Wills-Digges family: Elizabeth Brent Doyne Wills was the fifth child of John B. Wills, Sr. and Anne Livers. By the 1840s, all her descendants were named Digges. They typically studied at Georgetown and became leading lawyers and doctors in Charles County.
Elizabeth Brent Doyne Wills was born c. 1775/77. She was named for her mother’s cousin Elizabeth Brent Doyne, who probably died without offspring.
She married Mr. — Clements. An oral tradition says that Clements was an Englishman not related to the Southern Md. family by that name, but that would be surprising. They both died not long afterwards and the will of her sister Mary Wills (1832) mentions their daughter’s “situation”, however the administration of Eliz. Wills Clements is not completed until 1842 with her son-in-law J. H. Digges as admin. It is said that after the death of her husband, she or her daughter lived with John B. Wills, Jr. at Johnsontown. There was only one child:
5.1) Mary Elizabeth Clements (b. Oct. 19, 1814—d. Nov. 29, 1877)
Family tradition relates that she was raised by her uncle John B. Wills, Jr. on his plantation Johnsontown. She was educated at Georgetown Visitation.
On Jan. 9/10, 1838 at Johnsontown, she married John Henry Digges (Jan. 2, 1813-Aug. 29, 1859). Orphaned as a young man, he entered Georgetown College in 1827 under the guardianship of Robert Digges, Sr. In 1830, he was one of the founders and treasurer of the Philodemic Society there.
In 1845, he advertised for sale two properties near Pomfret: “the farm on which he now resides, 250 acres beside Old Woman’s Run and plantation of Maj. F. C. Green” as well as Bensville, 350 acres “nearly adjoining the above” (Port Tobacco Times 7/31/1845). They then lived in Allen’s Fresh District and in the 1850 Census are recorded with $12,000 of real estate and five children (they would soon have two more). He was active in the Democratic party.
When John Henry Digges died in 1859, their oldest son Eugene was at New York University studying law, so the family moved to Georgetown, where son John was a student. The 1860 federal census found the wealthy widow Mary Elizabeth Digges in Georgetown with $31,000 in personal property, Hortense 19, J.T. 18 “student”, Mary 13 F (attending school), Eudocia 9, R.D. 3. Then the war came and the older two sons went off to fight for the Confederacy.
The sons returned to Charles County and in 1870, they were practicing law and medicine and living with their mother and four unmarried siblings (along with mulatto domestic servant E. Mudd and the black Brown family). Mary Elizabeth Clements Digges died in 1877.
Children of Mary Elizabeth Clements and John Henry Digges:
5.1.1) Eugene Digges (Oct 27, 1838-June 29, 1899), C.S.A.
Like his father, he attended Georgetown College, speaking on “American Anticipations” at his graduation in 1857, and then studied law for two years at New York University (LL.B. 1860).
He began his service in the Confederate forces as a Third Lieut. in the Confederate 1st Md. Inf. (Co. I from Charles Co.) at Manassas, rising to be a Captain in 2nd Md. Cavalry Co. B., when he was captured at Martinsburg, Va. Oct. 15, 1863. One unpleasant moment occurred on May 11, 1862 at Swift Run Gap. While serving as officer of the guard, Digges allowed a deserter from the regiment to go to the woods to relieve himself, and the unescorted prisoner escaped. At a military court, he was charged with violating the article of war about the release of prisoners. Although he maintained his innocence and pleaded that the regulations did not forbid his conduct, he was found guilty of the charges and arrested for ten days.
In 1874, he was admitted to the Bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, and a few years later was elected as State’s Attorney for Charles County. The firm of Stonestreet & Digges was located in Port Tobacco. His obituary in the Baltimore Sun (1899) noted that “About 14 years ago Mr. Digges removed to Bourne, Texas, and about two years later was elected prosecuting attorney. He was appointed State Librarian about five years ago for a term of four years and was reappointed last spring for another term.” The truncated budget for the State Library had led him to be one of the co-founders of the Texas State Historical Association. His cousin Charles H. Wills sent an obituary note about him to the alumni office at Georgetown, remarking that “Mr. Digges, who is a relative of mine, married Miss Mamie Iglehart, daughter of Mr. J.A.Iglehart of Anne Arundel Co. some twenty years ago. It seems to be a pity that he marred so much the glory that he seems to have won in the “lost cause” by afterwards turning traitor to the same cause by uniting himself with the Republicans. However, when he went to Texas he fell back in the Democratic Ranks.”
He married Mary Iglehart on Nov 11,1875 and they had nine children with descendants by Llewellyn Digges, Mary Deborah (Digges) Taylor, John Henry Digges.
5.1.2) Jane Hortense Digges (1840-Feb.1909)
In 1857, she won best embroidery at the county fair. She never married. In 1880, she was living with the family of her brother-in-law Philip Contee (where she “teaches family”), but died at the home of her brother John.
5.1.3) John Thomas Digges, M.D. (Mount Rest TS: Dec. 14, 1841-Jan. 13, 1915).
Confederate artillery soldier in “Dement’s Battery”. After the war, he finished his medical degree at Georgetown in 1869 and later served as President of the Charles County Medical Society. A letter by Charles H. Wills around 1900 reports “Jack Digges of Pomfret, brother of Eugene, long ago severed all relations with the Catholic Church.” He married Catherine Mitchell (Aug 24, 1847—June 14, 1887 buried at Mount Rest; da. of Gen. Walter and Mary Mitchell)
22.214.171.124) John Henry Digges, M.D. (1874-1929), Georgetown Med. 1903
126.96.36.199) Hon. Walter Mitchell Digges (1877-1934) marr. 1909 Mary Natalie Jenkins (da. of John J. Jenkins)
1) Eleanor Jenkins Digges (1910-2001) m. Calvin Harrington
2) John Dudley Digges (d. 1983)
3) Walter Mitchell Digges, Jr. (1913-1993)
4) Edward Simms Digges (d. 2002) m. Maria Janie McHugh
188.8.131.52) Thomas Hugh Digges (1883-1884 Mount Rest)
184.108.40.206) Eugene Dudley Digges (1885-1910 Mount Rest)
5.1.4) Elizabeth Digges (c. 1843 —1876/1880). “Betty”, aged 7 in 1850.
marr. Philip Ashton Lee Contee (1841-1899) a wealthy farmer from the Allen’s Fresh district. The 1880 census lists him as a widower, with 5 children aged 4 to 12 years, so she likely married in the mid 1860s and died after 1876. He later married Ellen Blanche Neale.
5.1.5) Mary Clements Digges (1847-April 16, 1921)
marr. her second cousin Francis Hughes Wills (c. 1852-Feb. 1905) in Oct/Nov. 1875. They moved to Baltimore and had 7 children of whom 2 had descendants. Buried at Chapel Point.
5.1.6) Eudochia Digges (July 11, 1850-April 15, 1912)
marr. Jessup Madison Bell (1837-1918), a jeweler like his father, who came with his parents in 1851 from Tennessee to San Antonio TX. He was a widower with 3 previous children. Eudochia had 5 children: Mary Digges Bell (Villarreal). Elizabeth Carr “Lillie” Bell, Edward “Ned” C. Bell, John H. Bell and Eudochia “Dottie” Bell (Smith). She is buried at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
5.1.7) Robert Dudley Digges (b. c. 1856-)