Donna Montran Biplane Flights – 1915

UPDATED 29 October 2015

On July 22, 1915, (Page 8) The Boston Glove reported: 

TO FLY OVER COMMON

Miss Donna Montran Expects to Drop Pennants and Tickets for Show From Biplane,
Miss Donna Montran, one of the pretty “belles of 1861” in “The Birth of a Nation,” at the Tremont Theatre, is anticipating the time of her life this afternoon, when she expects to make two round trips between Saugus and Boston Common with Capt J. Chauncey Redding in his biplane, incidentally showering “Birth of a Nation” pennants and free tickets for the Tremont Theatre on the heads of the crowd that will witness the flight from the Common. The two flights over the Common in the vicinity of the Tremont Theatre are scheduled, one for about 1:30, or not long after, the other a short time before the matinee performance is over, probably about 4:30. During the first flight the biplane will circle about above the State House dome.
Miss Montran will be attired similarly to the lobby girls at the Tremont Theatre, though without the hoopskirt. She will drop 100 pennants on the Common, 25 of which will have tickets for the theatre attached to them. The distribution will take place during both flights, and those who capture the tickets will be able to see “The Birth of a Nation” free of cost.

Sadly, she wasn’t able to make that flight.  The theatre was unable to get approval for the flight over Boston Common and the State House. They did, however, get approval to drop the pennants over Revere Beach the following Day. This was a really big deal and the Boston Globe covered it with a photo article on July 23rd. 
Source Boston Globe, Page 5, July 23,  1915
Free Tickets From the Sky via newspaperarchive.com
According to the article, rather than wearing a Tremont Theatre lobby girl’s outfit as reported she would the day before, she wore an aviator’s trim costume. Also, the article says, “On the descent of the machine Miss Montran expressed herself as delighted with her 50 minutes in the air.”

There were articles in other papers including The Boston Herald, 23 July 1915. 
Boston Herald,  July 23, 1915
Source: Genealogy Bank
“Actress Make Two Flights in Biplane.”  She flew in Capt. J. Chauncey Redding biplane on July 22nd.  
A google search for J. Chauncey Redding yielded a photo of the plane.  The photo was taken the week of 6 September, just six weeks after Donna’s flights.  If you wonder how dangerous was it to fly in a biplane in 1915, the pilot, Capt. J. Chauncey Redding, died on October 21st when his biplane collapsed while in midair while over the Lynn, MA, marshes.

Washington Herald
August 15, 1915
Source: Library of Congress

Another article appeared in the Washington Herald a few weeks later.  That article indicates that the plane was a Burgess-Wright aeroplane as reported in Aerial Age Weekly. It also mentions that Miss Montran was, “delighted with her fifty minutes in the air.”

I was able to find Aerial Age Weekly on-line at Google Books. The Washington Herald article is a reprint of the same article and provides no additional information..

J. Chauncey Redding’s aeroplane on the beach, Week of 6 Sep, 1915.
Photo: Courtesy Gertrude Palmer.
From HAMPTON: A CENTURY OF TOWN AND BEACH, 1888-1988
by Peter Evans Randall


Finally, I was able to find a photo on Wikimedia photo of the Wright Model B which was licenced to Burgess to make the Burgess-Wright Model F.  This was the exact type of aircraft J. Chauncey Redding used during Donna’s flight.
© Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GDFL

Rufus Holton Darling – Built First Store in Kalamazoo

Headline from Kalamazoo Gazette, July 9, 1916

Thanks to Genealogy Bank
I am reminded of the importance of looking closely at all of the family members and their actions and activities.  Rufus Holton Darling was born about 1816 and died in 1857. He had several children including a spinster daughter, Miss Emma (Emily) Darling (1852-1918). The Kalamazoo Gazette, dated July 9, 1916, mentions that, 

“These were the early days in the history of Kalamazoo and it is only a few who now remember that the first store built in Kalamazoo was that of Goss and Darling on Main and Burdick street, built by Rufus H. Darling and David Swayze. This corner was only at that time a wooded spot.”

I had known that Rufus operated the Goss and Darling general store, but didn’t know that it was the first store built in Kalamazoo and that Rufus and his father-in-law, David Swayze  built it. 
Later in the article, Miss Emma reflects, 

“My father had the contract for building the Michigan Central railway from Michigan City through to Grass Lake and on its completion a banquet was given for which [she had] the original invitations sent to [her] parents.”

I knew that shortly after the Michigan Central railway came through Kalamazoo, Rufus worked for them. However, I didn’t know that he actually built the railroad through Kalamazoo.  
The article goes on to describe the excitement of the first train that arrived in Kalamazoo on a Sunday morning and how its arrival emptied the churches that day.  It is a great article and a great find that fills in more of the detail regarding Rufus and family.

Thanks to
Genealogy Bank for having the Kalamazoo Gazette in its records.

Caroline Pankey’s Mother – Martha!

Needless to say when you begin a new genealogical subscription or service you want to check out if it might clear up one of your brick walls.  In one of my research areas, I have someone who died back in “the late 1960s or early ‘70s” and I am yet to find an obituary or death record.  I gave it a quick look, no such luck finding it.  Then I thought about another area I’ve been researching.  I knew Caroline M.A. Pankey, b. abt 1810, father was named Thomas Pankey but didn’t know Caroline’s mother’s name. 
Using Genealogy Bank, I searched for Thomas Pankey then narrowed it down to 1750 to 1860.  Walla!  Seven items, five of which were the same legal notice.  
Newspaper Notice (from Virginia Memories)
similar to the one at Genealogy Bank
Thomas Pankey is mentioned in a 1830 Powhatan County, Virginia, Chancery case. A quick read finds that it is the wrong Thomas Pankey, rather than Caroline’s father it is her (before unknown) brother.  The defendants in this case include, “Frank Pankey, Thomas Pankey, ____ Ellis and Mary his wife, _____ Calhoun and Henrietta his wife, _____ Pankey and Nancy his wife, _____ Scott and Elizabeth his wife, _____ Howel and Caroline his wife, which…. are the children of Martha Pankey, dec’d.  Not much doubt about it, Caroline’s mother’s name was clearly Martha and she had two brothers and four sisters that were unknown before. The case was William Pollock, et al, verses Mary Pollock, et al
One of my favorite genealogical sites is Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia. They have a great set of Chancery records.  Pick the County, Powhatan; Plaintiff equals Pollock, Defendant equals Pollock. Search.  One case, index number 1831-015. Click on View Details and there is the first of 109 pages, handwritten documents relating to the case.  Going through the case documents solidified the relationships. One page the same iteration of children of Martha Pankey speaks about Peter M Howell and his wife, Caroline, formerly Caroline M. A. Pankey.  Martha is the sister by half blood of Sarah Ligon formerly Sarah Pollock.  It was a wonderful find. In the maze of documents I find that Martha is the sister of William Liggon, which must be her original name. So, Martha’s half sister Sarah probably married one of Martha’s kin on Martha’s father’s side. So confusing. 
One problem with the Virginia Memory site is that the downloads, although easy to do, do not have the the resolution you would really like to have in your personal files. Downloads, and print to PDF do not have the detail to zoom in and be able to read the complicated documents. You can zoom in on the image to the level needed to read it, do screen shots, then use some kind of stitching software to assemble the desired images.  Alternately, you will just need to document the URL & Page number.   

  
Same image as above downloaded, converted to JPG
To the left is the same image as above downloaded the way that is easy. I then cropped it and saved it to JPG with the maximum settings. It really is unreadable. The image above was zoomed into on line, screen shot taken, then converted to JPG.  Much better quality. 
Virginia Memory, great job and great material, please if at all possible, let the downloads be the same image quality as you are have visible.

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.