Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Abram J. Darling

Abram J. Darling was born June 6, 1834, in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, the son of David (1790-1843) and Marilla or Marilda (Atkins, 1805-1882).

Abram’s parents were probably married sometime before 1832, possibly in New York. And it is quite possible that they resided in New York for some years before moving to Pennsylvania. In any case, Abram left Pennsylvania, quite possibly with some or all of his family, and moved westward, eventually settling in eastern Michigan.

By 1850 Abram was attending school with his older brother Gilbert, and working as a laborer with Gilbert and both were living with their mother in Ida, Monroe County; that same year he was also probably working for his uncle (?) Jarvis Darling in Erie, Monroe County. Abram subsequently moved to the western side of the state.

He was living in Grand Rapids by the time he married New York native Harriet Ann “Hattie” Bates (b. 1838), on December 18, 1858, in Grand Rapids. They had at least five children: Paradise (b. 1857), Ames or Amos (b. 1859), Marilda Ethel (1866-1892), Anna (b. 1869), Lucy (b. 1870) and Harriet (1872-1930). (Harriet was probably the sister of Alfred and Benjamin Bates, both of who were born in Steuben County and who lived in Monroe County and who would serve in Company A, Third Michigan. And another sister Emily would marry James V. Smith who also served in the Old Third.)

By 1860 Abram was working as a laborer and living with his wife and family in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward.

Abram stood 5’7” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 28 years old and working as a farmer probably in Grand Rapids' Third Ward when he enlisted in Company A on September 3, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered on September 5. Abram was assigned to the company on November 4, reported as deserted on November 14 at Washington, DC, and was returned to the regiment’s rolls from desertion on April 7, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia (per President Lincoln’s proclamation of amnesty for deserters). However, it is by no means certain that he ever joined (or rejoined) the Third Michigan, and by June and July of 1863 he was reported as serving on detached duty as a guard with the ammunition train.

Abram was sick in the hospital from October of 1863 through May of 1864, and was admitted to Mt. Pleasant hospital in Washington, DC, on February 5, 1864 for a varicocele. He was returned to duty on March 3, yet the same day he was reportedly admitted to Mt. Pleasant from Kalorama hospital diagnosed as “convalescent from varicocele.” In any case, he was eventually returned to duty on May 3, 1864.

Even though he had apparently recovered from his illness in early May, Abram was reported as absent sick when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. At some point he returned to Michigan to recover his health, and while at home he was a witness at the wedding of James V. Smith (also of Company A) and Emily Bates on July 14, 1863, in Grand Rapids.

He probably remained absent sick until he was discharged on April 20, 1865, at St. Mary’s general hospital in Detroit, for “aphonia, chronic hepatitis and general debility -- contracted while in line of duty.” The examining surgeon added that “This soldier has done no duty for the last fifteen (15) months,” that is, since about January of 1864.

Although Abram listed Grand Rapids as his mailing address on his discharge paper, he soon moved his family to Ida, Monroe County, where many members of both the Darling and Bates families settled during the late 1860s and 1870s. By 1870 Abram (or Abraham) was working as a farmer and living with is wife and three children next door to his brother Robert and his family in Ida.

Sometime after their daughter Harriet was born in March of 1872, Abram’s wife disappeared. In any case, Abram subsequently married Sarah Ann Odel Niles, on December 25, 1878, in Ida, and by 1880 they were living in Boardman Township, Kalkaska County.

They divorced sometime between 1880 and 1888 when Abram was living in South Boardman, Kalkaska County.

He then married Ella Silvernail Christianson on July 16, 1889, in Fife Lake, Grand Traverse County.

Apparently Abram was living with his new wife in Union Township (possibly in Fife Lake), Grand Traverse County in 1890. That marriage also ended unpleasantly, and they were divorced in 1893. By 1894 he was residing in Boardman, Kalkaska County.

In 1866 Abram applied for and was granted a pension (no. 255132), drawing $50 by 1923.

By 1900 Abram was back in Boardman Township, Kalkaska County, and by 1910 he had moved to Clearwater, Kalkaska County, where he was living alone, reportedly as a widower, in 1920.

Abram died in Clearwater on March 11 or 23, 1923, and was buried in Fife Lake cemetery. Hattie Darling (perhaps a daughter) and Abraham Darling (as well as Abram) are also listed as buried at Fife Lake.

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