“L. H. Buller, Prominent Palacios Citizen, Drowns” — Palacios Beacon, Jan. 1, 1931

The front page headline of the January 1st, 1931 edition of the Palacios Beacon announced the death of my great-grandfather, Louis H. Buller.

I recently wrote about the grandfather I never knew, Clarence Buller, and how I only learned of his existence long after I had grown up. That family knowledge deepened when my brother and I discovered two old copies of the Palacios Beacon in our parent’s papers after our mother died back in 2004.

One of those newspapers told of the death of Clarence’s father, Louis H. Buller, over a New Year’s holiday weekend, 1930-1931. Louis, who had served a couple of terms as an alderman for the town of Palacios during the ’20’s, accompanied his son, Linder, to Oyster Lake on Matagorda Bay on Friday to set up a weekend fishing camp. Saturday noon, he headed back across the bay to pick up his other two sons, Wesley and Clarence.

He never made it.

Rough weather had blown in, so no one missed him at first, simply assuming he was with the others. When he had not shown up at home by Monday morning Clarence headed for the camp only to discover that Louis had been gone since Saturday. Linder had not missed him, thinking he must have stayed at home once he got there. They now realized their father was missing out on the water.

A search party was quickly assembled, including support from an airplane, spreading out across the bay. The mast of a small boat was spotted extending about 18 inches above the now calm bay waters, two miles south of the ‘red light.’ Searchers reaching the spot late Monday evening were able to see the body lying on the deck of the submerged boat and recover it.

I wonder about my great-grandfather’s last hours. Alone on a small boat, sailing across a bay generally calm and quiet that unexpectedly turned rough that weekend — did he know the danger he was about to face? What happened to cause the sinking? At what point did Louis realize the boat was going down and that he would drown? What were his dying thoughts?

These are things I will never know.

But as I explained before, none of this was ever even part of my family knowledge prior to finding that newspaper headline 15 years ago. Once Granny Tilly took my father out to San Diego by 1927, Clarence and that whole branch of the family tree disappeared from sight, so I had never known anything about any of them.

My great-grandfather, Oulis H. Buller, holding his grandson — my father

My great-grandfather, Louis H. Buller, holding his grandson — my father, Leonard

Finding this admittedly old news and searching out Clarence’s grave in the Palacios cemetery have given me the present of an unknown past. Turns out I had — likely have — unknown relatives on my father’s side: 2 uncles, Linder and Wesley, as well as 2 aunts, Elnora and Mrs. Denver (Lena) Looper. The article mentions grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so I have cousins unknown to me out there somewhere.

All this was revealed by a single old copy of the small-town paper, the Palacios Beacon, still publishing today. And that other newspaper clipping? I’ll share that one sometime soon.

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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2 Responses to “L. H. Buller, Prominent Palacios Citizen, Drowns” — Palacios Beacon, Jan. 1, 1931

  1. Cynthia A Terry says:

    I am Clarence Bullers Granddaughter.My grandfather had 2 daughter my mom Jackie Ann Buller and Carolyn Buller
    His wife then was Alva Rittenhouse
    They were not married very long. My mother her sister and my grandmother moved to San Diego during WWll. My grandfather Clarence who had already married Jesse by then. We were very close to our grandfather and our Nanny. I think at one time I heard talk that my grandfather had a son. I have no idea if anyone will read this. I was stunned as I read this.

    • Delighted to hear from you, cousin! After I had written the 2 posts about Clarence and his father, Louis, I discovered Clarence’s second marriage certificate from marrying Alva Rittenhouse, and had assumed that had been a brief marriage. As mentioned in my blog pieces, I never knew anything about my grandfather, Clarence, since my father wanted nothing to do with the man he considered had abandoned him & his mother. I’m glad to hear y’all were able to know him better.
      Ironically, my father and Granny (Velma Ann Crawford, then V.A. Buller, later V.A. Fisher, but always known as Tilly), moved out to San Diego from the Palacios area by 1927, moving back to San Antonio in the mid-30. Funny to hear how y’all ended up in that area later. My dad did have fond memories of growing up in San Diego.

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