Rufus Holton Darling (1816-1857)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 42 – Rufus Holton Darling (1816-1857)

No Story Too Small

It is always a problem when you can’t find a person in a US Census while they were alive. It is particularly frustrating when you think you have the information that should find the individual in the various censuses. That is the case of Rufus Holton Darling. He died in 1857 and shows in the 1850 Census as you would expect. He is said to have come from Rome, Oneida County, New York and that his father’s name was Abner. That ought to be enough to find him, but alas, no such luck. I browsed the 1840 Census for Rome and only saw one Darling, Israel Darling, who had no males living with him aged 24 or so. Searches in the 1840, 1830, and 1820 censuses likewise did not result in any likely candidates. There are several other Darlings in the county during that time; so, I know I need to do a lot more research. I need to try to find each of these Darlings in Oneida County and trace them on to the 1850 Census, where all the members of the household are name. I hope that that will provide some insight.

Rufus Holton Darling (1816-1857)

Rufus Holton Darling was born in New York State about 1816.[1] This was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court affirms its right to review state court decisions, James Monroe was elected 5th president defeating Federalist Rufus King, and Indiana became the 19th state. Michigan wouldn’t become a state for another 21 years. Rufus is not a British name and it would be easy to speculate that Rufus was named after the presidential candidate, but we don’t really know where the name “Rufus” came from.

Nothing is known of Rufus’ youth, but in 1840, he left Rome, Oneida County, New York for the wilds of the new state of Michigan and settled in Kalamazoo[2]. 1840 was the year Army troops “transported” the local Indians to reservations west of the Mississippi. Kalamazoo was a fledgling village; the first permanent cabin was built there in 1829 and by 1840 the population had grown to over 1200 individuals in the village. Sometime in the 1840s, Rufus went into partnership with Milo J. Goss and established the Goss & Darling General Store.[3] In 1844, Rufus’ first son, Abner, was born. We know nothing about his first wife, her name, if they were married, or when she died, but in 1846 Rufus married Elizabeth Jane Swayze Wiseman[4], a widow, also with one child, a daughter. Also in 1846, the Michigan Central Railroad connected Kalamazoo to Detroit.

Marriage Notice August 1846
Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI, ), 
Thanks to Genealogy Bank,

In 1848, Rufus and Elizabeth were living at the northwest corner of Cedar and Rose. They had the first, who they named Elizabeth, of their four children. In the fall of 1849, Rufus dissolved his partnership with Milo Goss and sold the Goss & Darling General Store[5]. In addition, in 1849, the railroad was expanding service to Chicago. Interesting enough, in the spring of 1850, Milo Goss went to California to make his fortune selling supplies to the gold miners. From 1849 to 1850, nearly 10% of Kalamazoo’s able-bodied men went to gold fields of California.

In 1852, Rufus ran for City Supervisor as a Whig[6]. He lost, however, it is clear that he was a leader in the city. Rufus and Elizabeth had twins, Eva and Emily; Eva died in 1853[7]. Emily was disabled; she never married and lived to be 65.

In 1854, Rufus was a Trustee for the city of Kalamazoo[8].

Marker: Father – Rufus Holton Darling 1816–1857
Courtesy: Find a Grave Memorial #30754149

In 1856, the neighbor across Cedar and Rose, whose name was H.G. Wells (not the author) invited a little-known Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln to speak at a Republican rally at Bronson Park. We don’t know if he was able to attend his neighbor’s rally because Rufus was quite sick, an invalid, at that time. I’d like to think he was able to go up to the park and see Mr. Lincoln.

In June of 1857, Rufus and Elizabeth had a son they named Rufus Harry Darling[9]. The following month Rufus Holton Darling died of consumption (probably tuberculosis – although “consumption” was used to describe any degenerative lung disease). He was buried with Masonic honors at Mountain Home Cemetery, in Kalamazoo[10].

List of Greats

Rufus Harry Darling (1857-1907)
Rufus Holton Darling (1816-1857)
Abner Darling ( ? – ? )

[1] Mountain Home Plot
File (Kalamazoo County, ), Kalamazoogenealogy.org, Mountain Home
Burials by Lot Numbers, Block: 6. http://kalamazoogenealogy.org/Cemeteries/Mountain%20Home%20Plots/6.htm#16.
[2] Kalamazoo
Gazette  (Kalamazoo, MI, ), GenealogyBank, 1857-08-07 Pg- 2 – Died.
[3] Kalamazoo
Gazette  (Kalamazoo, MI, ), GenealogyBank, 1849-03-07 – Dissolution
[4] Kalamazoo
Gazette  (Kalamazoo, MI, ), GenealogyBank, 1846-08-XX, Pg X – Married, [Rufus Darling – Elizabeth Wiseman].
[5] Kalamazoo
Gazette  (Kalamazoo, MI, ), GenealogyBank, 1849-03-07 – Dissolution.
[6] Kalamazoo
Gazette  (Kalamazoo, MI, ), GenealogyBank, 1852-04-09, Pg 2 – THE ELECTION.
[7] Mountain Home Plot
File (Kalamazoo County, ), Kalamazoogenealogy.org, Mountain Home
Burials by Lot Numbers, Block: 6. http://kalamazoogenealogy.org/Cemeteries/Mountain%20Home%20Plots/6.htm#16.
[8] History of
Kalamazoo Michigan (Phildelphia, Everts & Abbott, 1880), Google Books, Page
226. http://books.google.com/books?id=qMXoj2IUNUUC.
[9] Michigan, Dept of
Public Health, Death Certificate, Seeking Michigan, Rufus H. Darling – Death 5
Jan 1917. Credit: Library of Michigan. http://seekingmichigan.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p129401coll7/id/123256.
[10] Mountain Home Plot
File (Kalamazoo County, ), Kalamazoogenealogy.org, Mountain Home
Burials by Lot Numbers, Block: 6. http://kalamazoogenealogy.org/Cemeteries/Mountain%20Home%20Plots/6.htm#16.


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  1. Pingback: Tracing 19th Century Women & Sally Ann (?) Darling. | Don Taylor Genealogy

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