Young, Matilda Jane Fuller (1826–1882)

By: Margaret S. Henson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 30, 2018

Matilda Jane (Maud Jeannie) Fuller Young, writer and botanist, was born on November 1, 1826, in Beaufort, North Carolina, the oldest child of Nathan and Charlotte M. Fuller. About 1839 the family moved to Sumter County, Alabama, and by 1843 they had located in Houston. Nathan Fuller served as mayor of Houston in 1853–54 and later worked as a railroad paymaster. Maud married Dr. Samuel O. Young, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, in Houston on February 8, 1847. He died nine months later, on November 10. The young widow lived with her family for the rest of her life. A son, born on January 1, 1848, and named for his father, became a doctor and practiced in Houston from 1870 to 1880, when he became associate editor of the new Houston Post. Maud wrote poems, fiction, and essays that appeared in the Houston Telegraph between 1856 and 1867 and also in various magazines. Her poem about the Texas Rangers was published anonymously in William Gilmore Simms's War Poetry of the South (1867). Her longest fictional works were Cordova: A Legend of Lone Lake, a religious novel, and The Legend of Sour Lake, a prose poem about the Confederacy and the ancient Indian campsite northeast of Beaumont, both published before 1870. In 1880 she wrote articles for the Houston Post under the name Patsy Pry. Other work appears in Ella Hutchins Steuart's Gems from a Texas Quarry (1885).

During the Civil War Mrs. Young, who was related to Confederate general Braxton Bragg, composed inspirational writings for Confederate soldiers, using as pen names "The Confederate Lady" and "The Soldier's Friend." In May 1862 she made a flag for her son's Company A, Fifth Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade, which Hood designated the official flag of the brigade at the battle of Gettysburg. By the fall of 1864 the flag had become so tattered that it was no longer fit for use, and the Fifth Regiment returned it to Young, asking her to be its custodian. The flag was presented to the state during a reunion of the brigade in 1926. Young also nursed in hospitals and collected clothing and money in support of the war effort. After the surrender of Robert E. Lee, appeals by Young (who signed herself "A Confederate Woman") and generals Edmund Kirby Smith, John Bankhead Magruder, and Joseph O. Shelby were printed together in a broadside entitled "To the Soldiers and Citizens of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona," which urged continued resistance on behalf of the Confederate cause. When the Hood's Brigade Association was organized in 1872, the group's first resolution hailed Young as the "Mother of Hood's Brigade." In the 1870s she was appointed by a board in Philadelphia to serve as the Texas member of the Women's Centennial Executive Committee, and in this capacity she worked to coordinate fund-raising for the Centennial among Texas women.

Though she was largely self-taught, Maud Young had a reading knowledge of Latin, Greek, German, and French and a deep interest in botany. She taught at the private Houston Academy from 1866 to 1869, but with the opening of the public schools in 1870 the academy fell on hard times and closed. She opened a private school in 1872 in the Old Jewish Synagogue. She may also have taught in the public schools. In addition to her poems and stories, she also wrote on natural history topics. Her article on singing mice appeared in Field and Forest (1876–77), and an article on "Forest Culture," urging conservation, research, tree planting, forest clubs, and the passage of a forest law, was published in the 1880 edition of Burke's Texas Almanac. Young also authored the first textbook on Texas botany, Familiar Lessons in Botany, with Flora of Texas (1873.) She was state botanist in 1872–73. Her herbarium of Texas ferns and flowering plants, as well as a collection of her writings, was lost in the Galveston hurricane of 1900. At that time the collection was probably in the possession of her son, a Galveston resident. Maud Young died on April 15, 1882, and was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

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Elizabeth Brooks, Prominent Women of Texas (Akron, Ohio: Werner, 1896). Confederate Veteran, July 1900, March 1903. Dallas Weekly Herald, May 29, 1875. S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Ida Raymond, Southland Writers: Biographical and Critical Sketches of the Living Female Writers of the South (2 vols., Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen and Haffelfinger, 1870). R. A. Studhalter, "Mrs. Young's Familiar Lessons in Botany," Texas Technological College Bulletin 7 (December 1931). Vertical Files; Maud J. Young Papers (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Margaret S. Henson, “Young, Matilda Jane Fuller,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022,

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March 30, 2018

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