Fletcher Summerfield Stockdale, lawyer, politician, and railroad official, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, in either 1823 or 1825, one of eight children of Thomas Ward and Laurinda (Hise) Stockdale. After studying law and being admitted to the Kentucky Bar, Stockdale came to Texas in 1846, where he practiced law in Anderson, Grimes County, before moving to Calhoun County. On September 1, 1856, in addition to his interests in business, farming, and law, Stockdale became one of four men who secured a charter for the Powderhorn, Victoria and Gonzales Railroad Company. The company plans were for construction of a line from Powderhorn, on Matagorda Bay, to Austin. Although the company existed for two years, nothing substantial came of the project. In 1857 he was married to Mrs. Elizabeth Pryor Bankhead Lytle; that same year he began serving as representative of the Twenty-sixth District in the Texas Senate. He served until 1861. As a delegate to the state Democratic conventions in 1859 and 1860, he served on the committee on resolutions and platforms. He was a delegate to the national Democratic convention in Charleston in 1860, where he was a member of the committee on resolutions at the secession meeting. Stockdale was a leading member of the Secession Convention which met in Austin in 1861. He served on the committee which drew up the ordinance of secession and was one of the signers of the document. From 1862 to 1863 he acted as special aide to Governor Francis R. Lubbock. Stockdale was elected lieutenant governor of Texas on November 5, 1863, and served until June 1865, when he was governor for the brief period after Governor Pendleton Murrah's flight to Mexico in June 1865, with the fall of the Confederacy. President Andrew Johnson appointed Andrew J. Hamilton provisional governor in July, and Stockdale was one of the committee that met Hamilton on the outskirts of Austin, escorted him into town, and handed him the keys to the Texas archives and capitol in August 1865. After his removal from office Stockdale returned to Calhoun County.
In the late 1860s in Indianola, Stockdale promoted the development of a refrigerator car for shipping beef. As president of the Indianola Railroad, he reported twelve and one-half miles of new track completed, two locomotives and other rolling stock, and depot buildings, shops, and grounds at Indianola. He moved to Cuero sometime after the town was established in 1873 as the terminus for the Gulf, Western Texas, and Pacific Railroad. He practiced law and promoted the Cuero Land and Immigration Company. In 1868 Stockdale was a member of the Texas Senate. In the Constitutional Convention of 1875 he served on the committees of judiciary and land grants and participated in debates on the establishment of a free public school system in Texas. He was a delegate to the national Democratic conventions in 1872, 1876, and 1880; he was also a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1873 and was chosen as one of the convention's eight vice presidents. In the state Democratic convention of 1876 Stockdale was chairman of the committee on resolutions and platforms and a member of that committee again in the 1882 and 1888 conventions. Stockdale's first wife had died on April 17, 1865. In Washington, D.C., on July 11, 1877, Stockdale married Elizabeth Schleicher, the seventeen-year-old daughter of his friend and Texas political colleague, Gustav Schleicher and Elizabeth Tinsley Howard Schleicher. The couple had three children. Stockdale died in Cuero on February 4, 1890, and was buried in Russellville, Kentucky. His second wife survived him. In 1946 the Texas legislature ordered a portrait of Stockdale painted and hung in the gallery of Texas governors in the capitol. In 1965 a historical marker was erected in his memory in Stockdale, Texas, the town which was named for him.