Madonna’s Birth – 20 Feb 1893

Madonna’s Birth

There is an adage about always considering sources closest to an event as more accurate than others.  The age of my grandmother, Madonna/Donna is a perfect case of that policy.  
Donna was born 20 Feb 1893 in Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan, to John F and Ida Montran [Montrau]. The 1900 (Madonna used a step father’s name) and 1910 censuses are consistent with that birth year. 
Donna went into show business. In the 1920 census her occupation was “actress” and her age was 23, although she would have been 26. During the next seven years Donna only aged three years being only 26 years old when her son was born in 1927.
Donna doesn’t show up in the 1930 census, due to travel during the census. However, she does show up in an April 1930 Passenger List, returning from Panama, as only 25 years old.  She kept that 1905 birthdate through her daughter’s birth in 1932. Sadly she kept to the 1905 birth year when she applied for a Social Security Number in 1937, a mistake which cost her in later life (twelve years of benefits).
In the 1940 Census she reported that she was only 36, although she was 47, aging 11 years in the ten years between censuses.  I’ll be very interested in seeing what she reported when the 1950 census comes out.
Year    Birth 
1893    1893
1900    1893
1910    1893
1920    1897
1927    1901
1930    1905
1932    1905
1937    1905
1940    1904
1976    1893

I should note that in all records the date, February 20th, was always the same, only the age or year changed. As Donna’s life shows, records closest to the event are typically the most accurate.

23 & Me – Blackhurst line exploration


My 23 & Me DNA results put me (and my mother) into contact with a couple people with whom the only surname we shared was Blackhurst.  One of them suggested that their ancestor, William Stephen Blackhurst had a sister who was twelve years younger named Sarah Blackhurst.  He also indicated that their parents were Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst.  He provided several sources which provided a place for me to look much more closely at my Sarah and his suggestions.
I dove in and found lots of new information regarding Sarah that I didn’t know before. 
I learned that Sarah’s husband was Franklin (I had Frank) Barber. They were married in Calhoun County, Michigan. Sarah’s father came to the states about 1848, then Sarah’s mother and kids came to the States two years later (1850).  They settled in Auburn, Cayuga, New York, USA.   Somewhere between 1855 and 1860, they moved to Sheridan Township, Michigan (near to Albion). Sarah and Franklin were married in Albion (I’m ordering their marriage certificate) and their two children, Ida and Eva were born in Albion, which I knew previously. 
Stephen and Fanny are buried in Albion as well.  All the pieces connect and I’m certain of the relationship.  
So, the 23 & Me connection provided the impetus and the clue that opened up a family line I knew nothing about previously.  I am definitely looking forward to what additional connections the 23 & Me results will provide.  I’ll be writing more about the Blackhurst line after I finish a deep dive into those ancestors.
[Disclaimer:  The links to 23 & Me are connected to an affiliate program which provides a small reward to me if you purchase a DNA kit from them.  Although I receive a reward from them for a referral, my comments regarding 23 & Me are based solely upon my experiences with 23 & Me.]

Donna Darling – 1925 – Alton, Illinois

Alton Evening
Telegraph
26 & 28 Sep 1925
(Thanks to
Newspaper Archive)

On September 26th 1925, The Alton Evening Telegraph advertised a Vaudeville show at the Grand Opera House (Grand Theatre), “Donna Darling and Girls: Singing and Dancing Review.”
In the paper on the 28th, they reported,

“The new vaudeville act at the Grand which opened yesterday is one of the best and was received with great appreciation.

“Donna Darling and Girls” have an offering of song and dance also giving a display of bathing beauties from the year 1860 to 1925 also showing the designs of the French, German, American Hawaiian and other bathing girls and suits.”

Also on the bill was the movie “The Knockout” with Milton Sills and other vaudeville shows including Dippy Diers and Bennett in “Inimitable rantominists” and Lew Rose & Brownie in “Gloom Destroyers”.

The Grand Theatre (Opera House) was built in 1920, so it was only five years old when Donna played there. The theater closed in 1977.

The Grand Theatre
year unknown
Thanks to The Telegraph, Alton, IL 

Henry Brown search uncovers 8 additional ancestors

The next task I had on my Brown/Montran list was to confirm data on Henry Brown and try to find the marriage date for him and Marion Sanford.  As I did some poking around I found that somehow the birth and death dates I had for Henry Brown were ascribed to him in error and belonged to another Henry Brown. I found several different sources with a Henry Brown with the same birth and death dates and a different spouse and parents than I had for my Henry Brown. 
I believe it is important to revisit what you know every once and a while and confirm that what you know is really true.  In my case, there were inconsistencies in what I had and what my sources were telling me.  I did a lot of searching but couldn’t find anything that would give a birth, death, or marriage date for Henry.  
I decided to take a closer look at the 1870 and 1880 census for Henry and who his neighbors were.
In 1870 they were Watson and Boellger on one side and Sanford and Trim on the other side.
In 1880 they were Sitchard and Bluminann on one side and Brillevale and Sanford on the other side. Could the Sanfords in both censuses be related to Marion?  I then looked for any plat maps of the area to see what the land relationships might be like. I found one for Saline, Washtanaw County from 1874.  Sure enough, there was a Boettger, two Sanford properties, and a Trim property along a road. I then began looking in earnest for information about a Wm Sanford of Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan. 
One of my favorite search places is Google Books.  I searched for William Sanford Washtenaw.  An hit included a 1881 book, History of Washtenaw County, Michigan and a paragraph regarding William Sanford.  In the text was a line about his children, including “Marion A., wife of Henry Brown.” Yea, a book that confirms that my Marion was related to William Sanford. 
Lots of new information.  Including Marion’s mother’s name, Mary E. Parsons (a new name for me).  Elsewhere in the book it spoke of Mary’s parents, Chester Parsons and Deborah B. Maben (two more names), their parents John & Mary Wolcot Parsons along with Robert and Electa Maben (four more new names).  In the many pages there were names, dates, stories, about the Parsons, Mabens, and Sanfords.  I was able to add eight new direct ancestors and dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  An amazing find.  Probably most amazing was a drawing of Chester Parsons, (my 4th great-granfather) probably from when he was about 60 or so, his beard is white but his hair is still dark. (A description elsewhere in the book indicates that in 1881, his hair is white.) 
Sadly, I still haven’t determined Henry Brown’s birth, death, or marriage dates, but that’s okay. The other finds make up for missing facts.
Don’t forget Google Books in your research.  It can be an amazing resource.

  

McAllister was MURDERED – January 15, 1925


The Savannah Press – January 15, 1925

M’Allister was MURDERED,
     says Coroner’s Jury

—–

Inquest was held today; Witnesses tell of Discovery

—-

Brother of dead man on way to Savannah

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Arrest Probable in M’Allister Case

It is understood that investigations of the county police into the McAllister murder are coming to a focus, and an arrest may be made before midnight. There is no official announcement of this, but it is gathered the police believe the evidence in their possession may lead to the issuance of a warrant. The county police, under the direction of Chief Chapman, have worked night and day on the case. tracing every clue to its ultimate conclusion.

After hearing all the testimony submitted to it, the jury in the coroner’s inquest, at Sipple Brothers’ held over the body of Edward L. McAllister at noon today, found the following verdict:

“We the jury find that Edward L McAllister came to his death from wounds inflicted with a sharp instrument. In the hands of an unknown party or parties. and we consider it murder, the wounds being on the top of his head.”
The members of the coroner’s jury were Frank W. Williams, foreman; Dave L. Christian, Robert Beytagh, C. P. Abrams, Joseph Alexander, and Pratt Wright.

Besides Dr. George H. Johnson, the coroner, who, as a physician and witness, gave his testimony, there – were five Witnesses heard by the jury.

First Witness
The first Witness was H. B. Brown, Bee road and Victory drive.

Mr. Brown said: “Monday, Mr. Smith, the man that worked with Mr. McAllister, asked me to go and see what was the matter with him, as he had not come to work.

“Mr.Smith told me Tuesday morning that be had looked through the window and saw the bed torn up, as if he (Mr. McAllister) had gotten up and gone out.

“He suggested that I go over and see what I could find out. I went over and looked through the bedroom window and saw the bed torn up.  I, with another man, Tom Carr, looked around and saw that his car was in the garage.

“I looked .through the kitchen window and saw Mr. McAllister’s feet. I then got a chair and looked down through the window and said: ‘Tom, look there, McAllister is dead.’

“I then called 88 and reported the case to the officers. The officers came and raised the window.

“I don’t remember whether I last saw Mr. McAllister last Thursday or Friday. I did not work on the same shift as Mr. McAllister. We worked at different hours.

“Mr. McAllister was a man who had very little company.

Was Well Liked.
The only time I went there was when his wife died. He was well liked and as good-hearted a man as ever saw In my life. He was a ‘lead man’ for a while and we worked together. It seems all the men thought the world and all of him. A negro woman worked for him a few days after his wife died. He was a man. that never did visit much. He had some good neighbors. He came around to see me once in a while, sometimes once a week.”

Mrs. H. B. Brown, the next witness, said: “My husband came in that morning and said to me, ‘I want you and me to take a walk over to the old place.  I asked why he wanted to go over. He said, ‘Mack hasn’t been to work in several days and we ought to go, and see about him.  We went over and looked around. We saw his chickens and his car in the garage. W e looked through the bedroom window and saw the clock had stopped, I saw his cap hanging on the back of a chair. My husband stepped over to the kitchen window and looked in.  Mr. Carr was there, and my husband said, ‘My God, Tom, the man is dead!’ One at a time, my husband, Mr. Carr and I looked in and saw him, with the upper part of his body leaning against the kitchen partition.

Saw Him Christmas Eve.

“The last time I saw Mr. McAllister was Christmas Eve. Mr. Carr saw us at Mr: McAllister’s house and came over and joined us.”

William T. Carr, 1415 East Thirty-eighth street, said: “The first I knew of it was when Mr. Smith and Mr. Anderson came out Monday afternoon and said they were looking for Mr. McAllister

“They said, ‘come on and go with us. I went with them to the corner of Ash and Thirty-ninth street.
We went up on the piazza, looked through the window and saw the bed. It looked, as if a man had
gotten up after having slept in it.

Monday Evening
“I saw his car in the garage. Mr. Smith went to the hack of the house and looked through the kitchen window. We couldn’t have seen Mr. McAllister at the point where we found him later.  It was about 6 o’clock and too dark to see very much in the kitchen. I went back to my house and lit my light. The thing kept me worried.

“Tuesday morning I was out in my yard when I saw Mr. and Mrs. Brown over at Mr. McAllister’s. I whistled and asked what they were looking for and told them Mr. Anderson and Mr. Smith were there Monday afternoon looking for Mr. McAllister.

Looked in Window.
“I went over and we went on,  the stoop.  Mr. Brown looked in the kitchen window and said: ‘he’s in there. ‘

He then got a chair and looked in again. Mrs. Brown looked in and said, ‘he is down on the door.’ I then looked in and said, ‘My *God: the man is dead.’ Mr. Brown wanted to go in the house but I said ‘let’s get an officer, don’t go in that house.  Mr. Brown then said ‘lets get a phone,’ and we went over 

to a house and waited, until Mr. Brown telephoned the barracks. I didn’t want to wait as I had left my house open. I was standing at 40th street when Lieutenant Hallford came. I directed him to McAllister’s house. It seems to me the gentleman with Lieutenant Hanford opened the door with a skeleton key. The last time I saw Mr. McAllister was Saturday night.

“On Tuesday morning I saw the hatchet, there was also a dish of rice on the table. I am not a married man.”

Sketch of Room

The witness showed the Jury a sketch or diagram showing the location of the dead body and the outline of the kitchen. “I looked through the southeast window,” The witness said.  “A’ man standing by the stove could have struck Mr. McAllister from that point.” 

When asked by the coroner if he could recognize the hatchet used by the murderer, he hesitated and said there were so many hatchets that he did not like to say. When shown the bloody weapon, however, he promptly identified it.

H. B. Brown, recalled, said in answer to questions of the coroner, that Foreman Carter at the Atlantic Coast Line did not ask him to look for Mr. McAllister. “It did not see Mr. Carter,” he said.

Shown the hatchet found on the table at the McAllister residence, Mr. Brown said it was the kind used sometimes, by carpenters—it was called a chop hatchet, he said.

Saw Him Monday. 
C. F. Smith, carpenter, 308 West State street, said he caught a car at Broughton and Habersham streets Monday morning. “When I got out to the canal, near Thirty-ninth street and Waters road, Mr. McAllister came along, going west toward town. He had on a khaki suit, raincoat and gloves. He had been passing along nearly every day and I knew him in that way.  He talked to Mr. Coleman usually when coming by every day.

Ask for Cigarette

R. L. Coleman, basement, 222 East Taylor street, said: “I saw Mr. McAllister, Monday morning. He was going west on Thirty-ninth street. He asked me for a cigarette.  He looked as well as usual. 
He said the street is too muddy, ‘I won’t come cross the street.’ I did not work that day. I stayed
around until akoue 8:30 and went home.”

The coroner showed the watch found on the dead man’s person and said it wasrunning at 1:30 P. M. Tuesday night. The watch ran until 8:45 Tuesday night. “I timed the watch and found it runs about 36 hours, he said. The coroner said he found the dead man with his head against the kitchen partition.  There were four wounds on his head. There was a lathing hatchet laying on the table. There was $1.50 in small change and a Waltham watch on his person. 

Sipple Brothers, morticians, received a telegram yesterday afternoon from Joseph McAllister a brother of the dead man, asking that the body he held until his arrival in Savannah, He is coming from Pittsburg.

Man Investigated 

The county police yesterday afternoon temporarily detained a man for the purpose of clearing up what was believed to be a clue, but the man was released when it was found that he was in no way connected  with the affair.

Important Fact.
That McAllister’s watch was running at the time when the murder occurred and that it continued to run until 9 o’clock on the night when the man was found murdered at his home is an important factor in determining the time of the murder.  The watch, when fully wound and allowed to run its full time, was found have stopped about 36 hours after it was wound. This experiment was performed by Dr. Johnson, the coroner, yesterday. McAllister must have wound his watch according to this reasoning about 9 o’clock Monday morning.

Another important find at the house was that the back door key I was wrung off in the lock.

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