By Danella Dickson
William Franklin Ellis was born June 16, 1836 in Greene County, Illinois, the son of Thomas McKee and Mary (Witt) Ellis. When William was ten years old he came to Texas with his parents who settled in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas.
During the spring of 1861 the Lancaster Guards, a group of men from in and around Lancaster who had been serving as a loosely organized militia, began recruitment of additional members, and formal training as a prospective Cavalry Company. Beginning in July 1861 they participated in training exercises on the State Fair Grounds along with several other companies being raised in North Texas. In late August 1861 the Guards and nine other companies assembled at Camp Bartow, seven miles south of Dallas. On September 9, 1861 they were mustered in as Company F, 6th Texas Cavalry, CSA, under the command of Colonel Barton Warren Stone Junior. http://pages.prodigy.net/procyon/lancaster/compf.htm
Twenty-five year old William and his younger brother James Henry Ellis were among the men who enlisted September 9, 1861 in Company F, 6th Texas Cavalry, Stone’s Regiment. William supplied his horse and equipment, a 5 shooter & D.B. (double-barrel shotgun) valued at $180.00.
In late November of 1861 the 6th Texas Cavalry was ordered to Fort Smith, Arkansas. At some point a detachment of men under the command of Lt. Col. John S. Griffin, was sent into Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma) where they became involved in the Battle of Chustenahlah. The campaign was undertaken to subdue the Native American Union sympathizers in Indian Territory. Following the extended battle Confederate causalities were nine killed and forty wounded; William’s brother Henry was one of the wounded men.
During the remainder of the war command of the 6th Texas Cavalry changed a number of times as the men took part in battles in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. By 1863 they had gone from 1,000 to 600 men with disease causing more losses than wounds or desertions. In January of 1863 William was listed on his muster roll as absent from duty due to illness. On the March-April muster roll he was “Absent: sick near Pulaski, Tennessee” with later reports placing him in a hospital in Mississippi. The last muster roll was for May-June 1864 and described him as “Sick in Mississippi”. If he was later able to return to active duty the records have been lost.
At some point in time William returned to Lancaster and about 1866 he married Unity Caroline Gray. They were the parents of two children, Mary Elizabeth who was born August 20, 1866 and Elmo E. who was born and died in 1868. Unity died March 27, 1868 and was buried in Edgewood Cemetery.
In 1880 William was living with his elderly parents and working as a farmer, apparently he never remarried. He died March 7, 1901 and was buried beside Unity in the Edgewood Cemetery. He was survived by his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Ellis Birkhead.
Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts