William H. Stanfield biography

One of the most extensive and certainly the most valuable cattle ranch in northern Texas, is the one in Clay county owned by Stanfield Brothers, of which firm the subject of this review is the active head. This baronial estate came into the possession of this firm in 1902 by purchase from J. E. Greer, of Chicago, and with the exception of a recent addition of three thousand acres, its boundaries are identical with those of the old Greer ranch, so well and favorably known throughout northern and western Texas, and a property whose ownership to covet is one of man’s natural and undoubtedly pardonable’s sins.

The firm of Stanfield Brothers is composed of William H. and Leander G. Stanfield, the former born June 6, 1845, and the latter February 24, 1848, and both natives of Graves county, Kentucky. They are sons of the Rev. John P. Stanfield, whose life, from the age of twenty-one to eighty-three, was given to gospel work, and from 1861 to his death he was a member of a Texas Conference. The latter was born in Halifax county, Virginia, April 8, 1806, and died in Whitesboro, Texas, April 4, 1889. In 1818 his parents moved into West Virginia (as it is now), and later in life settled in Kentucky, where, in Graves county, he married Mary E. Boone, a lineal descendant of the famous Daniel Boone. His wife was born in Davidson county, Tennessee, in 1833, and died in Haywood county, that state, August 24, 1858.

Rev. Stanfield was one of ten sons of his parents who reared families, there being thirteen children in all. On his advent to Texas Rev. Stanfield took up work in south Texas, on the Brazos river, where he labored a number of years, passing then to the North Texas Conference and being identified with the work of its jurisdiction until his superannuation. He passed the last fifteen years of his life at Whitesboro, and went to his Maker happy in the consciousness of having devoted himself wholly to the regeneration of man.

As already stated, Mrs. Stanfield was a Boone, a family of frontier and historic interest in Kentucky and Tennessee. Their property, when sold on their departure for Texas, realized a small fortune for their children. Not being in immediate need of money the family loaned it on personal security in Kentucky and Tennessee, and felt that it was secure on call. When the Civil war had ended and the family presented their notes for payment scarcely a dollar could be realized, and the children’s patrimony was entirely wiped out. Of her children, Isadora E. died in youth, Alpheus was killed in the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland; Harvey died as a young man; Joseph A. is in business in Sherman, Texas; Mariana, widow of John Mays, is with her brothers at the ranch, and Thomas E. and Henry R., twins, died in infancy.

William H. Stanfield was a youth of thirteen years when he accompanied his father and family to Texas, and he approached manhood with only a country- school education. In 1862 he enlisted as a recruit for Company A, Fourth Texas Infantry, Colonel Hood, Captain John Keys commanding the company. His older brother, Alpheus M., who was killed at the battle of Sharpsburg, was a member of the same company. William H. joined his regiment, camped around Richmond, and his first fight was at West Point. He was in the Peninsular campaign, and at the battle of Gaines’ Mill was wounded, but was away from his command only ten days, and then started in with the army to invade Maryland. He was in the hospital for treatment when the battle of Sharpsburg was fought, but was on duty again and participated in the engagements at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg on Lee’s second invasion of the north. In the latter battle his regiment fought from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, and at the close of the third day Colonel Hood called for a lieutenant and ten men to reconnoiter the Federal lines and locate its extreme right wing and report results to him when they had done their work. Mr. Stanfield was one of these ten men to undertake this dangerous task, and the squad had not proceeded far when it ran into a bunch of Federals and was made prisoners. On the fourth they were forwarded to Baltimore, where they paroled with understanding that they were to be sent to the mouth of James river and liberated, but, instead, were taken to Fort Delaware and held as prisoners of war till June 7, 1865, when they were liberated, and our subject returned to his Texas home.

His first act in civil life after the war was one toward a better preparation for successful competition in the new world of trade then opening up, and he became a student in Soule University, Texas, for two years. Returning home he was applying himself to the work of the little farm his father had bought, expecting to pay for it with the money collected from the Kentucky securities already alluded to, but upon his failure and the consequent abandoning of the farm he scattered out with the other sons and began the struggle for supremacy and financial independence in which we find him to-day. It was in Grayson county that William H. Stanfield really began life. He worked for monthly wages, bound grain in harvest and farmed rented land for a few years and saved a little money. Joining his brother, L. G., who had also accumulated a small amount as a clerk in a county office, they built a mill and cotton gin at Whitesboro, assuming considerable indebtedness in the venture, and conducted their business four years with success and much profit. They exchanged this property for Grayson county land and William H. took charge of it and became a farmer again. Believing in and pinning their faith to the cattle industry as an investment, the brothers borrowed the money to buy a thousand steers, and these they took to the Indian Territory for pasture, where the experiment worked out to their financial advantage. They continued business in this channel, dropping the cultivation of their farm and pushing their cattle interests, with a rapid financial growth to the firm and an extensive and increasing business on the ranch. Their leased ranch in Pickens county, Indian Territory, comprises twenty thousand acres and is well stocked, but with the expiration of their lease their stock will be transferred to the Texas ranch of twenty-one thousand acres, and their future operations be confined to and directed from that point. This ranch is situated between the Little Wichita and Red rivers largely, and is the most convenient for shipping and the least hampered by small farms in the agricultural district of north Texas. It was sustain a bunch of three thousand cattle, and about twelve hundred cattle and three cars of hogs are marketed from it every year. A vast tract of bottom land at the junction of the rivers is devoted to wheat, corn and feed, combining the two industries of farm and ranch, “Stanfield” is the scene of much activity the year ’round. William H. Stanfield superintends the Texas branch of their immense industry, while the Pickens county branch is presided over by the junior Stanfield, Leander G. Neither of the brothers is married, and their home life is made attractive and cheerful by the head of their domestic establishment, Mrs. Mariana Mays, their sister. The spirit of hospitality pervades their household, and the entertainment of guests is an evidence pleasure, and the stranger, as well as the friend, is bid welcome, and on parting it is always with the injunction to come again.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 678-680.