In the subject of this personal review we have an example of that thrift and material independence which always follows systematically and intelligently directed efforts, of a wonderful achievement in business in the brief period of a score of years and of a financial triumph of human effort, uninterrupted by physical conditions and unchecked by the fickleness of man. Such examples of unusual success, without the aid of an educated mind, are traceable to a phenomenal mental endowment and an intuitively strong and penetrating intellect. Circumstances willed it that Stewart Castleberry should have only a peep into the realm of knowledge, but sympathetic nature intensified his intuitive powers and thereby opened a by-pass around his enslaved mind to the end that his life has been a useful and wonderfully successful life.
His father was a physical weakling, a man never vigorous and often suffering bodily pain while going about his daily work, but he had ambition, courage and an intuitive mentality fit to father a strong-minded and ambitious son. His education was neglected in childhood almost to the point of illiteracy, yet he worked out a destiny that marked him among the successful men of his class. He was a child of poor parents and grew up in Upshur county, Texas, and by railsplitting and other manual labor he laid the foundation for the modest fortune he subsequently made. When he had accumulated about a hundred head of cattle he drove them to the frontier in Wise county, and in 1860 appropriated the range on Sandy, northeast of Bridgeport, where he took a pre-emption and reaped the first substantial fruits of victory on the trail.
Aaron Castleberry, our subject’s father, was, as we have above indicated, a somewhat remarkably constituted man. The records reveal his birth year to have been 1831 and his native place as Alabama. His father, William Castleberry,brought his family to Texas in 1840 and received a league and a labor of land from the Republic as a reward for his coming, and he located his land in Upshur county, resided upon and farmed it till his death about 1847. It was amid the environment thus suggested that Aaron Castleberry passed from childhood to the responsibilities of mature years and met and mastered the obstacles which always confront an uneducated man. For nine years he occupied his location on Salt Lake, in Wise county, and then shifted his interests to Parker county as an easier place for family and property protection against the Indians, and there became one of the large and very successful farmers of the county. While he still held to cattle as a practically sure source of income, he embarked in the raising of corn and hogs, and the success which attended him rivaled all comers. At his death, in 1891, he left a moderate estate to be shared among his widow and children. During the rebellion he was a scout on the frontier but not enlisted in the regular Confederate service. he took a lively interest in the civil affairs of his county and state, but only as a civilian with the public good at heart was this interest maintained. He was a professed Christian and held a membership in the Missionary Baptist church.
In 1860 Aaron Castleberry and Indiana Tennessee Nix were married near Decatur, Texas. Mrs. Castleberry was a daughter of William Nix, a pioneer of Wise but a final settler of Parker county, where he died. The Nixes were from Tennessee where Mrs. Castleberry was born in 1840. She still occupies the family homestead in Parker county and is the mother of: Stewart, our subject; Eliza, who died in Parker county as Mrs. W. B. Austin; James O., of Wise county; Nettie, wife of P. W. Austin, of Parker county; Aaron T., of Wise county; and George E., of Gray county, Texas.
While growing up in Parker county Stewart Castleberry, who was born March 1, 1861, received little good from the institution called the public school. He attained the full vigor of physical strength in the closing years of his minority and on March 1, 1882, when he reached his twenty-first year, he possessed every physical qualification, together with industry and ambition, to begin a successful independent career. In 1882, he took a bunch of cattle into Wise county for his father and for four years was chiefly occupied with his father’s affairs. He then began trading on his own account, forming a partnership with W. A. Shown, a honest and ambitious young cowman of his own county, and the twain made every move count and every dollar bring two during the continuance of their business relations. He paid for his first farm with the crops that he raised on it and he continued to buy land with his winnings on the trail until his West Fork ranch of two thousand two hundred acres and his Boone’s creek ranch and farm of nearly eight hundred acres placed him among the large land owners of his county and, adding his six hundred head of cattle, we have the material results achieved within a score of years by the gentleman hampered by the conditions mentioned in the introductory observations of this article. His ranching interests on Carroll and Lost creeks, in Jack county, swell the grand total of his accumulations and mark him as one of the young men of wealth in the cattle country of the state. He came to Jack county in 1898 and his residence occupies a sightly elevation overlooking Jacksboro, accessible to and at the very door of good schools, numerous churches and in touch with the elements so essential in the proper training of his young family.
April 7, 1887, Mr. Castleberry married, in Wise county, Miss B. E., a daughter of John Pierce. Mr. Pierce came to Texas a young man from Missouri and married here Miss Hulda Shown, who bore him the following children: Robert, who died in Wise county at the age of twenty-one years; Mrs. Castleberry, born in Wise county April 25, 1870; Thomas, of Parker; Mary, deceased; Ella, wife of George E. Castleberry, of the Panhandle country; Benjamin, of Wise county; and Newton and William, of Parker county. Mr. and Mrs. Castleberry’s children are: Bertha, Gertrude and Emma.
As already stated, Aaron Castleberry removed his family from Wise county chiefly to escape the possible Indian thefts and massacres which might any day afflict his family, for strong bands of the savages were continually passing through the county and committing depredations every night of the moon. On one occasion in particular the family narrowly escaped death and that was when it accompanied the father on a trip to Wood’s mill, some fifty miles distant, traveling with an ox team. A widow lady also accompanied the family and while ascending an incline on the open prairie the neighbor lady remarked, “Are those white men or Indians driving those horses at the top of the hill?” and the father said, “Why, they are Indians, of course,” and the wagon was then emerging from a clump of trees and with only a single-barrel rifle with which to defend its precious burden. From some unexplained reason the Indians proceeded over the rise and were soon afterward scattered by white pursuers, and the Castleberrys continued their journey without molestation.
Like his father, Stewart Castleberry is a Democrat, manifests a warm interest in civil affairs and has the distinction of never having scratched a ticket in his life, always doing his fighting at the primary.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 217-219.
Update 6 September 2001: Researchers tracing this family are invited to contact Yolanda Derstine, who descends from Aaron Thomas Castleberry, brother to Stewart Castleberry.