One of my regular activities is to try to remember my ancestors on their birthday. I look at a calendar I prepared of the key dates for direct ancestors and saw that my fifth-great-grandfather, John Parsons, would be 249 years old today, if he were still living. I didn’t even know his name until a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d do a “deep dive” into his history before his birthday. My, oh my, it is so easy to be diverted from your intentions. I know I shouldn’t get side-tracked in my research, but I did and I am glad I did in this case. As usual I started with Ancestry.com. I research there thoroughly, census, city directories, pretty much anything they have except for other people trees (a “shallow dive”). Afterwards, I branch out in my research and use the internet. I next use Family Search, the other services I subscribe to such as Genealogy Bank and Archives.Com. As I fill in more and more details about an individual I then use the several hundred other web sites I have bookmarked as appropriate. I also order books and microfilm as I need it. It is process for me that I call “a deep dive.”
1801 – Moved from Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
1802 – Moved to Windham, Greene County, New York, in the Spring of 1802.
1813 – Died in Greene County, New York.
Of course I immediately wanted to know where he was born. Chester has been born in 1799 in Sandisfield, Mass and his parents moved to New York with him in 1802. Sandisfield, Mass. seemed a likely place. But, could I confirm that.
A search on Ancestry yielded someone’s tree where they cited a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) case file. Way cool. I try not to accept trees submitted by individuals to Ancestry, but I do like to use their references and other information as a research idea to follow them in their sources. I generally accept DAR files as fairly accurate. They generally know what they are doing and are really good about not accepting poor research.
2nd Connecticut Regiment Flag
Courtesy of Flags of the World
I checked the DAR site and found a case where an application — Nat’l # 445593 – Ancestor # A088240 — had been submitted that went through Chester and John Parsons. It then went on to John’s father, John Parsons, who was a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War serving in Capt. Samuel Wolcott, 10th Co., 1st Berkshire Cnty Regt of MA Militia. It also indicated that John Jr. was born 18 Nov 1764 at Windham, NY. Humm — odd for someone to be born in NY, somehow move to Sandisfield, then back to Windham.
Further searching on Ancestry.com yielded a list of individuals born in Sandisfield, Mass., which included John born Nov 18th 1764 of Lieut. John & Hannah Parsons. The conflict was obvious. According to the list, John and his siblings as well as John’s first five children were all born in Sandisfield. Further Search of found a handwritten ledger of “Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988” which listed John Parsons Jr.
I transcribed the information there with some difficulty. After transcribing the information I search some more and found the exact same data transcribed by someone else. I learned to be sure to look for transcriptions of handwritten documents before I transcribe it myself. Instead, I should have compared the transcription with the original document and see if I agreed with the transcription. In this case, everything was as I had thought so I accepted the transcription.
I then found a second handwritten document from Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records on Ancestry that showed the same information only kind of backwards. Really difficult to read, but it appeared to have information consistent with the other handwritten ledger entries.
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War. One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books; it yielded a total of 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings. (More on them in future blogs.)
In my research, the death of John Parsons is unclear. History of Washtenaw County, on page 1405, clearly states, “John and Mary Parsons, removed to Green Co., N.Y. in the Spring of 1802, where the former died in 1813, but the latter resided there til 1826.” The DAR Database indicates that John Parsons died at Saline, MI on 7 April 1813. Further searching on Find a Grave yielded an entry, but not a marker photo (Memorial #118318770) indicating he is buried in Green County, I was unable to find a Find a Grave entry in Washtenaw that might be him..
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War. Samuel Wolcott – Yes John’s father, Lt. John Parsons fought under his wife’s father, Capt. Samuel Wolcott. One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books, Wolcott genealogy: the family of Henry Wolcott, one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut; it yielded 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings. More on them in a later postings.
Although I didn’t find out a lot about John Parsons, Jr.’s life, yet, investigating him opened up research into many more ancestors. I’ll have to get back to a deep dive on John junior next year. Hopefully I will be able to clear up the conflicting information I have. What I know now:
John Parsons (Jr.)
John Parsons was the third child of John & Hannah Parsons (Sr) and was born on 18 Nov 1764 in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Mass. (See 1 below.) He was the oldest of the five boys and he had four sisters, two older and two younger.
John married Mary Wilcott (date unknown) and lived in Sandisfield, Berkshire county, Mass. then, in 1802, moved to Windham, Green County, New York. (See 2 below.)
John and Mary had five children;
Samuel, Polly, Orrin, John, and Chester Parsons,
John Parsons died Apr. 7, 1813.
He may be buried in Section 1, Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York. “Inscription indicates he died at age.”
Some sources indicate Green County, New York .
Some sources indicate Saline, Washtenaw county, Michigan.
Ancestry.Com – Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988.
Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search” – Parsons, John – Patriot: A088240 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr Nat’l #: 445593.
The Civil War had a dreadful impact upon the Brown and Mannin families. Enoch Mannin, a Kentucky native, fought for the North as did his son John William Manning, Other of Enoch’s sons fought for the South making the Civil War one truly of brother fighting brother.
Enoch Mannin (1823-1971) – Civil War (Union) – Third-Great Grandfather.
US Flag (35 Stars) during Civil War.
Enoch enrolled as a Private in Company E, 40th Regiment, Kentucky Mounted Infantry at Grayson, Kentucky, on 29 August 1863 for one year. He had black eyes, black hair, a dark complexion and 5′ 6″ tall.
His military record indicates that he was captured by Morgan in May/June 1864. Not sure yet when he was released, but he was discharged when his regiment mustered out of service on 29 December, 1864 at Leattettsburg, KY.
The 40th Regiment had the following actions:
Scout duty in north central Kentucky until December 1863.
Actions at Mt. Sterling December 3 and 10, 1863.
Scouting in eastern Kentucky until May 1864.
Near Paintsville, Ky., April 14, 1864.
Operations against Morgan May 31-June 20.
Mt. Sterling June 9. Cynthiana June 12.
Duty in eastern Kentucky until September.
Near New Haven August 2 (Company C).
Canton and Roaring Springs August 22.
Burbridge’s Expedition into southwest Virginia September 10-October 17.
Action at Saltville, Va., October 2.
Duty in eastern Kentucky until December 1864.
John William Mannin (later Manning) enlisted 29 Aug 1863 at Olive Hill, Carter, Kentucky, USA into the 45th Regiment, Kentucky Mounted Infantry at the age of 17. His father, Enoch Mannin, gave his consent to enlist. John William was taller than his father, 5’ 9” tall. He had blue Eyes, light hair, and a fair complexion. In September mustered into the 40th Infantry Regiment, Kentucky like his father was also in Company E. Like his father, he was captured by Morgan in May/June 1863. He mustered out on 30 December, 1864 at Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky.
John William Manning died 25 April, 1888. We do not know where he was buried.
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Henry Brown (aka William Henry Brown) (1845-unk) – Civil War (Union) – 2nd-Great Grandfather.
Michigan State Flag
Henry Brown Enlisted as a private into the Union. It is likely that he is the William Henry Brown that enlisted into 4th Regiment, Michigan Cavalry.
Of a total force of 2,217 men, 3 officers and 48 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded in battle, and 2 officers and 341 enlisted men perished from disease for a total loss of almost 1 in 5 (18%) dying during the war.
The 4th Michigan Cavalry was involved in the capture of Macon, Georgia, on April 20, 1865, Subsequently, a detachment of the regiment participated in the pursuit and capture of Jefferson Davis at Irwinville, Georgia, on May 10.
The 4th was assigned to routine duty at Macon and then at Nashville, Tennessee, until the end of June. The regiment mustered out on July 1, 1865.
William Henry Brown’s death and burial location are unknown, however, he is believed to be buried in North Dakota.
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Richard Earl Brown (aka Clifford Brown) (aka Richard Earl Durand) (1903-1990) – No War (Army) – Grandfather.
Shoulder insignia for
the 193rd Infantry
Brigade the largest
force in Panama in the
Little is known about Richard Earl’s military service. We are unsure which name he used in the military and when he actually went in. We are fairly certain that he served more than six months but did not serve during any declared war. We know from oral history that he served in the Army and was in Panama when Donna was in Panama sometime before 1932.
Searches for his military records have not been successful.
Edgar Jerome Matson (aka “Bud”) (1925-2003) – World War II – Step-Father
World War II
“Budger” enlisted in the Army on 23 March, 1944. His Serial Number was 37590415. He was reenlisted on 1 Nov 1946 while a Private First Class. He was promoted to SGT US Army prior to his honorable discharge on 2 February 1949.
Veterans Day – 11/11/2013 – The Howells & Darlings
General Frank Alton Armstrong
Official USAF Photo
The Howell/Hobbs line has had many in the military. Certainly, the most famous of them is Greybeard’s 1st cousin, Frank Alton Armstrong. During World War II, Col. Armstrong led bombing missions over Germany, which were the basis for a book, movie, and a TV program, “Twelve O’Clock High.” After VE day, he flew many additional missions over Japan. After the war, General Armstrong pioneered a nonstop air routes from Alaska to Norway and Alaska to New York.
In terms of direct ancestors in the Howell/Hobbs line has three veterans that I have identified so far.
Robert Bryan (1736-1794) – Revolutionary War – 5th Great Grandfather.
James Ashley Hobbs (1844-1920) – Civil War (South) – Great-Grandfather.
Peter Fletcher Howell (1842-1924) – Civil War (South) – Great Grandfather
Robert Bryan (1736-1794) – Revolutionary War – 5th Great Grandfather.
“Don’t Tread on Me” Flag
“Robert Bryan … assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of Private, N.C. Militia. Several Ladies have DAR Numbers for him. Per – Sara Long Johnson)
Robert Bryan died 3 April 1784. We do not know his burial location.
DAR Ancestor #A016279
Sources: Martin County Heritage – [Biography] 89 – John Bryan Family by Sara Long Johnson.
Daughters of the American Revolution: Member # 517846 – Ancestor # A016279
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
David Swazey (1762-1828) – Revolutionary War – Fourth Great Grandfather.
Fort Mercer (New Jersey)
Revolutionary War Flag
David Swazey of Sussex fought in the Revolutionary War. His service was as a private under various Captains including McKinney, Hazelet, Henry, Bonnel, and Captain Ribble. His pension number is S*W6111
James Ashley Hobbs (1844-1920) – Civil War (South) – Great-Grandfather.
North Carolina Civil War Flag
James A. Hobbs enlisted, for the Civil War in Co. G 3rd Reg. N.C. Calvalry (12-1-1862) (41st State Troops) at Camp Badger as a Pvt., age 20, residing in Martin County. Present or accounted for until transferred to Co. A, 17th Reg, NCT (2nd organization) 9-23-1863.
Pvt. James Hobbs with the 17th NCT, whose home was Hamilton, NC was admitted to Hospital No 4, Wilmington, NC, on 12-6-1863; retd to duty 2-9-64. He was admitted for catarrtius, which is an inflammation of the nose or throat. It must have been really bad to keep him hospitalized for two months. He was in Ward 8, bed 162.
Applied for clothing 2nd quarter 184, issued 6-21-64. Present or accounted for through 10-1864. Sept-Oct absent. Division Provost guard service. Pt. J.A. Hobbs appeared on “Roll of Honor” of his organization. (Resolutions ratified by General Assenbkt 12-20-1862)
COMPANY G, the “Scotland Neck Mounted Riflemen,” from Halifax County, had six commissioned, seven noncommissioned officers, and 108 privates; total, 121. Atherton B. Hill, who was made Captain 9 October, 1861, was succeeded by Benj. G. Smith promoted from Second Sergeant. First Lieutenant, Norfleet Smith; Second Lieutenants, George A. Higgs (afterwards promoted to Captain), Theodore B. Hyman, and John T. Savage.
James Ashley Hobbs died in December 1920. We do not know where he was buried.
Source: Martin County Heritage – (Biography) 418 – James Ashley Hobbs by Hazel Armstrong Valentine.
Peter Fletcher Howell (1842-1924) – Civil War – Great Grandfather
Flag of Lee’s Army of
1861 – Peter Fletcher Howell enlisted on 23 October at the Sussex Court House in Virginia.
1862 – In May he was promoted to full 4th Sergeant.
1862 – In August he was Transferred to Company G. Virginia 61st Infantry Regiment.
1862 – In July he was promoted to full 2nd Sergeant.
1864 – In July he fought at “The Crater” where Sargent Peter Howell captured the regimental flag of the 2nd Michigan Regiment. He was with Mahone’s regiment and his participation at “The Crater” confirms oral history that he probably did participate in a “turkey shoot” of US troops.
1865 – In Feb he was promoted to full 1st Sergeant.
1865 – He mustered out on April 9th at Appomattox, VA.
Robert Harry Darling (1907-1969) – World War II – Maternal Grandfather
US Navy Flag
Robert Harry Darling, aka Harry, served in the US Navy during World War II. Little is known about his service as many records of service were lost in a fire. We do know enlisted in the Navy on 23 November, 1943, in Salt Lake City, Utah, when he was 36 years old for two years. He served at the Navel Training Center, San Diego and the US Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA.
Oddly enough, he was honorably discharged on 08 Sep 1944, less than a year into his enlistment as a Seaman 2nd Class. (So, he received one promotion.)
Chin Chin played the Burley Theater, Burley, Idaho, on December 2, 1919.
Beauties of Chin Chin
Burley Bulletin – 28 Nov 1919 – Page 11
I was able to view the microfilm of the Burley Bulletin and the Burley Herald thanks to the University of Idaho Library and WorldCat– Interlibrary loan is awesome! What this exercise really did show me was that the Chin Chin company probably didn’t have many, if any nights off and that it is because of the lack of newspaper resources that I am unable to track every action of the company.
I looked pretty carefully, the print is small, the projection is dim, and the neck begins to hurt looking up to read the text through my bifocals, but I was unable to find any articles, press releases, or reviews of the “Chin Chin” show in Burley. I did find that they played there on December 2nd and there were some really nice ads in both the Herald and the Bulletin.
The ad in the Burley Herald included a great photo of the four principal with fans covering their faces. I’ve seen the photo before but this microfilm version was higher quality than others that I have seen. The ad mentions:
Beauties of Chin Chin
Burley Herald – 29 Nov 1919
With Its Wealth of Novel Effects
And Wonder Scenes
Including The Flight of
THE PAGODA AND AIRSHIP
Caravans of Pretty girls – Company of 65
Tingling – Jingling Numbers – Quaint Toy Bazaar
The Famous Clown Saxophone Band (Tom Brown’s)
I had not heard of “the Flight of the Pagoda and Airship” before. Sounds interesting.
In the theaters I’ve followed regarding “Chin Chin” performances, the Burley Theater is the first building I’ve come across that is still in use as a theater, albeit a motion picture theater. Stanley J. Osika was the proprietor and manager of the theater during the “Chin Chin” show. It is not clear to me when it was built, but it appears to have been about 1917. Apparently the original stage is intact. [I would love to find a photo if it.]
By the 1930’s it had vertical signage added that allowed the theater name to be seen from up the street and a marquee added. The theater’s facade was restored in 1991 and is mostly original.
Donna’s next stop with the company of Chin Chin was in Boise, Idaho on December 4th to the 7th. The Idaho Statesman ran many agent supplied articles and advertising for the show. Articles began in the “What Boise Theatre Managers Say About Coming Attractions” on November 23rd. It begins with a photo of the Famous Clown Band and continues with a short article.
“To Walter Wills and Roy Binder are are entrusted the principal parts, supported by a company of clever comedians and a beautiful chorus, In their songs. “The Chinese Honeymoon,” “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue” and “Temple Bells,” the two clever comedians, Wills and Binder, make a decided hit and are always recalled again and again. In this charming fantasy with a Chinese atmosphere there are also a score of other songs that are the fascinating, whistling kind, and several unique dances that carry the snappy comedy along delightfully.
In the November 27th paper we learn that Ethel Lawrence plays, “Violet Bond,” the rich American girl.
mn ad. The ad reminds us of just how big the show was, particularly for a road show. At the Pinney Theater, Boise, this was “the biggest show in years.” The show had “two car loads of scenery.” We need to remember in 1919 they were referring to railroad cars. The company was huge, 65, including 40 girls. Repeat 40 girls and 35 men back of the scenes. I don’t know if they just couldn’t count or what, because 40 plus 35 is 75 in my world. We knew there was a circus in the show with a horse that Mademoiselle Fallofski tried to ride. We also learn of a ventriloquist show. A list of some of the songs in the production is also included.
Good-bye Girls I’m Through
The Pekin Patrol
The Chinese Honeymoon
We are reminded that ticket prices were low, from $.50 to $2.00, there was a whopping 10% war tax added to the ticket sales.
War Tax (aside)
World War I economics were staggering. Federal Expenditures increased from 1.3 billion in 1916 to almost 16 billion, over 1000%, in two years. (1) To pay for the war the government enacted many new taxes. I think that calling it a “war tax” was really good. I wish taxes today were as clear. Certainly, we know how much our social security and medicare taxes are, but everything else is sort lost in the general economy. I wonder if we had a “war tax” today, would we have quite so many wars.
Back to the Show
On page 10 there was an interesting picture of Marie Cavanaugh and Margie Taylor, whom we haven’t see mentioned in advertising before.
Because of the grainy nature of the image I could find, I just can’t tell exactly what they are doing. I have been unable to find a higher quality photo of it elsewhere. It would be interesting to find a better photograph of them in this role.
The text elsewhere on the same page let us know:
“Not for years has there been such a riot of artistically harmonized, faultlessly blended color upon any stage as Charles Dillingham’s production of ‘Chin Chin,” coming to the Pinney four days, December 4, 5, 6 and 7, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“A flash of burnt orange trailing off into crimson, and we have a tea shop in Pekin. A splendor of apple-green, bronze-green, dull blues and bright blues, and a Chinese Bazaar filled with quaint toys and curious idol images, swings into view. A shimmer of moonlight on porcelain walls and among cherry branches at bloom-time and a place terrace rises slowly into sight. Presto! and we are on the outside of the dressing-tent of a great circus. All flapping canvases and posters of gaudy hue. Presto! and we smell the sawdust. A beam from Aladdin’s ‘lamp’ and all is romance again, the romances of trees and flowers and vistas of a park.
“Nor does the shifting scene contain all there is of color. There are costumes of every primary tint and every pastel shade, flaunting vermillions, lurid yellows, vitreous greens, great splashes of purple, subtle lengths and ripples of pink and azure and violet — an iridescence, a play of pigments that astonishes the eye.
“The vibrations of sound, too, are no less vivid. The tinkle of bells, the blare of horns, the fanfare of trumpets, the bravura of the orchestra, the melody of the singing voice. Sounds musical and sound unmusical, rhythmic sounds and sounds that confuse the ear, sounds sweet, dulcet, silver-toned symphonies, and sounds harsh, croaking, discordant — the who marching, waltzing, syncopating as such sound will, a musical babel of humor and delight — such is ‘Chin Chin.’”
“Chin Chin” dancers at the American Legion
The Idaho Statesman has an interesting article on page 8 of the December 2nd paper. We knew from other papers that the Chin Chin group played in Twin Falls, Idaho on December 1st. We don’t know where the company was on December 2nd. But, on December 3rd, part of the show was 20 miles west of Boise in Nampa, ID. The Joseph Murray Post of the American Legion, which was 70 members strong, put on a smoker (boxing match) that also included, “vaudeville from the Orpheum circuit, and dancing by the girls playing in Chin Chin.” We don’t know if Donna was with that group, but I would like to think she supported the Legion and their promotional activities. Another article, this time published on December 5th, indicated that the program was a success with approximately 200 returned soldiers, sailors and marines attending.
The newspaper had a very interesting release on December 4th.
“In the chorus of “Chin Chin,” to be seen at the Pinney on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there are 30 girls. More than two-thirds of these girls have never been seen either here or in New York.
“By an arrangement that was made with a talking machine Company, out of town applicants for positions in the chorus who were unable to go to New York, where the engagements were made, had their voices recorded on disk records at the various agencies, and the same were sent to Manager Charles Dillingham for consideration. All of the applicants wrote that they were anxious to begin their stage career under his direction.
“The competition lasted for two months, and those selected were given contracts and were notified to be ready for rehearsal.
“By this means Charles Dillingham believes that he has secured a unique chorus, well chosen for voice and beauty, the engagements being unprejudiced by any personal reasons.
Review mentions Donna
A very positive review published on December 5th regarding of “Chin Chin” says that,
“The conventional leads of the show were eclipsed by the specialities. Donna Montran, the good fairy who appears when Aladdin’s lamp is rubbed, has the best voice in the company.”
Way to go Donna!
There is an interesting note in the Society pages on December 14th. Under “Burley” it mentions that:
“Mrs. C. A. Sunderlin has been much entertained during the last two weeks. Mr. and Mrs. S. Grover Rich have a dinner, followed by a box party for ‘Chin Chin,’ Tuesday [which would be 12/9/1919], in honor of the Sunderlins.”
From that note, it appears that “Chin Chin” may have played in Burley on the 9th. I was able to find the Burley newspapers from that period are available via interlibrary loan. I’ve ordered it and will see what it show. This is important because I am not finding the Chin Chin show anywhere until into February 1920.
The Pinney Theater
In 1892, James A. Pinney build the Columbia Theatre. In 1908 the Pinney theater was built on the same site. It was an ornate theatre designed for stage. In the 1920s it began the shift to primarily movies. On February 20th, 1940 they hosted the world premiere of “Northwest Passage” which was filmed at McCall, Idaho, which is about 100 miles north of Boise.
The Pinney was demolished in 1969 and is a parking lot today.