Major Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield and his children

[Background: I’ve been assembling photographs of Ann Daingerfield Zwicky (born Ann Walcutt Daingerfield) as a present for my grand-daughter. Ann died about 20 years before Opal was born, so Opal doesn’t know much about her.

Previous installments: here, with photos of baby Ann with her father, Keene, and baby Elizabeth with her mother, Ann; and here, with a photo of Ann setting off on her junior year abroad in France. I have four more (postings to come) photos scanned in, and I put all 7 of these photos on a disc for transfer to the iPad that Opal uses; that was one of my Christmas presents for her. Unfortunately, my searches through the boxes of photographs came to a halt when my damaged right hand could no longer cope with handling the pictures. So (waiting for the bad hand days to pass) I turned to the internet, and to family history — the history of the Daingerfields, their kin, and their connections.]

Exploring records can be a vexing task. They are riddled with errors, large and small: plenty of typos, mis-spellings, misreadings, unverified reporting, dubious recollections, and speculation. My Daingerfield adventure started with the account of Foxhall A. Daingerfield (a celebrated breeder and trainer of thoroughbreds) and his daughter Elizabeth Daingerfield (equally famous in this field), in the 1922 History of Kentucky, vol. 4, by William Ellis Connelley and Ellis Merton Coulter.

This took me way back into the 19th century, to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where Daingerfields and Parkers (and the occasional Lee) were thick on the ground. From the History of Kentucky, p. 27, with many annotations by me:

The late Foxhall A. Daingerfield [hereafter FAD] was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, at Westwood, February 8, 1839 [father LeRoy Parker Daingerfield, mother Juliet Octavia Parker]. He was educated at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, in the class that was broken up by the outbreak of the war between the states. During the war he served as captain under General Stuart in the Eleventh Virginia Cavalry, was promoted to major of the regiment, and was five times wounded. Following the war he practiced law at Harrisonburg, Virginia, for a quarter of a century, and then took up the breeding of trotting horses at Culpeper. He remained there until he accepted the invitation of his brother-in-law, Mr. [James R.] Keene, to take charge of Castleton [Farm, outside of Lexington, Kentucky]. [The assertion that James R. Keene was FAD’s brother-in-law is dubious.] He was largely responsible for Castleton’s fame as a thoroughbred selection center, and he also made the home widely known for its hospitality, and during his life entertained many prominent people there.

Foxhall A. Daingerfield married Miss Nettie Gray [Henrietta H. Gray], of Harrisonburg, Virginia, who is still living. [m. 23 Nov. 1863 in Rockingham Co. Va.] She was the mother of eight children: Algernon, secretary of the Jockey Club of New York [b. June 1867]; J. Keene, an attorney at Lexington [b. Jan. 1886 in Va.]; Bessie Parker [Isabella P. b. 1864 in Va., d. 8 May 1944 in Fayette Co. Ky.]; Miss Elizabeth [Elizabeth P., b. 1870 in Va., d. 9 Dec. 1951 in Fayette Co. Ky.; note the honorific “Miss Elizabeth” — she was also known as “Miss Lizzie”]; Henderson; Mrs. A. C. Norman, of Seattle, Washington [this is messed up: Henderson — the only one of these people I actually knew — was Mrs. Attilla C. Norman, and a son, William, is missing from the list]; Juliet Parker [b. Apr. 1876 in Va., d. 20 May 1945 in Fayette Co. Ky.; listed as Julia in the 1910 census, Julia Octavia P. Daingerfield in the 1880 census]; and Mary J., wife of A. C. Van Winkle, a Louisville attorney [b. Feb. 1881 in Va.].

[FAD died 3 Jan. 1913 in Lexington Ky.]

A much-condensed version on the site of the Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg:

Major Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield initially opposed secession but was often cited for gallantry in combat. A graduate of the law school of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) [note correction of the History of Kentucky account], he served as a major in the Eleventh Virginia Cavalry. In the fall of 1861, he served as an orderly and courier to Gen. Robert E. Lee. After the war, he served for a time as mayor of Harrisonburg, Clerk of the Court for Rockingham County, and eventually moved to Kentucky where he served on the Kentucky State Racing Commission. His wife,”Nettie” Gray Daingerfield was the daughter of Algernon S. Gray, a delegate from Rockingham County to the Virginia Secession Convention. She was also an author, having published the book, “That Dear Old Sword,” in 1903.

There are several sub-stories here, which I’ll take up in other postings: the interlocking of James R. Keene with FAD, the tale of Algernon Daingerfield, the history of his son Foxhall A. Daingerfield Jr. (known as “Fox” to everyone), and the interlocked stories of two Kentucky horse farms, Castleton and Haylands (both still operating). In any case, FAD lived a long and complex life.

Here, I’ll start by unpacking the details of FAD and his children. In tabular form:

Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield (1839-1913); m. Henrietta H. (“Nettie”) Gray in 1863; 8 children, one dead by 1900. The children, in the order of their birth:

Isabella P. Daingerfield (“Bessie”) (1864-1944) . Never married.

Algernon Daingerfield (1867-1945). Twice married, one child by each wife.

Elizabeth P. Daingerfield (“Lizzie”) (1870-1951). Never married.

Henderson Daingerfield / Henrietta H. Daingerfield (“Henderson”) (1874-?)

Juliet Parker Daingerfield / J. Octavia P. Daingerfield (“Jule”) (1876-1945). Never married.

William P. Daingerfield (b. ca. 1879; dead by 1900)

Mary J. Daingerfield (“Jay”) (1881-?). Married, at least one child [I’m still researching Jay].

James Keene Daingerfield (“Keene”) (1886-1947) [hereafter JKD]. Married, two children.

JKD was the youngest of the set. His son, J. Keene Daingerfield Jr., or simply Keene, was Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s father; after the University of Virginia, Keene went into one of the family businesses (training racehorses) and then became a racing steward (in effect, a judge, thus approaching the other of the family businesses, the law), ending his working life as the senior state steward for the state of Kentucky (judging races at Churchill Downs in Louisville and Keeneland in Lexington).

We get from FAD to Opal in 5 steps: JKD, Keene, Ann, Elizabeth, Opal. So FAD is Opal’s parent^5, her great-great-great-grandfather.

Brief note on Lizzie: She took over the management of Castleton Farm in 1913 after her father (FAD) died. She moved to Haylands farm in 1918 and also managed the Hinata stock farm; the great racehorse Man o’ War entered stud there in 1921. She then assumed management of Faraway farm when it was bought for her by Samuel D. Riddle, owner of Man o’ War, and managed Faraway until Oct. 10, 1930, when she resigned because of ill health. She died Dec. 9, 1951 at a nursing home in Lexington.

A few Lizzie photos, with her aging in them:

Caption: Portrait of Elizabeth Daingerfield of Lexington, Kentucky, known as one of the most successful breeders of racehorses in the world. She is wearing long gloves, a hat and dress with buttons the entire way down. A frame has been drawn onto the photograph and it has been attached to card stock. Handwritten at the top of the image: Miss Elizabeth Daingerfield of Lexington. (photo between 1925 and 1936)

Caption: Elizabeth Daingerfield, horse breeder, with Man O’ War, here 12 years old, at Hinata Farms near Lexington, Kentucky. Man O’War’s torso is pictured as he stands with groom John Buckner, who wears a warm-up jacket and hat and holds the bridle, and breeder Elizabeth Daingerfield, who wears a geometric cardigan and hat and looks at the camera. (1929-06-04)

Caption: Portrait of Elizabeth Daingerfield of Lexington, Kentucky, known as one of the most successful breeders of racehorses in the world. She is wearing a hat and possibly a fur around her neck. The photograph is somewhat fading and damaged in three of the corners. Handwritten on back of image: Miss Elizabeth Daingerfield, In charge of Man ‘O War. (Famous race horse). (photo between 1925 and 1936)

I’m still searching for a photo of a young Ann on the back of Man o’ War.

12 Responses to “Major Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield and his children”

  1. Names « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] and horseman James R. Keene (1838-1913) and the Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield (1839-1913) of a recent posting of mine. They were partners in the horse business, and each named a son for the other (Foxhall Keene and […]

  2. Ann in 1984 « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] his direction it became one of the greatest thoroughbred operations of its day. [And at that point Major Foxhall Alexander Daingerfield joined Keene as trainer and breeder on the farm. On his death, the Major's daughter Elizabeth — […]

  3. Edward Colston Newton IV Says:

    Jay was my grandmother. She died in 1954 and is buried with the Major at Woodbine, as is his brother, Leroy who lost his leg at the Battle of Phillipi, allegedly the first leg lost for the Confederacy. My mother was Keene’s first cousin and Ann’s first cousin once removed. (Arnold, you were at her daughter’s wedding in Louisville in 1974). The Major’s sister, Sarah, was married to James R. Keene…saved us all from starvation. My mother, Janet Van Winkle, dies in 1983. My sisters, Elizabeth Beam (after Aunt Elizabeth who I vaguely remember from Haylands) and Lawrence Stevens live in Louisville and Shelbyville, Ky and continue the family insanity about horses. Liz has one daughter, Mary Jay Kik, a dentist who has one child. Lawrence (Ludie) has three children, Ben, Liza and Sarah. I have three children, Edward C. Newton V, John Tyler Newton and Cynthia Macomber Newton. They’ve provided 7 grandchildren. All three of mine were in the Army and airborne. John and Coley were Rangers. John is the first of us that I know of to have led a company in combat (in Iraq) since the Major…He looks like him, too. (My name springs from the Newtons of Hague, Virginia)

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Thanks so much, Coley. Your sister Liz had already given me most of the immediate family tree, and I’ve been trying to work all this into some sort of comprehensible posting for my grand-daughter.

  4. Edward Colston Newton IV Says:

    Read a couple of other posts and would add a few things.

    First: Uncle William, Foxhall’s older brother and Leroy went out to the Gold Rush in California. William did well but Leroy came home. The letters back home are a stitch….dodging creditors all the way. Foxhall joined them briefly. The original letters are in Stanford’s archives. I have copies. (Momma lent the originals to a cousin, Pinky Gray and the dipwad gave them to Stanford….likely for a tax deduction.)

    Aunt Henderson Norman was a brilliant person. She died at 93 having lived most of her life on Bainbridge Island, an original flower child. She read the Bible in 7 languages and corresponded with me until her death about 1968. She was an absolute lady and great intellect. In one letter about 1967 she wrote of sitting in Judge Parker’s lap while he talked law with the Major. I realized later that that that was the Judge Parker who sentenced John Brown.

    Nettie Gray wrote a wonderful recollection of the family’s servants “Our Mammy”. the frontispiece of which is a photo of Mammy, who said she was an African princess, holding Jay.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      You write:

      In one letter about 1967 she wrote of sitting in Judge Parker’s lap while he talked law with the Major. I realized later that that that was the Judge Parker who sentenced John Brown.

      Well, this turns out to be hard to figure out. The most relevant judge was Henderson’s uncle William, but he was a Judge Daingerfield, not a Judge Parker, and his dates (1824-1880) are wrong for the Judge Richard Parker who sentenced John Brown (1810-1893).

      So if there’s a connection here, it’s through Henderson’s grandmother, Juliet Octavia Parker (JOP). The John Brown Judge Parker could have been Henderson’s great-uncle (JOP’s brother) or maybe her first cousin once removed (JOP’s nephew) or something more distant. But I’m bogged down in Virginia Parkers at the moment.

  5. Edward Colston Newton IV Says:

    I recently read a book about Yankee depredations on Virginia’s Northern Neck during the war. Many of them were led by Lt. Foxhall A. Parker, USN. (The book even has a report of the Yankees stealing horses from our Newton home place, “Linden” at Hague, Va.) I googled Parker and his middle name was Alexander and he was from Virginia….Had to be the Majors cousin. Embarrassing.

  6. charlene Says:

    Hello, So sorry to barge in on your family tree. I was interested to see if Ms. Daingerfield had any children who might take piti on an old lady to LOVES Man O’ War more than life itself. But I see she never married, much like myself. I enjoyed reading about the family history of this very lucky woman who got to take care of the greatest horse ever. Thank you for letting me share and good luck to you all.

  7. kamrynwies Says:

    Hello! I thought you might be interested in the fact that Keeneland Library in Lexington KY has some pictures of Elizabeth Lizzie Dangerfield (and a copy of an article in The Throughbred Record about her) and of Man o’ War. I don’t know if Ann is in any of them but I thought you might like to know.

  8. Christian S. Hansen Says:

    Mr. Newton,
    In reply to your post five years ago I wonder is that Woodbine Cemetary in Harrisonburg Virginia? Your family’s history was part of a project I did at James Madison University years ago.
    Great stuff!

  9. Steven J Johnson Says:

    Leroy Parker Daingerfield was my great great grandfather. He and his brother William came to California in 1850 for the gold rush, and William became the district judge in Shasta, which was then the largest town in Northern California. Old Shasta is a state historical park now, and Leroy’s office in a ruin there, marked on map of the historical site. Leroy returned to Virginia in 1855. William stayed in California the rest of his life, was elevated to a more senior judgeship and moved to San Francisco where he died on the bench in the middle of a trial in 1880. Their siblings, Sara and Foxhall, appear to have come to Shasta later in the 1850’s. Sara apparently met and married James Keene there in 1863, so Keene indeed was Foxhall’s brother-in-law. Foxhall returned to Virginia and took the bar exam right before the first land battle skirmish of the Civil War, in which his brother Leroy was shot in the leg, and the day after had his leg amputated (the second amputation of the war, and first by a Confederate doctor). The first amputation was another confederate soldier the day before, who was captured and had his leg amputated by a Union doctor. I have been researching this family, and am wondering if Foxhall was one of the only or the only confederate soldier to be at the first land battle (Phillipi), and also the last, as he appears to have been present at the Appomatox courthouse with Gen. Lee, having been wounded in the leg five days earlier at the battle of Amelia Springs. Still working on these details. There are Daingerfield letters at Standford (I have obtained copies recently), and there are also some at William and Mary. Leroy was married in Virginia before the war broke out, and he survived the war and later had a farm called Mt. Airy near the Shenandoah Valley that he later sold to Grandma Moses (who would many decades later become a famous painting). Mt. Airy is also a historical site. Leroy’s daughter Lucy was married at Mt. Airy in the 1890’s to a William DeBell of Virginia, whose family papers along with Lucy’s are at William and Mary. Lucy and William DeBell visited her uncle Foxhall (the Major) in Kentucky on their honeymoon and then went to California, where Lucy had a child, Virginia, who was my grandmother. My sister is named after her. My name is Steven J. Johnson, and I live in Shasta County near where William and Leroy lived in the 1850’s. I am a lawyer, and a rancher, like my great great grandfather Leroy and his brother William.

    • Steven J Johnson Says:

      Here are some of the details about the connection with Judge Richard Parker who tried and sentenced John Brown after the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Foxhall, Leroy, William, and Sarah Daingerfield had another brother, named John E. Parker Daingerfield, who was the Armory paymaster at Harper’s Ferry. John Daingerfield was one of the hostages taken captive by abolitionist John Brown in the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Brown and some of his men encountered Daingerfield on the street while he was walking from his home to his office at the Armory early in the morning, and took him hostage. Fighting broke out and the local militia killed some of Brown’s men and one of his sons. Brown, another of his sons, and some of his men barricaded themselves in the fire engine house with ten hostages, including Daingerfield. The local militia surrounded the fire engine house and mortally wounded another of Brown’s sons, who with another of Brown’s men, came out to try to negotiate under flag of truce. In the meantime, President Buchanan sent Robert E. Lee, then a Colonel in the US Army (this, a couple of years before the Civil War), across the Potomac with a detachment of marines to take charge and put down the insurrection. Daingerfield, while a hostage of Brown, stayed up late that night in the fire engine house talking to Brown about his reasons for the raid. The next day, Robert E. Lee sent a Lieutenant J.E.B. Stewart to the door of the engine house with a letter from Lee to try to talk to Brown and negotiate a surrender, which was unsuccessful. Lt. Stewart then signaled a Lieutenant Greene and a Major Russell to storm the fire engine house with 12 marines in order to free the hostages and take Brown and his men by force. John Daingerfield was next to Brown when Lt. Greene struck down Brown with his sword. Brown was severely injured but survived. Brown was then taken to Daingerfield’s office nearby and interviewed by senior officials. Brown was thereafter jailed and tried with some of his men about a month later by Jefferson County Judge Richard Parker. Brown and a few of his men who had also survived the raid were found guilty of murder and treason and hanged. John Daingerfield testified at the trial and over 20 years later in the 1880’s he wrote a first hand account of what happened in the raid on Harper’s Ferry in an article published in Century Magazine. John Daingerfield’s article was written in defense of the officer who had attacked and captured Brown in the engine house, and hit him with his sword. After Brown had become a folk hero and martyr in the ensuing Civil War, the officer who captured Brown was accused of using excessive force against Brown. It became a minor scandal in the 1880’s, and even Foxhall was questioned about it, but Foxhall simply pointed to his brother John’s article, saying in a letter that he knew nothing more about Harper’s Ferry than what was in his brother’s account, as Foxhall was only 17 at the time, and was studying law in Shasta, California under his brother (Judge) William Daingerfield when the raid on Harper’s Ferry occurred in 1859.
      John Daingerfield’s house at Harpers Ferry is now the visitors center at the Harpers Ferry historical park. It appears that John Parker Daingerfield and Judge Richard Parker knew each other beforehand and may be related in some way, given the marriage a couple of generations earlier that connected the Parker and the Daingerfield families, two of the first families of Virginia.

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