Howard Wetmore Darling, one of Wichita's foremost citizens, well known throughout the State of Kansas in lumber circles and as the present head of the state Young Men's Christian Association, was born at London, Ohio, Feb. 28, 1856, the son of Dr. Nelson Strong Darling and his wife, whose maiden name was Emma Maria Wetmore. Dr. Nelson Strong Darling, a physician by profession, was born at Chesterfield, Mass., Oct. 4, 1831. He graduated at the Starling Medical College of Columbus, Ohio, and practiced his profession for fifty-five years at London and Columbus, Ohio, and at LaPorte, Ind., where he located in 1866. He died at the home of his son, H. W. Darling, in Wichita, Dec. 9, 1908. He was the son of Thomas West Darling and Theodocia Russell, both natives of Massachusetts. The Darling family, which is of English and Welsh descent, is an ancient New England family, having been founded there prior to the Revolutionary war, some of its members being numbered among the patriots who fought in that war for American independence. Emma Maria Wetmore, the mother of Mr. Darling, was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1832, and died there on Oct. 8, 1865. She was the daughter of Dr. Charles Henry Wetmore, a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale College of the class of 1804, who also was a physician by profession, but latterly he was a man of wealth and a retired capitalist of Columbus, Ohio. His father was Prosper M. Wetmore, the son of Rev. Izrahiah Wetmore, a Presbyterian minister who graduated at Yale College in 1748. The Wetmore family is of English descent and back in the mother country it possessed a coat-of-arms. Prosper M. Wetmore, a brother of Mr. Darling's mother, is now a prominent and venerable citizen of Columbus, Ohio.
Howard Wetmore Darling was chiefly reared and educated at LaPorte, Ind. In his youth he learned the drug business, first as a clerk in a drug store in LaPorte, and later by taking a course in the Chicago College of Pharmacy. For five years he was a drug clerk in LaPorte and Michigan City, Ind., to which latter place he went from LaPorte at the age of twenty. In 1879 he quit the drug business and entered the employ of Coburn, Jones & Company, a large wholesale lumber concern of Michigan City, as a bookkeeper. This proved a turning point in his career, for he has been identified with the lumber business in one capacity and another, with but slight interruption, ever since, and it was with this firm that he learned his first lessons in a business with which he has since become so prominently identified in Wichita and the great Southwest. Besides its wholesale business in Michigan City, Coburn, Jones & Company maintained a large retail branch in Indianapolis. He remained with this firm for five years, and from the position of bookkeeper was advanced to traveling salesman. In 1884 he became the manager of the Jonathan Boyce lumber business of Michigan City. This connection lasted only a short time, however, when he reëntered the employ of Coburn, Jones & Company as a traveling salesman. In 1885, having determined to embark in a business of some kind on his own account, he resigned his position, came to Kansas, and has been a resident of the Sunflower State ever since. He located first at Anthony, where for three and a half years he was engaged in the furniture business, On Dec. 1, 1888, he removed to Wichita, and during the twenty-three years of his residence there he has rapidly forged ahead to prominence, influence and position, until today he is one of the first citizens of that city. Here for two years and a half he was in the employ of the Hydraulic Mills in different capacities. But he did not forget the experience, training and lessons which he had had in the lumber industry back in Indiana, and had an ambition to put all this knowledge to a practical use by embarking in the lumber business for himself. He had the keen foresight to appreciate the value of the red cypress lumber, which is chiefly a product of the swamps of Louisiana, and he was shrewd enough to foresee the possibilities which might result in introducing that class of lumber to the trade in this section of the country. Accordingly in 1891 he embarked in the lumber business in the name of the Louisiana Red Cypress Company, which concern is still in existence, and which does a wholesale business exclusively. The company, of which he is sole owner, has had a most successful career. Besides its main office in Wichita, it has branch offices at Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City, Okla. Mr. Darling is also president of the Arkansas Valley Lumber Company, a wholesale and retail concern, which has its headquarters in Wichita, and he is vice-president of the Oklahoma Sash & Door Company, of Oklahoma City. In politics Mr. Darling is a Republican, but he has never been a candidate for political office. He is prominent in fraternal circles, being a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine and a Knight Templar. He is prominent in church and Y. M. C. A. circles, being a member, trustee and liberal supporter of College Hill Congregational Church; president of the Kansas State Congregational Brotherhood; a director of the National Congregational Brotherhood, and the present president of the Kansas State Young Men's Christian Association, having received that high honor at its annual meeting held in Pittsburg in the month of February, 1911. He is a member and ex-vice-president of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Commercial and Country clubs of Wichita, treasurer of the Wichita Y M. C. A., a trustee of Fairmount College and a member of the Southwestern Lumber Dealers' Association.
Mr. Darling was married in Michigan City, Ind., Dec. 13, 1883, to Miss Marietta E. Upson, who was born and raised in Michigan City, the daughter of Daniel Upson, a descendant of the Connecticut Revolutionary family of that name. They have three sons, as follows: Howard Upson, born April 29, 1886; Lyman Strong, born Sept. 23, 1887, and Arthur Burr, born Dec. 28, 1892. The two elder sons are graduates of both Fairmount and Yale, while the youngest son is being prepared for Yale at Phillips Academy of Andover, Mass. Mrs. Darling is very active in church and Young Women's Christian Association circles and is a member of the Society of Colonial Dames. On the maternal side she is a descendant of the distinguished Ames family of Massachusetts, while on the paternal side she is a descendant of Rev. Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, Conn. Mr. and Mrs. Darling have a charming and palatial home in the city of Wichita, one of the finest in the State of Kansas. It was built by them in 1907, is located at the apex of beautiful College Hill, on Douglas avenue, the city's main thoroughfare, and occupies a space of ground which might be considered the most desirable residence site in the city. Built of pressed brick and stone, its beauty of design, massive proportions, exquisite architecture, broad verandas and stately columns are such as to excite the eye to instant admiration, while the broad, well kept lawns which surround it, its handsome garage and delightful walks, all combine to make as picturesque a home setting as one could ever hope to see. In view of its splendor and its fine location, it has become one of the sights and architectural beauties of Wichita. While Howard W. Darling has been successful in life, it can be said of him that he is the sole architect of his fortune. Starting with practically nothing, his accumulations have been entirely the result of his business shrewdness in taking legitimate advantage of the value and selling qualities of a certain commodity for which there is a great demand. Viewed from every standpoint, his life has been a success, and the highest tribute that can be paid him is to say that he has reached the goal by employing only the fairest of means and the most honorable methods.Pages 1102-1104 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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