Bio – Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wisemen Darling
Thanks to Caroline Porter’s blog, 4yourfamilystory.com, (A blog I subscribe to and read daily.) I learned of a blogging challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog www.nostorytoosmall.com to post each week – that is 52 ancestors in 50 weeks. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, or an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on a specific ancestor. I thought that I’ve been kind of trying to do that but I haven’t been as successful in keeping up that schedule. So, I decided to take the challenge. I thought, I’m probably good for now, I just blogged about my grandmother. I looked back at my blog and realized that I wrote Donna back on the 31st. Closing out the year with Donna’s vaudeville activities was a great ending to the years. I still have literally hundreds of documents and artifacts and gazillions of research activities I need to do to write her story, but, I didn’t want to ignore the other stories. So, with the Donna blog last year and it already the 7th of January, I need to get busy. Who to blog about was the next question.
To help me with that I’ve decided to continue my past practice and write about someone whose birthday is within the following week. I also believe I have enough known direct ancestors that I can keep to direct ancestors and not need to do uncles and aunts. So, I opened up each of my research trees and printed a calendar for the next three months identifying the birth dates for direct ancestors only. On weeks that I don’t have an ancestor whose birthday I know I’ll blog about the challenges in researching someone in particular. This week, week 1, I start with:
Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wiseman Darling
Elizabeth Jane Swayze with born on 13 January 1818 in Rushville, Ohio. She was the oldest of eight children born to David and Catherine Swayze. Her paternal grandfather, David Swayze (senior) fought for the revolution serving as a private in New Jersey. Her parents had moved from New Jersey to Virginia and on to Ohio, where she was born. In 1818, Ohio had been a state for about 15 years and had a growing population of about a half a million in the entire state. Rushville wasn’t yet a true village, but, it’s first church, Methodist, had been built as a log cabin eight years earlier and it was growing. Actually, we aren’t really sure if she was born in Rushville or if that is where later documents indicate she was born because it was the closest town. She may have been born in New Salem, Ohio, about eight miles away.
In any event, in 1820, the Swayze’s lived in what is now New Salem, Ohio. Sometime before 1841 the Swayze’s moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1841 Elizabeth married Isaac Wiseman. By 1841, the Swayze’s were prominent in Kalamazoo. By 1846, Elizabeth’s father had been the treasurer for the Kalamazoo County Bible Society, on the Board of Directory for the First Methodist Episcopal Church, a member of the Kalamazoo Clay Club (a political party named after Henry Clay), a village trustee, and an “Overseer of the Poor” for the Village of Kalamazoo.
Isaac married into a prominent family and things were looking great for the couple. Their daughter, Mary Catherine Wiseman (Kate) was born to them in late 1841. Isaac died in 1845.
Elizabeth quickly remarried. On August 27th, 1846, she married Rufus Holton Darling.
Rufus was an up and coming young man from Rome, New York. In the couple years Rufus had been in Kalamazoo, he built and opened the first store in Kalamazoo, the “Darling and Goss General Store.” Also, in 1945, Rufus had received a contract from the Michigan Central Railway to build the railway from Michigan City through to Grass Lake.
Their first child, Abner C. Darling, was named after Rufus’s father, and was born shortly after the marriage. In September, 1847, a daughter was born (I’m sure to just confuse genealogists) that they named Elizabeth J Darling. In 1850, Elizabeth’s father, David, died.
Picture adapted from a screen shot of a map available for sale from
In 1852, the couple experienced the joy of having twins. Eva and Emily were born on the 24th of July. Only a year later, in 1853 tragedy struck; the twins got sick — deathly sick. I believe that it was tuburculous. Eva died and Emily never fully recovered. Emily was frequently sick and bedridden; she lived with her mother for the rest of Elizabeth’s life. Although Rufus fathered a son, Rufus Harry Darling on June 20th 1857, Rufus’s (senior) remaining life was that of a sick man. Rufus senior died two months after Rufus junior’s birth of consumption.
Elizabeth’s mother died in 1868.
In 1869 Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth married Melville James Bigelow, a former grocer, windmill manufacturer, and then founder and vice-president of Kalamazoo National Bank.
Sometime before 1880, Elizabeth’s older daughter, Kate, moved home to help take care of Elizabeth and Emily.
In 1881, Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth, died.
|(Photo thanks to Find-a-Grave)|
Elizabeth, the mother, lived at the northwest corner of Rose and Cedar from before the Civil War until her death, March 25th, 1896. She, along with Rufus Holton, Emily, Eva, Elizabeth (the daughter) and Rufus Harry are all buried at Mountain Home Cemetery, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
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Because I upgraded from FTM Mac 2 to FTM Mac 3, my sources for this article are jumbled and corrupted. (See my blog article.) It will take quite a while to correct the files, or else I will need to go back to FTM Mac 2 and lose any work I’ve done over the past few weeks on this tree.