Berkeley County, West Virginia Biography of General William DARKE


         William DARKE was born in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, in 1736; he was raised and educated in Virginia, his parents moving to the Shenandoah Valley and settling near Shepherdstown when he was 4 years old. His nearest neighbors were Thomas Shepherd, founder of Shepherdstown, and Robert Harper, after whom Harper’s Ferry was named.

         He learned early the art of woodcraft and how to take care of himself anywhere, became a hunter, scout and Indian fighter. When he was 19, he joined the army and General Edward Braddock in his expedition to the forks of the Ohio in 1755 and helped to cover the retreat of that army after the disastrous defeat at the Monongahela River. He was associated in the Indian wars with George Washington, George Rogers Clark, William Clarke, Arthur St. Clair, and Andrew Lewis.

         During the early part of the Revolutionary War, General Darke was promoted to the rank of Captain, later to Lieutenant, then Major General, and was at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 1781. He returned to Berkeley County, where he engaged in farming. He was elected a Delegate with Brigadier General Adam Stephen to represent the county in the Constitutional Convention of 1788; he voted for the Federal constitution.

         He was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel in a regiment of levies in 1791 and commanded the left wing (another source said right wing) of St. Clair’s army at its defeat in the Northwest Territory by the Miami Indians on November 4, 1791, where he was severely wounded and subsequently appointed Major-General of Virginia’s militia.

         General Darke was elected to represent Berkeley County in the Virginia Assembly almost continuously until his death in Jefferson County, Virginia, November 26, 1801. He was buried at Duffields, Jefferson County, West Virginia. Darkesville, Berkeley County, and Darke County, Ohio, were both named for General William Darke.


    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from History of Berkeley County, West Virginia, 1928

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