While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »

STAFFORD, WILLIAM JOSEPH

Randolph B. Campbell
Marriage certificate for William Joseph Stafford and Martha Cartwright
Marriage certificate for William Joseph Stafford and Martha Cartwright. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Grave of William Joseph Stafford
Grave of William Joseph Stafford. Courtesy of Robert "Scott" Patrick. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

STAFFORD, WILLIAM JOSEPH (1764–1840). William Joseph Stafford, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on March 22, 1764. His first wife, Martha Ann Donnell, had two children but died in early 1818. He then married Martha Cartwright on May 26, 1818, with whom he had two more children. He had operated plantations in both Mississippi and Louisiana before moving to Texas in 1822 as an original member of the first Austin colony. On August 16, 1824, he received title to 1½ leagues and a labor now in Fort Bend and Waller counties. The census of 1826 listed him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. That year his family consisted of his wife, a son, a daughter, two servants, and eight slaves. Two of his sons by his first marriage, Harvey and Adam Stafford, were grown by that time, and their sisters had married Clement C. Dyer and William Neal. The Fort Bend County plantation called Stafford's Point had a cane mill and a horse-powered gin. Because the Staffords feared that the Mexican government would free their slaves, the second Mrs. Stafford spent much of her time moving them back and forth across the Sabine River. In June 1835 Stafford killed a man named Moore and fled to the United States. On April 15, 1836, while the family was away, a detachment of Mexican soldiers led by Antonio López de Santa Anna halted at Stafford's plantation. Upon resuming their march, the soldiers burned the Stafford residence and the gin houses. In October 1836 Stafford appointed his wife his agent and attorney in Texas and gave much of his Texas property to his four grown children. In December 1838 fifty citizens of Fort Bend County petitioned Congress to permit Stafford to return home and be exempt from judicial prosecution on the grounds that Moore, the man he had killed, had been "destitute of character" and was "much addicted to brawls." Stafford, the petitioners argued, was ordinarily a peace-loving and enterprising citizen and had killed Moore only after much provocation. On December 27, 1838, the House recommended executive clemency. Stafford returned to live at Stafford's Point until his death on September 23, 1840. He was buried at the Stafford Cemetery in Fort Bend County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Sam Houston and Pedro Delgado, The Battle of San Jacinto (Austin: Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, 1878). "Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 4, 7 (October 1900, January 1901, January 1904). Telegraph and Texas Register, October 19, 1836, November 18, 1840. Clarence Wharton, Wharton's History of Fort Bend County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1939).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Randolph B. Campbell, "STAFFORD, WILLIAM JOSEPH," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fst04.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 31, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...