What a transformation - from British army deserter to Confederate army commissioned officer! And how literate Horace has become, befitting his officer status. Clearly, Horace became indispensable to his commanding officer, and by all accounts had an exemplary record of service. His regiment was the 13th Texas Volunteers, C Company; he enlisted as a sergeant, and completed his service as a 2nd Lieutenant. After the war, Horace resumed his civilian life with Susana in Texas. They settled in the town of Alleyton where Horace built the first house. Horace himself died in November 1869, aged just 44, from a bowel condition, leaving Susana to a widowhood of some 30 years; she died the 24th of July 1899, having remained in Alleyton for the rest of her life, and was buried in the family cemetery there on the 25th of July.

For information on the descendants of Horatio and Susana we are grateful to Ronald G. ALDIS, my correspondent from 2003. Ronald wanted to know about his English ancestry, and because the necessary research was difficult and lengthy it was not completed until after his death in 2008. Apart from the two sons we already know about from the 1860 Federal census - William Harry and George Robert - there was a third surviving son, Horace F. Two further children, Harriet and Roderick, died young. George Robert ALDIS, born the 23rd of October 1858 in Colorado, Texas, married Lula A. HENDERSON on the 9th of November 1882 in Colorado. Lula was born in 1862 in New Ulm, Austin County, Texas, and she and George had a son, Gilbert Horace (1899-1973), who was the father of Ronald G. ALDIS (1931-2008). George Robert died in 1923, Lula in 1953, both in Houston, and they are buried in the Hollywood Cemetery Houston. Horace F. ALDIS, always referred to, apparently, as “H.F.” or “Uncle Horry”, was a railway locomotive engineer who was killed in 1923 in a train wreck at Frankston, Texas, on the Dallas to Jacksonville line. The story goes that a Mexican boy broke a lock and threw a switch onto a short siding where log trains could load. Uncle Horry, a passenger engineer, died a hero, remaining on the train through the open switch and trying to stop it. The Fireman jumped from the train, which was moving slowly enough when it ran off the end of the track, so that no serious passenger injuries were sustained. But Horace died a hero according to local newspaper reports. His wife, Jessie, lived until the 1950s. She and Horace, together with George and Lula and several other ALDIS descendants, are all buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Houston. Ronald’s father, Gilbert Horace ALDIS, known as “Brick” (1899-1973), married Ruth Victoria HEDGES (1905-1990) who was born in Lake Charles Louisiana. Ronald himself had two sons and five granddaughters.

We know that Horace wrote letters to his mother in England during the 1850s. We know, too, that these letters, or some of them, survived in the family of a sibling of Horace. Fortunately, copies of these letters were made available to Ronald G. ALDIS in America, and he passed on to me information they contained, specifically named relatives, which he thought might assist my searches here. My colleague and I have tried to discover these named relatives, or speculate who ‘Uncle this’ or ‘Aunt that’ might be; and we list our findings here in the hope that they might be of use to family historians researching these various names. Ronald comments that Horace had “beautiful handwriting”, that he wrote an “interesting and ‘newsy’ letter” to his mother, and that he urged his brothers to come to America (“going to fight Turks etc. is not worth getting killed”). There are references to Uncle BAXTER, Aunt COLBY, Aunt WISEMAN, brother Robert, brother John, sister Harriet with whom his mother lived at some stage though she ended up with Robert, Aunt WICKS, Aunt MILLS, and cousins Edward and William. We know, of course, that Horace had a brother Robert, sister Harriet and half-brother John. Some of the following possible connections are included in the accompanying pedigree.

  1. 1. Ann BAXTER’s sister Elizabeth, born 1783, married Matthew WISEMAN in 1810 at Ashwellthorpe.
  2. 2. Their son, Edward WISEMAN, born 1812 at Fundenhall, married Maria NICHOLLS in 1836, and she may have witnessed John ALDERSON’s marriage in 1839 to Mary Ann MIDDLETON.
  3. 3. Edward and John being cousins, this Edward WISEMAN might have been the cousin Edward in the letters.
  4. 4. Another of Ann’s sisters, Mary, born 1785, married Robert WICKS in 1810 at Tharston.
  5. 5. Ann’s half-sister, Martha DYE, born 1801, married William MILES in 1829 (Could MILES be MILLS?). They had a son William who could be the ‘cousin William’ mentioned in the letters.
  6. 6. Ann’s half-sister, Charlotte DYE, born 1799, married John ELBY in 1822, and they had a son, William, born 1823, who married Phoebe BECKETT in 1847 at Norwich. A Timothy BECKETT witnessed both of the marriages of Charlotte BUNN and Charlotte BAXTER.
  7. 7. The Tivetshall Quaker marriage of Daniel ALDIS and Mary DIX was witnessed by, among others, Caleb COLBY snr. Caleb COLBY jnr., and Hannah COLBY. Caleb snr. was
    a Tivetshall linen weaver who took on apprentices 1780-1790, while Caleb jnr. married to Hannah was a farmer in Pulham.
  8. 8. Robert BAXTER, father of Ann BAXTER, who died in 1790 probably had a brother John, baptised 1763 also in Stratton St. Michael, who was the executor of the Will of Benjamin ALDIS, surgeon of Wacton, in 1798. Their parents, Robert and Ann BAXTER, also had two daughters, Ann born 1749/1750 and Mary born 1756.
  9. 9. The Elizabeth BAXTER who married Matthew WISEMAN in 1810 appears in the 1841 census on Norwich Saxlingham Nethergate. She was also possibly a beneficiary in the Will of John ALDIS, gentleman of Norwich and sheriff of Norwich, which was proved in 1819. John was buried 5 April 1819 aged 66 in Saxlingham Nethergate. He also has a memorial inscription.


In 1999 I was contacted by a lady in Texas, America, enquiring about her family roots in England. Since I had little relevant information at the time, our correspondence did not progress. Some four years later, I was contacted by another Texan, Ronald G. ALDIS, seeking information about his family’s English ancestry. From the limited information provided by both correspondents, it was clear to me that they were closely related, though neither knew the other. So I immediately put them in touch with each other so that they could, if they wished, meet and share family information on their side of the Atlantic, which they did. Finding their ancestors here, however, proved challenging and time-consuming; and since I had other pressing family-history commitments ongoing, I made only limited progress. It was not until another descendant of the same but wider ALDIS family contacted me in 2008 that I was encouraged to resume the quest. Jacqueline Doubtfire lives in the UK, and she brought to the search a new energy and expertise that were needed in abundance to resolve the many problems and enigmas we encountered. Though we collaborated on the project, Jacqueline made most of the crucial discoveries that enabled us to work our way through the maze and bring the disparate elements together. By early 2012 we were confident that the story we could tell was a credible and coherent account of what actually happened.


  1. I am indebted to the late Ronald G. ALDIS of Houston, Texas, USA, who, together with a Texan lady from the same line of descent, first drew my attention to this ALDIS family. Researching Ronald’s English ancestors was by no means straightforward, as the foregoing account illustrates; and it was only with invaluable assistance from a fellow researcher, Jacqueline Doubtfire, that the true story emerged. By this time, unfortunately, Ronald had died (Obituary 21st February 2008), with the result that, though satisfied with the outcome of the research, I am saddened that Ronald did not live to share it to the full.
  2. I am also, therefore, hugely indebted to Jacqueline Doubtfire, a descendant of the same family, who joined me at a low point for me personally in the search in 2008. Without her insight and persistence, what we both now believe to be a full and accurate narrative could not have been achieved. Thank you, Jackie.

George Aldis
February 2012