Live Oak County Historical Commission
Live Oak County Historical Commission

Lillie Ellen Winters, "A Great Lady"

Lillie Ellen Winters


This lady, Lillie Ellen Winters, was of good American stock. Her Great-Grandfather was scout and Revolutionary soldier, Thomas Taylor, killed by the British on January 31, 1782.


 Lillie Ellen was one of thirteen children, and her father, James, was a fighter. His history proved that! He was with General Andrew Jackson at New Orleans and at Talladega, and didn't he come to Texas in 1834 to be with his old friend, Sam Houston and Ben Milam and others who fought for the cause of freedom?


 To be truthful--her mother and father were married in a Fort in Tennessee during a lull in an Indian attack on that fort. She was a true American just like her twelve brothers and sisters. Lillie Ellen—The great lady—was born December 12, 1822.


James and Rhoda lived in the south part of Tennessee and across the southern border in the north part of Alabama lived William A. Cude, Jr. and his wife, Eleanor Long Cude. This couple married August 12, 1821 and had seven children. The two families walked to Texas together.


Lillie Ellen Winters married Thomas Adams, and one son, Taylor Adams, was born to them. Thomas was a blacksmith, he and Lillie Ellen’s brother, James, were partners in the Big Thicket, in a place called Winters’ Bayou. Thomas went off to buy tools or to repair a wagon or both, it is believed he was killed by a band of Indians. He was never seen or heard of again.


It was about this time that Eleanor Cude died. Soon the Winters and Cudes became related. Lillie Ellen Winters Adams married widower, William Cude, and with her one child and his seven it was a good start. But eight pairs of pattering feet wasn’t the stop for this great lady. She, by William Cude, had four sons: Alfred Jack, Willis Franklin, Richard D., and Timothy J. These four were babies when William A. Cude Jr. died August 1, 1847. Alfred Jack was seven and Timothy was one year old. Lillie Ellen sold what she could, traded cattle, sheep, goats, and sold her clock, the one prized possession listed in the 1840 census. She loaded twelve children in a covered wagon and moved to Hallettsville, Texas, and then to Oakville, Texas in Live Oak County.


In Oakville, Lillie Ellen met Charles O. Edwards, a soldier of San Jacinto and son of John Edwards, a former Sheriff who was shot and killed by outlaws. Charles O. Edwards born July 28, 1810, had one brother, Bill, and two sons, Henry and John. Charles was a widower and was now the Sheriff of Live Oak County. Lillie Ellen Winters Adams Cude married this widower with two sons. That made fourteen children. The patter of little feet now reached the stomping stage. But that Great Lady, Lillie Ellen, and that San Jacinto veteran were great ones to enjoy noise and clamor. To this union was born seven children, a total of twenty-one children. I am sure those pattering feet had now reached the point of stampede.


I am sure if that Great Lady, who mothered twenty-one children, if she could come back today, would be proud of the record of her descendants. I know she was a very tickled lady when her step daughter, Sylvania, endearingly called Vaney, married Lillie Ellen’s brother, Benjamin Franklin Winters, and her brother became her step son-in-law. Or when Dorcas, another daughter of William, married another one of her brothers, Willis Winters, and upon his death, determined to make the family ties closer, married Billington Taylor Winters.


I would be remiss today if I did not mention that Lillie Ellen had three brothers, James Washington, William Carvin, and John Frelan Winters who fought with General Sam Houston at San Jacinto….Among those at the defense of San Antonio (Against Vasuquez and Woll) directly kin were Benjamin and G. F. Winters, James, John, and Willis Winters and James Cude.


Lillie Ellen’s great number of relatives in this great State of Texas, while it was still part of Mexico included her twelve brothers and sisters and their spouses, Lavina Bridges, Susan Elroy, Grant Fannin, Peggy Williams, James Jones, Pearcy Tullos, Elizabeth Wier, Jackson Crouch, Sylvania Cude, Dorcas Cude, and Green Berry Crane. Then there was Timothy Cude, who came to Texas with his wife, Serena, and their thirteen children. There was her son, Taylor Adams, and there were her step children of William A. Cude Jr. All of this while, Texas was part of Mexico. Then the four sons of Lillie Ellen and William Cude, Jack, Dick, Will, and Tim, born while Texas was a Republic—By now Lillie Ellen was saying, “ Will, your kids and my kids are fighting our kids!”


Then there were two more step children, Henry Edwards, and John Edwards. Then her seven children by Charles O. Edwards born after Texas became the 28th state. Twenty-one children by Lillie Ellen,--Hence the title, "A Great Lady".


To the great lady I repeat the words of Henry Amiel. “We should be able to detach ourselves from all that is perishable and cling to the eternal and the absolute and enjoy the all else as a loan, as the fruits of an estate without impairing the substance. To worship, to feel, to comprehend, to receive, to give, and to act: This our law, our duty, our happiness, our heaven. The triumph of the Soul over fear of poverty, of suffering, of loneliness and of death. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage. To Lillie Ellen, to the Winters and their kin we pledge all this. I am sure they could, nor would, ask of us any more than this."




Edited excerpts from speech delivered by Elton Cude, great grandson of Lillie Ellen- daughter of Rhoda Creel Beall Winters and James Winters at the Winters Family Reunion in Three Rivers, Texas on Sunday, May 23rd, 1971. The entire speech may be found in the McMullen County History, 20-22.

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