Emily Swayze Darling – Death Date in Question

Just when you think you know a fact, something comes up to make you question what you think you know.  Generally, I’ve always considered the death date on a death certificate to be factual. However, in the case of Emily Swayze Darling I’m questioning.  The death certificate is legible and clearly indicates that Emily died on April 5, 1918. The certificate was signed by the doctor on 4-6-1918 and the date and place of the burial are entered as April 8, 1918 and the document was filed on April 8, 1918.  Everything on it looks proper, it is the right name, right birthdate, parents, home address, all is good and I accepted it completely. Until….

On Genealogy Bank I found a copy of the obituary.  Much to my surprise it was in the March 7th newspaper.  It too has the right name, right age, right home address, all is good except that it says she died on March 5th.  So, the question arises, did the newspaper prematurely report her death exactly a month early or is the death certificate wrong?  I comments or opinions? If so, I’d love to hear them. 

Florence Darling – Death Certificate

(Modern) Google photo of
423 Charles, Pittsburgh, PA

I received Florence Darling’s Certificate of Death from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. (See my previous blog for details on ordering PA Death Certificates.)  The certificate included some interesting information and insights.

Her husband, Robert H. Darling was the informant. He provided Florence’s birthdate of Apr. 23, 1908.  (New Information) He also provided their address of 423 Charles (30th ward) in Pittsburgh.  It is interesting that Harry did not know his wife’s mother’s maiden name of place of birth.  

Original UPMC South Side Hospital
South Side Hospital (Demolished in 1982)

Florence died October 5, 1934, at the age of 26, at South Side Hospital of bilateral pyosalpinx (a collection of pus in an oviduct. [Merriam-Webster]) and pelvic cellulitis of “undetermined cause.” Contributory cause of death was peritonitis. She had been in the doctor’s care for seven days before her passing. I’m sure it must have been seven days of agony. Sadly enough, penicillin, which was discovered in 1928, wasn’t in use until in the 1940. Penicillin probably could have saved her.

According to the certificate, she was buried at Zion Memorial Cemetery on October 7th, 1934. I have created a Find-A-Grave memorial for her and have requested a photo.

Bio – Hannah McAllister Darling White

Hannah McAllister 
Hannah McAllister Darling
aka Anna McAllister White

Hannah McAllister was born in England on 15 August 1886.  She was the fourth of six children- four boys and two girls.  At the time of her birth, her father, Peter, was probably in the United States establishing himself and preparing the way for his wife and children to come to the States.

By 1889, Hannah’s mother and siblings joined her father in Catasauqua, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.  By 1900, the entire family moved to Pittsburgh.  Sometime in 1905, she met Rufus Darling. She was eighteen and he was forty-seven.  In March of 1906, they had a daughter, Elizabeth Grace Darling.  Family history states that there was a rift between Hannah and her father. Certainly, a granddaughter born out of wedlock from a man more than twice the age of his daughter could cause such a rift.

It appears that Rufus and Hannah kept separate households during that time, he in Chicago and Hannah in Wheeling, West Virginia. In December of 1906, Hannah became pregnant a second time. This time Rufus married her, so on 16 February 1907 Hannah and Rufus were married in Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, a small town about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River.  Family history indicates that she changed her name from Hannah to Anna so that she would be “A. Darling” and became known as Anna after that.   An interesting side note is that Elizabeth appears to have modified a copy of the Marriage Certificate to indicate that Hannah and Rufus were married in 1905, thus legitimizing her.  Family history indicates that this may have been a cause of disagreement between her and cousin Katherine Lane.

In August of 1907, their son, Robert Harry Darling, was born in New Kensington (about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River), Pennsylvania.
In 1910, Anna was living with her two children, Elizabeth and Robert, as a roomer at the home of Robert & Emma Hennig at 2219 Ward Street (Ward 4).

Anna and Rufus divorced by 1911 after which she married Thomas White. Anna died on 15 July 1913 at the age of 26. Family memory holds that Hannah was buried where Thomas White was later buried at Chartiers Cemetery. At her death, her name was recorded as Annie White.

Robert Harry Darling

“Harry” was born 18 August 1907 and was the second of two children of Rufus Harry and Hannah (Anna) McAlister Darling.  It appears that Rufus and Anna separated shortly after Harry’s birth.  In any event, in 1910 Robert was living with his mother and sister, Elizabeth Grace Darling, at 2219 Ward Street, Pittsburgh, PA with Robert & Emma Hennig and their three children.
Anna died in 1913 when Harry was only five years old, and his father was absent, so his grandmother, Margaret McAllister, took the two children in to raise them.  In August 1915, it was necessary for Margaret to return to Cumberland County, England to settle a family estate issue. However, the family story is that Margaret was determined to see Rufus’ children civilized by an extended stay in her home country.  She and the two children traveled aboard the SS New York, which was an American Line ship. Transatlantic passage was very dangerous in those days; it was only three years after the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage.  World War I had already begun in Europe and German U-Boats were on the prowl. The sinking of the RMS Lusitania occurred three months before this journey so there was a great concern for their safety.  The three travelers remained in England for over a year, so Harry and Elizabeth attended school while there were there.  They returned safely to the States in December of 1916 intending to live in the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh. 
Any hopes Harry & Elizabeth may have had of reuniting with their father were dashed when, in June of 1917, their father, Rufus, died. Elizabeth’s (Betty’s) memories of her father were vague at best. He was away on “business” most of the time but remembered lots of presents when he returned.
In 1920, Harry and his sister lived with his grandmother, his uncle John W. McAllister, along with his wife and two daughters 411 Arlington Avenue, in the Mount Oliver neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Also living there was his uncle, John Darling and his wife, Emma, and their two children,  Cousin 1 and Cousin 2. Today, that area is a rugged, unbuildable, embankment above the railroad tracks just a few blocks from the river and the steel factories of the day.
On August 10, 1926, eighteen-year-old Harry married Nora Adaline Glies in a ceremony performed by Edward Carter, who was a Baptist minister, in Wellsburg, Brook County. West Virginia. Wellsburg is a small town on the Ohio River about forty-five miles west of Pittsburgh.  Both Harry and Nora lied about their ages and indicated that they were twenty-one on their marriage license.  At that time, West Virginia required a parent to pay the Marriage Bond for parties marrying under the age of twenty-one.  That marriage didn’t last long and they divorced sometime in 1927.
Harry and Florence were married sometime in 1929 and in 1930 lived in a $60/month four-plex at 110 North Fremont Street, Ross, PA.  With them was a boarder named William Doll.  During that time Harry worked as an automobile salesman.  In July 1930, Florence gave birth to a daughter, Girl 1.  Florence passed away in 1934.  Family history indicates that Elizabeth was living with them at that time.
In September 1938, Harry and Mae Reno were married by a minister by the name of Charles Smith. This union produced three children, Girl 2, born in 1939; Robert Harry, born in 1940; and Girl 3 born in 1941.  Family history says that sometime during this period he fathered a child with a nightclub singer and had a child named “Girl 4.”  No information has been discovered at this time.
It appears that Harry and Mae were divorced in 1942, so Harry became eligible for the draft. He enlisted in the Navy on 23 November 1943. He did not see combat, only serving at the Naval Hospital in San Diego.  He was discharged on 8 September 1944, before VE and VJ days.  It is understood that he was discharged due to mental breakdown; however, his discharge papers indicated that his discharge was honorable and that he was eligible for reenlistment.  His physical description at discharge was 6’0″, 155lbs, Blue eyes, brown hair, ruddy complexion, and a birthmark on his upper left breast.
It is not clear when, where, or how Harry met Florence Drexl, but by 1945, they had a daughter, Girl 5, who was followed by a son, Boy 2, in 1946.

Video: Memorial Day 2016 and added to this post on 9 Jun 2016

Harry died 22 January 1969 and is buried in Cadillac Memorial Gardens, East. Mt. Clemens, Michigan, which is about 25 miles north by northeast of Detroit.

Note: Mentions of “Cousin”, “Girl”, and “Boy” refer to living individuals.

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.