December 22, 2009

William Joseph Stafford

William Stafford, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was a native of Tennessee. His first wife, Martha Donnelle, died in 1818; they had four children. He soon married Martha Cartwright, with whom he had four 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 March 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, sometime before September 25, 1840, when Clement Dyer was appointed administrator of his estate.

Note
Unmarked. Originally this small piece of land was part of William Joseph Stafford's plantation grounds, which was known to have had a small family cemetery. The specific location of this cemetery has been lost, but in the 1960s local historians deemed this spot as the most likely area for the graveyard and several historical markers have been erected here denoting it so. The GPS coordinates given below are taken from the Texas-shaped memorial shown in the photo.

GPS Coordinates
29° 36.349, -095° 35.158


William J. Stafford Cemetery
Stafford



3 comments:

  1. why is there no public access to the park?

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  2. There is, sort of. There is a country club close by where you can park, then it's just a matter of walking the 1/4 mile between the two drainage ditches to the area.

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  3. We do know the surveyors marks of the cemetery. When John T sold the land to Adams, he immediately bought back the cemetery area.

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