Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Victor Marion Rose, Poet and Early Historian of Texas

Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Victor Marion Rose, Poet and Early Historian of Texas

Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Victor Marion Rose, Poet and Early Historian of Texas

Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Victor Marion Rose, Poet and Early Historian of Texas


During much of his brief and troubled life, Victor Marion Rose was a walking anomaly. The scion of a venerable Texas farming and ranching family, he was widely reported to be unable to distinguish one horse from another. He fought for the Confederacy and endured imprisonment at Ohio’s notorious Camp Chase, yet he later bitterly decried the Civil War as utter folly for the South. His florid poetry often celebrated the feminine mystique and ideal as he considered it, yet he was infamously unfaithful and sometimes abusive in his relationships with women. He built a respected reputation as a journalist and historian, and at the same time, he struggled with alcoholism and bouts of deep depression.

Born in 1842 as the third of thirteen children of a wealthy Victoria, Texas, planter, Victor Marion Rose served as publisher and editor of the Victoria Advocate from 1869 to 1873 before moving to Laredo—reportedly due to a scandalous love affair—where he edited the Laredo Times. He also wrote volumes of poetry and published several histories of South Texas and the biography of Gen. Ben McCulloch. Rose ultimately succumbed to pneumonia in February 1893.

Louise S. O’Connor, a descendant of Victor Marion Rose, has mined family records and recorded family traditions about “Uncle Vic.” She carefully reviewed Rose’s collected papers, both in her personal possession and in the archives of the Briscoe Center for American History and other repositories. Wild Rose provides an intimate portrait of a complicated individual who, despite his frequently unsuccessful struggles with his demons, nevertheless left an important mark on Texas history and letters.


In 1981 a friend gave me his late mother’s copy of Victor Marion Rose’s History of Victoria County. Having begun my college years as a history major, I found the 1961 reprint interesting, informative, and very wordy. the biographical sketches came to mean more to me as my interest in local history and family genealogy and connections expanded. I had no idea….

It might help if I digress and give a little genealogy. Victor Rose’s sister, Zilpa Rose, married George Overton Stoner. One of their daughters was Kathryn Carlisle Stoner. Kathryn married Tom O’Connor [III] (locals speak of him as Tom Sr.). From this union came Dennis, Mary, and Tom Jr. [IV]. It was Tom Jr. and his wife, Dorothy June “Junie” Broussard, who would give us Louise Stoner O’Connor.

In the late 1980s I introduced myself to Louise at Victoria’s Nave Museum where an exhibit of her photography was on display. I was deeply moved by the images and expressed my thanks to her.

When our paths crossed again several years later and our friendship developed, Victor Rose’s name came up more and more in our conversations across the dinner table. An attentive listener, she knew so much about him. It was fascinating to listen to those family stories. I had no idea….

A few years ago Louise O’Connor proposed a reprint of all of her great-great-uncle’s published writings. I offered to help in any way I could, mentioning my interest, specifically, in working on an annotated version of Rose’s History of Victoria County. She welcomed me aboard, and I blithely walked the plank into the storm.

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