Ancestry, The 1950 Census, &  Grandma Donna

Tuesday’s Tips
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I received an email from Ancestry that indicated due to their “proprietary AI technology,” they have an early index of the records. My recollection said it took several months to index the 1940 census ten years ago, and once done, there were a lot of indexing errors. So I wondered if searches of the 1950 census would be effective so soon after its release.

Ancestry included a link 1950 United States Federal Census in their email. I decided to use it and look for my mother and grandmother.


The 1950 Census date was April 1st. I was born in Oregon and knew my mom and I flew back to Minnesota in August 1950. So I searched for:

    • Name: Donna Kees
    • Any Event Location: Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota.

Bang – Four results. There was a Donna R Kees in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The six-year-old was definitely not my grandmother. However, the second entry returned was Donna M Kees in Detroit[i]. In the same household was Sylvia J Kees. Definitely my grandmother and mother.

Wow! What a treasure trove of information.

Donna and my mom  were still in Detroit and lived at 8542 Olivet in April 1950. Donna was only “45 years old.” She was always a bit loose with her age, but saying she was 12 years younger than her actual age was a new record for her. She was an unemployed bakery saleslady and was seeking work.

My mom was an 18-year-old “never married” woman. She too was an unemployed bakery saleslady seeking work.

A little box checked indicated the household was continued on the next page. I turned the page and wow They had a lodger, James K Quigging. He was a 25-year-old divorcee born in Kentucky and working as a metal polisher at an auto factory. Wow. I’ve never heard of him. His living with grandma and my mom is a total surprise.

Even more incredible, Donna was line 29 on the census, which means she was sampled for additional information. I learned that Donna had lived at the same house a year previously. Her education was “S12,” and she had completed her last year of school, so she was a high school graduate. It looks like she had no wages or income in 1949. However, she did have income from others in the household of $450. Donna had been married more than once (I knew that). Line 37 showed she had been divorced for five years. Another surprise. I know that Donna and Russell Kees got together in the late 1930s. It was my understanding they never married, rather just lived together. This entry suggests that she and Russell Kees may have been married and divorced about 1945.


I was impressed. Ancestry’s indexing using their Artificial Intelligence (AI) worked very well. I will definately use it to learn more about my Ancestors.

Using it to learn about my mother and grandmother’s whereabouts in April 1950 brought several new questions.

  • Who was James K Quigging?
  • Did Donna and Russell Kees actually get married? Did they get legally divorced?
  • I understood that Donna went to the Toronto Music Conservatory. I had sensed that it was a college-level type of school. Apparently, it was more of a High School equivalent. I guess I need to learn more about the school.


[i] 1950 Census – Michigan, Wayne, Detroit – ED 85-2022 – Sheet 73 – Line 29 – Donna M Kees, Head, via Ancestry.

Abbreviated Sketch – Chester Fenyvessy

Brown-Montran Research
Montran Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.We all have surprise discoveries. Events that you had no idea occurred. That family secret that was never, never, spoken of. One of the most significant surprise discoveries I’ve had in my genealogical research was learning that my grandmother was married before she married Sammy Amsterdam. I was flabbergasted after discovering that Donna (Madonna) married Chester Fenyvessy in 1911. I talked with my mother; she had no idea about the marriage. She thought Donna’s marriage to Sammy was her only marriage. Likewise, I spoke with my Uncle Russ. He had never heard of Donna’s first marriage, either. He believed that Donna’s marriage to Sammy was her only marriage. However, Madonna Montran Holdsworth[i], whose mother was Ida Mae Barber and was from Detroit, Michigan, married Chester Fenyvessy on 1 October 1911.

This marriage fit with the oral history I knew about Donna’s life. I remember she attended the Royal Conservatory (of Music) in Toronto. After Toronto, she went to Rochester, New York. There she found a music store and played piano in their window (for free) to encourage potential piano buyers to see what could be done with the piano. The music store liked the draw, and Donna was able to practice her piano—a win-win for both. She was offered a job working at a nearby movie theater playing the piano for silent films from the exposure she received there. That’s as much as the family oral history went.

Enter Chester Fenyvessy.

Donna was 18 when she married 24-year-old Chester. Chester was the manager of Colonial Theatre in Rochester, NY. In any event, the marriage was short-lived. By 1914 Donna was in California as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty and appearing as a dancer in Birth of a Nation. By 1915, Donna had crossed the country again and was in the Boston area.

By 1912, Chester had relocated to West Hoboken, New Jersey, and by 1915, had returned to Troy, New York.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #6B

List of Grandparents

    • My 1st step-grandfather: Chester Fenyvessy
    • Donna’s 1st father-in-law: Albert A. Fenyvessy

Chester Fenyvessy (1888-1973)

1888 – Chester was born on 9 August 1888 in Binghamton, New York. He was the second of six children of Albert A and Hermine (Overbauer) Fenyvessy.

Children of Albert and Hermine Fenyvessy (Siblings)

Name Born Married Died
John 16 Dec 1886 Bessie Weber (1917) 26 Dec 1972
Chester 9 Aug 1888 Madonna Montran (1911) Nov 1973
Florence 18 Feb 1892 Benjamin Belinson (1924)
Paul A. 7 Oct 1893 Jane Peck (1931) 26 Mar 1981
Carol M. J. 9 Apr 1899 Mella Rittenhouse 26 Aug 1990
Albert O 19 Feb 1909 Ruth LNU 25 Apr 2008


1910 – Chester is reported living with his parents at 1010 Elmwood Ave in Buffalo and lodging at 10 First in Troy, New York. In the Buffalo City Directory, he was listed as the manager of Novelty Amusement Co.; in the Troy City Directory, he was identified as a theatrical manager at 324 River.

1911 – Chester is managing the Colonial Theatre in Rochester, NY. On 1 October 1911, he married Madonna Montran Holdsworth.

1912 – The 1912 Rochester City Directory indicates Chester “removed to West Hoboken, New Jersey.”

1948 – Chester married Ruth R Hosking in Rochester, New York.

Death/Burial, etc.

1973 – Chester Died on 26 November 1973 in Monroe County, New York. His ashes were buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe County, NY, on 24 January 1974.


  • 1910 Census (FS), Family Search, 1910 – New York, Rensselaer, Troy, ED 46, Sheet 21A, Line 17 – Chester Fenyvessy. “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( accessed 9 May 2022), Chester Feenynessy in the household of John Russell, Troy Ward 3, Rensselaer, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 46, sheet 21A, family 34, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1070; FHL microfilm 1,375,083.
  • 1920 Census, 1920 – New York, Monroe, Rochester, ED 254, Sheet 16A – Lines 42-48 – Albert A Fenyvessy, Head. “United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (2 February 2021), Albert A Finyvessy, 1920. – Accessed 8 May 2022.
  • com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Buffalo, New York, 1910, Page 447 – Fenyvessy.
  • com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Rochester, New York, 1911, Page 342 – Chester Fenyvessy.
  • com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Rochester, New York, 1912, Page 350 – Chester Fenyvessy.
  • com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Troy, New York, 1910, Page 211 – Mgr 324 River bds 10 First.
  • New York, U.S., State Census, 1905, Ancestry, NY, Erie, Buffalo, Ward 24, ED 3, Page 11, Lines 11-17 – Albert A Fenyoessy [Fenyvessy] Head. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: E.D. 03; City: Buffalo Ward 24; County: Erie; Page: 11.
  • New York, U.S., State Census, 1915, Ancestry, NY, Rensselaer, Troy, Ward 3, AD 01, Page 6, Line 16 – Chester Fenyvessy. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 03; Assembly District: 01; City: Troy Ward 02; County: Rensselaer; Page: 06.
  • Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928, Ancestry, Fort Erie, Welland County, Ontario, Canada – Marriages – Chester Fenyvessey & Madonna Montran Holdsworth – 1 Oct 1911. Archives of Ontario MS932_155.


[i] Joseph A Holdsworth was Ida’s 2nd (or 3rd) husband. She married him on 16 August 1904 in Essex, Ontario, Canada.

Blackhurst the News – Sales by Mr. George Taylor

Montran-Barber-Blackhurst Line
Transcription & Comment by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“In the News” is my reporting of newspapers articles and obituaries regarding ancestors and other relatives I am researching. The information found in newspapers often raises more questions and research areas but invariably provides fresh texture to understanding an ancestor’s life.

Today’s article reports an event in the life of my 3rd Great-Grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

From the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent newspaper (Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England) dated 20 Nov 1847 is an ad; “Sales by Mr. George Taylor.”

“Sales by Mr. George Taylor.”

Norfolk Sales Rooms, George street.

Mr. GEORGE TAYLOR has received instructions from Mr. Stephen Blackhurst, to sell by auction, on Monday, Nov. 22nd, 1847, at his Garden, Far Field, near Hill Foot Bridge, the entire of his far famed and expensive collection of PRIZE GOOSEBERRY TREES, &c. For Particulars see Posting Bills.

Otaheite gooseberry
Gooseberries – Photo by Abhishek Jacob via Wikipedia


Stephen Blackhurst’s father (Stephen Blackhurst (1777-1847) died the previous March. Stephen and his wife Fanny Taylor immigrated to the United States in 1847-48. So, Stephen was selling his prize gooseberry tree collection in preparation for moving to the States.

I Learned

    • In 1847, Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869) had a garden at Far Field, near Hill Foot Bridge, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.
    • In 1847, Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869) had an interest in Gooseberry Trees.

Further Research

Was George Taylor, who sold the gooseberry trees for Stephen, a close relative to Fanny Taylor, Stephen’s Wife?

Blackhurst the News — The Driving of Carrier’s Drays

Montran-Barber-Blackhurst Line
Transcription & Comments by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“In the News” is my reporting of newspapers articles and obituaries regarding ancestors and other relatives I am researching. The information found in newspapers often raises more questions and research areas but invariably provides fresh texture to understanding an ancestor’s life.

Today’s article reports an event in the life of my 4th great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst (c.1777-1847). The article is from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England), dated 13 March 1847, Page 3, Column 3 reportsThe Driving of Carriers’ Drays.”

[Transcription by Don Taylor]

The Driving of Carrier’s Drays.

On Tuesday, an inquest was held at the Infirmary, on
view of the body of Mr. Stephen Blackhurst, of Chapel street, Bridgehouses, shoemaker, aged 70. The deceased was the father of Mr. John Blackhurst, whose name is familiar to our readers. It appeared from the evidence of two youths, named John Goddard and Thos. Wadsworth, that on the previous Wednesday night, a little after eight o’clock, they were standing in Love street, when they saw
a man coming round the comer from Love lane. A carrier’s cart was coming in the direction from Spring street, the driver being in front with the reins in his hand, and the horse trotting sharply. The cart turned the comer into Love lane very quickly, and the shaft came in contact with the man, (the deceased,) who appeared to be upon the cause-
way, and knocked him down into the road, the right wheel of the cart passing over him. The cart went on without stopping, and the two youths ran to the man’s assistance. He appeared quite sensible, and in answer to the question whether he was hurt, replied that the cart Lad run over his body, and his leg was broken. Wadsworth, with the assistance of another person, carried him to the Blue Pig, in Spring street, from whence he was immediately removed in a cab to the Infirmary. Goddard ran after the cart, which belonged to Messrs. Newcombe, Chaplin, Home,
and Co., and called to the driver, Thomas Ellis, that he had run over a man and broke his leg. Ellis, without pulling up, replied that he had not seen any man and had not time to stop. Goddard continued running after the cart, and urged upon the man that he ought to stop and look after the person he had run over. He took no notice, and Goddard continued running after him down tire Wicker. When near the Railway station, Ellis urged his horse to increased speed, passed two cabs and another dray, and
Goddard being unable to keep up, lost sight of him. The corner where the accident occurred, it appeared, was very
dark, the causeway and the lane also being very narrow.
Both the witnesses were of opinion, that the occurrence
was purely an accident, and that the driver did not see the
deceased. They, however, spoke with equal distinctness to
the fact of his going at an improper speed, the horse
trotting sharply round the comer, the wheel of the cart
passing close to the edge of the causeway, and only just
avoiding a post, which is placed at the comer… .Mr. Law,
the house surgeon, described the injuries received as a
fracture of the right leg, and an extensive wound in the
thigh. Two days after his admission, there was also ex-
tensive discolouration of the lower part of the abdomen.
He died on Monday, from the great shock which the system
had sustained from the injuries received. He stated to
Mr. Law, that it was entirely an accident, but the driver
was going at too rapid a rate when it occurred, and went
on without taking any notice when called to… .Thomas
Ellis, the driver of the cart, made a voluntary statement,
after the usual caution, to the effect that it was very dark,
and he did not see any man as he turned the corner, or
know at the time that any person was injured; that his
horse was not trotting as stated, but going at a walking
pace. He saw two youths in Love street, as he turned
into Love lane. He admitted that one of them ran after
him half-way on the lane, and said he had run over a man,
and he replied that he had not seen one. The lad asked
him to go back, but he did not, as he thought the whole story
was an hoax. The comer is a dangerous one. He denied that
his horse trotted at all, and said he had a load weighing
near a ton in the cart at the time. He was riding on the
proper side of the cart and had the reins in his hand       
Mr. U. Peace, agent for Messrs. Newcombe, Chaplin,
Home, and Co., stated that Ellis had been in their employ
about nine months. For many years previous to that, he
was in the service of Mrs. Lister. He was a very steady
and sober man. In answer to some remarks of the Coroner,
as to the improper speed at which the carriers’ carts fre-
quently were driven at night, he explained that the gates at
the Railway station were closed every night at half-past
eight, and whatever goods were not in by that time had to
remain a whole day before they were sent away. Many of
the manufacturers and merchants would tell the porters
that they must drive it as late as possible, perhaps tenminutes or a quarter-past eight before they called for packages. Perhaps there might be three or four such every night, some a very wide distance from each other. They (the carriers) must oblige their customers, and were compelled to do tins or lose their custom. The consequence was, that
the men must trot their horses from these places

to the station to get there in time…..The Coroner said,
this could be no excuse for placing the lives of persons in
danger…. Mr. Peace admitted the great extent of the evil
complained, and said his only surprise was, when he
saw the manner in which the carts were trotted down the
Wicker, that a great many more accidents did not occur ..
The Coroner, in summing up the evidence, laid down the
law as applicable to the case, that any driver of a vehicle
occasioning the death of any individual, if he had not used
due care and circumspection, was guilty of manslaughter.
The greatest possible care could perhaps not strictly be
expected, but a person seeking to avail himself of the
excuse that he had used proper care, ought at least to shew
that he took as much care as persons under similar cir-
cumstances usually do. It often happened, that with carts
it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pull up on
the instant; the greater therefore was the caution required;
and a driver going at an unusual speed, causing the death
of another as he had stated, was held to be guilty of man-
slaughter. He in strong language condemned the exceed-
ingly improper speed at which the carriers’ carts were
frequently driven at nights, through the streets, and more
particularly down the Wicker and the approaches to the
railway stations. He also expressed his indignation at the
want of the common feeling of humanity shewn by Ellis,
in not stopping, as he was in duty bound, after being
informed of the accident. It was for the Jury to say from
the evidence, whether they thought the occurrence was
purely an accident, or whether the having driven at an im-
proper rate round so dangerous and dark a corner, the
driver was guilty of manslaughter….. Some conversation
followed among the Jury, and considerable difference of
opinion appeared to exist, as to the possibility of the de-
ceased being upon the edge of the causeway at the time
the accident happened.. .Mr. Blackhurst asked permission
to repeat a conversation he had with his father before his
death, in respect to the accident. He expressed with con-
siderable feeling, that deeply as he deplored the death of
his father, he could not in justice to the driver, but state
his father’s explanation of the manner in which the accident
occurred. He (deceased) was returning from St. George’s
church, and after calling at two places in Westbar, in the
expectation of meeting with him (Mr. Blackhurst,) had
gone down Workhouse lane on his way home. He passed
along Love street, and was crossing the end of Love lane,
when the cart came up and knocked him down; the horse
trod upon his leg and broke it, and the wheel of the cart
passed over his body. His father was remarkable for great
presence of mind at all times, and repeated to him three
times in the presence of others, “I believe it was an acci-
dent, but the man was driving too fast.” It would appear
that he was crossing the road, and not on the causeway as
the witnesses had stated. He must, however, state that the
reason which Ellis alleged of thinking it a hoax when the
lad called to him to stop, appeared to have been an inven-
tion of his, for when he (Mr. Blackhurst) went three days
after the accident with a policeman to the railway station,
he made no mention of it until after a good deal of con-
versation…. Mr. Law said the deceased had given precisely
the same account of the accident to him which he gave to
his son…. Wadsworth and Goddard were re called, and
explained that they had not observed the deceased until
the horse was close upon him, and then he appeared to be
upon the edge of the causeway, or close to it…. The Jury
returned a verdict of Accidental Death. They however,
strongly condemned the want of feeling shewn by the driver,
in not stopping when told of the accident. They also ex-
pressed their hope that the drivers of carriers’ drays and
carts, going to the railway stations, would not drive at the
rapid rate which they were so so much in the habit of
doing… .Ellis was, at the close of the enquiry, called into
the room, and the terms of the verdict were communicated
to him. He was cautioned by the Coroner that he had
had a very narrow escape of being sent to York for man-
slaughter, and that escape was entirely owing to impartial
and conscientious feeling shewn by the relatives of the
deceased… The Jury, after having requested the coroner to
make a representation to the Lighting Committee, that a
lamp ought to be placed at the corner where the accident
happened, separated.. ..We are glad to learn that Mr. Peace,
agent of Messrs. Newcombe and Co., has spontaneously
communicated to the friends of the deceased, the willing-
ness of the company to defray the expenses of the funeral.

What I Learned

  • The accident occurred on 3 March at the corner of Love Lane and Spring Street (“previous Wednesday night.”)
  • Inquest into Stephen Blackhurst’s death was held on 9 March. (“last Tuesday”)
  • The cart’s right wheel ran over Stephen, and the horse stepped on and broke his leg.
  • The driver was Thomas Ellis, a driver for Messrs. Newcombe, Chaplin, Horne, & Co. He was going fast to get to the Railway station before it closed its gates.
  • Stephen Blackhurst believed it was an accident, but the driver was driving too fast.”
  • The verdict was “Accidental Death.”
  • Messr. Newcombe and Co. would defray the expenses of the funeral.

Further Research

  • John Blackhurst in Newspapers – “The deceased was the father of Mr. John Blackhurst, whose name is familiar to our readers.”
  • St. George’s Church – The deceased was returning from St. George’s Church. (He was likely a member.)

Happy Birthday – Ida Mae

24 March 1874

Ida Mae Barber Montran, Fisher, Holdsworth, Knight

Happy Birthday to my Great-grandmother, Ida Mae Barber. She was born on March 24, 1874, in Michigan.

She married Max E. Fisher in 1897, Joseph A Holdsworth in 1904, and Harvey Watson Knight in 1910.

Ida died on 13 October 1953 in Detroit, Michigan, and was buried at Woodmere Cemetery.

Key Sites for Ida include:

#Genealogy #familyhistory #barber #knight #holdsworth #fisher  #detroitmi