ARIZARD-L ArchivesArchiver > ARIZARD > 2010-07 > 1279718348
From: Elveta <>
Subject: Re: [ARIZARD] ARIZARD Digest, Vol 5, Issue 403
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 08:19:08 -0500
This Information may be of no interest to anyone but me.
It is interesting:
JOHN WILLIAM DARK
AKA BILL DARK
In 1850 Pulaski Census, age 15, born Arkansas, with mother[?] Dilly
Dark, age 35, born "Unknown", living in Hotel in Little Rock, dwelling
563, John Brown, age 35, born Ireland, landlord. Wm. Dark Jr may be
the son of William Dark, Pvt., Co. A, Arkansas Battalion Infantry and
Mounted Rifles, age 29 who enrolled 10 June 1846 in Clarksville,
Arkansas, for the Mexican War.
Bill Dark Sr married Rachel Adeline George, daughter of James S.
& Margaret George, and had a son, William Dark. Rachel and William, Jr.
are in the 1880 Stone County, Arkansas census, living with her parents.
In 1860 he is again in the Pulaski County Census, in the State
Penitentiary, as J. W. Dark, age 23, male, born Arkansas. [I do not
know what he was in for.] On June 14, 1861, at Fort Smith, Arkansas, he
enrolled as a private in Captain Galloway's Company, Churchill's
Regiment, Arkansas Mounted Riflemen. [This company subsequently became
Company F, 1st Regiment Arkansas Mounted Rifles.] His service record
states that he traveled 177 miles to the place of rendezvous, and that
his horse was valued at $125 and his horse equipment at $25. He
enlisted for 12 months. He subsequently appears as "present" on muster
rolls for July & August, 1861; January 31 to April 20, 1862; and May &
June, 1862. There is another piece of paper which states that he
appears on an undated Receipt Roll for receiving $54.80 for use of
horse, arms, etc., at 40 a day, beginning June 14, 1861 and expiring
October 31, 1861.
Further mention of his name during the Civil War is:
"A dispatch came from Russellville that De Rosey Carroll had
been murdered in Franklin county by the jayhawkers, under the command of
Bill Dark, a former inmate of our penitentiary."
True Democrat , [Little Rock, Arkansas], January 21, 1863, page 1,
"It was reported that Parks, the renegade Texan, who, at the head of
a band of jayhawkers had murdered De Rosey Carroll, had been caught and
was to be sent here [Little Rock]; also, that Bill Dark had been
wounded and taken prisoner."
True Democrat , January 28, 1863, page 1, column 1.
"Dark, who was said to be taken in Izard county, was badly
wounded, and it is not probable he will live to reach here. It was said
here, and is vouched for by respectable men, that Jerome B. Lewis, of
Van Buren county, is associated with the jayhawkers in the northern
portion of the State."
Democrat , February 4, 1863, page 21, column 2.
Camp near Clipper's [Clapper's], Mill, }
Ark., April 27th, 1863.}
Democrat--We, the undersigned officers in the Confederate service in
Northern Arkansas, learning that reports have been circulated and matter
published prejudicial to the loyalty and bearing of John W. Dark, a
citizen of this State, and a brave and daring soldier, as an act of
justice to the said Dark, we would state, that he has been in Col.
Schnable's cavalry recruits for several months, on the borders of this
State, and has been in nearly every border fray that has recently
occurred. No one has acquitted himself more gallantly and displayed
more deeds of daring than John W. Dark. Under the most discouraging
circumstances, when others were desponding, he has been ever active,
bold and determined in arresting the progress of vandals, who have been
desolating this portion of the State. We have never entertained a
suspicion of his loyalty, but on the contrary, have recognized in him, a
bold, driving and determined soldier, and one who has risked his life
under the most severe trials for his country.
S. C. SCHNABEL, Col. Com'dg.
E. G. MITCHELL, Capt.
J. J. EOFF, Lieut.
S. W. STIGLEMAN, Lt. & Adgt.
JOHN P. NORVELL, A. Com'sy.
G. J. OVERRALL, O. S.
W. W. HUDSON, Lieut.
D. A. WINTER, Lieut.
True Democrat , May 6, 1863, page 2,
At the commencement of the war William Dark, of Searcy county,
Arkansas, was a felon undergoing servitude in the penitentiary of the
state, and was released on condition that he join the Confederate army,
which he did; but after a short service in that army he deserted, went
back to his home and congregated a gang of thieves and outlaws to prey
on the non-combatant, defenseless people. This gang claimed and
exercised absolute jurisdiction over every species of property they
desired--horses, cows, sheep, mules, fowls, provisions--and in a great
number of instances appropriated the last article of clothing belonging
to helpless women and children. Many wagons were loaded with plunder.
The gang, headed and ruled by Dark, became the synonym of all that is
degraded and abandoned in mankind, and abject submission to his demands
was the only security to life. His very name struck terror to the
hearts of women and children and old defenseless men who were unable to
pass beyond the sphere of his operations.
At that period the feelings of neighboring Unionists and
Confederates were crystallized in intensity against each other--all the
harder to soothe and remove for want of that liberal foundation in deep
and broad education enjoyed by more favored communities. But there was
a community of interest; both sides to the war were equal sufferers. A
few old conservative men representing both elements got together, and
each side agreed to raise a company to exterminate the marauders, if
possible, in the joint interest of both elements. And they did; each
keeping their covenant by raising a company of home guards, or regulators.
At that time the three leaders of separate bands were operating
in Searcy, Baxter, Marion and adjacent counties. For some weeks after
the regulators organized, Dark foiled their efforts to capture and
dispose of him, and continued his depredations in defiance of the
organization. He discredited their ability and courage. Whilst matters
thus stood, two Confederate soldiers, on furlough from the regular
Confederate army, visited their families in Searcy county, and on the
day of the tragedy following were together with their wives and children
at one of their residences. On this day little Master Berry, whose full
name has escaped memory, who was ten or eleven years old, came to see
his friends from the army and to learn of other Confederate soldiers
from the vacinity, some of whom were related to him.
But first let it be remembered that the world now and then
presents mankind with a hero boy from the lap of obscurity worthy of
royal lineage and a niche in the pantheon of fame. Whilst the two
Confederate soldiers were conversing with their wives and Master Berry,
one of the matrons stepped to the door to watch like a vidette or picket
on duty guarding an army. In terror and dismay she discovered Dark with
five of his gang on horseback approaching the house, with Dark fifty
yards in advance of his associates in crime. Terror stricken, she
turned pale as death as she announced their rapid approach on evil
bent. The two Confederate soldiers made their exit at the back door and
ran like quarter horses through a cornfield to the timber. One of them
in his paralysis of fear forgot his army pistol. The .little boy Berry
seized the pistol and said, "Ladies, I will defend you," and quicker
than this sentence can be read rushed out in the yard and took position
at the corner of the smokehouse, next the road, and rested the pistol on
one of the projecting logs.
By this time Dark was within twenty feet of the lad, staring him
in the face, with the ejaculation, "What are you doing there, you little
puppy?" The boy was drawing a bead on him as coolly as if aiming at a
mark; scarcely was the sentence out before he fired. The ball struck
its object in the center between the eyes and made exit at the rear of
the cranium. He fell forward dead. The boy said, "A center shot,
ladies; bless the Lord," and in an instant was emptying the remaining
five shots at the other thieving marauders, who put spurs to their
horses and disappeared rapidly.
After a while the flying husbands came back and found young
Berry master of the situation. What shame must have mantled their
cheeks! With the heart of a lion and the courage of Ajax, that boy
"Would not bow to Jove for his thunder, nor kneel to Neptune for
His deed of cool and unsurpassed heroism ought to be preserved
fresh and green in the memory of a grateful people as long as our
literature adorns our civilization.
The citizens of the vicinity raised $500 and presented it to the
noble boy. He grew to honored manhood and became a noble citizen.
The old Confederate veterans, Hoffman and Robinson, were
citizens, the one of Baxter, the other of Searcy county at the time, and
this story is based on their verification of the facts related by them.
There is yet another exciting scene to relate before the curtain
closes over this tragedy, presenting woman of exalted courage and iron
nerve, successfully riding the storm of misfortune like an eagle
cleaving the clouds.
It is the misfortune of many noble women to become the wives of
degraded men. It was supposed that Dark had confided the custody of the
money he had taken from the citizens to his wife, and that by searching
his house it might be found and recovered, but they did not immediately
after his death carry their intentions into execution.
Dark's wife got wind of their intentions before they came. She
immediately saddled and mounted a swift mule, took her child in her lap
and rode night and day as fast as the animal could travel, more than one
hundred miles, striking the Arkansas river at a point near Van Buren,
where there was no ferry. Undaunted, the heroine plunged into the
flood, and the faithful mule with her and child stemmed the roaring tide
and landed them safely on the opposite shore, where she experienced the
first feeling of relief and safety.
John Hallum, cgrid Reminiscences of the Civil War . Little
Rock: Tunnard & Pittard, 1903, 96-99.
"That he [Lemuel Holsted] was a Confederate soldier. Belonging to
(William Dark's) Company, [T. H.] McCray's [D. McRea's?] Regiment of
Cavalry. That as such soldier he served from 1863 to 1865."
From E. DePriest's statement, dated 8 June 1901, in Miranda
Holsted's Confederate widow's pension papers, Arkansas History
Commission, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.
When Dark's men were raiding a house, Wesley Branscomb was outside
receiving things passed through the window. When he would get
something, he would give it to the little girl of the house, and she
would go hide it, thus keeping it from being stolen.
From Iola Fendley Halsted Beavers Interview.
Dee Strickland Johnson
Over north of Timbo and running north-east toward Big Springs there
is a valley known as Dark Holler. A lady who spent some time around
that area as a child said she always supposed it was so called because
of the deep shadows which seem to linger there, but most residents agree
that it was named for a man who once lived in this and many are the
dark tales told of the man himself.
Sometimes called King of the Jayhawkers , Bill Dark is credited
with every sort of the atrocity from robbery to murder in the days of
the Civil War, and many stories persist of his terrorization of widows
and children in this area. Of course we must realize that after a
hundred years some crimes attributed to Dark gang of jayhawker , or
bushwhacker as they were sometimes called, may have been committed by
other renegades, but it is to be remembered that Bill Dark lived in this
area and was doubtless recognized along with some of his men whose
family names still ring familiar, and that there were also many
unwitnessed murders with which Dark might well have been connected, so
perhaps the score is fairly even after all.
The name Bill Dark is almost certain to bring a tale of
violence from nearly any long-time Stone County resident over the age of
50 and from many much younger, for such stories have a way of being
passed from generation to generation, particularly within the family of
the victim. What many people do not know is that Bill Dark led an
interesting if macabre double life. He had a wife named Angeline and a
son called Little Will. He was good looking, red-headed and, during the
time of the Civil War at least, wore his hair long, perhaps in imitation
of Confederate officer Marmaduke who, along with Joseph O., Shelby
commanded troops in this area, and whose long blond hair was much
heralded. Most surprising of all, Bill Dark was an officer in the
Confederate army, a Captain serving under Colonel J. T. Coffee and
commander of Company A of cgrid Acgrid the Coffee Recruits . A letter
written in pencil by Capt. Dark evidences fine penmanship and an unusual
command of the written word. Were the first sentence complete, we might
be able to determine whether or not the letter was directed to Col.
Coffee himself. The name on the reverse side of the paper in the same
handwriting is E. M. Flinn, Batesville Arkansas and no title precedes
the name. The existence of such a letter causes one to speculate on
what kind of individual could wear the gray officer s coat, yet prey
upon the families of Confederate soldiers away at war. When were Dark
s raids carried out? Were the members of his gang soldiers in his
command? Could it be that the Business of importance which called him
away from his company was in fact a Jayhawk foray? Here, then is what
remains of the letter reproduced without editing just as it appears today:
furloughed all my men (paper torn) first of July, By order as I
supposed of Col. J. T. Coffee.
After you left here I organized an other company I. W. Cypert Capt.
I got my men together at the earliest opportunity to preceed to
our camp got as far as the mouth of Syllamore when I was called away
on Business of importance: left Capt. Cypert in command with orders to
march to Mt. Olive & thence in the direction of Salem in Fulton County.
After I had attended to the Business Referred to and was returning to
the command I met all the men of Both companies returning home with
furloughs Stating that Capt. Cypert had received orders from you to
furlough them: Capt. Cypert was not to be found was gone in the
vicinity of Calico Rock: He should have got orders through Judge
Edwards of Mt. Olive.
Col. I knew if you had ordered furloughs in you absence without
some one to approve them that it was an illegal procedence. But what
could I do the men all scattered hell west & crooked Cypert gone to hell
or some where else I couldnt tell for I never was at Calico Rock in my
life I did not know what to do neither do I till yet let me know by the
earliest convenience what I shall do & By God I will do it.
I W. Dark
Capt Comdg Co A
NEXT WEEK: DARK DAYS END
(anyone having information on Bill Dark or his family in invited to call
The Mountain View , [Mountain View, Arkansas], The Holler Sept 4, 1973.
DARK DAYS END
Bill Dark was the leader of a ruthless Jayhawk gang which ranged these
hills in the days of the Civil Wars.