Sometimes you find history in the strangest of places. During a recent renovation of Lazy River, a building at 1000 Acres Ranch Resort in Stony Creek, New York, a name was discovered written on a beam that was behind a wall. The name was ‘John W Darling.’ I was contacted to see if I could provide any information on John. I had started to look through some books and papers when I was contacted again and told that another name had been found about ten feet away on the same beam. This name was ‘Charles P Darling.’
I knew that there was a Darling Road in the Knowlhurst area, and information about a Darling family in David and Edythe Haskell’s big blue book, A History of Stony Creek, N.Y.: Early Stony Creek Families Who Arrived Prior to 1880, but not a lot more than that, as Darling isn’t a typical Stony Creek name. So, I started with the Haskell’s book and went on to censuses, newspaper articles, Ancestry, and other resources and was able to put together who John and Charles Darling were.
John Darling, the father of John and Charles was born about 1794, and their mother was Fanny Hemstreet, born about 1801. They had 7 children: Cynthia, born about 1828; Jeremiah (Jerry), born about 1829/30; John Wesley, born 1832; Mary, born about 1834; Charles Pomeroy, born February 22, 1836 in Luzerne NY; Thomas O, born about 1840/41; and James D, born about 1846.
In the 1850 Luzerne census John W, age 18, and his brother Charles, age 14, were living with their parents and siblings. In the 1855 Luzerne census John W, age 24, and Charles, age 20, were still living with their parents and siblings. In the 1860 census of Luzerne, Fanny, their mother, widowed, was living with four of her children. (John, her husband, had died in 1858).
In the 1860 Stony Creek census, John W, age listed as 29, was living in Creek Center with the Daniel Currier family as a laborer, located near the John H. Cameron family. (In the 1865 and 1870 Saratoga census Daniel is listed as carpenter.) Also in the 1860 Stony Creek census was Charles P, age 25, in Creek Center with his wife Jane. He was listed as a farmer located next to John P. Bowman. (In Charles’ obituary it states that he married Jane Hall at Luzerne on February 17, 1859).
On May 8, 1861, John and Charles enlisted at Glens Falls, New York for two years in the Civil War. On John’s muster papers it states that he was 30 years old, his eye color grey, hair, light auburn, complexion light and height 5’9 1/4″, and his occupation was carpenter/joiner. John was discharged in June of 1863.
An interesting side note for Charles – from his widow Jane Darling’s testimony: shortly after his enlistment, he got measles; his regiment moved to Albany; he rejoined the regiment and had a relapse in camp; affection of the lungs; a surgeon recommended discharge.
The men of his company persuaded that they give him a furlough to restore his health before discharge and he was taken to a private home. After several months, Charles again started to join his regiment in the south, but was informed by his physician he would be unable to reach his regiment in the condition he was in.
The captain, after being informed, wrote said soldier that under the circumstances, he would not expect his return…..on his muster roll it states discharge June 1861, official discharge 1863.
On September 28, 1914, seven years after Charles died, Jane his wife applied for a pension. “I am living with an unmarried daughter who is employed as a school teacher in Postville, Iowa. I have practically no property of my own and depend on my said daughter for support.” A pension was granted although Charles P had never received a pension, probably due to the short time of his service.
In 1864 Charles and Jane migrated to Iowa, along with the family of Jane’s parents. Jane’s parents were Theodore and Mary Hall. Theodore came to Stony Creek in 1849. He was a blacksmith and lumberman. He lived and operated a sawmill on Stony Creek about a half-mile south of the center. Charles died in Postville, Iowa on October 8, 1907 and Jane died in Postville on December 18, 1924 and both are buried in Postville, Iowa.
In the 1865 Stony Creek census, John W, age 32, is listed with his mother and siblings, his occupation listed as mechanic. In the 1870 Stony Creek census, John W, age 38, with his mother and brother Thomas, his occupation listed as laborer. In both censuses, they are still living near the John H. Cameron family.
For reference to location of Darling family, see map below, along with this description from David and Edythe Haskell’s book (see title above). This property would be about 4 miles from 1000 Acres Ranch Resort. In 1864 Fanny Darling bought from John S. and Sophia McMillen of Stony Creek, four acres on what is now White Road. Her house was at the sharp turn a few hundred feet after White Road leaves Warrensburg Road.
In the 1875 Stony Creek census, John W is living with his mother, and was listed as a mechanic (undoubtedly operating the sawmill which had belonged to his brother Thomas O who had died June 18, 1874.
Thomas had operated this sawmill from 1868 until his death in 1874, being land purchased from Columbus and Lurany Gill for $500.00. This land was adjacent to the grist mill that Columbus had built many years before. In 1887 the mill and lot were sold for $60.00 to Hiram Truesdell of Stony Creek and Hollis Russell of Glens Falls. In the 1880 Stony Creek census John W, age 42, occupation carpenter, lives alone. From a newspaper article dated 1882 — John Darling has returned from Indian Lake with a pair of crutches and a lame leg, having fallen a distance of twenty-six feet from a house on which he was working. He escaped with a badly sprained ankle.
A newspaper article dated 1883 informs us that John Darling has returned from the north woods ill, and another newspaper article date 1884 John Darling has a very interesting dog: Mr. Darling was taken suddenly ill the other day while alone in his house and was unable to get out of doors, but made it out to write a line and tie to his dogs neck and let him out the door. With the charge to go to a neighbors house about a quarter of a mile distant and let them know his condition. The obedient animal did as directed and soon brought assistance to his suffering master.
John W married Eliza Smith on April 27, 1885 in Stony Creek New York. Apparently shortly after that they moved and were living in Madellia, Minnesota. In a Warrensburg News article dated September 8, 1898, it states that John W Darling got married in the early eighties went west and died there.
Now to return to the names found on the beams, John W and Charles P Darling had to write their names either between September 1860 and May 8th of 1861 as John W had enlisted on that date and didn’t discharge until June of 1863. Charles P had been ill, or right after John W discharged in June of 1863, and Charles P and his family migrated to Iowa in 1864. So, this would make it between 160 and 163 years ago that these two brothers signed their names! What the original building was built for, or for who, is unknown, but it has been enjoyed by many people over the years….a few names that come to mind are Buena Vista Farm, Central Recreation Camp, and 1000 Acres Ranch Resort.
Charles P was in town for 4 years, and John W for 25 years, a short time by some standards, but they sure left their mark. I hope that you enjoyed hearing about John and Charles and if you ever find something hidden behind your wall, let me know.
Stony Creek Historian, Cynthia Cameron prepared this material for the Warren County Historical Society. If you haven’t yet visited her Facebook page: “The Road to a Friendly Town is Never Long,” look at it. You will be glad you did.