For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection, both dealing with her playing at the Alhambra Theatre.
I have cropped, edited, and sized the photos for the web.
The venue is the Alhambra.
The show is the “Bathing Beauty Revue” featuring Donna Darling and Murray Earle.
Also on bill
Richard Dix in “A Man Must Live”
Coming attractions include:
Cinema Treasures indicates there were over 100 theaters named Alhambra in the United States.[i]
“A Man Must Live” was released on 19 January 1925.[ii]
A search of Newspapers.Com yielded no articles or advertisements that showed an Alhambra Theatre showing “A Man Must Live” with a bathing beauty revue. However, a search of Genealogy Bank was successful in finding such an article that published on 21 January 1925 in the Milwaukee Journal.[iii] The article mentions speaks at length about the movie, “A Man Must Live” and ends with the following:
“In addition, there’s the Bathing Beauty revue which may or may not amuse you.”
A further search of the Milwaukee Journal found an advertisement of the Milwaukee Alhambra Theatre using the very distinctive logo which was used in the advertisements that Donna had in her collection. (Larger first and last A’s in the logo.) The January 21st was a Wednesday and Donna’s scrapbook ad indicates that Gloria Swanson was coming on Saturday, so I believe she probably played at Alhambra 21, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (January 12, 22, and 23, 1925.
January 21-23, 1925 – The Bathing Beauty Revue featuring Donna Darling (Mack Sennett’s Prize Winner) and Murray Earle (From Geo. White’s Scandals) as well as “her 10 bathing beauties from the Hollywood Studios” played at the Alhambra Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Standard: Research the Milwaukee Alhambra Theatre and write about Donna’s show there.
I was really excited when one of my grandchildren indicated that she was interested in her family history. In particular, she wondered about her paternal grandmother’s family, the Rittenberrys. I knew very little about them, so I jumped at the chance to research some her ancestor’s history. To bypass living individuals, I thought I’d start with her grandmother’s grandfather, William Dee Ester Rittenberry.
Through the many records the surname takes many forms, Ritenberry, Writtenberry, and Ritenburg. I have settled on Rittenberry both as the most common spelling and as the modern spelling used as the maiden name by her grandmother. Also, for ahnentafel numbering, I begin with her living grandmother as person #1, making her grandmother’s grandfather Ancestor #4.
Rittenberry Project 2017 – Ancestor #4
List of Grandparents
1st Great-grandfather: L. B. Rittenberry
2nd Great-grandfather: William Dee Ester Rittenberry
3rd Great-grandfather: James Henry Rittenberry
William Dee Ester Rittenberry (1882-1961)
William Dee Ester Rittenberry, known as “Dee,” was born on 28 Oct 1882 in Buffalo Valley, Putnam County, Tennessee. Buffalo Valley is an unincorporated community in Putnam County, Tennessee. It is exit 268 on Interstate 40.
He was the oldest child of James Henry Rittenberry and Martha Taylor and had five younger siblings, namely:
Della Jared Rittenberry,
Lourency M. Rittenberry,
When he was 19, Dee married Dora Effie Jane Chism, known as Effie. She was the daughter of Charlotte (Chism), on 15 Oct 1902 in Putnam County, Tennessee. I am not sure about Effie’s father’s name and need to do more research regarding this family.
William Dee Ester Rittenberry and Dora Effie Jane Chism had the following children:
Ethel Lee Rittenberry was born in 1904 in Tennessee. She died before Jan 2001.
Evelyn M Rittenberry was born on 29 Apr 1907 in Putnam County. She died on 03 Jan 2001 in Cookeville, Tennessee at the Masters Health Care Center. She married a man surnamed Stone.
Cecil Rose Rittenberry was born on 07 Dec 1909 in Algood, Tennessee (See Article). She died on 08 Jun 1945 in Cookeville, TN.
John D Rittenberry was born in 1913; he died before Jan 2001.
T J Rittenberry was born on 16 Jun 1917 in Putnam County; he died on 08 Jun 195715 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee at Saint Thomas Hospital.
L B Rittenberry4 was born on 28 Apr 1920 in Tennessee. He died on 07 Dec 1976 in Goodletsville, Davidson County, Tennessee. He married Ruby Jean Shoemaker sometime before 01 Apr 1940.
William D Rittenberry, Jr. was born about 1924.
Lucile Rittenberry was born about 1925.
1900 – William Dee Ester Rittenberry lived in Civil District 19, Putnam, Tennessee on 01 Jun 1900. He was a Laborer at the Sparta Spoke Factory. The Sparta Spoke Factory was established in 1896 on the Calfkiller River and became the world’s largest producer of wooden spokes. As the demand for wooden spokes decreased, the company changed over to custom furniture and furniture components. Today the company is known as Sparta WoodWorks.
1910 – Cookeville and Ganesborrow Road Cookeville, Putnam, Tennessee. He was a farmer, farming a rented farm with his wife, and three children, Ethel, Every, and Mary (Cecil). Living with them was his mother-in-law, Charlotte Chism.
1918 – He registered for the draft on 12 Sep 1918 in Crawford, Overton County, Tennessee. He was described as medium height, medium build, Blue eyes, and light hair. Occupation: Coal Digging with Brice Hill. Dee never served.
1920 – Dee is living in Crawford, Overton County, Tennessee. He is working as a coal miner. Living with him are his wife, three daughters, two sons and his uncle, Carnie (possibly Carrie), Rittenberry.
1930 – The depression was tough on coal mines and Dee appears to have been impacted by it. The 1930 Census shows him working as a laborer in a public works project. It also shows Dee had moved back to Putnam County, TN, and was living with his wife and kids. Also, living with him is a granddaughter, Juanita Harris.
1951 – It appears that he retired on 15 Feb 1951 and went on social security. He lived in Cookeville until his death in 1961.
William Dee Rittenberry died on 24 May 1961 at the Putnam County Poor Home in Cookeville, TN, at the age of 78. He was buried at the Shipley Cemetery in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee. Per Find-a-Grave, There are 14 Rittenberrys buried at Shipley Cemetery.
It is clear from the census records that family was important to Dee Rittenberry. Although they were poor and had little during the depression, it is clear they took on family members that needed support and helped all they could.
1930 Census (FS), Family Search, 1930 Census – Dee Rittenberry – District 19, Putnam, Tennessee, ED 71-23, Sheet 2B. “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch : accessed 15 July 2017), Dee Rittenberry, District 19, Putnam, Tennessee, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 23, sheet 2B, line 89, family 46, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2269; FHL microfilm 2,342,003. http://(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SPQR-745.
1940 Census (FS), Family Search, 1940 Census – L B Rittenberry – Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee, ED 96-97, Sheet 3A.
Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1963, Family Search, William Dee Rittenberry. “Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1963”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 April 2015), William Dee Rittenberry, 1961. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKMS-83FJ.
Tennessee, Birth Records (ER Series), 1908-1912, Family Search, Mary Rose Rittenberry. “Tennessee, Birth Records (ER Series), 1908-1912”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2H5-C9Z1 : 4 November 2016), Mary Rose Rittenbury, 1909.
Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950, Family Search, William Dee Rittenberry & Effie Chism. “Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKHQ-M4MZ : 22 December 2016), Wm D Writtenbury and Effie Chisom, 15 Oct 1902; citing Putnam, Tennessee, United States, Marriage, p. , Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville and county clerk offices from various counties; FHL microfilm 979,724.
S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.com, Dee Rittenberry.
United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Family Search, William D Rittenbeary. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZ6X-M4Rv : 12 December 2014), William D Rittenbeary, 1917-1918; citing Overton County, Tennessee, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,877,604. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZ6X-M4R.
At first, I thought they were twins. Two children, Cecil Rittenberry and Mary Rose Rittenberry, born on the same date, December 7, 1909, to the same parents, Dee and Effie Rittenberry. The two records were entered by the same clerk one week apart seven months after the children’s births. Cecil was a boy and Mary Rose was a girl. It seemed clear to me. Then I started to get confused.
The 1910 Census shows Dee and Effie “Writtenberry” with their daughter “Merry” and no son. I thought ‘aww’ – The son, Cecil, must have died as an infant.
The 1920 Census really adds to the confusion as it doesn’t show Mary, but rather it shows Cecil as the correct age but as a daughter.
Other records follow Cecil through her marriage to Berry Willoughby her early death in 1945. In every record other than the birth record Cecil is always a female. Likewise, other than the birth record and the 1910 Census Mary has no other records.
I think the key to the facts in the case is in the 1910 Census. It shows that Effie had had three children and three were living. The three were Ethyl Lee, Evelyn M, and Mary Rose/Cecil Rose.
What I think happened
With a healthy dose of speculation, I believe the child of Dee and Effie born on December 7, 1909, was registered with the County Clerk’s office initially as Mary Rose. After the registration, someone went back to the County and registered the same child as Cecil and the clerk got the sex wrong but everything else correct, including the surname. Whoever responded to the 1910 Census was the family member who called the child “Mary.” By 1920, when the child was 10 years old, everyone knew the child as “Cecil” and that name stuck the rest of her life.
This is the first time I’ve encountered two birth records for the same individual recording different names and different sexes. As I said, I initially thought Cecil and Mary were twins. Now, I’m fairly sure that they are one individual. I’ll hold that view unless I find some compelling reason to believe otherwise. I am reminded to hold all records with some level of skepticism.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection
Bathing Beauty Revue
Al Ringling Theatre
The venue is the Al Ringling Theatre. It is “America’s Prettiest Playhouse.”
The show is the “Bathing Beauty Revue” staring Donna Darling and Murry Earl.
Also on bill
Poli Negri in “Forbidden Paradise”
Coming attractions include:
Bebe Daniels in “Dangerous Money”
“The Signal Tower”
“The City that Never Sleeps”
It appears that the only theatre known as “America’s Prettiest Playhouse” is the Al Ringling Theatre. It was built in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1915 and is in use today.
“Forbidden Paradise” was released on 30 November 1924.[i] The other three movies were released before “Forbidden Paradise.[ii] – [iii] – [iv] indicating that the Bathing Beauty Review occurred after that. Probably in December of 1924.
Donna’s known schedule indicates that she played three other Wisconsin venues in November and December of 1924, so she was definitely in Wisconsin at the time.
Finally, a review of the newspapers of the time yielded none currently available online. A search at Chronicling America indicated two newspapers published in Baraboo during 1924.
The Baraboo daily republic. : (Baraboo, Wis.) 1892-1929 – Current Holdings do not indicate any holdings from 1924.[v]
Baraboo daily news. : (Baraboo, Wis.) 1913-1929 – Current holdings indicate that the Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project in Madison, Wisconsin may hold issues from that period.[vi]
December (XX) 1924 – The Bathing Beauty Review featuring Donna Darling and Murry Earle played at the Al Ringling Theatre in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Visit the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison to view their Newspaper Project holdings, particularly the Baraboo Daily News from December 1924 and January 1925 looking for what played at the Al Ringling Theatre.
Research the Al Ringling Theatre and write about Donna’s show there.
The mother of thirteen, Ursula Eggert Drexl immigrated from Germany with her husband and children in 1884. Her youngest child died on the ship during the crossing. She worked as a jeweler for a short time but primarily raised her children.
Drexl Project – Ancestor #13
List of Grandparents
6 Grandfather: Nicholas Edward Drexl
12 Great-grandmother: Ursula Eggert
24 2nd Great-grandfather: Johann Baptist Eggert
Ursula Eggert (1860-1946)
Ursula was born in September 1860 to Johann Baptist and Ursula (Hohenadel) Eggert in Bavaria, Germany.
Her father, Johann Baptist Eggert died when she was only nine years old, on 23 May 1870. It appears that her first child, Nicholas Edward Drexl, was born on 29 November 1880 in Bavaria, Germany, almost a year before her marriage to Frank Xaver Drexl.
She married Frank Xaver Drexl on 25 October 1881 in Petzenhausen, Baveria, Germany.
Children of Frank Xaver and Ursula (Eggert) Drexl
1904 – Hedwig Frances Stoeger
1902 – Frank Matschinger
1884, at sea
1911 – [?] Wallace
1910 – [?] Wikstrom
1909 = Michael J. Gallagher
? – Violet Gertrude Weldon
? – Catherine Classen
Frank John Joseph
? – Bernice Frances ?
? – Louise Opperman
The young family, Frank and a very pregnant Ursula along with their three children immigrated to the United States in 1884. Their youngest, Edward died on the voyage and was buried at sea. The family located to Leavenworth, Kansas, where their son Franz Xaver was born on 29 April 1884.
1886 was a tough year. Ursula’s mother, Ursula, died on 11 February. Also, the death of two-year-old Franz in 1886 must have been devastating. The family moved from Leavenworth twenty-five miles NW to Atchison, Kansas that year. Francis Theresia was born on 4 August in Atchison, Kansas.
Sometime between 1888 and 1893 the family located to Minnesota.
In 1895, Frank and Ursula lived at 258 Custer Street, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota with 7 of their children, Nick, Christina, Francis, Katie, Mary, Joseph, and Charles.
In 1900, Frank and Ursula lived at 260 Custer Street, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota with 8 of their children, Nicholas, Christina, Francis, Katherine, Marie, Joseph, Charles, and Frank. Ursula was working as a jeweler.
In 1905, Frank and Ursula lived at 46 Robie, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota. Francis, Catherine, Mary are shown in the 1905 census. The other children were apparently left off the census report
In 1910, Frank and Ursula lived at 26 Winifred Street, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota with six of their children, Francis, Kate, Joseph, Charles, Frank, and Anthony.
In 1920, Frank and Ursula lived at 35 W. Isabel, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota, with three of their children, Joseph, Frank, and Mari (now Gallagher) and Mari’s daughter, Catherine Gallagher.
Urusla’s husband, Frank Xaver Drexl died on 4 November 1929 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Saint Paul.
In 1930, Ursula sill was living at 35 W. Isabel, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota, however, now her son, Joseph, his wife Violet, and Ursula’s daughter Frances (now Wallace) were living with her.
In 1932, Ursula moved to 1576 Goodrich Ave, Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota.
Ursula moved to 535 Hall Ave. Saint Paul, Ramsey County Minnesota sometime before 1944.
Ursula died on 16 May 1946 in Ramsey County Minnesota. Her burial location is unknown.
1895 Minnesota State Census, 1895, Drexl, Frank – St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota.
1900 US Federal Census (FS), Frank Drexl – Head – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota – Sheet 8.
1905 Minnesota State Census, Frank Drexl – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, ED 27, Sheet 40 – #76.
1910 US Federal Census (FS) (n.p: NARA, n.d), Frank Drexl -Head – St Paul Ward 6, Ramsey, Minnesota, ED 84, Sheet 2B, Line 70 .
1920 US Federal Census (FS), Frank Drexel (Drexl) – Head- Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota.
1930 US Federal Census – Ursula Drexl – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota – ED 62-67 – Sheet 11B – (AA), Line 53 – Ursula Drexl – Head.