Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alfred Darden, Civil War Solider Mystery, His Family

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Bill West of West In New England has issued "THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR GENEALOGY BLOG CHALLENGE", which reads, in part:

"Did you have ancestors in America on 12 Apr 1861? If so, where were they and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them and their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of illness?  On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on BOTH sides?  How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find ways to help the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern plantations and if so when were they freed? Or were they freemen of color who enlisted to fight?  If your ancestors had not emigrated to America as yet, what was their life like around the time of the Civil War?"

This is my entry in Bill's challenge, the story of Alfred T. Darden, some of which we surmise, some of which we know to be true.  Sadly, much of this story has not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, parts of it are educated guesses and there are a few strong "gut" feelings, despite quite a bit of research.  This is just one of the sad stories that came from the time of the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865.

Alfred T. Darden was born in or around the Isle of Wight County Virginia to Charles Darden and his wife, Ms. Dews, (her maiden name is unknown and her birth surname, is not proven).  Alfred was the first born of three children born to this union, the others were Charles H. Darden, and daughter, Catherine.  From the 1850 and 1860 census enumerations we determine that Alfred was born between 1817 and 1818.

(It so happens that Charles H. Darden is this compiler's g-g-g- grandfather, making, Charles Darden and wife Ms. Dews Darden my g-g-g-g- grandparents.  By the way, Charles H. will play out some more in this story of Alfred.)

In 1849 Alfred married Mary S. McClenny in Isle of Wight County Virginia on or about the 5th of May, according to this Marriage Bond.

Marriage Bond, Isle of Wight County, Virginia
May 5, 1849
Alfred T (?) Darden and Mary S. Mc Clenney
Surety John W. Parr
By the time 1850 U. S. Census was taken, we find Alfred and Mary living in Jackson Township, Hinds County, Mississippi.  Alfred and Mary are also found in Mississippi on the 1860 census, enumerated at the Edwards Post Office, Hinds County, where we find the family household has increased by 4 children born to this couple, and 1 additional Darden male, H. C., age 15, born in Virginia.  It is my belief that H.C. is Alfred's nephew, son of Charles H. Darden.  A.T. Darden is found on the slave census for this locality, he owns at least 6 slaves.

However, by the time the 1870 census is taken, A. T. or Alfred T. is no where to be found.  His wife, Mary, is shown as the head of household, her 4 children still reside with her, as does a John H. Darden (believed to be the same as H.C. from the 1860 census).

So, where did Alfred disappear to?  He went off to war, never to return.  We will cover Alfred's service record and what I believe happened to Alfred in my next posts, but, right now, let's talk about his children and grandchildren.  As it so happens a biography on one of his grandchildren was a major clue that was helpful in figuring out Alfred's story.

Alfred and Mary's first born was Charles Edwin Darden, born September 10, 1852 in Mississippi, died March 8, 1899 in Brownsville, Hinds County, Mississippi.  On November 2, 1876 in Hinds County he married Mary Pamelia Britton.  Charles Edwin and Mary Pamelia Darden had 4 children of their own, Alfred Stephen, Susie, John Britton, and Bessie.

Alfred and Mary's second born was William M. Darden, who was born about 1855 in Mississippi and of whom nothing further is known.

Alfred and Mary's third born was George Thomas Darden, born September 15, 1857 in Mississippi, died December 12, 1923.  About 1902 George married Elizabeth P. (Lizzie) Purdy.  Other than the fact that George was reportedly a doctor, nothing more is known.

Alfred and Mary's last child, the fourth was Henry Alpheus Darden, who was born June 24, 1859 in Queens Hill, Hinds County, Mississippi and who died on December 12, 1915 at Cary, Sharkey County, Mississippi.  In about 1882 Henry married Mamie W. Underhill.  Henry and Mamie had 3 children, James Alfred, John Edward and Allie Mae Darden.

It has been a while since I have done any real serious deep diggin' research on Alfred Darden's family.  However, a few years back, Man and I, in one of our winter get aways, stopped in Jackson Mississippi and visited the Archives there.  As is usual, I found some 'good stuff', some 'stuff' and some 'nothing stuff'.  Since then, on occasion, I have snooped around on the Internet, finding some promising leads.  That said, I have considerable holes in the research, and in the lines, of Alfred's family.

During the research at the Mississippi Archives, I stumbled upon this article, which proved to be one of those discoveries that we dream of and rejoice in when we find them.  If you are still with me, here is the most important part of the biography of Alfred S. Darden, grandson of our subject, Alfred Darden:

Found in the work "Mississippi, a History" by Walter Nesbit Taylor and George H. Ethridge, published 1939, by The Historical Record Association, Volume 4, Page 1606-1609:

"Alfred Stephen Darden, a planter of Blanton, Sharkey County, is numbered among Mississippi's native sons, for he was born in Pocahontas, Hinds County, September 13, 1877. The family came from Virginia to this state prior to the Civil War, in which the grandfather of Alfred S. Darden participated. Joining the Confederate Army, he was captured and imprisoned, and after his release died while en route home."

Even though this one paragraph does not mention the "grandfather" by name, it would eventually lead me to my theory of what happened to Alfred Darden, the Civil War Solider.

Next, we will take a look at Alfred's compiled record and what happened to him during the Civil War.



Susan (Nolichucky Roots) said...

So many families altered in those years... Surely men vanished from other causes those years, but the Civil War is always the first thing one thinks of. LOVE the reference in that history. Just how loud was your Whahoo?

Bill West said...

Ooo! A Civil War mystery! Good research, and an
excellent start! Thanks for taking part,Carol,and
I'm looking forward to the rest of it!


Barbara Poole said...

I didn't expect such a surprise at the end. Really looking forward to your continued post. Nice job on the narrative too.

lindalee said...

Thanks for this post Carol....I didn't even know this challenge was on....too much time traveling back and forth from Chicago, I guess. I have a g granduncle who supposedly died on his way home from a service in the civil war....found the info in a reliable document....only to find that he LIVED. Can't wait for your second installment.