Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 32
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
approved on June 2, 1863. By the end of the war, Stafford had become well established in
the cattle business, so well established, in fact, that nearly a dozen of his brothers and
sisters decided to join him to Texas.49
Five years after Stafford returned home from his military service, he made the
deal which secured his fortune. On July 13, 1868, he became partners in the cattle business
with James F. Wright. At the time, Wright owned 3700 head of cattle valued at $8000, and
Stafford owned 1800 head valued at $5900. Each man took a half interest in the partnership,
to which Stafford also brought $2100 in borrowed money. It was scheduled to last five
years. In the spring of 1869, Stafford, Wright, and Mary Pinchback organized a cattle drive.
In March and April that year, the trio made deals with T. J. Groin and R. J. Hoskins to drive
1200 of their cattle to Abilene, Kansas. Groin, who was to have charge of 1000 head, was to
be paid $100 per month in salary. He was to pay Stafford, Wright, and Pinchback $10 per
head after the herd was sold at Abilene, less a $300 downpayment he made to Stafford.
Hoskins took charge of 200 head, for which he was contracted to pay $1700, $500 down
and $1200 after the trail drive. When the cattle were delivered to Groin and Hoskins on
May 15, 1869, there were 1211 head.50
Even as Stafford and Wright's cattle-drive made its way north, John R. Brooks
and William H. Carlton, were building up their herds. In June 1869, Brooks purchased 195
head in five different transactions, and Carlton 56 head in four transactions. Their deals
show how much cattle prices had risen. Brooks paid, on average, $9.67 a head and Carlton,
The following year, Robert Branch Johnson, and his brother, Henry Madison
Johnson, who was also Robert E. Stafford's brother-in-law, organized a trail drive of their
own to Kansas. The Johnsons had purchased three sizeable herds of cattle in the winter of
1868, when prices were still very low. In early 1870, they added considerably to their herd.
A few months later, on June 11, 1870, they and Bob Stafford and two of his brothers,
Benjamin Franklin Stafford and John Stafford, gathered about 800 head. Apparently, Bob
49 Letter of Robert E. Stafford, October 14, 1859, Shropshire-Upton Chapter, U. D. C. Collection
(Ms. 25), Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Compiled Service Records of Confederate
Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives Microfilm Publication No.
323, Roll 305; James Cox, The Cattle Industry of Texas and Adjacent Territory (St. Louis: Woodward and
Tiernan, 1895), p. 640. Though Robert Earl Stafford was in Texas as early as 1859, he does not appear on the
1860 federal census. He might easily be confused with a man who is listed on the 1860 census of Colorado
County, Robert Frederick Stafford, who was the same age and had the same birthplace. Robert F. Stafford did
not reappear in the county after the war, perhaps because he was classified as a deserter from his Confederate
army unit, Company H, 13th Texas Infantry.
50 Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book F, pp. 266, 267, 386-390. Stafford borrowed
the $2100 from Wright's wife, Esther. Wright had inherited a considerable number of cattle from his father,
William J. Wright, and, in the preceding two years, had purchased most of the cattle his numerous siblings had
inherited (see Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book F, pp. 90, 174, 175, 184, 257, 258, 259).
51 Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book F, pp. 414, 415, 416, 418, 419, 420, 421.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999, periodical, January 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151405/m1/32/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.