Notes and Documents
"... Willing Never To Go in Another Fight":
The Civil War Correspondence of Rufus King
Felder of Chappell Hill
R UFUS KING FELDER WAS FIFTEEN YEARS OLD WHEN HE ACCOMPANIED HIS
widowed mother to Texas in 1855. The family established itself in
South Carolina before the American Revolution and several branches
were prominent cotton planters in the antebellum era. Judge Gabriel
Felder was the first of the family to move west. He relocated to Washing-
ton County, Texas, in the spring of 1851 and began clearing nearly two
thousand five hundred acres of fertile soil. Jesse Felder brought Judge
Felder's remaining slaves from South Carolina to Texas in 1854. The
186o Census listed Gabriel Felder as the largest slaveholder in Washing-
ton County with one hundred and thirty slaves.Jesse, a Yale graduate and
a former state legislator, was accompanied by his younger brother, Miers,
on the journey. Rufus King's mother sent her family's slaves along with
those ofJudge Felder to begin clearing land she acquired near his hold-
ings. She and her five children moved to Chappell Hill, Texas, in the fol-
lowing year to settle their new plantation. Rufus King grew into manhood
with his older cousin, Miers, who also settled in Chappell Hill.'
*Stephen Chicoine lived in Texas for twenty-five years before moving to Minnesota two years
ago; he and his wife and daughter, both native Texans, retain their love of Texas. Chicoine's sixth
book, a monograph on Civil War GeneralJohn Basil Turchin, will be published by Praeger in the
coming year. This article is an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript, which is a social history
of the period before, during, and after the Civil War, as seen through the microcosm of Chappell
Hill in Washington County. The work is dedicated to the memory of the late Nath Winfield, well-
respected historian of Chappell Hill and a friend of the author. Special thanks to Ladonna Vest
and Judy Winfield of the Chappell Hill Historical Society and to Peggy Fox at the Hill College
Harold B Simpson History Center, Hillsboro, Texas.
Francis W. Johnson, A Hzstory of Texas and Texans, ed. Eugene C. Barker and Ernest William
Wminkler (5 vols.; Chicago: American Historical Society, 1914), IV, 1616-1617; "Gabriel Felder,"
VOL. CVI, NO. 4 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY APRIL 2003
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed May 27, 2015.