Philip Darby is a pioneer and prominent citizen of Washington, Kan. The Kansas pioneers who are able to date their pioneering back to the '50s are few and the number is rapidly diminishing each year. This is especially true of central and western Kansas. In 1858, when Philip Darby, then a boy, came to what is now the prosperous and populous county of Washington, he found the great American plains in the state of nature as the hand of the Creator had left it, in possession of the buffaloes and the Indians. Wild game of all kinds was in abundancedeer, antelope and wild turkey were plentiful, while at times vast herds of buffaloes numbering into the thousands roamed at will over the broad prairies.
Philip Darby is a native of the Buckeye State and was born in Monroe county in 1841 and remained in his native State until he was thirteen years of age, when he came west with his parents. They started for Kansas, but for some reason or another located in Iowa, driving the entire distance with an ox team. After remaining in the Hawkeye State three years they again determined to go to Kansas, and, in 1858, after a tedious trip with their yoke of cattle they reached Washington county and settled on the Little Blue river. This was before that section of the State had been surveyed. In 1859 they came to Mill Creek and the following year the father preëmpted land there which Philip Darby still owns. This original land warrant now in the possession of Mr. Darby bears the signature of President Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Darby's father was one of the pioneer justices of the peace of this section of Kansas and is said to have performed the first marriage ceremony in Washington county. After the Darby family settled in Washington county there was more or less Indian trouble in this section for the ensuing ten years. At one time when the Pawnee Indians were on a raid through that section of Kansas, Mr. Darby's father was captured by them and kept several weeks, but finally returned unharmed. This was in 1862. Frequent massacres occurred in near-by settlements. In 1864 the settlers were driven out by the Indians, who were on the warpath. During these times Mr. Darby served as an Indian scout and for a year was a member of a military company which was organized to fight the Indians and at the time of the White Rock massacre in the early part of the '70s he was with the military expedition which operated against the Indians as far west as where Kirwin now stands. As he says himself, he didn't have time to go to the Civil war, as he was too busy fighting Indians at that time. However, two of his brothers were in the Union army, one of whom was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge. Mr. Darby experienced all the details of pioneer life. In the early days Marysville was their nearest postoffice, and their nearest market place of any account was Fort Kearney. Philip Darby was one of the first to take advantage of the homestead laws. The law went into effect January 1, 1863, and he was one of the first to enter a homestead at the Junction City land office under this act. He followed farming until 1874, when he removed to Washington and engaged in the general mercantile business, and for thirty years was one of the leading merchants of that town. He built the first permanent store building in Washington, still standing on the west side of the square. During his mercantile career he also continued his interest in farming and always owned a farm near the town. In 1893 he was the Republican candidate for county treasurer and at the expiration of his term of office, in 1895, he was reëlected. When he went into politics he turned his mercantile business over to his children, but in 1901 he returned to the mercantile business and assisted his younger son until 1905, when he retired. This time, he says, is final.
Mr. Darby has been twice married. He first married, January 28, 1863, Miss Agnes Hallowell, a daughter of J. R. and Penelope Hallowell. The Hallowell family were also pioneers of northern Kansas, coming to Washington county in 1860. They located on a claim adjoining the place where Mr. Darby now lives. They came from Ohio, and the girl who later became Mrs. Darhy was about sixteen years old when she came to Kansas with her parents. She was a pioneer Washington county school teacher. Mr. and Mrs. Darby became the parents of the following children: Florence married Webster Morgan, Salina, Kan.; Rezin married Eva Earnest and resides near Washington, Kan.; Deliliah married E. B. Fox, Washington, Kan., and Walter married Blanch Smith and resides at Garden City, Kan. The wife and mother departed this life November 24, 1894. On January 28, 1897, Mr. Darby married Miss Alice Jane Hallowell, a half-sister of his first wife. To this union were born two children: Mildred, now deceased, and Naomi, a student in the Washington public schools. Mr. Darby has been a Republican all his life and taken an active interest in his party's welfare. He has held numerous township offices, and has represented his party in several county, Congressional and State conventions. He is a director in the Washington National Bank and a member of the Presbyterian church. He is one of the substantial citizens of northern Kansas, who has performed his part nobly and well in the building of the new western empire.Pages 453-455 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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