Category Archives: Chicago

Little Italy, Chicago


The story goes that when my great-great grandfather lived in Chicago, during the 1890s, the family lived in a tenement house in the ‘Italian’ section of the city. I am assuming this is the Little Italy referred to on maps and in histories of Chicago.

My great grandmother, born in rural Iowa in 1891, was just a baby. I wish I had the chance to talk with her about any experiences she remembered from that time. She died in 1983 and I was just a kid, and it was before my interest in the family history blossomed into a sincere passion, which I started compiling in 1989.


Ogden, Iowa in 1920


In 1920, my great-great grandfather, Jerome Darling, lived in Ogden, Iowa, surrounded by a lot of Swedes. He was a dentist, studying the trade as a young man in 1890s Chicago.

I was looking for where in Chicago the family lived and came upon the 1920 census.

All I know is what’s been passed down through oral tradition: that they lived in the “Italian” section, apparently a rough, seedy neighborhood. My grandmother recounted a story of a drunk and rowdy man trying to get into their apartment. Whether he was confused or had evil intentions isn’t known. Thankfully, he didn’t succeed, only putting a big scare into the kids.

After learning about Chicago during this time, it is understandable why Grandpa Darling wanted to return to Iowa, preferring rural life to that of the big, smelly, dangerous city.