Biography of Mary Morrall Darling

Mrs. Mary Morrall Darling is the daughter of Wamego’s pioneer physician, Dr. Albert Morrall, and she is now living in the same house where she was born May 14, 1872.

The Morralls were English people and were colonial settlers in the Carolinas. Her great-great-grandfather was Daniel Morrall who married Lydia Savanen. Her great-grandfather was John Morrall. Her grandfather, George Washington Morrall, was born at Georgetown, South Carolina, August 17, 1786, became an attorney by profession, and practiced at Grahamville and at Beaufort, South Carolina, dying in the latter city February 22, 1836. He married Phoebe Jenkins Tripp, who was born January 23, 1794, and died in Barnwell District, South Carolina, April 10, 1865.

Dr. Albert Morrall was born at Grahamville, South Carolina, November 17, 1829. The record of this old time physician had a distinctive place in the history of Kansas, particularly in the pioneer times of the country around the Big Blue River. He was of old Southern family and kept his sympathies with the South during the period of hostilities over slavery and the questions of state rights. He was educated in private schools at Grahamville, and first came to Kansas in the spring of 1856. He tells the story in his own words:

“I came to Kansas in the spring of 1856 in company with thirty other young men from the South. My object in coming to this state was to hunt buffaloes, but I was disappointed in not finding any very near to our camp at Atchison, where we first landed. We had to go into the country at least two hundred miles at that season of the year. Frank Palmer was one of the men with whom I came to Kansas and he was in charge of a company, the object of which in coming to Kansas was to make this a slave state. I was not a member of this company, but free to do as I pleased, although I always worked with them.” After describing several of the skirmishes between his side and the free state men, including the march of the pro-slavery men upon Lawrence and their encounter with Jim Lane and his men, Dr. Morrall continued: “In November, Vander Horst, Stringfellow of Virginia, and also William Grearson of Charleston, South Carolina, and I started for Marysville, fixing up one of the wagons for a hunt.”

The following elipping taken from the St. Louis Republican, describes their experiences on this hunt: “Terrible suffering on the plains.–We have information of the return of a hunting party from the Little Blue in a most deplorable condition. They were Mr. James Stringfellow, Mr. Van Dorser and Mr. Morrall, the first from Atchison, K. T., and the two latter from South Carolina. George Matthews saw them after their hairbreadth eacapes and gives me the following thrilling narrative: When they reached the Big Blue they fixed their encampment, but finding only a few buffalo they left their camp in charge of a negro man belonging to Mr. Van Dorser and proceeded over to the Little Blue. On the first evening out they were overtaken by a storm of wind and snow, and lost their way. They wandered for eight days without fire and food. They blew the tubes out of their guns in their efforts to kindle a fire and then threw the guns away. The feet of Van Dorser and Morrall became so frosted and they were so exhausted from fatigue and starvation that Mr. Stringfellow, who had had some mountain experience, was scarcely able to get them to move slong. He encouraged them by every means until they finally reached a habitation and were saved. Mr. Morrall und Mr. Van Dorser, however, will lose their feet and Mr. Stringfellow some of his toes. Their sufferings were beyond description and they will be ill for some weeks to come. The negro who remained in the camp is uninjured, although he suffered a good deal from the severity of the cold and anxiety for his master and friends. They are all now safely lodged at Atchison.”

The above narrative gives some idea of their sufferings, but is not eorrect, as it was Mr. Morrall who finally led them to a habitation. To quote Doctor Morrall further: “When mortification set in, I got a sharp rifle bullet mold and with a file sharpened it, cutting my toos off myself by squeezing the mold down and pulling the bones out like a tooth one by one. I had to go on crutches all that winter.”

In the spring of 1857 Mr. Morrall went to Mormon Grove, staked a claim of 160 acres, and built a small house eight feet square. In the summer he returned to Marysville, stopping with an old Frenchman named McCloskey who had an Indian wife from the Sioux tribe. From them he learned many signs and words of the Indian language. He often met the Indians and hunted all day with them. Having a little money, in the fall he built a small house, securèd a partner and started a trading post. A man named Ballard took charge of the store, but failed in the business and all the money invested by him in the enterprise was lost.

At that time he determined to read medicine. He attended lectures at Rush Medical College in Chicago that winter and with the conclusion of the lectures returned to Kansas. The war between the North and the South then broke out and he was notified to leave the state or fight with the Union army. He could not bring himself to fight against his home people and he crossed over the Missouri River to St. Joseph and from there started for Lexington, Missouri, to join General Price, who was marching onto the town. Lexington was then held by General Anderson’s command of 4,000 men. He was part of General Price’s army which laid siege to the town and forced Anderson to surrender. Doctor Morrall states that 4,000 stands of arms and cannon, mules, wagone and ammunition were captured there. Mr. Morrall then started for South Carolina, revisiting his native town of Grahamville and soon joined the southern forces. He was stationed in and around Grahamville until the end of the war. He served as lieutenant in Company H, Third Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry. When hostillties were ended he was left practically penniless. Going to Charleston, he secured employment and bought quite a stock of wheelwright goods, opening a shop at Monk’s Corner, together with a man named Bonnett. He prospered in business and made enough while there to euable him to return to Kansas in 1866. He located at Wamego and soon afterwards re-entered Rush Medical College at Chicago, where he was graduated M. D. in 1867.

Doctor Morral was the first permanent physician of Wamego and he continued practice there for nearly half a century. He was a man of ability in his profession and enjoyed the highest standing and asteam of a large community. He served as county health officer and for four years was postmaster of Wamego, being a democrat in politics. He was a member of the Baptist Church and in 1862 joined Friendship Traveling Lodge of Masons at Grabamville, South Carolina. He was a charter member and served as Master of Wamego Lodge No. 75, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and was High Priest of Wamego Chapter No. 52, Royal Arch Masons. Doctor Morral prospered in a business way, was a stockholder in the Wamego Building and Loan Association, and he owned a residence on Lincoln Avenue which was his wife’s father’s house before him. This house is the oldest structure in Wamego and is still in excellent repair. Doctor Morrall also owned two farms west of Wamego, one of 600 acres and another of 30, and had property in Kansas City, Missouri.

Doctor Morrall’s death occurred in University Hospital at Kansas City, Missouri, March 4, 1917. He was then in his eighty-eighth year and was one of the last survivors of the active participants in the pioneer events of territorial Kansas.

Doctor Morrall married Sarah A. Wagner, who was born at Dowagiac, Michigan, October 30, 1840, and died at Wamego May 7, 1880. Their only child is Mary Wagner Morrall, now Mrs. Darling.

Mrs. Darling was educated in the public schools of Wamego, and from high school entered Miss Kelly’s Seminary at Charleston, South Carolina, where she spent three years. She was also a student in Ottawa University at Ottawa, Kansas, a year, and subsequently returned to the same school and took a year’s course in music. She is now clerk of the Baptist Church at Wamego and had interested herself in many social and benevolent movements. She is past matron of Wamego Chapter No. 76, Order of the Eastern Star, and served two years in that office.

She was married at Kansas City, Kansas, May 4, 1912, to Fred Enoch Darling. Mr. Darling was born at Hudson, Michigan, March 12, 1873, and died May 24, 1912, twenty days after his marriage. He spent his childhood in his native loeality of Michigan and came with his parents to Kansas, locating near Grenols, where he attended the public schools. He also attended school at Omaha, Nebraska, and began his business career in a hardware store. In Kansas City, Kansas, he was associated with Mr. Moulton as distributing agent for the Twentieth Century Furnace Company of Akron, Ohio. Mr. Moulton died and Mr. Darling was just preparing to take over the business for the entire Middle West when his own death occurred. He was a republican and a member of the Baptist Church.


Biography, Women,

Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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