Abandoned NC&STL Railway
Route Between Memphis, Jackson & Bruceton
Wilburn and Robbie Darnell
I have the white paper from my mother, Betty
J. (Pepper) Fleet written about the lives of Mr. & Mrs. Darnell
for me on November 18, 2006 read:
Wilburn Darnell was born December 28, 1920 in
Michie, TN (near Selmer). His growing up years were spent in Michie
and Moscow. He met Robbie Patterson and they were married December
8, 1945. Her pet name for him was “Snookie”. Wilburn served in the
Army during WWII, first in North Africa and then in Italy. When
the war was over he returned to Fayette County and became the agent-operator
for the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway Depot
in Somerville, TN from 1946 until 1948. When Mr.
Ollie H. Priddy ended his employment at the Whiteville
Depot, Wilburn was his replacement. He rode the train from Somerville
to Whiteville each day and back to Somerville at night. Sometimes
Robbie would visit him during the day and they would return to Somerville
in the evening. Because of his employment with NC&StL all their
rides were free. Soon they found a house in Whiteville and moved
there. This house was on Webb Street next door to my grandparents,
R. and Nina
Pepper. For approximately twenty years he used the telegraph,
sold tickets, signaled the train and many other duties. In approximately
1968 the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered the closing of Whiteville
Depot and removal of the tracks and station. There were three
section houses (south on U.S. 64 west of Whiteville) which Mr. and
Mrs. Darnell bought. They later sold these three houses to a man
in Grand Junction, TN for $3,500. The new owner had the houses moved
to Grand Junction. He converted them to a bed and breakfast and
later to his own home. Today they may still be seen near the Norfolk
Southern Corp. in Grand Junction.
1973 First Baptist Church Directory
of Whiteville. Contributed by Betty Fleet.
Mr. and Mrs. Darnell were members of First Baptist Church in
Whiteville. They both sang in the choir and he was a deacon. They
had no children. Wilburn died April 3, 1979 from a coronary aneurysm.
Today Mrs. Darnell is residing in Whiteville.
In May 6, 2006 I visited with Mrs. Darnell to learn this history.
She gave me an L&N red glass lantern (above) used by her husband
at the Whiteville Depot. A special
thanks to Mrs. Darnell for sharing this history. I am deeply grateful
for the gift of the lantern.