Mijamin Priest was born in Northern Alabama in 1808. He moved about Alabama several times prior to immigrating to a small town in East Texas called Peach Tree Village. Mijamin was a lawyer, farmer, and a slave owner. He was also a staunch Unionist, before-during-after the War for Southern Independence. Sam Willson, born in Texas-- 1835, was a protege of Priest. He began studying under him at the age of 15, was accepted by the Texas State Bar at 17, and married Priest;s daughter, Susan at 18.
Willson never owned a slave. He was one of two Tyler County delegates to the state convention that passed the Ordinance of Secession and he helped organize the Woodville Rifles, later Co. F, 1st TX Infantry, ANV. He served the duration of the War and returned home.
Mijamin's three oldest sons enlisted in the CSA and two of them died at Camp Douglas in July-August 1862. Nothing changed his resolve and he continued to hold his Unionist views. He also moved to another county, which was a very good idea. Willson returned home and took his old job as district judge until the Black Repbulicans forced him to resign since he was a Confederate veteran. Priest became a judge in a neighboring district partially because he was accepted by the yankee regime.
The whole point is these men remained friends and never let politics, the War, or Reconstruction diminish their friendship and respect for each other. Sam named his oldest son (Samuel Priest Willson) after Mijamin and Mijamin wrote a poem commemorating Hood's Texas Brigade. Like David and others have pointed out over and over again, the political beliefs and allegiences of Southerners were complex. Don't you imagine these men had contemporaries, perhaps family, who tried hard to drive a wedge between them, to make them hate each other. When Sam was forced to leave his job as district judge, he moved his family to another county, to be neighbors with his father-in-law, Judge Priest.
TO THE SURVIVORS OF HOOD’S BRIGADE
Brave men, the remnant of a host, Who fought through fire and blood,
Until the last, last hope was lost, Firm to the lost cause stood.
Though beaten, yet the future age, Will not forget your story,
You’ll dazzle the historic page, With deeds of martial glory.
As long as shines the Southern sun, Your deeds will be remembered,
Yes, till what has been thus begun, This government dismembered.
The government may pass away, As others have before it,
And others live to see the day, Look back, and still adore it.
But your brave deeds will never die, Will live while nations perish,
Both friends and foes alike will vie, Your gallantry to cherish.