John Darrah of Greene County, PA
[Pages 19-21 from my 2006 book]
John Darrah was probably born in York County, Pennsylvania, in 1776, the youngest son of Henry Darrah, a farmer in Berwick Township. John is mentioned in the 1783 will of his father’s cousin, Robert Darrah of Chester County.
John lived with his parents and three brothers in York County until 1786, when Henry decided to move west. Migrating first to Fayette County in 1786, Henry moved again and in 1789 finally ended up in the section of Washington County that became Greene County in 1796.
On the first United States Census of 1790, Henry Darrah is in Washington County with two males under 16 and two females with ages not listed. The two males are probably Henry, Jr., born in 1775, and John. The two females might be Henry’s wife and a daughter or two daughters. Since a third daughter is listed on Henry’s later will, I suppose it was the first option.
Older sons Robert and Joseph were likely on their own and listed with some other census group. In 1791 both were in the Washington County Militia, so they may have been detached on military duties.
On the 1800 Census of now Greene County, Henry has two males listed, ages 16-26, and three females, 16-26. I estimate that Henry’s wife has died by now and the females are the daughters Elizabeth, Margaret, and Rebecca listed in Henry’s will.
There was a second John Darrah on the 1790 Washington County Census, but, when Greene County was formed, the second John stayed in Washington County and died there in 1814. His family later moved to Allegheny County. From 1800 on only one John was in Greene County for several years, except for when he lived briefly in Monongalia County, Virginia, now West Virginia.
John was not mentioned in his father’s 1806 will, probably for one of two reasons: 1. He had a falling out with his father and was disinherited (Henry made a point of describing his children as “my beloved son Robert” etc.) 2. John had already received his portion from his father in order to set up housekeeping and Henry did not need to bestow anything further on him. Both reasons were common in wills of the era.
In 1810 John was living in Monongalia County, Virgina, where his older brother Robert was already established. There were two John’s in that census, one listed as John Dorrow and one as John Dorah. Both were in the same 26-45 age category, and they are difficult to sort out. The age distribution is very similar and they may just be the same group enumerated twice, once on page 413 and once on 413A. Both groups have adults in the same age groups, and both have two males under 10 and three females under 16. Some of these children may be some other family, or cousins, or just visitors. We will probably never know without names.
The 1820 Census of Greene County shows a John in Cumberland Township with a much larger family, and I do not see how all of these children could have been his, so we may again be looking at a blended household of some kind. One of the boys is probably son John D. and the older female is probably John’s unnamed wife. The second oldest female may be John D’s wife Elizabeth.
An 1821 enumeration of Greene County inhabitants shows only one John Darrah in the county. He is a farmer. The 1830 Census shows the same family in Jefferson Township, with the children older and some missing. The 1840 Census index does not show any John or John Jr. as a Head of Household in either Greene or Monongalia Counties. They may have been counted in another household. Or maybe they were just out of town that day!
On the 1850 Census John Darrah, age 75, born Pennsylvania, is living in the household of John D. Darrah, his wife Elizabeth, and sons William J., born 1844, and James G, born 1847. No other Darrah families are on that census in Greene County, and you wonder where they all went! John D. was born on July 1, 1810, and he was undoubtedly the son of the elder John. He is listed as a Carpenter by trade.
By the time of the 1860 census the elder John is missing and probably dead. The younger John is now a farmer. Did he inherit his father’s land? Son William is now 14, son James is missing, and the family is now joined by son Florace, age 8, and daughters Orpha, age 6, and Orella, age 1.
On the 1850 census John the younger had $800 worth of real estate, and his wife had $900 worth; on the 1860 he had $4,000 worth of land. It looks like an inheritance. I will have to delve further into Greene county land or probate records.
There is a significant series of land transactions in Green County by John Darrah, John D. Darrah, and Elizabeth R. Darrah, beginning in 1815 and extending until 1882. I counted 14 different occasions. These Darrahs were land entrepreneurs!
The 1880, 1900, 1930, and the Laurel Point Cemetery listings cleared up a few mysteries. J. Davis Darrah, born 7-1-1810, died 2-9-1896, is buried there, along with Elizabeth R., wife of J. D. Darrah, born 9-30-1820, died 3-1-1884. Next to them is E. Oella Darrah Thompson, wife of John Keys Thompson, born 6-20-1858, died 11-14-1886. Also nearby is Orpha Darrah, born 3-29-1854, and died 10-26-1880; James C. Darrah, born 12-12-1847, died 10-3-1850; and William Johnson Darrah, died 4-19-1886, aged 40yr, 10mo, 22da.
In a Greene County Marriage book I found that Oella E. Darrah married John Moore on March 5, 1882 in Waynesburg, and she married John Keys Thompson on December 17, 1885, near Carmichaels.
John D’s son Florace--What kind of name is Florace?—is on the 1880 census with wife Mattie and is working as a Dry Goods Merchant. No children.
Laurel Point also has a Glenn Darrah, born in 1879. The 1930 census shows that Glenn J. is the son of Ellen M. Darrah, born 1850 in Pennsylvania. Ellen is the widow of William J., and the mother of Bertha Darrah Faddis, as well as Glenn.
Glenn was the husband of Trissa F. Beatty, and they were the parents of Eleanor Elizabeth, twins Julia and Jean, and Marjorie Darrah.
Caldwell’s 1876 Atlas of Greene County shows the 102-acre farm of J. D. Darrah just southwest of Carmichaels town along Muddy Creek. Next to that farm is the home of W. J. Darrah. The 1865 McConnell’s Map just shows J. Darrah.
An 1815 land deed by John Darrah mentions the name of Hugh Barclay, the husband of Ann Darrah, the sister of Henry Darrah of Bucks County, PA. This could indicate a link between the York-Chester group of Darrahs and the Bucks County group.
There are two other stray females: Elizabeth Dorrah married Elihu Foster in Greene County on July 1, 1855, and Rebecca Darrah married David J. Waggoner in 1845. Are these ladies connected to John’s family? Maybe we will find out!