The Darling Family Story Project

I have been working on a “Darling Family Story” for the past several months and more intensely the past few weeks. I know it has been a while since I’ve done any serious blogging but this project has been a massive undertaking. I’ve done several hundred hours of work to put together information. All because of the “Aunties.” My mother-in-law comes from a fairly dysfunctional family. Her father had at least seven children with four different mothers, some of whom he married as well as a couple more wives with whom he didn’t have children. Anyway, most of his children never communicated with the children of his other wives/girlfriends. That is until recently. One of my mother-in-law’s half sisters is visiting her next month. They haven’t seen each other since 1943 or so. Another sister is visiting as well but they’ve been in contact much more frequently. They actually saw each other about 12 years ago or so. There is another half-sister that my mother-in-law hasn’t seen since the half-sister was a babe-in-arms. In addition, nobody knows anything about a fourth half-sister. The family only has a first name, not the last name. 

So, why all this background information? Well none of these sisters learned much about their father’s family. He pretty much ignored them while they were growing up and their mother’s didn’t speak of him either. Although his life has many interesting events, I thought it would be great to investigate his ancestors, something of which the Aunties know virtually nothing about. I’ve been doing that research for the past several months. I’ve come up with a lot of interesting information, photos, and stories that the Aunties and my mother-in-law will know nothing about.
I’ve printed out 25 photos or so and am mounting them in a “Life Book,” similar to what Louis Gates does in the “Finding Your Roots” TV Show, for each of them. I’ve written about 15 pages of prose about each of the ancestors going back to one of their eighth Great-Grandfathers. I’ve tried to make the writing come to life with bits of history tied to the time and place of the individual. To find the information I have I’ve done many Internet searches. I’ve ordered books on Interlibrary loan, I’ve read history books about the area they lived in order to hopefully glean a tiny bit of information. I even found a museum that has an interpretive display of one of the businesses owned by the Auntie’s great-grandfather. I’ve had reference libraries copy references to the family from their books and ordered documents from England. Overall, it has been a daunting task but I have really enjoyed it and have really honed my genealogical skills through the activities. I’ve become something of an armchair historian for a place I’ve never been (Kalamazoo, Michigan) and have learned a lot about the early colonial days that was never taught in school – some very ugly history. I’ve found the passport photo of a great-grandfather and connected with a second cousin, once removed of my wife.
Certainly, the way has had its brick walls. These Darlings came from near Rome New York about 1840. I can’t figure out which of several families were their ancestors. On the other hand, when I found one of the ancestors was a DAR registered patriot, a completely new set of ancestry information opened itself up. However, that requires me to do a lot more research to independently confirm all of the information that I have found. Anyway, the hard work is done for now. I only need to put together a CD of the source documents I’ve used to put together the story and paste the photos into albums for each of them. I expect I’ll add many of my findings to this blog after I present it to the Aunties and my mother-in-law, but we’ll see. I hope my research will trigger memories for these women that I should be able to capture for future work. Maybe they have a memory that hasn’t been remembered in decades that can be added to the story. 
I am excited about their visit. I have little doubt that they will appreciate the work I have done and I’m sure their grand children will really appreciate the work in the future.

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