Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Aragorn Storm Miller

TALIAFERRO, THOMAS DORSEY (1831–1909). Thomas Dorsey (sometimes called Darcy) Taliaferro, lawyer and Confederate officer, was born in Upperville, Fauquier County, Virginia, on September 10, 1831, to Dr. William Thomas Warren Taliaferro and Frances Barnes Harrison. His paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bankhead Buckner, was the niece of President James Monroe. On August 2, 1849, Taliaferro enrolled at Virginia Military Institute. The following year, he withdrew from the school to study law under Judge Whitfield, an eminent jurist in Smithfield, Virginia. Between 1852 and 1853 he continued his study of law at the University of Virginia. In 1854 Taliaferro married Eliza Lewis Madison, a grand niece of President James Madison. The couple had five sons and seven daughters. In 1858 Taliaferro brought his family to Palestine, Texas, and later bought a farm to the west, in Johnson County, where he was a stock raiser.

On July 7, 1861, Taliaferro enlisted for service in the Confederacy. On July 7, 1862, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the Twentieth Texas Cavalry (Bass's) Regiment, mustering in Hill County, Texas. During the war the unit served in Southern Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and Taliaferro acted as commanding officer at Fort Washita in 1863 and Post Boggy Depot, Indian Country, in 1865.

After the war, Taliaferro moved to Caddo Parish, Louisiana, for four years to raise cotton. In 1870 he and his family returned to Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, and, in addition to practicing law, worked as a cotton planter, farmer, and stock raiser. In 1886, he moved to the Chickasaw Indian Nation, where he founded the town of Madill, Oklahoma, with his sons William Norborne and Dorsey Buckner. Taliaferro died on March 4, 1909, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Zack Dobson, in Durant, Oklahoma, and is buried at Woodberry Forest Cemetery in Madill. His interment was conducted by the Masons, of which he was a member for almost fifty years.


Marshall County, OK—Biography—Col. T. D. Taliaferro. (1831–1909) (, accessed April 7, 2011.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Aragorn Storm Miller, "TALIAFERRO, THOMAS DORSEY," accessed June 27, 2019,

Uploaded on April 13, 2011. Modified on July 3, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox