Today is a great day to remember Elizabeth Grace Darling, “Aunt Betty,” because today would be her 110th birthday if she were still living. Betty is my wife’s great-aunt; the sister of my wife’s grandfather. I have written about my wife’s grandfather several times, See:
Elizabeth Grace Darling was born on March 22, 1906, in Pittsburgh, PA. Her mother died in 1913 and she went to live with her grandmother, Margaret Lamb McAllister. In 1915 there was a family issue that required Margaret to return to her native England. So, in August, 1915, she took her two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Robert Harry, with her to England. Family oral history says she took the children to England so they could be “properly civilized.”
So, little Elizabeth would have spent her 10th birthday celebration in England, apparently in the Lakes Region, probably Appleby (Now Appleby-in-Westmorland), Cumbria, in North West England.
Elizabeth would have been hearing news about the war in Europe. The Russians were having success against the Germans in the north taking the Dneister Bridgehead and also defeating the Austrians in the south. She probably didn’t know that the US was fighting its own war. General Funston was asking for more troops to send into Mexico to assist General Pershing against Francisco Villa. This was really important because General Pershing telegraph communications had been cut off.
Elizabeth Grace Darling Gwyer c. 1939
Margaret and the two children remained in England until December of 1916 when they returned to the United States aboard the SS Philadelphia, then locating in the Mount Oliver area of Pittsburgh, PA. Their return was just in time. Betty’s father, Rufus Harry Darling died just two weeks later, on 5 January 1917.
Later in January, 1917, Germany invited Mexico to join them as an ally against the United States. Germany said they would finance Mexico’s war to recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Mexico declined, but America was not pleased about Germany trying to bring the Great War to American soil. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
On 10 May 1927, Elizabeth married William Otis Gwyer. They would later divorce.
On 11 October 1947, Elizabeth married Frank Howell Kemon in the chapel of Mount Vernon Methodist Church, Washington, DC with Rev. John Rustin officiating.
Kemon – Glenwood Cemetery, Washington DC. Betty Darling – Frank Howell 1906-1987 – 1906-1973
Elizabeth’s husband Frank Kemon died in 1973. In the 1980s, Aunt Betty came to live with her niece and family in Bridgton, Maine.
Elizabeth died on 10 June 1987 at her niece’s home in Bridgton. She was buried at Glenwood Cemetery, Section K, Lot 69, Site 2585 in Washington, DC next to her husband Frank Howell Kemon.
 The Washington Post, Wednesday, March 22, 1916, Front Page via Newspapers.com
Little Robert Harry Darling’s
mother, Anna/Hanna, died in 1913. He was only five years old at the time.
Apparently, his father, a railroad man, was either too transient or too ill to
take care of Robert and his six-year-old sister, Elizabeth Grace Darling as the
two of them went to live with their grandmother, Margaret Mary (Lamb)
It appears that Margaret and
her husband Peter were estranged. She was living at 1142 Bellaire Ave.,
Brookline (Pittsburgh) and Peter was rooming at 2237 Salisberry Street. (Some
years later Peter would return to England alone.) Therefore, in April 1915, it
appears that Robert was living, along with his sister, with his grandmother in Brookline
The “unsinkable” Titanic had
sunk only a few years earlier and by the spring of 1915, the Great War (World
War I) was well underway with German wolf packs sinking English vessels. On May
7, German U-Boats sank the RMS Lusitania as she neared Liverpool coming from
City of New York renamed S.S. New York
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia
We think there was a death in
the family, probably Margaret’s mother, Jane Lamb, had passed and that there
needed to be actions regarding the family business, an inn in the Appleby-in-Westmorland
area in Cambria, England. In any event, Margaret took the children to England
aboard the S.S. New York leaving New York City and arriving in Liverpool,
England on August 29, 1915.
Time in England had to have
been stressful for Margaret taking care of the estate. However, family stories
indicate that the time was good for the kids though, as they should be. Margaret
made sure they attended school and were “civilized” in English ways. Margaret
was Anglican, so they certainly would have attended Anglican Church while in
England. Possibly, even St. John’s Church in Workington, where Margaret and
Peter had been married many years before.
USS Yale – Renamed SS Philadelphia
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia – See Alt Text for details
Margaret and the children
stayed in England for about sixteen months returning to the United States
sailing from Liverpool on December 15, 1916, aboard the S.S. Philadelphia, and
arriving at New York City on December 23, 1916.
Any hopes that Robert may
have had regarding being with his father would have been dashed when his
father, Rufus Harry Darling, died in June 1917.
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 34 – Robert
Harry Darling (1907-1969)
By – Don Taylor
This is probably the most intimidating biography I have
written so far. Most if the time I know more about the individual I am writing
about than anyone else so it is easy. In the case of Robert Harry Darling.
Because Harry died in 1969, many people remember him and may have different
opinions of him and his history. I will do my best to be impartial regarding a complicated
man who lived a complicated life. If anyone, particularly his descendants, have
any different information or any anecdotal information regarding him, please
share it with me though the comment sheet below or directly to my email. In any
event, I will certainly welcome additional insight into the man.
Robert Harry Darling (1907-1969)
Robert Harry Darling
Even Robert Harry Darling’s birth has some mystery. He was
clearly born on 18 August 1907, but it is unclear where. Most documents
indicate he was born in Pittsburgh, PA, however, there are several key
documents which indicate he was born in New Kensington, Westmoreland, County,
Pennsylvania, which is a town about 20 mile up the Allegheny river from
Pittsburgh. I believe he was born in New Kensington.
I haven’t found anything to suggest that Robert Harry’s
father, Rufus Harry Darling was ever in the picture. When Harry was only two
years old, the 1910 census shows Harry living with his mother and sister as roomers
in the home of Robert & Emma Hennig at 3319 Ward Street, in Pittsburgh. The
house still stands today.
Harry’s mother died when Harry was five years old on 11 July
1913. Apparently, Rufus’ father wasn’t interested in taking on the
responsibility of the Harry and his sister Elizabeth. In any event, Harry went
to live with his grandmother, Margaret McAllister. When Harry was eight, (August,
1915) his grandmother took him and his sister to England. It must have been a
scary time for the eight year old. The Titanic disaster was only a few years before
and England was involved in World War One. The U-Boats were hunting and the
Lusitania had been sunk earlier in May. The saving grace was the ship they
sailed on was probably of United States registry and the US had not entered the
Harry was in England from Sep 1915 until 1916 and attended
school while there. The three of them returned to the states aboard the SS
Philadelphia, which arrived in New York on 23 December 1916 and
were probably to their residence in Brookline borough, Pittsburgh, PA by
Harry’s father, Rufus, died on 5 June 1917 when Harry was
only 9 years old. An orphan at nine, Harry continued to live with his
grandmother at 411 Arlington, Street in Pittsburgh.
Robert Harry married Nora Adaline Glies on 10 Aug 1926 in Wellsburg,
Brooke, West Virginia. This
would have been a week before his 19th birthday, so it is unclear
why he apparently lied about his age for the marriage. In any event, his
marriage license indicated he was born in 1905 making him nearly 21. Also, this
is one of the very few documents that indicates he was born in New Kensington,
PA and not Pittsburgh. He and Nora divorced sometime in 1927. There is no known
issue from that marriage.
110 North Fremont Ave,Pittsburgh
“Today” Courtesy: Google Maps
In 1929, Robert Harry married Florence Wilma Huber. They rented
an apartment in a four-plex at 110 North Fremont Ave. in Pittsburgh. A building
that stands today. In July of 1930, they had their only child, a daughter. Florence died 05
Oct 1934 of bilateral pyosalpinx and pelvic cellulitis, cause undetermined. It
isn’t clear to me when his daughter from Florence went to live with her
grandparents on her mother’s side, John & Bertha Huber, but certainly sometime between
1940 and 1943.
On September 30, 1938, Harry married Mae (or May) Ada Reno in
Pittsburgh, PA. They
quickly had three children the first one in June 1939, another in August 1940,
and the third one in August 1941. The 1940 Census finds the family, Robert,
wife Mae, and two daughters (one by Florence and one by Mae) living at 915
Fordham St., Pittsburgh, PA. Later in 1940, Robert’s first son, Robert Harry Darling, Jr. was born, and in
1941, another girl was born.
The United States entered World War II in December 1941. It
isn’t clear why, but it is my speculation that Robert and May were divorced in
1943, which would have made him eligible for the draft. Thus, nearly two years
after the war began, on 23 November 1943, Robert Harry enlisted in the US Navy for two years. He served at NAVTRACEN San Diego and
USNHosp San Diego, CA.
Robert Harry Darling was a tall man, 6’0″, 155lbs, Blue
eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. He was discharged well before the war
ended, in September 1944. He appears to have married Florence Drexl about that
time and the two stayed in San Diego where their two children, a girl and a
boy, were born in 1945 and 1946 respectively.
Sometime between 1946 and 1951, Harry, and presumably
Florence, moved to Detroit, Michigan area, possibly to Mount Clemens. In 1965,
Harry was living at 34546 Jefferson, Mount Clemens. On 6 November 1967, Harry’s
son, Robert Harry Darling, Jr., died in Vietnam.
Robert Harry Darling died on 22 Jan 1969, in Wayne,
Michigan, USA of Pseudomonas septicemia due to chronic lymphatic leukemia at
the age of 61. At the time of his death, he was divorced from Florence although
when that divorce occurred I have not found. Harry is buried at Cadillac Memorial
Gardens, East, in Mount Clemens, Michigan.
Note: There is family legend that Harry had another child,
named “Dee Dee” or possibly Diana about 1940. It is unknown if this child was
born out of wedlock or between the marriage to Florence Wilma and May Reno.
More research is needed on this topic.
I thought about Robert Harry Darling a lot yesterday, which
was the 107th anniversary of his birth.
Determine ship, and registry, that Harry took to England in 1915.
Find out more regarding the Divorce from Nora Giles.
Find out particulars regarding marriage to Florence Huber.
Find out about the Divorce from May Reno.
Find out marriage details regarding Florence Drexl
Find out divorce details regarding Florence Drexl
Research “Dee Dee” Darling
 New York Passenger
Lists, 1820-1957, Ancestry.com,
Year: 1916; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm
Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll
2507; Line: 4; Page Number: 140. . http://search.ancestry.com/
 West Virginia,
Marriages, 1854-1932, FamilySearch.org,
“West Virginia, Marriages, 1854-1932,”index, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRH5-82V : accessed 31 March 2012),
Robert Harry Darling (1926).
County Marriages, 1885 – 1950, FamilySearch.org,
“Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1885 – 1950,”index and images,
FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VFQZ-TCV : accessed 6 April
2012), Robert H. Darling (1938).