Saturday, February 23, 2013

Martin Van Buren Digby: Basic Family & Civil War

                                    THE FAMILY OF 

          1843 - 1900                                                                                       1851 - 1931
          M.V. Digby                                                                                        Tennie Digby

Martin Van Buren Digby

The above photo may have been taken during the Civil War.  The original is a tin type and was in the possession of Mack Flanagan Digby.  It was black and crumpled up like a wadded up piece of paper.  He gave me permission to straighten it and my father, Robert Glenn Blair, had a professional photographer make copies of it.  It is the only picture I know to exist of Martin Van Buren Digby.  Mack Digby said he had a mustache that he could tie behind his head.

M.V. Digby was born in 1843 in Mississippi (His father, James, was born in Georgia; his mother, Nancy, was born in Mississippi).  His family lived in Mississippi for a long time.  When he was a little boy, his father came to him, took him down to a little bridge not far from their home and told him that he was going to have to leave because the law was after him.  That long discussion was the last time Martin Van Buren Digby ever saw his father.  As far as is known, the Digby family was associated with the Methodist church until M.V. Digby's grandson, Mart Digby, started going to the Disciples of Christ church after he married Pearl Griffin.


Pat Digby relayed the following regarding Martin Van Buren Digby's marriages and family: "Martin Van Buren Digby was married to (1) Susan Ledbetter.  He never divorced her, but married (2) Tinnie Barnes.  He traveled between these wives, continuing to have children with them both. Susan Ledbetter was older than Martin Van Buren Digby and had a child from a previous marriage.  Martin Van Buren Digby would be gone for a month at a time when going to the other family.  It is not known whether the families knew about each other.

Martin Digby's first wife was (1) Susan V. Ledbetter; she was born about 1836 in Texas.  (Her father was born in Georgia; her mother was born in Louisiana).  They had the following children:

I.  Mart Digby: He was born about 1868 in Texas.  He later went to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
II. Robert: He was born about 1872 in Texas.
III. Bert Hendrick: He was born about 1859 in Texas; he was a farmer.  (His father was born in Kentucky.  I'm not sure if he is a child from another marriage or a farm hand/ relative she just labled as her son).
(Note: The information on Martin's first family is all based on the 1880 Grimes county, Texas census information, except for the fact that there was a child named Mart who later went to Indian Territory in Oklahoma).

Martin Van Buren Digby married a second time to (2) Elmira Tennessee Barnes ("Tennie").  (Note: There is some question whether Emeline T. Barnes is the same person as Elmira Tennessee Barnes.  "Elmira" is on the Confederate pension application and tombstone.  "Emeline T." is on the 1850 Cass county, Texas census); they were married on January 28, 1869 in Austin county, Texas (one source says Tarrant county, Texas).  Martin met her when he went to the Donahoe community in Bell county, Texas.  Tennessee was born in 1851 and died on August 19, 1931 (according to her tombstone; another source says she was born in 1849 in Texas); she died of a stroke ("cerebral apoplexy") at St. David's hospital in Austin, Texas and was buried at Hillcrest cemetery in Temple, Texas (Bell county).  A.C. Hewett Funeral Home in Temple, Texas made the arrangements.

The above image is a tombstone rubbing I did of Elmira Tennessee (Barnes) Digby's tombstone at Hillcrest cemetery in Temple, Texas.  The tombstone has sunken into the ground somewhat and it measures 2' across and 11 1/2 " of height are showing above the ground.  The tombstone faces east and is located at the back center section of the cemetery.  Pearl (Griffin) Digby told me that Tennie Digby was a great lady; she was neat as a pin and made her own clothes.  They had the following children:

I.  James H. Digby: He was born in 1870 in Texas.

II. William Seaborn Digby ("Willie"): He was born on January 12, 1872 in Texas (possibly at Gauze, Texas in Milam county). He married Mattie Minerva Wallace on December 27, 1896; they met at the Donahoe community in Bell county, Texas.  Mattie Wallace was born March 9, 1874, probably around Donahoe.  She died on October 1, 1936 at Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas (Bell county).  Will married a second time to (2) Lilly (        ) Haire.  Will Digby died on February 11, 1952 in Belton, Texas and is buried next to his first wife in the North Belton cemetery.  They had the following children:
     A.  Loraine Anise Digby ("Loraine"): She married (1) Ralph Jones and (2) Herbert Orlando Blair.
     B.  Mack Flanagan Digby ("Mack"): He married Vera Barnett.
     C.  Sidney Alleen Digby ("Sidney"):  She married John Henry Wilson.
     D.  Emmette Doyle Digby ("Emmette"): He married (1) Alta Ray and (2) Elvera Hash.
     E.  Corinne Lillian Digby ("Corinne" or "Cody"): She married O'dell Hyer.
     F.  Martin Van Digby ("Mart"): He married Pearl Griffin.
     G.  Alta Merle Digby ("Merle"): She married Leonard Cosper.

III.  Claud Digby: He was born in 1876 in Texas.

IV.  (boy): He was born in January, 1880 in Texas.

V.  Alta Digby: She was born in 1882 and died in 1964.  She married D McKay; he was born in 1877 and died in 1940.  They lived in Temple, Texas, where "D" McKay worked for the Santa Fe railroad.  They are both buried in Hilllcrest cemetery in Temple, Texas (Bell county).  Tennessee (Barnes) Digby lived with them the last years of her life.  D and Alta had the following children:
     A.  Marguerite McKay: She married Sam Floca, who owns a Coca-Cola Bottling company in Temple, Bell county, Texas.  They had a son named Sam Floca.


     B.  Vesta (Vista) McKay: She married a (1) Mr. Hewitt, who owns Hewitt Funeral Home in the Temple, Texas area.  She married a second time after Mr. Hewitt's death to a (2) Mr. Turner.

VI: Leonard Guy Digby ("Guy"): He married Nina Jackson, who was born in Arkansas.  They had the following children:
     A.  Mart Digby: His only son was David Digby.
     B.  Mary Alice Digby: (Note: Emily Haire said that one of Leonard Guy Digby's grandchildren was Mary Alice Digby, who is her mother).
     C.  Helen Digby:
     D.  Jack Digby: He died at a young age.
     E.  Nina Guy Digby:
     F.  Dwayne Digby:

We find Martin Van Buren Digby's family in  Dallas county, Texas with four children on June 7, 1880.  At this time, Martin's occupation was blacksmithing (The name of the town was Haught's Store).  

1880 Dallas County, Texas Census
Martin Van Buren Digby Family ("M.V. Digby")

M.V. Digby had a small physical frame.  In 1896-1897, he was the blacksmith at the Donahoe community in Bell county, Texas.  Martin was killed by a train south of Holland, Texas in Bell county on June 18, 1900.  It is possible that he drank too much and that he was drunk and was either walking or sleeping on the tracks when the train hit him; however, this has not been confirmed.

                      The Civil War Record of Martin Van Buren Digby:

Company K, 7th Texas Cavalry, Sibley's Brigade was raised by a physician named Carroll M. Peak of Fort Worth, although he fell ill and did not go with this group.  (Note: John Peter Smith had initially enlisted with Peak's group, but decided that Peak's group would not leave early enough, so he decided to assist in the formation of the company being formed in the Mansfield area by Thomas Orville Moody).  Other men from the Mansfield area joined up at Johnson's Station, known as Terry's Trading Post before the arrival of Middleton Tate Johnson, or in Ellis county with Colonel Parsons.  These 117 men, many from Mansfield, served as part of the Trans-Mississippi Department and made up only one of the 254 Texas units which served in the Civil War.  On October 26, 1861, Mansfield's notable Captain Thomas O. Moody, a forty year old farmer, merchandiser, and slave owner from Hardeman county, Tennessee, enrolled these men in Mansfield, Texas.  Moody was elected Captain and John Peter Smith was elected as Seoncd Lieutenant.  The unit was mustered into the CSA for "the war" at Camp Pickett, near San Antonio on November 15, 1861 as Company K, 7th Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, under the command of Brigadier General H.H. Sibley; M.V. Digby was an 18 year old private in Company K.  Company K was in the 3rd Regiment of Sibley's Brigade.  W.D. Beale (age 33), William Beale (age 36), and M.A. Beale (age 19) were also in the unit.  The value of M.V. Digby's horse was $ 185.00 and the value of his equipment was $ 15.00.  This was one of the first groups to be organized in Tarrant county.  When they arrived in San Antonio, Company K was disappointed to learn that the main body of Sibley's army had already departed.  Due to their late arrival, the unit was ordered to act as the escort company for the Brigade Paymaster.  They marched with the Pay Wagon and arrived in New Mexico after the battle of Val Verde had already been fought.  They ultimately became part of Steele's rear guard.  General Sibley had convinced the Texans and the Confederate Army that the conquest of federal posts in New Mexico was both feasible and important.  Over 2, 000 men marched out of San Antonio on an expedition that was to cover 2, 400 miles through a sparsley settled wilderness, and without adequate supplies of food and clothing.  Company K was ordered, with most of the 7th Texas Cavalry, to become part of the occupation forces which secured the Mesilla Valley while the remainder of the Confederate force moved north.  They lost only three men out of 112 during the course of the campaign.  Upon the collapse of the campaign, the unit served as a rear guard for the tattered little army as it retreated back to Texas.  Part of the unit must have served as an occupation force for Fort Bliss prior to the evacuaton of that post because 2nd Lt. John Peter Smith was listed briefly as the commander of the fort.  The New Mexico campaign was a military disaster.  On their return to San Antonio eight months later in July, 1862, nearly 600 men had been killed in action or died from disease, and three-forths of the survivors marched into San Antonio on foot.  An article from the Confederate Veteran dated March, 1913 states, "that practically no preparations had been made to take care of the wants of the soldiers.  (That the campaign was) so ill considered and so  inadequately provided for, with weather becoming cold, demanded most strenuous sacrifices from the men of Texas who were engaged in the hazardous work.  The Confederates had no tents, their clothing was confined to that which they wore; there was no covering at night except saddle blankets."  Other accounts state that ideally, the men enlisted with mount, sawed-off shotgun, heavy revolver, a Bowie knife, and a sword known as a Yankee sticker.  Charles Ellis Miller, who was a child and who witnessed these men from Fort Worth marching off to join the war said that, "they all wore homespun clothes and carried all sorts of guns.  They had six-foot squirrel rifles, shotguns, caps and balls...six shooters and homemade saber(s) that had been fashioned right here in town."  Company K returned with 109 men fit for duty.  The men of Company K eventually received furloughs home; however, few were eager to return to the hardship of war.  Captain Moody resigned due to problems from an old gunshot wound and Isaac Gatewood Bowman was elected the new commander.  On April 16, 1863, Captain Bowman, who lived between Webb and Mansfield, and who served the Confederate forces in Company K was sent to "round up the skulking officers as well as soldiers belonging to Sibley's Brigade" and return them to the war effort.

M.V. Digby's record shows that he was last paid by J.T. Battaile on December 31, 1862.  After returning to action, Company K was to see heavy fighting as part of Tom Green's famed "Horse Marines" at the battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863.  As part of General Magruder's plan for recapturing the port city of Galveston, a group of hand-picked men were placed aboard two vessels which were swathed in cotton bales for protection.  These two "cottonclads" were filled with about 380 men from the Arizona Brigade, including many of the men in Company K; these men were the "Horse Marines."  The Tarrant county men were on board the faster of the two ships, the Neptune.

1.  "Cottonclad": Both Union and Confederate ships were given protection during critical operations by stacking bales of cotton on their decks.  The original Confederate "cottonclads", however, had the cotton built in, not added on.  The gundeck and machinery of these river steamers were protected by a layer of compressed cotton sandwiched between heavy wooden walls.  Most "cottonclads" also had reinforced bows and an iron prow for ramming  (Source:   A Glossary of Ship Types).
2.  To purchase a miniature Cottonclad gunboat model for $ 10.50, see Model # TS13 at the following internet site:
3.  Battle of Galveston: January 1, 1863.  After several weeks of Federal occupation, the most important seaport of Texas was restored to Confederate control for the remainder of the war.  The Neptune and Bayou City were Confederate cottonclads; they went from Harrisburg, through Galveston Bay, and toward the western entrance to Galveston harbor.  About dawn on New Year's Day in 1863, they entered the west end of Galveston harbor.  Their nearest and first target was the Union's Harriet Lane.  After a brief encounter and some maneuvering, the Neptune was lying on the bottom of the harbor.  The Bayou City was outnumbered six to one among the armed vessels in the harbor.  The Bayou City overpowered the Harriet Lane
(Source: Texas Time Line).
4.  See Martin Van Buren Digby Civil War history.  Some soldiers in Company K were evidently on the Neptune at the Battle of Galveston.

The Neptune operated as a  tug, lookout, and transport in coastal waters, especially Galveston.  It was a wooden steamer which contained two guns.  During the battle at Galveston, the Neptune's captain was Captain W. Sangster.  Sailing into Galveston Bay, the sharp-shooting Texans swept the decks of the Union vessels, while the Northerner's return fire impacted harmlessly into the cotton bales.  After the Neptune was damaged when ramming the Harriet Lane, she sank in eight feet of water while making toward the edge of the channel.

Smith ascended to command of Company K in 1863 after the resignation of Captain Bowman.  Smith led his command into the Battle of Donaldsonville, Louisiana where many of the Tarrant county men were killed in a deadly battle there (many of the men are buried there in the Confederate cemetery).  Smith was seriously wounded in the battle.  (Note: Another source says that Tom Green led an impetuous attack on Fort Butler, outside of Donaldsonville, Louisiana.  This attack failed and cost many lives.  Is this the same as the Battle of Donaldsonville that Smith led his troops into?).  All of Company D and part of Company K were captured on June 28, 1863 at Donaldsonville and remained as prisoners of war until the war's end.

Company K also saw service in the Red River Campaign, missing the crucial battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, but playing key roles in the pursuit of Banks south towards New Orleans.  After recovering from his injuries at Donaldsonville, Smith was again wounded at the Battle of Mansfield in April of 1864.  (Note: Sources differ as to amount of involvement of Company K in the Battle of Mansfield).  In recognition of his bravery in these two battles, Smith was promoted to become Colonel of the 7th Texas Cavalry and served in this capacity for the remainder of the war.

The Seventh Texas Cavalry was collectively organized at Victoria, Texas during the summer of 1861 and shortly thereafter attached to General Sibley for service in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona.  Regiments included Company F, mustered in Cherokee county; Company B, mustered in Bexar county; Company D, mustered in Angelina county; Company G, recruited in Bexar county; Company I, mustered in Bexar and Anderson counties; and Company K, mustered in Bexar county (from Mansfield and surrounding areas).

Commanding officers included William Steele's Cavalry, Arthur P. Bagby's Cavalry, P.T. Herbert's Cavalry, Powhatan Jordan's Cavalry, Gustave Hoffman's Cavalry, J.S. Sutton's Cavalry, Thomas Moody's Cavalry, William H. Cleaver's Cavalry, and Hampton Parton's Cavalry.

Command assignments within the Trans-Mississippi Department included:
November 8, 1861: Sibley's Brigade Department of Texas.
January 21, 1862: Attached, Army of New Mexico.
February 19, 1863: Cavalry, District of Western Louisiana, Trans-Mississippi Department.
December 31, 1863: Green's Brigade, Green's Cavalry Division, District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, Trans-Mississippi Department.
January 31, 1864: Cavalry, Virginia Point, Eastern Sub-District, District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, Trans-Mississippi Department.
September 30, 1864: Third Texas Cavalry Brigade, First Texas Cavalry Division, Second Corps, Army of Trans-Mississippi.
The Regiment's original commanding officer, William Steele, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General effective September 12, 1862.  Arthur P. Bagby, the Regiment's second-in-command, was appointed to the provisional rank of Brigadier General by General Kirby Smith; however, the appointment was never approved.

The 7th Texas Cavalry participated in many engagements, including the Western Campaign.  Specific engagements include: (Note: #s refer to map locations).
1. February 19: Skirmish, Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory.
2. February 21: Engagement, Val Verde, New Mexico Territory.
3. March 26: Skirmish, Apache Canyon, New Mexico Territory.
4. March 28: Skirmish, Glorieta, New Mexico Territory.
5. May 20-21: Skirmish, Comanche Canyon, New Mexico Territory.
6. August 7: Skirmish, Fort Fillmore, New Mexico Territory.
7. January 1: Engagement, Galveston, Texas.
    April 9 - May 14: Operation in Western Louisiana.
8. April 17: Action in Bayou Vermillion, Louisiana.
9. June 28: Action, Donaldsonville, Louisiana.
9. July 12-13: Engagement, Cox's Plantation, Donaldsonville, Bayou LaForche, Louisiana.
    October 3 - November 30: Campaign in Western Louisiana & Operations in the Teche Country.
10. November 2: Skirmish, Bayou Bourbeau, Buzzard's Prairie, Louisiana.
10. November 3: Grand Coteau, Bayou Bourbeau, Carrion Crow Bayou, Buzzard's Prairie, Louisiana.
 March 10 - May 22: Operations against Bank's Red River Campaign.
11. April 8: Battle, Sabine Cross Roads.
12. April 8: Battle, Mansfield.
13. April 8: Battle, Near Pleasant Hill, Louisiana.
13. April 9: Engagement, Pleasant Hill, Louisiana.
14. April 12: Skirmish, Fort Bisland, Louisiana.
15. May 1: Skirmish, Alexandria, Louisiana.
16. May 4: Skirmish, Mansura, Louisiana.
17. May 7: Skirmish, Bayou Boeuf, Louisiana.
18. May 7: Skirmish, Bayou LaMourie, Louisiana.
19. May 8: Skirmish, Bayou Roberts, Louisiana.
18. May 12: Engagement, Bayou LaMourie, Louisiana.
15. 20. May 13-20: Operations against the retreat from Alexandria (15) to Morganza, Louisiana (20).
16. 21. May 16: Engagement, Mansura (16), Belle Prairie, Smith's Plantation, Marksville, Louisiana (21).
22. May 17: Action, Near Moearville, Bayou de Glaze, Louisiana
22. May 18: Engagement, Yellow Bayou, Bayou de Glaze, Norwood's Plantaton, Old Oaks, Louisiana.

The 7th Texas Cavalry surrendered at Galveston on June 2, 1865 and, according to unofficial reports, they disbanded on May 18, 1865 once news of eastern Confederate surrender reached Texas.  Colonel John Peter Smith of Fort Worth is credited with bringing the unit home in 1865 and disbanding it along the Trinity River in Navarro county; at the time, he was commanding 600 troops.  When Tennessee Digby was 71 years old, she wrote a letter to the Secretary of War in her pension application that stated that she thought M.V. Digby "enlisted in Dallas county, Texas, Company E, Texas Cavalry, under Captain Steve Lane.  He served with Captain Lane a while then was transferred to the supply department that is gathering cattle in Texas and swam them across the Mississippi river for the soldiers at Vicksburg.  Mack Digby had talked with an old black slave in Holland, Texas many years ago; his name was Henry Early.  The following was related:

"Yes, captan, I helped swim many a one across there.  We'd get a boat and put two or three men in there to row the boat and one would sit on the back end.  They would get an old lead steer and push him off in the water.  The man on the back end would grab the steer by the horns so that when they rowed the boat, the steer had to follow.  Then we would start pushing the rest of the cattle into the water, one right after the other, and they would follow the lead steer that was guided by the boat.  Every once in a while , one cow would give out and down the river he would go."


MAP # 1

MAP # 2

1.  Conversations between Billy Blair and Mack Digby in June, 1980 and 1981.
2.  Conversations between Billy Blair and Vera (Barnett) Digby.
3.  Conversation between Billy Blair and Pearl (Griffin) Digby on May 11, 1980.
4.  The Donahoe Community and Donahoe, Texas - A Ghost Town by E.A. Limer, Jr.
5.  1880 Texas Soundex.
6.  The Confederate Army of New Mexico by Martin Hardwick Hall, Presidential Press, Austin. 1978.  (Note: This book states that General Canby, Sibley's opponent, was Sibley's classmate at West Point, was best man at his wedding, and married Sibley's wife's cousin).  (CW.E.571.4.H35  -  Confederate Research Center, Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas).
7.  Conversation between Billy Blair and Mattie (Digby) Wesson on November 23, 1981.
8.  Article on "The Civil War Years in Mansfield".  Mansfield Historical Society, 101 East Broad Street.  P.O. Box 304, Mansfield, Texas 76063.  (Source: Confederate Research Center, Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas).
9.  The History of Mansfield, Texas (Mid 1800-1965).  A Community Service Project by The Mansfield Historical Society.
10. The Polignac Gazette, vol. 2. # 2, August 1994, p. 7; vol. 2 # 3, September 1994, p. 7; vol. 2. # 5, November 1994, p. 8. Series of articles on Colonel John Peter Smith and Company K, 7th Texas Cavalry).
11. Elmira Tennessee Digby Confederate Pension Application, filed on April 24, 1922.  Texas State Archives in Austin, Texas.  (Note: Contains letter to Secretary of War from Mrs. E.T. Digby on March 21, 1922 in which she states, "If I'm not mistaken, he enlisted in Dallas county, Texas, Company E, Texas Cavalry, under captain Steve Lane."  This does not match with his official record of being with Company K.  Also, the other men that E.T. Digby says were in M.V. Digby's company belonged to Company K, not Company E).
12. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas (Microcopy No. 323, roll 45).  The National Archives.  National Archives & Records Service.  General Services Administration.  Washington: 1960.
13. Polignac's Texas Brigade by Barr.  (Gen. 973.73B.  Fort Worth downtown library).
14. Blood & Treasure, Confederate Empire in the Southwest by Donald S. Frazier.  # 41.  Texas
A & M Unversity Military History Series (April).
15. Confederate Cavalry West of the River by Stephen B. Oates, Austin.  University of Texas Press.
16. Houston county in the Civil War by Thomas N. Mainer, Publications Development Company of Texas. 1981.
17. The Battle of Glorieta Pass by William C. Whitford.
18. 7th Texas Cavalry Official History ($ 15.00).  Confederate Research Center, Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas.
19.  General Tom Green: A Fighting Texan by Odie Faulk.  Texian Press, Waco,Texas. 1963. (contains stories of Val Verde, Glorieta Pass, retreat to San Antonio, sailing ships at Battle of Galveston, Battle of LaFourche, Sibley accused of drunkenness and cowardice).  (CW.E.467.1.G77F19 - Confederate Research Center, Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas).
20. The Civil War in the American West by Alvin M. Josephy.  Alfred Knoff, New York, 1991.  (Sibley's Brigade and Glorieta Pass).  (CW.E.470.9.J66.1991 - Confederate Research Center.  Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas).
21. Sibley's New Mexico Campaign by Martin H. Hall.  University of Texas Press, Austin.  1960.  (References the 7th regiment).  (CW.E.580.H3.1960 - Confederate Research Center.  Hill County College, Hillsboro, Texas).
22. Civil War Naval Chronology, Part VI, (1861-1865).  Special Studies and Cumulative Index. 
page 278.
23. 1880 Dallas county, Texas census.  Village of Haughts Store.  June 7th.  Family 115/ 123. 
24.  Jean Jones: e-mail =
25. 1880 Grimes county, Texas census, page 172.  June 3rd.  Family # 32/ 32.  (Susan V. Ledbetter and son Martin Digby).
26. 1850 Attala county, Mississippi census, page 174.  October 28th.  Family # 1244/ 1252.  (James and Nancy Degbee with son Martin).
27. Journal Footprints (1950s-1977).  Fort Worth Genealogical Society.
28. Glenn Blair research.
29. Emily Haire: ehaire1 note on August 27, 2002.
30. Pat Digby: September 7, 2006.

1.  Need M.V. Digby and Tennessee Barnes' wedding license in Austin county, Texas.
2.  Location of Digby home in Mississippi?
3.  According to Dwayne Digby in 2007, "After hearing Billy Blair tell the story about Martin Van Buren Digby getting drunk and falling asleep on the railroad tracks where a train ran over and killed him, aunt Cody Hyer said, 'He could have just said he was run over by a train'".  (This happened after Billy gave family members a simple genealogy book about our family in the early 1980s).


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