JOHN M. DARNALL, is an honored resident of McLean County, and one of the oldest settlers of Mt. Hope Township. During his long residence in this locality, Mr. Darnall has built for himself a reputation as an honest man and a good citizen, and is a gentleman who has materially assisted in the development of this section of the Prairie State.
Mr. Darnall is a native of McLean County, and first opened his eyes to the light in Lawndale Township on the 30th of September, 1833. His father, Nicholas Darnall, was a native of Kentucky, and was born in Booneville, in about 1808. The parents of the latter were early settlers of the Blue Grass State, and their son Nicholas was but six years old when they died. He then went to live with a married sister, Mrs. John Henline, of Kentucky, and remained with her until he was old enough to learn the trade of a blacksmith. He was still serving his apprenticeship when, in 1828, his brother-in-law, Mr. Henline, came to Illinois, and Nicholas Darnall came with him. The journey was made overland, with six horses and a wagon. Mr. Henline started with his family and the first day met with an accident, and was then obliged to employ his brother-in-law, the father of our subject, to drive the team through.
The western portion of McLean was then a part of Tazewell County, and Mr. Henline settled in Lawndale Township. Mr. D. lived with him until 1832, in the meantime having entered a claim, and made all the improvements he could upon the land. He then settled on his place, which he occupied for the following two years. Then, in the spring of 1834, he sold out, and moved into what is now Allin Township. In the meantime, having been married, with his wife he took up his abode with his father-in-law, with whom he lived until the following December. He had also purchased a tract of unimproved land of the latter, which was located on section 6 of what is now Mt. Hope Township. There he erected a log cabin, built a small shop, and carried on farming and blacksmithing together. They lived in the log cabin until the winter of 1842-43, when Mr. Darnall built a frame house, which he occupied with his family until the close of his life, in April, 1848.
The father of our subject was united in marriage with Miss Sarepta Brooks, who was the daughter of Miles and Lucy Brooks, and was born in Hart County, Ky. Her parents removed to McLean County, Ill., at an early period in the history of this section, and were among the first settlers of Brooks' Grove.
The household circle of the parents of our subject, was completed by the birth of eight children, of whom five are still living, namely: John M., who is the subject of our sketch, was the eldest; William lives at Stanford, this county; Henry is a resident of Mt. Hope Township; Rachel married Alfred Bozarth, of the same township; Elvira became the wife of B. N. Ewing, and lives in Tazewell County, Ill.
The subject of our sketch, and the first born of his parents, entered life in the humble log cabin into which they removed soon after their marriage. He was but a little over a year old when they removed from Lawndale to Mt. Hope Township, and has been a resident of the latter township since that time. He is, in point of settlement, the oldest resident of the township, and is held in that peculiar veneration and respect which is tacitly accorded the old settlers, whose numbers are rapidly growing less. He attended the subscription schools before free schools were instituted, and as soon as large enough began to assist his parents around the homestead. His father died when he was fourteen years of age, and being the eldest the care of the family devolved upon him. He remained at home until 1861, and then built a house on the farm which he now owns and occupies. He enlisted, May 2, 1864, in Co. D, 145th Ill. Vol. Inf., and was mustered in at Camp Butler, Springfield, with the rank of Corporal. The regiment was ordered to Benton Barracks, St. Louis, and thence to Rolla, Mo., doing guard duty. Part of the regiment, with which was Mr. Darnall, was transferred to Alton, Ill., where they guarded prisoners at the old penitentiary. On the expiration of his hundred days' service he was mustered out at Camp Butler, returned to his home in this county, and continued his farming operations.
After his return from the service of his country, he was united in marriage with Miss Hannah Zollers, the wedding taking place Jan. 3, 1865. Mrs. Darnall was born in Waynesville, De Witt County, and by her union with our subject became the mother of six children, viz: Lee, Charlie and Clarence H., and three who died in infancy unnamed.
Mr. Darnall has been engaged in farming pursuits during the greater part of his life, and has also given much attention to the breeding of fine stock. He is now engaged to a considerable extent in feeding and shipping the latter, and from his operations in this direction enjoys a fine income. In 1882 he erected the present commodious family residence, and but ten years prior had put up a large and convenient barn. The farm estate includes 243 acres, a part of which lies in Allin Township, and is all in a good state of cultivation. He has all the conveniences for carrying on agriculture in a first-class manner, and in every respect is a straightforward business man, meeting his obligations promptly and doing by his neighbors as he would wish to be done by. In politics he is a Republican and has been since the organization of the party. Prior to that time he was a Whig. For the last sixteen years he has served as a School Director.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 720. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.