Thomas Bonaparte Stubbs, also known as Theodore Bonaparte Stubbs, was a grocer, Civil War officer, and boarding house operator. He was the son of James Edward Stubbs and was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 1, 1824. He married Ellen Kirkpatrick, but she died in 1851 shortly after the birth of his first son, James B. (b. 1851).
Stubbs decided that Texas offered a new chance and arrived in Galveston on November 11, 1853. He learned the skill of machinist but found the profession of a wholesale grocer far more lucrative. He joined forces with P. P. Brockerson and John Sydnor, to form T. B. Stubbs & Co. He married his second wife, Catherine, on February 8, 1855. His business grew into one of the largest wholesale grocers in the South, and his family increased with the birth of John Andrew (b. 1856), Thomas B (b. 1858), and Lille (b. 1859).
The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 brought devastation for Stubbs, as he could not manage to keep his business afloat. Additionally, his fourth son, William, was born in 1862. By October 1863, he joined the First Battalion of State Troops defending Galveston. In this position, his skills as an administrator served him well. Within one month he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel. However, his experience with efficient management shocked his senses when he saw the condition of his post. During the winter of 1863–1864, conditions deteriorated so much that even Stubbs was nearing his breaking point.
In response to an undisclosed order from his superior, Col. Ashbel Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Stubbs presented the reality of his situation. The condition of his men prevented any work. Stubbs commented on how fresh water was more than a mile away, yet they would have to traverse "knee deep mud and [brackish] water" to approach it. Firewood, a commodity so desperately short that the prior night "two or three men froze till they could not talk," was even farther away. This was of little surprise, as Stubbs reported that his men had "no tents," and for shelter they had only "little things that blow over." Although some of his men were sick, he knew he had "no physicians within miles…." With only one wagon, his regiment could not achieve both "communication and forage," so his men suffered. So desperate were the conditions, that according to Stubbs, all the other regiments had left the camp and he alone remained to perform all the duty work. Although he had been able to keep his men in garrison, it had been "with much difficulty," and unless his superiors acquiesced to his request to move his position, he believed that there would be "no men left in camp in a few days." Colonel Smith forwarded the letter to the brigadier general "for his consideration," and Stubbs also wrote the commanding brigadier general.
This letter was very similar to his letter to Colonel Smith, albeit more succinct. After he informed his superiors that he was in sole command as all the other officers had left, he responded that he had "no men at my disposal to relieve them." He believed, however, that he might be able to organize three teams that would stay until the work on hand was completed. To aggravate Stubbs further, his payment of $225 for the period covering January 1 to February 15 was not received until six months later, on July 21.
With the completion of his service Stubbs returned to work as a wholesale grocer. Partnering first with George Walsh and later with H.C. Hountree, he began to rebuild his business. His family expanded yet again with the birth of Charles J. in 1867 and Kattie in 1869.
The panic of 1873 wiped out Stubb's wholesale grocery business. At the age of fifty-one he turned his home into a boarding house. In early March of 1896 a heart condition that had troubled him for three weeks resulted in his death. Thomas B. Stubbs died on March 27, 1896, at the age of seventy-one.
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Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). Galveston Daily News, March 26, 1896. Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Stubbs, Thomas Bonaparte,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 02, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 31, 2011
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: