CHARLES M. DARRAH, of the firm of Darrah Bros. & Co., proprietors of the City Flouring Mills, upper Big Rapids, and whose portrait we present on the opposite page, was born in Orange Co., N.Y., town of Beaver Brook, June 19, 1831. His parents, Robert and Sinah (Mitchell) Darrah, moved to Jefferson Co., Pa., when he was six years old. His father was a farmer and engaged to a considerable extent in lumbering. Mr. Darrah was brought up to the pursuits of his father and spent his youth in the lumber woods, early taking an active part in all the matters pertaining to the business. At 20 he took a contract to manufacture lumber by the thousand, and a year later he bought a farm of 60 acres. In May, 1856, he transferred his interests to Battle Creek, where he spent one summer in farming, coming to Big Rapids in the following fall. The intermediate country was, in 1856, chiefly in its primeval condition, and Mr. Darrah transported hither his family and household effects with horses and wagon. The drive to Grand Rapids consumed three days. The route thence to Big Rapids went through a literally unsettled country, and though the horses were good the journey required seven days. Mr. Darrah located on what is now sec. 6, of the township of Austin, which had no organized local government until 1869, nearly 13 years later.
The first winter Mr. Darrah spent in Mecosta County he went to work for J. H. Rodgers and was in his employ one year. In 1858 he bought 40 acres on sec. 3, Mecosta Tp., and in 1859 purchased 80 acres adjoining. On this he made a clearing and built his house, into which he moved as soon as it was habitable. He worked several ensuing years in the lumber woods, taking contracts to cut timber and deliver it to the river. From his small and arduous gebining, Mr. Darrah has grown to be a landholder of no mean rank. His homestead uncludes 400 acres, of which he purchased 240 in 1865, and took possession in 1866. His aggregate landed estate includes 1,000 acres, situated chiefly in Missauke and Roscommon Counties. The home farm of Mr. Darrah is among the finest and largest in Mecosta County. His orchards and barns are a just matter of proud satisfaction to the proprietor. He has continued to pursue his lumber business and river driving, which he has engaged in extensively. In the spring of 1883 he employed 150 men in his driving operations on Clam River.
In the spring of 1882 he rented his farm and moved to the city of Big Rapids. Aug. 14, of the same year, associated with his brother, James M. Darrah, and son, Wilson E. Darrah, he purchased the City Flouring Mills, where the firm have since been engaged in manufacturing mill products. They have a large local and shipping trade, and employ half a dozen hands in their business, which aggregates about $60,000 annually. They have now in process of erection a new iron-roller mill, adjoining the old one. It will be 37 x 50 feet on the ground, five stories high, and be fitted with seven sets of double rollers and two run of stone. The new structure will be devoted to commercial products; the old mill will be devoted to custom work and storage.
Mr. Darrah was married May 26, 1853, in Knox Tp., Jefferson Co., Pa., to Sarah E., daughter of James and Susan (Mason) Hall, botn in Jefferson Co., Pa., May 29, 1836. Of four children born of this marriage three are living: Wilson E., Melvin E. and Charles J. James E. is deceased.