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Darden Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-3

Content Description

Business and personal correspondence, business papers, receipts, newspaper clippings and other materals documenting the activities of the Darden family, and of Putnam Darden. Includes receipts for the sale of enslaved persons; receipts and correspondence related to Darden’s Civil War service; receipts and correspondence related to the construction of a chapel in Fayette, MS; and correspondence related to Franklin College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.


  • 1835 - 1944

Biographical / Historical

Putnam Darden, son of John P. Darden, was born on a plantation in 1836 in Fayette County, Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1856, and worked as a farmer until the Civil War broke out in 1861.

During the war, he served in the Jefferson Flying Artillery, later known as the Jefferson Artillery and Darden’s Battery. Darden served under Beauregard, Hardy, Joe E. Johnston, and Hood.

After the war he was active in the Grange movement, led by the Patrons of Husbandry. Formed in 1967, individual chapters, known as Granges, were created to educate people about farming and to support farmers. Darden was also a key player in the development of the Morrill Land Grant Act, which enabled the founding of Mississippi State A&M in 1878, now known as Mississippi State University (MSU) and the Hatch Experiment Act, which enabled the creation of the MSU Experiment Station in 1886. Known as a gifted orator, Darden gave many speeches in support of Missisisppi State.

Putnam Darden died in 1888. He was married four times, had eight children, and was a member of the Christian Church in Fayette and superintendent of the Sunday School. A memorial to him may be found on the MSU campus, located across from the SMART bus stop next to McCool Hall.

Source: Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, Vol. I, p. 616.


1.33 Cubic Feet (3 MSS boxes and one small oversize box)

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged in five series: I. Legal and military papers II. Business records III. Correspondence. IV. Speeches and clippings V. Small Oversize

Series I. Legal and military papers, 1835-1919 Box 1, Folders 1-2

Receipts for the sale of enslaved persons, livestock and goods; probate records; land deeds and surveyors map of Darden property. Correspondence and receipts related to Darden’s Civil War service, including horses purchased for his unit, and the death of his nephew.

Series II. Business Records, 1839-1860 Box 1, Folders 3-5 ; Box 2, Folders 1-3

Darden family correspondence, receipts, estate papers, and financial records, some for Sue Darden; correspondence and stock certificates for the Jefferson County Planters, Merchants and Manufacturers Association and the Phoenix Cooperative Association no. 516, Order of Patrons of Husbandry; minutes, resolutions, financial records, treasurers reports, and checks from Phoenix Cooperative Association n. 516; correspondence and receipts related to cotton business; and receipts related to construction of a chapel at the Christian Church in Fayette, MS.

Series III. Correspondence, 1838-1944 Box 2, Folders 4-7

Correspondence, bills, and receipts relating to education of sons Thadeus and Horatio at Franklin College in Holly Springs, MS (1854-57), which includes a letter about a cholera epidemic; correspondence regarding a land dispute; and some material related to Sanders and Rodabough families.

Series IV. Clippings and speeches Box 2, Folders 8-9

Newspaper clippings and manuscript copies of speeches given by Darden; some fragments.

Series V. Diary, 1834-1865. Box 3 Contents include the diary of John P. Darden, citizen of Jefferson County, Mississippi. The diary was written by Darden while living at Lauretta Plantation, three miles outside of Fayette, Mississippi.

Series VI. Small Oversize Small Oversize Box 10, Folder 5

Land deed, business papers, Justice of the Peace certificate and other materials too large to fit inside a standard archival folder.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository