Donna at the Henderson Theater, Coney Island

Henderson’s Theater, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York – Week of 6 September 1920. 

We know that Donna had finished a 5-week showing at B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater on August 29th. We know she performed in that show because she was called out by name, Donna Montran, in one of the ads and in a promotion in the New York Clipper. I believe that after five weeks of solid shows, Donna took off a week before she began again at a new theater.

“California Bathing Girls” opened at Henderson’s Theater in Coney Island on September 6th for one week. Advertising included a short article and a small ad.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – September 5, 1920

Ad for Henderson's Theater showing California Bathing Girls.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Sep 5, 1920 – Page 31 – Henderson’t Theater Ad.

At the Seaside Amusement Places
– – –
Henderson’s Theater.

At Henderson’s Theater a holiday week bill will be headed by Loney Haskell, character comedian, in a monologue. “Dream Stars,” a mixture of tunes and fun, will share the headline honors. Harry Murray heads the cast and is assisted b y Gladys Joye, Bernice La Rue and Julie Steger. Other acts on the bill are the Bathing Girls, Harry and Anna Seymour, Ed Furman and Bill Nash, Sully and Mack, Ed Hill in Hattie’s Creation”: Guy J. Samuel and Lily Leonhard and the Thames Brothers complete the bill.

Variety – September 10, 1920 – Page 5, Vaudeville – Column 4.

Luckily, an article in Variety on September 10, confirmed it was Donna Montran in the Henderson’s production. It is confusing because the article says “Now” and she was there “Now September 10th” however, the text says July 30th and then she was apparently between gigs. In any event, the article shows a photo of Donna sitting wearing a really beautiful hat and confirms that it was her in the California Bathing Girls at Henderson’s Coney Island.

The Variety article indicates that, “Donna Montran has an undeniable million dollar smile, oodles of personality and an elastic voice that hits the high registers smoothly and effectively – would make ideal $4 musical comedy stuff.” (I believe that “$4 musical comedy” refers to the price of a Victrola record.)

Remember that Donna played from July 26th until August 29th at the B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater. Sometimes that show was called “Bathing Girls,” and sometimes it was called “California Bathing Girls.” However, at the same time (From August 9th until August 21st) there was another show, “Original California Bathing Girls,” playing in Philadelphia. So the question arises, was this another show or did Donna and the troupe make the 1-1/2 to 2-hour commute to Philadelphia every day. I don’t know. Certainly, it is possible.  The newspaper articles I have found for the Broadway Theater engagement are clear; Donna played it.  The Philadelphia engagement is not clear as it never identifies the bathing girls by name.

Again, documents show that Donna played at Henderson’s Theater in Coney Island and that show was California Bathing Girls. I think more research will be needed to determine if Donna played in two shows simultaneously.

Further Research

  • Try to find further evidence if Donna played in the Original California Bathing Girls in Philadelphia from 9 until 21 August 1920 to resolve the conflict

Sources

  1. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Sun, Sep 5, 1920 · Page 31 – Henderson’s Theater – Via Newspapers.Com http://www.newspapers.com/image/60005902
  2. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Sun, Sep 5, 1920 · Page 30 – Via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/60005892
  3. Variety – September 10, 1920 – Page 5, Vaudeville – Column 4 (bottom) – Donna Montran

————- Disclaimer ————

Digitize those Photos!

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I advocate digitizing everything that can be digitized, particularly photographs. I was recently speaking with a person at the museum about a photo that she had of the Cunningham family. She showed me the old, faded photo and I asked immediately if it was digitized. I learned it was not. “Oh my,” I said, “we need to fix that.“ I explained the importance of digitizing photos as I went to get the light set for photographing.

Besides the importance of having a backup copy of the photo, electronic versions are easy to share. You can easily send a copy to cousins that may not have the photo. You can also post the photos on-line at many sites including Flickr, Google, Picasa, blogs, and other places to act as “cousin bait.” Finally, electronic versions of a photo may be cleaned up and made much more viewable quite simply and easily.  That is what I suggested to my museum visitor.

I photographed a couple of the larger photos with my camera then scanned a few of the smaller photos with a Flip-Pal.  It does a nice job of scanning photos without needing a computer.

To me, it is important to rename files immediately.  Filenames like DSCN1234 or Scan567 are useless. I know many folks like to use meta data, but I find having key information in the file name is much better. I use the form of, Subject, Context/Action, Place, Source, Date, and Status. I leave out the Place and Source if they aren’t important. That is the date of the image, not the date of the scan.  But, sometimes an image’s date might be something like “c. 1930s.”

Original scan of Charle & Carrie Cunningham & Family (in PNG Format)

In the case of the first photo, I knew that it was a Charles and Carrie Cunningham Family group photo. My guess is that the context might be something like 50th wedding anniversary of them; if so, it would be from 1928. Alternately, the clothes look to be from the early 1930s. So, I’m going to hazard a guess of c. 1930. So, I used the filename Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930.

I use different file extensions for different purposes. I use TIFF format for all my original scans and photographs. I then use JPEG format for all working and shared images. Finally, I use PDF for any images with text after I have run optical character recognition (OCR) on the image. The file types immediately tell me if the image is an original or if it has been edited. Occasionally, I use PNG for original files, particularly if I need to share an original. PNG files use compression to be smaller than TIFF files in size. I use them on images that are particularly large, typically more than 50MB as a TIFF. To give an idea of the various sizes, the following table shows the file sizes for the Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930 file.

TIF/TIFF PNG JPEG/JPG
Uncompressed Lossless Compression Lossy Compression
30.2MB 11.1MB 5.6 MB (Edited)

Next, I open the original file. I use Preview on a Mac.  It is really quick and it is easy to do almost everything I’d like to do. Windows computers have many other photo and/or image products which work very well also. After the file is opened, I immediately export it to JPG format. I then close my TIFF file and open the JPG file. I only ever manipulate or edit the JPG file.

I like to rotate the file and crop the file as appropriate.  If I can leave a ½ in border on the bottom during the cropping process, I do so.

For scanned black and white photos I set the saturation to 0; that eliminates any greens, or other weird colors from the image.  Next, I adjust the image exposure and contrast to provide the best possible image for the faces of the people.  Once I am happy with that image, I raise the sepia to a level that is easier on the eyes than a stark black and white.  Then I save the photo again. Just these few steps only take me about a minute and provides a much higher quality image to use and share, yet maintains the original in an untouched state so the process may be duplicated if desired.

Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.
Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.

I mentioned earlier about leaving a ½ inch border on the bottom of the photo.  That is to add a caption if possible.  In the case of a photo of Thomas Burdwood, the original was smallish and had aged pinkish over the years. Once again, I duplicated the photo, cropped it, set color saturation to 0, adjusted the exposure and contrast and sepia level.  Once I was done with that, I added text to the image of the individual’s name (based upon what was on the back of the photo) and saved it.

Thomas Burdwood Original Scan

Drawing of Thomas Burdwood
Thomas Burdwood edited

Of course, once a photo has had its initial edit, you can use many other image enhancement tools to remove creases, spots, or otherwise improve the photo.

Scanning photos greatly increase the likelihood that they won’t be lost. Keeping your original scan pristine means you can always return to the original and manipulate the image again. Finally, the manipulated and compressed version not only make the photo nicer to view it makes the image more shareable.

New York Times – Rotogravure – 30 June 1918

The Library of Congress has a new collection of The New York Times Rotogravure from World War I.  I was excited to see that the Library of Congress had the same material that I have which meant that I could use it and not need to scan my own collection. The LoC quality was excellent; they had whole pages instead of my partial pages. Then I saw that they don’t have all of the issues.  I looked at my collection and the next one I was going to write about was the June 30, 1918, issue. It isn’t available in the Library of Congress Rotogravure collection. My search of the collection showed they have June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23, but not June 30, 1918.

Top half of the first of six pages included from teh New York Times, 30 June 1918, Rotogranure
Top half of the first of six pages included from my 30 June 1918 collection. This half of the page includes: “Jitney Tank;” Lieutenant Aviator Leps; Lieutenant Guerin; Lieutenants Reno, Fonck, and Milton; a Shell-Shelter Village; and a Camouflaged French Road. Click the image or here for the OCRed pages.

Oh my — my collection suddenly became much more important. If I have editions that the Library of Congress does not have, then my collection might be unique. If so, I really need to preserve it digitally. Sadly, in the pages that I have for 30 June 1918, one photo was cut out. It affects that page and the reverse side but not the other pages. I photographed all the pages I have from this June 30th 1918 edition. Then I OCRed (used Optical Character Recognition) the images. There is one page that contains a full-page ad for Tintex, but no war photos, so I did not OCR that page and did not include it in my final product.  I assembled the OCRed images into a single Portable Document File. I wish that I had the technology to either photograph the entire image or to be able to adequately stitch the images together; however, I was not happy with the results of my trying to electronically stitch the images.

Here is my attempt with the 30 June 1918 issue.  I hope you find the images and stories as interesting and as fascinating as I do.

Ancestor Biography – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts (1796-1867)

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.During my recent “We’re Relate” Famous Friday investigation, I noted that my relationships to Luke Bryan and to Carrie Fisher were both based upon David Blackwell, supposedly the father of my 3rd great-grandmother Elizabeth Blackwell. I had originally intended for her to be #6 in my continuing Roberts, but determining if I might be related to Carrie Fisher enticed me to jump Elizabeth ahead to next to research.

Roberts/Barnes Research – Generation 6: Ancestor #33

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather:                          Bert Allen Roberts
  • 1st Great-grandfather:          Hugh Ellis Roberts
  • 2nd Great-grandfather:         Asa Ellis Roberts
  • 3rd Great-grandmother:Elizabeth Blackwell
  • 4th Great-grandfather:          David Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts (1796-1867)

Birth

Elizabeth Blackwell was born on 10 September 1796[i] in Surry County, North Carolina[ii]. She was possibly the 11th of 17 children of David Blackwell. An incredible amount of work is still needed to confirm and validate all her siblings.

Childhood

Elizabeth’s father was a revolutionary war veteran. Her mother died while Elizabeth was still young, probably before she was 10-years-old.

Marriage

Elizabeth married John Calvin Roberts on 3 March 1816 in Roane county, Tennessee.[iii]

1820 Census

Family Search Wiki indicates that the 1820 Census for Roane County, TN has been lost.[iv]  The Wiki suggests an alternate source in Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists…. I have requested a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

1830 Census

The 1830 Census finds the John Roberts household of Roane County, Tennessee with the following household:[v]

1 Male 30 to 39:              [John Calvin Roberts – Age 35]

1 Female 30 thru 39:     [Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts – Age 33]

3 Males 10 thru 14:        [Calvin, Elias, & David – Ages 10, 11, & 13 respectively]

2 Males 5 thru 9:            [Elijah & George – Ages 8 & 6 respectively]

1 Female 5 thru 9:          [Elizabeth – Age 6]

2 Males under 5:                        [Frances, Phillip, & John – Ages 4, 2, & 1 respectively]

Only two children were reported as being under 5. Francis married and was living during the war. Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. One of them must have died before the 1830 Census.

1940 Census

The 1840 Census finds the John Roberts Family in Roane County, Tennessee with the following: [vi]

1 Males – 40 thru 49:     [John Calvin Roberts – Age 45]

2 Males – 20 thru 29:     [David, Elias, & Calvin – Ages 20, 21, & 23 respectively.]*

2 Males – 15 thru 19:     [George and Elijah – Ages 16 & 18]

1 Male   – 10 thru 14:     [Phillip, John & Francis, Ages 11, 12, & 14 respectively]**

1 Male  – 5 thru 9:       [Asa & Hugh – Ages 5 & 6 respectively]***
3 Males – Under 5:     [Robert and Brazzel – Ages 1 & 3 respectively]***

*Both Calvin and David are believed to have died before 1848. One of them, may have died before 1840. Alternately, one of them may have established their own home by 1840. Further research is needed to determine which two remained in this household.

** This time only one male is reported as age 10 thru 14. Francis married and was living during the war (1860s). Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. For this census record to be accurate, both of them must have died before the 1840 Census.

*** Two males between 5 and 9 were reported and one male child under 5 was missing.  I believe that five-year-old Asa was reported in error.

1 Female – 40 thru 49:   [Elizabeth – Age 44]

1 Female – 15 thru 19:   [Elizabeth – Age 17

1 Female – 5 thru 9:        [Amanda – Age 9]

1850 Census

The 1850 Census names the individuals within the household but does not provide relationships. It indicates that the first ten children had either died or left home. The remaining six children are identified in the census. The John Roberts Household consisted of:[vii]

  • John Roberts                           M         55        Tennessee
  • Elizabeth Roberts                   F          53        North Carolina
  • Hughy Roberts                        M         17        Tennessee
  • Acy Roberts                             M         15        Tennessee
  • Robert S Roberts                    M         13        Tennessee
  • Bazel Roberts                          M         11        Tennessee
  • Rebecca Roberts                     F          10        Tennessee
  • William Roberts                      M         9          Tennessee

Also in the household was an Elizabeth Nelson, age 23.  Her relationship is unknown at this time. John and Elizabeth’s daughter named Elizabeth (born 1823) would have been 26 years old. I do not believe that Elizabeth Nelson is their daughter returned home with a new surname, rather, I believe they were two separate individuals.

1860 Census

The 1860 Census finds the Roberts family still in Roane County, Tennessee. The receive their mail through the Kingston post office.

The only one of the children of John and Elizabeth is their 18-year-old daughter Rebecca.[viii]

Death

Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts died on 5 July 1867 in Roane County, Tennessee. [ix], [x]  It does not appear that she has a marker.

Conclusion

The good news is that, at least in my mind, Elizabeth Blackwell’s parents were David and Sarah (Harris) Blackwell provided one more step along the way towards seeing those “We’re Related” relationships are possibly real. The bad news is that several researchers that I trust indicate that David Blackwell’s father was William Blackwell, Not Samuel Blackwell as the Luke Bryan “We’re Related” lineage suggests. Likewise, “We’re Related” suggests that David Blackwell’s mother was Elizabeth Steptoe; however, most other researchers suggest that David Blackwell’s mother was Mary Marshall.  So, at this point I don’t believe either Luke Bryan or Carrie Fisher are related through the line that “We’re Related” suggests.  I still need to confirm the parents of David Blackwell myself, but the priority of that research has dropped back to normal.   

Further Actions / Follow-up

  1. Review: Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists: a compiled list of residents of the area covered in 22 east Tennessee counties for which there is (sic) no census records prior to 1830 (Fort Worth, Texas: Arrow Printing, 1964) [FHL 976.8 R4c] for Roberts.  (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
  2. Review: Snyder E. Roberts; Roberts families of Roane County, Tennessee, 1794-1969, 1968 for Roberts Family. WorldCat: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/114828. (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
  3. Review: Chris H. Bailey, “Descendants of David Blackwell of Surry County, North Carolina and Roane County, Tennessee,” particularly his footnotes which contain many of his sources.

————- Disclaimer ————-


Endnotes

[i] Find a Grave, Find a Grave, No Marker – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts – Memorial #147852443. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=147852443.

[ii] Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), Elizabeth Blackwell #78189. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://www.acvancestors.com/g2/p2607.htm#i78189.

[iii] Tennessee, Compiled Marriages, 1784-1825, Ancestry.Com, No Image – John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwell – Marriage Date: 3 March 1816. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://search.ancestry.com/search/collections/eamtn/14655/printer-friendly?ssrc=pt&tid=28584065&pid=12093609656&usePUB=true.

[iv] Family Search Wiki – Roane County, Tennessee Genealogy https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Roane_County,_Tennessee_Genealogy

[v] 1830 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1830 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennesee (A). 1830; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 180; Page: 55; Family History Library Film: 0024538.

[vi] 1840 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1840 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee (A). 1840; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Roll: 535; Page: 70; Image: 1022; Family History Library Film: 0024549.

[vii] 1850 Census (FS), Family Search, John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee – House Number 1415. Accessed:  6 August 2016.

[viii] 1860 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1860 Census – John Roberts – 14th District, Roane, TN – Post Office Kingston.

[ix] Find a Grave, Find a Grave, (No Marker) – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts – Memorial #147852443. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=147852443.

[x] Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), Elizabeth Blackwell #78189. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://www.acvancestors.com/g2/p2607.htm#i78189.

We’re Related – My Possible Relatives – John Kerry, Luke Bryan, Carrie Fisher

 

Famous Friday
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My second look at possible relatives using “We’re Related.”

I must have received an upgrade recently as the program wanted me to reconnect with all of my Facebook friends. I was not amused that I could not bypass the requirement. I really don’t want “We’re Related” sending messages to all of my friends asking them to install “We’re Related” on their devices. My grandkids don’t need messages like that from me.  Nor do many of my other friends.  Luckily, it is possible to uncheck friends from the invites. It is a pain to have to do that to a hundred or more individuals, but I was able to do so and launch the application again. The first three potential ancestors shown were John Kerry, Luck Bryan, and Carrie Fisher.

John Kerry

John Kerry is identified as a possible seventh cousin, four times removed on my Brown line.

  • Richard Earl Brown
  • Arthur Durwood Brown
  • Marian Sanford
  • Mary Electa Parsons
  • Deborah Buel Maben
  • Electra Rowley
  • Wicks Weeks Rowley
    • Hannah Phelps – Unknown to me. Needs further research.
    • Nathaniel Phelps 
    • Nathaniel Phelps
    • Timothy Phelps – Supposed Common Ancestor.

I do not know who Wicks Weeks Rowley’s mother was. I believe his father was Nathan Rowley, but have no clue regarding his mother. Definitely, this is an area for further research. My relationship with John Kerry is possible.

Luke Bryan (Thomas Luther Bryan)

I’ll admit it, when I saw his name I said, “Who?” I learned he is a country music musician and composer. Then I switched to a genealogical context and thought, Bryan, I have Bryan’s in my family tree, maybe this will be a quick positive match.  No such luck.

Luke Bryan is potentially a sixth cousin, twice removed, through

  • Hugh Eugene Roberts
  • Bert Allen Roberts
  • Hugh Ellis Roberts
  • Asa Ellis Roberts
  • Elizabeth Blackwell
    • David Blackwell – Unknown to me. Needs further research.
    • Samuel Blackwell – Supposed Common Ancestor.

I don’t know Elizabeth Blackwell’s parents nor grandparents, but with only two unknown ancestors involved, this is probably the closest to verification famous person I’ve encounter so far. Cousins with Luke Bryan is likely.

Carrie Fisher

The third famous individual I’m looking at this week is the late Carrie Fisher, a potential eighth cousin, twice removed. “We’re Related” say we are related through Anthony Steptoe on the following tree:

  • Hugh Eugene Roberts
  • Bert Allen Roberts
  • Hugh Ellis Roberts
  • Asa Ellis Roberts
  • Elizabeth Blackwell
    • David Blackwell – Unknown to me. Needs further research.
    • Elizabeth Steptoe
    • John Steptoe
    • Anthony Steptoe – Supposed Common Ancestor.

With two individuals whose possible relationship to me stops at Elizabeth Blackwell, it makes me want to investigate that ancestor more fully, next. In the meantime, it is likely I’m related to Princess Leia, umm, I mean Carrie Fisher.

Blaine Bettinger

Finally, among my Facebook friends, “We’re Related” suggests that I’m related to Blaine Bettinger and that we are ninth cousins along my Brown Line. Blaine is a professional genealogist who specializes in DNA. His blog, The Genetic Genealogist is one of my favorite blogs to follow. He is the author of several Genetic Genealogy books. I met Blaine at the Maine Genealogical Society Spring DNA Workshop last April and was lucky enough to share a table with him and get to know him a little bit.

  • Richard Earl Brown
  • Arthur Durwood Brown
  • Marian Sanford
  • Mary Electa Parsons
  • Chester Parsons
  • John Parsons
  • John Parsons
    • Abigail Smith
    • Jonathan Smith

So, it appears we are very close, only two ancestors away from finding a common ancestor (CA).  I just need to find out who the parents and grandparents of John Parsons (1736-1821) are. In the meantime, it is likely that Blaine and I are related.

Updated chart of Relationships to Famous People

Famous Person Relationship* To CA Comments
Luke Bryan Possible 2 Research Ancestors of Elizabeth Blackwell
Blaine Bettinger Possible 2 Research Ancestors of John Parsons
John Kerry Possible 4 Research Ancestors of Wicks Weeks Rowley
Carrie Fisher Possible 4 Research Ancestors of Elizabeth Blackwell
Walt Disney Possible 7 Research Ancestors of Mercy Eliza Taft
Stephen King Unlikely Not through Max Fisher
Randy Seaver Unlikely Not through Henry Mack Brown
Britney Spears Unlikely Not through Sarah J. Gavin

“We’re Related” is fun to look at possibilities. It makes me think about key relationships in my tree and has the potential of providing clues into further research.  I wonder if Ancestry has improved its algorithms.  None of the matches this time were unlikely or impossible.

In my normal research process of my Roberts line, Elizabeth Blackwell is sixth ancestor on my list to research in depth. So, I should get one generation closer on that line in the next few months. Researching her will also bring me one step closer to knowing if I’m related to Carrie Fisher as well.

John Parsons, Sr., is my ancestor #408. I have written about my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary E. Parsons previously, but I still need to document his father Chester Parsons, and his father, John Parsons, Jr., before researching John Parsons, Sr., in depth.


*Relationship Table

Unlikely = There is something in the family tree going up to the common ancestor that I disagree with.  There might be another path to a common ancestor; however, according to my research, the path “We’re Related” is suggesting is not possible.

Possible = “We’re Related” has added additional ancestors to my tree to reach a potential common ancestor.  I need to do more research to agree with the Common Ancestor.

Probable = “We’re Related” indicates a common ancestor that I agree is an ancestor of mine. I need to research the descendants of that ancestor to assure the connection.

Certain = Well as certain as you can get in Genealogy. “We’re Related” indicates a pathway up to a common ancestor and down to the famous person that I am in agreement with.