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.

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.