Monday, February 25, 2013

William Seaborn Digby: Basic Family Information


       1872 - 1952                                                                                1874 - 1936
William Seaborn Digby                                                               Mattie Minerva Wallace

The William Seaborn Digby Family

William Seaborn Digby ("Will"; "Sebourn Will"; "S.W. Digby"; "S. Will Digby") was a farmer.  The above picture of the William Seaborn Digby family was taken in 1907 at their home place in Santa Anna, Texas.  The people in the picture include, left to right,: Mack Digby; Loraine Digby; Mattie (Wallace) Digby holding Mart Digby; Sidney Digby; Emmette Digby; and Will Digby holding Corinne Digby.

William Seaborn Digby was born on January 12, 1872 near Fort Worth, Texas (possibly at Gauze, Texas.  This town is near Cameron and Summerview in East Texas; it is close to Arnold Lake and Dime Box.  Gauze is in Milam county, south of Milano).  His parents were Martin Van Buren Digby and Tennessee (Barnes) Digby ("Tennie").  He lived on the Yegua (pronounced Ya-wah) river.  Later, Will ran a blacksmith shop at Gauze.

One time, Will and some other boys were going to Arnold Lake to go swimming.  Many time when they went swimming here, they would see alligator heads pop up.  There was one of the boys who was very good natured, never a trouble-maker; another boy named Fike (Fife?) was whipping him on the legs with a switch as they were riding along.  The good natured boy begged him to stop, but Fike wouldn't, so he got off the horse and almost beat Fikes to death before the other boys could get him off of Fike.

Will Digby's parents were Martin Van Buren Digby and Tennessee (Barnes) Digby.  Will had two brothers: James H. Digby, who was born in 1870 in Texas and Claud Digby, who was born in 1875 in Texas.  Will's only sister was Alta Digby, who married "D" McKay.  They lived in Temple, Texas where he worked on the railroad.

Will & Mattie (Wallace) Digby

The above photo of Will and Mattie Digby was taken either at their wedding or after the birth of their first child.  When Will was about ninteen years old, he came to Donahoe, Texas in Bell county; this is where he later met his first wife,(1) Mattie Minerva Wallace ("Mattie").  They raised their family in the Donahoe community.  Will and Mattie married on December 27 (28), 1896, possibly at Donahoe; they were associated with the Christian church (Disciples of Christ), but many times didn't attend because they moved around so often or a church was not available in the community in which they lived.  (Note: There is a possibility that they were connected with the Methodist church and that the association with the Disciples of Christ church came when Will's son, Martin Van Digby, got married to Pearl Griffin).  Mattie (Wallace) Digby was born on March 9, 1874, at Donahoe; her parents were Grandison Royston Wallace (or Gran de Royston) Wallace and Charlotte Jane Leatherman ("Lottie"); they came from Arkansas.

In 1900, Will and Mattie moved their family to Pecan, Texas.  About three years later, they moved to Shallow Ford, Texas east of Belton; they lived at the old "Key's place".  Mack Digby remembered a few stories from the time the family lived here:

"There was an old wire gap that led into their property; it had tall, big posts and a header across the top.  Below their home down in the bottom, on the bank of the river, they had a corn field.  Somebody's cattle had come across the river and had gotten into the corn  patch.  They were tearing down the corn and eating it up.  Will got on his horse and rode down to the field.  He roped a yearling and took him up to the house.  He tied the yearling's head to one post and his tail to another post.  Then he got a bunch of tin cans and wired them to the yearling's tail.  He let him loose and, of course, the yearling went back into the corn field.  The flopping of the cans and the bellowing of the yearling got the cows out of the corn.  Another time at Shallow Ford, their dog fell over in a fit by the woodpile out in back of the house.   Will thought the dog might be mad, so he grabbed the axe and hit him in the head; this killed the dog instantly."

Will & Mattie Wallace
(Identity of the child is not known)
In the Fall of 1906 or 1907, the family moved to Santa Anna, Texas in Coleman county; they lived on the old "Fuller place".  In 1908, they lived at the old "Toole place" around Santa Anna, Texas. Belton, Texas (around the Taylor's Valley area) was the next home in 1909.  One year later, they moved to Coleman county, Texas.  Will Digby (also called S.W. Digby) was a trustee at the Vilas school in 1911.  In the Fall of 1911, they lived on the "Frank Woods farm" in Bell county and remained here until 1916.  In 1917-1918, they resided at the "Tom Whittington farmplace".  The "Sally Williams place" was close to the Whittington's farm, and they lived here from 1920-1921.

William Seaborn Digby Family
2-5-1920 Bell County, Texas Census

(Top portion of page; Source:
(Grandison Royston Wallace family is also on this page)

They lived at a farm in Vilas, Texas in 1924 and later back to Belton, Texas.  Sidney (Digby) Wilson recalled Will Digby going to buy a farm in Bartlett, but it was rented just before he arrived.  He said, "You know, if I was on the way to Hell with a bucket of ice, it would freeze over before I got there."  Sidney said her father was very witty and mischievous.

Mattie (Wallace) Digby (sitting) and Corrine
Digby (on right).
Mattie (Wallace) Digby

Mattie (Wallace) Digby was a small built person and relatives thought well of her.  Mattie died on October 1, 1936 of cancer at home on Surghnor street in Belton, Texas.  The doctors said they didn't think she had cancer, but they operated and found it.  The family didn't want them to do the surgery. When they did it anyway, the family became upset and from then on went to Kings Daughters hospital in the same city.  She is buried in North Belton cemetery.

The above image is a tombstone rubbing I did of Will & Mattie Digby's tombstone in the North Belton cemetery in Belton,Texas.  The tombstone is 1' 4 1/2" tall and 4' 1 1/2" across; it faces east.  (Will Digby's footstone is 3 1/2" tall and 4 3/4" across and Mattie's is 3 1/2" tall and 5 1/4" across).  Note that I forgot to trace a small portion of the inscription under the "DIGBY" name on both sides.  (Location of their graves: Will, Mattie, and Mart & Pearl Digby's infant baby are buried in a plot in the northeast corner of the cemetery next to North Main street.  Information supplied by Glenn Blair). Mack Digby used to have Mattie's old Singer sewing machine, but later sold it.  Will Digby's second wife was (2) Lilly (          ) Haire.(one source said Heine) ; they had no children. Will had a furniture business in his later life (where Potts Hardware was in the 1960s, just 2-3 stores east of First Christian Church on the courthouse square.  However, most of his life was spent farming.  Will Digby died on February 11, 1952 in Temple (one source says Belton), Texas and is buried alongside his first wife in the North Belton cemetery.  Jeannie (Blair) Pittman remembers Will Digby in his later years as "a very skinny man who usually wore a hat and tie.  He lived in a small house behind his son Mart's home at 1130 North Beal street in Belton, Texas.  He played the fiddle a great deal.  Often he would cough up blood on Kleenex tissues  which he would keep in a bag tied to his bed."  On January 7, 2017, Rita (Digby) Locklin relayed the following: "Will S. Digby and Lilly split up at one time and Mart & Mack Digby turned our garage (Beal street home) into that apartment because he didn't have a place to live.  But he only stayed there for a few months because he and Lilly went back together.  That's when Bill and Mattie (Digby) Wesson moved into the apartment.  Others that lived there included Shep & JoAnn Shepard and Maggie Mecom, and a soldier couple.  I was seven years old when William Seaborn Digby died.  He and Lilly lived in a rock house out on Highway 190 (where the Albriton Ford House used to be), but now the house is gone".

Will Digby
William Seaborn Digby


I.  Loraine Anise Digby (or "Anise Lorraine Digby") ("Loraine"): She was born on February 19, 1898, probably in the Donahoe community in Bell county, Texas.  Her first husband was (1) Ralph Jones.  They had the following children:
     A.  Dorothy Nell Jones: She was born on September 20, 1921 in Holland, Texas.  She married Larry Surghnor.  They had a child named Bill.  He married a lady named Joyce Ann and they had two children.  Dorothy Nell died on November 2, 2004 in Belton, Texas.  Her funeral was at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 5th; it was a graveside service at North Belton cemetery.  Heartfield Funeral Home in Belton handled the service.  At the time of her death, Dorothy Nell (Jones) Surghnor had five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
Dorothy Nell (Jones) Surghnor

     B.  Melba Ruth Jones: She married G.B. Nolan.  They had the following children:
          1.  Danny Nolan:
          2.  Pat Nolan:
          3.  (unknown):
     C.  Betty Merle Jones: She married Jodie Van Wie.  They had a child named Jerry.
Loraine Digby's second husband was  (2) Herbert Orlando Blair ("H.O.").  They had no children.  Loraine died on Sunday, January 12, 1997 at the Park Place Nursing Home in Belton, Texas and is buried in the North Belton cemetery.

II. Mack Flanagan Digby (or "Mack Flannigan Digby") ("Mack"): He was born on January 11, 1900 in Pecan, Texas near the Donahoe community in Bell county, Texas; he was named for the doctor at the Donahoe community.  Mack married Vera Barnett on July 15, 1930 (Vera's obituary says she married on January 11, 1930) in Kingsville, Texas. Vera died on January 23, 1987.  One relative said that Mack was wild and looking for a good time and that Vera calmed his down.

Mack Digby
Mack Digby

Mack Digby (left) and some Boy Scout Troop  members.

Mack Flanagan Digby
Mack Digby

Vera was born in Bell county, Texas, the daughter of Charlie Barnett and Mary Ann (Hayter) Barnett.  She was a 1949 graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 1955 received her Masters degree from the University of Texas in Austin.  She taught school in Austin and in Killeen; she was a member of the United Methodist church.  In 1930 - 1931, Vera (Barnett) Digby and Lillian Chaffin taught at the Hackberry school, which was a country school around Holland, Texas in Bell county.

Vera Barnet
Vera Barnet

Vera (Barnet) Digby
Vera Digby

Vera Digby
Vera Digby

Mack and Vera lived in Austin, Texas for fourteen years, and then moved back to Belton, Texas.

There was an article in the Friday, August 24, 1934 edition of The Bartlett Tribune and News newspaper which mentioned Mack Digby:
"Wins Blue Ribbon"
Kirk Knight entered his government stallion and also a colt in Belton's first horse show held last Friday afternoon at the Rodeo grounds under the management of Mack Digby.  He received a blue ribbon for each entry.  In addition to the stallion and colt exhibit, the show included Shetland ponies, pioneer class horses, junior and senior three and five-gaited horses, junior and senior couple horses, an exhibition of high school horses, a spotted horse class, a plantation walk, and a stake race".

Mack was present at the last mob lynching of a black man in Bell county, Texas; the man was accused of either raping a white woman or murder.  Mack and Vera had no children and they lived most of their lives in Bell county.

Mack & Vera (Barnet) Digby at home in Belton, Texas in later years.
Mack died in Belton on Sunday, April 12, 1987 at 2 am from complications from his asthma and diabetes, which caused circulation problems and the amputation of his foot.  His funeral was on Tuesday at 2:30 pm.


III. Sidney Alleen Digby (alternate spellings for Alleen are "Aleene" or "Aileen") ("Sidney"): She was born on May 4, 1901 in Pecan, Texas (Another source says she was born in Val Verde, Texas in Milam county).  She married John Henry Wilson ("John") on August 9, 1919 at Rev. Ramey's home in DaVilla, Texas.  John was born on April 24, 1893 in Milam county, Texas.  He had a World War I draft registration card for 1917 - 1918.  He was a grocery salesman in Davilla, Texas (Milam county) during the 1920's - 1930's.  (Note: Sarah Shelton, who was 95 years old in 2009, used to live at Val Verde next to the Griffin family.  She was best friends with Sidney and her husband John).  John Wilson died on September 2, 1974 in Belton, Texas.  (Note: John's parents were Edward Cyrus Wilson (1867-1954) and Mary E. Smith (1873-1938).  Henry's grandfather is Henry S. Wilson, who is buried in the Davilla cemetery in Milam county.  Henry also had a brother named Leonard Albert Wilson (1897-1960)). Sidney died on December 31, 1991 in Belton, Texas (Bell county) and is buried in the North Belton Cemetery.

Sidney Digby
Sidney Digby (front).
Bertie (Swan) Blair and Steve
Blair (back right).

Sidney Digby
Sidney (Digby) Wilson

Sidney (Digby) Wilson obituary

Grave of John & Sidney Wilson

John and Sidney (Digby) Wilson had the following children:
     A.  Billy Leonard Wilson (Is this the same as Billy Ed Wilson?): He was born on November 1, 1921 in Bell county, Texas.  He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II.  He died on October 23, 2000 in Temple, Texas (Bell county) and is buried at Bellwood Memorial Park in that city.  He was married to Agnes Lazell Smith Wilson ("Smitty").  She was born on January 13, 1919 in Texas.  She died on February 24, 2009 in Temple, Texas and is buried at Bellwood Memorial Park as well (Her plot is East Fountain Lot V-4). (Note: Smitty's parents were William Monroe Smith, who was born in 1882 in Mississippi and died in July, 1926 in West, Texas, and Lillie Missouri Box, who was born on August 1, 1885 in Winslow, Mississippi and died in October, 1940 in West, Texas in McLennan county).  Billy Leonard and Smitty Wilson had two children.
     B.  Johnnie Ruth Wilson:  She was born on February 29, 1928 in Bell county, Texas.  Her first husband was ____________.  She married (2) Lester Leonard Bartz on December 10, 1977 in Bell county, Texas.  They were divorced on March 29, 2001.  Lester was born on May 1, 1935 in Bell county, Texas.

IV. Emmette Doyle Digby ("Emmette"): He was born on December 15, 1903 at Shallow Ford, Texas at home (the old "Keys" place) east of Belton.  He married (1) Alta Ray (They later divorced), and (2) Elvera Hash.  Alta Ray's second  marriage was to (2) Bill Lucas (Information about her daughter by her second marriage: Allen family - 1984.  They raised horses.  Jana, Lee (went by "Alta Lee" growing up), Tony, Ty (2 yrs.), and a dog named Dolly).

Emmitt & Alta (Ray) Digby with Emmitt's trick horse,
Grey Buck.  July, 1938.

Pictures of Emmitt Digby and Grey Buck:

Emmitt & Jeannine Digby
with Grey Buck.

Emmitt (right) with
Leonard Cosper on
Grey Buck by
O'Dell Hyer's Gas
Station in Belton, Tx.

Emmitt Digby (left) presents proclamation to Texas
Governor, W. Lee "Pappy" O' Daniel in Austin after
riding the last leg of a "Pony Express" tribute.
His ride was from Belton to Austin; he was very
proud to have been part of this.

Governor poster for
"Pappy" O'Daniel.

Dwayne Digby recalled the following memory of a conversation between Emmette and Pat Digby: "Pat Digby was trying to get Emmette to become a Catholic.  Emmette said, 'Oh no, I can't do that'.  Pat asked why.  Emmette responded, 'Well, y'all do confession don't you?  I just can't do that'.  Pat said, 'That's nothing Emmette.  You can do it".  Emmette replied: 'If I confessed, I'd still be in there confessing this month's sins when next month rolls around'."

Emmette died on July 19, 1959 in Belton, Texas and is buried in the North Belton cemetery.

V.  Corinne Lillian Digby (or "Lillian Corinne Digby") ("Corinne" or "Cody"): She was born on November 22, 1905 in Shallow Ford, Texas in Bell county.  She married Odell Hyer on January 1, 1930 at Rev. Lenear's home in Bartlett, Texas.  Cody died in 1988.

Corinne (Digby) Hyer ("Cody")
Having coffee at Cody's home.

O'Dell Hyer at his gas station in Belton, Texas.

Cody and O'Dell had the following children:
     A.  Billy Lewis Hyer: He married Carolyn Geashart.  They had a son named Todd Hyer.

Billy Lewis Hyer when
stationed in Germany.
1974 - Todd Hyer holding James Brian
Blair ("Brian"), son of Glenn &
Jeannine Blair.

     B.  Dell Mack Hyer: He married Cheryl Hammer.  They had the following children:
          1.  Karen Hyer:
          2.  (unknown)

VI. Martin Van Digby ("Mart"): (Note: See separate blog post for this family).  He was born on April 1, 1907 at the old "Fuller place" in Santa Anna, Texas in Coleman county.  He married Pearl Griffin on December 7, 1929 at the Methodist parsonage in Belton, Texas.  Pearl Griffin was born on February 15, 1907 east of Salado, Texas in Bell county.  She was a teacher by occupation; she was of the Methodist faith at first, then became affiliated with the Disciples of Christ church soon after her marriage in 1929.  Her family attended the First Christian Church in Belton, Texas.  Mart Digby traded horses to make a living in the early days; he would buy ponies and sometimes keep them at Glenn Blair's home.  Mart worked as a clerk and ran "The Car Mart" in Belton for many years.  He was a family oriented man and money was never very important to him.  Each July 4th, he would buy eveyrone a coke before and after the July 4th parade.  He would leave the coffee pot on in his office and then everyone would go watch the parade from the public library (now the Bell County Museum on Main street).  Afterwards, everyone would say, "Coffee at Marts!" and they would meet at The Car Mart.  Jeannie (Blair) Pittman would get Mart to sell her candy, even though he was in his office.  He was in the Civil Service at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas during World War II.  His religious faith was at first Baptist, then later was Disciples of Christ.  He felt very strongly that divorce was wrong.  Mart died of colon cancer at Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas on August 22, 1966; he was buried the next day at 4 pm in the North Belton cemetery in Belton, Texas.  The following poem was read at Mart's funeral:

Never had much style about him, never cared for dress.
Sort of spent his life a-sewing seeds of happiness; 
Doin' little things for others, helpin' where he could.
Never makin' much pretention, always doing good.

Home for him, was all for livin'; filled his heart with pride,
And his door was always open, latch string hung outside.
Folks who came were always welcome, loved to have them round; 
Wanted much of joy and laughter--seemed to love the sound.

Had his cares and had his troubles, same as all of us; 
Figured them a part of livin', never made much fuss;
Made the best of all God gave him, as through life he went,
Ever toiling, giving, taking, kind and provident.

Vain the tribute we would pay him, words cannot express
What it meant to have him with us and our thankfulness; 
Sweet the memory he has left us, though our hearts are sad; 
Great the blessing that was given just to call him DAD."

VII. Alta Merle Digby ("Merle"): She was born on February 6, 1911 in Coleman, Texas (Coleman county).  She married Leonard F. Cosper on July 15, 1930 in Kingsville, Texas (Kleberg county).  One source says they were married on July 25th of that year.  Leonard was married another time.  Leonard was born on January 20, 1907 in Bell county, Texas.  (His parents were Thomas Franklin Cosper (1886 - 1981) and Annie Alta Cabaniss (1888 - 1959)).  Leonard and Merle resided in Taft, Texas (San Patricio county) in 1930.  Leonard died on September 8, 1981 in Temple, Texas (Bell county).  Merle died on June 19, 1970 in Temple, Texas and is buried in Belton, Texas.  In 1971, Leonard married (2) Margaret Irene Culpepper in Waco, Texas (McLennan county).  Leonard and Merle had the following children:
     A.  Lyndell Cosper: She married Jamie Pirtle.  They had the following children:
          1.  Jim Pirtle:  He is married.
          2.  Kay Pirtle:
          3.  Scott Pirtle:
          4.  Lynn Pirtle:
     B.  Betty Jean Cosper:  She married Gary Cook.  They had a daughter named Kim Cook.
     C.  Bobby Leonard Cosper: He was married.

VIII.  Carrie Digby: She was born in 1906.  (Source: The Courtney Family Tree on  This is the only source I've found that lists this child).

1.  Conversation between Billy & Susan Blair and Pearl Digby on May 11, 1980.
2.  Conversation between Billy & Susan Blair and Mack & Vera (Barnett) Digby in June, 1980.
3.  Sidney (Digby) Wilson, July 5, 1982.
4.  Tombstones of Will & Mattie (Wallace) Digby, North Belton Cemetery in Belton, Texas.
5.  Conversation between Billy & Susan Blair and Violet (White) Dolehite on December 27, 1979.
6.  Conversations between Billy & Susan Blair and Jeannine (Digby) Blair.
7.  Conversation between Billy Blair and Jeannie (Blair) Pittman on April 7, 1982.
8.  Pearl (Griffin) Digby's book, Rambling Reflections (Her life story).
9.  Martin Van Digby funeral program and records, Belton, Texas.
10. Martin Van Digby's application to Camp Hood (later became Fort Hood) in Texas for Civilian Guard on April 7, 1942.  This document has a good signature of Mart Digby as well as his fingerprints.  He was 35 years old at the time, gray hair, gray eyes, 5' 11 1/2" tall, 210 lbs, light complexion, and stout build.
11. Vera (Barnett) Digby death announcement in newspaper.  1987 Belton Journal, Belton, Texas.
12. Martin Van Buren Birth Certificate: Vol. 2, page 60.  Coleman county, Texas courthouse.
13. The Donahoe Community and Donahoe, Texas - A Ghost Town by E.A. Limer Jr. (Addresses include: 5219 Spellman road, Houston, Texas.  77035; Holland, Texas; Temple, Texas).
14.  Sidney (Digby) Wilson obituary.
15.  Country Schools Around Holland by James R. Persky & John Dagere (pages 39, 114).
16.  Lyndell (Cosper) Pirtle, 1985. (Basic birth/ death dates of William Seaborn Digby family).
17.  Mack Digby: December, 1980 and 1981.
18,  Census Records:
      1920 Bell County, Texas (February 5th).
19.  Website: "The Portal to Texas History" - Source was The Bartlett Tribune and News (Bartlett, Texas).  Vol. 47, No. 51, Ed. 1, Friday, August 24, 1934 (Article mentioning Mack Digby managing a horse show).
20.  Jeannine (Digby) Blair introduced Billy & Susan Blair to Sarah Shelton at Garden Estates in Temple, Texas on May 9, 2009.  Sarah Shelton was best friends of Sidney (Digby) and her husband John Wilson.
21.  The Courtney Family Tree 008 - 2013.  (The Harper Family Pedigree, owner: Janice Byington, has a lot of Mary E. Smith line also.  This source lists Sidney Aleene Digby's middle name as "Laraine").
22. Rootsweb: Judia & Ralph Terry - Family and Neighbors of Coleman County, Texas.  (
23. Location of graves of Will & Mattie Digby (and Mart & Pearl Digby's infant baby) supplied by Glenn Blair to his son Billy.
24. Gale (Digby) Cosper, 2006.
25. Rita (Digby) Locklin conversation with Billy Blair on January 7, 2017.

1. Pat Digby and Kay (Digby) Claunch said in September, 2006 that Emmitt Digby had an old box of pictures.  Some of them were old tin types of his family.  They said the box may have been left in Austin when they moved.

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