Biography of Henry M. Darnall

Henry M. Darnall (deceased) was born in Chester District, South Carolina in 1808. His parents moved to Maury County, Tennessee, when he was four years old.

When nineteen he left there and went to Obion County, and lived there and in Lake County until his death. His early education was neglected, though be inherited fine sense from his mother, and his father was well educated. When thirty years of age he was appointed captain of a company of militia; then was made colonel, and finally brigadier general. During the war he was offered the generalship of the army of Virginia, or general quarter mastership of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Darnall’s reply to the latter was characteristic; he said that “he did not care to go into the service with a load of bacon on his shoulders” but preferred going as a soldier. He took no part in the war at all; politically was a democrat. When the question of secession came up, he was one of two men in that section of Obion County who voted for the Union. His chief occupation was farming and land speculating, in which he was very successful.

In 1836 he married Virginia Wright born in Wayne County, Kentucky in 1817. Of seven children born to them two sons and two daughters are living. The oldest son was a representative of the lower house of the assembly in Missouri, and was murdered by his tenant through malice. The second son was killed by a band of Federal marauders; the youngest is a prominent physician in Texas. Mr. Darnall died in 1880, his wife is still living.

The Darnalls are of Scotch descent, and trace their ancestors back to the time of Robert Burns. Richard M., the third son of Henry M., is, now a leading lawyer of Lake County; was born August 2, 1849. At sixteen he entered Beech Grove College, and remained two years. At the age of eighteen years old a difficulty occurred between his father’s family and two young men, Robert L. and Clinton G. Lane. One of them was a graduate of Yale College and went to Lake County in the capacity of a teacher. He met and married a niece of Mr. Darnall’s, and the latter generously gave them a nice home, besides lending them several thousand dollars. In spite of this kindness they forged the will of Mr. Darnall, so that she might, at his death, receive $20,000; but as Mr. Darnall was a very robust man, they decided to kill him, selecting Cullen C. Edwards as an accomplice, all three of them being leading Kuklux. One night the youngest Lane went to Mr. Darnall’s house and endeavored to insult him; when Mr. Darnall turned to enter the house Lane drew a navy pistol from the born of his saddle and attempted to shoot him, but before he could fire, Richard Darnall reached him and prevented the shot; he then attempted to shoot him, but the latter, seeing that it was kill or be killed, drew a pistol from his pocket and shot Lane, inflicting a wound from which he came near dying. After this the two Lanes and Edwards swore vengeance against the Darnalls, and meeting Richard and his oldest brother coming from the steamer Belle of Memphis, they commenced firing upon them; but the Darnall boys succeeded in killing all three of them without receiving any wounds. To escape the Kuklux, Richard went to northern Texas, and soon after entered the University of Mississippi, at Oxford, and entered under the name of Mathew Darnall. He wanted but a few lessons of graduating when the detectives found he was there and started to arrest him; but receiving information of this he left Oxford and went into Memphis, passing the train going out with the officers. A telegram was sent to Memphis stating he was on the train and officers were there to arrest him; but when nearing the city he rang the bell to stop the train, and jumping from the cars, went around the city, crossed the river and made his escape. Soon after this Mr. Darnall commenced reading law under J. D. Reagan, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and while there, in 1873, he married Emma V. Quarles, born April 16, 1852, in Fayetteville. They have four sons and one daughter. In politics he is a democrat. In the Forty-third General Assembly he represented the floating vote of Lake, Dyer and Obion Counties, and was an able legislator. In 1873 he moved back to Madrid Bend, where he has given his time to his profession. He owns 400 acres of land, renting it all out except fifteen acres, which he reserves for experimental horticulture.



Goodspeed Publishing Co. History of Tennessee from the earliest time to the present. Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1887.

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