The Donna Darling Collection

Part 1 of possibly 37

When my Grandmother, Madonna Montran (AKA Donna), passed away in 1976 it was several days before my mother was informed of the death.  When she went to Donna’s apartment she found that everything had been removed, the apartment cleaned, and the apartment up for rent already. She was told by the building manager that everything was either trashed or given to the Salvation Army. Well…  Not everything.

Photo of Donna Montran, circa 1910

Donna Montran, c. 1910

Apparently, Donna’s friend, Virginia Hagen, saved some of the photos and other documents of Donna’s. Those items were put into a trunk and remained “lost” for over 40 years. Virginia’s daughter inherited the trunk and searched the internet for information on the “nearly famous” vaudeville star, Donna Darling. (Donna Darling was her stage name.) She quickly discovered this blog site and contacted me. She gave me a chance to digitize many of the items.  I was able to digitize 357 images. Some of the images are large photographs, others are scrapbook pages with several articles, and several are groupings of thumb-sized photos.  Newspaper clippings from the 1920s in contact with acid rich paper don’t do so well over time. Likewise, many of the photos were glued into the albums causing damage.  Additionally, because Donna knew who the individuals were, there was no reason to label most of the photos.

I decided to process the collection about 10 images at a time. As I process the images, I hope to identify the people, places, dates, and anything else I can figure out from the images. Some of the images aren’t appropriate for posting to the internet, such as my grandmother’s social security health card. (The word “Medicare” isn’t on it, yet.)

The First 10 Images

The first ten images are a miscellaneous group of loose items. They included:

  1. Business Card from Amsterdam Hosiery & Gift Shop. There are four sides to this business card, including one side showing birthstones for the various months. I believe this was her ex-husband’s parents shop.
  2. Blue Cross Blue Shield identification card for Donna Rossberg.  I have never understood her Rossberg connection. This card confirms she used the Rossberg name sometimes but I have never found a legal connection (marriage) between Donna and “Red.” Something to investigate sometime.
  3. A 1970 photo of me holding my son, Matthew. Sadly, the photo is badly damaged.
  4. A photo of me. I have the same photo in my personal photos and have always thought it was from about 1956. However, Donna’s copy has our Fridley address written on the bask, indicating it was more likely 1958.
  5. A 1910 photo of Madonna Montran. At the age of 17 Donna had her first professionally done photoshoot. One of those photos became the picture used on the sheet music of “In the Heart of a Fool.” Another photo from that photo shoot is in this first batch of photos. The original has many scrapes, nicks, and creases. I touched up the image slightly to remove the blemishes from the photo (not from her).  Without a doubt, you can see how incredibly beautiful she was. Amazing photo is it posted above.
  6. Photo of Donna on Ocean Liner, circa 1930.

    Donna on Ocean Liner, circa 1930.

    Next is a photo of “Donna on Ocean Liner – Carabean [sic] Sea.”  I believe this to be about 1930. Donna and Sammy went to Panama in 1930. While in Panama, Donna met my grandfather. Also, while in Panama Donna and Sammy became estranged. Although they returned on the same ship, they appear on different pages of the manifest and reported living at different addresses. He, his mother’s address in New York and Donna her mother’s address in Detroit.

  7. Next is a photo of Freddie Braddock that appears to have been taken in San Antonio, Texas in June 1952.  I have no idea who this person is nor what his relationship to Donna was.  Another thing to investigate.
  8. A 1954 “Honorable Withdrawal Card” from the Laundry Workers’ International Union.  I knew that Donna worked in laundries.  I also recall her being very pro-union. She said that the rich get rich by exploiting the poor and that unions curb that exploitation. This card really triggers memories for me. I think I should research the LWIU and learn more about this important aspect of Donna’s later life.
  9. There were three letters from me. One made me feel bad. It was a letter from me to Donna apologizing for not visiting her when I was in Minneapolis on military leave. I promised her that I’d visit her on my next return home on leave. Sadly, she died before I returned to Minnesota.
  10. There is a wedding photo of myself and my first wife. I think it is in better condition than the copy that I have.
  11. My son, Matthew, is the subject of a March 1976 photo. He is on the side of a hill.
  12. Donna’s Medicare card from 1966.
  13. A photo of my mother, Sylvia, from Christmas 1970.
  14. And last, but not least, there is a photo of an unknown man in a vintage automobile. The car has “suicide doors” and odd fold out windows. I don’t know what type of car it is. (But, I’ll bet a car buff could tell me.) I’m thinking it might be Russell Kees (the significant other of Donna, not Donna’s son). I definitely need to do more research in this photo.

So, the first ten images yielded 16 items. Only 247 more images to go.  This is going to be fun.

Many thanks to Norma White and to Valerie Lumley for taking care of the collection all these years. Once again, thank you, Norma White, for allowing me to digitize the Donna Darling Collection.

Follow-up Research.

  • Search again for Donna’s connection to Red Rossberg. Were they ever married?
  • Who was Freddie Braddock and what was his relationship to the family?
  • Investigate and research the Laundry Workers’ International Union.
  • Determine the kind of car it is (below)?  Who is the driver?  When might the photo be from?

    Photo of a man in a vintage auto.

    Unknown man in a vintage automobile. How is he related?


 

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Ancestor Biography – Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869)

 [Brown]/Montran/Barber/Blackhurst Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.As I have begun to get to know my Blackhurst heritage, I am amazed. It is an incredible group of people descended from 19th century English immigrants, Stephen and Fannie (Taylor) Blackhurst. Fifty years after Stephen’s death family reunions began. Their descendants include many community leaders including a superintendent of schools for St. Charles, Missouri. It is more amazing because until I began investigating this family line I had not hear of any Blackhurst ancestors.  It was a name neither my mother nor her brother recalled ever hearing. They both remembered hearing about their great-grandmother Sarah Barber, who died when my uncle was only one year old, but neither recalled hearing Sarah’s maiden name.

Of course, I wonder what caused my line to appear to have become estranged from the remainder of Blackhursts.  I have my suspicions, but need to do a lot more research to prove them. In any event, in introduce you to my third great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

Roberts-Brown-2017 – Ancestor #62

List of Grandparents

  1. Grand Parent: Madonna Montran
  2. 1st Great: Ida Barber
  3. 2nd Great: Sarah H Blackhurst
  4. 3rd Great: Stephen Blackhurst
  5. 4th Great: Stephen Blackhurst

Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869)

Birth

Birth years are often contentious and Stephen’s birth year is no exception. He was certainly born sometime between 1799 and 1804.

  • 1799 – His death in 1869 at the age of 70 suggests that he was born in 1799.
  • 1800 – The 1860 Census indicates his age as 60, suggesting a birth year of 1800.
  • 1801 – His marker displays 1801. Because there is no definitive source for his birth year, 1801 is the year I prefer to use.
  • 1802 – The 1841 England Census indicates his age of 39, suggesting a birth year of 1802.
  • 1804 – The 1850 US Census indicates his age as 46, suggesting a birth year of 1804.

Other records indicate he was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

Childhood

I believe Stephen was the child of Stephen Blackhurst and Lydia Ellen Cochran. I know nothing of Stephen’s childhood nor of his siblings.

Marriage

Relationship of Sheffield and Rotherham in South Yorkshire

Stephen and Fanny Taylor married on 26 Dec 1825 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. Rotherham is the district immediately east of Sheffield.

Adulthood

It appears that the couple may have moved between Sheffield and Kingston upon Hull. Records indicate that their first child, Ellen, was born in Kingston upon Hull and five of the other children were born in Sheffield. There are two children that I don’t have any details on their birth locations and, of course, Ellen’s birth location is single sourced and may be incorrect.

In any event, by 1841 the Blackhursts had located to Kingston upon Hull (known as Hull today), Yorkshire, England.

Coming to America

The 1855 New York Census indicates that Stephen had come to America seven years earlier (1848) while his wife and three of his children had come to America five years earlier (1850). The family, Stephen and Fannie, with six of the children (Elizabeth, Mary, William, Eleazer, Ann, and Sarah) were settled in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York during the 1850 Census. Their oldest daughter, Ellen, married on 4 July 1850 and the census enumeration occurred on the 8th of August. The 1855 New York Census still shows the family in Auburn.

Move to Michigan

It appears that the Blackhursts came to Michigan in 1859. The 1860 Census shows Stephen and  Fanny along with the three youngest children, William, Louise, and Sarah living in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. The Blackhurst farm appears to be about four miles north of Albion. So, over the ensuing years various documents indicate they live in Albion and Sheridan (Township).  There were some apparent conflicts in the 1860 Census that I addressed here.

Death

Marker = Stephen Blackhurst
1801-1869

Stephen Blackhurst died on 24 December 1869 of “Dropsy of the Bowels” (Ascites) in Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Albion.

Story

54 years after Stephen Blackhurst’s death, his descendants got together for a family reunion at a park in nearby Jackson, Michigan. See: Blackhurst Family Reunion – 1923 for details.

Children:

Stephen Blackhurst and Fanny Taylor had the following children:

  1. Ellen Blackhurst was born on 19 Oct 1829 in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England. She died on 17 Feb 1905 in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. She married Henry Clough on 04 Jul 1850 in Auburn, Cayuga, New York.
  2. Elizabeth Blackhurst was born on 21 Oct 1831 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 14 Feb 1915 in Calhoun, Michigan.
  3. Mary Blackhurst was born on 20 Dec 1833 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 14 Feb 1900 in Springport, Jackson, Michigan. She married Royal Baldwin on 11 Jan 1857 in Calhoun County, Michigan.
  4. William Stephen Blackhurst was born on 13 May 1835 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. He died on 10 Mar 1914 in Avalon, Livingston, Missouri. He married Emily M Vase on 05 Sep 186417 in Calhoun County, Michigan,Usa. He married Sarah Elizabeth Hinkley sometime between 1875-1886.
  5. Louise Blackhurst (aka “Eleazer” and possibly “Louisa”) was born on 14 Aug 1840 in England. She died on 17 Mar 1927 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan at the age of 88 Years, 7 Months, 3 Days.
    1. She married Samuel Sanders about 1862.
    2. She married Champion Eslow on 03 Sep 1872 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan.
    3. She married Francis Magennis on 15 Aug 1882 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan.
    4. She married Charles Henry Peck19 on 21 Dec 1898 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan. It was the 4th marriage for Louise and the 2nd marriage for Charles.
  6. Phoebe Anna Blackhurst was born on 15 May 1842 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 17 Aug 1929 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
  7. Sarah H Blackhurst was born on 29 Dec 1847 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 08 Aug 1928 at home at 1456 Lawndale, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. Stephen White, Justice of the Peace, performed the marriage ceremony for Sarah and Franklin E Barber on 08 Nov 1869 in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan.

Sources

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Trace Stephen Blackhurst’s life in England before his coming to the United States.
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My First Grade – Emerson Elementary

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Westminster Presbyterian Church – I lived in the apartment building to the right of the church.

We must have moved back to Minneapolis during the summer of 1956 because I don’t remember changing schools during the school year that year.  We lived at 1221-½ Nicollet. It was an old hotel, right next door to Westminster Presbyterian Church, that had been converted to apartments. It had fire escapes on the front of the building that was really cool at the time. Once we popped popcorn and went out on the fire escape to watch the Aquatennial Parade go by. It turned about a half a block away (on 12th Street) but we could see it just fine from our perch on the 3rd floor.  My mother told me that we lived in the same building a couple years earlier, but I don’t remember that.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary, Minneapolis, MN – Photo from “Minneapolis Public Schools History”

I attended Emerson School, named after Frank Waldo Emerson, about four blocks away. I remember walking to school with a girl. I think we were the same age and just watched out for each other. On the walk to school, we crossed Nicollet Ave, one of the busiest streets in the city in those days. We only lived there for a couple months, as I recall. Then we moved to a place on Spruce Place, only about a block from the school.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School was originally erected in 1886. It was demolished and a new building was erected in 1925. An addition was added in 1926.[i]

A 1963 study indicated that the school attendance had 663 students in 1952 and only 223 students in 1963. The decline was mostly due to infrastructure changes in the neighborhood, particularly the building of Interstate 94 through the city. (I-94 runs 4 blocks to the west and 2 blocks to the south of the school.) Additionally, the report cites change of land use in the area.[ii]  I had seen the shift over the years too.  The apartment I lived in on Nicollet Avenue was demolished and made into a parking lot in the late 1950s. Likewise, the building we lived in on Spruce Place was torn down and a wing to Eitel Hospital was built.

The school was smaller than I remember.  That same 1963 study indicates the school had 7 classrooms plus a Kindergarten as well as four special education rooms and one special use room for use by K-6.  I guess things just seem so much larger when you are only six-years-old.

My Soup Disaster

One of my most traumatic school events ever happened at lunch at Emerson.  I, like most kids in those days, brought my lunch. I had a new thermos and it was filled with my favorite soup – Chicken Noodle. I poured out about half of it and it was all broth, and that was okay. Then I poured out the second half of it and it too was all broth.  I couldn’t get the noodles to come out of the thermos. I was frustrated and cried a bit. Why wouldn’t the thermos release the best part of my “Chicken Snoodle Snoop.” Finally, a teacher came over to me and was successful in getting the thermos to release the noodles. I only brought tomato soup after that.

What happened to School

I am surprised to learn that the school building is still there, 91 years later. Today it is “The Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center.” It provides a language immersion program for native English and native Spanish speaking students serving students Pre-K – 5th grade. Students learn to read and write in both languages.[iii]

 


Endnotes

[i] Minneapolis Public School History – Schools & Facilities – K-8 – Emerson http://mpshistory.mpls.k12.mn.us/emerson 

[ii] Minneapolis Public School History – Emerson – Planning for the Future – http://mpshistory.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/pff-1963-emerson.pdf

[iii] Internet:  Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center Bienvenidos/Welcome page. http://emerson.mpls.k12.mn.us/

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Blackhurst Family Reunion – 1923

Amanuensis Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I don’t recall ever finding a newspaper article about a family reunion for my direct ancestors. I found an article on Ancestry.Com that mentioned my third great-grandparents, Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst. The article was from 1923. Stephen died in 1869 and Fanny died 1889, so a first family reunion taking place over 50 years after Stephen died and over 35 year after Fanny died was a surprise. It showed the pride the family felt to be a part of each other.  The article was in the August 12, 1923 edition of the Evening Chronicle (Marshall, Michigan).[i]

Transcription

Social News
Reunions
Blackhurst

Evening Chronical (Marshall, MI) 12 Aug 1923

The first annual reunion of the Blackhurst family occurred Sunday at Victory park, Jackson, and was attended by thirty-five members of the family. Descendants of Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst, who came to this country from England, settling first in Auburn, N.Y., and in 1869 coming to Albion which was their home during the remainder of their lives.

Officers were elected during the afternoon following the picnic dinner as follows:

  • President, Mrs Flora Sears of Marshall
  • Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids
  • Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion

The after dinner hours were pleasantly occupied with recitations and speeches by the guests and by the reading of letters and telegrams received from those not able to be present. Relatives and friends were in attendance from Big Rapids, Eaton Rapids, Spring Arbor, Battle Creek, Marshall, Detroit and Albion.

[Note: formatting above is mine.]

Discussion

My research did indicate that the Blackhurst did first settle in Auburn, N.Y. However, they were in Sheridan Township before the 1860 Census.[ii] They were in Auburn during the 1855 New York Census,[iii] so they appear to have moved to Albion between 1855 and 1860 and not in 1869.

People

President Mrs. Flora Sears of Marshall:  I don’t have a clue who that could be.  Apparently from a family line I haven’t traced yet. It is interesting to note that next to the Blackhurst farm near Hall’s Lake was another farm owned by J.W. Sears. Nearby farms also included Sanders, Brownell, and Clough names known to have married into the Blackhurst family.

Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids. Must be Charles Owen Brownell (1870-1962), who was a grandson of Stephen and Fanny.  I learned that he lived in Eaton Rapids in 1923.

Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion, is Phebe Ann (Eslow) a granddaughter of Stephen and Fanny. I learned she lived in Albion in 1923.

In 1923, my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah (Blackhurst) Barber was 76 years old.  In 1920 she was living with my grandmother in New York City. In 1928 she was living with my great-grandmother Ida (Barber) Knight in Detroit. So, Sarah and Ida, could have been there as the “relatives from Detroit.” Donna’s whereabouts are unknown during August 1923 so she could have been there as well. Donna, Ida, and Sarah all lived in Albion at various times so they would have known the people and could well have had a desire to be a part of the first family reunion.

Conclusion

My direct ancestors (Madonna, Ida, and Sarah) left Albion and Calhoun County before 1900, and they never spoke of Blackhursts or Albion. It wasn’t until my research that we learned that Madonna was born in Albion, she always said she was born in Detroit. When queried, my mother and uncle said that Ida was born in Detroit. And neither of them recall ever hearing the surname of Blackhurst in their family history.  That make me wonder what made them apparently abandon the Blackhurst family and totally lose contact.  Maybe I’ll be able to find the Blackhurst Family Reunion of 1923 and learn more.

Albion (MI) Historical Society

There is hope on that front. This article shows many Blackhurst family members remained in Calhoun County and the Albion/Sheridan township area. Their having a family reunion in 1923 is evidence they wanted to keep their family in touch. Albion is about 1-1/2 hours west of Detroit and the Albion Historical Society is open weekends from mother’s day until September. I think it would be a great excursion to visit the Historical Society during my next trip to Detroit and see what they might have.

Sheridan Township (MI) Map showing Blackhurst and related family locations

I wish I lived near Albion. Next door to the Blackhurst farm was a farm owned by J. S. Sears. (Possibly somehow related to Blackhurst Reunion president, Mrs. Flora Sears?) One farm beyond that was a farm owned by T. Sanders. Just south of that a farm by W. Brownell.  It is like half the names of the Blackhurst spouses came from these neighbors.  I would be a fun exercise to look at all of the relationships.

In my wanderings, I have found other people for whom The Blackhurst legacy was a big deal. They spoke about the family going back and forth between Chicago and Albion and sharing stories about when Stephen and Fannie left England and came to America and lived in the “wilderness of Michigan.” Maybe they will share those stories with this black sheep Blackhurst descendant.

Followup

  • Reach out to other Blackhurst researchers.
  • Visit the Albion Historical Society.
    • Research – Any records showing John F. Montran or any Montran surnames.
    • Research – Any records regarding the Blackhurst family of Albion particularly prior to 1900.
  • Determine who Flora Sears of Marshall is and how she related.
  • Do a neighbor study of the Blackhurst family and the relationships of Stephen and Fanny’s children’s spouses.

ENDNOTES/SOURCES

[i] Evening Chronicle (Marshall, MI) (Marshall, Michigan, ), Ancestry.Com, 1923-08-12 – Social News / Reunions / Blackhurst.
[ii] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013.  https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.
[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.
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Blackhurst Conflicts – The “Blacklin” Family of 1860

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I recently attended a Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society where the speaker, Pam Stone Eagleson spoke about “Confronting Conflicting Evidence.” It was a very good talk. As I listened to it I was thinking, ‘It doesn’t really apply to me;’ I’m pretty good a reconciling conflicting evidence.’  It wasn’t until sometime later that it hit me, she was talking about “Confronting” and not “reconciling” evidence. Do I really confront contradictions or do I just accept inconsistencies without thinking about them too much?

When I changed software long ago because of a database corruption and because of the shortcomings I’ve experienced in exporting to a GED file and importing a GED file into different software my sources are in a bit of a disarray. Because of that, my practice is to take my original sources and reintegrate them as though they were new sources then delete my old sources as redundant. I was doing that cleanup for my 3rd great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

I began the walk up from my earliest source citation.

  • 1841 England Census – Good[i]
  • 1850 US Census – Good[ii]
  • 1855 New York Census – Good[iii]
  • 1860 US Census – Whoa Nellie!

My 1860 Census record seemed to come from another planet. Lots of conflicts. Looking at the record from the perspective of having just seen the previous four records provided a new at the conflicts. I decided I need to confront the conflicts head on.

1860 Census[iv]

The conflicts include:

Crop of 1860 Census record for Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst

1860 Census for Stephen & Fanny Blacklin

  • Surname – Blacklin family – Not Blackhurst family
  • Age of Stephen: 60, (b. 1799-1800) verses 1802-1804 of other records (3 to 4 years off).
  • Age of Fannie: 59, (b. 1800-1801) verses 1806-1810 of other records (6 or 7 years off).
  • Married: The box for “married during the past year” is marked. Other records indicate they married in 1825.

Gosh, could I have attributed the wrong family to my tree? I haven’t done that in years.

The kids in the household look to be right for the Blackhurst family.

Sarah is 11, although she should be 12.

Louisa is 22 – Her age is right, but the name is different.  Previous records included her as “Eleazer” and “Ealonr.” I guess I can get “Eleazer” out of Louisa – but “Ealonr”? Maybe there is a middle name I don’t know about yet.

William is the right name and age, 24.

1870 Census[v]

1870 Census – Fanny Blackhurst

Sadly, Stephen died in 1869. The 1870 Census doesn’t show relationships; however, the Fanny Blackhurst family has the right surname – Blackhurst.

Fanny is head of household. Living with clearly is her daughter Louisa, now age 31. It appears that Louisa married during the previous decade and had two children. Husband (unknown Sanders) is absent from the record.

Likewise, daughter Elizabeth, aka Bessie, is living in the house with her husband, Isaac Earl, and a daughter Mary, age 8.

I’ll add that other family members, such as my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah Blackhurst Barber, are living in the same area (Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, so I am pretty confident that the Blackhurst family moved from Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, to Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, sometime between 1850 and 1860.

Surname Conflict

Going back to look at the conflicts.

I can’t explain the Blackhurst/Blacklin surname conflict. Because the family appears to be consistent with the other records depicting the Blackhurst family, before and after the 1860 Census. I have searched the 1850 and 1870 Censuses for Blacklin families without success.  Also I have searched for the Blackhurst surname in the 1860 census to no avail. I believe I have done a reasonably exhaustive search and believe that the Blacklin surname is a census taker error.

Marriage Conflict

“Married during the past year” is a problem. It is certainly possible that Stephen married a second time to a woman also named Fanny. That would explain the shift in age. Another possibility exists in that the census taker marked people who were married as married in the past year. The first three family units on the page are all marked as marked as married in the past year.

The first household on the page is Thomas Saunders (27) with Marion (24) and two children (5 & 3). The second household on the page is Stephen (65) with Fanny (59) and three children (24, 22, and 11).  The third household on the page is David Bowen (33) Valindima (24) and two children (2 & 1). It just seems odd to me that all three of these apparent family units were married in the past year. Unless I find some compelling evidence elsewhere, I don’t believe that Stephen and Fanny were married in the year previous to the 1860 census or that Stephen was married twice. So again, I believe this is a Census Taker error.

Age Conflict

My experience has told me that ages are most accurate early in life. The ages for children under 10 seem the most accurate.  Women seem to have their birth year increase during their late 20s, 30s, and 40s. In their 50s their birth years seem to return to their original and in their 80s and 90s their birth year often seems to move before their original birth year. Men’s ages seem to go similarly, however, single men in their 50s and 60s seem to be older if they are married and seem to be younger if they are single or widowed.

Stephen appears to fit this model

  • 1841 – Age 39 – b. circa[vi] 1802
  • 1850 – Age 46 – b. circa 1804
  • 1855 – Age 57 – b. circa 1798
  • 1860 – Age 60 – b. circa 1800
  • 1869 – Died – Marker says 1801

Fanny’s ages also fit this model.

  • 1841 – Age 30 – b. circa 1811
  • 1850 – Age 42 – b. circa 1808
  • 1855 – Age 48 – b. circa 1807
  • 1860 – Age 59 – b. circa 1801
  • 1870 – Age 64 – b. circa 1806
  • 1880 – Age 74 – b. circa 1806
  • 1885 – Died – Marker says 1806

Conclusion

The bottom line is that I believe I have confronted the inconsistencies in the facts of the 1860 Census records and the have facts in my database as appropriate. Pam Stone Eagleson’s talk about “Confronting Conflict” led me to further consider some inconsistencies in my tree and that is a good thing. Thank you, Pam.

Sources and Endnotes

[i] 1841 England Census, Ancestry.Com, Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, Parish of Holy Trinity, Pages 21 & 22. Stephen Blackhurst.

[ii] 1850 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 Aug 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCT2-GRX.

[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.

[iv] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.

[v] 1870 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Fanny Blackhurst Head – Calhoun, Sheridan, Michigan, Page 30, Line 24.

[vi] Circa – When I enter a “circa” date, it generally encompasses the year before and the year shown. For example, b. circa 1802 generally means 1801 to 1802. In the example of the 1850 Census which was taken on June 1, 1850, an age of 46 suggests the individual was born between 2 June 1803 and 1 June 1804. On occasion, I also use “About” or “Abt” meaning the same thing.

 

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Twelve Darling Greats Discovered

Bright Shiny Objects – A Distraction can be Okay

Howell-Darling-2016 Research
Darling Line

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.The Blizzard of 2017 was a great day to knuckle down and do some genealogy – as long as the power held out. My plan was to find information about Hannah Carpenter, my wife’s 4th great-grandmother. I wasn’t finding anything of interest regarding her. So, I stepped back and began looking at her husband’s (Abner Darling’s) records in more detail. Some time ago, I found a source for information on the Beekman Patent in Duchess County, New York.  It appeared that Abner came out of the Beekman Patent and I needed to research it further to understand how he may have found his wife, Hannah.  So, I looked at that material and became distracted. That document also mentioned a source, a 1913 book, The Darling Family in America, which I found a copy of online. Between the two sources, I extracted the possible names of a dozen Darling ancestors and several dozen siblings of those ancestors.  I learned:

Abner’s parents (My wife’s 5th great-grandparents):

192. Ebenezer Darling (1718-1790)
193. Mary Hakes

Abner’s grandparents:

  1. Benjamin Darling (1687-1772)
  2. Mehitable White (1689-?)
  3. Solomon Hakes
  4. Anna Billings

Half of Abner’s Great-Grandparents

  1. Dennis Darling (c. 1640-1717)
  2. Hannah Francis
  3. Thomas White
  4. Mehitable (?Thornton?)

And even two of Abner’s 2nd Great Grandparents (My wife’s 8th great-grandparents)

1538.  John Francis
1539. Rosa (??)

Wow!  I’ll be the first to admit, abandoning my research on Hannah Carpenter and diving into these Darling materials was going for the bright shiny objects.  I didn’t stay with my research plan. And yes, I “wasted a day” documenting what I found in “The Settlers of the Beekman Patent – Darling Document” and The Darling Family in America. Incorporating that information into a “notional” tree wasn’t part of my research plan for the day. Nothing confirmed, but a great outline to begin working.

We received about 17 inches of snow, had winds over 35 miles per hour for more than three hours, and had visibilities less than a quarter of a mile – an official blizzard. We didn’t lose power, though over 21 thousand people did here in southern Maine.  However, I was able to work most of the day on the Darling Family. I don’t learn anything new about Hannah Carpenter, but that’s okay.  Acquiring the likely names, birth dates, and places of a dozen other ancestors is a good day.  I’ll remember the Blizzard of 2017; it was the day I followed my wife’s Darling line went back to The Great Migration.

Howell-Darling 2017

List of Grandparents

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Return to Hannah Carpenter and research more about her life.

One more thing, it appears that one of Dennis Darling’s other children, 6th great uncle John Darling, came to Scarborough in the 1600s – a tidbit of information that could keep me involved for days of research at the Scarborough Museum where I volunteer.


Sources:

Doherty, Frank J., “Settlers of the Beekman Patent, The” – File: Darling.doc. See https://settlers-of-the-beekman-patent.myshopify.com/.

Clemens, William M., Darling Family in America, The (1913), Archive.Org.

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Collins – Surname Saturday

I don’t really know much about my Collins ancestors, but they are among my earliest ancestors, 8th 9th and 10th great grandparents. They were part of the “Great Migration” of the early 1600s arriving in Massachusetts then locating to Connecticut.

Name Origin

Ancestry.Com suggests that the Collins surname is an Anglicized for of the Gaelic names Ó Coileáin and Mac Coileáin. It also suggests that it is a form of “Coll” a shortened form of Nicholas.[i]

Similarly, Forbears suggests that Collins is derived from and ancestor, “the son of Nicholas” – Coll or Cole – and put into a diminutive form: “Col-in” like “Rob-in.”[ii]

Geography

Collins is the 698th most Common surname in the world; Approximately ¾ of a million people have the Collins surname in the world and about ½ of them are in the United States where the surname ranks 50th.  In terms of density, (percentage of population and rank within a nation) the number one place for the “Collins” surname is Ireland.

Although often thought of as an Irish name, there are more people with the Collins surname in England (and Nigeria) than in Ireland.[iii]

My Earliest Ancestors

I believe that my Collins ancestors came from England. That is to say, I understand that my 8th great-grandmother’s grandfather was Deacon Edward Collins of Bramford, Suffolk, England.[iv] It appears that he came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1637.

His son, Deacon Nathaniel Collins, was probably born in Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1643.[v]

His daughter, Abigail Collins, was likely born in Connecticut Colony about 1682 and married Samuel Wolcott on 27 Dec 1705. I say “understand,” “appears,” “probably,” and “likely” because I have not had the chance to independently verify and confirm the source document from several authored sources individual trees that suggest this information. I have not confirmed with original source documents.

Marker of Abigail Collins Wolcott (1682 - 1758)

Abigail Collins Wolcott (1682 – 1758) – Marker

My third great-grandmother is Fanny Taylor who married Stephen Blackhurst. So the Taylor surname jumped five generations to me. Likewise, I have a niece whose surname is Collins having jumped 12 generations to another descendant being a “Collins.”

Abigail Collins married Samuel Wolcott (1679-1734) in 1705.[vi] They had six children (that I know of); their third child, Samuel (1713-1800) is my 7th great grandfather.

My Direct Collins Ancestors

#6564 – Edward Collins – (1603-1689) – Generation 13
#3282 – Nathaniel Collins (1653-1741) – Generation 12
#1641- Abigail Collins (1681-1758)
#  820 – Samuel Wolcott (1713-1800)
#  410 – Samuel Wolcott (1736-1802)
#  205 – Mary Wolcott (1767-1857)
#  102 – Chester Parsons (1799-1887)
#    51 – Mary Electa Parsons (1828-1888)
#    25 – Marion Sanford (1846-Unk)
#    12 – Arthur Durwood Brown (1869-1928)
#      6 – Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)
#      3 – My mother – Living
#      1 – me – Living

 

My known relatives.

My records only have six known Collins, however, I have identified 703 direct-line descendants of Abigail Collins, including my niece over 14 generations, which is almost 1/8 of my known genealogical database.

Footnotes

[i] Internet: Ancestry.com Collins Family History – http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=collins
[ii] Internet: Forebears – Collins Surname – http://forebears.io/surnames/collins
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Geni – https://www.geni.com/people/Deacon-Edward-Collins/6000000003221140498?through=6000000001589668526
[v] Geni – https://www.geni.com/people/Deacon-Nathaniel-Collins/6000000001589668526?through=6000000003221140498
[vi] Wolcott, Chandler, HENRY WOLCOTT, The Family of, Internet Archive, Page 066 & 067 – Fourth Generation – XVI – Samuel Wolcott [42].

————- Disclaimer ————

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Donna at the Henderson Theater, Coney Island

Henderson’s Theater, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York – Week of 6 September 1920. 

We know that Donna had finished a 5-week showing at B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater on August 29th. We know she performed in that show because she was called out by name, Donna Montran, in one of the ads and in a promotion in the New York Clipper. I believe that after five weeks of solid shows, Donna took off a week before she began again at a new theater.

“California Bathing Girls” opened at Henderson’s Theater in Coney Island on September 6th for one week. Advertising included a short article and a small ad.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – September 5, 1920

Ad for Henderson's Theater showing California Bathing Girls.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Sep 5, 1920 – Page 31 – Henderson’t Theater Ad.

At the Seaside Amusement Places
– – –
Henderson’s Theater.

At Henderson’s Theater a holiday week bill will be headed by Loney Haskell, character comedian, in a monologue. “Dream Stars,” a mixture of tunes and fun, will share the headline honors. Harry Murray heads the cast and is assisted b y Gladys Joye, Bernice La Rue and Julie Steger. Other acts on the bill are the Bathing Girls, Harry and Anna Seymour, Ed Furman and Bill Nash, Sully and Mack, Ed Hill in Hattie’s Creation”: Guy J. Samuel and Lily Leonhard and the Thames Brothers complete the bill.

Variety – September 10, 1920 – Page 5, Vaudeville – Column 4.

Luckily, an article in Variety on September 10, confirmed it was Donna Montran in the Henderson’s production. It is confusing because the article says “Now” and she was there “Now September 10th” however, the text says July 30th and then she was apparently between gigs. In any event, the article shows a photo of Donna sitting wearing a really beautiful hat and confirms that it was her in the California Bathing Girls at Henderson’s Coney Island.

The Variety article indicates that, “Donna Montran has an undeniable million dollar smile, oodles of personality and an elastic voice that hits the high registers smoothly and effectively – would make ideal $4 musical comedy stuff.” (I believe that “$4 musical comedy” refers to the price of a Victrola record.)

Remember that Donna played from July 26th until August 29th at the B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater. Sometimes that show was called “Bathing Girls,” and sometimes it was called “California Bathing Girls.” However, at the same time (From August 9th until August 21st) there was another show, “Original California Bathing Girls,” playing in Philadelphia. So the question arises, was this another show or did Donna and the troupe make the 1-1/2 to 2-hour commute to Philadelphia every day. I don’t know. Certainly, it is possible.  The newspaper articles I have found for the Broadway Theater engagement are clear; Donna played it.  The Philadelphia engagement is not clear as it never identifies the bathing girls by name.

Again, documents show that Donna played at Henderson’s Theater in Coney Island and that show was California Bathing Girls. I think more research will be needed to determine if Donna played in two shows simultaneously.

Further Research

  • Try to find further evidence if Donna played in the Original California Bathing Girls in Philadelphia from 9 until 21 August 1920 to resolve the conflict

Sources

  1. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Sun, Sep 5, 1920 · Page 31 – Henderson’s Theater – Via Newspapers.Com http://www.newspapers.com/image/60005902
  2. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Sun, Sep 5, 1920 · Page 30 – Via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/60005892
  3. Variety – September 10, 1920 – Page 5, Vaudeville – Column 4 (bottom) – Donna Montran

————- Disclaimer ————

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Digitize those Photos!

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I advocate digitizing everything that can be digitized, particularly photographs. I was recently speaking with a person at the museum about a photo that she had of the Cunningham family. She showed me the old, faded photo and I asked immediately if it was digitized. I learned it was not. “Oh my,” I said, “we need to fix that.“ I explained the importance of digitizing photos as I went to get the light set for photographing.

Besides the importance of having a backup copy of the photo, electronic versions are easy to share. You can easily send a copy to cousins that may not have the photo. You can also post the photos on-line at many sites including Flickr, Google, Picasa, blogs, and other places to act as “cousin bait.” Finally, electronic versions of a photo may be cleaned up and made much more viewable quite simply and easily.  That is what I suggested to my museum visitor.

I photographed a couple of the larger photos with my camera then scanned a few of the smaller photos with a Flip-Pal.  It does a nice job of scanning photos without needing a computer.

To me, it is important to rename files immediately.  Filenames like DSCN1234 or Scan567 are useless. I know many folks like to use meta data, but I find having key information in the file name is much better. I use the form of, Subject, Context/Action, Place, Source, Date, and Status. I leave out the Place and Source if they aren’t important. That is the date of the image, not the date of the scan.  But, sometimes an image’s date might be something like “c. 1930s.”

Original scan of Charle & Carrie Cunningham & Family (in PNG Format)

In the case of the first photo, I knew that it was a Charles and Carrie Cunningham Family group photo. My guess is that the context might be something like 50th wedding anniversary of them; if so, it would be from 1928. Alternately, the clothes look to be from the early 1930s. So, I’m going to hazard a guess of c. 1930. So, I used the filename Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930.

I use different file extensions for different purposes. I use TIFF format for all my original scans and photographs. I then use JPEG format for all working and shared images. Finally, I use PDF for any images with text after I have run optical character recognition (OCR) on the image. The file types immediately tell me if the image is an original or if it has been edited. Occasionally, I use PNG for original files, particularly if I need to share an original. PNG files use compression to be smaller than TIFF files in size. I use them on images that are particularly large, typically more than 50MB as a TIFF. To give an idea of the various sizes, the following table shows the file sizes for the Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family – c. 1930 file.

TIF/TIFF PNG JPEG/JPG
Uncompressed Lossless Compression Lossy Compression
30.2MB 11.1MB 5.6 MB (Edited)

Next, I open the original file. I use Preview on a Mac.  It is really quick and it is easy to do almost everything I’d like to do. Windows computers have many other photo and/or image products which work very well also. After the file is opened, I immediately export it to JPG format. I then close my TIFF file and open the JPG file. I only ever manipulate or edit the JPG file.

I like to rotate the file and crop the file as appropriate.  If I can leave a ½ in border on the bottom during the cropping process, I do so.

For scanned black and white photos I set the saturation to 0; that eliminates any greens, or other weird colors from the image.  Next, I adjust the image exposure and contrast to provide the best possible image for the faces of the people.  Once I am happy with that image, I raise the sepia to a level that is easier on the eyes than a stark black and white.  Then I save the photo again. Just these few steps only take me about a minute and provides a much higher quality image to use and share, yet maintains the original in an untouched state so the process may be duplicated if desired.

Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.

Charles & Carrie Cumming with Family edited.

I mentioned earlier about leaving a ½ inch border on the bottom of the photo.  That is to add a caption if possible.  In the case of a photo of Thomas Burdwood, the original was smallish and had aged pinkish over the years. Once again, I duplicated the photo, cropped it, set color saturation to 0, adjusted the exposure and contrast and sepia level.  Once I was done with that, I added text to the image of the individual’s name (based upon what was on the back of the photo) and saved it.

Thomas Burdwood Original Scan

Drawing of Thomas Burdwood

Thomas Burdwood edited

Of course, once a photo has had its initial edit, you can use many other image enhancement tools to remove creases, spots, or otherwise improve the photo.

Scanning photos greatly increase the likelihood that they won’t be lost. Keeping your original scan pristine means you can always return to the original and manipulate the image again. Finally, the manipulated and compressed version not only make the photo nicer to view it makes the image more shareable.

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New York Times – Rotogravure – 30 June 1918

The Library of Congress has a new collection of The New York Times Rotogravure from World War I.  I was excited to see that the Library of Congress had the same material that I have which meant that I could use it and not need to scan my own collection. The LoC quality was excellent; they had whole pages instead of my partial pages. Then I saw that they don’t have all of the issues.  I looked at my collection and the next one I was going to write about was the June 30, 1918, issue. It isn’t available in the Library of Congress Rotogravure collection. My search of the collection showed they have June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23, but not June 30, 1918.

Top half of the first of six pages included from teh New York Times, 30 June 1918, Rotogranure

Top half of the first of six pages included from my 30 June 1918 collection. This half of the page includes: “Jitney Tank;” Lieutenant Aviator Leps; Lieutenant Guerin; Lieutenants Reno, Fonck, and Milton; a Shell-Shelter Village; and a Camouflaged French Road. Click the image or here for the OCRed pages.

Oh my — my collection suddenly became much more important. If I have editions that the Library of Congress does not have, then my collection might be unique. If so, I really need to preserve it digitally. Sadly, in the pages that I have for 30 June 1918, one photo was cut out. It affects that page and the reverse side but not the other pages. I photographed all the pages I have from this June 30th 1918 edition. Then I OCRed (used Optical Character Recognition) the images. There is one page that contains a full-page ad for Tintex, but no war photos, so I did not OCR that page and did not include it in my final product.  I assembled the OCRed images into a single Portable Document File. I wish that I had the technology to either photograph the entire image or to be able to adequately stitch the images together; however, I was not happy with the results of my trying to electronically stitch the images.

Here is my attempt with the 30 June 1918 issue.  I hope you find the images and stories as interesting and as fascinating as I do.

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