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Pvt Sumner William Darnell, Sr

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Pvt Sumner William Darnell, Sr

  • Birth 16 Apr 1839 Knox County, Illinois, USA
  • Death 13 Feb 1921 Nebraska, USA
  • Burial Ulysses, Butler County, Nebraska, USA
  • Memorial ID 30824650

Private SUMNER WILLIAM DARNELL, Co. F, 86th Illinois

Sumner William Darnell was born on April 16, 1839 in Knox County, Illinois, the son of William W. Darnell and Priscilla Jane (Thurman) Darnell. William W. Darnell was born c. June 2, 1802 in North Carolina, the son of James Thomas Darnell and Mary (__________) Darnell. William was married to Priscilla/Prissilla Jane Thurman on July 7, 1825 in Highland County, Ohio. Prissilla Jane Thurman was born on June 13, 1807 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, the daughter of Thomas A Thurman and Phoebe/Phebe (Goad) Thurman.

Thirteen children are known to have been born to William and Priscilla including;
1. Lewis Darnell (1826 - 1905)

2. Thomas M Darnell (1828 - 1904)

3. Joel Darnell (1830 - 1896)

4. James Darnell (1832 - 1897)

5. William W. Darnell (1834 - 1893)

6. Eliza Jane Darnell Walter (1837 - 1900)

7. Sumner William Darnell (1839 - 1921)

8. Mary Ann Darnell Olson (1841 - 1915)

9. Allen Darnell (1843 - 1922)

10. George Darnell (1845 - 1912)

11. Martha Darnell (1847 - 1848)

12. Jane Darnell McKee (1850 - 1923)

13. Marion Darnell, born March __, 1853 near Maquon, Knox County, Illinois. Marion was married to Alice Josephine Heckman on April 12, 1874 in Butler County, Nebraska. Marion Darnell died on ___________ __, 1921 in Creighton, Knox County, Nebraska. His mortal remains were laid in the Greenwood Cemetery in Creighton, Knox County, Nebraska. See his Find A Grave Memorial# 44845542.

At the time of the 1850 census, the Darnells are found in Knox county, Illinois;
Wm Darnell M 47 North Carolina
Priscilla Darnell F 43 Virginia
Thos Darnell M 22 Indiana
Joel Darnell M 20 Indiana
James Darnell M 18 Illinois
Wm Darnell M 16 Illinois
Eliza Darnell F 13 Illinois
Sumner Darnell M 12 Illinois
Mary Darnell F 9 Illinois
Allen Darnell M 7 Illinois
Geo Darnell M 5 Illinois
Jane Darnell F Illinois

At the time of the 1860 census, the Darnells are found in Maquon Township, Knox County, Illinois;
Wm Darnell M 58 N. C.
Priscilla Darnell F 53 Va
Mary Darnell F 18 Ill
Allen Darnell M 17 Ill
George Darnell M 15 Ill
Jane Darnell F 11 Ill
Marion Darnell M 7 Ill

William Darnell died on November 18, 1862 in Knox County, Illinois. See his Find A Grave Memorial# 28160200. Priscilla Jane (Thurman) Darnell died on January 10, 1863 in Knox County, Illinois. Their mortal remains were laid in the Uniontown Cemetery in Uniontown, Knox County, Illinois.

Now to continue the biography of Sumner William Darnell;
Sumner William Darnell was married to Rachel Ann Zimmerman, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Zimmerman and Rebecca (Lowman) Zimmerman) on June 11, 1860 in Clark County, Missouri.

Sumner William Darnell volunteered on July 29, 1862 at Maquon, Knox County, Illinois to serve in a company which was being raised in Maquon, Illinois by a local Carpenter, Contractor and Businessman by the name of James L. Burhalter.

Illinois Civil War Detail Report

Company F Unit 86 IL US INF

Personal Characteristics
Age 22 Height 5' 11 1/2 Hair BROWN
Eyes GRAY Complexion FAIR
Marital Status MARRIED
Occupation FARMER Nativity KNOX CO, IL

Service Record
Joined When JUL 29, 1862
Joined Where MAQUON, IL
Period 3 YRS Muster In AUG 27, 1862
Muster In Where PEORIA, IL
Muster In By Whom __________
Muster Out __________
Muster Out Where __________
Muster Out By Whom __________

When Burkhalter had about 100 volunteers, he led the Maquon company into Peoria, where they went into camp at Camp Lyon, near present day Glen Oak Park. There on August 27, 1862, he was elected by the men of the Maquon company to be their Captain and Captain Burkhalter and 93 of his volunteers, including now Private Sumner W. Darnell, were mustered in as Co. F of the 86th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
On September 7, 1862, the men of the 86th Illinois marched of the gates of Camp Lyon, Capt. James L. Burkhalter leading Co. F, through the streets of Peoria, with much fanfare, and boarded a train bound for Camp Joe Holt, Jeffersonville, Indiana. Three weeks later, the men of the 86th were in the field in Kentucky as part of Col. Daniel McCook's Brigade, in pursuit of Confederate troops. On Oct. 8, 1862, the men of McCook's Brigade were engaged with those troops in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, the 86th Illinois suffering their first casualties. There would be many more in the coming years.
After the Union victory at Perryville, the Confederate forces withdrew from Kentucky and the men of McCook's Brigade, of which the 86th was a part, marched on toward Nashville, Tennessee. However, even before the 86th reached the Tennessee line, many of the green troops were already having difficulties with the diet, living conditions and their new way of life as soldiers. By the time they reached Gallatin, Tennessee, where they was a Union Army hospital, quite a few members of the 86th Illinois were sick. One of those sick troops was Private Sumner William Darnell.
The 86th remained at Galltin, Tennessee several days, but when they finally pulled out, heading on toward Nashville, quite a few members of the 86th were left behind in the Army Hospital. One of those left behind was Private Sumner W. Darnell. Whatever his ailment, nothing the doctors did seemed to improve his condition. Before the war was over about 745 Union soldiers would die and be buried in a makeshift Union burying ground there in Gallatin.
However, the army doctors finally decided that the best thing they could do for Private Darnell was to discharged him and send him home, with the hopes that with some home cooking and the help of family that Private Darnell would survive his ailment. So on February 28, 1863, Private Sumner William Darnell was "Discharged for Disability" and sent home.
With the help of family and that home cooking, Private Sumner William Darnell died survive his ailment and lived a long productive life. The following biography appears in the Memorial and Biographical Record of Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties, Nebraska that was published in 1899, pages 902 & 903.
"SUMNER DARNELL, one of the most persevering, energetic and progressive agriculturists of Butler county, as well as one of the most popular and influential citizens, resides on section 4, Ulysses township, where he made his home since the first of May, 1896. He is an old settler in the county and has taken an, active and prominent part in the early development of this region.
Mr. Darnell was born Knox county, Illinois, April 16, 1839, and is of remote Scotch-Irish descent. His father, William Darnell, was a native of North Carolina, born about 1806, but when a child was taken by his parents to Ohio, where he grew to manhood and married Priscilla Thurman, daughter of Thomas Thurman, and niece of Allen G. Thurman, the prominent statesman. Prior to the Black Hawk war, Mr. and Mrs. Darnell left their Ohio home and removed to Knox county, Illinois, being among the first settlers of that region. The father was reared upon a farm, and throughout life continued to follow agricultural pursuits.
In early life Sumner Darnell displayed a love of adventure and this led him, in 1859, to join a party, in which were five older brothers, bound for the gold fields of the west. The project, however, was abandoned after the party reached Nebraska, much to the disgust of our subject, but being a mere boy at that time and unsupported in his desire to continue, he was forced to submit to the decision of the majority. It was on this occasion that he first gazed on the prairies of Butler county, the party having reached a point in this county when they determined to retrace their steps. After his return to Illinois, Mr. Darnell was married in 1861 to Rachel Zimmerman, a daughter of Thomas Zimmerman, formerly a resident of Ohio, and later a homesteader in Butler county, Nebraska, where he died in January, 1885.
Prompted by a spirit of patriotism, Mr. Darnell enlisted in August, 1862, in Company F, Eighty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, but owing to a severe attack of rheumatism he was honorably discharged before the expiration of a year. Not, however, before he had a taste of real war at Perryville, Tennessee. After his discharge he returned to his home and family, his oldest daughter having been born before he enlisted. Besides our subject he had five brothers in the service, the family having valiantly aided their country in her successful efforts to preserve the Union.
In the early spring of 1867 Mr. Darnell started with a complete outfit and a fine team of horses for Nebraska, with the intention of making for himself and family a home on the unbroken prairies, reaching Butler county about the first of May. After erecting a cabin he returned to Illinois for his family, then consisting of his wife and three children--Martha, Sumner J. and Charles. In addition to his outfit, Mr. Darnell had three hundred dollars in cash on locating in this county, but before the first winter had passed this was all gone and he found himself in debt for ten dollars' worth of supplies to start the next second season. This season proved a failure, and probably the darkest period in his life was the second winter of his residence in Butler county. In fact, it was only by the most herculean efforts that he managed to stick to his claim, where a less determined spirit would have abandoned all and returned to civilization. Though the "wolf was often at his door," Mr. Darnell's courage never waned, and with the coming of spring came more settlers and brighter prospects. But few of this generation can realize the hardships of those early pioneer days. Since coming to Nebraska the family circle has been increased by the birth of four other children, namely: Fred, Judd, Myrtle and Maud.
Mr. Darnell is a recognized leader in the ranks of the Republican party in his community, and in 1887 was honored by his party by the nomination for sheriff of the county. Being duly elected by a handsome majority, he served for one term with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of the general public. He is a Royal Arch Mason, being the second oldest in the county, and he is also an honored member of Lincoln Post, No. 10, G. A. R. He is widely and favorably known and is held in high regard by all with whom he comes in contact."

The following letter, written by Rachel (Zimmerman) Darnell to her sister, Amanda (Zimmerman) Grimm, was written in October of 1868 and tells of the early days of the Darnells in Nebraska;
"October the 14 1868
Dear Sister with pleasure i take my pen in hand to answer your kind and welcome letter to let you know that we are all well at present hoping these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blesing Dear Sister i was very glad of my present O i was proud of my carpet you sent and other nice preasant ? ? ? all of them was no comfort to me when I found out that you and mother wer not coming out this fall O i had made up my mind that we would have such a good time this Winter O do try and come in the Spring it looks so hard to think that we cant be together when there aren't any more of us but I am well satisfied with the country and like the people that lives in it that I am a quainted with cristy george is going to start home in the morning or start to the city he will go home in a few days after he gits to the city Amanda I am going to sent your bed clothes with him for i expect you need them I will keep the one mother sent tell mother and pop to take good care of there selves and come out in the Spring O you dont know how bad I want to see you and mother and the children Maty and baby takes my day about and bud and granma not coming Charly is a great big boy he can talking thing plain is smart and prety tow I am geting stout once more i have heap of work to do cristy george has bin to our house for 3 weeks they are all good to help me Sum doese the milking and helps me all the time when he is about the house one good thing we have plenty to eat and plenty for the winter our potatoes is good and cabage is good Our corn is all forost bit it did not get ripe till the frost come and spilet it everybody corn is spilt expect one or tow i have got a bushel of dried plums and bushel of dried corn Sum is going to the city prety soon to git our winter groceries an him some clothes and he wants to get us some molassas Amanda i guess I have wrote all the news i guess it is geting late and i am tired i have worked hard all day O if I could only see you I could tell you a heap that I cant write tell mother to rite and tell me what her and pop is going to do this winter I wisht she would stay with you it does me good to hear of her with you O how i would like to go over and eat a greenapple pie i had pies when i went ther but not that cind i wish you was here to eat breakesfast with me well i will bringing letter to a close for my head hurts me write soon as you get this and tell me all the news i still remain you dear Sister till separated by death

Good By dear Sister and mother

from Rachel Darnell to Amanda Grimm

tell emma to rite me a long letter and tell me how she get a long"

Private Sumner William Darnell died on February 13, 1921 in Butler County, Nebraska.

by Baxter B. Fite III, who can be contacted at

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  • Created by: Fran Denny
  • Added: 24 Oct 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 30824650
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt Sumner William Darnell, Sr (16 Apr 1839–13 Feb 1921), Find A Grave Memorial no. 30824650, citing Grim Cemetery, Ulysses, Butler County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Fran Denny (contributor 46545295) .