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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



DR. ALEXANDER T. DARRAH, Grand Master of the Masons in Illinois, and a skilled physician and surgeon of Bloomington, has been a resident of the Prairie State since 1838, and of Bloomington since 1883. He is of Scotch-Irish extraction and a fine specimen of physical manhood, being the largest in stature of a family noted for its development both physically and intellectually.

Dr. Darrah was born in Delaware County, Ohio, on the 17th of March, 1836. His parents were John and Elizabeth (Orr) Darrah, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively, the father born in 1811 and the mother in 1803.

His grandparents, James and Nancy (Kent) Darrah, were natives respectively of Virginia and Ohio. When a young man James Darrah removed from Virginia to Ohio, where he became a large landholder, and lived until 1856. He then sold out, and coming to Griggsville, Ill., retired from active labor, and with his wife spent the remainder of his days there. James Darrah died in 1866, aged ninety-nine; his wife departed this life in 1862, at the age of ninety-five years. Both were connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and useful, honored members of society.

Of their family of eight children all lived to mature years, and the records of the family for generations back indicate a long-lived race. On the mother's side, the grandfather, James, and grandmother, Mary (Thompson) Orr, were natives of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Orr was a farmer by occupation, and the owner of a fine homestead in Pennsylvania. This he afterward sold, and removed to Ohio, purchasing a farm in Harrison County, upon which he remained until 1838. He then came to Pike County, Ill., and passed his declining years free from care. Mrs. Orr departed this life in 1834, and James Orr ten years later, in 1844. Their family of seven children lived to become men and women, and almost without exception the children of both families were engaged in farming pursuits.

John Darrah, the father of our subject, was reared to farming pursuits, and after his marriage removed from Ohio to Illinois, purchasing 640 acres of land in Pike County, which he occupied until 1865, and then sold this and purchased a farm in Champaign County, whence, after a year, he removed to the village of Tolono, where he died in March, 1886. The decease of the mother took place in Champaign County, in 1868.

Of the parental family of ten children, three died in infancy and six are still living, the record being as follows: Lucinda, Mrs. Curfman, resided in Douglas County until January, 1887, the date of her death; James W. and his sister, Jane Taylor, are in Tolono, Ill.; Dr. A. T. is our subject; Thomas is an extensive farmer, and a member of the Board of Supervisors of Champaign County, Ill., having his residence at Pesotum; Matthew S., of Pittsfield, Ill., has been occupied both in farming and mercantile pursuits, and is now Deputy Sheriff of Pike County; William H. is a farmer and stock raiser of Sadorus, Ill.

John Darrah was for a number of years Justice of the Peace in Champaign County, and held other minor offices within the gift of his townsmen, being also County Commissioner. Politically he was a stanch Democrat. Both parents were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the father of our subject for many years was Class-Leader, Steward and Superintendent of the Sabbath-school, a useful man in his church and his community, beloved and respected by all who knew him.

Dr. Alexander T. Darrah spent his boyhood years on the farm and in attendance at the district school, and remained under the parental roof until he was twenty-four years of age. In 1858, while still pursuing his studies in school, he became one of the Directors, and before the expiration of the term he was Principal of the school.

At this time he determined to see something of the world, and accordingly, leaving the parental roof, became engaged as a surveyor for a map publishing firm of Buffalo, N. Y., and was thus employed two years.

From youth the subject of our history had determined to become a physician, and while teaching school and vocal music he employed his spare moments in the study of medicine. In due time he entered the office of Dr. A. J. Miller, of Stone's Prairie, Adams Co., Ill., and after close application for two years entered Rush Medical College at Chicago, from which he graduated with high honors on the 25th of January, 1865, and commenced practice at Tolono, Ill.

On the 14th of March, 1866, he was married to Miss Elizabeth H. Fugate, a native of Missouri, and the daughter of Wilbourne and Euphema (Thomson) Fugate, both natives of North Carolina. Mr. and Mrs. F., after their marriage, located on a farm in Missouri. The father of Mrs. Darrah was a man of fine abilities, possessing both musical and literary talents, and commenced teaching while a very young man. They removed to Illinois in 1838.

In his younger years Mr. F. was a student in the William and Mary College [ed., College of William and Mary], of Virginia, and became a historian of great excellence. He always took a deep interest in educational matters, and after a worthy and useful life ceased from his earthly labors in 1885.

The mother is still living, in Urbana, Ill., aged seventy-five. Of their family of six children, the record is as follows: John T. is a practicing physician of Urbana, Ill.; Jerome W. is following the same profession in Lawrence, Kan.; Elizabeth H. is the wife of our subject; Lycurgus W. is practicing medicine at Colchester, McDonough Co., Ill.; David W. is a resident of Camp Point, Ill., and Martha M. also resides at the latter-named place.

Dr. Darrah commenced the practice of his profession at Tolono, Champaign County, and continued for eighteen years there. For two terms he was President of the Champaign County Medical Society; has served as Secretary of the Judicial Council Illinois State Medical Society a number of years, and was Vice President and then President of the same during 1828-83.

He is also a member of the Champaign County, McLean County, Central Illinois and Illinois State Medical Societies; is identified with the American Medical Association, and an honorary member of the Southern Illinois Medical Association.

Dr. Darrah came to Bloomington in 1883, but his reputation had already preceded him, and he stepped at once into a lucrative and extensive practice. His office is located at No. 109 East Washington street, and the attractive residence of himself and family is at No. 614 East Front street. The household circle includes three children Delmar D., Nellie E. and Ada M.

During years of pressing business cares Dr. Darrah has been greatly interested in the success of Masonry, and has been a prominent figure among its councils since 1863. Besides passing all the degrees up to his present high position in the fraternity, he is one of the Trustees of the Illinois Orphans' Home, is Associate Chief of the Illinois Masonic Veterans, and honorary member of Star Lodge No. 240, in Champaign. He now occupies the highest position within the gift of the fraternity of Illinois, to which he is amply entitled by his long experience, mature judgment and wise councils. In politics Dr. Darrah uniformly casts his vote with the Democratic party.

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), 377. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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