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Eleanor Clarke Darin


ELEANOR CLARKE DARIN (A Son's Tribute) - Henry County, Illinois

When our infancy is almost forgotten and our boyhood long departed, though it seems but as yesterday; when life settles down upon us and we doubt whether to call ourselves young any more, then it is good to steal away occasionally from all society and let the mind dwell upon the blessings of our golden yesterday. Far on the blue mountains of our dim childhood, toward which we ever turn and look, stand the mothers who marked out to us from thence our life;--the most blessed age must be forgotten ere we can forget the warmest heart. But, though we gather up all the tender memories, all the lights and shades of the hears, all the greetings, reunions, and home affections, yet we cannot paint a word-picture of that loving mother who is the subject of this sketch.

The records of the Clarke "Family Tree" trace back to the years preceding the discovery of American by Columbus. The Clarke annals previous to this are lost in the mist of the unrecorded history of Scotland.

About the year 1500 two of the Clarke brothers emigrated from Scotland to Ireland; one settled in Dublin, the other in County Tyrone. Doctor Adam Clarke, the celebrated commentator, theological writer and pioneer Wesleyan preacher, was a descendant of the former brother, and James Clarke, who was born in County Tyrone, in 1800, and came to America in 1801, father of Eleanor Clarke Darin, was a descendant of the other brother.

Rev. John Clarke, a pioneer Methodist preacher of Illinois, who was licensed to preach in 1829 writes thus of his brother James: "My oldest brother, James, was endowed with a strong intellect, and being of studious habits he became early a good scholar. He both read and wrote a great deal. He was very outspoken on the subject of the abolition of slavery. At the age of eighteen he united with the Mehtodist Church and at once began to hold meetings in the vicinity of Allegheny City. In this line he was very popular and attracted large congregations. He was strongly urged by the church to enter the ministry, but he constantly declined, although until his death he remained a devoted and liberal member of the church, nearly always sustaining an official relation to it. In the latter part of his life the abolition of slavery so engaged his sympathies and efforts that it seemed the controlling purpose of his life to labor for its success. It is thought that labor and exposure!! on a visit to Kansas in order to bear a part in its struggle for freedom occasioned his death, which occurred on board the steamboat at a landing almost at his home, September 15, 1855.

At Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 20, 1826, James Clarke and Miss Sarah Cooper were united in marriage, and to them, March 19, 1827, was born a daughter, Eleanor, the subject of this sketch.

Only a few years ago it was my privilege to accompany y mother on a visit to Allegheny City, where we sought out the old home, and there I visited the very room where as wrought that blessed miracle that give the world the beautiful character—the noble woman whose memory I now revere above all else in this world. Memory now throws a golden halo over the hills and vales where, through laughing childhood and more serious school days, grew to womanhood the best "sweetheart" I can ever know.

Early in September, 1854, there came to Rushville, in our Prairie state, wither Eleanor had removed in the early '50s with her parents, a bronzed and bearded young man fresh from the wilds of the mining camps of the new Golden state. This young man was young John Jackson Darin, the lad she had known as a bashful sweetheart in the Pennsylvania school days. He had returned from California to Pittsburgh—and thence he hurried on to Illinois to claim his own. There, September 21, 1854, these two lives were united, and then they set bravely out for a little vale in Henry County, which some nature lover had designated Pink Prairie, where for the next half century they were to grow old with the prairies, loving and laboring for their children. Seven times the Angel of Life visited this prairie home—seven times was the miracle of birth wrought, and this sainted soul tarried to bless the four daughters and three sons until they, too, had passed from youth to Grown-up Land. And of these seven the writer is the least worthy to tell of the three-quarters of a century this good woman trod life's pathway. Her strongest religion was the creed of kindness and helpfulness, though she was ever faithful in the faith of her forefathers. Ever ambitious for the advancement and education of her children in morality and mentality, she never failed in helping to support both school and church. She was a lovable woman, this mother who gave her full measure of love and help to her family and community through full fifty years in Henry County, and few now remain who knew her in the days when Life and Love and Pink Prairie were young.

In the early evening shadows of March 11, 1902, I said a last good night to this dear one, and she fell asleep to this earth. But in going she builded a bridge for me, and some night I'll tread this bridge with willing feet from this grey old earth to the Green Hills Far Away, and there bid her good morning—for She was my mother.

George Little Darin
Sacramento, California, November 1909


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