Col. David Brearley

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David Brearley

Birthdate: (70)
Birthplace: Spring Grove Farm, Maidenhead Township (Present Lawrence Township), Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
Death: October 4, 1837 (70)
Dardanelle, Pope County (Present Yell County), Arkansas, United States
Place of Burial: Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Gen. Joseph Brearley and Rachel Brearley
Husband of Hannah Brearley
Father of Dr. Joseph Henry Brearley; David Dumont Brearley; Mary Bernard Smallwood (Brearley) and Eleanor Jones Wharton (Brearley)
Brother of Joseph Brearley; Charles Brearley; Ann Brearley; Lt. Benjamin Brearley; Elizabeth Smith and 3 others

Occupation: Founder of Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas; officer in the War of 1812; Indian agent
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Col. David Brearley

From the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture page on Dardanelle, Yell County:

By 1803, Dardanelle was a contentious area, with Cherokee and Caddo groups engaging in sporadic conflict. The United States sent Major James Lovely to the area as its first Indian factor in 1813, followed by Reuben Lewis in 1817, David Brearley in 1820, and Major Edward W. Duvall in 1823. After the Cherokee ceded their rights to all land south of the Arkansas River at the Council Oaks Treaty (1823), Brearley remained. With his brothers, Charles and Pearson, he opened the first store in Dardanelle, and his son, Joseph H. Brearley, platted the town in 1847 and, in 1851, donated lands for Brearley Cemetery just south of town.

Dardanelle became an important river town and emerging trade center during the antebellum era, receiving weekly steamboat visits from New Orleans, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dardanelle’s “boomtown” reputation was aided by its trade in rum, gin, and cotton. By 1860, the town had three taverns, several mercantile businesses and cotton gins, three churches (Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian), a weekly newspaper, a doctor, a school, several attorneys, and a Masonic lodge. By 1860, the town had 239 white residents and seventy-four slaves. Settlers from Tennessee and North Carolina were most prevalent. The surrounding rich farmland was worked by yeoman farmers primarily and a few large planters. Slavery was common on the surrounding farmlands—the 1860 Census records 869 slaves in Yell County, in addition to Dardanelle’s seventy-four. The 1823 military road between Little Rock and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) ran through Dardanelle, although the Arkansas River remained the primary means of transportation. In 1860, Dardanelle was linked to Little Rock and Fort Smith by telegraph.


From the Daily Courier-Democrat of Russellville, Arkansas, Sunday, Apr. 14, 1957:

Dardanelle, founder's cemetery to be beautified.

The Brearley private cemetery on North Front Street is to be beautified and a fence will be built to enclose the grounds. In this cemetery is buried the founder of the town of Dardanelle, Col. David Brearley and Mrs. Brearley and a brother of Col. Brearley and his wife.

Col. Brearley died Oct. 4, 1837, at the age of 57. He served in the War of 1812, and the Seminole Indian war. He was appointed U.S. Agent to the Cherokee Indians by President Monroe in 1816. In 1820, he with Gov. Miller, first governor of the Arkansas Territory, made a tramp over the territory and took the census of the Cherokee.

On the tramp, they came to a ridge where a French hunter, Joe Paran, lived at the foot, which was called Dardonnie (in English: "Sleep With One Eye"). On the east side of this ridge at the foot were two huge rocks. The Arkansas River flowed between these and the base of the ridge. Reminding Col. Brearley of the Strait of Dardanelles in Turkey, he named the place Dardanelle after buying the spot from the French hunter. The ridge is the Dardanelle rock. Here Col. Brearley established the Cherokee agency.

The monument that marks the founder's grave is very odd, but attractive. The stone on the front on the left is that of Brearley, and his wife's is on the right, and the brother and his wife's stones are the rear stones.

Mayor Joe D. Gault has announced that the city will cooperate with the project to beautify the grounds and Bobby Keenan is chairman of the project. Freeman Sanders, who has purchased the lots on either side of the cemetery, will assist with the project and the Cornwell-Bailey Monument Company will clean and re-mark the stones.

The history of the Brearley family is interwoven with the history of Dardanelle and the section of the county, the name being handed down from generation to generation...


From Descendants of John Brearley:

Colonel David BREARLEY

  • was born about 1767 in Spring Grove Farm (Brearley Homestead Lawrenceville, Mercer, NJ).
  • He died on 4 Oct 1837 in Dardanelle, AR.
  • He was buried in Brearley Cemetery Dardenelle, AR.
  • Captain of Light Dragoons May 3, 1808, resigned May 31, 1811.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Mar. 12, 1813, disbanded June 15, 1815.
  • Reinstated Jan. 1, 1816, as Lieutenant Colonel 7th U.S. Infantry and Colonel, April 30, 1817, resigned Mar. 16, 1820.
  • Moved to Dardanelle, Ark., where he died.

Colonel David Brearley is known as the founder of Dardanelle, named the town for Dardanelles straits in Turkey, according to the legend.

About the year 1820, General James Miller and Colonel Brearley were appointed first governor of Arkansas territory and agent to deal with the Cherokee Indians, respectively. Governor Miller and Colonel Brearley came to Arkansas together, taking a census of the Indians, and in their journey came to the ridge known among the Indians as Dardonnie ("Sleep With One Eye"). Brearley bought the site from a French hunter, Joe Paran, who lived at the foot of the ridge.

Because the sound of the Indian name for the place and the surroundings called to mind the Dardanelle strait, Brearley called the place from that time on Dardanelle. He established a Cherokee agency here, and in 1847 his son, Joseph H. Brearley, laid off the town site.

Stones mark the spot where Colonel Brearley, founder of Dardanelle and his wife are buried.

His mortal remains lie in the BREARLEY private cemetery in Dardanelle, a city he founded on the southern bank of the Arkansas River in the center of the Arkansas valley, between the sprawling Ozarks on the north and the rugged Ouachitas on the south.

The cemetery with its fourteen lots wherein are buried the bodies of the Colonel, his brothers, Charles and Pearson, their wives and their descendants, is almost within the shadows of two other landmarks signally important in the Brearley legacy.

The Dardanelle Rock, named by Brearley when he first beheld the bizarre fashion in which the treacherous waters of the Arkansas swirled about the bases of the twin rocks, stands high above the city.

The other landmark is Council Oaks. This famous Indian camp site and assembly ground is now a park, centered by two giant oaks, their massive trunks and gnarled branches presenting an imposing memorial to important historical events which took place beneath their shade.

These three spots, the cemetery wherein rests his body, the spectacular rock that he named, and the majestic oaks under which he witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Council Oaks in 1820, are synonymous with the Legend of Brearley.

Colonel David BREARLEY and Hannah JONES were married about 1803 in Lawrenceville, Mercer, NJ.

  • Hannah JONES was born about 1770 in Lawrenceville, Mercer, NJ.
  • She died in Dardanelle, AR.
  • She was buried in Brearley Cemetery Dardenelle, AR.
  • Had 4 children:
    • 1. Mary,
    • 2. Joseph Henry,
    • 3. Eleanor and
    • 4. David.
view all

Col. David Brearley's Timeline

Maidenhead Township (Present Lawrence Township), Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
Age 32
Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
April 26, 1804
Age 37
Lawrenceville, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States
Age 46
October 4, 1837
Age 70
Dardanelle, Pope County (Present Yell County), Arkansas, United States
Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas, United States