A Guide to the J. T. Downs, Sr., Collection, 1843, 1861-1929
James T. "Jim" Downs, Sr., was the son of lawyer John L. and Sarah (Tickell) Downs. John’s father Jeremiah S. Downs (b. 1782) fought in the War of 1812 as a captain in the Mississippi Militia. From about 1840 to 1876, John and his brothers unsuccessfully petitioned the government to earn payment for Jeremiah and his company as soldiers.
Jim Downs taught school in Louisiana until the outset of the Civil War. In 1861, he joined his family in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, where he enlisted in Company D, 21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment of the 1st Mississippi Battalion. In 1863, he was wounded and captured by the Union. As a prisoner of war, he resided in two prison hospitals in Washington, D.C., first the Judiciary Square Hospital and then at Lincoln Hospital. Following the war, the Downs family eventually settled in Dallas, Texas.
Composed of photocopied and transcribed correspondence and literary productions, the J. T. Downs, Sr., Collection, 1843, 1861-1929, documents the Downs family history and land claims as well as James T. Downs, Sr.’s service in the Confederate Army. The Civil War letters of James and his brothers describe war conditions in Virginia, activities of the Confederate Army, and life as a prisoner of war in Washington, D.C., hospitals. The family land correspondence, 1889-1892, discusses John L. and Sarah Downs’ land claims in Texas and Louisiana. The family letters, 1843, 1863-1929, describes the family’s life in Mississippi during the Civil War, the deaths and health of family members, and the relationships between members of the Downs and Tickell families. The collection also contains J. T. Downs’ reminiscences about life in hospital prisons; the May 1, 1864, issue of Army and Navy Herald (Macon, Georgia); and a copy of a handwritten "The Rebel Girls Song," dated October 1863.
This collection is open for research use.
J. T. Downs, Sr., Collection, 1843, 1861-1929, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by W. H. Richter, July 1965.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers