Leopold Stavenhagen was born September 3, 1833, the son of a wealthy family in Hamburg, Germany. He ran away from his school and came to the United States as a stowaway on a sailing vessel landing in Galveston, Texas. They were 40 days in the crossing. He was disinherited. This occurred in approximately 1850. He had five brothers and one sister. Three brothers came to the United States years after he came. His descendents know very little about the next years of his life. It is believed his mother died sometime during these first years here and that he went home at the time, but was soon back in Texas.
As related by an old friend in 1932, Leopold was in the South Central New Mexico Territory when he was about 30 years old, prospecting for gold in the Sacramento Mountains. He built the first chimney ever to draw smoke in the Sacramentos. In this venture he almost lost his life, his partner had gone to El Paso for supplies; Leopold was alone when a band of Indians came in, took all of his water and left him tied to a tree and he was in a bad way. His tongue was swollen from his mouth when he was found by a priest and a group of mission Indians. They took him along and saved his life. He was never able to learn what happened to his partner. Leopold made a claim with the U.S. Government in March 1891 for loses sustained by the Tonkawa and Apache Indians in Arizona Territory in April, 1862 and Comanche Indians in Hood County, in February, 1865 in the sum of $1,200.00 (2 horses, 1 mare, 2 jacks and jenneys, 23 pack saddles, 1 saddle and 2 horses).
During the Civil War, Leopold was a teamster on a freight wagon hauling supplies for the Confederate troops. (Roma Stavenhagen Walling, Leopold’s granddaughter, had no information on when Leopold came to the Granbury area.) It is the family story that Leopold met his wife when she was nine years old and would visit his store. He waited until she was old enough to marry.
After marrying Sarah Elizabeth Yates, they lived in Granbury in March 1875, where Leopold ran a restaurant, bakery and confectionary store. By February 1877 they had moved to the western part of Hood County, Texas. There Leopold built and operated a store in the area. The store and cotton gin were located some 1½ miles northeast of the present day Lipan, Hood County, Texas. In February 1877, they lived with Sarah’s family on their farm.
Leopold served as Justice of the Peace of Precinct 2 in 1880. Then he became Postmaster at Lipan on August 21, 1883.
According to Roma, little is known of the next ten years or so he was a storekeeper. During the money panic he continued to sell on credit until he was hurt badly financially. She thinks they were in Hood County, Texas until 1888 when they moved to Gordon, Palo Pinto County, Texas but were back in Hood County by September 1890. He owned a house in Lipan and bought a farm five miles west of Lipan, Double Mountain Community (his wife always wanted a farm). The land laid part in Erath and part in Palo Pinto County. The house was in Erath, taxes paid in Erath, but most of the farmland was in Palo Pinto. They used to say they lived in Erath, farmed in Palo Pinto and got their mail in Hood Co. (Rural Rte from Lipan). They moved to the farm about 1891.
Leopold returned to Germany in 1876 upon his father’s death, and Sarah stayed with her family.
They stayed on the farm, but Leopold was not a farmer. He was an insurance agent. He rode around in a buggy driving his mule, “Old Beck.” He was an educated man, able to read, write and speak seven languages. He was not a large man, had red hair. Roma writes that he was a good and gentle man.
Leopold died June 26, 1911 in Lipan. He was buried in Baptist Cemetery, two miles southeast of Lipan.
Father: Jacob Moses Stavenhagen – born January 3, 1798 in Alt-Strelitz, Germany
Mother: Sara Ernst – born June 18, 1806 in Hamburg, Germany
Marriage: Sarah Elizabeth Yeats / Yates – born June 2, 1855 in Tennessee; married January 29, 1874 in Granbury, Hood County, Texas
Jacob Edward Stavenhagen – born March 26, 1875 in Granbury, Hood County, Texas
Austin Newton Stavenhagen – born February 27, 1877 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Frances May Stavenhagen – born June 27, 1879 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Maggie Jane Stavenhagen – born October 3, 1881 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Mary Agnes Stavenhagen – born December 4, 1883 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Nannie Bell Stavenhagen – born December 3, 1885 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Cora Lee Stavenhagen – born March 29, 1888 in Gordon, Palo Pinto County, Texas
Joseph Ernest Stavenhagen – born September 29, 1890 in Lipan, Hood County, Texas
Alice Lenora Stavenhagen – born January 30, 1898 in Erath County, Texas
John McFall Stavenhagen – born August 5, 1901 in Erath County, Texas