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Nicholas Robbins Family


HELEN A. (ROBBINS) DARLING  (Biographical data abstracted from family records, newspaper articles, U. S. Census enumerations and cemetery records)  Re: The Nicholas Robbins Family No.


Helen A. Robbins was born March 19, 1884 at Northport, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, the daughter of Benjamin T. and Helen A. (Brown) Robbins.  Helen was raised in Northport, where her father was a well respected builder and civic leader.  On June 5, 1906, Helen married Raymond Mills Darling, son of Albert and Jennie (Mills) Darling.  Raymond was born on September 1, 1883 at Smithtown, Long Island.


In the early years of their marriage, Raymond worked in the newly emerging automobile business.  At the time of the 1910 Census, the Darlings were residing in Brooklyn, New York and Raymond’s occupation was listed as automobile salesman.  Within the following decade, the Darlings returned to Northport, where Raymond had become a partner with Elmer Tuttle in a local automobile garage. Throughout this period, Helen presided over the Darling household and attended to the raising of their two sons, Van Ness and Morton and caring for her aging mother, Helen Robbins, who had come to live with the Darlings after the death of her husband in 1913.  In the mid-1920s, Raymond was appointed Postmaster of Northport, a position he was to hold for nine years.  During the Great Depression, he served as Deputy Commissioner of Welfare for Suffolk County, followed by nine years as an employee of the Northport Water Works.


Raymond died at Northport on March 19, 1953.  Helen survived him by over eighteen years before passing away on October 13, 1971 at Nashua, New Hampshire.  Raymond and Helen are buried together at the Genola Rural Cemetery in Northport near Helen’s parents.  As noted previously, this couple had two sons, Van Ness and Morton.  A few notes on those sons follow.


1. Van Ness W. Darling was born on April 27, 1907 at Northport.  After his death in 1983, a newspaper article about his life noted that Van Ness abandoned his dream of becoming a farmer after his father strongly urged him to become a bank teller with a steady paycheck. Thus, at age 18, he began a fifty year career in banking, mostly in Northport, eventually becoming an executive vice president at Security National Bank.  The article further noted that his agricultural dreams were later realized in the form of an exquisite Japanese garden he developed over the years on the grounds around his home in Northport, which included plantings and dwarf trees, all carefully pruned in the unique Japanese style, as well as a waterfall, stream, mountain, riverbed and bridges, all miniaturized according to Japanese standards. 


Van Ness married (1) Lillian P. Splatt on October 4, 1930 in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.  Lillian, also known as “Peggy”, was born on November 6, 1905 in Washington County, New York, daughter of Fredrick and Elizabeth Splatt.  At the time of the 1930 Census for Northport in May of that year, both Van Ness and Lillian were boarders in the home of Martha Williams.  

Van Ness listed his occupation as Assistant Bank Cashier and Lillian gave her occupation as Public School Teacher.  By the time of the 1940 Census, Van Ness was still working as a banker, while Lillian was at home managing a household, which by then included daughters Elizabeth Darling, born around 1933, and Vanessa, born in November, 1935. During the years when the Japanese garden was being developed, the previously cited newspaper article notes that Lillian and family friends, Douglas and Joni DeFaya, labored along with Van Ness to create a “shibui’ class garden, the highest of four Japanese classifications of beauty. 


According to cemetery records, Lillian died at Northport on December 16, 1976.  Van Ness next married (2) Gladys (Torgrimson) Ramm, widow of the Rev. Robert F. Ramm.  At the time of their marriage, Gladys was a school psychologist on Long Island and was also Director of Christian Education at St. Paul Methodist Church in Northport.  Van Ness passed away in Northport on July 19, 1983 and was laid to rest in the Genola Rural Cemetery with his first wife Lillian, his parents Raymond and Helen Darling and his grandparents, Benjamin and Helen Robbins. Gladys later moved to western Pennsylvania to be near her son Douglas Ramm and his family.  She passed away in 2012 at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, age 93.


2. Robert Morton Darling, frequently referred to as “Morton” in family records, was born on November 22, 1912 at Northport.  In the 1940 Census for Northport, he was enumerated living with his parents and his occupation was listed as the owner of a sign painting business.  He later resettled in Milford, New Hampshire, where he married wife Jean in 1960.  It seems possible that Morton’s mother, Helen Darling, was living with them or nearby when she died in 1971 as her place of death was recorded in Nashua, New Hampshire, a short distance from Milford. Correspondence with Morton’s cousin, Nancy Pisco, indicates Morton and Jean were still living on “Darling Acres” in Milford in September, 1979, and perhaps when Morton’s brother Van Ness died in 1983.  According to Social Security records, Robert Morton Darling died at Nashua, New Hampshire on November 14, 2004.  No further record of wife Jean was found.


Submitted by Lawrence G. Robbins, November, 2013. Note: Mr. Robbins gratefully acknowledges the family history data supplied to him by Nancy Pisco of Lords Valley, Pennsylvania, who has spent many years researching and detailing her Robbins ancestors and cousins of central Maine and Long Island, New York.  We have greatly benefitted from her efforts to memorialize her branch of the Nicholas Robbins Family.  Supplemental sources of information used in this biographical sketch include newspaper articles appearing in the Northport Journal in 1936, 1939 and 1940 covering the later years and death of Helen Robbins, mother of Ulysses N. Robbins and Helen A. (Robbins) Darling; various correspondence in 1979 between Nancy Pisco and her cousins, Van Ness and Morton Darling; a newspaper article appearing in Newsday shortly after the death of Van Ness Darling on July 19, 1983, detailing his life and his Japanese garden; and an obituary appearing in the Pittsburg Tribune-Review shortly after the death of Gladys (Torgrimson) Ramm Darling, detailing her life and her marriage to Van Ness Darling.  Records for the Genola Rural Cemetery in East Northport, New York, were found on the Find A Grave website, .  Please address questions and comments via email to Lawrence G. Robbins at

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