John Darrah of Greene County [2015 Update]
John Darrah was probably born in York County, Pennsylvania, in 1774, the second 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. 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 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.
My personal opinion inclines to the family dispute area. I think it’s significant that John moved to Monongalia County near his brother Robert just prior to the period when Henry was writing his will in 1805-1806, and he did not move back to Greene County until after his father was dead and the estate had been probated. I noticed that Henry did not say that John had been “provided for” or some such language. This indicates a few hard feelings to me.
On the other hand John did have enough money in 1815 to purchase a sizeable property in Greene County when he moved back. Where did that money come from? From Henry? Unless some unknown letter or written account surfaces, we will probably never know the answer to this situation.
In 1810 John was living in Monongalia County, Virginia, 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 may never know without names, but I am inclined toward the John Dorah, as this family generally adds the “h” to the surname.
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. Some family members could have been Robert’s or Henry’s, since the family seemed to be closely aligned. 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.
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. He may have inherited 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.
The Child of John Darrah
John Davis Darrah was born July 1, 1810, in Greene County. He married Elizabeth R. born September 30, 1820. Elizabeth died March 1, 1884, and is buried in Laurel Point Cemetery. John D. died on February 9, 1896, and is buried in the Laurel Point Cemetery there.
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 Greene 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! Caldwell’s 1876 Atlas of Greene County shows the 102-acre farm of J. D. Darrah just southwest of Carmichaels town along Muddy Creek
The Children of John Davis and Elizabeth Darrah
1. William Johnson Darrah was born on June 3, 1846, in Greene County. William J. died April 19, 1886, at only 40 years of age. Next to J.D.’s farm is the home of W. J. Darrah. The 1865 McConnell’s Map just shows J. Darrah.
William J. had two children: The oldest was Bertha D. Darrah, born on June 1, 1874, in Greene County. She married John S. Faddis, an Allegheny River steamboat captain, on September 22, 1897, in Greene County. Their marriage was short-lived, as John died in 1917. Bertha then operated Darrah’s Restaurant in Carmichaels for fourteen years with her brother Glenn.
Bertha, a graduate of Greene Academy, was an energetic and adventuresome person, and kept going into new activities throughout her life. During WW2, at the age of 69, she took a job in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, at a defense plant making powder and cartridges. She was a political activist and charity drive regular. She helped with the local Bi-Centennial Committee, learned the ceramics at 90 and the organ at 93.,
Bertha died at the age of 99 on March 7, 1973, in Sarasota, Florida, where she was visiting her daughter and is buried in the Laurel Point Cemetery in Greene County. Bertha had a son Ivan Sedgwick Faddis, born April 12, 1899, who died on July 3, 1918, and a daughter Dorothy, born December 5, 1905. Dorothy married Henry Conway on February 12, 1930, in Wheeling, West Virginia. Dorothy died on March 18, 2001, in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, where she was living with her daughter.
J. D.’s second child was Glenn Johnson Darrah, born on July 11, 1879, in Greene County. Glenn married Trissa F. Beatty on September 18, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio., and they were the parents of Eleanor Elizabeth, born March 4, 1914; twins Julia and Jean, born in 1917; and Marjorie, born February 27, 1920. Trissa died on April 12 1924, of pneumonia, at the age of 38 and is buried in Laurel Point. Eleanor married Stephen McCann on July 30, 1945, and they had a son Stephen D. and a daughter Trissa; Julia married Earle Clifton Horner and had daughter Judith Ann, born 1940, and Karen Rae, born 1942. She married Raymond McMinn. Julia died in Carmichaels on June 21, 1959, and is buried in Laurel Point; Jean was unmarried; and Marjorie married John McCann and died in Greene County on March 30, 1968. Glenn, who never remarried, died on September 10, 1953, and is buried in Laurel Point.
2. James C. Darrah was born December 12, 1847, and died October 3, 1850, less than three years old.3. Flarris A. Darrah was born on December 10, 1851, in Carmichaels, and became a successful merchant. [I don’t know where the name came from, but it looks like either John Davis or Elizabeth Johnson had a flair for the unusual.] Flarris married Martha Chandler on November 20, 1878, in Hazel Green, a town in Grant County, Wisconsin. I imagine he was up there on business, one of those famous traveling salesmen!
Flarris and Martha settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and had four children: Donald Chandler, born on September 5, 1882, in Greene County, died on September 11, 1911, in Pittsburgh, of appendicitis. He is buried in Laurel Point; Annie Elizabeth, known as Bessie, was born in Pittsburgh on July 1886. She died on September 30, 1910, of diabetes, and is buried in Laurel Point; Alice, born on August 19, 1888, was the longest lived of Farris’ children. She attended the Carmichaels School in Cumberland Township in the early 1900’s. She married Anderson R. Sheppard and lived in Pittsburgh. Alice died on April 30, 1960, in Allegheny County and is buried in Ally Memorial Park Cemetery there; Fred Darrah, born February 5, 1892, only lived four years, died on October 11, 1896, and is buried in Laurel Point.
4. Orpha J. Darrah was born March 29, 1854. Orpha worked as a music teacher and does not seem to have married. She died October 26, 1880, and is buried in Laurel Point.5. Oella E. Darrah was born June 20, 1858 in Greene County. Oella married John Moore on March 5, 1882, in Waynesburg, and then married John Keys Thompson on December 17, 1885, near Carmichaels. I don’t know what happened to John. Oella died November 14, 1886, after having been married to John Thompson less than a year. She is buried in Laurel Point Cemetery.
Some Additional Darrah Possibilities In Greene County
A. 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, Pennsylvania. This could indicate a link between the York-Chester group of Darrahs and the Bucks County group, but so far I do not know what it might be.
B. An Elizabeth Darrah married Elihu Foster in Greene County on July 1, 1855. This Elizabeth is the daughter of Robert Darrah’s son Henry and Anna Tennant of Monongalia County, Virginia. The Fosters moved to Appanoosa County, Iowa, soon after their marriage.
A Possible John Darrah Family Based On The 1830 Census
One Male Born 1770-1780 This is almost certainly the father John Darrah
One Male born 1790-1800 This is possibly the William Darrah, single, listed on the 1840 Census in Jefferson Township. [It may be the William of Fishkill, New York, or the William of Philadelphia, who both bought land from a James Darrah in 1841. We do not know who James was or why he had land available in Greene County. Maybe from the Eliza Bradford family.]
One Male born 1810-1814 This is John Davis, born July 1, 1810
One Male Born 1814-1819 This boy would have been age 11 to 16 in 1830, so shortly to come of age and move on.
One Female born 1800-1810 I believe this is Jane Darrah, born 1818 in Greene County, who married Martin Rice. She had six children and named one son “John Davis,” perhaps after her brother. I think Jane deserves greater scrutiny. [A John Davis was a
well-known Methodist minister on the early 1800’s western frontier, so the name may be just a coincidence.]
One Female born 1814-1819 This girl would have been age 11 to 16 in 1830, so shortly to be married.
One Female born 1825-1829 This may be Rebecca Darrah, born ca 1823 Pennsylvania, who married David J. Waggoner in Greene County in 1845. She moved to Lewiston, Fulton County, Illinois, shortly thereafter.
Last Updated: May 28, 2015