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.