreign Legion, there to protect Maximilion, had pulled back from
the border, fearful of causing an international incident. Sheridan's legacy remained in Galveston, a city of looted stores, as anarchic and burned-out-looking as any city in the South. There, a bureau-cratic port authority was making passage out of Galveston Harbor very difficult for Confederates seeking to leave, even though the hos- tilities had ended over a year earlier, when the last Confederate warship had sur-rendered.
The Derby was scheduled to leave from the port of Galveston.
Colonists from central Texas made their plans. Billy Budd gave over his share of his father's estate to his siblings, his father having just passed away earlier in 1866. To Billy and Fannie, this must have been seen as a great adventure. Remember, he was only 23 and Fannie was 16. After a preliminary get-together many of the would-be immigrants planned
The small ship anchored "In the Stream" just north of the island proper, near the docks. McMullen and the other colonists immediately began making arrangements to get on board. A committee of the older men secured food, supplies, and two barrels of kraut to tide them over until they reached Brazil. The emigrants checked their baggage one last time, and then began to dismantle the little tent city prior to boarding the ship.
Galveston Beach 1867
Don Juan Vermay, a wealthy brick and tile manufacturer, as well as a large plantation owner, heard of the tragedy of the Derby and moved quickly to provide assis-tance. He accommodated the large group at his hac-ienda, which was on the outskirts of Guanajay --- about fifteen mile from the wreck site --- in grand style until the situation could be stabilized.
Many of the male passen-gers stayed on the beach with the baggage and sal-vaged equipment to guard against looting by the local populace. There were a few instances of looting, with Billy Budd being in the middle of one incident.
Guanajay, Artemisa, Cuba - about halfway between Bahia Honda and Havana
USS Guerriere - U.S. Navy ship - South Atlantic Fleet Mid 1860's
Java Class Screw Sloop:
Laid down in 1864 at Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Boston, MA.
Hulls designed by Delano and engines by Isherwood
Built of unseasoned wood and with diagonal iron bracing and decayed quickly
Ship rigged with two funnels
Launched, 9 September 1865
Commissioned USS Guerriere, 21 May 1867, CDR. Thomas Corbin, in command
USS Guerriere was assigned as flagship of the South Atlantic from 1867 to 17 June 1869
Decommissioned, 29 July 1869, at New York Navy Yard
Recommissioned, 10 August 1870, at New York
Assigned to transported the body of the late Admiral David G. Farragut from Portsmouth, N. H. to New York in September 1870
Assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron in December 1870
Decommissioned, and laid up in ordinary, 22 March 1872, at New York Navy Yard
Sold 12 December 1872, at New York Navy Yard to D. Buchler of New York
Final Disposition, fate unknown
On June 8, about 27 the first contingent of former Texans including the now gravely ill McMullan boarded a dilapidated, makeshift river steamer to make the first leg of the trip. By 8:00 a.m. they had left Iguape as a damp fog covered the low marshlands along the Ribeira's banks. It was a dismal beginning for a long, difficult trip. The steamboat was slow, averaging only about four knots, and the Americans stood at the rail, straining to see the countryside. Low trees and "capim" grass dotted the shoreline, and blue cranes and plovers were seen frequently on the sandbars that appeared from nowhere on the surface of the water. Little change in scenery occurred during the long day, and all looked forward to docking and getting a good night's rest. But, as luck would have it, about 6:00 p.m. the steamer was grounded , stuck on an unseen sandbar in mid-river. Every attempt was made to free the craft, but the effort was to no-avail. The passengers and crew would spend the night on board.
Ribeira de Iguape
The now generally poor Texans could find no way to get from the docks to the Government House other than by walking, lugging their baggage with them. The hotel was actually a very large con-verted mansion set upon very beautiful grounds. They were very fine accommodations, after all that the group had been through. On Sunday morning, May 23, the colonists received news that the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro himself, was coming to the hotel to visit with the new arrivals. A frenzied effort was made to be sure that every-thing was perfect and they were all dressed in their best clothes to greet their new ruler. It was a spectacular afternoon ending with all the em-igrants throwing their hats in the air and shouting "Viva, Viva Dom Pedro Segunda". For many, this was the culmination of months of misery, pain and worry.
Despite the tribulations, time passed quickly for the colonists in Iguape, perhaps because for the first time they could see their new country and discuss the home they were going to, with a belief that they would actually be there, before many more days were to pass. For many, the realization that it would be nec- essary to speak Portuguese encouraged at-tempts to learn the scores of nouns, verbs, and adjectives that are essential to understanding. Others busied themselves in meeting mer-chants, determining markets for crops, and loca-ting sources for seed and equipment. Women attempted to adjust to the new met-hods of cooking as well as get acquainted with the new foods with which they were totally unfamiliar.
Modern Day Photo of the 'Governmen House" in Rio provided by Dom PedrII "Cassa de Saude"
Off to Brazil
By August, 1866, Frank McMullen who had organized the planned colony in Brazil had recruited prospective colonists from central Texas. Among other prominent families, Othniel Weaver, the patriarch, decided that he too would leave. It is unclear what was transpiring in Waco at that time, but Othniel, Daniel, his son, Riley, his nephew, Sarah Garlington, his daughter, Allen Garlington, his grandson, and Fannie Garlington Gill, his granddaughter (along with her husband, Billy Bud) all decided to make the journey to the new colony ten-tatively named "New Texas". It is not clear why Sarah’s other child, Nancy, did not make the move. She was about fourteen in 1866, but was married to James G. Stanley on October 1st, 1868 back in Drew County, Arkansas when her mother and siblings were in Brazil.
McMullan had secured the English Brig Derby for $7,50.00. It was to be outfit-ted for the transport of 150 colonists. The Derby, was rated at 213 tons and did provide enough space for at least 30 families, as well as baggage and moderate amounts of farm equipment and implements. It normally carried a crew of eight to ten men and was commanded by Captain Alexander Causse. (Kass)
McMullan had gathered one hundred forty-six Tex-ans and eight Louisianians – Plantation owners and their families, and their entourage – to make the journey. Among the group were McMullan’s
Manifest of the British Lion sailing from Rio to New Orleans - Listing the Weaver - Gill - Garlington Clan
September 6, 1869
Approximate location of the McMullan colony
JESSE R. WRIGHT
WEAVER - GARLINGTON -GILL HOMESTEAD.
ALDRED I. SMITH HOMESTEAD
Drawing of the Wickham homestead at Santerem - Typical first home style
Two reasons influenced Billy Bud's decision to return to Texas. The first was letters he received from his sisters. After his father died, he had signed his part of the estate over to them so they could get an education. His sister Harriett had married Whitfield (Pony) Scott, a lawyer, and after the Gills went to Brazil, Pony had disabilities removed so all the girls could sign papers about the estate. The girls signed whatever he asked them to, not knowing they were signing all they had over to him. The girls finally wrote Billy and told him they’d thought they had some property when their father died, but had learned that they had nothing at all. It was too late to recover any of it. Scott had nothing when he married Harriett Gill, but got wealthy on the Gill property and lived to be a “big man” around Kerrville.
From family notes as related by Fleet Gill:
“The other reason was the death of Billy’s 18 year-old brother, Charles, who had been killed, shot in cold blood. Billy decided he was needed in Texas. His Mother had written, begging him to return too. Pa’s sister Kate married Oakley, Sister Laura married Garrett, and Marie (Marion) married Phil Stevenson and they separated."
When the family first came back from Brazil they moved to Waco - at Bosqueville Plantation - fall of 1870. Uncle Gene was born here December 14, 1870. Carl was born at Bosqueville about 1873, died when he was about 16.
Willie was burned to death after the family returned to Texas. He was about six years old - Uncle Gene said he could remember seeing it happen. Willie was trying to start a fire with coal oil, caught fire and burned to death. This happened at Comanche. They left Willie and told him to be sure and keep a good fire in the big range cook stove. Willie poured kerosene on the fire - it exploded. Uncle Gene was right behind him - tried to help him - he ran, and a hired man caught him. They put out the fire. A Weaver cousin rushed to his aid, too, but unfortunately, Willie was too badly burned and died."
By 1870, all of the original McMullan colonists had moved off the land grant on the Sao Lourenco River. As closely as may be determined, sixty-four of the ninety-six persons, who were on colony lands in November, 1867, remained in Brazil; documentation exists that thirty-two of those listed on the Bowen cen- sus had returned to the United States. Of the total of 154 persons who boarded the Derby in Galveston, ninety-two were probably in Brazil in 1870. Twelve of the total number of colonists are not accounted for, and at least two were dead by that date. Nine of the 154 Derby passengers had returned to the United States, before the colonists, as a whole arrived in Brazil, On the basis of these figures, 63 percent of the Americans who arrived in Brazil in 1867 with the McMullan emigrants were still in the empire in 1870.
The three years after the arrival of the McMullan colonists in Brazil were critical ones for the emigrants, who actually settled on colony lands. They learned, at least to some extent, to overcome the problems of a prim-itive society. All of the colonists, whether or not they went to the lands on the Sao Lourenco, continued to search for their own elusive Eden. Some did not find it and returned to the United States. Those who moved to Santa Barbara, however, had a good chance for contentment. The little community of Americana offered excellent lands, good transportation for crops, and, perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to live among other former Americans.
As stated earlier, Billy and family moved to Bosqueville, after returning from Brazil. In 1873 the family mov-ed to Comanche County to a homestead and set up a farm. It was located eight miles northeast of the town of Comanche on Rusk Creek. The farm is now the site for Proctor Lake. Fannie, her mother, Sarah Garlington, and two of Billy’s children – a son (Willie) and a daughter (probably Frances, on whom we have no informa-tion), were buried on the hill, just above the lake and the remains were moved to the Buffalo Cemetery one mile north of the home at the time of building the dam where Billy is buried .
From family notes as related by Fleet Gill:
"Pa was a Texas Ranger for 2½ years. He kept a diary of his entire service, but it was lost in the Stam-ford area when Uncle Fleet moved from there. There were 40 men in Pa’s Ranger Squadron. I William A.Gill, Corporal, Company C, Texas Frontier Battalion. It was through this service that Mama was able to get Grand-ma Gowan her pension, which was granted 20 Feb, 1932 and continued until her death. Such pensions were approved under the Act of March 3, 1927, number 1695247, Indian Wars Pensions, Bureau of Pensions. [Grandma’s Pension was No.1695247 - pension file No XC 2 642 173, William A. Gill, 3072/212B1.])
Pa’s Ranger Company was 40 days on one Bivouac at Ranger Lake, New Mexico. They had one of the big-gest hails in history. The men had no place to hide - nothing to get under - so they held their saddles over their heads for protection. Pa got rheumatism so bad he couldn’t ride - got bad sick and couldn’t be moved from camp. The men wouldn’t go without him, but hat to ride a distance from camp after water. One day they returned with water and found Pa gone. They couldn’t imagine what had happened to him, but a man named Witt Springer had come by in a wagon, found him, loaded him into his wagon and had taken him home.
In 1918 Uncle Fleet and papa (Homer L. Frost) went into a café in Breckenridge. An old white-headed man sitting alone at a table raised up and introduced himself to Uncle Fleet. When he heard Uncle’s name was Gill, he told him that the best friend he ever had was named Gill. He turned out to be Witt Springer, the man that had brought Pa home. Uncle Fleet got to know (& Uncle Gene) all the Springer brothers, Jim, Ned, Witt and John.
Pa was a Democrat and quite an electioneer. Once 2 Yankees, (Capt, John Roach and Ed Royce) decided to waylay him on the road and kill him. They did waylay him & argued and John drew a six-shooter on Pa. Pa opened his knife, exchanging words with them, and John called Pa a liar. Pa jumped at him and swung at his throat took his gun, disarmed the other man, then left them there. They later became the best of friends especially John Roach. Who was one of the best friends Pa ever had. John even changed from a Republican to a Democrat under Pa’s influence."
SITE OF OLD GILL FARM Marker # 4849 Location: From Comanche, take SH 16 NE about 4 miles, then go east on county road about 4 miles, at Old Gill Farm and Family Cemetery, Copperas Creek Park on Proctor Lake City: Comanche vicinity Marker Erected: 1968 Marker Text: Settled 1874 by W. A. Gill (1843-1889), son of W. S. Gill, hero of Battle of San Jacinto. W. A. fought in Civil War and was a Captain in the Texas Rangers. His sons E. V. and Fleet lived here for many years. Remains in this family plot were moved in 1964 to Buffalo Cemetery (1 mile N). (1968)