From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Darnes, Rebecca and William

The Darneses were activists and community leaders in Cincinnati, OH. William Darnes, a barber, was born in 1809 in Pennsylvania. His wife Rebecca, described as a mulatto, was born in 1811 in Kentucky. Both she and her husband were free, according to the 1850 Census. Her mother was born in Maryland.

The Darneses were fairly well-off real estate owners in Cincinnati. William had been a Master Mason at the St. Cyprian Lodge in Pittsburgh, PA. When he arrived in Cincinnati, he had applied for admission to the white lodge and was denied. William Darnes would become a founding member of the St. Cyprian Lodge in Cincinnati, approved in 1847. In 1849, it would become the first African American grand lodge in Ohio.

Rebecca was a member of the Daughters of Samaria and a member of the Society of Friends. Around 1844, she and her husband had joined others, including Salmon P. Chase, to assist in Lydia P. Mott's efforts to establish a home for orphaned and homeless Colored children in Cincinnati.

The Darneses also helped raise Alexander G. Clark (1826-1891), William Darnes's nephew, who would become a civil rights leader in the West.

For more see Frontiers of Freedom, by N. M. Taylor; History of the Negro Race in America, 1619-1880, vol. 2, by G. W. Williams [available full text at Project Gutenberg and Google Books]; African American Fraternities and Sororities, by T. L. Brown, G. Parks and C. M. Phillips; and "Alexander G. Clark" in the Encyclopedia of African American Business, by J. C. Smith, M. L. Jackson and L. T. Wynn.

[*Rebecca Darnes was an aunt by marriage to Alexander G. Clark. His mother, Rebecca Darnes Clark, has been described as African.]

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Darnes, Rebecca and William,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 2, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-16 17:34:16