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Darden, William Abram

by Lala Carr Steelman, 1986

15 May 1836–2 June 1890

William Abram Darden. Image courtesy of the State Archives of NC. William Abram Darden, farmer, politician, and Alliance leader, was born in Greene County to William Augustus and Harriet Speight Darden. He was educated in neighborhood schools before he began the study of law at Randolph-Macon College. Poor eyesight compelled him to abandon his studies in his junior year and take up farming.

In April 1861 Darden volunteered for service with the Confederacy and was elected second lieutenant under Captain R. H. Drysdale in Company A, Third North Carolina Regiment (Greene County Rifles). He represented Greene County in the Secession Convention of 1861–62. Again volunteering for Confederate service, he assisted Captain Andrew Moore to raise troops for Company F, Sixty-first North Carolina Regiment (Clingman's Brigade), of which he became second lieutenant and later captain. He was captured in the attack on Fort Harrison, Va., on 30 Sept. 1864 and imprisoned at Fort Delaware until June 1865.

When the war ended Darden returned to his farm and became active in Democratic politics. In 1884 he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives from Greene County and served one term. In the late 1880s he became active in the Farmers' Alliance, a farm protest organization that spread from Texas into other southern states. He served as first president of Enterprise Alliance, a subordinate order, and first president of Greene County Alliance. In 1888 he was elected the first business agent of the North Carolina Farmers' State Alliance. He declined to serve a second term but accepted appointment as district lecturer for the First and Second Congressional districts.

Darden was married twice. On 13 Aug. 1857 he married Sarah Speight Moye by whom he had three children. She died on 25 Aug. 1863. Six years later, on 26 Jan. 1869, he married Catherine Speight Adams who bore him nine children, seven of whom survived. He died from a heart attack in Gatesville, Gates County, at one o'clock, the hour scheduled for his Alliance lecture. His funeral and burial took place at his home, Speight's Bridge. He had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since the age of six.


Levi Branson, ed., North Carolina Business Directory (1878).

Elias Carr Papers (Manuscript Collection, East Carolina University, Greenville).

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1974 (1975).

Walter Clark, ed., Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861–65 (1901).

J. G. McCormick, Personnel of the Convention of 1861 (1900).

North Carolina Farmers' State Alliance, Proceedings (1889–91).

Raleigh Progressive Farmer, 16 Apr. 1889 (photograph).

Lala Carr Steelman, "The Role of Elias Carr in the North Carolina Farmers' Alliance," The North Carolina Historical Review 57 (1980).

Additional Resources:

Darden, Speight, and associated Families. State Archives of NC- Photographic Archives:

William Abram Darden, Jr. Family Bible Records. (accessed July 23, 2013).

John Gilchrist McCormick Papers Relating to the 1861 North Carolina Secession Convention, 1896-1900 (collection no. 00451). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,John_Gilchrist.html (accessed July 23, 2013).

Image Credits:

State Archives of North Carolina. "William Abram Darden, Jr. (5/15/1836-6/2/1890) son of William Augustus Darden(2/12/1804-1/23/1877) and Harriett Speight (1804-1845) buried behind Tabernacle United Methodist Church, Greene County, NC. General Negative Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. Copied courtesy of Cliff Darden, Wake Forest, NC (call #: N_2012_9_197). Photograph. Flickr, (accessed July 23, 2013).

Origin - location: 


Hi -- Thanks very much for writing and providing NCpedia with this additional information.

The "comment" feature is a great tool that helps resources like NCpedia gather new knowledge from its users, and it's very helpful when readers like you write with additional details you have for biographical entries.  And it's also a great example of how different sources will have different information to contribute to the record. Comments to NCpedia entries become part of the record for those entries for future viewers to see. 

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Kelly Agan, NCpedia Digital Media Librarian

William Abram Darden Jr was my GG Grandfather. I have both of his family Bibles. His first wife was not Sarah Speight Moye, but was Sarah Catharine Moye, according to both the family Bibles and her tombstone. She was my GG Grandmother. His second wife was the first cousin of his first wife (their mothers were sisters).
Please make the correction. Thank you.


I am hoping you can help me. I am trying to research my family history. There’s no easy way to say this but I am black and I’ve hit the slavery wall in my search for my ancestors. I’ve been told that my best bet is to find my enslaved ancestors owners. I don’t know if that’s your great grandfather but we share the same last name and the area is right. Do you have the names of the enslaved Africans he owned? It would be of great help to me in my search.

Not sure if this will help, but there are some first names listed near the end of this document.

Please contact me

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