William "Willie" Archie Madden

23 October 1887 - 11 September 1961

74 years old

Third Generation Madden

Son of:

William Hanna "Willie" Madden

15 June 1849 - 12 Nov 1938


"Fred" and "Willie" Madden

William "Willie or Billy" Archie Madden was born 23 October 1887 in Seadrift, Texas. His parents were William Hanna Madden and Margaret Wilkinson Madden. He was drowned in Hurricane Carla in September, 1961. His body was found about five miles from Port O'Connor in brush on the LaSalle Ranch after the storm was over. He was found by a rancher several days after the storm.

He was buried in Seadrift Cemetery, Calhoun County, Texas on September 11, 1961. The gravestone inscription states, "VICTIM OF HURRICANE CARLA - Found on La Salle Ranch." Hurricane Carla , a Category 5 hurricane, hit the town of Port O'Connor with winds up to 170 mph and a tidal surge of 18.5 feet. Port O'Connor was virtually wiped out. Stories say that he had $2,000 sewed into his pants which was used to pay for his burial expenses.

After the storm Bob Brister of the Houston Chronicle reported:

"At devastated Port O'Connor, rescuers, mostly state guardsmen were searching for a 75-year-old fisherman now presumed dead.

Billy Madden was last seen crushed and drowned after his house near Port Alto collapsed."

"I was in Port O'Conner a few days after Carla. My dad was salvaging some inland barges which had been blown inland out of the ICWW. I remember vividly that a phone booth appeared to be the only surviving structure in the town." - Richard Bludworth 1/12/2014

In another newspaper article - The Calhoun County Times, Page 1-A, October 24. 1961 reported:

Article of William Archie "Willie" Madden's Drowning


Willie Madden's Gravestone
Seadrift Cemetery


When I met Willie he was living in a little shack that he had built across the Intracostal Waterway from Port O'Connor, Texas. He lived there by himself selling fish, oysters and crabs to the fish houses that were located in the town. He had lived on the little island for some time after he and other inhabitants had been evicted from Matagorda Island by the U.S. government in 1941 when the island was condemned to be used as a temporary training facility for the Army Air Force as a bombing range. According to Joey Oglesby, Ray Madden's youngest daughter, he was living with his father (only the two of them), William Hanna Madden at the time and their house was right where the runway was to be. She didn't know where he moved immediately after that but she heard people say he moved to Dewberry Island. Her recollections of him was that he was always clean and well dressed when he would come to town. He was a very private person, real quiet and soft spoken and did not talk much. She remembered that he had the "Maddden blue eyes." An interesting aside is that he played the violin when he was living on the little island. Joey remembered he played "beautiful violin". Sometime if the weather was just right she could hear him playing classical music in his little shack from across the waterway. His brother Fred also played the violin, but he played it as a fiddle for dances. Willie could also play fiddle music, because Joey also remembered him and her father, Ray Bryant playing together in the Madden Mercantile, him on his fiddle and Ray on the harmonica. Another trait of his was that he was a prolific reader and many of his friends and relatives from Houston and Dallas would bring him books and magazines.

He had been married to Nona "Noni" Cherry at one time. They were married by John Juliff, Justice of the Peace on 9 May 1914 in Calhoun County when he was 27 years old. (Male Index to Marriage, Calhoun County, Tx, p. 54). At the time he listed his name on his marriage license as "Willie A. Madden." By 1940, however, he and his father with whom he had been living on Matagorda Island were no longer living there. Everyone on the island had been evicted from Matagorda Island by the U.S. government on February 6, 1941. By then Nona was living with a man named Sam. She and Sam were planning to operate a restaurant in the back of the Madden Mercantile where she worked. Sam would be the cook and she would be the waitress. Joey Oglesby remembers Willie coming to the store one time and he and Nona saw each other. Researching both the Calhoun and Aransas County offices neither a divorce decree for he and Nona nor a marriage licence for her and anyone else could be found.

Dora Madden always said that he moved to the little island to live by himself because his wife left him and he was "heartbroken."

The two of the unanswered questions about him are:

1. When and why did he move to the little island to live by himself?

2. When did he and Nona separate?

Answers to these questions will probably never be known, since those who knew the whole story are no longer living.

This photo was made in July 1952. Fred Madden is polling across the Intracostal Waterway at Port O'Connor with Ken Bower seated. In the distance you can see Willie's shack on the little island.

Two views of Willie's island today, Dec. 2013, from across the Intracostal Waterway.