Biography of John W. Darling



Kalamazoo County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

Among the early settlers in Kalamazoo County were the families of Elisha Deane and Reed Darling; the former coming in as early as 1829, the latter some years later. Reed Darling was born in Springfield, Mass., about the year 1785. When he was eleven years old his father moved to Bethlehem, Albany Co., N. Y., where he grew to manhood. He learned the ship-carpenter's trade, and for several years worked in the city of Albany. He was for four years police constable. On the breaking out of the war of 1812 he enlisted in Capt. Van Wees' company of infantry, and served several months on Long Island, where he was finally discharged. In the fall of 1834 he came to Michigan, and the following year located one hundred and sixty acres of land on the banks of Portage Lake, in what is now the town of Mendon. He built a log house and sent for his family, and the same season saw them settled in the new home. But he lived only a short time to enjoy it, dying in 1837, followed a few months later by his wife, who was a Miss Mary Wayne. They had a family of five children, of whom John W. Darling was the fourth, born in Bethlehem, Sept. 7, 1816. He received a commonschool education. Mr. Darling came to Michigan with his father's family, and remained with them until the death of his parents. He then worked by the month at whatever he could get to do, most of the time in saw-mills, in Flowerfield and Vicksburg. in 1838 he located the southwest quarter of section 27, in Brady. In 1844, under the preemption law, he received a deed of land, and his start in life was made. Having built a log house he, in 1841, moved his newly-married wife into it, and commenced to improve and clear up his farm. This farm he still owns except fifteen acres, and to it he has added forty acres, on which he has built a good house and outbuildings, and where he intends to pass the remainder of his days. In the spring of 1851, with a party composed of his friends and neighbors, he started for California, going by the overland route and being five months on the road. At Council Bluffs they were joined by others, making a party of about two hundred. Finding it impossible to feed so much stock by the way, they divided up into small parties, Mr. Darling's being composed of twenty-eight men. Their journey through the Indian country was attended by many hardships and dangers. They had several skirmishes with the Indians,. and two of their party were killed. Arrived in California he ran a saw-mill for a short time, then for eighteen months engaged in mining, meeting with fair success. In March, 1853, he shipped in the steamer "Brother Jonathan" for San Juan del Sur. Then crossed the Isthmus and took passage in the ship "Proteus" for New York, where he landed in March, and on the 28th of the same month reached home. In politics Mr. Darling was a Democrat until the formation of the Republican party, since when he has been a supporter of its principles. He has been justice of the peace, highway commissioner, and supervisor.

On the 4th day of March, 1840, Mr. Darling married Miss Mary Ann Doane, who was born in Lyme township, Huron Co., Ohio. Her father, Elisha Doane, was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1796. When a small boy his parents moved to Vermont, where they remained fifteen years, and then moved to Cayuga Co., N. Y. When but eighteen years old Mr. Doane started out in life for himself. He went to Huron Co., Ohio, which was then a new country, where he married a Miss Chloe Miller. In 1829, with his family, he came to Michigan and located, on Prairie Ronde, the thrm now known as the Edwin H. Lothrop farm, to whom he sold his claim. He then bought of the government eighty acres of land, which he owned a few years, when he sold it and built a saw-mill on the Indian reservation, which was the first one built in the town of Brady, and which was run by him. In 1854 he sold his mill and went to Mendon, where he and Mr. Darling surveyed and located the mill-power now owned by Mr. Wakeman. On this he built a double saw-mill, which he sold in 1850 and went to California, where he lived until his death, in 1872. Mr. Darling's family consisted of nine sons and three daughters, nine of them reaching adult age.

There have been born to Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Darling nine children, as follows: Elisha, born Jan. 13, 1841; Wayne, May 17, 1844, died Aug. 18, 1846; Warren, June 15, 1847; John. M., Dec. 3, 1851, died Oct. 11, 1852; Frank, Jan. 31, 1854; John C., Feb. 23, 1856; Stewart, Nov. 27, 1860; Mary L., May 15, 1865; Grace, June 6, 1868, died Dec. 12, 1871.

History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of its Men and Pioneers.
Everts & Abbott., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.