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Santa Cruz County History - People
Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson
PITTS, RULANDUS B (1836-1908)
Santa Cruz Surf (February 27, 1908)
The Last Taps
Sound For Rulandus Pitts, An Old Soldier
Passes Away Last Night at His Home in this City
The last taps have sounded and Rulandus S. Pitts, an old soldier, has answered the call and last night passed over the line.
The deceased was a native of New York was 71 years of age and leaves a wife, three daughters, Mrs. Belle Hill of Rochester, N.Y., Mrs. Nellie De Paugh of New Monterey, Za Su, and two sons Rula and Jennings.
He was a comrade of the G.A.R., a member of Wallace Reynolds Post, of which he was actively identified and took a keen interest in its affairs and, when able, was a regular attendant of all the meetings.
He saw active service in the civil war. He was wounded in the first engagement at the battle of Gettysburg.
After leaving New York, he settled in Parsons, Kansas and four and a half years ago came to Santa Cruz. Like many others he left this city to again take up his residence in his Eastern home, but four months was as long as he desired to remain and on his return was a loyal Santa Cruzan. He will be buried under the auspices of Wallace Post G.A.R.
Notes from Phil Reader
Rulandus Pitts Enlisted in Company F 76th NY Inf. Sept. 17, 1862 Age 20. Mustered in Oct 17, 1862. Transferred from 76th to 30th New York Volunteers May 25, 1863. Wounded at Gettysburg July 1, 1863. Discharged Aug 26, 1864.
Pitts, a New York native born July 1836, enlisted in Company F, 30th Infantry Regiment on June 1, 1861. He enrolled for a 3 year tour of duty with that unit. However on May 24, 1863, all of the three year men of the 30th were transferred to the 76th New York and Rulandus was assigned to Company F. And on June 1st, 1863 as a member of Cutler's Brigade, he found himself involved in the fighting at the infamous "Railroad Cut" outside of Gettysburg, PA.
Rulandus was among the first to go down when Davis' Confederates attacked them about 10:30 that morning. During the fight, he was hit in the right knee, and as he lay there he was wounded again in the right shoulder. When the union troops pulled back through Gettysburg, Pitts was left behind. He lay there all night and throughout the rest of the battle.
As a result of the delay in his treatment for his injuries, he had his right leg amputated above the knee, and in the intervening years lost the use of his right hand. In spite of all this, he remained in the army, working in the commissary until he was mustered out on July 1, 1864 on a medical discharge.
Following the war, he returned to central New York, where he worked at "odd jobs" as best he could. He married and had a daughter, before his first wife died. In the early 1880s, he remarried and moved to Parson, Kansas, where he started a second family, while living on his pension and any type of work he could get. Four children were born to this new family - sons Rulandus Jr. and Jennings, and two daughters, Mary and ZaSu (named after his new wives maiden aunts - Eliza and Susan, hence the unusual name ZASU).
In 1902, the Pitts family moved again, here to Santa Cruz, California. He was always very active in veteran affairs, being a strong member of the GAR. He died on February 26th 1908, and was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Santa Cruz (now "Santa Cruz Memorial Park"). His daughter ZaSu was a very talented girl who left Santa Cruz for Hollywood the day she graduated from high school. She quickly made it big in the movies, becoming a huge star in serious drama and later comedy. She made over 140 movies and appeared in countless television episodes. In 1994, as part of the "Silent Stars" series of stamps, the U.S. government issued a commemorative bearing her likeness in a caricature by the famous Al Hirschfeld.
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