Mitochondrial DNA Ancestors – Sarah H Blackhurst Barber (1847-1929)

Mitochondrial DNA ancestors

By – Don Taylor 

Sarah Blackhurst Barber is a particularly special ancestor for me. First, she is my most recent immigrant ancestor.  Second, she is a mitochondrial ancestor. That is to say, I carry her mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child.  As such, I received my mtDNA from my mother, who received it from her mother (Madonna Montran), who received it from her mother (Ida Barber), who received it from her mother (Sarah Blackhurst).  I have not done a mtDNA Test yet, but I should do one so that I have some experience with the test and its results.

There are very few of us with Sarah’s mtDNA. Sarah had two children, Ida and Eva. Eva died with no children. Ida had one daughter, Madonna.  Madonna only had one daughter and a son.  Her son is still living and carried her mtDNA but his children, of course, do not. Madonna’s daughter (my mother) had two boys. He and I carry it.  She also had two girls; one of them only had boys, they have the same mtDNA, but won’t pass it on to future generations.  The other daughter of my mother had two boys and a girl. Again, the two boys have the mtDNA but won’t pass it on. That leaves her daughter, the only descendant of Sarah’s with the potential of passing Sarah’s mitochondrial DNA on to a future generation (she doesn’t have any children yet).

My mtDNA Sources
• My mother (living)
• Madonna Montran
• Ida Barber
• Sarah Blackhurst
• Fanny Taylor

That said, Sarah did have five sisters.  I haven’t had a chance to trace any of their descendants. Hopefully, there are other descendants that her mtDNA has been passed along to.

Bio – Sarah H Blackhurst Barber (1847-1929)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 08

Sarah H Blackhurst was born in December 1847 in England, probably Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She was the seventh child of Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst.

Her older siblings include:
• Ellen (1829-1905)
• Elizabeth (~1831-1910)
• Mary (1833-1900)
• William Stephen (~1835-1917)
• Louisa (1838-1927) [1]
• Phoebe Anna (~1842-1929)

Auburn – State St. from Genesee St. c. 1910
Via Wikipedia [Public Domain]

Shortly after her birth, in 1848, her father left for the United States and settled in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York establishing himself as a shoe maker.  It was two years later that the family arrived. Ellen was not with them, but the rest of the family was enumerated in Auburn during the 1850 Census. [2][3]

The family was together during the New York 1855 Census. I have been unable to find the family in the 1860 Census.

On 8 October 1869, Sarah married Franklin E Barber in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. One very interesting aspect of their marriage is that he marriage occurred before the license was taken out.  The date of their license was 22 Jan 1870 and the the date of their marriage was 8 Nov 1969, seventy-five days earlier. None of the other entries on that page in the marriage registration logbook have similar confusing entries. Sarah’s sister “Louisee” (Louisa Sanders) was one of the witnesses. The other witness was James Hickey also of Sheridan Township. (His relationship is unknown.) Officiating the rite was Stephen White, a Justice of the Peace.[4]

In 1874, their first child, Ida, was born.

In December, 1877, their second child, another girl was born. They named her Eva.

In 1880, the young family is living in Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan. Frank was a painter, who had been unemployed four of the previous twelve months. Sarah was keeping house for her two children, Ida, age 6 and Eva, age 2.[5]

In 1900, Sarah and 22-year-old daughter, Eva are living at 250 Fifth, Detroit, Michigan. Husband Frank is living at the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids.[6]

Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI c.1910
By Detroit Publishing Co. [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

In 1910, the 62-year-old Sarah was living with her older daughter Ida in Detroit. Ida had divorced her third husband, Joseph Holdsworth. Sarah is listed in the 1910 Census as widowed;[7] however, her husband is till living at the Soldier’s home in Grand Rapids.  He is also identified as widowed.

1917 was a very bad year.  Her husband’s dying on April 7th may have been anti-climatic, but her youngest daughter, Eva, Sarah’s died on November 8th at the age of 33.

In 1920, Sarah was living in New York City at 134 Lawrence Street, Manhattan. This is now 126th Street and appears to be a parking ramp today.  The Census indicates that her granddaughter Madonna Montran was living with her. However, in January of 1920, when the Census was taken, Donna was on the road with the “Chin Chin” production.  Living with the 70-year-old Sarah is a boarder named Charles Smith. Charles was a 26-year-old German music composer.[8]

Limited Time Only: Save up to 30% on easy, affordable computer backup. Buy Now! Today, 125th Street is perceived to be the heart of Harlem. But in 1920, the black neighborhood started a few blocks north, at 130th Street.[9] There was an IRT station three blocks away at 125th and one at 130th. The IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) was originally an elevated cable car system but converted to electric in 1903.  The line was closed in 1940.[10]

I believe that Sarah died on 6 September 1929, in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.[11]  I have ordered a copy of a death certificate for a person who I believe is our Sarah Barber.  When I receive it, it should confirm the death date and provide clues to burial information.

Further Actions: 

Await receipt of Death Certificate to confirm death date and a clue to her burial location.
Find Blackhurst Family in the 1860 Census. Location unknown (New York to Michigan).
Find the Barber Family in the 1870 Census. They should be in Calhoun County, MI.
Take a mtDNA Test to document Sarah’s mtDNA.

List of Greats
1. Ida May Barber [Montran] [Fisher] [Holdsworth] [Knight]
2. Sarah H Blackhurst [Barber]
3.     Fanny Taylor [Blackhurst]


[1] “Eleazer” in the 1850 Census is believe to be an alternative name for Louisa.

[2] 1920 Census; Sarah Barber Head – Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 958; “Arrival 1850”.

[3] New York, State Census, 1855; Stephen Blackhurst – New York, Cayuga, Sheet 37, Line 21, Note: All family members except for Stephen had been in City or town for 5 years.

[4] Michigan, Calhoun, Certified Copy of a Marriage Record; Barber-Blackhurst – 1869; Repository: Don Taylor personal files.

[5] 1880 Census; Frank Barber Head – Albion, Calhoun, Michigan, ED 062, Page No 13.

[6] 1900 Census; Sarah Barber Head – Detroit, Michigan, ED 36, Sheet 13B

[7] 1910 Census; Ida Holdsworth Head – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan

[8] 1920 Census; Sarah Barber Head – Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 958.
[9] Internet: Digital Harlem Blog –“Harlem in the 1920s

[10] Internet: Wikipedia – “125th Street (IRT Ninth Avenue Line)”

[11] New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948; Sarah Barber

———- DISCLAIMER ———-


Searching for the death records for Frank Barber

Franklin E Barber (1836-1917)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 4
By Don Taylor


Sometimes learning a key bit of information about an ancestor can be complicated.  In the 1910 Census, Franklin’s wife, Sarah, indicates that she is a widow. Also, their 1869 marriage record indicates that Frank was born between 1940 and 1842, depending upon how you read the record.  Those “facts” had me searching and searching to no avail. Sometimes you need to go back to the beginning and grind through the documents and do a lot more analysis.  It isn’t always about finding the obvious “low hanging fruit,” but rather, doing your due diligence and analysis of what you do find.


The 1869 marriage record when Franklin Barber married Sarah H Blackhurst indicated that Frank was 28 years old and was born in Sheridan, Michigan.[i] Because the marriage occurred before the license was gotten, it is unclear of the age of 28 was at the time of marriage or at the time of the license. Considering both possibilities, he would have been born between Nov 1840 and Jan 1842 by this record.
The 1880 Census, shows Frank E Barber as 40 years old, indicating a birth between 2 June 1839 and 1 June 1840. It also says he was born in Ohio.[ii]
It is interesting to note that the 1917 death certificate for Frank’s daughter, Eva Louisa (Barber) Goff, indicates that her father, Frank was born in Pennsylvania.
It is also interesting to note that the 1930 Census record for Ida Mae (Barber) Knight indicates that her father, Frank was born in Spain.[iii]
Franklin (Frank) E Barber was born between 2 Jun 1839 and Jan 1842 in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Spain or possibly even France.

Military Service

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor
According to the 1890 Census [iv] Frank Barber enlisted in Union Army in April of 1864 and was discharged in 1865. It appears he served in Company I, Sixth Michigan Heavy Artillery. He lived in Albion Village in Calhoun County when he enlisted and was discharged at Jackson, Michigan.
The Sixth Michigan Heavy Artillery mostly saw garrison duty in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.  However, the unit, while Frank was a part of it, was involved in the “Mobile Campaign,” including the siege and taking of Spanish Fort.[v]


Franklin Barber and Sarah H Blackhurst were married on 8 Nov 1869 by Justice of the Peace, Stephen White, in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. Franklin, Sarah, both witnesses, James Hickey and Louisee Sanders, and the Justice were all from Sheridan. The village of Albion is within Sheridan Township. The record also shows that the couple didn’t get their marriage license until a couple months later, on 22 Jan 1870.
1870 – Unable to find Frank/Franklin Barber/Barbour in the 1870 Census.
1874 – The birth of their first child, a daughter Ida Mae Barber, my Great Grandmother, occurred on 24 March 1874.
1877 – The birth of their second child, another daughter, Eva Louisa Barber, occurred on 5 Dec 1877.
1880 – Frank is married to Sarah and living in Albion Village, with his wife and two girls. His occupation was a painter, but he had been unemployed for four months during the previous census year.  This Census indicates his father was born in New York and his mother was born in Vermont.[vi]
1890 – It is rare to find a person in the 1890 Census. Luckily there was a Schedule “Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War” that indicated that Frank was living in Albion.[vii] That census record also confirms the information regarding his Civil War service.
1900 – This is where the records really go awry.
Sarah, Frank’s wife, is living, as the head of the household, in in Detroit with her 22-year-old daughter, Eva. The record is legible and it indicates that Sarah is 42 years old but was born in December of 1867. If she was really born in December of 1867, she would be only 32 years old. So it is clearly an error in the census record. It also indicates that she has been married for 27 years, which indicates she was married about 1872-1873. [viii]
By 1900, Ida is on her second marriage and living in Manistee with her husband Max Fisher. The census indicates Ida was 25 years old and had been married to Max for seven years. Max was only 23. Madonna was going by the surname of Fisher and was seven years old. The freaky part of this census is that the census indicates that Ida’s father (Frank) was born in France.[ix]
Main Building, Soldier’s Home, Grand Rapids, MI
Photo by Tichnor Brothers, Publisher
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But where is Frank in 1900?

I can’t find Frank in Calhoun County in the 1900 Census. With Ida heading up her own household, I figured that Frank abandoned her.  Then I found a Frank Barber in the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan (about 100 miles away).[x] I had seen this record before and have vacillated between believing that the Frank Barber at the Soldier’s Home is Frank Barber of Albion and not believing it to be the case.

Comparison of Frank Barber of Albion & Frank Barber of Soldier’s Home

Our Frank
Soldier’s Home Frank
Oct 1836
1861 – 39 years
Father Born
New York
New York
Mother Born
New York
There are definitely enough points of convergence to make me think it might be the same Frank Barber and enough differences to make me think they are different Frank Barbers. So, I got to thinking. In the 1910 Census, Sarah indicates she is a widow. Could I find Frank in the 1910 Census?
1910 – Ida (now Holdsworth) is now the head of the household in Detroit with her daughter, Madonna, and her mother, Sarah, living with her. Sarah is identified as a widow, which implies that her husband, Frank, has passed. Ida reports her father (Frank) was born in Ohio.[xi]
The 74-year-old Frank Barber was enumerated in the 1910 Census. He was identified as being born in the United States, serving in the Civil War for the Union, and was widowed.[xii] [Great – hear the sarcastic tone in that “Great.”] It is certainly possible that both Frank and Sarah wanted to consider the other one dead and reported themselves as widowed. But it is not a position I felt confident with.
Returning to the National Park Service’s Search for Soldiers, (By the way, a really great and useful site – I looked for Frank Barbers who fought for the Union in the Civil War. The database reported 16 individuals.

National Park Service – Results of search for Union Soldiers named Frank Barber

Battle Unit Name
Franklin E Barber
10th Reg., Ohio Cavalry
Our Frank had located to Michigan before the war – Unlikely but possible.
Frank Barber
9th Reg., Mass. Infantry
Frank Barber
81st Reg., US Colored Inf.
Frank W. Barber
91st Reg., Illinois Inf.
Middle initial is wrong and our Frank has no history of Illinois.
Frank Barber
2nd Reg., Minnesota Cav.
Franklin F Barber
2nd Reg., Illinois Cav.
Middle initial is wrong and our Frank has no history of Illinois.
Frank Barber
6th Reg, Mich Heavy Artillery
Enlisted in Albion. Definitely our Frank.
Franklin A Barber
1st Reg., Mich Light Artillery
Middle initial wrong – But Possible.
Franklin H Barber
1st Reg., Mich Light Artillery
Middle initial wrong – But Possible.
Frank W Barber
49th Reg., New York Inf.
New York
Franklin Barber
7th Reg., Wisconsin Inf.
Frank Barber
Ind. Battery… Colored Inf.
Frank Barber
62nd Reg., US Colored
Frank Barber
79th Reg. US Colored
Frank J Barber
4th Reg., Wisconsin Cav.
Frank Barber
193rd Reg. New York Inf.
New York
So, which of these sixteen potential Frank Barbers is the one in the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1900 and 1910? Further looking at the Soldier Details on the NPS database revealed that Franklin A Barber was originally filed under Franklin H Barber, so it appears they are one individual.
The record that swayed me to back into believing that Frank Barber of Albion and Frank Barber of Soldier’s Home are the same person was in the Civil War Draft Registrations Records. This record shows that the Frank Barber of Albion was born in Ohio and was 26 years old on 1 July 1863. That puts his birthdate between 2 Jul 1836 and 1 Jul 1836.[xiii] Now, the 1900 Census entry indicating Frank of the Soldier’s home is consistent with Frank of Albion.
Our Frank
Soldier’s Home Frank
2 Jul 1836-1 Jul 1837
Oct 1836
1861 – 39 years
Father Born
New York
New York
Mother Born
New York
As I said before, I have been vacillating between Frank of Albion and Frank of the Soldier’s Home being the same person. I can live with the discrepancy of his mother’s birth location, particularly because it is the same as his father’s birth location.  The discrepancy in marriage information concerns me somewhat; eight years seems like a lot.
Frank Barber, Co. I, 6 Mich Heavy Artillery
Photo via Find-a-Grave.
However, one last find totally convinced me that Frank Barber of Albion and Frank of Soldier’s Home is the same person. MIGenWeb (Michigan Genealogy on the Web) has a section regarding Michigan in the Civil War. A search for Frank Barber found the Frank Barber buried at Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids was part of the 6th Infantry, Company I.[xiv] (The 6th Infantry was renamed the 6th Heavy Artillery.)
Knowing Frank was buried at Soldier’s Home made it easy to find a Find-a-Grave record for him. According to Find-a-Grave, Frank Barber died on 7 April 1917 and is buried at Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery, (Soldier’s Home Cemetery) Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan at lot 7, Row 10, Grave 13.[xv]
Certainly, the idea that Frank went into the Soldier’s home in his early sixties and his wife and children moved on without him is disturbing.  That both he and his wife thought of themselves as widowed in 1910 is also saddening. We may never know how or why Frank went into the home but it is worth pursuing.

Further research needed:

Find Franklin Barber in the 1870, 1860, 1850, and 1840 Censuses.
Determine Franklin Barber’s parents’ names.
Learn more about Frank Barber’s Civil War Experience.
Determine why Frank went into the Soldier’s home at such an early age.


[Note: The bold numbers refer to my source database.]
[i] 481. “Michigan, Calhoun, Certified Copy of a Marriage Record,” Don Taylor, Maine, Don Taylor
[ii] 609. “1880 Census,” Sheridan, Calhoun, Michigan, USA, 13, Frank E Barber (Line 48), 1 Jun 1880, Digital Image, Image from Ancestry.Com, 3/7/14.
[iii] 269. “1930 Census,” Ancestry,
[iv] 612. “1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War,” Albion, Calhoun, Michigan, 10 of 146, Frank Barber (Line 16), 1 June 1890, Digital Image, Family Search, 15 Jan 2016.
[v] 613. National Park Service, “Union Michigan Volunteers,” 6th Regiment, Michigan Heavy Artillery,, 15 Jan 2016.
[vi] 609. “1880 Census,” Sheridan, Calhoun, Michigan, USA, 13, Frank E Barber (Line 48), 1 Jun 1880, Digital Image, Image from Ancestry.Com, 3/7/14.
[vii] 612. “1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War,” Albion, Calhoun, Michigan, 10 of 146, Frank Barber (Line 16), 1 June 1890, Digital Image, Family Search, 15 Jan 2016.
[viii] 610. “1900 Census,” Detroit Ward 4, Wayne, Michigan, Roll 748, Page 13B, ED 0036, Sarah Barber, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image,, 15 Jan 2015.
[ix] 614. “1900 Census,” Manistee Ward 6, Manistee, Michigan, Sheet 4A, Max Fisher, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image, Ancestry, 14 Sep 2010.
[x] 611. “1900 Census,” Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, Frank Barber,  Roll: 723; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0148; FHL microfilm: 1240723, 1 Jun 1900, Digital Image, Ancestry, 15 Jan 2016.
[xi] 615. “1910 Census,” Detroit Ward 7, Wayne, Michigan, Roll: T624_683; Page: 8A, Ida Holdsworth, 15 Apr 1910, Digital Image, Ancestry, 13 Sep 1910.
[xii] 616. “1910 Census,” Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, Roll: T624_655; Page: 10A, Frank Barber, 15 Apr 1910, Digital Image, Ancestry, 16 Jan 2016.
[xiii] 617. “U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865,” Franklin Barber, NAI: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 1 of 3.
[xiv] 618. “Michigan Veterans of the Civil War, Buried at Soldiers Home, Grand Rapids, MI,” Frank Barber,, MIGenWeb (Michigan Genealogy of the Web), Don Harvey.
[xv] 619. “Find a Grave,” Frank Barber – Memorial #14714632,
———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Walls – Paper or Brick | John Montran – (b-186?/7? – d. Bef 1911) – BM-14

Walls – Paper or Brick?

Rice Paper Walls - by Matt Litt via Flickr - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic -
Rice Paper Walls
Photo by Matt Litt via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
We all have our genealogical walls. Often, we don’t know if a particular wall is a brick wall or a paper wall. It might be a wall surrounding a vault with steel plates or it might be just thorny bushes that create a labyrinth. Until we do a thorough analysis of what makes up a genealogical wall, we don’t know what kind of wall it really is. 
My greatest genealogical challenge is my completely unknown biological father. Through DNA and other research, I think am slowly breaking chips out of that wall. I think I have a reasonable plan and direction to continue working that challenge. So, maybe it isn’t a brick wall, rather maybe it is just a complicated maze that I will need to find my way through. 
My next greatest genealogical challenge is my great grandfather, John Montran. I know his name but next to nothing about him. So my goal this week is to try to understand what I know about John Montran and then be able to determine what kind of wall I’m dealing with so I can plan on how to break through the wall. Do I need a knife to cut through a paper wall or do I need a howitzer and a small army to shatter a medieval castle wall. 
Until I have done an in-depth analysis of what I have and what I still need to determine, I don’t know what kind of wall I have.

John Montran – (b-186?/7? – d. bef 1911?) – Brown/Montran #14

Marriage Register – Fisher & Barber
Source: Family Search – Michigan Marriages
“Montrani” – Any other opinions?

Name: John Montran
(Possibly John H Montran)

1897-05-20 – Ida Barber married Max E. Fisher. In the Marriage Register, her name is Ida Montrani Barber[i]. I am not certain that it is Montrani. I could be Montram or possibly Montrane. In any event, the Montran portion of the name is clear.
1911-10-01 – Madonna Montran Holdsworth married her first husband, Chester Fenyvessey. On the Marriage license, Madonna’s father is identified as Robert Montran and indicated that he was dead.[ii] This name is somewhat problematic. In all other documents, Madonna’s father is always listed as “John.”
Source: Family Search
Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 
1915-11-24 – Mae Donna Montran married Thomas Rooney in Waltham, MA. In the City Clerk’s marriage log, Madonna’s father is listed as John H. Montran[iii]. Although I can’t disagree with the “H” identified by the indexer, I can’t be absolutely it is an “H.” Also, because this entry is in a log written by the city clerk, it only corroborates her father’s name as Madonna provided it.
Parents of Donna Montran Kees from her Social Security Application.
1937-09-07 – In Donna Montran Kee’s Social Security Application, her father is listed as John Montran[iv]. Her social security application, which is in her own hand, is the best source for her father’s name that I have, thus, I consider John Montran the preferred name.

Place of Birth

In the 1900 Census, Madonna Fischer’s father is identified as having been born in Michigan. Her stepfather, Max Fisher, was born in Michigan, so it is unclear if her father, in this census was Max or her biological father. Of further interest, is Madonna and her mother, Ida, are living in Manistee, Michigan. Because Ida grew up in Albion, Calhoun County, there had to be a reason for the move. Possibly, she was widowed there. A check of Ancestry.Com indicated that there were other people named Montran in that city — Definitely an area for further research.
In the 1910 census, Madonna Holdsworth identifies that her father was born in Michigan. With her mother divorced and her former stepfather, who was born in New York, suggests she was talking about John Montran being born in Michigan.
However, the 1920 Census gives more insight into a greater likelihood. When the census was enumerated, Donna was on the road with the stage production, “Chin Chin.” Her grandmother, Sarah (Blackhurst} Barber was the head of the household in New York City and must have provided the information. In that Census, Madonna Montran’s father was recorded to have been born in Pennsylvania. Of all the entries regarding John Montran’s birth location, Sarah is likely the only one who actually met John Montran, so I believe Pennsylvania being his most likely birth location[v].
In 1930, Donna was in Panama and thus not enumerated in the Census and the 1940 census didn’t include birth information on parents.


Ida was born in 1874 and she became pregnant with Madonna in 1892, when she was 18 years old. It is unlikely that her husband, John was much younger than 17, so, I suggest that John Montran was born something between 1860-1875, making him somewhere between 17 and 32 when Ida conceived. 


1911 Marriage Certificate indicating
“Robert Montran” as dead. 
As I mentioned before, when Madonna married for the first time, in 1911, the license indicated that her father was dead. That suggests her father passed before then. However, because the name was different from all other records, it is possible that whoever added the information didn’t know and gave what they thought they knew. It is also possible that Madonna’s father was only “dead to Ida and Madonna” and that he lived many more years, started a new family. Although not as likely as having died, I remain open to the possibility.
I now see John Montran as:
Born:         1860-1875 in Pennsylvania (Possibly Michigan)
Married:   About 1892 in Michigan (Probably Albion, Calhoun County)
Died:         before 1911, possibly not.
Armed now with what I think I know, I can now check for the low hanging fruit and then determine if I really have a wall or is the wall just an illusion. Then I can focus my research on key events in his life. 

[i] Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925, Family Search, Max E. Fisher and Ida B. Barber Montrani, 20 May 1897 (Accessed 07 Mar 2014).
[ii] Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928 (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, 2010),,, Archives of Ontario; Series: MS932; Reel: 180 – Certificate: 015779.
[iii] Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 (Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston), Family Search, FHL microfilm 2411236, p 650 no 312. – Thomas Rooney & Donna Montran.
[iv] Social Security Application – Donna Montran Kees, Form SS-5 – Application for account number.  XXX-XX-XX79.
[v] 1920 United States Federal Census 3,,, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 958.
————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-

John Montran (c. 1874-bef.1911)

52 Ancestors # 14 – John Montran (c1874-bef. 1911)

John Montran is the most mysterious of my ancestors.  My grandmother, Madonna, never spoke of him and I didn’t have the where-with-all to ask her about him before she passed over. I didn’t know his first name until I received a copy of Donna’s application for a Social Security number.

When Madonna was married in 1911, she listed her father as Robert Montran and indicated that he was deceased. So, I’m not really certain if his name was John Robert or Robert John.

When Madonna’s mother married Max Fisher in 1897, she indicated her name as Ida B Montran Barber and she had been married one time before although reading the entry, the clerk may have written Montrani or possibly Montram.
Assuming that Ida married Montran before Madonna was born, Ida and John were probably married in 1892. I also assume that John was a contemporary of Ida, that is to say about the same age, that would put his birth about 1874.
In 1900, Madonna’s step-father was Max Fisher. He was identified as having been born in Wisconsin and Madonna’s father is identified as having been born in Michigan. In 1910, Madonna’s father was again identified as having been born in Michigan. Because her stepfather at that time, Jos Holdsworth, was born in New York, I am fairly sure that John Montran was born in Michigan.  However, the 1920 Census indicates that Madonna’s father was born in Pennsylvania. Madonna was on the road with the show “Chin Chin” at the time so the information was probably given by her grandmother, Sarah Barber, who may or may not have known for certain Madonna’s father’s birthplace.   Madonna was out of the country for the 1930 census so that census adds nothing additional.In searching a bit more for John Montran, I found that he was father of bride for “Mae Donna Montran” who was married on 24 Nov 1915 to Thomas Valentine Rooney in Waltham, MA.  This was a completely unknown marriage. It is interesting to note that it indicates that this was the first marriage for both. I guess Madonna was thinking it was her first US marriage or else she forgot about her 1911 marriage to Chester Fenyvessey in Canada.

John Montran

Born about 1874, probably in Michigan (possibly Pennsylvania).
Married Ida Barber about 1892, probably in Michigan.
Died before 1911, probably before 1897.

Further Research

Montran is an uncommon surname; so, when I do find something about Montran I get excited to investigate more. For example, in the 1920 San Francisco city directory indicates that a Maude Montran was living there and Maude was the widow of John F Montran. I didn’t find Maude in any earlier city directories or elsewhere.  I certainly can do much more research in this area.  As more and more birth, marriage, and death records, as well as newspapers come on-line I hope to find more about John Montran.


1900 Census,, 1900; Manistee Ward 6, Manistee, Michigan; Roll: T623_728; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 36.
1910 Census,, 1910; Detroit Ward 7, Wayne, Michigan;
Roll: T624_683; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0106; FHL microfilm: 1374696. Holdsworth, Ida – Head,
1920 Census,, Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 24A; Sarah Barber Head
Form SS-5 – Application for an account number.  Donna Montran Kees
Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928,,
Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 (Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston), Family Search, FHL microfilm 2411236, p 650 no 312.
R.L. Polk & Co., City Directory – San Francisco – 1920 (San Francisco, H.S. Crocker Co, 1920), Internet Archives, Page 1157.

Bio – Harvey Watson Knight

Biography – Harvey Watson Knight
Harvey Watson Knight was the fourth husband of my great-grandmother, Ida Barber.
He was born on 4 March 1873 in Canada as the third child of Harvey Milton and Mary F. Harsen Knight.
He immigrated to the United States in 1884 and was naturalized in 1894.
Harvey married Ida Barber (Fisher) (Holdsworth) (Montran?) on 27 August 1910 in Detroit.
In 1910, Harvey was a “boarder” with Ida Barber Holdsworth her daughter Madona Holdsworth. And her mother Sarah Barber. Harvey and Ida Barber (Fisher) (Holdsworth) (Montran?) were married on 27 August 1910.
On 20 Nov 1915, Harvey and Ida celebrated the birth of a son, Harvey Milton Knight.  He was clearly named after Harvey’s father. Sadly on 25 September 1916, Harvey Milton died of accidental poisoning of Mercury dichloride.
Family tragedy struck again the following year when on 8 Nov 1917, Ida’s younger sister Eva died of TB.

In September 1918, Harvey registered for the WW1 draft; he lived at 628 Lawndale Ave., Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. He worked as an engineer for Ireland Matthews at Beard & Chatfield Aves, Detroit, Michigan. He is described as Medium height, grey eyes, and black hair.

In 1920, he still lived at 628 Lawndale, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA (Ward 20). He was working as an engineer at an auto shop.

In 1930, his address is 1456 Lawndale, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA. It does not appear that he moved though. Most of his neighbors are the same as in the 1920 census, so it appears that the street addresses were changed. He still worked as an Engineer at an Auto Factory.

He remained in the same house in 1935 and 1940 where he worked as a Stationary Engineer at an auto body plant.

His mother, passed in 1941. It is unknown when his father passed.

He died at the Ypsilanti State Hospital, Washtenaw, Michigan, USA on 19 May 1942.

He is buried with his wife Ida Mae and his son, Milton in Plot 154, Oak Ridge Section, Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan.