Abner Darling in the 1800 Census.

Darling Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I’ve felt pretty solid that Abner Darling (b. 1780)’s father was Abner Darling (b. 1747). A little less so that his father was Ebenezer. On the other side of the tree, I am confident that Benjamin and Mehitable Darling had a son, Ebenezer.[i] But I’m not so confident that Ebenezer, the father of Abner, is the same person as Ebenezer, the son of Benjamin and Mehitable. This relationship is one of those times where I don’t know what is wrong, but something just doesn’t feel right.

Again, I’m confident that 24.  Rufus Holton Darling’s (1816-1857) father is #48.  Abner Darling (b. 1780-1839). And I’m convinced that 192. Ebenezer Darling (1718-1790) and 193. Mary Hakes had a son #96 Abner Darling (1747-c. 1800).Where I’m not confident is that Abner Darling’s (b. 1780-1839) father was 96. Abner Darling (1747-c. 1800) and not another Abner Darling.  That probably sounds confusing, and it is, but the bottom line is I need to go back and do more research on Abner Darling  (1780-1839) and confirm everything and make sure the connection between #48 and #96 is correct.

As I began researching, the first thing I noticed is that it was not my Abner Darling who lived Whitestown, Oneida County, New York during the 1800 Census[ii] and died sometime after that.  That record indicated:

Abner Darling  —  3  1  0  1  0  ||  2  0  0  1  0

The adults fit with what I think is the family unit at that time, but none of the children fit. My Abner’s children were born between 1779 and 1789 so none of them would be under 10 in the 1800 census.

Searching further, I found a Hannah Darling who was the head of a household in Bethlehem, Albany County, New York in the 1800 Census.[iii] In census records before 1850, I try to ascribe all of the family members to census record entries and see if it makes sense. If something is inconsistent, I seek a likely scenario that would make the record fit. In this case:

Detail of 1800 Census Record for Hannah Darling
1800 Census – Hannah Darling – — 0  1  3  1  0  ||  0 1 3  0  1


Under 10            0
10-16                1          Alanson, Age 13.
16-26                3          Thomas, 25; Abner, 20; Reid, 17
26-45                1          First name unknown Darling, Age 28.
Over 45’ –           0

Note: The first boy named Thomas died in 1776.


Under 10            0
10-16                1          Hannah or Deidame, ages 11 and 13. One is missing.
16-26                3          Luana, Age 15, Lucinda, Age 15, Esther, 22.
26-45                0
Over 45’            1          Hannah, Age 53

Hannah and her children line up very nicely to this 1800 Census record.

Sylvia age 27, Lucy age 29, and Mary age 30 all appear to be missing in this record as I would expect. I will need to follow their marriage information or death information to confirm this.

That Luana and Lucinda were identified as being 16 when they were only 15 is easy for me to accept. I believe this is the correct family unit. For Hannah to have been enumerated in the 1800 census as the head of household, her husband Abner must have passed (or vanished) before the enumeration date of 4 August 1800. That shifts my death date for Abner from after 4 Aug 1800 to before 4 Aug 1800.

I suspect that either Hannah, the younger, or Deidame had died before 1800 leaving only one daughter in the 10 to 16 age range.

Future Actions:

  • Find record for Abner’s death between 1790 and 1800.
  • Find a record for Hannah’s death, marriage, or census enumeration from 1800 to 1810.
  • Trace what happened to Abner & Hannah’s other children.


[i] Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915, Family Search, Ebenezer Darling – 1718. “Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F458-7ZZ; 4 December 2014), Ebenezer Darling, 25 Aug 1718; citing Mendon, Worcester, Massachusetts, 56; FHL microfilm 855,377. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F458-7ZZ.

[ii] “United States Census, 1800,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH5Y-F7Z; accessed 3 November 2017), Abner Darling, Whitestown, Oneida, New York, United States; citing p. 172, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 23; FHL microfilm 193,711.

[iii] “United States Census, 1800,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRC-RQF; accessed 5 November 2017), Hannah Darling, Bethlehem, Albany, New York, United States; citing p. 107, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 22; FHL microfilm 193,710.


Ancestor Bio – Dennis F. Murphy (c. 1845-1890)

By Don Taylor

Born of Irish immigrants, Dennis Murphy had a rough childhood. He enlisted and went to war at a young age. He returned from the war and worked.  He married at about 40 years old, had three children, two of whom died as children. He died at age 45 leaving a wife and a four-year-old daughter.

Whitten Project 2017 – Ancestor #10

List of Grandparents

  • Grandmother: Francis Florence Murphy
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Dennis F. Murphy
  • 2nd Great-grandfather: John Murphy

Dennis F. Murphy (c. 1845-1890)

Dennis Murphy was born sometime in 1845 or 1846 in Calais, Washington County, Maine. His father was John Murphy, an immigrant from Ireland. His mother is not clear. The 1850 Census indicates that John married Joanna Murphy within the year. So, it is not clear if John was a widower or if he and Joanna were together before that and married later.


Photo of State School for Boys, South Portland, ca. 1920
The State Reform School in Cape Elizabeth was first built in 1850. In 1898, part of Cape Elizabeth became part of South Portland. This photo is circa 1920 after it became the State School for Boys. in South Portland. The photo is courtesy of the Maine Historical Society via the Maine Memory Network.

Shortly after his birth, the young family moved to Biddeford, Maine, and his sister Mary was born in 1850.

Certainly, Dennis’ childhood was difficult.  The 1860 Census finds the family split up.  Dennis’ parents are living in Biddeford as is his sister, Mary. He, however, is at the State Reform School in Cape Elizabeth for larceny. His age is given as 13, a year younger than the 1850 Census suggests.



In 1861, when he was 16 years-old, he enlisted in in the 5th Maine Volunteer Infantry, First Regiment, Company A.  He indicated that he was 18 years-old at the time.  The 5-foot, 4½-inch young man was described as having a florid complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair.  His was a three-year enlistment. Although he enlisted in Biddeford, he mustered in two days later in Augusta, Maine, 72 miles away.

During his three years with the Fifth, he would have seen action at Bull RunSouth Mountain, Antietam, FredericksburgChancellorsvilleMaryes Heights, Salem Heights, Banks’ Ford, Gettysburg, Hagerstown, Mine Run, North Anna, TotopotomoyCold Harbor, Petersburg and many other skirmishes before he was transferred to the 6th Maine Infantry on 23 June 1864. Today the 5th Maine Volunteer Infantry’s memory is preserved at the Fifth Maine Regiment Community Center on Peaks Island, Maine.

In September 1864, he was transferred to the 1st Regiment of the Maine Veteran Infantry. There he would have participated at the Battle of Cedar Creek. He was honorably discharged on 6 December 1864.


The 1870 Census finds the 24-year-old Dennis living with his father, mother, and sister in Biddeford. He and his father both work in a machine shop.

The 1880 Census still finds Dennis living with his father and mother in Biddeford. He and his father are both machinists. None of the family can read or write.


Dennis married Margaret Alice Maloney (possibly Mahoney) probably sometime in 1885. They had three children:

Name Born Marriage Death
Frances Florence Murphy 11 Apr 1886 1911 – Herbert Winfield Whitten 1952
John Walter Murphy 20 Aug 1887 n/a 22 Aug 1887
Joanna Josephine Murphy 28 May 1890 n/a Before 1900

Dennis was living on Gooch Street when his son, John Walter Murphy, died in 1887 at the age of two days. It is not clear when Joanna died, but certainly before 1900.

The Biddeford directory of 1890 indicates that Dennis is a machinist at the Saco Water Power Machine Shop and lived at 51 Gooch Street.

On 7 July 1890, Dennis applied for a military pension.


Marker – Dennis F Murphy – Photo by Steve (#46835300) via Find a Grave.

Dennis F. Murphy died at 45 years of age on November 18, 1890. Dennis was buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Biddeford, York County, Maine.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Visit the Fifth Maine Regiment Community Center at 45 Seashore Avenue on Peaks Island, Maine and learn more about the service of Dennis F. Murphy and the actions of the Fifth Maine Volunteer Infantry.
  • Visit McArthur Library and review the Murphy’s in the Biddeford Directories.
  • Order Margaret Murphy’s Pension Application #499,630 from the National Archives ($80). It should also contain the information from Dennis Pension application also.


  • 1850 Census, Family Search, 1850 Census – John Murphy – Biddeford, York, Maine. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6VD-8Q6 : 12 April 2016), Dennis Murphey in household of John Murphey, Biddeford, York, Maine, United States; citing family 1066, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • 1860 Census, Family Search, Dennis Murphy – Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Maine [See Page 4 of images – Key] Page 82  (State Reform School) – Line 34″ United States Census, 1860″, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDHY-13V : 26 July 2017), Dennis Murphy, 1860.
  • 1870 Census, 1870 Census – John Murphy – Biddeford, York, Maine. “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6DH-DKR : 12 April 2016), John Murphy, Maine, United States; citing p. 94, family 646, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,063.
  • 1880 Census (A), John Murphy – Biddeford, York, Maine. com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. All use is subject to the limited use license and other terms and conditions applicable to this site. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • 1900 Census (A), com, Margaret Murphy. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
  • Biddeford, Maine Directory, 1890-1891, com, Dennis F Murphy – No Image. Original data: Biddeford, ME, 1890. W. A. Greenouch & Co., 1890.
  • Find a Grave, Dennis F Murphy – Memorial 151088087. Find a Grave Memorial Created by Steve – Record added: Aug 22, 2015, Find A Grave Memorial# 151088087. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=151088087.
  • Maine, Marriage Records, 1713-1937, com, Herbert Winfield Whitten & Francis Florence Murphy. Maine State Archives; Augusta, Maine, USA; 1908-1922 Vital Records; Roll #: 60. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=MaineMarriageRe&h=1028162&indiv=try.
  • Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957, Family Search, Dennis Murphy – Military Service. “Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:246V-9LL : 4 December 2014), Dennis Murphy, 20 Nov 1861; citing Military Service, State Archives, Augusta.
  • United States Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917, Family Search, Dennis F. Murphy – Pension App. 794,293; Cert. 518,106. “The United States Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N4J6-M44 : 24 March 2016), Dennis F. Murphy, 1890.
  • Maine, Birth Records, 1715-1922, com, Francis Florence Murphy. Maine State Archives; Cultural Building.
  • Maine, Birth Records, 1715-1922, com, John Walter Murphy – Aug 20, 1887. Maine State Archives; Cultural Building, 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0084; Pre 1892 Delayed Returns; Roll Number: 79.
  • Biddeford Daily Journal ((Biddeford, ME), ), Newspaper Archives, 1887-08-23 – Page 3, Column 1 – Biddeford & Saco. https://newspaperarchive.com/biddeford-daily-journal-aug-23-1887-p-3/.
  • Maine, Birth Records, 1715-1922, com, Johanna Josephine Murphy – 28 May 1890. Maine State Archives; Cultural Building, 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0084; Pre 1892 Delayed Returns; Roll Number: 79.
  • Wikipedia: “5th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_Maine_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment








Death of a Child Provides Clue to Grandparents.

Whitten Project
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of the most difficult “brick walls” I see is when several people about the same age are living in the same place. I had been struggling with Dennis Murphy, who was married to Margaret (or Marguerite) Maloney and lived in Biddeford, Maine. Dennis and Margaret were probably married sometime about 1885 because their first child was born on 11 April 1886. They had three children, two of whom died before the 1900 Census. Margaret is listed as a widow in the 1900 Census, so it appeared that Dennis died before 1900. Also, their youngest child was born on 28 May 1890, so it is reasonable to suggest that Dennis died after August 1889.

I could find birth records for the three children. A marriage record for the daughter indicated that Dennis was born in Calais, Maine, but none of the records I could find provided Dennis’ date of birth. I could not find any facts regarding this Dennis that would differentiate him from the other Dennis Murphys. I decided to try and follow the two children who had died and see if a newspaper might have carried the story. I got excited when I found that NewspaperArchives.com had “The Biddeford Journal” and was saddened that the issues available online contained many issues from 1888 but then they jumped to 1920. I searched anyway looking for Dennis Murphy, Dennis F Murphy, and lots of other combinations. Then success. The August 23, 1887, issue of the “Biddeford Daily Journal,” page 3, Column 2 had an article for Biddeford and Saco news.  It has a one line article: “A five day-old son of Dennis F. Murphy, of Gooch street, died last night.” His middle child, John Walter Murphy was born on 20 Aug 1887. If he died on 22 August, he would have been two-days-old instead of five-days-old, but sure looks like the right child – On Gooch street – Hummm…

Image of The Saco and Petlee Machine Shop c. 1910, Biddeford , Maine
Saco and Petlee Machine Shop c. 1910.
The Saco Water Power Machine Shop later became the Saco and Pettee Machine Shop, and finally the Saco-Lowell Machine Shop.
Photo courtesy McArthur Public Library via Maine Historical Society.

The 1890 Biddeford, Maine, city directory shows Dennis F. Murphy working at The Saco Water Power Machine Shop and living at 51 Gooch St.

Looking again at the 1880 Census and focusing on Biddeford, I quickly found a John Murphy, with wife Joana and son, Dennis, living at the “rear of Gooch Street.” And the names fit as well.  Dennis named his son “John” and one of his daughters “Joanna,” apparently to honor his parents. Dennis was also born in Maine and his parents were born in Ireland.

I’m confident that the Dennis Murphy who lived on Gooch street in Biddeford is the correct ancestor.  I am also convinced that Dennis’ father was John Murphy and his mother was Joana. The 1880 Census also indicates that there were two households living in the same dwelling. Besides John & Family, there was a Jeramiah McIntire with his wife Susan. They were in their 70s and could easily be related.  Could these people be Joana’s parents? I will find out when I research John and Susan’s lives.


Continue researching Dennis Murphy’s life.


Ancestor Bio – Nimrod Lister (c. 1826-c. 1890)

Roberts Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I always feel frustrated when I am unable to find an ancestor in all of the census records. Such is the case with Nimrod Lister.  I found him in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 Census records but have been unable to find him in the 1830, 1840, or 1850 Census Records.  I also feel frustrated when I can’t find a source for death information on an individual. The 1900 Census indicates that his wife, Malinda, was a widow. The questions that arises in my mind: Was she actually a widow? Did she say she was a widow after Nimrod ran off for one reason or another?  Unfortunately, the 1890 Census is largely missing and searches of available online newspapers and other sources have been unsuccessful in my finding him after the 1880 Census.

Research Family 2017 – Ancestor #96

List of Grandparents

  • Grandmother: Essie Pansy Barnes (1903-1982)
  • 1st Great-grandmother: Marada Mae Lister (1867-1932)
  • 2nd Great-grandfather: Nimrod Lister (c. 1826-c. 1890)
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: William Lister (c. 1802- ? )

Nimrod Lister (c. 1826-c. 1890)

It is not clear when Nimrod was born. The 1860 Census indicates he was 34 years old; the 1870 Census indicates he was 43 years old and the 1880 Census indicates he was 55 years old. Suggesting he was born sometime between 1824 and 1827. I have settled on 1826 as my preferred date because it is most consistent with the earlier censuses. It appears that he was born in Pickaway County, Ohio. His father possibly was William Lister and the name of his mother is still unknown.


Other researchers indicate that he had at least three younger siblings, Sarah, William, and James. I have not been able to confirm that information.  Also, I have not been successful in identifying him in the 1830, 1840, or 1850 Censuses. I hope to determine his earlier life better when I research William Lister.


Nimrod married Malinda Evans on 17 March 1854 in Pickaway County, Ohio, in a ceremony performed by James Roland, a minister of the Gospel.[i] Nimrod and Malinda had eight children.

Name Born Married Died
James M Lister Bet. 1853-1855, Ohio
Nancy A Lister Bet. 1855-1857, Ohio
Charles C Lister Bet. Nov 1859-Jan 1860 Mary Compton – 1882
Eliza J Lister May 1862 Albert Hopewell – 1896
Mary Charlotte Lister Bet. 02 Jun-26 Nov 1865 Joseph E Crooks – 1882
Marada Alice Lister[ii] 27 Feb 1867 Joel C. Barnes – 1893 03 May 1932
William Lemuel Lister 15 Aug 1869 Laura Robertson – 1892 20 Oct 1935
Sarah F Lister Abt. 1872 William Correll – 1892

In the 1900 Census, Malinda indicates that she had eight children, seven of whom were living, so either James, Nancy, Charles, Eliza, Mary, or Sarah died before 1900 but the other children were still living.


Nimrod and Malinda moved from Ohio to Sullivan County, Indiana in the fall of 1859. Thomas Wolfe mentions that in his book, A History of Sullivan County, Indiana.[iii] Additionally, their son Charles was born in Sullivan County. Other records indicate he was born sometime between November 1859 and January 1860.

The 1860 Census finds the family in Indiana, Turman Township, Sulivan County, using the Graysville Post Office.  The family consisted of Nimrod and Malinda with their three oldest children, James, Nancy, and Charles. Nimrod is a farm laborer and six-year-old James was attending school.  The census records their surname as Lustre.[iv]

The 1870 Census finds the family still in Turman Township with seven of their children. Nimrod was a Farmer and owned real estate valued at $660.  Malinda was keeping house. James both worked on a farm and attended school. Nancy, Charles, and Eliza were attending school while Charlotte, Marandy and William were too young to attend school.[v]

The 1880 Census again finds Nimrod and Melinda. Nimrod is a Farmer, and Melinda is keeping house. Twenty-five-year-old James is a Huxter. Meranda, William, and Sarah are at home and attending school.[vi]


Melinda (Evans) Lister is widowed before the 1900 Census. So, I believe that Nimrod died sometime between 1880 and 1900. I use circa 1890 as his death date as it fits between 1880 and 1900. I have not been successful in finding his death date nor his burial location.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Further Research Nimrod’s birth.
  • Research Nimrod’s early life through researching his parents.
  • Research Nimrod’s later life through researching his children.


[i] Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, Family Search, Nimrod Lister & Malinda Evans. Pickaway, Marriage Records 1839-1855 Vol 4, Page 282. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZ28-JL9.

[ii] 1880 Census (FS), Nimrod Lister – Indiana, Sullivan, Gill Township, ED 329, Page 5, Line 18. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHSF-ZKC.

[iii] Wolfe, Thomas J., History of Sullivan County, Indiana, A, Files (Personal), Pages 234-236. 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.

[iv] 1860 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, 1860 Census – Nimrod Lustre [Lister] – Turman Township, Sullivan, Indiana – Page 140, Line 36. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4NV-DFM.

[v] 1870 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, 1870 – Nimrod Lister – Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, Page 12, Line 24. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MX6Z-4N3.

[vi] 1880 Census (FS), Nimrod Lister – Indiana, Sullivan, Gill Township, ED 329, Page 5, Line 18. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHSF-ZKC.

Donna Montran – Metropolitan Opera House, Minneapolis, MN – 1 Feb 1920

Donna: “Best vocal offering of the performance”

Vaudeville – “Chin Chin”
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.We know that “Chin Chin” played at the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg on January 19-24, but I still haven’t determined where the show was from the 25th to the 31st.  That is a full week still unaccounted for.  It is likely that during that week the show played somewhere in the North Dakota or northern Minnesota.  In any event, the “Chin Chin” cast arrived in Minneapolis and opened on February 1st for a full week at the Metropolitan Opera House (aka Metropolitan Theatre).

The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune had a wonderful spread about the show in their “On Stage and Screen” section of the paper. There was a cute photo of the Quartet of Dancing Dolls from [the] “Chin Chin” Chorus as well as one of the better pre-show articles that I’ve seen. Donna was not part of this chorus but she is mentioned in the article.


Image of Minneapolis Sunday Tribune - On Stage and Screen - Chin Chin - 1 Feb 1920
Minneapolis Sunday Tribune – On Stage and Screen – Chin Chin – 1 Feb 1920


CHARLES DILLINGHAM’S production of “Chin Chin,” a musical extravaganza of enduring popularity because of its delightful melodies, comes to the Metropolitan for the week, opening tonight. “Chin Chin” will be remembered as the last play in which the versatile Fred Stone and the late Dave Montgomery appeared as co-stars, a vehicle in which these comedians enjoyed a phenomenal success on Broadway and later on tour. In it they appeared together in Minneapolis for the last time in 1917.

Easily, the chief asset of “Chin Chin,” considered solely as a dramatic composition, is the excellent music which Ivan Caryell provided for the piece. There is practically no plot to the variegated performance, merely a string of incidents strung together on the thin thread of the idea of Aladdin and his wonderful, taken from old Arabian Nights tale. but the music is something to recall with genuine pleasure long after one has forgotten plot and principals. “Love Moon,” “Good-bye, Girls,” and “Ragtime Temple Bells” are airs which hold an irresistible appeal, which one hums over reminiscently, dances to and probably adds to his collection of favorite phonograph records to perpetuate. “Chin Chin” is blessed with perhaps the best music of any musical comedy which has appeared in many seasons.

Starting in a quaint Oriental toy bazaar, the action passes rapidly to a tea shop where a New Year’s celebration is in progress, on to a palace and winds up in a real circus. The pseudo-plot is built about the properties of a magical lamp which has the power to grant any wish of its possessor. A charming American girl and Aladdin, the young here, are in search of this lamp but encounter difficulties in the person of Abannbar, a wily Chinese villain who finally is ordered off the stage to permit the play to end happily.

Chin Hop Hi and Chin Hop Low, the slaves of the lamp, provide the chief fun of the piece. These will be played by Walter Wills and Roy Binder, two comedians who come well recommended for their drollery and clever dancing.

Other principals with this production are: Ethel Lawrence, Donna Montran,[i] Irene McKay, Carrie Dale, Nora Sieler, Neva Larry, Irene Burka, Victoria Burka, Louise Robinson, Starr Dunham, Joseph Robinson, English Orly, Richard Bosch, Edward Klement and George Phelps. There is also a large chorus of pretty girls.


Image of Minneapolis Sunday Tribune Article
Minneapolis Sunday Tribune (Minneapolis, MN),  Feb 2, 1920, Page 6


Replete with the elaborate costuming and scenery that characterize a Dillingham production, “Chin Chin” opened a week’s engagement at the Metropolitan last night. It is the tuneful, rollicking, gloom-dispelling farce of other days when Fred Stone and the late Dave Montgomery utilized it as one of their most successful vehicles. Like many modern musical comedies, “Chin Chin” is unembarrassed by a plot, though this feature in no wise detracts from one’s enjoyment of the performance. It is merely a series of incidents strung together on the thread of the idea of Aladdin and his wonderful lame, the old Arabian Nights lame which as the magical property of granting, through it charming goddess and versatile slaves, the every wish of its possessor. Obviously, with a real villain included, and the magical lamp frequently changing hands, there are complications aplenty.

Walter Wills and Roy Binder are two ambitious, hard-working comedians who do not spare themselves in providing a wide variety of fun. They are clever dancers, sing together in an amusing manner, and Mr. Wills, especially, is a droll mimic of more than ordinary talents. While much of their comedy is patterned on that of Montgomery and Stone, they do not hesitate to introduce amusing innovations of their own conception, a fact which stamps their work with a certain individuality rather than as mere imitation of their predecessors in the roles. Mr. Wills’ facial contortions in singing and an adroitness in assuming ridiculous poses never fails to win appreciate applause. His eccentric dancing with Irene McKay is perhaps his best work.

Donna Montran is a stately “Goddess of the Lamp” who has a pleasing voice, her singing of “Violet” being the best vocal offering of the performance.[ii] Starr Dunham is an acceptable “Aladdin” and the “Abanazar” of Joseph Robinson pictures a real villain. Joseph Boyle and Arch Bennett supply good comedy as “Frisco” and the horse in the circus scene.

Tom Brown’s saxophone sextile won a generous share of last night’s applause and proved one of the best hosts of the present presentation of “Chin Chin.”


This exact same article also appeared in the Daily People’s Press (Owatonna, MN) on February 8th. An accompanying photograph showed the “Girls in ‘Chin Chin.’” The photo and the article mention that the show begins next Monday evening, February 9th. Clearly, a mistaken article in the Press as “Chin Chin” was only scheduled be at the Metropolitan Theatre for the week. I haven’t determined where “Chin Chin” played from February 8th through February 11th, but it played at the Grand Theatre in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on February 12th.

The Metropolitan Theatre

Julius Cahn Theater Guide for 1913-1914 indicates the Metropolitan Theatre had a seating capacity of 1767 — 592 on the main floor, 675 in the balcony, and 500 in the Gallery.  The stage opening was large, 40×30 feet.[iii]

History of the Metropolitan Opera House

Image of the Metropolitan Theatre
Metropolitan Theatre – Image courtesy Chris1962 via Cinema Treasurers.Org

The Opera House opened on March 24, 1894, as the New People’s Theater. It was located at 320 First Avenue South in Minneapolis. First Avenue is now named Marquette Avenue. In 1898, the theater was renamed the Metropolitan Opera House by new owner Jacob Litt.  It operated as legitimate theater until the mid-1920s, when the theater turned to movies exclusively. In 1937, after only 43 years of operation, it was closed and demolished shortly afterward.

The former site of the Metropolitan Opera House is across Marquette Avenue from the Hennepin County Family Court building. The entire block was a large parking lot for many years. Today, the site is under construction and well on its way to being a new Opus Group 30-story multipurpose building, which will include luxury apartments, fine dining, and retail spaces. It is scheduled to open in August 2018 as 365 Nicollet Avenue. There is a fun-to-see time-lapse video of the building being built on the Opus Group website.[iv] 


[i] [Emphasis is mine.]
[ii] [Emphasis is mine.]
[iii] The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914 – Page 327 – Metropolitan Opera House.
[iv] Internet: Opus Group – Work – Residential – 365 Nicollet Luxury Multifamily – Accessed 21 October 2017.

Additional Sources