Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


ROBERT EZRA DARBY, M. D., D. D. S. No doctor of dental surgery is better known in southwestern Missouri than Dr. Robert Ezra Darby, of Springfield, and certainly none are his superiors and few his equals in applying this branch of science for the good of humanity. He has for years ranked as one of the leaders among his professional brethren in Greene county and in the state of Missouri.

Dr. Darby is descended from a sterling old American family. Daniel Darby, his paternal grandfather, was born near Ripley, West Virginia, October 31, 1799, and died on November 27, 1862. He married Phoebe Evans, of Ohio, September 12, 1822. She was a daughter of Jonathan and Sarah (Faucette) Evans. Mrs. Phoebe Darby was born on November 13, 1803, and died January 18, 1880. Her great-grandfather came to America from Wales. The names of her brothers were, Ephraim, Jonathan, Samuel, Robert, Edward and Mark, the latter dying in childhood; and her sisters were Mrs. Ellen Stoots, Mrs. Margaret Starcher, Mrs. Tabitha Wright, Mrs. Sarah Starcher, Mrs. Lydia Long, Mrs. Priscilla Beezley, Mrs. Ann Stoots. Thirteen children were born to Daniel Darby and wife, four of whom died in infancy, namely: Jedediah, Jonathan, Sarah Ann, and Cynthia; the nine reaching maturity were, Elizabeth, who married Noah Bray, was born in West Virginia, September 29, 1823, died January 21, 1851; Rebecca, born in West Virginia, December 23, 1826, died January 24, 1842; Joseph Wright, who became a Baptist minister, was born in Indiana, May 9, 1832, and died in Cedar Hill, Texas, January 23, 1863; Ezra Faucette, father of the subject of this sketch, was next in order of birth; Ruami, born in Vermillion county, Illinois, April 4, 1837, died December 24, 1913, having remained unmarried; Ephraim Evans, a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, South, was born in Hickory county, Missouri, December 10, 1839, and lives in Center Point, Texas; William Henry, a farmer and carpenter, was born in Hickory county, this state, April 18, 1842, now lives in Dallas county, Missouri; George Washington, farmer, born in Hickory County, May 13, 1844, lives in Corpus Christi, Texas; Isabella Jane, who married Rev. Samuel Lopp, was born in Hickory county, February 1, 1847, lives with a daughter in Pennsylvania. The four last named reared large families.

Daniel Darby was a mechanic of unusual ability and served the new country wonderfully well. His early manhood was spent in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. He made a model of one of the first mowing machines which clipped the grass in his own yard to the delight of the patentee. He had a wagon shop in Danville, Illinois. He also made furniture and wooden clocks; one of the latter he brought with him to Missouri in 1838. He settled in that part of the state which later was made a part of Hickory county. There he established a tannery of thirty vats and manufactured and sold leather. He built a grist-mill with a forty-foot tread wheel on which the weight of walking oxen turned the machinery that ground the wheat into flour and the corn into meal. He also established a nursery farm, from which he supplied the country f or miles around with fruit trees. He also had his own blacksmith shop as well as carpenter shop. He supplied the needs of the country with everything from a plow, spinning wheel or fanning mill to a wooden clock. The power to become skilful with tools seems to have been inherited by Doctor Darby.

Jedediah Darby, the paternal great-grandfather of Doctor Darby of this sketch, was a native of Vermont, and at the age of twelve years he was bound out to a millwright to learn the trade. He was then living in Pennsylvania, but subsequently moved to West Virginia. He married Rebecca Sayers, and in later life removed to Iroquois county, Illinois, where his death occurred while he was in his eighties. Six sons and four daughters were born to Jedediah Darby and wife, namely: Daniel, Owen, Moses, Aaron, Elijah, Elisha, Hannah, Eliza, Sarah and Nancy. Longevity is one notable characteristic of this family, two members of which live to be well into the nineties--one of them still living.

Samuel Darby, father of Jedediah, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. He lived In Pennsylvania, and when last heard from was one hundred and one years old. His ancestors came from England. The older stock of Darbys were tall, strong men, with great endurance.

Our subject's maternal family also goes back through many generations of excellent citizens. The Andrews family came to America from England. Adam Andrews lived near Petersburg, Virginia. He died of the "black plague" while a soldier during the War of 1812. This family, although living near Richmond, the Confederate capital, were always opposed to negro slavery. Dr. Mark Andrews, a son of Adam Andrews, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in Chesterfield county, Virginia, December 28, 1812. He married Martha Ann Griggs, April 12, 1835. She died on February 21, 1836. One child was born of this marriage--Martha Ann Eliza, the mother of the subject of this sketch. Martha Griggs had two brothers and one sister who came West. Joseph went to California, William to Greenfield, Missouri. The sister married Jacobs, a well-known merchant and banker of Greenfield, Missouri. Dr. Mark Andrews later married Virginia Thompson, August 25, 1836. They came to Missouri in 1840 and located at Buffalo, Dallas county. Here she taught the first school ever taught in that town, was also a teacher in the Sunday school. They moved to the farm near Urbana in 1850. Doctor Andrews lived a very active life in the practice of his profession and became very prominent. Overwork and exposure hastened his death which occurred on June 31, 1865. His family consisted of eleven in number, namely: Mary Elizabeth, who married William Howard, was born June 16, 1837, and died in 1885; Robert Jones, born December 31, 1838, died while a soldier in the Union army, July 6, 1864; Virginia Atkinson, born June 11, 1840, married C. P. Fletcher, lives in Meade, Kansas; Emily Frances, born July 13, 1843, is the wife of W. H. Darby, of Urbana, Missouri; Lucy Jane, born July 4, 1845, is the wife of I. N. Reser, of Urbana, Missouri; Dr. John Polk Andrews, born July 14, 1847, lives at Marionville, Missouri; Harriet Verlinda, born March 7, 1850, is the wife of W. B. Coon, of Republic, Missouri; Jesse Edwin, born February 19, 1852, died June 18, 1853; Joseph William, born September 11, 1854, was a farmer, and died in 1893; Susan Buchanan, born March 4, 1857, is the wife of Charles Darby, of Medford, Oregon; Mark Lafayette, born July 7, 1859 is a farmer of Urbana, Missouri.

Ezra Faucett Darby, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Vermilion county, Illinois, October 30, 1834. In 1838, when he was but four years old, his father came to Missouri, and settled in that part of the state which was later organized into Hickory county. There he grew to manhood and devoted his active life to general farming, stock raising, shipping and also fruit growing. He became one of the most influential citizens there, taking a very active part in public affairs, always striving to better general conditions of living; he was a friend to education, the church and everything that made for advancement. He was ever broad-minded and a man of charitable impulses. He enlisted in the Federal army at Urbana, Missouri, in the fall of 1863, in Company A, Eighteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Stonaker. He was at once sent with the regiment into Arkansas, the first stop being at Fort, Smith. He was in the campaign to Camden, that state, in 1864. He took part in a number of skirmishes. He was ordered from his regiment to the United States hospital at Little Rock, as ward master, in May, 1865. While in the army he demonstrated what he taught, that one can live the life of a Christian, and of temperance, even in the face of adverse circumstances. He married Martha Andrews, April 14, 1859. She was born in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, January 29, 1836. Her father moved to Missouri in 1840, and settled in Buffalo, where she attended school. She was a woman of strong mind and fine Christian sentiment. Like her husband she was a member of the Methodist church more than fifty years. She grew up in the days when everybody worked in establishing and maintaining the home, in the days of the spinning wheel, carding machine and loom and she helped make the clothing worn by the family, doing her full share of the household duties. She was a helpmeet beyond reproach, one of the most devoted of mothers, with great forethought for others and but little for herself. This splendid old couple retired from farm life in 1898 and came to Springfield. They built a cozy home in a suburban orchard tract where they enjoyed a quiet life until necessary to break up housekeeping, in 1912. They then went to live with their daughter in Fort Scott, Kansas, where Mrs. Darby died September 26, 1914. Of their children the first born died in infancy; Ira Barer, born January 4, 1876, died January 28, 1878; the other five children reached maturity and have families of their own. They are, Mark Evans, born June 12, 1862, lives in Springfield, and he has been appointed to the fifth two-year term as state inspector of apiaries; Robert Ezra, subject of this review; William Daniel, a merchant at Marionville, Missouri, was born June 29, 1866; Vernon Kingsley, a merchant, lives at Marionville also, and he was born on June 2, 1871; Mary Alice, born on June 25, 1873, is the wife of W. O. Pardue, of Ft. Scott, Kansas.

Doctor Darby was born in Hickory county, Missouri, March 31, 1864. There he grew to manhood on the home farm and assisted with the general work. He received his, early education in the public and private schools, later entering Marionville Collegiate Institute at Marionville, Missouri, from which institution he was graduated in 1886. Entering the Missouri State University, he was graduated from the normal department in 1888. He taught school a few terms, then studied dentistry and medicine. He was graduated from the Western Dental College in Kansas City in 1892, and from the University Medical College of Kansas City in 1893. He began the practice of dentistry in Hickory county, remaining there and in the adjoining county of Dallas until he came to Springfield in April, 1895, and established his permanent business, which has gradually increased with advancing years until he has long since taken a position in the front rank of his profession in Greene county, and has been busy from the first. He is a member of the lecture staff at Burge-Deaconess hospital. He has been a trustee of Marionville College several years. He was one of the organizers of the Springfield Dental Society, and was its second president. He joined the Missouri State Dental Association in 1892. He has read papers and given many clinics before it. He is also a member of the National Dental Association. He was elected president of the Missouri State Dental Association in 1909 in Kansas City; and presided over and was one of the leading spirits in the annual meeting in St. Louis in May, 1910, when the association was reorganized to affiliate more closely the National Dental Association. That was a memorable event, being a part of a general move to raise the standard of the profession in the entire United States, and make it a greater power for good. In. all these positions of trust he has discharged his duties with fidelity and an ability and soundness of judgment that has reflected much credit upon himself and to the eminent satisfaction of all concerned. Doctor Darby is a learned and forceful writer on subjects of interest to his profession. They have been published in the leading professional journals and some of them widely copied--one of which we chanced to see in the British Journal of Dental Science, published in London.

Politically, Doctor Darby may be classed as an independent Democrat. In religious matters the same independence is strongly characteristic. He thinks for himself and makes his own interpretations. He has a good library, and is a good reader on a wide range of subjects. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was a member of the building committee when the present structure of the Dever Benton Avenue Methodist church was built, and he was superintendent of the Sunday school for ten years; the school was noted for being well graded, studious, and for its system and well-ordered management. He has served the church in many official capacities and is at present a trustee.

Doctor Darby was married on May 22, 1895, to Mattie Stemmons, a daughter of F. B Stemmons, deceased, for many years a prominent farmer and stock raiser near Golden City, Jasper county, Missouri. There Mrs. Darby grew to womanhood and was educated in the public schools, later attending Marionville Collegiate Institute, from which she was graduated in 1887. She then spent two years in the Missouri State University, but prior to that she had taught one term in Lawrence county. She had intended to follow teaching, but her mother's death occurring after she left the Marionville school she remained at home to help her father. After his second marriage she then entered the University at Columbia. Mrs. Darby was a teacher in the Sunday school for many years, taking an active part in church work. She being a great home woman, with a wide circle of friends, Mrs. Darby has been of incalculable assistance to her husband, her encouragement, sympathy as well as counsel resulting in much of his success. To our subject and wife three children have been born, namely Winfred, born March 12, 1898, and died April 22, 1899; Wendell Ezra, born May 17, 1909; and Robert Stemmons, born August 20, 1913.

Mrs. Darby has an interesting ancestry. Martin and Alexander Stemmons, two brothers, came to this country from Germany. Martin never married. Alexander's wife was of Scotch-Irish descent. To them four sons were born, namely: Jacob, Martin, Henry and Stephen. We find these names running through all the families of succeeding generations. Martin, Alexander and the latter's oldest son, Jacob, who was Mrs. Darby's great-grandfather, were in the Revolutionary war under General Washington. One descendant never used glasses and could read fine print and write well at the age of ninety years. He had one son who moved to Lagrange, Texas, where he and his wife died, childless. They left by their will, except enough for a monument to themselves, fourteen hundred and twenty-five acres of land and all property to found an orphans' home and for other charitable purposes.

Jacob Stemmons was born in Virginia. He died in Logan county, Kentucky, at the age of seventy years. He married Nancy Stovall and settled in Campbell county, Virginia, in 1790. He manufactured bells, and was a silversmith. They were the parents of ten children, one of whom died in infancy; the other nine are, Elizabeth married Isaac Lewis; Mary G. married William Gallian; Lucinda P. never married; Alexander Henry became a Methodist minister; Jaquillian Martin became a physician; Mrs. Dorothy H. Armstrong; Martha Wesley married William B. Hamilton; M. Ann Benton married Doctor Stephens; and Harriet Madison married Thomas Noll.

Dr. Jaquillian Martin Stemmons was born in Logan county, Kentucky, in 1803. He was killed during the Civil war, in March, 1861. He was twice married. His first wife was Harriet Allen, a daughter of Doctor Allen of Logan county, Kentucky, in which county their children were all born. Doctor Stemmons and family came to Jasper county in 1854. Two years later a scourge of flux swept the county, taking his wife and three daughters. Eleven children lived to be grown and also the two half brothers, making in all thirteen. Their children were named as follows: William Henry, a blacksmith, lived to be eighty-three years of age; John Martin, who was a lawyer in Dallas, Texas, for many years, died at the age of seventy years; Anna C., who married Robert Seymour, died at the age of seventy years; Jacob died when a child; Mary Etta died when twenty years of age; Thomas Jefferson is still living at the age of seventy-five years; Wilbur Fisk, an insurance and real estate dealer in Golden City, Missouri, died when about seventy years of age; Martha died at the age of eighteen years; Redford was just entering young womanhood when she died; Felix Beverly, a farmer, died at the age of fifty-five years; Napoleon L., a blacksmith, is living at the age of sixty-eight years; James B., a farmer, is now sixty-two years old.

Doctor Stemmons' second wife was known in her maidenhood as Susan Pane, and she was a native of Virginia. To this last union two children were born, namely: Alexander Clay, who is engaged in the real estate and insurance business in Carthage, Missouri; and Jaquillian Martin, a physician of Oologah, Oklahoma. Two sons of the first marriage served in the Southern army and four in the Union army during the Civil war.

F. B. Stemmons, son of Dr. Jaquillian Martin Stemmons, Sr., and father of Mrs. M. Darby, was a prominent farmer and stock raiser of Jasper county, Missouri. He was a man who loved the good and the beautiful and was always a friend to the needy and those in distress. He was a member of the Methodist church for many years. He married Eliza J. Clark, March 6, 1867, She was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church but after her marriage united with the Methodist Episcopal church. She was a woman loved by all who knew her, was devoted to her home and family. She lived a consistent Christian life for years and strove to train her children in Christian service. Her children were named, Mattie Ann, born December 22, 1867; Jaquillian Orange, born August, 25, 1870, died when a child; James Monroe, a farmer near Golden City, married Alice Parker; he was born January 16, 1872; Marietta, born April 25, 1875, and died October 7, 1894; Mrs. Clara Allman, born March 20, 1879, lives in Glasgow, Montana; Luther Beverly, born May 1, 1882, is a farmer in Nebraska, and is unmarried; Mrs. Maggie Bell Marshall, born November 14, 1884, lives in Regina, Canada; three children died in infancy, unnamed. F. B. Stemmons was twice married. His second wife was Mrs. Lydia Wilson, and to this union one child was born--Ruth Stemmons, born July 15, 1891, and lives in Carthage, Missouri. The death of F. B. Stemmons, father of Mrs. Darby, occurred September 27, 1897.

Of Mrs. Darby's maternal ancestors, we mention Orange R. Clark, her grandfather, who was born in St. Louis county, Missouri, February 6, 1820. He was the twelfth and youngest child of Alexander and Mary Clark. He was a Union soldier during the Civil war, and was killed July 20, 1864. He was well educated for his time and had a good library. He was elected county judge of Jasper county in 1860 but because of the Civil war never served his term. Alexander Clark was born March 17, 1762; Mary, his wife, was born February 2, 1777. The following children were born to them: John, whose birth occurred August 2, 1793; James, born September 25, 1795; Patience, born January 22, 1798; Thomas, born September 18, 1799; Harvey, born June 12, 1802; Mary, born November 29, 1804; William Alexander, born February 16, 1807; D. Franklin, born April 26, 1809; Elizan, born February 19, 1811; Pamelia, born January 7, 1814; Henry B., born February 3, 1817; Orange Rector, born February 6, 1820.

Martha Lewallen, daughter of S. L. Lewallen, was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, November 13, 1818. Her grandfather came to America from Scotland. In an early day her family emigrated to Missouri, locating in Pike county, where she later married O. R. Clark, February 20, 1840. She and Mr. Clark moved the same year to Jasper county, this state, and settled on a farm near White Oak where their children were born. Her death occurred November 11, 1880. Their children were: Mary Margaret, born October 27, 1840, and died July 29, 1860; Thomas Kerr, born December 5, 1841, died January 1, 1842. Three girls, triplets, were born October 2, 1843; one died October 2, 1943; the other two also died in 1843: William B., born September 13, 1845, and died March 29, 1873; Eliza Jane, born September 6,1849, died February 16, 1889; she was the wife of F. B. Stemmons, and they were the parents of Mrs. Darby. John F. Clark was born March 26, 1852, he became a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian church; Martha Frances Clark, born July 7, 1855, and died September 15, 1856; James O. Clark, born October 4, 1858, is farming near Craik, Saskatchewan, Canada. He is growing this year (1915) eight hundred acres of wheat.

The Stemmons, Allen, Clark and Lewallen families were industrious law-abiding, temperate, God-fearing people. By occupation, they were farmers, for the most part, but there have been editors, physicians, ministers and merchants among them.

Doctor Darby, when asked about the secret of his success, gave due credit to the wisdom of his good father and mother who instilled within him high ideals in life and brought him to manhood with noble purposes. Other traits in his family history are important, two of which are typified in his grandfathers--the one a physician, with splendid training for scientific thought, the other a genius in mechanical construction. The combining of scientific knowledge and ability in construction is said to be of the greatest importance in his profession.

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