Ancestor Biography – Nelson Barnes (1816-1884)

Roberts/Barnes Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It is usually the birth record, and how comfortable I am with that record, that defines how comfortable I am with my feeling that I know an ancestor.  Nelson Barnes’ birth records, parents, and childhood records do not give me a warm fuzzy feeling.  I have no sense of the cat purring behind my ear.  But, here is what I think I know.

Roberts-Brown 2017 – Ancestor #20

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Essie Pansy Barnes
  • 1st Great: Joel Clinton Barnes
  • 2nd Great: Nelson Barnes
  • 3rd Great: (Possibly Joel Barnes)

Nelson Barnes (1816-1884)

Birth

Thomas Wolfe, in A History of Sullivan County, Indiana,[i] indicates that Nelson Barnes was born in New York on 24 March 1816. It is very clear; however, Nelson Barnes’ Find a Grave Memorial [ii] indicates he was born on 6 December 1816. The photo on the memorial is too pixelated to be able to determine what it might say. So, I have submitted a Find-a-Grave photo request to try to get a higher quality image to look at.

Source ages and places of birth for Nelson Barnes

Document Age Supports Birth in
1850 Census 35 – Pennsylvania December 1816
1860 Census 44 – New York March 1816
1870 Census 54 – New York March 1816
1880 Census 64 – New York March 1816
1884 Find-a-Grave If age 68 in January 1884, then December 1816
1884 Find-a-Grave New York 6 December 1816
1909 (Wolf book) New York 24 March 1816
Photo of marker for Mercy Eliza Taft Barnes and Nelson Barns.
Marker for Mercy Eliza Taft Barnes and Nelson Barns. Photo by Wabash Valley Genealogy Society Cemetery Committee via Find a Grave

Normally, I like to use the document closest to the event. However, in this case, three of the four census records and the Wolf book indicate a different birth date makes me uncomfortable accepting the December 1816 birthdate. I’ve decided to ignore the Pennsylvania birthplace states in the 1850 Census as just wrong. His marker might indicate his age at death as 68 years and 29 days. If so, that would put his birth in December 1816 also.  So, I’ve requested an updated find-a-grave image of his marker. Hopefully, the bottom line will be more readable. An improved image might clear his birth month up for me.

Childhood

I have not found any documents, so far, that clearly identify Nelson Barnes’ parents. That said, there are 11 family trees on Ancestry that share Nelson Barnes as an ancestor.  All 11 of those trees indicate that Nelson Barnes’ parents were Joel and Lucy Wilson (Taft) Barnes. None of these researchers appear to have identified any siblings for Nelson nor have are any siblings identified on the Family Search family tree (ID: M1PY-5V8). Finally, the idea that Nelson married a Taft and that his father also married a Taft makes me uncomfortable.  Are the identities confused by the researchers or did it really happen this way? Having Nelson’s father named Joel would explain one of his sons being named Joel. In the future, I will research Joel Barnes (the elder) and see if I can connect him to Nelson, but in the meantime, the relationship of Nelson to Joel and Lucy is very tentative.

Marriage

Nelson Barnes and Mercy Eliza Taft were united in marriage in New York on October 21, 1839.[iii]

Adult

Their first child, a daughter, has one of the most unusual names I’ve encountered – Tryphenia.  Tryphenia (or Tryphena) was born in in 1841 in New York.  Records seem to conflict about if she was born in Broome County (Binghamton area) or King’s County (Manhattan).

Likewise, their second child, also a daughter – was born in 1844, also in New York.

The family then located to Sullivan County, Indiana where Nelson and Mercy had seven more children, all in Sullivan County.  They were:

  • Theodore              1847
  • Susan                    1849
  • Abraham              1852
  • Cyrus                     1855
  • Joel                        1857
  • Lucy                       1860
  • Martha                  1863

Nelson was a farmer and attended Methodist Episcopal church. The 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 census records all clearly show him living in Sullivan County.  Although some researchers indicate that Nelson served in the Civil War, I do not agree and believe the 45-year-old father of 8 remained out of the war. See “Nelson Barnes – Civil War Veteran?” for details.

Stories

In February 1879, Nelson and Mercy’s son Cyrus died at the age of 24.

Death & Burial

Nelson died on 21 January 1884 and is buried in Drake Cemetery, Fairbanks, Sullivan County, Indiana.[iv]

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research potential ancestors, Joel and Lucy Wilson (Taft) Barnes, and see if there is a descendant path to Nelson Barnes.

Endnotes and Sources

[i] Citation:  Wolfe, Thomas J. 1909. A history of Sullivan County, Indiana, closing of the first century’s history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth. New York: The Lewis Pub. Co. Page 235.

[ii] Find A Grave Memorial# 37229135 – Nelson Barnes (1816 – 1884). Accessed 27 Mar 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=37229135

[iii] Wolfe, Thomas J., History of Sullivan County, Indiana, A, Files (Personal),  See Item i above.

[iv] Find a Grave, Find a Grave, Nelson Barnes (1816 – 1884). See Above. See item ii above.

Nelson Barnes – Veteran?

Roberts/Barnes Line
By Don Taylor

As I researched Nelson Barnes I realized that many people are ascribing many Civil War records to Nelson indicating his service. Ancestry hints were indicating many different potential records that were all being ascribed to Nelson by various other researchers. I needed a way to help differentiate my Nelson from other Nelsons.

Map of Indiana showing location of Sullivan County
Sullivan County, Indiana

My Nelson Barnes was born in New York in 1816. According to Thomas Wolfe, Nelson and his wife located to Sullivan County, Indiana in the 1840s.[i] He was in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses. Turman township is on the Indiana-Illinois boarder so it is possible that he enlisted in Illinois.  Kentucky is about 100 miles away and there are many other places he could have enlisted if the 47 year-old, father of 8 desired to do so.

Looking at the 1860 Census, I eliminated any Nelson Barnes that was born before 1800 as being too old to serve in the Civil War.  I also eliminated anyone born after 1850 as being too young to serve. That left 19 individuals including my Nelson Barnes reported in the 1860 Census.

1860 Census – Birth and residence for individuals named “Nelson Barnes.”

# Birth Birth Place Residence in 1860
NB01 1809 Connecticut Roxbury, CT
NB02 1812 Rhode Island Johnston, RI
NB03 1814 New York Jasper, NY
NB04 1815 Kentucky Madison Co., KY
NB05 1815 New York Vienna, IL
NB06 1816 New York Turman, IN
NB07 1818 New York Franklin, NY
NB08 1818 England Hamilton, NJ
NB09 1826 New York Afton, NY
NB10 1831 New York Medina, MI
NB11 1832 New Hampshire Boscawen, NH
NB12 1832 New York Quincy, MI
NB13 1835 Connecticut Litchfield, CT
NB14 1835 Vermont Chicago, IL
NB15 1839 New York Sennett, NY
NB16 1839 Rhode Island Smithfield, RI
NB17 1839 Indiana Washington, IN
NB18 1840 New York Brutus, NY
NB19 1840 Illinois Richland, IL

With a list of potential Nelson Barnes’ who could have potentially served in the Civil War, I need to look at each Nelson Barnes record and see if they fit my Nelson, another Nelson, or are not determinable from the record.

Map of Indiana showing location of Randolph County.
Randolph County, Indiana

There was a Nelson Barnes who served with the 8th Regiment, Indiana Infantry (3 months, 1861). This unit organized on 21 April 1861. The unit mustered in on 25 April, 1861 and mustered out on August 2, 1861. This fits the service of the Nelson Barnes who was from Randolph County who enlisted on 24 April 1861.

There was a Nelson Barnes who served with the 5th Regiment, Indiana Cavalry (90th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers). This regiment mustered in during August, September, and October of 1862. This fits the Nelson Barnes from Lynn, Indiana who enlisted on 13 Aug 1862. Lynn is a town in Randolph county close to the Ohio border.

All of the other civil war records that I am finding for “Nelson Barnes” appear to relate to one of the many other Nelson Barnes’s identified in the table above or the Nelson Barnes from Lynn, Randolph County, Indiana.

Additionally, the 1870 Census shows a Nelson Barnes living in Washington, Randolph County, Indiana. Meanwhile, our Nelson Barnes was living in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana.

Finally, Lynn is a town in Washington Township in Randolph County.  I have no doubt that all of the Nelson Barnes records in Indiana relate to that Nelson (NB17 above).

I don’t believe that Nelson Barnes who lived near Graysville in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana served in the Civil War.


ENDNOTES & SOURCES

[i] Wolfe, Thomas J., History of Sullivan County, Indiana, A, Files (Personal), Page 235. A history of Sullivan County, Indiana, closing of the first century’s history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth. New York: The Lewis Pub. Co.

 

The Donna Darling Collection – Part 2

 

Donna Montran

Vaudeville
By Don Taylor

The first newspaper clipping in the collection is one that screams in big print, “DONNA MONTRAN.”

Newspaper ad promoting Donna Montran
Scanned image from the Donna Darling Collection. Originally: From August 20, 1920, edition of “Variety,” New York City, page 40 (back cover) via the Donna Darling Collection.

It then speaks of her as “BROADWAY’S NEWEST FIND – Under Personal Direction of Tom Rooney.” The advertising also acknowledges her vocal instructor, Louis Howard Croxson, and her dancing master Alexis Kosloff.  The clipping also shows that she is playing at B. S. Moss’ Broadway Theatre.  Knowing that made it easier to find the paper and issue that the item ran in. (Emphasis mine.)

The clipping is a paid advertisement she took out promoting herself. I was able to find it in “Variety” newspaper, dated August 20, 1920, it was a half-page ad on the back cover of the trade newspaper. The ad also includes a collection of quotes about Donna that we will see many more times.

The Quotes:

VARIETY, July 30

“Donna Montran ha an undeniable million dollar smile, oodles of personality and an elastic voice that hits the high registers smoothly and effectively—wood make ideal $4 musical comedy stuff.”

Abel

“MORNING TELEGRAPH”

“Donna Montran is here. Take leading part well in beach promenade.”

“EVE. WORLD”

“Donna Montran was the bathing girl prima donna and had as pleasing a voice as any girl should need.”

“N. Y. CLIPPER”

“The music was tuneful and the song, “India, My Own,’ with words and music written by Donna Montran, was sung by the author with good effect. Miss Montran is pretty, possessed of a fine figure and has a smile and personality that count.”

“EVE. MAIL” (July 26)

“There is the pretty, dainty Donna Montran, whose swimming hasn’t destroyed her voice.”

“EVE. SUN”

“Donna Montran. A blo/??
young lady who contributes /??
explanatory singing, manage /???
part well and exhibited some /????
pretty costumes.”[i]

The People

Thomas Rooney

Donna married Thomas Rooney on November 24, 1915, in Waltham, MA. So, it is clear that she and Tom were together for quite a few years. I am a little surprised that the very independent Donna would go for the phrase, “Under Personal Direction of Tom Rooney.”  (I definitely need to do more research about him.)

Lewis Howard Croxson

Louis Howard Croxson was a vocal teacher who had a studio in the Metropolitan Opera House building. Apparently, he was well known in New York stage circles. Among those he had instructed were Miss Tossa Kosta of “The Chocolate Soldier,” Miss Dorothy South of the “Wild Cat,” Miss Patricia Ryan, Carl Hayden, the Australian concert singer, Misses Irene Castle, Josie Colline and Bertha Shalek, his sister in law.[ii]  Through this ad we learn he also instructed vaudeville star, Donna Montran.[iii]

Alexis Kosloff

Photo of Alexis Kosloff 1917.
Alexis Kosloff c. 1917

Alexis Kosloff taught Russian Ballot and was very well known in New York. He danced in the imperial Russian Ballet before coming to America and was a writer, choreographer, and dance instructor. His book, Russian ballet technique, as taught by Alexis Kosloff: Method of practising foundation steps, potpourri of exercises, suite of dances, with descriptions and music, is a classic. He taught Donna how to dance. No wonder reviews of her shows often praised her dance ability. She was trained by the best and she gave him credit in this advertisement.

Conclusion

Clearly, it was important for Donna to promote herself. During a time when women were typically demure, she stood up and promoted herself. Showing herself as being personally managed by Tom Rooney, taught voice by Louis Howard Croxson, and taught Dance by Alexis Kosloff was her way of saying she was the “real deal.” Advertising in “Variety” was a way to gain prestige exposure with theater agents and others who could book her act.


Follow-up / Future Research

Thomas Valentine Rooney, Donna’s 2nd husband.

Endnotes & Sources

[i] The Donna Montran Collection news-clipping is torn and the last words on each line of this quote are missing.  Unfortunately, the Archives.Org image of that paper also is cut off on the right causing the words on the right to be missing.
[ii] The New York herald. (New York, N.Y.), 14 Dec. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045774/1921-12-14/ed-1/seq-11/>
[iii] Variety (New York, N. Y.), 20 Aug. 1920, Page 40 (Back page), Internet Archive: <https://archive.org/details/variety59-1920-08>

OMG – Another Half-Sibling

Half-Siblings provide the proof

Brown, DNA
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Thanks to autosomal DNA testing, I’ve learned who my biological father is. I have discovered and met some of my “new” half-siblings on my biological father’s side. I have also discovered that my wife has a previously unknown half-sister. Now, due to DNA testing, I’ve found that my mother has a previously unknown half-sister.

It began with an email from (I’ll call her) HC, who indicated that Ancestry DNA was saying that she and I were first or second cousins. The Ancestry match reported that she and I share 460cM of material.  A look at our trees showed no surnames in common. Ancestry allows you to view a match and see who also shares that match.  My half-sister, Glennis, was also a match and shares, even more, DNA (522 centimorgans) than I share with HC.  That proves that the match was on my maternal side as Glennis and I share a common mother.

Screen shot showing "HC" and author share 460 centimorgans of DNA.
HC & I share 460cM

Through an exchange of messages, I learned that HC’s mother was adopted, was born in May of 1938 in Texas, however, her mother was conceived in Minnesota. That narrowed things considerably.  My mom’s Montran/Barber line pretty much was from Michigan; my mom’s Brown/Manning line was from Minnesota. So, it was very likely that the match came from my mother’s father’s side of the family.  Luckily, my mother has a half-sister.  The bad news is that neither my mother or her half-sister, Barbara, tested with Ancestry.

No problem, GEDMatch to the rescue. Although both tested with another service, I had previously exported their data from the other system and imported the data into GEDMatch. If HC was a match with my mother and aunt Barbara, then the common ancestor had to be on their common father’s side. If the match was only with my mother and not my aunt Barbara, then the common ancestor had to be on her Montran side. I know very little about Montran line, so anything could be possible.

HC uploaded her data to GEDMatch and the results were amazing.  She shares over 1000 centimorgans of DNA with BOTH my mother and my aunt Barbara – Proof that the common line is on the Brown side. I like to use The DNA Geek’s chart to quickly see the potential relationships between individuals at a particular centimorgans level. The chart shows that 1000 cM is solidly in the range of Group C relatives. Relationships for Group C include First Cousin, Half Aunt-Uncle/Niece-Nephew, Great-Grand Parent/Child and Great Aunt-Uncle/Niece-Nephew.

Now that I know that the match is on the Brown line I can speculate.

Grandpa Dick
  • If Grandpa Dick is the father of HC’s mother, then HC would be the half-niece of my mother and Aunt Barbara.  That fits the amount of DNA Perfectly.
  • If one of Grandpa Dick’s brothers were the father of HC’s mother then, HC and my mother would be first cousins once removed and I would expect a DNA match of between 215 and 650.
  • Dick’s father died in 1928, so he can’t possibly be the father of HC’s mother, so that scenario isn’t possible.

Finally, I questioned was there is a locational opportunity for Grandpa Dick to be the father. HC’s mother was conceived while her mother was in Deerwood, MN about August of 1938. In 1937, my Grandpa Dick was living in Brainerd, Minnesota, about 18 miles from Deerwood.

I think that is enough to prove the relationship. However, I always like to go the extra mile if possible and prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt. HC’s mother is still alive and recently had her DNA tested. When the results come back, we can confirm this relationship. I expect that the autosomal DNA match with my mother and with Aunt Barbara will be in the 2000cM range – solidly in the half-sibling range.

Additional proof will come through a comparison of the X chromosome. Females have two X-chromosomes (males have an X and a Y).  One of the X chromosomes is from the mother and is recombinant, that is to say, it is a mix of the mother’s X.  The other X chromosome is a replica of the father’s X and is passed on without change.  If HC’s mother and my mother are half-siblings, I would expect to see their X-Chromosome to have a solid match like my mother and her half-sister Barbara have.

Screen Shot - X Chromosome Match of 2 half sisters
X Chromosome match of my mom & Aunt Barbara.

 

My mother and my Aunt Barbara have a here-to-for completely unknown half-sister. Amazing. I always heard that Grandpa Dick “liked the ladies.”  I guess he did. I now know of four daughters that he fathered, my mom, Aunt Barbara, Aunt Mary Lou, and newly found Aunt Phyllis. I wonder if there are more….

Note:

  • I do not typically use the full name of living individuals.
  • Of course, if any DNA specialists see anything incorrect with my reasoning above, please let me know via the contact form below.

The Donna Darling Collection

Part 1 of possibly 37

When my Grandmother, Madonna Montran (AKA Donna), passed away in 1976 it was several days before my mother was informed of the death.  When she went to Donna’s apartment she found that everything had been removed, the apartment cleaned, and the apartment up for rent already. She was told by the building manager that everything was either trashed or given to the Salvation Army. Well…  Not everything.

Photo of Donna Montran, circa 1910
Donna Montran, c. 1910

Apparently, Donna’s friend, Virginia Hagen, saved some of the photos and other documents of Donna’s. Those items were put into a trunk and remained “lost” for over 40 years. Virginia’s daughter inherited the trunk and searched the internet for information on the “nearly famous” vaudeville star, Donna Darling. (Donna Darling was her stage name.) She quickly discovered this blog site and contacted me. She gave me a chance to digitize many of the items.  I was able to digitize 357 images. Some of the images are large photographs, others are scrapbook pages with several articles, and several are groupings of thumb-sized photos.  Newspaper clippings from the 1920s in contact with acid rich paper don’t do so well over time. Likewise, many of the photos were glued into the albums causing damage.  Additionally, because Donna knew who the individuals were, there was no reason to label most of the photos.

I decided to process the collection about 10 images at a time. As I process the images, I hope to identify the people, places, dates, and anything else I can figure out from the images. Some of the images aren’t appropriate for posting to the internet, such as my grandmother’s social security health card. (The word “Medicare” isn’t on it, yet.)

The First 10 Images

The first ten images are a miscellaneous group of loose items. They included:

  1. Business Card from Amsterdam Hosiery & Gift Shop. There are four sides to this business card, including one side showing birthstones for the various months. I believe this was her ex-husband’s parents shop.
  2. Blue Cross Blue Shield identification card for Donna Rossberg.  I have never understood her Rossberg connection. This card confirms she used the Rossberg name sometimes but I have never found a legal connection (marriage) between Donna and “Red.” Something to investigate sometime.
  3. A 1970 photo of me holding my son, Matthew. Sadly, the photo is badly damaged.
  4. A photo of me. I have the same photo in my personal photos and have always thought it was from about 1956. However, Donna’s copy has our Fridley address written on the bask, indicating it was more likely 1958.
  5. A 1910 photo of Madonna Montran. At the age of 17 Donna had her first professionally done photoshoot. One of those photos became the picture used on the sheet music of “In the Heart of a Fool.” Another photo from that photo shoot is in this first batch of photos. The original has many scrapes, nicks, and creases. I touched up the image slightly to remove the blemishes from the photo (not from her).  Without a doubt, you can see how incredibly beautiful she was. Amazing photo is it posted above.
  6. Photo of Donna on Ocean Liner, circa 1930.
    Donna on Ocean Liner, circa 1930.

    Next is a photo of “Donna on Ocean Liner – Carabean [sic] Sea.”  I believe this to be about 1930. Donna and Sammy went to Panama in 1930. While in Panama, Donna met my grandfather. Also, while in Panama Donna and Sammy became estranged. Although they returned on the same ship, they appear on different pages of the manifest and reported living at different addresses. He, his mother’s address in New York and Donna her mother’s address in Detroit.

  7. Next is a photo of Freddie Braddock that appears to have been taken in San Antonio, Texas in June 1952.  I have no idea who this person is nor what his relationship to Donna was.  Another thing to investigate.
  8. A 1954 “Honorable Withdrawal Card” from the Laundry Workers’ International Union.  I knew that Donna worked in laundries.  I also recall her being very pro-union. She said that the rich get rich by exploiting the poor and that unions curb that exploitation. This card really triggers memories for me. I think I should research the LWIU and learn more about this important aspect of Donna’s later life.
  9. There were three letters from me. One made me feel bad. It was a letter from me to Donna apologizing for not visiting her when I was in Minneapolis on military leave. I promised her that I’d visit her on my next return home on leave. Sadly, she died before I returned to Minnesota.
  10. There is a wedding photo of myself and my first wife. I think it is in better condition than the copy that I have.
  11. My son, Matthew, is the subject of a March 1976 photo. He is on the side of a hill.
  12. Donna’s Medicare card from 1966.
  13. A photo of my mother, Sylvia, from Christmas 1970.
  14. And last, but not least, there is a photo of an unknown man in a vintage automobile. The car has “suicide doors” and odd fold out windows. I don’t know what type of car it is. (But, I’ll bet a car buff could tell me.) I’m thinking it might be Russell Kees (the significant other of Donna, not Donna’s son). I definitely need to do more research in this photo.

So, the first ten images yielded 16 items. Only 247 more images to go.  This is going to be fun.

Many thanks to Norma White and to Valerie Lumley for taking care of the collection all these years. Once again, thank you, Norma White, for allowing me to digitize the Donna Darling Collection.

Follow-up Research.

  • Search again for Donna’s connection to Red Rossberg. Were they ever married?
  • Who was Freddie Braddock and what was his relationship to the family?
  • Investigate and research the Laundry Workers’ International Union.
  • Determine the kind of car it is (below)?  Who is the driver?  When might the photo be from?

    Photo of a man in a vintage auto.
    Unknown man in a vintage automobile. How is he related?