John Fletcher Darby

 

John Fletcher Darby

Term: 1835 - 1837
1840 - 1841
Party: Whig
Born: December 10, 1803
Person County, North Carolina
Died: May 11, 1882
Pendleton, Missouri
 
John Fletcher Darby (Mayor 1835-1837 and 1840-1841)-Background
Mayor (1835-1837) and (1840-1841). John Fletcher Darby was born in Person County, North Carolina on December 10, 1803. His father was a North Carolina farmer who moved to western St. Louis County in 1818. Young Darby showed an early interest in Latin. At the age of twenty Darby lost both of his parents. He wanted to become a lawyer, and in 1825 went to Frankfort, Kentucky to study in a law office. In 1826 Darby came back to St. Louis and started a law practice. He soon became a popular attorney and stump orator. Darby was elected to the Board of Alderman in 1834. In 1836 Darby married Miss Mary Wilkinson, the daughter of Captain Wilkinson of the United States Army.

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John Fletcher Darby (Mayor 1835-1837 and 1840-1841)-Administration
In 1835 John Fletcher Darby became the fourth Mayor of St. Louis.

In 1840 John Fletcher Darby, he again was elected Mayor, became the sixth Mayor of St. Louis.

Mayor Darby was active in getting the first Missouri railroad convention held in St. Louis. As the result of this convention, two railroads were incorporated in Missouri. A start was made in protecting the St. Louis Harbor by building dykes on the Illinois side of the Missouri River. The Waterworks became wholly owned by the City in 1835. The first plant, completed in 1831, was a joint venture between the City and a private company. Abraham Fox, a co-owner of the company, was the first City Superintendent of the Waterworks. As he ran into financial difficulties, the City gradually bought his interest. On July 14, 1835 St. Louis purchased his remaining one-fourth interest for $18,000.

Mayor Darby advocated the purchase of public squares and parks for recreation areas and parade grounds. Lafayette Park, the first city park west of the Mississippi, was planned and laid out. The first steps were taken in purchasing Washington Square on which the present City Hall stands. The Mayor named this plot of ground and bought it for $25,000, with nothing down and fifty years to pay in five per cent bonds. Then came criticism that he was wasting taxpayersĂ money. For a while this Square was called 'Darby's Big Gulley.' Councilman Budd, who had written the purchasing Ordinance, was defeated for re-election.

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John Fletcher Darby (Mayor 1835-1837 and 1840-1841)-Post-Administration
In 1839, during the interval between his two periods as Mayor, John Fletcher Darby served in the Senate of the Missouri Legislature. In 1850, he was elected to the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, where he took great interest in railroad matters. During these years he was also active in the St. Louis banking business. He was among the group of lawyers who founded the St. Louis Law Library Association. In 1880 he published his biography, 'Personal Recollections.' This book is a valuable source for the study of early St. Louis history.

John Fletcher Darby died May 11, 1882 at Pendleton, Missouri, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

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