Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 3, September, 1999 Page: 131
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The Writings of
Fannie Amelia Dickson Darden
compiled by Bill Stein and Jayne Easterling
Fannie Amelia Dickson Baker Darden was a leading figure in the cultural life of
Colorado County for most of the last half of the nineteenth century. The particulars of her
life can be summarized in a few statements. She was born in Autauga County, Alabama, on
September 13, 1829. Her father was Mosely Baker, who escaped from an Alabama jail and
went to Texas to avoid prosecution for embezzling a large sum of money from a bank, and
who became an officer in Sam Houston's army during the Texas Revolution. On January 26,
1847, when she was seventeen, she married William John Darden. In 1851 her husband ran
a Houston newspaper, The Beacon, which apparently failed before the end of the year. In
1852, he opened a law practice in partnership with John H. Robson in Columbus. In later
years, he served as the town's mayor, then in the army (where he was wounded) and the
government of the Confederate States of America, the defeat of which left him aimless and
disillusioned. She had two sons, one of whom died when he was four years old, and the other,
of yellow fever, in 1873 at the age of 23. She began a career as a painter and writer before
the Civil War, and was one of three Colorado County artists who lived for a time, with their
families, in the large Columbus home of art-patron Robert Robson. Her husband died on
May 29, 1881, after which she sold his library of more than 350 law books and pursued her
career in earnest, at various times teaching art in a local school and submitting articles and
poems to her hometown newspaper, the Colorado Citizen, and to other publications. She
sold her undivided half interest in a 600 acre plantation southeast of Columbus (her husband
had been forced by a court to forfeit the other half in 1878) on January 24, 1883 for the low
price of $300. She pursued, and on April 10, 1883 received, a headright certificate to replace
one secured by her father many years earlier. In early 1883, she was hired by an Austin
magazine, American Sketch Book, but in less than six months, she quit and became a
contributor to a magazine published in Corsicana, Texas Prairie Flower She was extremely
active in St. John's Episcopal Church in Columbus, where memorials to her remain even
today. She was devoted to the early history of Texas, and to the Confederacy, both during
and after the Civil War. In November 1882 she had surgery for breast cancer, but survived
another seven years. When she drew up her will on December 11, 1889, she noted that a
substantial debt she had incurred at least twenty-five years earlier was still outstanding.
Jeanette Hastedt Flachmeier, in a biographical sketch of Darden, states that she
died in October 1890. The New Handbook of Texas, in an article which, though consider-
ably "improved" over his original submission, was attributed to the editor of this journal,
follows Flachmeier in granting Darden, alas only on paper, another nine months of life. When
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 3, September, 1999, periodical, September 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151407/m1/3/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.