Chin Chin – Opera House – Jamestown, NY – 16 May 1920

Donna Montran Mentioned

One of my favorite, little known, websites is Fulton History, also known as Old Fulton Postcards. They have nearly 50 million newspaper pages. Besides searching on their site, there is a separate website,, which can provide another, less cumbersome, search methodology. The site has lots more than just Fulton County or New York-specific materials, so I highly recommend adding it to your regular search processes.


The “Chin Chin” show played in North Adams, MA, on May 14th and Pittsfield, MA, on May 15th, before backtracking nearly 400 miles west to Jamestown, NY, to play the Opera House there on May 16th.

Preshow Advertising

The first advertising for the show began on Thursday, March 11, 1920 in the Jamestown Evening Journal.  Page Twelve included a regular Chin Chin ad with Walter Wills and Roy Binder sitting on the moon. There was also a photo of the Clown Saxaphone Band and an advertising article.

The Jamestown Evening Journal used this photo, however, due to the quality of the newspaper copy, this is a better quality image from


Jamestown Evening Journal (Jamestown, NY) 11 March 1920, Page 12 – (Fulton History)


Charles Dillingham’s musical comedy success “Chin Chin” is coming to the Opera House on Tuesday night, March 16, according to an announcement made this morning by manager R. C. Horning.

This play appeared first at the Globe theater in New York for two solid years, and is now on a transcontinental trip, touring the west for the first time.

In the leading roles will be seen Walter Wills and Roy Binder, who come to use with the stamp of approval won in such productions as The Wizard of Oz, The Red Mill, Hitchy Koo, etc., etc., etc.

The company comprising sixty-five people, mostly girls and Tom Brown’s Famous Clown Saxaphone band. Charles Dillingham’s name is associated with the biggest and best theatrical enterprises, such as the Hippodrome and Globe theater in New York some of his latest productions are Jack O’Lantern with Fred Stone. The Canary with Julia Sanderson and Joe Cawthorne. Hip Hip Hooray with 1,290 associates, and Everything which has surpassed all records at the New York Hippodrome during the season 1918-1919.

Chin Chin is a fantastic production rich in costuming. In seven sets, including the most startling surprises, ingenious trickery and grotesque dancing in plenty, affording an entertainment that is clean and wholesome proving hilarious amusement for both young and old, which qualities are the making of and particular success of the theatrical magnate, Charles Dillingham.

Chin Chin has previously appeared in Jamestown. The reputation made then will undoubtedly help it on its coming appearance.

1920-03-12 – Jamestown Evening Journal (Jamestown, NY) Page 16 – Chin Chin (Fulton History) copy

On March 15th, the Jamestown Evening Journal ran an ad showing three of the women in the cast. I’ve seen the photo before but never saw it with all three of the women identified in the photograph. They are Ethel Lawrence, Norma Seller, and Marie Cavanah.



In a rare review of a one night show, Donna is called out specifically.[i]

… Donna Montram [sic], a beautiful girl, beautifully dressed and with a sweet voice and manner made the part of the Goddess of the Lamp especially attractive…


Jamestown Opera House (aka Shea’s Opera House)


<<Shea’s Theater 2 – 1948>>

Photo courtesy “Schlickrt” via Cinema Treasures –


Abner Allen built the opera house on Second Street in Jamestown in 1894. In 1898 he sold the theater to Charles Samuels. In 1919, the Samuel’s Opera House was acquitted by the Shea interest of New York City. They refurbished the opera house. “Chin Chin” played there after that refurbishment. In 1967, the Little Theatre of Jamestown purchased the property and began operations in 1969. The theatre was renamed the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown in 1991, after the local celebrity’s death.[ii]


Specifications for Shea’s Opera House

Seating Capacity: 1,287


Proscenium opening: 37 ft
Front to back wall: 36 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Between fly Galleries: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 60 ft
To fly gallery: 27 ft

There were three, “Journal,” “News,” and “Daily Sun.”  I have only found articles from the Journal so far.



The Lucille Ball Little Theater was in operation before the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t know its current status. See for details.



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[i] Jamestown Evening Journal (Jamestown, NY) March 17, 1920, Page 14 – Chin Chin (via Fulton History)

[ii] Internet: “History of the Theater’s Owners” – Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown –


Donna Darling Collection – Part 73

Donna Darling and her Jewel Revue – State Theater, Utica, New York.

Treasure Chest Thursday
by Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a full-page of the Donna Darling Collection, which included five items..

First is a clipping showing, “The Scintillating Beauty, Donna Darling and Her Jewel Revue, Presenting Singing, Dancing, Comedy, Elaborate Costumes, Special Settings and Lighting Effects” at State Theater. Luckily, Donna handwrote on the clipping, “Utica Mar 18-19-20” which gives us the location and date for the show. Donna’s “Little Jewel Review” is known to have run from November 1925 to March 1926. So, it appears she was in Utica, New York, from March 18 through the 20th, 1926.

Key features:

    • The venue is the State Theater
    • The show is the “Donna Darling and Her Jewel Revue.”
    • Also, on the bill:
      • Williams & Perry – Colored Entertainers Singing, Dancing
      • Lone & King – In Songs and Comedy
      • Cosmopolitan Trio – In a Song Offering
      • Chick and Dog – A Clever Canine Novelty
    • The Movie showing was Evelyn Brent in “Queen of Diamonds”

Two Advertising Clips

The first advertising clipping focuses upon “Queen of Diamonds,” but includes”

From advance reports of the vaudeville bill to be offered in today’s program, it appears the patrons will not be disappointed. Heading the list is Donna Darling and “Her Jewel Revue” in songs dances and comedy. Lowe & King….

The second clipping indicates,

The Darling Revue is listed as the headliner and deserves that title through virtue of its all-around excellence. A decided feature of the act are the dance numbers. These include toe, clog, gypsy, and Charleston novelties. Some well-received songs are also offered.

Two Photos

Finally, on the page are two lively little photos. One is clearly Donna in a stylish, bedazzled skirt and a long headscarf with a beaded cap.

The second photo is of an unknown man in a shirt and tie. The photo was taken outdoors so doesn’t appear to be related in time or place to Donna’s photo. The young man’s pants appear to be kaki and his tie is square cut on the bottom. Also, it looks (to me) that he has a garrison cap tucked into his waist, suggesting it is a soldier. Hopefully, I will be able to identify him later.


I added the following to Donna’s Itinerary:

    • March 18-20, 1926 – “Donna Darling and her Jewel Revue” – State Theater, Utica, New York – DDC-73.



Ancestors I have Met

In Randy Seaver’s blog, “Genea-Musing,” he suggested folks write about, ”Ancestors you have met.” The “rules” were:

1) Write down which of your ancestors that you have met in person (yes, even if you were too young to remember them).

2) Tell us their names, where they lived, and their relationship to you in a blog post, or in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.

I didn’t learn who my father was until a few years ago. As such, I’ve never him or any of his ancestors. However, I have “met” five of my maternal ancestors.

Photo of Sylvia Larson (later Matson) in nurse's uniform - circa 1955
Sylvia [Kees]
Sylvia [Kees] Matson – My mother was born and raised in Michigan. She lived most of her adult life in Minnesota.

Dick Brown – My mother’s father, was born in North Dakota. He lived most of his life in Minnesota, though he lived in Chicago for a few years.

Madonna Montran – My mom’s mother was born in Michigan. During her young adulthood she lived in California, Boston, and New York. She lived “on the road” in show business for nearly 10 years. She lived in Minnesota later in her life.

Mary Brown

Mary (Manning) Brown – Grandpa Dick’s mother was born in Kentucky. She moved West with her grandparents to Minnesota. She lived North Dakota for a few years, but most of her adult life was spent in Minnesota.

Ida Barber – My mom said I met her maternal grandmother when I was a baby, though I don’t remember it. Ida was born and lived her entire life in Michigan.


Pankey – Surname Saturday

Pankey Surname Origin

“Pankey” is an Americanized form of the German surname Pahnke.[i] Similar surnames include Bankey, Hankey, Panke, and Panky.

My Direct Pankey Ancestors


Nearly 99% of all individuals with the Pankey surname live in the United States.[iii]  My Pankey’s were in Virginia when Thomas Armstrong Pankey married Martha Cannon about 1785.


My most recent Pankey ancestor, Caroline M.A. Pankey, was born and married in Virginia. She and her husband left Virginia for North Carolina sometime between 1840 and 1850. The other twenty-four Pankey individuals I have identified in my tree all have known events in Virginia.

Ancestry indicates that 5 of 36 (14%) of Pankey families[iv] lived in Virginia during the 1840 Census. None of these were my direct ancestors; Thomas died in 1829 and Caroline married Peter M. Howell that same year. A review of Pankey families in the Virginia Census records will immensely help my understanding of this family line.

Oral History

I have no known oral history for the Pankey surname.


I have 21 known descendants of Samuel Pankey. Besides Pankey, descendants of Samual include Binford, Calhoun, Cannon, Ellis, Howell, and Scott surnames.


DNA Painter indicates that 3rd cousins should share between 0 and 234 cM of DNA with 73 cM being typical.

One individual shares about 52 cM and has a “Pankey” in their three. I’ve come to find that he is a second cousin once removed. There are another 12 individuals who share DNA with Mary-Alice and have “Pankey” in their tree. I should research them later.

Future Actions

    1. A review of Pankey families in the Virginia Census records will help my understanding this line.
    2. Ancestry DNA – Review matches that include “Pankey” in their trees and look for cousins.
    3. Research Samuel Pankey (c. 1738- c. 1807).



[i] “Pankey.” In Dictionary of American Family Names, edited by Hanks, Patrick. : Oxford University Press, 2003.

[ii] Abbreviations for the Birth, Marriage, and Death locations.

[iii] Forebears indicates there are 4,407 people in the US and 4,453 in the world.



Three More Bragdon’s

Photo Friday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I’ve run into Bragdon photos before[i]. I had three more Bragdon’s left in my collection, so I thought I’d look into them.  All three photos are quite small, the smallest being only 1 by ¾ inch, the largest being only 2” x 3”.

Philip Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “Philip Bragdon | Cumberland Mills, Maine.” There is no photo studio or date identified.

From my previous research I learnd that Ralph Marr Bragdon and Harold Lumbard Bragdon had a brother, Philip Osgood Bragdon (1911-1993). I’m sure this is him probably about six years old.

This individual is in Family Search as ID: LYRK-RDZ.

Philip Bragdon, Everett Bragdon, & George O. Bragdon

Everett Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “Everett Bragdon | Apr 1904 | About 10 years old. Cumberland Mills, Maine.” The studio was “The Marshall Studio – Westbrook, ME.”

Ralph (and Harold and Philip) Marr Bragdon did not have a sibling named Everett, however, there was a first cousin, Everett Bragdon who also lived in Westbrook. Everett was born on 3 January 1894 and would have been 10 years old in April 1904.

There were no other Everett Bragdon’s in Cumberland County at that time, so I’m sure this is a photo of Everett Linwood Bragdon (1894-1984) the son of William Bryant and Mary Elizabeth (Hodgkins) Bragdon.

This individual is in Family Search as ID: LYBV-8GX.

George O. Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “George O. Bragdon | died Aug 1914 | Cumberland Mills, Maine.”

There is no photo studio or date identified, however, it is clear the photo is from before August 1914.

George Osgood Bragdon was born 22 December 1866 and died 13 August 1914. He lived in Westbrook during the 1900 and 1910 censuses.

There was a George D. Bragdon who lived in Cumberland County before 1914, however, he was born in 1902 and is too young for this picture.

There was a George Albert Bragdon who also lived in Cumberland County before 1914, however, he was born about 1880 and lived to 1948. Also, he appears to be too young to be the person in this photo.

As such, I’m confident this is George Osgood Bragdon (1866-1914). This individual is in Family Search as ID: KCZ3-GVV

Final Note

If you are related to any of these individuals and can help confirm the identity, I’d love to hear from you. Please use the comment form below.


[i] See: “Bridges, Starrett, Weymouth, and Six Others” – Frances Sarah Bragdon and see “Four Men & a Boy” – Ralph Marr Bragdon & Harold Bragdon.