Stapp, Darwin Massey (1815–1875)

By: J. L. Bryan

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: April 6, 2019

Darwin Massey Stapp, settler, soldier, and legislator, was born in Kentucky in 1815 to Nancy (Shannon) and Elijah Stapp. He arrived in Texas from Palmyra, Missouri, on June 4, 1828, and received a title in DeWitt's colony on November 25, 1830. Stapp joined the Texas army in Jackson County on October 3, 1835, as first lieutenant of John Alley's company. With this unit he and participated in the siege of Bexar and the Grass Fight. In the summer of 1836 he served in George Sutherland's company. Stapp was elected the first Victoria county constable in 1837, and in 1840 he participated in the battle of Plum Creek. He again enlisted in the Texas army at Texana on March 6, 1842, as a private in Lafayette Ward's company of Clark L. Owen's regiment. Stapp represented Victoria County in the House during the Fourth and Fifth State legislatures (1851–54). He moved to Indianola about 1855 and became customs collector of the District of Saluria (1856–64). The 1860 United States Census listed him as customs collector for Calhoun County. With five other citizens of Indianola, he secured a charter on January 21, 1858, for the Indianola Railroad Company. In 1861 he was a delegate to the Secession Convention. Though he only served in the Adjourned Session, Stapp affixed his signature to the Ordinance of Secession as a representative of Calhoun County. During the Civil War he was made a brigadier general of the Twenty-fourth Brigade, Texas State Troops, and was charged with the defense of Matagorda Bay and Indianola in late 1861. He returned to Victoria sometime during the Civil War and ventured in several mercantile enterprises. He purchased the building that housed the Victoria Female Academy and in it established the Stapp Hotel in 1870. This he conducted until his death. Stapp was a charter member of the Texas Veterans Association. He married Mrs. Maria O. Heard on February 18, 1835, in Jackson County. They had no children. He then married Cecilia D. Thompson on September 14, 1841, also in Jackson County. They had at least three children. Cecilia and a daughter died in an epidemic in 1867. Stapp then married Mrs. Lulu Cunningham in Victoria County on December 23, 1868, and they had two children. Stapp died at his home on February 28, 1875, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Victoria.

Mary Margaret Bierman, A History of Victoria, Texas, 1824–1900 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1948). Victor Marion Rose, History of Victoria (Laredo, 1883; rpt., Victoria, Texas: Book Mart, 1961). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).

  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

J. L. Bryan, “Stapp, Darwin Massey,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
April 6, 2019