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DARLINGTON, JOHN WASHINGTON (1821–1915). John Washington Darlington, farmer and soldier, was born in Harrison County, Virginia, now Marion County, West Virginia, on February 5, 1821, the son of John W. and Henrietta Lang (Nazum) Darlington. His father, an Irishman, is said to have participated in the Lewis and Clark expedition and to have fought at the battle of New Orleans; he died while Darlington was still an infant, and the boy was apprenticed to a master with whom he did not agree. In consequence, Darlington ran away, intending to escape to Texas. En route he met and bound himself to John Webster, who took him to Texas in exchange for his labor. Webster and Darlington landed at Matagorda on January 14, 1838, and in May settled on Gilleland Creek some fourteen miles southeast of Austin in Travis County. In 1839–40 Darlington hauled freight between Houston and Bastrop.

When Webster was killed by Indians in the Webster Massacre in 1839, Darlington remained in Travis County and worked as a laborer on the first Texas capitol until January 1840. For the remainder of that year and part of the next he was a sharecropper in Travis County. In 1841 he took part in the battle of Plum Creek, and in 1842 he served with the volunteer forces that repulsed the raids of Rafael Vásquez and Adrián Woll.qqv In fall of 1842 Darlington rented land and took up farming in Rusk County, where, on October 19, 1843, he married Ellen J. Love. The couple had ten children. In 1844 he purchased the farm that he had been working, but the following year he returned to Travis County as a stock raiser on rented land. In 1849 he purchased a ranch in Travis County that was assessed in 1850 at $320. During the Civil War Darlington served as a private in the ranger company of a Captain Graham in Maj. George B. Erath's frontier defense battalion. He was stationed in Coryell County. In 1873 he purchased 520 acres near Hutto, where he ranched until 1884, when he moved to Taylor. Darlington was a Democrat, a Mason, a Presbyterian, and a member of the Texas Veterans Association. He died in Austin on September 12, 1915, and was buried at Manor.


Austin Statesman, September 12, 1915. John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, 1925?; 4 vols. 1929?). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas W. Cutrer


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas W. Cutrer, "DARLINGTON, JOHN WASHINGTON," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed April 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.