The late Myreta Matthews is recognized by many as perhaps one of the best researchers in the history of Liberty Hill. Among her many books is a booklet she published in the mid-1980s on the history of Liberty Hill Cemetery.
Among the items of interest in the publication is a list of veterans of various wars who are buried in the cemetery. She notes that her list does not include those who served after 1900, writing that “may be available at a later date”. I could not determine if she ever compiled a list of 20and Soldiers of the Century.
His list of 19and Veterans of the Century include a man who served in the War of 1812, Major Ephraim Roddy.
Major Roddy, according to an article by Marie Giles first published in 1952 and which can be found on the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas website, was born in 1786 in Pennsylvania and died in 1872. He came in Texas in 1831, moving here from Tennessee with his wife Harriet. The couple had five children.
Before coming to Liberty Hill, Giles writes that the Roddy family settled near Washington and Roddy represented the community at the 1833 Convention. He was among Brenham’s first commissioners and in 1845 voters voted him chosen to serve as a justice of the peace.
During Roddy’s time in Washington, he drew the ire of a man who would become a Texas legend in years to come. According to a passage found in the book “Joe, the Slave Who Became an Alamo Legend,” Roddy allegedly used sarcasm in court to respond to opposing counsel…William Barret Travis. Travis, who came to Texas from Alabama after a failed attempt to publish a newspaper and also had little success in his law practice, angrily drew a Bowie knife in response to Roddy’s remark.
Roddy reportedly quickly reacted to Travis’ threat of violence by pulling out of his pocket a small knife used to sharpen quill pens and saying, “Your Honor, because of the difference between our weapons, I can’t do much harm to opposing counsel, but if he insists, I’ll try. Those in the courtroom burst into laughter and the tense moment ended when the judge called for an adjournment. Travis is said to have calmed down quickly and bought a round of drinks. It is said that Roddy and Travis became close friends, although Travis, in a diary entry dated November 14, 1833, wrote “I whipped old Roddy”.
Roddy would eventually move to Liberty Hill, while Travis would become involved in the fight for Texas freedom and find immortality as commander of the ill-fated Alamo troops.