Rose, Preston Robinson (1828–1860)

By: Fannie E. Ratchford and Craig H. Roell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Preston Robinson Rose, rancher and cotton planter, was reportedly born on April 20, 1828, in Washington Parish, Louisiana, where his parents, Mary (Vardeman) and William Pinckney Rose, lived before moving to Copiah County, Mississippi. He moved to Texas in the spring of 1840 with a large family group and settled in Harrison County, where he stood trial in 1842 with his father and a brother-in-law, John W. Scott, for the killing of Robert Potter during the Regulator-Moderator War. He married Mary Ann Scott in 1845 and in the spring of 1846 followed his older brother, John Washington Rose, father of historian Victor Marion Rose, to Victoria County, where he purchased approximately 12,000 acres about nine miles south of Victoria on the Indianola road. Buena Vista, his plantation on the Guadalupe River, with both bottomland for crops and prairie for stock, was the largest in the county. At first Rose shipped native products-pecans, prairie grass baled as hay, and corn-but within a few years he became a major cotton grower. The 1850 census reported that he owned thirty-two slaves and 270 acres of improved land that produced a cotton crop of 100 bales in 1849. In 1859, however, he shipped ninety-one bales in March alone, for which he netted $3,670. In 1849 Rose went to California to search for gold with a party headed by Ben McCulloch, but he returned to his Texas plantation in the fall of 1850. He was one of the first Texas cattlemen to become interested in improving his stock; in 1855 he drew up detailed plans for a $50,000 ranch. By 1858 he had enclosed 10,000 acres in plank fencing, very likely the earliest fencing project of such magnitude in Texas, and had brought in blooded stallions and bulls from Kentucky. An inventory of Buena Vista's stock immediately after his death recorded 2,500 cattle and 200 horses. The 1860 census listed Rose as the third-wealthiest man in Victoria County, with $135,000 in property, including forty-one slaves. He also employed numerous paid laborers and built on his plantation a neighborhood school, for which he hired teachers from Hampton-Sydney College, Virginia.

In September 1856 Rose secured a charter with John J. Linn, Jesse O. Wheeler, and others to build the Powderhorn, Victoria, and Gonzales railroad in order to secure the welfare of the port of Indianola (Powderhorn), which was threatened by the completion of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railway to Port Lavaca. Rose frequently used Indianola facilities to ship and receive his plantation products and supplies. The railroad, however, was never built. In 1858 Rose was one of the organizers of the Gulf Coast Fair Association, the object of which, according to its constitution, was "to promote the improvement of the breed of useful domestic animals" and to encourage "agriculture, horticulture and the domestic and mechanic arts." He was also elected Victoria county commissioner, on August 2, 1858. In 1859 a chance guest induced Rose to organize a party of neighbors to go treasure hunting for gold coins that he had buried on the bank of the Rio Grande. On this expedition Rose contracted a deep cold, from which he died on December 18, 1860. His widow survived Reconstruction with $15,195 worth of property and moved in 1880 to West Texas, where she died in 1905. She was survived by three daughters.

Laura Ratchford Fromme, "Some Old Letters," Frontier Times, December 1933. Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). Preston Rose Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Victor Marion Rose, History of Victoria (Laredo, 1883; rpt., Victoria, Texas: Book Mart, 1961).

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Fannie E. Ratchford and Craig H. Roell, “Rose, Preston Robinson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995