Blackhurst Family Reunion – 1923

Amanuensis Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I don’t recall ever finding a newspaper article about a family reunion for my direct ancestors. I found an article on Ancestry.Com that mentioned my third great-grandparents, Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst. The article was from 1923. Stephen died in 1869 and Fanny died 1889, so a first family reunion taking place over 50 years after Stephen died and over 35 year after Fanny died was a surprise. It showed the pride the family felt to be a part of each other.  The article was in the August 12, 1923 edition of the Evening Chronicle (Marshall, Michigan).[i]

Transcription

Social News
Reunions
Blackhurst

Evening Chronical (Marshall, MI) 12 Aug 1923

The first annual reunion of the Blackhurst family occurred Sunday at Victory park, Jackson, and was attended by thirty-five members of the family. Descendants of Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst, who came to this country from England, settling first in Auburn, N.Y., and in 1869 coming to Albion which was their home during the remainder of their lives.

Officers were elected during the afternoon following the picnic dinner as follows:

  • President, Mrs Flora Sears of Marshall
  • Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids
  • Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion

The after dinner hours were pleasantly occupied with recitations and speeches by the guests and by the reading of letters and telegrams received from those not able to be present. Relatives and friends were in attendance from Big Rapids, Eaton Rapids, Spring Arbor, Battle Creek, Marshall, Detroit and Albion.

[Note: formatting above is mine.]

Discussion

My research did indicate that the Blackhurst did first settle in Auburn, N.Y. However, they were in Sheridan Township before the 1860 Census.[ii] They were in Auburn during the 1855 New York Census,[iii] so they appear to have moved to Albion between 1855 and 1860 and not in 1869.

People

President Mrs. Flora Sears of Marshall:  I don’t have a clue who that could be.  Apparently from a family line I haven’t traced yet. It is interesting to note that next to the Blackhurst farm near Hall’s Lake was another farm owned by J.W. Sears. Nearby farms also included Sanders, Brownell, and Clough names known to have married into the Blackhurst family.

Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids. Must be Charles Owen Brownell (1870-1962), who was a grandson of Stephen and Fanny.  I learned that he lived in Eaton Rapids in 1923.

Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion, is Phebe Ann (Eslow) a granddaughter of Stephen and Fanny. I learned she lived in Albion in 1923.

In 1923, my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah (Blackhurst) Barber was 76 years old.  In 1920 she was living with my grandmother in New York City. In 1928 she was living with my great-grandmother Ida (Barber) Knight in Detroit. So, Sarah and Ida, could have been there as the “relatives from Detroit.” Donna’s whereabouts are unknown during August 1923 so she could have been there as well. Donna, Ida, and Sarah all lived in Albion at various times so they would have known the people and could well have had a desire to be a part of the first family reunion.

Conclusion

My direct ancestors (Madonna, Ida, and Sarah) left Albion and Calhoun County before 1900, and they never spoke of Blackhursts or Albion. It wasn’t until my research that we learned that Madonna was born in Albion, she always said she was born in Detroit. When queried, my mother and uncle said that Ida was born in Detroit. And neither of them recall ever hearing the surname of Blackhurst in their family history.  That make me wonder what made them apparently abandon the Blackhurst family and totally lose contact.  Maybe I’ll be able to find the Blackhurst Family Reunion of 1923 and learn more.

Albion (MI) Historical Society

There is hope on that front. This article shows many Blackhurst family members remained in Calhoun County and the Albion/Sheridan township area. Their having a family reunion in 1923 is evidence they wanted to keep their family in touch. Albion is about 1-1/2 hours west of Detroit and the Albion Historical Society is open weekends from mother’s day until September. I think it would be a great excursion to visit the Historical Society during my next trip to Detroit and see what they might have.

Sheridan Township (MI) Map showing Blackhurst and related family locations

I wish I lived near Albion. Next door to the Blackhurst farm was a farm owned by J. S. Sears. (Possibly somehow related to Blackhurst Reunion president, Mrs. Flora Sears?) One farm beyond that was a farm owned by T. Sanders. Just south of that a farm by W. Brownell.  It is like half the names of the Blackhurst spouses came from these neighbors.  I would be a fun exercise to look at all of the relationships.

In my wanderings, I have found other people for whom The Blackhurst legacy was a big deal. They spoke about the family going back and forth between Chicago and Albion and sharing stories about when Stephen and Fannie left England and came to America and lived in the “wilderness of Michigan.” Maybe they will share those stories with this black sheep Blackhurst descendant.

Followup

  • Reach out to other Blackhurst researchers.
  • Visit the Albion Historical Society.
    • Research – Any records showing John F. Montran or any Montran surnames.
    • Research – Any records regarding the Blackhurst family of Albion particularly prior to 1900.
  • Determine who Flora Sears of Marshall is and how she related.
  • Do a neighbor study of the Blackhurst family and the relationships of Stephen and Fanny’s children’s spouses.

ENDNOTES/SOURCES

[i] Evening Chronicle (Marshall, MI) (Marshall, Michigan, ), Ancestry.Com, 1923-08-12 – Social News / Reunions / Blackhurst.
[ii] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013.  https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.
[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.

Blackhurst Conflicts – The “Blacklin” Family of 1860

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I recently attended a Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society where the speaker, Pam Stone Eagleson spoke about “Confronting Conflicting Evidence.” It was a very good talk. As I listened to it I was thinking, ‘It doesn’t really apply to me;’ I’m pretty good a reconciling conflicting evidence.’  It wasn’t until sometime later that it hit me, she was talking about “Confronting” and not “reconciling” evidence. Do I really confront contradictions or do I just accept inconsistencies without thinking about them too much?

When I changed software long ago because of a database corruption and because of the shortcomings I’ve experienced in exporting to a GED file and importing a GED file into different software my sources are in a bit of a disarray. Because of that, my practice is to take my original sources and reintegrate them as though they were new sources then delete my old sources as redundant. I was doing that cleanup for my 3rd great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

I began the walk up from my earliest source citation.

  • 1841 England Census – Good[i]
  • 1850 US Census – Good[ii]
  • 1855 New York Census – Good[iii]
  • 1860 US Census – Whoa Nellie!

My 1860 Census record seemed to come from another planet. Lots of conflicts. Looking at the record from the perspective of having just seen the previous four records provided a new at the conflicts. I decided I need to confront the conflicts head on.

1860 Census[iv]

The conflicts include:

Crop of 1860 Census record for Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst
1860 Census for Stephen & Fanny Blacklin
  • Surname – Blacklin family – Not Blackhurst family
  • Age of Stephen: 60, (b. 1799-1800) verses 1802-1804 of other records (3 to 4 years off).
  • Age of Fannie: 59, (b. 1800-1801) verses 1806-1810 of other records (6 or 7 years off).
  • Married: The box for “married during the past year” is marked. Other records indicate they married in 1825.

Gosh, could I have attributed the wrong family to my tree? I haven’t done that in years.

The kids in the household look to be right for the Blackhurst family.

Sarah is 11, although she should be 12.

Louisa is 22 – Her age is right, but the name is different.  Previous records included her as “Eleazer” and “Ealonr.” I guess I can get “Eleazer” out of Louisa – but “Ealonr”? Maybe there is a middle name I don’t know about yet.

William is the right name and age, 24.

1870 Census[v]

1870 Census – Fanny Blackhurst

Sadly, Stephen died in 1869. The 1870 Census doesn’t show relationships; however, the Fanny Blackhurst family has the right surname – Blackhurst.

Fanny is head of household. Living with clearly is her daughter Louisa, now age 31. It appears that Louisa married during the previous decade and had two children. Husband (unknown Sanders) is absent from the record.

Likewise, daughter Elizabeth, aka Bessie, is living in the house with her husband, Isaac Earl, and a daughter Mary, age 8.

I’ll add that other family members, such as my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah Blackhurst Barber, are living in the same area (Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, so I am pretty confident that the Blackhurst family moved from Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, to Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, sometime between 1850 and 1860.

Surname Conflict

Going back to look at the conflicts.

I can’t explain the Blackhurst/Blacklin surname conflict. Because the family appears to be consistent with the other records depicting the Blackhurst family, before and after the 1860 Census. I have searched the 1850 and 1870 Censuses for Blacklin families without success.  Also I have searched for the Blackhurst surname in the 1860 census to no avail. I believe I have done a reasonably exhaustive search and believe that the Blacklin surname is a census taker error.

Marriage Conflict

“Married during the past year” is a problem. It is certainly possible that Stephen married a second time to a woman also named Fanny. That would explain the shift in age. Another possibility exists in that the census taker marked people who were married as married in the past year. The first three family units on the page are all marked as marked as married in the past year.

The first household on the page is Thomas Saunders (27) with Marion (24) and two children (5 & 3). The second household on the page is Stephen (65) with Fanny (59) and three children (24, 22, and 11).  The third household on the page is David Bowen (33) Valindima (24) and two children (2 & 1). It just seems odd to me that all three of these apparent family units were married in the past year. Unless I find some compelling evidence elsewhere, I don’t believe that Stephen and Fanny were married in the year previous to the 1860 census or that Stephen was married twice. So again, I believe this is a Census Taker error.

Age Conflict

My experience has told me that ages are most accurate early in life. The ages for children under 10 seem the most accurate.  Women seem to have their birth year increase during their late 20s, 30s, and 40s. In their 50s their birth years seem to return to their original and in their 80s and 90s their birth year often seems to move before their original birth year. Men’s ages seem to go similarly, however, single men in their 50s and 60s seem to be older if they are married and seem to be younger if they are single or widowed.

Stephen appears to fit this model

  • 1841 – Age 39 – b. circa[vi] 1802
  • 1850 – Age 46 – b. circa 1804
  • 1855 – Age 57 – b. circa 1798
  • 1860 – Age 60 – b. circa 1800
  • 1869 – Died – Marker says 1801

Fanny’s ages also fit this model.

  • 1841 – Age 30 – b. circa 1811
  • 1850 – Age 42 – b. circa 1808
  • 1855 – Age 48 – b. circa 1807
  • 1860 – Age 59 – b. circa 1801
  • 1870 – Age 64 – b. circa 1806
  • 1880 – Age 74 – b. circa 1806
  • 1885 – Died – Marker says 1806

Conclusion

The bottom line is that I believe I have confronted the inconsistencies in the facts of the 1860 Census records and the have facts in my database as appropriate. Pam Stone Eagleson’s talk about “Confronting Conflict” led me to further consider some inconsistencies in my tree and that is a good thing. Thank you, Pam.

Sources and Endnotes

[i] 1841 England Census, Ancestry.Com, Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, Parish of Holy Trinity, Pages 21 & 22. Stephen Blackhurst.

[ii] 1850 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 Aug 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCT2-GRX.

[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.

[iv] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.

[v] 1870 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Fanny Blackhurst Head – Calhoun, Sheridan, Michigan, Page 30, Line 24.

[vi] Circa – When I enter a “circa” date, it generally encompasses the year before and the year shown. For example, b. circa 1802 generally means 1801 to 1802. In the example of the 1850 Census which was taken on June 1, 1850, an age of 46 suggests the individual was born between 2 June 1803 and 1 June 1804. On occasion, I also use “About” or “Abt” meaning the same thing.

 

Twelve Darling Greats Discovered

Bright Shiny Objects – A Distraction can be Okay

Howell-Darling-2016 Research
Darling Line

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.The Blizzard of 2017 was a great day to knuckle down and do some genealogy – as long as the power held out. My plan was to find information about Hannah Carpenter, my wife’s 4th great-grandmother. I wasn’t finding anything of interest regarding her. So, I stepped back and began looking at her husband’s (Abner Darling’s) records in more detail. Some time ago, I found a source for information on the Beekman Patent in Duchess County, New York.  It appeared that Abner came out of the Beekman Patent and I needed to research it further to understand how he may have found his wife, Hannah.  So, I looked at that material and became distracted. That document also mentioned a source, a 1913 book, The Darling Family in America, which I found a copy of online. Between the two sources, I extracted the possible names of a dozen Darling ancestors and several dozen siblings of those ancestors.  I learned:

Abner’s parents (My wife’s 5th great-grandparents):

192. Ebenezer Darling (1718-1790)
193. Mary Hakes

Abner’s grandparents:

  1. Benjamin Darling (1687-1772)
  2. Mehitable White (1689-?)
  3. Solomon Hakes
  4. Anna Billings

Half of Abner’s Great-Grandparents

  1. Dennis Darling (c. 1640-1717)
  2. Hannah Francis
  3. Thomas White
  4. Mehitable (?Thornton?)

And even two of Abner’s 2nd Great Grandparents (My wife’s 8th great-grandparents)

1538.  John Francis
1539. Rosa (??)

Wow!  I’ll be the first to admit, abandoning my research on Hannah Carpenter and diving into these Darling materials was going for the bright shiny objects.  I didn’t stay with my research plan. And yes, I “wasted a day” documenting what I found in “The Settlers of the Beekman Patent – Darling Document” and The Darling Family in America. Incorporating that information into a “notional” tree wasn’t part of my research plan for the day. Nothing confirmed, but a great outline to begin working.

We received about 17 inches of snow, had winds over 35 miles per hour for more than three hours, and had visibilities less than a quarter of a mile – an official blizzard. We didn’t lose power, though over 21 thousand people did here in southern Maine.  However, I was able to work most of the day on the Darling Family. I don’t learn anything new about Hannah Carpenter, but that’s okay.  Acquiring the likely names, birth dates, and places of a dozen other ancestors is a good day.  I’ll remember the Blizzard of 2017; it was the day I followed my wife’s Darling line went back to The Great Migration.

Howell-Darling 2017

List of Grandparents

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Return to Hannah Carpenter and research more about her life.

One more thing, it appears that one of Dennis Darling’s other children, 6th great uncle John Darling, came to Scarborough in the 1600s – a tidbit of information that could keep me involved for days of research at the Scarborough Museum where I volunteer.


Sources:

Doherty, Frank J., “Settlers of the Beekman Patent, The” – File: Darling.doc. See https://settlers-of-the-beekman-patent.myshopify.com/.

Clemens, William M., Darling Family in America, The (1913), Archive.Org.

Collins – Surname Saturday

I don’t really know much about my Collins ancestors, but they are among my earliest ancestors, 8th 9th and 10th great grandparents. They were part of the “Great Migration” of the early 1600s arriving in Massachusetts then locating to Connecticut.

Name Origin

Ancestry.Com suggests that the Collins surname is an Anglicized for of the Gaelic names Ó Coileáin and Mac Coileáin. It also suggests that it is a form of “Coll” a shortened form of Nicholas.[i]

Similarly, Forbears suggests that Collins is derived from and ancestor, “the son of Nicholas” – Coll or Cole – and put into a diminutive form: “Col-in” like “Rob-in.”[ii]

Geography

Collins is the 698th most Common surname in the world; Approximately ¾ of a million people have the Collins surname in the world and about ½ of them are in the United States where the surname ranks 50th.  In terms of density, (percentage of population and rank within a nation) the number one place for the “Collins” surname is Ireland.

Although often thought of as an Irish name, there are more people with the Collins surname in England (and Nigeria) than in Ireland.[iii]

My Earliest Ancestors

I believe that my Collins ancestors came from England. That is to say, I understand that my 8th great-grandmother’s grandfather was Deacon Edward Collins of Bramford, Suffolk, England.[iv] It appears that he came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1637.

His son, Deacon Nathaniel Collins, was probably born in Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1643.[v]

His daughter, Abigail Collins, was likely born in Connecticut Colony about 1682 and married Samuel Wolcott on 27 Dec 1705. I say “understand,” “appears,” “probably,” and “likely” because I have not had the chance to independently verify and confirm the source document from several authored sources individual trees that suggest this information. I have not confirmed with original source documents.

Marker of Abigail Collins Wolcott (1682 - 1758)
Abigail Collins Wolcott (1682 – 1758) – Marker

My third great-grandmother is Fanny Taylor who married Stephen Blackhurst. So the Taylor surname jumped five generations to me. Likewise, I have a niece whose surname is Collins having jumped 12 generations to another descendant being a “Collins.”

Abigail Collins married Samuel Wolcott (1679-1734) in 1705.[vi] They had six children (that I know of); their third child, Samuel (1713-1800) is my 7th great grandfather.

My Direct Collins Ancestors

#6564 – Edward Collins – (1603-1689) – Generation 13
#3282 – Nathaniel Collins (1653-1741) – Generation 12
#1641- Abigail Collins (1681-1758)
#  820 – Samuel Wolcott (1713-1800)
#  410 – Samuel Wolcott (1736-1802)
#  205 – Mary Wolcott (1767-1857)
#  102 – Chester Parsons (1799-1887)
#    51 – Mary Electa Parsons (1828-1888)
#    25 – Marion Sanford (1846-Unk)
#    12 – Arthur Durwood Brown (1869-1928)
#      6 – Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)
#      3 – My mother – Living
#      1 – me – Living

 

My known relatives.

My records only have six known Collins, however, I have identified 703 direct-line descendants of Abigail Collins, including my niece over 14 generations, which is almost 1/8 of my known genealogical database.

Footnotes

[i] Internet: Ancestry.com Collins Family History – http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=collins
[ii] Internet: Forebears – Collins Surname – http://forebears.io/surnames/collins
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Geni – https://www.geni.com/people/Deacon-Edward-Collins/6000000003221140498?through=6000000001589668526
[v] Geni – https://www.geni.com/people/Deacon-Nathaniel-Collins/6000000001589668526?through=6000000003221140498
[vi] Wolcott, Chandler, HENRY WOLCOTT, The Family of, Internet Archive, Page 066 & 067 – Fourth Generation – XVI – Samuel Wolcott [42].

————- Disclaimer ————

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 ————