As ealy as the year 1809, shortly after the return of Lewis and Clark from the expedition to the Pacific Ocean, my father came from North Carolina to Upper Louisiana, and purchased six hundred acres of land on the waters of Bonhomme Creek, in what was then called the St. Louis District, Louisiana Territory.... [Researchers note: John F. Darby was elected mayor of St. Louis in 1836 and again in 1840.]
When Lieut. Grant, of the United States army, was about to marry Miss Julia Denet, his present wife, Mr. Frederick Dent, the father of Miss Dent, did myself and my wife the distinguished honor to invite us to the wedding. I had known Mr. Dent from the time I was a boy, - all my life, I may say, - and had always been on terms of personal friendship with him and with many of his family, especially the boys. Mr. Dent was a farmer of moderate means and a man of great respectability, who lived on a farm about ten miles in a south-westerly direction from the city of St. Louis, in the "Gravois settlement," St. Louis County, where he raised his family. When his daughters grew up, he used to move into town in the winter, for the benefit of society, and partly to educate his younger children. At the time of the marriage of Miss Dent, her father, Frederick Dent, lived in a small two-story brick house on the south-west corner of Cerre and Fourth Streets, in the city of St. Louis. The house was an humble, unpretending edifice, and yet stands there (1880). The wedding was a quiet and unostentatious affair, at which there were about two hundred persons, the most respectable people of the city of St. Louis. Such was the beginning of matrimonial life with U. S. Grant and Julia Dent, both of whom still survive, and who have filled quite a large space in the public eye.
At the wedding, for the first time, I saw U. S. Grant, then a lieutenant in the United States army. Shortly after that, U. S. Grant went to California, in the military service of his country. After a short time he resigned and and returned to Missouri, and took up his residence as a private citizen on the Dent farm, St. Louis County. His father-in-law, it was said, gave his son-in-law, Mr. Grant, eighty acres of land, in the woods, on the ridge a little north of the old "homestead." Here the man of then future greatness, glory, and renown built himself a log cabin and established "a local habitation and a home." He made a living for himself and wife by cutting and hauling fire-wood into the city of St. Louis, being able to make one trip a day, and to sell one load of wood on each trip. Many a time could the man of then humble pretensions be seen driving his two-horse, bran-fed, switch-tailed, raw-boned team up Fourth Street, in the city of St. Louis, with his post-oak load of wood, without even an inquiring glance from any one on the sidewalk as to who he was, or as to who the poor vendor of the post-oak load of wood might be.
Many stories, incidents, and anecdotes might be told of Grant, which would be amusing, if not instructive. When Grant, in his days of humiliating poverty and humble life, used to drive his poor old raw-boned two-horse team up fourth Street, in the city of St. Louis, with his miserable post-oak load of wood on his wagon, the animals that drew the loads were so shabby and weak that you could almost count their ribs from the sidewalk. There were men who looked upon that poverty-stricken concern, including driver and all, who scorned to acknowledge Grant as an acquaintance, much less to recognize him as a friend, who were too eager afterwards to rush forward to thrown themselves, in the most degraded and debased way, at the feet of power and of greatness.