Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Willard Darling Family of Greeley, Colorado

As I pondered what story to share this week, I remembered a unique story about the family of Willard Mortimer and Abigail Stedman (Tidd) Darling. She was the youngest sister of my ancestor Daniel Tidd Jr. In the process of researching I encountered a family member who was also working on this family. Satia Turner Goff from Seattle, Washington was my first family connection and I don't even remember how we met. First of all I just loved her unusual name and second I was thrilled to find someone who had family memorabilia that she was willing to share. We shared numerous emails, mailed each other copies of our materials and pictures, but never met personally. She was the great, great granddaughter of Abigail. Unfortunately she had health problems and passed away in 2007. I was sorely disappointed not to have more time to share with her. From my database I have these notes from her:

Satia Goff's records mention letters from Annie Sherk 24 Jan 1965 and 14 Nov 1969, letter from Cora Bliss 4 Aug 1952 written to Mary Mason.
Notes include Daniel played the flute. Betsey Ann and Silas Loomis were both teachers, Betsey buried in Central cemetery, Holliston.
She notes that their marriage was initiated on 7 May 1821 and that they were married on 20 June 1821 at Medway or Holliston.

She also shared a copy of the, Historical Sketch of the Darling Family of Greeley, Colorado, compiled by Mrs. Abbie S, Darling. It lists their marriage on February 4th, 1858, Willard M. Darling of Independence, Iowa to Abbie S. Tidd of Holliston, Mass. and their four children with their spouses. It is an endearing little booklet, formally published and shared with the extended family.

My favorite family to research (also my original genealogy quest) is the Tidd family. This family intrigues me as they arrived in New England in about 1635, lived in Massachusetts for over 200 years, later settling in Iowa, Colorado and Oregon. Daniel Tidd my great, great grandfather was born 11 July 1824 in Holliston, Massachusetts. There is an article about him posted on this blog. He had four sisters, Betsey Anne, Mary Townsend, Sarah Richmond and Abigail Stedman. The last three all have family surnames for their middle names. Betsey died at age 28, having married Dr. Silas Lawrence Loomis, and leaving a daughter Anne Elizabeth Loomis who was born just a month before her death. Mary died at age 34, having married David Wilson Moore, and her two sons William and John died as young children.. Sarah died at age 25, having married George H. Merrill, four months after her marriage. Abigail lived to the age of 87, having married Willard Mortimer Darling. Their four children were Mary Evelyn, Frank Elsworth, Mortimer Willard and Cora A.

Daniel Tidd Jr. and Abigail, or Abbie as she was known, were very close siblings and kept in close contact. Both of their families moved to Independence, Iowa within months of each other. Their father traveled with Abbie's family and according to the 1860 US Census was living with them there. All of Abbie's children were born in Iowa, and in about 1870 they decided to move to Colorado.
The eventual separation of the families was very challenging. Daniel's wife Sarah Jane and their oldest living son Elmon Willis died within the next three years. Daniel remained in Independence and died there in 1913. Abbie died in Greeley in 1917. Their families had some contact over the years, and I am the fortunate recipient of letters, pictures and the old violin of Daniel Tidd Jr. after it passed between both families. There is a post about the old violin on this blog.

In the July 1998 issue of Ancestry Magazine I was surprised to find an article entitled, "Handwriting Analysis a Case Study" by Dana Judy, pages 20-21.
In 1973, Dana's family moved into the Darling home, built by Willard M. Darling in the 1880s. She was intrigued by the Darling family and did some research of their family. For her case study she analyzed letters written by Willard Darling to his wife who would later join him in Colorado. In the article she notes that she found the letters in the Greeley Museum in Greeley, Colorado. There is a picture of the Willard Darling home and she explains that it is a two-story brick farmhouse, with surrounding outbuildings, including barns and tool sheds.

Now as I look over this information and write it out for a blog post I realize that it would be great to pursue further research on this family and obtain copies of these letters. I will never forget this serendipity moment as I glanced through this magazine and encountered this story. To find the story online I used the ancestry.com collection of PERSI and then reviewed the article at Google Books. There is a copy somewhere in my research notebook, but this was much quicker. It was fun to share the story with Satia, as these are her direct ancestors. What kind of surprising discoveries have you encountered in doing your family history?

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