Rev. Thomas Darley


by William Earl Cook
ggg-grandson of Thomas Darley

Based on the book, Your Darley Ancestors, by Lon J. Darley

Waverly Hall, Georgia history provided by Dan Akin

Last updated September 7, 2007

The Darley history is very interesting and can be traced back to around 1034 when Edmund Darley was born in Erle, Normandy, France. Edmund Darley assisted Duke William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. One of the major factors in the battle and victory for William was the use of the Darley horses. Duke William became King William I of England and was one of England's greatest kings. Darley was granted large amounts of land and money and was knighted as Sir Edmund Darley by King William I.

Several centuries later, the Darley-owned Ipswich Shipyards built the Mayflower in 1608. In 1730, the Darley Arabian was the first thoroughbred horse in America and most American thoroughbreds are descended from him.

Rev. Thomas Darley (right), who was my ggg-grandfather, was instrumental in starting numerous Methodist Churches in South Carolina and Georgia. He was also one of the founders of the Free Mason movement in Georgia.

When the Methodist Church went into the recently ceded Creek land west of the Flint River in Georgia in the early 1830's, it was Rev. Thomas Darley that was sent to head the Methodist Missions in the area. He was probably a founder of the Zion Methodist Church and likely its first preacher. Zion Methodist church was located in Harris County, Georgia approximately 17 miles from the Little White House, the famed retreat of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt (who came to the area almost exactly 100 years after Darley was there) and is about 20 miles from Callaway Gardens.

Our connection to the Ashleys is through Thomas Darley's son, John Wesley Darley, Sr., my gg-grandfather. At the age of 16, John Wesley Darley answered William Henry Ashley's famous 1822 newspaper advertisement seeking "100 Enterprising Young Men... to ascend the river Missouri to its source..." John Wesley Darley, Sr. became a trapper on the upper Yellowstone River until he returned to Georgia in 1838. He married Elizabeth Ashley, the granddaughter of a William Ashley. I am descended from their child, John Wesley, Jr., who was Carrie Jane's father. Lon Darley states that this William Ashley was Gen. William Ashley, the trailblazer that went over the Rocky Mountains in 1825 and established the Mountain Men and the Rendezvous System. I believe that there were two William Ashleys and that they may have been cousins. Here is my theory about this (see Ashley Theory).

Here are some Darley dates:

1027 William the Conqueror born (not an ancestor, but a very important figure in the Darley history)

ca 1034 Edmund DARLEY born at Erle, Normandy Darley raises horses in Normandy.

1066 Battle of Hastings in which William the Conqueror led the Norman invasion of England and defeats the English with the assistance of the DARLEY horses. William rewards Edmund DARLEY with a grant of land and money. William becomes King of England.

1067 Sir Edmund DARLEY fought with William the Conqueror in northern England to put down a revolt in the city of York. Once again, used the DARLEY horses. Rewarded with another large grant.

1608 The DARLEY-owned Ipswich Shipyard built and registered the MAYFLOWER and a sister ship, the SEAFLOWER.

1620 The Mayflower passes inspection at Plymouth Sound for its trip to America with pilgrims. The Seaflower does not pass inspection and is not used by the pilgrims.

1700 The DARLEY Arabian foal was imported into England from the Middle East. He formed one part of the Oriental triumvirate which produced Eclipse, Herod and Matchem. the three stallions from whom all Thoroughbred horses descend.

1730 Bulle Rock, the DARLEY Arabian, at age 21 arrives in North America and is the first thoroughbred horse in America

1760 Thomas DARLEY born Shevoick, Cornwall County, England to Richard DARLEY & Grace BOND. Richard DARLEY was associated with the DARLEY family’s ship business located at Plymouth and Southhampton, England.

1780 Thomas DARLEY, age 20, captured by British while sailing one of the Darley family freighters out of Port Royal Sound, near Charleston, South Carolina. Loaded with rice & indigo and headed for England. Held as a British POW, but once his credentials were checked, was induced into service for the British as an officer.

1781 Lt. Thomas DARLEY fought in the Battle of Cowpens for the British where the patriots gave the British one of their soundest defeats. Wounded and allowed to return to Camden, SC for treatment.

1790 Thomas DARLEY on the Charleston, SC District, St. Bartholome’s Parish census (now Colleton County)

1801 Thomas DARLEY admitted as a travelling Minister of the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church

1803 Thomas DARLEY assigned to Charleston district

1804 Thomas DARLEY assigned to Orangeburg District. Buys 585 acres on the Three Runs near Snelling in Barnwell County, South Carolina.

1805 Thomas DARLEY does not accept assignment but makes his own and starts numerous Methodist Churches in Alandale, Barnwell, Colleton and Hampton Counties in South Carolina

1807 John Wesley DARLEY (Sr.) born as 11th child of Thomas DARLEY Barnwell County, S.C. 3/11/1807

1816 Thomas DARLEY assigned to Georgia and moves to Jefferson County, Louisville, Georgia. Buys land between Ogeechee River & Rocky Comfort Creek. Serves area around Sparta, Warrenton, Washington & Waynesboro. Established new churches in these areas.

1821 Thomas DARLEY & William Schley met in Louisville to petition Georgia Assembly to grant a charter for a Grand Royal Arch Chapter for Free Masonry. Thomas DARLEY was an original officer and the Grand Chaplain 1822 - 1831.

1823 John Wesley DARLEY (Sr.) marries Elizabeth Ann ASHLEY HAYLES, daughter of William Henry ASHLEY, budding politician and wealthy fur-trader in St. Louis, Missouri.

1826 Thomas DARLEY helps start the Mulberry St. Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia when Macon was a town of 800 residents. DARLEY’s portrait is still at the church today.

1831 Thomas DARLEY accepts employment by the Ga. Conference as an agent to supervise missions in an area between Flint and Chattahoochee in lands ceded by the Creeks in 1827. He moves to Harris County and buys a plantation.

1832 Thomas DARLEY dies at the age of 72. Buried in Mt. Zion Methodist Church Cemetery, Waverly Hall, Harris County, Ga. (Mt. Zion Methodist was a very political church since it was the first Methodist church west of the Flint River and the first in the land recently ceded by the Creek Indians).

* * *

1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt builds the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia, approximately 17 miles from where Rev. Thomas Darley is buried in Waverly Hall. Roosevelt arrives in the area almost exactly 100 years after Darley's death.

194_ Winston Churchill presents FDR a gift which is an original piece of the Mayflower carved into a model of the Mayflower. The wood is confirmed to be a piece from a timber in the Mayflower



Rev. Thomas Darley

Rev. Thomas Darley
1760 - 1832

Sailor, Revolutionary War Officer, Methodist Minister, founder of scores of Methodist churches in South Carolina and Georgia, one of the founders of the Order of Masons in Georgia, Grand Chaplain of the Georgia Masons, Head of the Methodist Missions in Western Georgia and father of 22 children. This portrait hangs in the Mulberry Street Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia, a church Darley helped start in 1826 when Macon was a town of 800 inhabitants. Note: Lon Darley lists Darley's age as 72 when he died, but his marker says he was 63 years old when he died.

David Crawford Cook (1856-1929), Carrie Jane Darley Cook (1871-1946) & Peyton Horace Cook, Sr. (1913-). This photo was probably taken in 1913 or 1914 when 'Uncle' Horace was about a year old. DC Cook would of been 57 years of age and Carrie Jane Cook would of been 42 years of age when the photo was taken. This is one of a few photos known to exist of the two.

Rev. Thomas Darley was Carrie Jane Darley's great-grandfather. DC Cook was a teacher and farmer while Carrie Jane raised the 12 children. DC & Carrie Jane were two of the founders of the Cuba Presbyterian Church in Early County, Georgia. Their house was close by the church and they fed the preacher and his family on Sundays. Their children played the organ and performed other services in the church.

Earl, Uncle Horace & Mavis at Thomas Darley's Grave

Earl Cook (left) shaking Uncle Horace's hand at the grave of Rev. Thomas Darley in Mt. Zion Methodist Church Cemetery in Waverly Hall, Harris County, Georgia. Mavis Nell Morse, Earl's sister, was on her way from Michigan to Albany, September 1999.

My mother's house was almost exactly 200 miles from where I live. Rev. Thomas Darley's grave is almost exactly 100 miles between the two. We used this spot to meet so that we could 'shuttle' the passenger on her way home. (It was a hot day and we only had a few minutes to shoot this photo).

Uncle Horace is the youngest child of 13 children and Earl is the youngest grandchild of 40+ grandchildren of David Crawford & Carrie Jane Darley Cook.

The monument on his grave, which is the oldest in the cemetery, was placed there by the Masons of Georgia. The inscription reads:

This monument is erected
by order of the most worshipfull
to the MEMORY of their former
who departed this life,
18th April A.L. 5832, A.D. 1832,
in the 63rd year of his age:
and who was a shining light
to his Masonic Brethren, to
imitate in his walk, as a man,

Dan Akin, local historian of Waverly Hall, Georgia, writes about the Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church history:

"Yes, Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, South, had a very politically involved congregation. All the "big men" in their day were members and were not just there for social reasons, these people were actually very, very religious. (Something that is unfortunately often missing from todays Sunday morning social gatherings). If you are interested in reading about some of the people Rev. Darley knew in his last days on earth I can shed a little light on some of them.

The first white people to arrive here were three Mahone brothers (Rowland, Peter, and Thomas), two Whitehead brothers (William and Thomas), and a man named William Blount Marshall with his family. These three large families crossed the Flint and settled here in the early 1820s when the Indians were still around. William Whitehead was shot in the heel of his foot by an Indian's bow and arrow on Mulberry Creek and had to have most of his foot amputated. William B. Marshall became one of the wealthiest men in this region. He was a delegate from Talbot County to the state secession convention in Milledgville before the war came on and was listed as a planter with net worth of $144,000 and owner of 87 slaves. Of course, like everyone else he lost it all. He was one of the biggest Whig leaders of his day and entertained Henry Clay (The Great Compromiser) here in the 1850s.

Other powerful men buried near Rev. Darley were; General Henry H. Lowe, a Gen. in the Creek and Seminole wars who entertained ex-president Polk at his home in the 1840s; Major Osborne Crook, a Major in the same wars; Mary Craig Crook Crawford, wife of Martin Crawford, one of Jefferson Davis' cabinet members. Then there's Rev. Darley, Grand Chaplain of the State. And buried in the woods near there are, the father, sister, and grandmother of Confederate General Henry L. Benning, who was raised in the neighborhood around Mt. Zion Church. These are just the ones we know about, think of what lies unknown.

Shortly after arriving here, these folks all got together and started the Mt. Zion congregation. The church itself was organized in 1827 and the land was bought in 1831. It seems to have been a central location, being about half way between the Marshall and Whitehead plantations The oldest marked grave is that of Rev. Darley. When the railroad came through in 1886, it made a curve to avoid Oak Mountain and bypassed the Mt. Zion community. Everything moved closer to the tracks. A new church was built in town in 1896 and old Mt. Zion stood until it was torn down in 1926, the lumber sold and the money used to build Sunday School rooms at the newer church. Those who remember the old building say it looked like Matthews Chapel Methodist on Hwy. 36, but was about three times larger, with four square columns across the front, two front doors for men and women to enter separately, and a divider down the middle inside for men and women to sit separately. Unfortunately, our church membership records only go back as far as 1858, and I have been unsuccessful in getting any help with history from the South Ga. conference of the Meth. Church. Maybe I am just speaking to the wrong people there. I am sure now that Rev. Darley was most likely the founding pastor and was likely the current pastor at his death, especially if he owned land here. It is also possible that he knew these other settlers from when they lived in East Georgia or even South Carolina. I have found that most of them were all kin and came from near the same place." - Dan Akin, Waverly Hall, Georgia

Pisgah Episcopal Methodist Church
Centreville, Florida

Pisgah Methodist Church is near where Cook lands were located just north of Tallahassee, Florida around 1825 - 1840. This congregation was formed by the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1820's and this building was built in 1858. Note the divider down the middle of the pews that Dan Akin mentions that separated the men from the women during the church service. This church is probably similar in appearance to the Mt. Zion Epsicopal Methodist Church in Waverly Hall, Georgia. Since Rev. Darley worked for the South Carolina Conference, it is possible that he might have attended this church at some time. He, at least, probably knew those that helped found the church in its earliest days.

Darley's Service in the American War for Independence

Battle of Cowpens

This painting of the Battle of Cowpens during the Revolutionay War is shown in the introduction of the South Carolina Tourism Guide. According to Lon Darley in his book, Your Darley Ancestry, he states that it is Thomas Darley on the black horse on the right that has his sword drawn and is about to split the skull of Col. Washington, the Patriot riding on the white horse. According to Lon Darley, it was the black slave (on left) of Col. Washington that shot Thomas Darley in the shoulder preventing him from killing his master, Col. Washington. Darley had been earlier captured by the British when Darley was attempting to run a British blockade near Charleston, South Carolina loaded with rice and indigo headed back to England. The British made Darley a prisoner-of-war, but when they found out who he was, he was impressed into service for the British as a Leutenant and assigned to the infamous British Gen. Tarleton. His service was short-lived as this was his only battle.

As the story continues, a Patriot was ready to kill Thomas Darley after he was wounded, but Darley gave the Mason symbol for distress. The Patriot, being a Mason himself, spared Darley's life. Darley was allowed to stay in South Carolina and receive treatment for his wounds in Camden. At the end of the war, he remained in South Carolina and became a travelling Methodist Preacher and proponent of Masonry. He was associated with one of the largest Methodist churches in Charleston, South Carolina. Near Ft. Benning, Georgia, there is a Darley Lodge of Masons.

Mulberry St. Methodist Church

The Mother Church of Georgia Methodism
Macon, Georgia

Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Rev. Thomas Darley

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

FDR died while the portrait above was being painted and was never finished. It is on display at Warm Springs.

The following information was a total shock when I discovered it on the day that the above photos of Darley's monument were taken. I have lived in Georgia over 40 years and never visited the Little White House. I almost have a second degree in history, so I knew a lot about FDR and Warm Springs, but never had visited the site. It was surprising that Waverly Hall, where Thomas Darley is buried, is only 17 miles from the Little White House. On my way back to Atlanta, I stopped by and was talking with one of the Warm Springs hosts. I was telling him about the history of Thomas Darley and that the Darley family had owned the shipyard that built the Mayflower. He laughed and said, "Well, there is a piece of the original Mayflower in the FDR Museum!" So, I headed for the museum to find it.

I found it, but it was only about 2 inches high and inside of a small bottle, but it was real (see photo below).

The Mayflower. Carved from an original piece of the Mayflower. FDR Museum

The Mayflower carved from an original piece of the Mayflower in the FDR Museum
approximate size 2 inches tall

It is hard to express the feelings that I had when standing in this museum of one of our country's greatest presidents and to be looking at a gift that Winston Churchill had given to him as a token of the bond between England and the United States in the midst of World War II. It was a powerful moment when realizing how important these two men were in our history and this tiny piece of wood and this ship were so symbolic of this relationship.

Knowing that my ancestors had built the Mayflower and that one of them may have even touched that wood 380 years ago added to the experience. The book that can be seen through the tiny bottle is the one written by the Quakers that authenticates the wood and the carving. Winston Churchill's signature is at the bottom of the page.

I know that it is probably coincendental, but I was amazed that FDR had chosen to build the Little White House only 17 miles from where Rev. Thomas Darley had lived and died almost exactly 100 years before. The Darley connection with the Mayflower and then seeing the Mayflower in the FDR museum seemed to be somehow more powerful than mere coincidence.

William Earl Cook
November, 1999 (updated September, 2007)