St. Johns County
|Death: ||Feb. 11, 1894|
Alexander H. Darnes (c.1840 - February 11, 1894) was an African American born into slavery in the city of St. Augustine, Florida who became one of the first black physicians in the state of Florida. Darnes was the son of Violent Pinkney a black slave owned by the parents of Edmund Kirby Smith who served as a lieutenant general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Both Darnes and Smith lived on the same property in St. Augustine, the historic Segui-Kirby Smith House (also known as the Old Public Library) at 12 Aviles Street. In 1855 at about the age of 15 Darnes left St. Augustine to serve as personal valet to Smith then a member of the United States Army serving in the Western territories. He continued to serve Kirby throughout the Civil War including at the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia.
After the South's defeat, Darnes (with support from Gen. Kirby-Smith's sister, Mrs. Lucien Webster, the widow of an army officer who kept her allegiance to the Union in the Civil War) attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He then attended Howard University, the historic black university in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a medical degree in 1880. Upon returning to Florida he set up a private medical practice in Jacksonville, Florida becoming the first black physician in the city and the second in the state of Florida. Darnes built a thriving practice operated out of his home on Ocean Street and became a pillar of the community. He won praise for his work during the smallpox and yellow fever epidemics that swept Jacksonville during his years there, including the devastating yellow fever epidemic of 1887-1888 that swept through Florida and reached Jacksonville in the summer of 1888. Almost everyone who could afford to fled the city, roughly half the city's population of 25,000. Darnes stayed behind to help as best he could receiving help in his endeavors from his friend and fellow Howard Medical alumnus Dr. Lemuel W. Livingston.
Darnes died in February 1894, less than a year after Edmund Kirby Smith's death in March 1893. He received a large and extravagant funeral attended by both black and white citizens of Jacksonville.
A bronze sculpture of Smith and Darnes was created in 2004 by artist Maria Kirby-Smith a great granddaughter of the Confederate general. The life sized bronze sculpture is located in the courtyard garden of the Segui-Kirby Smith House. It was the first public statue honoring a black man in the nation's oldest city--which had also been one of the great battlefields of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and was frequently criticized for portraying only the white part of its history.
Old Jacksonville City Cemetery
Created by: Catahoula Hound
Record added: Jul 07, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 93242338