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Friday, January 17, 2014

Is that OUR Arthur E. Diggs?

In preparation for my presentation on Harrison Diggs next month -- my research journey has required sorting out families with the surname of DIGGS.  Our challenge is to unravel the ancestry of Arthur E. Diggs.  Let's do a quick wrap up of where we've been so far.
Dennis Draffen and Family

We discovered that Arthur E. Diggs married Bettie Smith and had 3 children:  Arthur Jr., Roscoe and Bessie. Arthur Diggs Jr married Enola Wright and they had one child named Phyllis.  Arthur Jr., died in Kansas City, Missouri in 1920 -- and his widow Enola remarried to Lester Green.  His daughter Phyllis married Fielding Draffen Sr. son of Dennis Draffen and Addie Brown of Bunceton, Missouri (Cooper County).
Next, we tracked down a probate case of Bettie Diggs and found a letter written by Phyllis Draffen inquiring about her grandmother Bettie Diggs' estate and noting that she was the only living heir.  However, Bettie's will left her entire estate to Charlie and Bessie Scott.  Her  marriage to Fielding Draffen was short-lived and then Phyllis married Benjamin H. Wallace on December 17, 1951.
Addie Brown Draffen 

Nancy Brown Draffen and I exchanged a few emails after last week's blog.  She sent me a death record that her grandmother Phyllis Diggs had requested in 2000.  What she received was a death record for Ed Diggs.  My interpretation of Phyllis' request in 2000 was that she too -- was unsure about her father and his ancestry. When Nancy first told me that she had the death record for Ed Diggs.. I was elated.  "Woo-hoo!  I've got this!"  Or so I thought.  I have been researching DIGGS families in Cooper, Howard, Boone and Moniteau for a long time so I've collected a lot of documents including obituaries about Ed Diggs, his wife Lula and their daughter Eujetta which I will talk more about in a separate post.  But I think I was wrong and celebrated a little too early. Bummer:-(

My cousin and I have learned over time that we need to thoroughly pursue any informational lead in order to discount or embrace the data/documents found.  My cousin Linda Palmer did the background research on Ed Diggs and it turned up a complicated story of multiple marriages and a 1st wife a of Ed Diggs who we can't find.  After we reviewed all the pieces we collected, we asked ourselves -- "Do we have the right Arthur E. Diggs?"  The dates appeared to match up and he lived in Randolph County -- the same county where Arthur and Bettie were married by Rev. J. S. Diggs (who is by the way a relative of Harrison Diggs).  The problem is that Ed Diggs he died in 1932 and we have a land deed transaction in 1950 for a Arthur E. Diggs in Randolph County, Missouri.  They can't be the same people?   The information just wasn't adding up or connecting to Phyllis.  But, we decided we needed to follow the data and see where it led.

Looking into Ed Diggs' family was quite frankly no fun. Multiple marriages always complicate things.  So, let's deal with Ed's family first.  According to Edward Digg's death record his parents were Anthony Diggs and Jane Kendricks.  

Anthony Diggs was free in 1860 and living in the 2nd Ward of Racine City in Racine County, Wisconsin.  He lived with a wealthy banker named John Foster. He's enumerated as mulatto at ED 347-310 and born in Missouri.  This census was taken on June 19, 1860.  There has to be an interesting story behind Anthony's freedom.
Anthony Diggs was killed in action -- according to a casualty sheet for the regiment he served in USCT 23 Company D.  

I noticed that Anthony was a substitute solider for Daniel Maloney of Deerfield.  This is a topic for another conversation about who served, who didn't serve and who could pay people to serve for them! Slave compensation cases are very interesting records.  Check out the index and see if any of your relatives appear.. I will be sure to upload a case to discuss.

In 1870 -- Ed Diggs is enumerated living with his mother and stepfather David Kendricks in Macon County Missouri.  Ed Diggs' name is spelled Dicks (Diggs).  Names often take on a variety of spellings on the census.  I think enumerators did the best they could to spell phonetically for those who could not read or write; but it appears that sometimes the enumerators were not that literate either.  Ed Diggs' occupation was railroad laborer and he appears to have 3 half siblings... John, Laura and Daniel.   His stepfather owned a little bit of personal property and real-estate each valued at $100.  David Kendrick was born in Maryland and Jane in Missouri.
1870 US Census City of Macon, Macon County, Missouri.  June 28, 1879, ED # 171-181

1880 US Census Macon City, Macon County, Missouri
In 1880, Ed Diggs still lives with his mother and stepfather who is now named Dennis (not David like it was in 1870 -- see how tricky the census is?).  Ed is now widowed with two children Jimmie (14) and Mary (5).  They live next door to Jackson Guy  --whose son Johnnie eventually becomes Mary Diggs' 3rd husband.  They are still living in Macon County, Missouri.  We were not to find a marriage record for Ed Digg's first wife and/or mother of his children. It appears that his daughter Mary later ventured into Kansas and if we are correct in our research -- she was enumerated as "white" and possibly passing.   I try not to make too many assumptions about the race of people when it varies from census to census. Enumerators wrote down what race they thought a person was by how they looked.  I don't believe that Black people opened the door to enumerators and described themselves as mulatto.  It is my sense that this is a labeling system designed to categorize people by their skin color...

We found the following marriages for Mary Diggs -- Ed's daughter and grand daughter of Jane Kendricks
1.       Andrew Palmer 1 May 1906
2.       Samuel Garrnett 2 Oct 1910
3.       John W. Guy    5 May 1919

As I noted earlier... these multiple marriages can be difficult to follow.  Here is a list of possible marriages of John W. Guy before his marriage to Mary Diggs.
  1. Hannah E. Robinson  23 Feb 1892 
  2. Annie B. Braxton  28 Oct  1893
  3. Zadie L. Wright  1 Nov 1901
By 1900 Edward Diggs is married for a 2nd time -- his new wife is Lulu Burris and I'm almost positive she is from Versailles, Missouri (Morgan County).  They have one child, a daughter named Eujetta Diggs.  Eujetta married Alexander Ross (also from Versailles, MO) on Oct. 11, 1908 in Randolph County in Moberly, Missouri.
Edward Diggs, US Census Sugar Creek Township, Randolph County, 
Missouri, taken June 1, 1900.

A wedding notice for Alexander and Eujetta appeared in the  Morgan County Republican Oct. 15, 1908 .  This newspaper ran a regular column entitled: About the Colored Folks.. 

The Library of Congress has digitized an collection of historic newspapers -- several Missouri newspapers can be found there.. including black newspapers such as The Professional World (from Columbia, MO),  The Rising Sun, The Kansas City Sun and the Sedalia Conservator.   There are more and more newspapers being digitized which is an excellent resource for researchers...

Edward Diggs served in the Spanish American War -- and Lulu applied for his pension benefits. It would be a very interesting pension file to review for more information about Edward and Lulu.

In 1910, 20 and 1930 -- Edward and Lulu Diggs were essentially "empty-nesters" and very much involved in their local community and church.   The obituaries for both of them appeared a couple of years apart in the Moberly Monitor Index and Democrat.  Ed Diggs' obituary appeared June 7, 1932 on page 4; and Lulu's on May 8, 1934.  Given the times they lived in -- I think these are both very nice "going home" notices.

So after all of this craziness -- we were not sufficiently convinced that we had the right person or that Ed Diggs was in any way connected to our Arthur E. Diggs. 

For the moment we've decided to set this Ed Diggs aside while we wait for more documents  that can potentially connect us to targeted Arthur Edward Diggs from Boone County, MO.   This week we received a probate record for Roscoe Diggs who died in Kansas City in a street car accident.  It appears that there was a wrongful death suit against the Metropolitan Railroad Company and they settled with the family.  The packet includes a document that lists the heirs of Roscoe Diggs.. and one of the heirs listed is:  ARTHUR E. DIGGS.

I think we are getting close to figuring this all out.   I will report back on what this new record help us unravel?

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp