Robert L. Stanford was born on May 9, 1816 in North Carolina. He married Mary Taylor on May 19, 1839 in Washington County, Tennessee, and they grew a family of five children named Hannah, Nancy, Sarah, Jonathan, and Laura.
During the Civil War, Treasurer Stanford enlisted as a surgeon on August 31, 1861. At that time, he was commissioned as an officer in Company S, Tennessee 1st Infantry Regiment. By September 4 of 1861, Stanford was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Volunteers Medical Staff Infantry Regiment. He continued to serve on the medical staff until February 18, 1865 when he was mustered out.
In 1865, he was appointed as the State Treasurer of Tennessee, and Treasurer Stanford served in the position from 1865 to 1866. During his time in office, Treasurer Stanford deposited school funds that were in the form of Federal bonds in a Memphis bank. However, the bank became insolvent and the school funds that were deposited in the bank were unable to be obtained. As a result of losing the school fund money, Treasurer Stanford resigned from his position as State Treasurer. After the resignation of Treasurer Stanford, Governor William Brownlow appointed John R. Henry from Knox County to fill the vacancy.
On April 16, 1867, Treasurer Stanford died at his home in Washington County, Tennessee. According to a report in the Republican Banner newspaper, Treasurer Stanford’s death was a result of suicide. The specific cause of his death was determined to be an overdose of laudanum, a beverage consisting of alcohol and opium.
Reference: “Robert L. Stanford.” Find a Grave http://www.findagrave.com; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN: Tennessee State Library and Archives; Index to Compiled Military Service Records, Official Army Register of Volunteer Force, 1861 – 1865, Heitman: Register of United State Army, 1789-1903; “Resignation of R.L. Stanford as State Treasurer,” December 24, 1866, William Brownlow Governor Papers, Box 2, Folder 6, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN; E. Murton Coulter, William G. Brownlow: Fighting Parson of the Southern Highlands (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999); “Dr. Stanford: The Melancholy End of an Ex-Treasurer,” Republican Banner, Apr. 21, 1867, p. 4.