More about Donna Montran from Genealogy Bank

Miss Donna Montran
Boston Journal
December 12, 1916
Page – 4 

As I mentioned before there are 20 items in the Genealogy Bank regarding “Donna Montran.” After her, now famous, airplane ride she applied to represent Boston at  New York’s Crystal Palace Preparedness Bazaar.  It is amazing that in those days, the newspapers printed the names and addresses of all the applicants.  Imagine what would happen today if a newspaper published the home addresses of 49 contestants for a beauty contest. Wow.  Anyway, thanks to the policies of the time, we now know that in December if 1916, Donna was living at 64 Bennett in Brighton (Boston), MA. The house at that address today was built in 1920, so we don’t know what 64 Bennett was like back in 1916.  It is interesting to note that there were two Holdsworth girls who also applied to represent Boston.  Holdsworth was the name of one of Donna’s mother’s husbands — I wonder if there is a relationship.

By the way, Preparedness Bazaar referred to actions to prepare the United States to enter into World War I, which the US Didn’t do until the following year.

Donna doesn’t show up in the Genealogy Bank papers again until 1919 when she was in the play “Chin Chin” where she played at the Pinney Theater (Demolished) in Boise, Idaho where she received accolades for her role as the “good fairy”. She continued that role at the Powers Theater in Grand Rapids, and the Saginaw Auditorium in February, 1920.
Donna played at the Garden in Baltimore in March 1921
Donna then began a run of “The California Bathing Beauties” with Donna Montran. In September and October of 1920, she played the Garden in Baltimore, the Cosmos in Washington, DC, and the Capitol Theatre in Wilkes-Barre, PA. 

In the spring of 1921 she played at the State Theater in Trenton, NJ, again at both the Cosmos in Washington, DC and the Garden in Baltimore. 
The Genealogy Bank newspaper articles added a substantial number of new and exciting details to our understanding of Donna’s life.

Census Taker’s Tracks – June 27th.

I’ve been working on promoting the Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society program for June 27th.  It will be Susan Sloan, a former Smyrna native, who will present “The Census Taker’s Tracks.”  
The Census Taker’s Tracks 
History of the census and information on data on specific censuses will be presented in an interactive format.  Clues to finding elusive female ancestors will be addressed.  Often overlooked clues found on specific censuses will be noted. Tips for finding your family on the census will be reviewed. 
Susan Sloan is a professional genealogist whose areas of concentration are teaching family history classes, conducting private lineage research, and preparing lineage applications.   She has authored articles in several genealogical publications in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from Georgia State University.
The Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society operates the all volunteer Smyrna History Museum located on Atlanta Rd.
See for Museum volunteer opportunities and membership. 
Check  Facebook at “Smyrna History Museum” for periodic Museum events.
Also, please visit my Smyrna Genealogical pages at
Visit the Smyrna Museum with free admission on Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. See me there on the second and third Tuesday morings, 10 to 1.

City Directories

US Census Records are among the most
important records used in genealogical research. They are a treasure trove of
information; however, they come out only once every ten years leaving huge
gaps.  With the 1890 census having lost
so many records in a fire, often there is a twenty-year gap in our family research.  Do not overlook city directories as a potential source
to fill in those gaps.
Many cities and counties have had
directories published over the years. 
They were created for salesmen and merchants to be able to contact
individuals.  Of course, every publisher
had their own format for information they presented but it can be the source
for new information. Typically, city directories give the name and address of
the head of the household.  Often they
give the wife’s name, usually in parenthesis, and sometimes the names of adult
children living at the same address. They also usually provide a clue to the
occupation of the individual.  Sometimes
there is a reverse directory included which goes by street address and provides
the name of the individuals living there. 
For many years, I thought a great-grandmother of mine moved from one
address to another on the same street.  A
city directory revealed that they renumbered the street one year. The neighbors
stayed the same but the numbers changed for all of them.  Directories will often show maps, street name
changes, addresses of key businesses, churches, schools, cemeteries, post
offices, hospitals, newspapers and the like.  Some will give a history of the city as well
as the names of elected officials. Some, like the 1867 Atlanta City Directory,
even gives the names and roles of various churches and civic organizations such
as Masons and Odd Fellows.
Another major bit of information often
given is if a person is a widow.  That
can be key to narrowing down the year of someone’s death and provides a “died
before” date.  In some occasions, the
city directory may even list marriages, and deaths, including date, during the
previous year. 
Museum Collection

The Smyrna Museum has a small collection
of city directories of Marietta/Smyrna. The collection includes 1958, 1959,
1960, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977,
1985-86, and 1987.  These directories are
available for members to use at the museum for research.  If you cannot make it to the museum, the
Genealogy Committee Volunteers will be happy to do a lookup for you. Just let
them know the surname and the year y  If you want more than three surnames or
volumes looked at, a small donation to the Museum would be great.

Of course, if you have a Smyrna city
directory, even for a year listed above, please consider donating it to the
museum.  We would be extremely pleased to
receive it as a donation.
Line Resources
Google Books is always worth a quick
look to see if they have a directory you are looking for. Go to and then enter in the search box: City Directory [city of
interest].  You may be surprised at what
is available on line. Another great Google page is Google’s US Online Historical Directories site.
It shows access points to many city, county, business and other directories
online and provides information regarding them being free or paid sites.
One of my favorite sources for
Directories is Don’s List (
He has an 1859 directory of Augusta, 27 directories for Atlanta (1867-1923) as
well as a Georgia Gazetteer from 1829 that provides a lot of history about
Georgia and information about the various counties and cities of Georgia at
that time. Smyrna was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1832. Once gold was
discovered, the land was quickly confiscated from the Indians and redistributed
to settlers via a land lottery. 
Another great source for directories
is the Internet Archive (
and has several Atlanta directories.
Distant Cousin ( has the 1890
Brunswick, Georgia directory and information regarding several other Brunswick,
Georgia years.
Of course Ancestry and Fold3 have many directories in the qir paid sections.
Many Libraries and historical
societies have city directories in their possession. It is always worth an
email or telephone call to find out if a library has a city directory.  Often they will do a look-up for you without
charge or for a small fee.  Often the
directories have been microfilmed so be sure to speak with a reference
librarian who knows the various collections available on microfilm. Sometime
those resources may be ordered via interlibrary loan.
The Family History Library has
microfilm and microfiche, which can be ordered from and then viewed at
your local Family History Center. They have several cities in Georgia,
including Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah.
Genealogy Research Associates will
lookups in Directories for a fee. They have access to Atlanta, Augusta,
Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. Check their website for years available. They
currently charge $15 plus P&H for the service.

Virginia Memory – Chancery Database

It has been quite a while since I last blogged here. I have many other projects and activities going on. First, I was in Minnesota visiting my mother. I put together many questions and recorded about 4 hours of material, about one hour per session four of the 11 days I was there. I have a project to transcribe the information there and include in my personal tree.

I also did DNA tests for both my mother and me and sent them in to 23 and Me. The great thing about doing both of us is that any relationship matches for me alone must come from my unknown father’s side and any that match on both of us must come from her side. I have also been spending quite a bit of time working on a Burlison line out of Oklahoma for a friend.  I’ve had many interesting findings there as I’ve begun plucking lots of “low hanging fruit.”

I subscribe to many genealogy blogs. One of them is the “Search Tip of the Day – Almost Every Day.”  Michael John Neill’s May 31st blog reminded me about the Virginia Memory site, which is wonderful. He reminded me of the Chancery records there. There are over 220,000 cases indexed in the Chancery database and nearly 5.6 million images of Chancery causes available online. I’m back working on the Howell line, so I thought; I’ve got a couple difficult research areas. I’ll see if maybe I can find something in the Chancery records. 
A quick search for Howell yielded a case between JOHN P WILLIAMS and the administrator of the JOHN P PRICE estate. The case involves 90 pages of documents including a deposition by Peter Howell. It is always wonderful to find a document in an ancestor’s own hand with a signature. His deposition didn’t tell me anything new; Peter lived in Buckingham County in both 1830 (date of the event he wrote about) and 1938 (date of the litigation). However, it does indicate he knew both John Williams and John Price, which may be useful later. There are also many references to Mrs. Pankey who is probably Peter’s wife’s mother; (her father died  about 1829). There are also several references to Holman/Holeman. Peter’s half sister married a Holman about 1819-1820 and there are several Holman’s in Cumberland County during that period. I still need to go through all the documents with a fine tooth comb and see what I can find out about Holman’s as possible. The database includes so many records for Howell, Pankey, and Holman that I should eventually be able to make some new determinations and connections. Just the Chancery records at the Virginia Memory site should keep me busy for days. 

Anna White – Death Certificate

1950 photo of a street scene at 335 Lincoln Ave

I received Anna White’s (Hannah McAllister’s) Certificate of Death from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. (See my previous blog for details on ordering PA Death Certificates.) The certificate included some interesting information and insights.

Her mother, Margaret (Lamb) McAllister was the informant. She provided Anna’s birthdate of August 15th, 1885 which confirmed the year. Different documents indicated 1885 and 1886. Mother’s seem to remember those kinds of things so I’ll keep to the 1885 date.

Interesting is that Margaret indicated that the place of death was at Margaret’s address of 335 Lincoln Ave. (Ward 12) in Pittsburgh. Anna’s ususal address was 509 Beechwood in Carnegie, PA. Google Maps indicates that 335 Lincoln is now either a vacant lot or a vacant barber shop. Back in 1950, the barber shop building was Fischer Groceries/Confections. I suspect that back in the day the grocery included a residence next to it. In 1917, Barnetta Dumm was the confectioner there at that shop. This may have been one of the many confection shops that Margaret worked at. The photo hints that across the street was Lincoln Elementary School, but the school wasn’t built until 1931. Google maps is inconclusive regarding 509 Beechwood. It appears to be a newer than a 1913 home to me.

Anna died July 11th, 1913, at the age of 27, of pelvic peritonitis due to a ruptured ovarian cyst.

According to the death certificate, she was buried at Chartiers Cemetery on July 14th 1913. I have created a Find-A-Grave memorial for her and have requested a photo of the marker.