Great Grandma and Great Grampa won’t be with us for Thanksgiving. But their story can be. Their lives were an open book and well known by us, but their family backgrounds have only been discovered through research.
In our family Russell and Eva (Murdock) Darling are probably everyone’s idea of a happy couple. They were married for 55 years and spent most of that time really sharing a life together; making his lunch every day, taking the bus downtown on his day off – Thursday – to see a movie and go to the market, playing cards, laughing, enjoying the grandchildren. When the depression hit, the fine jewelry industry in Rhode Island never recovered. But Russ and Eva had the kind of happiness and security that was not built on finances.
Russell and Eva were married in 1904 in Providence, Rhode Island. But they were not from Rhode Island families. Ironically, through tracing their families I have found that Russell’s parents both came from the earliest Rhode Island settlers, among others. But Russell would have known nothing about that.
Russell’s parents were Addison Parmenter Darling and Emma (Lamphere) Darling. Addison was born on a farm in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Massachusetts in 1856.
Addison had five siblings:
- Abby M. Darling, 1846 –, married Julius H. Mead and lived in North Attleboro, Mass.
- Nathan Ellis Darling, 1848 – 1909, married Abby M. Pike and lived in Franklin, Mass.
- Sarah E. Darling, 1853 – 1925, married William H.H. Swan and lived in Providence, Rhode Island
- Addison, 1856 – 1933
- Francis W Frank Darling, 1859 –, married Lois E. Mead and lived in North Attleboro
- James T. Darling, 1869 – , married Annie C. Hall and lived in North Attleboro
Can you guess which sibling helped Addison out and thereby moved this branch of the family to Providence? Yes, it was Sarah. She married a silversmith, William H.H. Swan, in 1871 and he brought her to his home in Providence. Within a year, Addison had moved to Providence also, staying at his sister’s house, and began to learn the trade of silver engraver. I’m not sure who he worked for but it’s likely that his brother in law was influential in his choice of occupation and early training. In 1879, Addison married Emma Lamphere in Providence. Their first child Russell was born in 1883.
My mother says she never heard the name Swan so I have no idea what happened to the descendants of Sarah’s two children, Harry Osborne Swan and Walter Swan. Walter Swan married Mabel Priscilla Lawrence and they had a daughter, Ruth Lawrence Swan, born 1906. Ruth would have been my grandmother’s second cousin, and around the same age. One coincidence here is that Walter Swan married a Lawrence, and his cousin Russell married the granddaughter of a Lawrence … so far, I find no link. But maybe. It’s intriguing to think that one couple may have met through the other couple.
Meanwhile, Eva’s father, Louis Rufus Murdock, was born in 1863 in Providence, R.I. and adopted around 1866 by William and Maggie (Lawrence) Murdock. There was another adoptee, a sister Annie, and eventually a child was born, William Clark Murdock. Louis’s adopted family had a farm in Seekonk, Massachusetts. William, Sr. had come with his family from Pictou, Nova Scotia, in the 1840’s with very little, so it had taken a while to acquire the farm.
In 1883, Louis married Jessie Ruth McLeod, who was born in Pictou and came to the U.S. around 1881. Whether Jessie had a family connection to the Murdocks, I do not know yet. When Louis and Jessie married, Louis had begun his 50 year career as a machinist at Brown & Sharpe, which was located in downtown Providence. Some of the newlywed’s domestic arrangements must have been a little shaky, because their first child, Eva, the oldest of three girls, was born in 1884 in Seekonk at the old Murdock house. The house was sold sometime after William’s death in 1890.
When Russell and Eva married in 1904, Russell was working as a stonesetter in the fine jewelry industry in Providence. They took an apartment at 348 Bucklin Street.
In closing I would like to point out some identities on an important family photo which has been only about half identified. I believe it was taken around the time of Russ and Eva’s engagement.