Biography – Emma (Emily) Swayze Darling (1852-1918)

An Uncle Sam cartoon from 1852
(Thanks to the Marchand Archives,
The History Project, UC Davis)
[On this 161’st anniversary of Emma (Emily) Swayze Darling’s birth I  remember her and her life.] 

The Studebaker Brothers established their wagon company, the Uncle Sam cartoon character made its debut in the “New York Lantern,” Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the twins Eva and Emma (Emily) Swayze Darling were born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on the 24th of July, 1852. 

Their father was Rufus Holton Darling, the builder and former owner of the Goss and Darling general store, the first store in Kalamazoo. He was a railroad man, and a Whig candidate for local office.  Her mother, Elizabeth Jane Swayze Darling was the daughter of David Swayze, the son of David Swayze, Sr., a patriot of the revolution. 
After the amazing prosperity of the 1840s, Kalamazoo had seen a huge population drop from 1849 to 1852 because of the California Gold Rush. Many of the city’s able bodied men, such as her father’s business partner Milo Goss, had left the city for California before her birth.
While she was still a baby, tuberculosis ravished her house.  Her twin sister Eva died in the year following their birth.  Her father took ill and was debilitated and bedridden until he died four years later. She too was disabled by the disease and would remain sick off and on throughout her life. After the death of her father, her grandmother, Catherine Swayze, and her uncle Theodore P. Swayze lived with her mother, Elizabeth Jane Darling, her half-sister, Mary C. Wiseman, her older brother, Abner, an older sister Elizabeth and  younger brother Rufus Henry. She attended school and the family lived in the large home Rufus built at the corner of Cedar and Rose streets.
She was still a child, only eight years old, when the civil war broke out. Her uncle Theodore had enlisted in the army the year before war began. Her grandmother Swayze died in 1868 leaving her at home with her mother and younger brother Rufus. The house was said to be valued at $14,000 in the 1870 census, a substantial valuation in the day.
Her half-sister, Mary Catherine (Kate) (now Churchill) returned home with a daughter Kitty before the 1880 census was taken. Rufus, 22, worked for the Railroad his father helped build. Emma herself was at home, not working is was listed as “maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled.” Certainly, hers was a tough life. 
In August of 1892, Elizabeth sold her 1/5 share of the property that the Goss and Darling Store was originally on to Emma for $2000.  Emma sold the property to Melville Bigalow (her sister Elizabeth’s husband) in 1896 for $3000.
Emma’s mother, Elizabeth passed in 1896 and the large house was apparently split so both a lodger and another family lived at the same address. Her sister “Ida” was living with her then. Ida was fifteen years younger than Emma and doesn’t show up in any other records. She was apparently either a first wife of her brother Robert Harry, or a wife of her other brother Abner. Ida had been married for five years to someone in 1900.
The 1910 census is an absolute mess in regards of reporting those living at 204 Rose Street. No details of Emma are recorded other than her name, gender, and address.  Beneath her name is a listing of ten inmates at the Kalamazoo County Jail down the street from Emma’s house.
Emma (Emily) was a member of the M E Church (Methodist Episcopal Church – later the First Methodist Church of Kalamazoo).  
The Kalamazoo Gazette reported that Emily (Emma) died on 5 March 1918, at the age of 65; however, her death certificate indicates she died of chronic bronchitis and chronic ulcers on 5 April 1918. She died in the house she was born in and lived in all of her life at the corner of Cedar and Rose in Kalamazoo.
She was buried at Mountain Home Cemetery in Kalamazoo. 

Many thanks to Ancestry.Com, Family Search.Org, Kalamazoo Genealogy.Org,
Genealogy Bank.Com, and Seeking Michigan (Library of Michigan), and Find-a-Grave.

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One Response to Biography – Emma (Emily) Swayze Darling (1852-1918)

  1. Steve says:

    Thank you for the write up – very helpful. Correction: Often referred to Theodore Swayze/Swayzee is my great grandfather Theodore H. Swazee (at last spelling). First know spelling as Swazee is on an envelope date 1897 – to 120 + 122 Randolph Street, Chicago, IL. Theodore is buried in the Spring Lake Cemetery in Aurora, IL. DOD: 8/4/1910. My father Carl Wallis Swazee paid for perpetual care. Not sure of the origin of the "P" in middle name as I often see online, but may be indicative of a personality never happy with the spelling of his name. Last name spelling in at least three forms. Born Swayzee, Union service records are Swayze (1st Regiment, Union Army) last name carried forward to today is Swazee. Family lore says he dropped the "y" to help people pronounce it better. Ha! That would be wrong… Anyway, Aurora cemetery plot sold to T.U. Swayzee on 12/16/1872. "U" in honor of Ulysses S Grant who he fought under? His only son's name is Herbert Wallis Swazee – changed middle initial again to honor child because of late in life birth (his wife Theresa Wallis was 22 years his junior)? Ended up with Theodore "H" Swazee?

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