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.

What I’m working on

I thought I’d revisit the status of my genealogical research and compare the four family trees I am pursuing — Darling, Howell, Brown, & (Roberts?) I figured defining the trees and the blanks clearly and consistently would help me determine where I should put my efforts.
I started with generation 2 on all the trees, so the home person for each of the trees is well into their 80’s or have passed over.

Gen – Darling – Howell – Brown – (Roberts)
1-3      7        7        7         0       
 4       4        7        6         0
 5       7        3        4         0
 6       4        1        6         0
 7       1        2        6         0
 8       2        0        5         0
 9       2        0        6         0
10       4        0        4         0
—    —–    —–    —–    —–
Tot %  3.03%    1.95%    4.30%       0%

From this chart is is pretty clear that the “Roberts Notional” tree should be my Number 1 priority.
Certainly, there is a massive brick wall but I haven’t exhausted all of my possible research areas.  I am sure that this will be my first genealogical research trip.  I still need to put in a clear list of tasks.  Luckily the trip would only be an overnight type of trip (about 6 hours each way), but I think it will be important to make the trip.  I’ve exhausted almost everything I can do on line.

The second most important tree is the Darling Line. Neither the Huber nor the Trumpii families are traceable back to Switzerland.  I still have a lot of on-line research I can do.  I’ve gotten caught up in following the Darling/Swayze line because there is lots of information available.  I’ll admit, I followed the path of least resistance.  Also I focused on that line because of presentation I was putting together for “The Aunties” who were interested in the Darlings most of all.  My wife also has a 2nd cousin who I’m in contact with that I found a marriage licence that indicates some ancestors that are completely different from the ancestors she thought she had.  She’s asked that I help her with sorting that out.  

The Brown line stops in generation 3 with John Montran. We have no idea who his parents were, of even if John Montran was really his name. This one looks like a brick wall, but is probably a metal  reinforced concrete wall with just a brick facade.

Lastly, on the Howell line, James Ashley Hobbs’s mothers name is lost. We know it begins with an “M” but that is about all.  I think this one will probably be the easiest to determine. When I work on the Howell line, that will be my focus.  Although, following the Howells back earlier would be very fruitful.  We have several people related via DNA that we could connect with if we can go back one or two more generations.  We have the right names in the right counties only about 20 years apart so we are close to finding that relationship.

There are a few other trees I’m looking at and helping with as well. One is for my best friend, one for a former step-daughter (who I raised from 6-16), and one for a former customer that has a particularly interesting (famous) ancestor.

So my brick walls that I’m working on are:
Roberts – TN, NC, SC, VA
Huber – MI, Switzerland
Trumphi(i) – MI, Switzerland
Montran – MI
Hobbs, NC, VA

When I want some successes, I work on:
Darling, MI, (NY before 1840)
Howell, NC (VA before 1820 & Civil War)
Manning, MN, KY (Civil War too)
Smith/Middleton

I’m Back – Vacation was Great.

   After a couple weeks vacation, I am back home.  The vacations was wonderful.  The highlight for me was a presentation to the “Aunties” about the Darling Family.  I’ve been working on their tree for quite some time and developed a “life book” ala Henry Louis Gates’ “Finding your Roots.”  It went over extremely well.  They have the life book and a biography of each of their ancestors on their Father’s side that I could find as well as a CD containing copies of the images of all the documents used to do the book.  I also did a slide show out of key highlights of their family tree.

   Also, while there I took photos of many photos, letters, and documents that I hadn’t seen before as well as recorded conversations with many of the Aunties.  I will have hours and hours of work to incorporate the information into my records, but it will be fun.

   We did some shopping at Reny’s – A Maine Adventure. I usually hate shopping, but Reny’s t is always a pleasure. They carry a lot of “manly stuff,” Carhartt, Pendleton, and Woolrich — In sizes that fit me.  I picked up a new fedora and suspenders.  I love Reny’s.

   My wife and I then attended the wedding of her niece, SH.  It was a beautiful event out on Casco Bay (Portland, ME).  Another event for my records with photos.

   My wife then visited with her best friend since the 8th grade, EB.  It was a great to see her again.  We laughed long enough and hard enough to cause my side to hurt. We were able to turn on EB and her husband to TED Talks. There is one we call “Amy the Unicorn” that my wife and I find amazing.  Fun to watch, extremely interesting, and even enlightening. It has nothing to do with genealogy, but is  well worth watching See it on TED.

   We then followed my wife’s passion and went stalking the wild tormaline, appetite, and other stones at various quarries in Maine through Poland Mining Camps.  The food was excellent, the beds comfortable, and my wife was extremely happy with the rocks she collected.

   I’ve still got a lot of followup to do after the vacation, catch up on email, incorporate photos into iPhoto and categorize them. But soon it will be back to my normal life and I’ll be able to support the Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society, work on my genealogy, and, of course, blog here.

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.