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Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

GILLILAND, MAUDE TRUITT (1904–1989). Maude Truitt Gilliland, author, was born on the Capisallo Ranch in Hidalgo County, Texas, on December 21, 1904, the daughter of Alfred L. and Mary Christine Truitt. At the time of her birth, and throughout much of her early life, the remote area she knew as home was sparsely settled, limited in its access to the rest of the state, and the focus of frequent border disputes between Texans and Mexicans. Within a year of her birth her family moved to Rincón Ranch, a large ranch in Starr and Hidalgo counties where her father worked as foreman and manager. The family later moved to Mission, where Maude lived from 1911 to 1923. She remained in Mission until she married Grenade Don Gilliland. With him, and later their children, she lived in Pleasanton and at various sites throughout the Rio Grande valley.

Ranching and law enforcement-and their overlapping interests-were important influences in Maude Gilliland's life. The Texas Rangers used Rincón as a scouting headquarters in the South Texas area, and numerous other law-enforcement officers stopped at the ranch regularly. Maude Gilliland's family had close ties to these groups. Her grandfather, P. M. Truitt, served with John Coffee (Jack) Hays's Texas Rangers in the 1840s, and her father, in addition to working as a rancher, held a special ranger commission and worked in various other law-enforcement jobs in South Texas. G. D. Gilliland was a Texas Ranger and later a border patrol officer.

After raising her family, Maude Gilliland turned to chronicling her experiences in South Texas. Her first book, which she both wrote and illustrated, was Rincón (Remote Dwelling Place)-A Story of Life on a South Texas Ranch at the Turn of the Century (1964). It was praised for its accurate portrayal of the Rio Grande valley and ranch life in South Texas. In 1968 she wrote Horsebackers of the Brush Country-A Story of Texas Rangers and Mexican Liquor Smugglers. This work, covering the period 1920–33, provides a detailed historical account of border gunfights that erupted between state and federal law officials and Mexican horsebackers who attempted to smuggle liquor into Texas during prohibition. Her third book, published in 1977, was Wilson County Texas Rangers, 1837–1977. It relates the exploits of forty-four Texas Rangers from this south central Texas county and includes numerous ranger photographs never before published. In each of her books Gilliland expresses a laudatory and sympathetic view of law enforcers in the border area, crediting them with curbing the careers of notorious smugglers, bandits, and cattle rustlers.

Maude Gilliland remained in Pleasanton until 1979, when she and her husband moved to Cotulla. Preceded in death by her husband, she died in Cotulla in July 1989 and was buried in her husband's hometown of Fairview, Texas, in Wilson County. She was survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.


"Southwestern Collection," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 81 (July 1977). Vertical Files, 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 article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "GILLILAND, MAUDE TRUITT," accessed May 30, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgiaa.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 29, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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