Donna at the Bijou – New Haven, CT

Donna Darling Collection – Part 8

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

This week’s Treasure Chest Thursday is clipping regarding Donna and her Bathing Beauties playing at the Bijou. The accompanying clipping indicates that the article was in “THE NEW HAVEN JOU,” so it appears to be the Bijou of New Haven, Connecticut. A quick check of Cinema Treasures indicated that there was a Bijou Theater in New Haven at that time.[1]

The next question is when did she play there.  There is no date with the clipping. A search of the newspapers available online did not provide any help.  However, IMDb to the rescue. They indicate the movie was released on 7 November 1920.  Consequently, I would expect that this showing would have occurred sometime within two months of the release date. We also know that Donna played in Bridgeport, CT on December 29th & 30th and possibly on December 20th.  With that in mind, it fits that Donna and her Bathing Beauties played the Bijou in New Haven, CT sometime in November or December, 1920.

All attendance records were broken at the Bijou theater yesterday during the initial appearance of that bib combined all star vaudeville and moving picture bill, which is headed by Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties, and George Walsh in “The Plunger.” There isn’t a dull moment on the bill and yesterday’s audiences showed their appreciation by prolonged applause throughout the entire performance.

Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties lived up to all the good things that had been said about them and presented a production that was a delight to the eye.

Also on the bill:

  • Katheyn Arnold and George L. Cohan.
  • Henry Sykes
  • Billy Bowman
  • The Carpas Bros.

New Engagement Added:

Unknown Date: [Nov-Dec] 1920 – New Haven, CT – Bijou – Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties.


  1. Cinema Treasurers – Bijou Theater – 28 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510
  2. IMDb – The Plunger Release Date: 7 November 1920.

Probate Record for Timothy Munsell

Anamnesis Monday
Transcripts by Don Taylor

Cover page for Timothy Munsel Probate DocumentsProbate records are wonderful when you can find them as they provide so much detail and texture about an individual’s life.  I just loved learning that Timothy Munsell‘s family spent a dollar (6 shillings) for “Spirits.”  I also learned the things he had that were of importance. Apparently, no horse but he did have two hogs.

Ancestry.Com is a great resource for Wills and Probate Records. These images come from “Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999” original data from “Connecticut County, District and Probate Courts.” For all the images and higher quality images see Ancestry.Com. (You must have Ancestry account or be using a library account to access.)


Image 1204 – Inventory

Lyme Nov 20th 779

Inventory of Estate of Timothy Munsell

Late of Lyme Deceased

                               £  s  p

  • Wearing apparel 2-12-0
  • Bed & Bedding     2-10—
  • Pewter ware              6
  • Crockery Ditto         6
  • Iron ware                 16
  • Tables & Chairs      12
  • Cupboard & Drawers     6
  • Old Iron                     6
  • Wheel Skeel              3
  • 1 Old Case                 6
  • 1 Lanthorn                2
  • 1 Hogg  150 ?? ? 1-17-6
  • 1 Ditto 50 ??          12-6
  • 5 Bushels Corn     15
  • 1 Bible & Psalm Book     4
  • 1 Pair Heelyard     2
  • Forrage                  1-4
  • Land                       3


[Total]                   £ 16-0-0

Elisha Rice

Reynold Peck

Accept’d and called to the above amount execbty(?)
Only the land is allowed to the widow for ????
by order of the judge attest – L. Law Ats

Image 1210 – Receipt

Receipt – One Dollar for Spirits


Received Lyme Oct 27 – 1798

Elisheehia Munsell one dollar for spirits



If you have any suggested corrections to my transcriptions, please feel free to use the comment form below.


A Dollar for Spirits? – Timothy Munsell (1745-1798)

Howell-Darling-2017 Research

Darling/Munsell Line
By Don Taylor

IPhoto of Don Taylor with cat Nasi. have often wonder how money worked in the post-colonial period.  I know originally there were 20 shillings in a pound, but the old pounds and shillings worked in comparison with dollars. I’ve read many descriptions that read like a technical journal – “how many grains or grams were in something….” I knew that the early Americans had to have a simple system for day-to-day conversion, but it eluded me until I looked at the probate record of Timothy Munsell.  In the records, there was a list of expenses done in pounds, shillings, and pence and the receipts for payment were done in dollars. Building the casket cost 2 dollars, but was entered as 12 shillings in the ledger.  Likewise, digging the grave cost one dollar, but was entered as 6 shillings in the ledger. Simple. No more confusion on my part.  It is clear, from looking at the ledger, that a pound is 20 shillings and 12 pence makes a shilling.  Again simple.

Receipt – One Dollar for Spirits – Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 for Timothy Munsell – Image 1210.

However, with genealogy, when one thing becomes clear, often something else leaps up and confuses me. In this case, there was an expense for “spirits.” I just don’t understand enough about 18th-century burial practices to know what this really means. Was this the cost of the process to clean and wrap the body and prepare the spirit for its journey? Or was this payment for the booze for a spirited party following the burial?  Either seems possible, but I suspect it was the latter. However, a dollar (6 shillings) doesn’t seem like that much of a party, even in 1798 money. I would love to hear from anyone that had a definitive source for my understanding this conflict.

Howell Darling 2016 – Ancestor #98

List of Grandparents


Timothy Munsell (1745-1798)

The Munsell surname is also spelled Munsill, Monsell, and, sometimes, Maunsell. Regardless of record, I have standardized on the Munsell spelling.


Timothy Munsell was born on 24 Nov 1745 to John and Mary (unknown) Munsell.[i]

Nothing is known of Timothy’s childhood.


Timothy married Eleshiba Smith on 11 Feb 1768 in Lyme, New London, Connecticut Colony.[ii]

There is some confusion regarding the children of Timothy and Eleshiba, their number and their birthdates. I have settled upon the following:

            NAME                                    Birth               Comments

  • William Wescott Munsell     24 Jan 1770
  • James Munsell                        28 Jun 1773
  • Anna Munsell                          07 Sep 1775
  • Timothy Munsell                     16 Apr 1778
  • Sally Ann Munsell             1780              3rd Great Grandmother
  • James Andross Munsell         09 Jul 1781
  • Thomas Munsell                       1784                 “Supposed son”

I suspect that James (b. 1773) probably died before 1781 thus freeing up the given name of James for James Andross in 1781.  James Andross was also known as Andress, Andrus, and Andrew Munsell so it may be that James for James Andross was a confusion in some records. Further investigation is needed to clear up that question.

Some records indicate that Timothy Munsell may have served during the Revolutionary War as a private for Connecticut. However, The Daughters of the American Revolution have provided notice for ancestor #A082980 which states: THIS LINE MAY NOT BE USED FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE DAR. It appears there were two Timothy Munsells in Lyme, CT, during the revolutionary war. One was born in 1735 and appears to have served while our Timothy Munsell was born in 1748 and did not serve.

Timothy Munsell died on 26 Oct 1798 in Lyme, New London County, Connecticut.

He was buried before 12 November 1798 in Lyme, New London County, Connecticut.[iii]

His burial cost $2 for the casket, $1 to dig the grave, and $1 for the spirits. [iv]

His land was appraised at £3. His personal property was valued at £12. His wearing apparel was the most valuable, worth £2 12s. His bed and bedding, valued at £2 10s, and a hogg, valued at £1, 17s, 6p, were the top valued items of personal property.[v]

I currently have 23 individuals with the surname Munsell identified and 69 known direct descendants of Timothy and Eleshiba (Smith) Munsell.

Ancestry DNA

Looking at Ancestry DNA, I viewed Shirley’s closest DNA Matches that have trees with the Munsell surname and found the following cousins.

  1. W1 – Shares 61 cM – Common Ancestor Abner and Sally Anne (Munsell) Darling.
  2. M0 – Shares 31 cM – Common Ancestor – Unknown ancestor of William J Munsell?
  3. GS – Shares 25 cM – Common Ancestor Abner and Sally Anne (Munsell) Darling.
  4. SM – Shares 24 cM – Conflict. Sally Ann Munsel with the spouse of Warren Darling.

(Note: For privacy concerns, I only use initials of individuals matched.


Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Follow-up on children of Timothy Munsell. Did he have two children named James? If so, did the first James died before the second James was born?
  • Learn why Timothy Munsell is no longer accepted as Revolutionary War Ancestor. It appears to relate somehow to John Munsell b. 7-16-1735 Lyme, CT, d. 7-17-1819.[vi]
  • Follow and document the Ancestry DNA descendant lines resolve any conflicts and add linkage into William J. Munsell’s ancestry.


[i] Munsell, Frank, Genealogy of the Munsell family (Munsill, Monsell, Maunsell) in America, Internet Archive, Page 173 – Timothy Munsell born in 1745.

[ii] New London Vital Records – Page 315 – Timothy Munsell.

[iii] Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 (, 2015),, Timothy Munsell – Image 1206.

[iv] Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,, Timothy Munsell – Image 1208.

[v] Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,, Timothy Munsell – Image 1204.

[vi] Daughters of the American Revolution – Genealogy Research – Ancestor Search – Munsell, Timothy – Ancestor #: A082980 –

Donna Darling and the Boys

Donna Darling Collection – Part 7

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Donna Darling with Murray Walker & Jack Finney, circa 1922
Donna Darling with Murray Walker & Jack Finney – 1922

The searching, the hunt to understand a page, a photo from the Donna Darling Collection is always fun. Item #7 of the collection is a photograph of Donna with two men. Accompanying newspaper clippings suggest that the photo is of her with Murray Walker and Jack Finney. Donna did a show with Walker and Finney in 1922 called, “As You Like It” although I have also seen it referred to as “Donna Darling and The Boys.”

With just a little touching up, it provided a great photo of Donna and one showing Murray Walker and Jack Finney. Also, with it is a clipping of an ad showing them as the headliner at the Majestic. Sadly, the ad doesn’t show which Majestic theater it was – and there are several.

So, I searched for shows where Donna where and when this Majestic show might have taken place. I quickly found where Donna and the Boys played the Majestic in Harrisburg, PA on April 6th, 7th, and 8th, 1822. Then I realized the accompanying acts weren’t the same as the clipping from the Donna Collection.  I continued searching but still haven’t found the Majestic and show from Donna’s scrapbook.

Majestic (Keith Vaudeville) ad - Unknown date or locationThe two new venues I did find for Donna and the Boys are:

March 27, 28, 29, 1922 – Pittsburgh, PA – Sheridan Square – Donna Darling assisted by Murray Walker & Jack Finney in “As You Like It.”[i]

April 6, 7, 8, 1922 – Harrisburg, PA – Majestic ([ii]Keith Vaudeville) with Murray Walker & Jack Finney in “As You Like It.”

Also, I found a brief note in the New York Clipper about Donna playing

July 1, 2, 1923- Keokuk, IA – Regent – Donna Darling & Co.[iii]

So, three new venues for Donna and a great photo touched up.  It is a great day.


Search further for the Donna and the Boys show at another Majestic Theater that included the accompanying acts above.

Research the show in March 1922, in Pittsburgh, PA and research the Sheridan Square theater

Research the show in April 1922 in Harrisburg, PA and the Majestic Theater.

Research the show in July 1923 in Keokuk, IA and the Regent Theater.


[i] 1922-03-26 – The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA) Page 44 “Sheridan Square.”

[ii] 1922-04-07 – The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) – Page 22 “Best Show at Majestic.”

[iii] 1923-06-27 – New York Clipper – Page 21 – “Vaudeville Bills Next Week.”

Amanuensis the Easy Way

Amanuensis Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.A few years ago, I wrote a post about my wife’s 4th great-grandfather, Lewis Bryan (1755-1830) and that he had purchased his land from Robert Bryan. That post received several comments. One included a clue from Gloria Knight who said, “I have found where a “Patent” was issued on 10 Dec 1760 to a Robert Bryan. Source: Halifax County N.C. Land Grants – Secretary of State – Land Grants Record Books 1693-1960. Grant # was 82; File # 14. 520 acres on Conotoe Creek.”

I had meant to find that reference and incorporate it into my information regarding Robert Bryan. I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Her comment/clue reminded me of three significant resources matters.


So many of us want to be self-sufficient we tend to forget many researchers have been there before and we can and should build upon their work. For example, Gloria’s clue provided enough information that I could easily, and quickly build upon her work. Not just accept what she said but use it as a hint as a beginning point. I know that professional genealogists want every source to be quoted in a fashion identified in Evidence Explained. Sure, that is THE standard for citing sources.  However, rather than getting all twisted around the citation standards, I am most interested in having enough information about the source that I can find it for myself. In this case, a Google search for Gloria’s clue, “Halifax County N.C. Land Grants ” brought me immediately to North Carolina Land Grant Images and Data. Seeing Search Query on the page, I searched for Name: “Bryan” and County: Halifax. Six entries were returned, one the 520 Acres of Robert Bryan.  The page also had a link to an image in Book 14, Pages 114-115. There it was, an image of the original patent book. The key to me is Gloria had provided enough information regarding her source that I was able to find the source in less than a minute myself. To me that is the ultimate reason for citations and building upon or confirming her research is the ultimate purpose of networking.


I knew from previous research with this family line that Martin County was previously Halifax County.  There are many sites to learn that kind of information. However, I have found that Wikipedia is possibly the best and easiest way to confirm such information. On Wikipedia, just search <NAME> County, <STATE> and you get the appropriate wiki page.  In this case. I entered “Martin County, North Carolina” In the History section of the page returned said,

The county was formed in 1774 from the southeastern part of Halifax County and the western part of Tyrrell County.

I could have just as easily gone to the Halifax County, North Carolina page and learned that,

In 1774 the southeastern part of Halifax County was combined with part of Tyrrell County to form Martin County.

I think every county page on Wikipedia has a “History” section. I find that the County entries in Wikipedia to be a great asset. Besides quick history, there is a Communities section which shows the cities, towns, unincorporated communities, and townships within the county. Great information to have handy when reviewing Census and other records. I can be a real help in understanding that an incorporated community in your genealogy is near town that may have been their post office which may have been in a township.  So, when you see the names change in different documents, you can understand that your ancestors may have been in the same place even though multiple names were used.


Finally, I wanted to transcribe the patent information from the document. I’ll admit, I don’t like transcribing 18th century handwriting very much. I mean, I can do it, I just don’t like doing it. In this case, I could easily read the document started out “Robert Bryan Five hundred and twenty acres.” A Google search of those exact words led to one result. A quick review of the result showed it was a transcript of the document I wanted to transcribe. Dated the 10th day of December 1760.  Then, rather than transcribe the original text, all I needed to do is to read the transcription and see if I agreed with the transcription.  Much faster – much easier. Then, I added the transcript to my source documents identifying it:

Transcription by <Unknown>  found on site, BMGEN.COM
“Genealogy data relating to the Brian and Mitchell families.”

So, I have my copy of the original image, and I have my source for that image documented. I also have a transcription of the information, confirmed and reviewed by me. I am good with that and can move on to the next project.


Transcription by <Unknown> found on site, BMGEN.COM

ROBERT BRYAN five hundred and twenty acres of land in Halifax County.

Beginning at a Pine, his corner on Conneto Swamp running thence up said swamp to a Maple at the mouth of Wild Cat Branch; then up said branch to a Poplar in said branch; then W 62 poles to a Red Oak; then S 160 poles to a Pine; then W 40 poles to two Sweet Gums in a branch; then S 280 poles to a Pine; then W 88 poles to a pine in MOSES HORN’s line; then along his line S 23 E 174 poles to a White Oak, his corner on Conneto Creek; then down said creek to a Pine, JOHN HORN’s corner on said creek; then along his line N 17 E 142 poles to a Pine, his corner in said BRYAN’s line; then along his line W 16 poles to a Pine, his corner; then along his line N 270 poles to a Pine, his corner on a branch; then down the branch, his line, to the first station.

Dated 10th day of December, 1760


  1. Pay attention to hints from anywhere – check them out for yourself.
  2. The North Carolina Land Grant site is an awesome resource. Be sure to include it in your resources.
  3. Don’t forget Wikipedia County searches can be helpful.
  4. Check Google (or Bing or Yahoo) to see if the words you want transcribed  have already been transcribed.