Archive for the ‘Darling’ Category

My family history book is now being printed at lulu.com.  Here’s how I got there.

1.  Decide what to sections to include I reviewed in my last post Putting Together a Book about the Darlings that I was including a chart of ancestors for my grandmother, Edna May Darling, a separate Ahnentafel for each of her parents, a place usage report for direct ancestors only, a name index, and a 150-page section of photos, blog posts, records, and clippings.  Tip for next time?  keep thinking.  Not sure this selection couldn’t get better.

title page

2.  Make the report sections using software This is really the easy part, if you are careful about consistent details in your tree software.  I created these reports in Family Tree Maker.  I have found in the past that software-generated reports will easily print on the book publishing sites.  So I wasn’t too worried.  I made and saved each report, and if I later updated any data, it automatically updated next time I opened things.  I compiled the reports in a “book” in the Family Tree Maker software, which I then turned into a pdf and moved into a special folder.  I used standard fonts.  The page size was 8-1/2 x 11, so I just stayed with that.  Tip for next time?  Carefully save the formatting for each type of report with a name that indicates it is for a book.  Those formats can be reused.

Primitive font

3.  Make a title page and table of contents.  I spent way too much time on this.  The Family Tree maker “book” called for a title page (it was mandatory).  I quickly realized it would let me make the title page more than one page long.  That seemed good, so I added a dedication page and a little other information.  What was tough was formatting those pages in Family Tree Maker.  Things had a set place that couldn’t be adjusted.  Pictures clung to the top edge of the page.  Four pages would turn to three.  I wasted a lot of time on this.  Far better to have used that mandatory page for just a brief note or discarded it from the final version later.  I eventually realized I should make my own title pages in Word.  I did even worse with the Table of Contents, and I used separate ToC’s on the Reports section and the Pictures/Stories section.  Should have combined them myself up front in my own Word document.  Tip for next time?  Make the title page and a complete table of contents in Word.  In fact, such a document could be re-purposed from book to book.  If you are doing this, make sure page numbers don’t start in the initial section of the Family Tree Maker book.

The dedication page featuring Mom and Dad celebrating their 60th anniversary with a little genealogy

4. Compile pictures and stories.  I have many pictures which I wanted to record, with names, in the book.  I have some clippings and stories, and a small sampling of records which are of particular interest or curiosity. I also had about 20 blog posts on this branch of the family.   The question was, how to arrange them?  I really agonized about this.  My family are not genealogists.  I decided to start with the most recent folks, whom they would recognize, and move back to the earliest.  Except, I organized the material into about 10 chapters for specific family names.  Each chapter went from more recent stuff back to earlier material, and the names were in sequence from our most recent ancestors back to earlier.  Many family names were skipped, of course – it’s just a collection of what might be interesting to them.  Tip for next time?  as I’m working at genealogy day to day, make an extra copy of the interesting stuff to save in a separate folder (called, for instance, Darling Book 2014 or Baldwin Book 2013)

4, cont. –  Add the blog posts.  I found that copying and pasting from the blog onto a Word document worked pretty well.  I arranged the blog posts in amongst the other materials in the order described above.  But when I really looked at them, and did some final formatting, I realized I had lost a lot.  The blog has a style sheet that determines, for instance, what a bullet point looks like, or how a headline is formatted.  But much of that was lost or compromised by cutting and pasting.  The posts didn’t look as good.  Using lots of page breaks, I managed to move the pictures around more attractively without having them jump around.  So that helped.  Then I gradually reformatted various headings, captions, and spacing to make things appear more uniform and clear.  Tip for next time?   Either find some special product for transferring blog posts, or throw them all into one document BEFORE adding extraneous things, and revise the formatting first.

A blog post

5.  Add last minute content.  There were topics I had never blogged about, that I thought my family would care about.  I thought my mother would like to see the memorial to her ancestors Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick on Long Island so I asked blogger friend Heather Wilkinson Rojo if I could borrow three of her husband’s photos, taken on a visit this summer and used in her blog Nutfield Genealogy.  She said yes!  Tip for next time?   I really wouldn’t be that comfortable asking friends to borrow their text.  But borrowing with permission pictures from the distant cousins I’ve met online, or from other interesting blog posts about the areas where my ancestors lived might have been fun and not too intrusive to ask.

6.  Format the picture/stories section. I had already finished the Family Tree book so I used the next number to begin my picture/stories section.  Setting custom page numbers was easy in Word.  Then I divided the Word document into sections, so that I could give a chapter heading up at the top of each page.  I used odd and even page settings for this.  I also spent lots of time making sure various things started on an odd page, so the book would look better.  The trouble began when I found a cool font, Primitive, for my title page and headers.  I used it in lots of places.  I colored it a sort of sepia.  It was fun.    Tip for next time?   Never, ever use weird fonts.

pointing out something in a census record – used PAINT software to make the arrows

7.  Combine all sections into one pdf.  There were three documents – the 4-page title page ( a Word document saved as a pdf), the reports section (the pdf book I downloaded from Family Tree Maker) and the Pictures/stories section (a Word doc saved as a pdf.)  I put them into one pdf using the full version of Acrobat.   Tip for next time?  Always have at least one blank page in these documents.  That way, you can copy it to add a page here and there in the final pdf if needed.

another blog entry

8.  Find a book publishing site.  I have used lulu.com about 6 times and find it very easy to use.  But I wanted to shop around for price (since I wanted to print in color) and so I explored other sites.  I was surprised at how confusing the other sites were, and at the different business models I saw – some wanted you to sign up for a “consultation”; some wanted to sell you a “package” starting at $350; some seemed to have no pricing that I could find.  Well, lulu.com, baby, I’m back.  Tip for next time?  I had read a few negative things online about the quality of CreateSpace on Amazon, but they are cheaper, so sometime when it’s not a gift, try them.

9.  Upload.   I uploaded the complete pdf.  Things went terribly wrong.  Lulu said the fonts were not embedded.  Let me just say, based on experience, I knew it was the Word docs, not the Family Tree Maker pdf, causing the problem.  The first thing I tried was downloading a set of pdf formatting preferences from the lulu site, and using those in Acrobat.  Oddly, that helped but didn’t solve it.  I also tried saving the document as a PDF-A.  I didn’t know much about any of this but figured it out as I went along.  The problem with PDF-A turned out to be that only single documents could be saved as PDF-A; the compiled set of three docs in one could NOT become PDF-A.  But by this time I only seemed to have one conflict, which was that the Primitive font was not embedded.  Well, I thought, get rid of that font.  I went through the two Word docs and changed that font, including all chapter headers.  Combined.  Uploaded.  Nope, still showing Primitive not embedded.  Fussed some more and found a way to search in Word by format, and specified that font.  You won’t believe it, but it turned out I had blank lines which were technically in the Primitive font.  REALLY?  That’s someone’s idea of a problem?  Fixed that.  Combined.  Uploaded.  Cha-ching, all set.  Tip for next time?  Get a good night’s sleep.

trying to go to a happy place after the font problem

10.  Make a cover and print.   In the home stretch now, I made a book cover using the tool in lulu.  I went with whatever standard cover came up.  I made a pretty collage in Picassa of some folks mentioned in the book, for the front cover.  I grabbed some text about my family from a blog post and used it on the back.  I like to enlarge all the text on the cover, especially the spine. I changed the spine color to match the color of the collage background.  I kept the book in my account and ordered a few days later when lulu was offering 20% off.  It was shipped the following day, which was quick for lulu, and very commendable.  Tip for next time?    Make any collages, formatted pictures or cover text FIRST when you still have lots of enthusiasm for the book.


The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/10/25/producing-a-self-published-book-in-ten-steps/

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My 3x great grandfather Ellis Aldrich Darling was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts in August, 1824.

His father was:

  • Paul  Darling (1798-1877)    (Paul’s Darling descent: Elias5, John4, John3, John2, Dennis1)

and his mother was:

  • Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800-1879)    (Nancy’s Aldrich descent: Nathan6, Asa5, Jonathan4, David3, Jacob2, George1).

Ellis’ life was typical of the nineteenth-century New England family that did not choose to move west and acquire new and better land.  Born in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Massachusetts, Ellis’s father Paul was a farmer.  Ellis was the third of five children.

The village of Sheldonville, at the western edge of Wrentham near the Rhode Island border, was home to several growing industries in the nineteeenth century as well as some farming activity.  There were straw hat factories and bootmakers, and when Rhodes Sheldon established a successful boatmaking business, the village began to be called after him.

1876 map of West Street, Sheldonville (incorrectly called Sheedonville)

On January 1, 1846, Ellis married Susan Maria Parmenter of Framingham, Mass.  It’s not clear to me how they met, but later that year, Ellis’ brother Wilson married Susan’s sister Eliza Jane.  In 1850, the two couples were living near Susan’s parents, Buckley and Persis Parmenter, in Framingham. All three men were working as laborers.

Meanwhile, Back in Sheldonville

Probably Ellis’ nearest relation with any significant property was his grandfather, Nathan Aldrich, who lived to age 89.  Nathan likely (but I haven’t proved this yet) distributed his Sheldonville, Mass. property among his children and grandchildren during his lifetime. So in 1860, the U.S. census shows that Ellis and his family, and Wilson and his family, were living in Sheldonville.  Grandfather Nathan Aldrich and his third wife Lois, both in their late 80’s, were living in Ellis’ household. Ellis’ occupation was listed as Farmer.

Ellis’ parents Paul Darling and Nancy were farming in Sheldonville but living with their son Allen, who owned property by 1860.  Paul and Nancy never appeared to own property, making me think that perhaps Nathan Aldrich and daughter Nancy never completely made up the earlier drama in their lives and that Nathan never trusted Nancy with property. Paul and Nancy Darling passed away in the late 1870’s.

Children Arrive

Ellis and Susan had five children by 1860:

  •  Abby M. Darling 1846 –
  •  Nathan Ellis Darling 1848 – 1909
  •  Sarah E. Darling 1853 – 1925
  •  Addison Parmenter Darling 1856 – 1933  <–father of my g-grandfather Russell Darling
  •  Francis W Frank Darling 1859 –

When the Civil War draft came along, Ellis was 38 at the time, and married, so was considered Class II and evidently did not serve, despite some lucrative offers of support made by the patriotic town of Wrentham.  However his brother Wilson, a few years younger, was drafted.  Wilson enlisted as a Private in Company I, 45th Infantry Regiment (Massachusetts) on 7 Oct 1862. He mustered out of that regiment on 7 Jul 1863 at Readville, Massachusetts.  Wilson received a disability pension from the government beginning in 1871, and died in 1886.

Some Changes in the 1870’s

Grandfather Nathan Aldrich died in 1862.  In 1869 Ellis and Susan had their sixth and last child, James.  In the 1870 U.S. Census, Ellis may be enumerated twice – once in Sheldonville, employed as a bonnet presser, and once, perhaps, staying in a rooming house in Providence and listed incongruously as a “Farmer” with real estate worth $1600.  He certainly needed money to support his household, and “bonnet pressing” took place in Sheldonville, so other than personal difficulties I can’t understand why he would be in Providence.

During the early 1870’s, the older children began to leave home.  Daughter Sarah married a silversmith and moved to his home in Providence.  Addison joined them and learned silver engraving.  Son Frank joined his sister Abby at her husband’s home in North Attleborough and took a job as a bench worker in the growing jewelry business there.  He later married his brother in law’s sister.

The House

This map detail shows that E. Darling had a house on West Street in 1876:

E. Darling property lies between West Street and the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery

Behind his house is the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery, where Nathan Aldrich is buried.  Behind the cemetery is the home and soap factory of Leman Follett, who was married to Nathan Aldrich’s daughter Eliza Jane (1817-1900).  Ellis owned additional lots across West Street near the school, and heading down Burnt Swamp Road (the Cemetery street).

There is a plaque identifying this home, pictured below, on West Street, in the approximate “E. Darling” location:

Nathan Aldrich circa 1839

In 1880 Ellis was back in Sheldonville, listed in the U.S. Census as a “laborer”.

Ellis Dies at Age 59

When Ellis passed away May 16, 1883 in Sheldonville at age 59, the cause of death was listed as “paralysis and exhaustion”.  Ellis’ estate was administered by neighbor and contemporary George Sheldon, from the boatbuilding family.  George had been married to Nathan Aldrich’s niece Amey Ann Aldrich, who died young.  Susan’s brother Lyman Parmenter was the other administrator.

The real estate was valued at $1221.66.  There was a minor child mentioned, James.

Ellis’ debts amounted to $1185.00 and included:

  • Burial, $65
  • Nursing, $3
  • Advertisements and posters for the “Mortgagee’s Sale” $7
  • Widow’s allowance $100
  • Special allowance to the widow $20.30
  • Auctioneer $1.50
  • Sundry payments and charges $320.83 (possibly this amount includes all these mentioned)
  • town taxes for 1883  $15.10
  • Administrator’s fee (G. Sheldon)  $60

It was ordered that the property be sold at public auction.  The only record I have found so far for the sale is a Boston Journal news item on 12 Aug 1884:

“Wrentham. Susan M. Darling to Lydia E.B. Oliver, land and buildings on east side Burnt Swamp Street, $1000. “

There was “nothing to distribute” when the distribution time came, meaning the debts consumed all the value of the property.

Susan was living with her son Frank and his family in North Attleborough in 1900.  In 1910, she died just two weeks after the visit of the U.S. Census enumerator at her daughter Sarah’s house in Providence (276 Point Street).  She was 84 years old.

The Sheldonville Cemetery

Ellis and Susan Darling are buried at the Sheldonville Cemetery, located behind their house.

Ellis A. Darling, Died May 16, 1883 Aged 59 years and three months.

Susan died in Providence, but was buried in Sheldonville, the town where she spent most of her life.

Susan M. Darling Died May 1, 1910 Aged 84 years 1 month 7 days

The End of the 19th Century

What I sometimes think about the careers paths of my 19th century ancestors in southern New England is that in 1800 everyone was a farmer.  In 1900 no one was a farmer.  There were a few opportunities in a village like Wrentham, but I imagine that with no property, young people thought they had a chance for a better life in a city like Providence, with a wider variety of industries.  I can barely tell from these details whether Ellis and Susan had a happy life, but I hope they did.

Ideas for Further Research

I would like very much to fill this story out a bit more; my idea is to seek old copies of:

  • The Wrentham Recorder (1870’s)
  • The Wrentham Examiner (1870’s)
  • The Franklin Register
  • The Franklin Sentinel

Also, I need to find this deed of sale in 1884, and sift through all the deed transactions of Nathan Aldrich in his lifetime – of which there will be many.

In addition to numerous vital records and census records, the sources which provided evidence for this story include:

  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Wrentham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  2 vols.  Boston, Mass, 1910. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Framingham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  Boston, Mass, 1911. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Fiore, Jordan D.  Wrentham 1673-1973, A History. Town of Wrentham, Wrentham, Mass., 1973.
  • Martin, William A. and Lou Ella J. Martin. Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and Some of his Descendants, by the author, 2006. Try this link to an electronic copy at the Brigham Young University Library
  • Massachusetts.  Norfolk.  Norfolk County, MA : Probate index; docket books and probate records [microform]. F72/N8/P76 vols. 149-153 “Ellis A. Darling, Wrentham”. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Probate Index, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  Dedham Press, Dedham Mass., 1910.  Volume 1Volume 2
  • Providence City Directory, 1890. Providence, RI, USA: R. L. Polk Co., 1890.
  • “Real Estate. Norfolk County Transfers” (News Article).  Boston Journal, 12 Aug 1884.  Online Archives, Newsbank; 2011.
  • Sherman, W.A.  Atlas of Norfolk County, 1876.
  • Temple, J. H., A Genealogical Register of Framingham Families.  Town of Framingham, Framinham, Mass., 1887.
  • U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Link to this post: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/02/27/the-nineteenth-century-life-of-ellis-aldrich-darling

Photos by Diane Boumenot.

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This is one of my favorite clippings:

Aren’t they Darlings?

My great-grandparents, Russell and Eva (Murdock) Darling, holding my brother and my cousin on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1954.  The boys almost look like they’re roughhousing – a scenario that would be replayed, along with their brothers, on every holiday and summer get-together for the next 20 years.

For those who have Darling ancestors, I have a few helpful links
And now the question:

I found a transcription of a Cumberland, R.I. vital record in the “Clark’s Kindred” book.  It is:

I do hereby certify that Elias Darling of Cumberland, son of John Darling, and Nancy Alexander of said Cumberland, daughter of Anna Allison was lawfully joined together in marriage on the thirty-first day of December, AD 1789, by me, Simon Wilkinson, Justice of the Peace. Recorded January 30, 1790.  John Dexter, Town Clerk.

Question:  What could it mean that Nancy Alexander’s parentage is given as “Anna Allison”?  Clearly, the father must be deceased.  But is the mother Anna Allison Alexander?  An unmarried Anna Allison?  A remarried Anna?  There are few or no residents with the surname “Allison” in the area.

I’m stumped. Any guesses would be much appreciated!

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How They Came to Rhode Island

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.

Russell Darling and Eva Murdock, c.1904

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.

The Nathan Aldrich House, built 1839, where Addison was born, Sheldonville, Mass.

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.

Murdock house in Seekonk, Mass. around 1895

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.

back row: unkn., Louis Murdock, Russell Darling, Addison Darling, unkn. mid row: unkn., unkn., Eva Murdock, Grace Darling, Sarah (Darling) Swan, William H. H. Swan. front row: Addison Darling Jr., Jessie (McLeod ) Murdock, Emma (Lamphere) Darling

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I remember my grandmother once mentioning that one of her grandmothers was from the South.  This was surprising to me but I didn’t get much further information.

My gg-grandmother Emma was born in Alabama. Wait, what?

But you know how family stories are.  It was only partly true.

Emma Luella Lamphere was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on 19 Apr 1857.  This is gleaned from the Rhode Island State Census of 1905, and to a lesser extent from other census records and her death record. I have no birth record.

Emma’s parents were Russell and Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere.  Russell was from an old Westerly, Rhode Island family.  Hannah was from either a Connecticut or Massachusetts family that is a bit of brick wall for me.  Russell and Hannah had five children that I know about:

  • William H Lamphere  1840 – 1912
  • Sarah E Lamphere 1843 – 1905
  • Charley C. Lanphere  1846 –
  • Caroline M. Lamphere 1847 –
  • Emma Luella Lamphere 1857 – 1927

The first four were born in or near Norwich, Connecticut.  Some time between the 1850 census and Emma’s birth in 1857 the family relocated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  They are in the 1860 Federal Census, page 11 as found on Ancestry.com.  I won’t show you the whole thing, but trust me it’s them.  What I would love people to look at is Russell’s occupation:

A What’s My Line moment from the 1860 census

Manuts – St – Marchad???    really?  any ideas?  please??  I examined the handwriting on the rest of the page but my only conclusion is that the middle word is NOT Ste. but is St.  Not helping.

What I do know is that in most previous census records Russell was listed as a machinist.  Family lore says that they went down to Alabama in the 1850’s to start a business.  After, or possibly during, the war the business failed.  After moving to R.I. in the 1870’s, Russell is listed as a mill overseer at the Oriental Mills, Admiral Street, Providence (now the Union Paper Company building).  Oriental Mills was one of many cotton fabric mills in Rhode Island.  I can’t help but think he must have used those machine skills down south and been a part of a fabric weaving mill startup … perhaps with partners.  After the war the family was unhappy during the upheavals of reconstruction, had lost the business, relocated for a while to Meridian, Mississippi, and then moved back North.  But this is despite Russell’s 1860 enlistment in the Alabama militia.  I sense they were committed to the south but then gave up.

A recent photo of the Oriental Mills building by Marc N. Belanger (public domain, thanks, Marc.)

After moving to Providence, Rhode Island in the 1870’s, Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere died in 1878 “after a long and painful illness” which was only noted as gall stones (“biliary calculi”) on the death certificate.  Daughter Emma married, on 5 Mar 1879, Addison Parmenter Darling, a silver engraver in Providence. The father also remarried in 1879.

Emma and Addison had 3 children, the first of whom was my great grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.  Grace Luella  and Addison Jr. soon followed.  Emma’s somewhat difficult life ended tragically at age 69 in a streetcar accident on Broad Street, Providence while on the way to a family function.  The family waited for her and she never arrived.  She lingered in pain for a day or two at the hospital and passed away 2 Feb 1927.

So I am seeking help on two fronts: reading the handwriting from the 1860 census, and also, understanding the business climate in Tuscaloosa in the 1850’s.  Were there cotton mills there? What evidence remains?  I haven’t explored Tuscaloosa deeds yet, but it’s possible Russell owned the property for the business, or owned a home.  Perhaps he paid taxes on the business.

Any leads on collecting this info would be great.  As the blog title suggests, I am way up here in R.I.!


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I’ve only been to the NEGHS once.  I prepared pretty carefully for my pilgrimage, took the train into Back Bay Station, walked a few blocks and there I was, standing in front of the brass doors.  I even took a picture.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society was founded in Boston in 1845

Sure, I learned some interesting things that day.  I found a deed on microfilm from Cumberland, Rhode Island that was helpful.  I read some journal articles of interest.  I wasted time in the printed genealogy section … it’s hard to leave the stacks.  I enjoyed the lobby display of current publications and found a book about the Arnold family that I had not been aware of.  I bought it, and on the train ride back discovered that there was a mistake in my Arnold line and I need to do further research.

But let’s get back to what I saw.

I knew that the first thing I would want to do at the library was ask to see the one manuscript they have that had belonged to my family.  I learned about it in The Register which is indexed online.  A note in volume 51 (1897) on page 219 reads as follows:

Thwing and Aldrich — The following record is copied from stray leaves of two Bibles which were presented to this Society by P. K. Foley, Esq., of Boston:

[I.  Thwing – let’s skip this; not my family]

II. Nathan Aldrich born March the 19 A.D. 1773

Anna Aldrich Born June the 21 A.D. 1800

Chloe Aldrich Born September 2 A.D. 1773

Edmon Aldrich Born April 8: 1810

Calib Aldrich Born September the 25th, 1813 & He Died in October the 5th 1813

Edmon Aldrich Died September the 4, 1814

William Aldrich Born May 14, 1815

Sarah Jain Aldrich Born February 21, 1817

Chloe Aldrich Died March 10, 1826.

Wait … who are these people?

To the best of my knowledge Nathan Aldrich was married 3 times:

  1. Mercy Ballou — mother of Anna
  2. Chloe Crowninshield — mother of the other children
  3. Lois Grant

Nathan is buried between his second and third wives in Wrentham, Mass.

At the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Mass., Nathan is buried between wives number 2 and 3 (who I believe were cousins to each other).  There is some normal documentation of those two marriages.  Of course the poorly documented marriage is the one I’m descended from; Mercy is my ggggg-grandmother and Nathan is my ggggg-grandfather.  I am ANNA’s descendant.

I had gotten my first faint evidence of the Mercy/Nathan marriage in an old Ballou genealogy. But when I found this Bible entry it left me with a lot of questions about Mercy.  Why wasn’t she on the list?  Why wasn’t she in the cemetery?

As I got better at hunting old newspaper stories I found two items using GenealogyBank.com.  In 1802, Nathan disowned Mercy in the Providence Patriot:

Whereas Marcy, wife of me the subscriber, hath separated herself from me and at sundry times has unnecessarily run me in debt: These are therefore to forbid all persons trusting her on my account, as I am determined to pay no debts of her contracting from the date hereof. NATHAN ALDRICH, Cumberland, May 5, 1802.

In 1817 this was followed by an item about the daughter, Nancy:

Whereas Nancy Ann Aldrich, daughter of the subscriber, has behaved herself in an unbecoming manner, it has brought her father under the painful necessity of forbidding all persons from harboring or trusting her on my account, as I am determined not to pay any debts of her contracting after this day. — NATHAN ALDRICH, Wrentham, June 14

I have not discovered a death or divorce record for Nathan and Mercy. I don’t know what happened to her.  However Nathan and Nancy (“Anna”)’s relationship was, I believe, eventually repaired.  A few years later she married a local boy, Paul Darling, and went on to have five children.  Late in life, Nathan and third wife Lois were living with one of Nancy’s sons and his family on the family farm.  And more than that we may never know.

 … what was in the Bible?

The document turned out to be just the one leaf from the Bible, not the book itself.  But I’m grateful that Mr. Foley rescued this from whatever book stall it ended up in in 1897.  The archivist brought it over to me at a table. It was in a protective binder.

I opened the cover and realized that seeing the original is worth a hundred transcriptions any day.  This is what I saw:

Wife #1 Mercy is blacked out

Mercy had been blacked out.  She had an entry which was eradicated.  But I realized that if I tried hard, I could read the original writing:

Marcy Aldrich Born

April the 19 1778

At my request the kind archive lady came over and peered at the page from different angles with me.  We agreed on what it said.

This offers the first real evidence for Mercy’s family and matches the theory I had gleaned from the old Ballou book and some Rhode Island birth records. She is the daughter of Richard and Lucy Ballou.

I am grateful to the NEHGS for saving such an insignificant scrap.  This part of my family is poorly documented and obscure.  I have found no evidence that any other descendants of Nathan Aldrich are doing research.  I would venture to guess that I’m the first person to request that archival record in the 114 years it’s been sitting there.

And despite a little resentment about the “unbecoming behavior” remark, it meant a great deal to me to hold something in my hand that my ggggg-grandfather wrote in 1800.

Thank you, NEHGS.

There is a further update to this story found in the post “A Visit to the Rhode Island Judicial Archives.”

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