Donna Darling Collection – Part 12

Family Photos #1 – Russell, Donna, & Sammy

Treasure Chest Thursday

by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week I took a look at ten photos from the Donna Darling Collection. Unfortunately, three of the photos were blurry or otherwise unusable. Of the remaining seven photos, five included uncle Russ as a child. One showed Russell and Donna and one showed Russ with Sammy.  One photo showed all three. There were also two additional photos of Donna but both were family type photos and not part of her vaudeville life.

Some of the photos were badly damaged but I was able to clean them up significantly. For each of the photos, I have:

  • Original scanned image.
  • Original cropped image.
  • Edited PSD (Adobe Photoshop Elements) image
  • Edited JPG image

With each edited version of the photo, I added a caption.  I am certain about the individuals shown, however, the dates are by guess and by golly.


Sammy, Russell, & Donna at the Beach, circa 1928.
Sammy, Russell, & Donna at the Beach, circa 1928.

Donna was born Madonna Montran. She used Donna Montran in her early vaudeville days. She then used Donna Darling as her stage name. I don’t believe that she ever used the surname Amsterdam.  Sometime after 1935, Donna lived with a man named Russell Kees. Although I don’t believe that Donna and Russell were ever married, Donna and her two children, Russell and Sylvia began using the Kees surname.  Sammy was born Samson Amsterdam. He used the stage name of Sammy Clark for many years. If the names aren’t confusing to you, you are good.

I have uploaded the seven photos to Google Photos. The downloads from Google Photos are generally of sufficient quality to work for most situations.  However, if you need a higher quality image of any of the photos let me know and I’ll send you one.


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 ———-


Ruth Grace Montran Cologne (1897-1993)

Only recently have I come to the determination that Ruth Grace Montran is my grandmother’s (Madonna Mae Montran) half sister and that they shared the same father, John F. Montran. In my attempt to prove or disprove that relationship, I’ve researched Ruth considerably and have learned quite a bit about her long life.
“Middlesex-County-Map” by Middlesex County
Municipality – Licensed under Public Domain
via Wikimedia Commons
Ruth Grace Montran was born 27 Nov 1897 in Middlesex, Ontario, Canada, to John Montran and Maud Minnie Winter. Dr. Moorhouse was the attending physician.[i] Her birth was recorded/registered only two weeks later, on 13 Dec 1897, by M. M. Montran (presumed to be Maud).
According to Ruth’s naturalization record[ii], and the 1910 Census[iii], Ruth arrived in the United States in January 1898.
The 1900 Census shows Ruth living with her uncle, Primrose Brown, a railroad laborer, his wife Jerusha [sic – Josephine] Brown, her Scottish maternal grandmother, Maryann Winter, and her older sister Thelma Montran in Waterloo Village, Fayette Township, Seneca County, New York. It is interesting to note that the census indicates that she was born in Canada; however, there is not date in the emigration column, clearly an oversight. Another item of note is that this is the only document I’ve seen that indicates that her father was born in France.[iv] (I have long thought that Madonna’s father was French because Madonna used to say she was “English, Irish, and French.”)
The 1910 Census shows 12 year-old Ruth living in Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania with her adoptive parents, Penrose and Josephine E Brown and an 5 year-old adopted brother, Harry P Baker.[v] So,
Ruth married John Terrell Cologne sometime between 1910 and 3 April 1920, as evidenced that she became naturalized Miami, Dade, Florida, USA as Ruth Cologne. The registration number is 13328136 and is something to search for.[vi]
I have not been successful finding John and Ruth in the 1920 Census, yet. Anyone else successful yet?
View of the Provident Mutual Life Insurance
Building from a few hundred feet of 2 Farragut St.
Photo by DanTD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
The 1930 Census finds Ruth living with her husband, John, at 2 Farragut Street, Philadelphia, PA, along with her two children, Dorothy B and John T. Cologne. This census entry is curious because it indicates that her father was born in New York. The 1900 Census indicated her father [John Montran] was born in France, and the 1910 Census indicates her father was born in Pennsylvania. Her father in this census is apparently Primrose Brown. In 1930, Ruth was a saleslady working in a department store. Her husband, John, was a dentist and was working as such[vii]. Two Farragut Street is currently a vacant lot next to the 46th Street Station of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Market-Frankford Line. It was across Market Street from the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building that is currently under renovation to become a command center for the Philadelphia Police and the new headquarters the Philadelphia for Health Department.[viii]

What happened between 1930 and 1940 is very unclear. In the 1940 Census, Ruth’s husband, John, is living in Philadelphia with his son, John Jr; however, Ruth is not living with them[ix]. I have not been successful finding Ruth in the 1940 Census, so far. In pure speculation on my part, I think that John and Ruth were probably estranged about 1930 which necessitated Ruth to work outside of the home but they were still living in the same house. Then, by 1940 I suspect they were divorced. John remarried later in the 1940s but Ruth didn’t remarry. As I mentioned, this is speculation; however, it does provide directions for further research.

Ruth Grace Cologne died in Broward County, Florida on 3 Sep 1993[x]. I have not found specific burial information for Ruth Grace Cologne yet.

Areas for Further Research:

Determine if Middlesex has certificates for Ruth’s birth period and get a copy if possible.
Get a copy of Ruth’s naturalization information/record.
Get a copy of Ruth and John’s marriage license/certificate.
Find Ruth Grace Montran/Cologne in the 1920 Census.
Find Ruth Grace Cologne in the 1940 Census.
Learn more about Ruth Cologne’s life from 1940-1993.
Determine Ruth Grace Montran Cologne’s burial information/information.


[i] Ontario Births, 1869-1912, Family Search, Ruth Grace Montran, 27 Nov 1897.
[iii] 1910 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry,, Year; 1910; Census Place: Shamokin, Northumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1384; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1375397.
[iv] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 August 2015), Ruth Montran in household of Penrose Brown, Fayette Township Waterloo vill., Seneca, New York, United States; citing sheet 16A, family 384, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,162. 
[v] 1910 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry,, Year; 1910; Census Place: Shamokin, Northumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1384; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1375397.
[vii], 1930 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002.Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626,), Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2139; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0496; Image: 817.0; FHL microfilm: 2341873.
[viii] Plan Philly – Eyes on the Street, March 8, 2012, “Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building to be reused as Police Command Center –
[x], Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.Original data – State of Florida. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998. Florida: Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, 1998.Original data: State of Florida. Florida Death Ind), Ancestry,, Ruth Montran Cologne.

————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-     

John F Montran (c.1867-c.1897)

John F. Montran

This has been a really good week for me. I continued working on my great grandfather, John Montran.
John F. Montran & Ida in Birth Registry entry for Madonna Montran, 1893
John F. Montran & Ida Birth Registry entry.Michigan, Births, 1867-1902
Dept. of Vital Records, (Lansing, MI, )
I learned his middle initial was “F”, and not “H”, through a birth register entry for my grandmother, Madonna (Donna).
I have also ordered a microfilm of another record regarding the birth.  I am hoping it is a full certificate and not just the same image from the register.  If you have never ordered a microfilm from Family Search and had it sent to your local Family History library, you should.  It is a fantastic service and inexpensive — only $7.50/film for short term use.  I’ll let you know the results when it comes in.
The exciting thing about learning his middle initial is “F” is that I’ve been unable to find anything about John H. Montran.  Whenever I researched, I kept running into John F. Montran. If my John F. Montran is the same person as I’ve seen many times before, then Madonna (Donna) has at least one half sister, maybe two that we’ve never known about before.


I’ve begun researching the other two daughters of John F. Montran.  Thelma M and Ruth Grace Montran. If I can find a descendant and can convince that person to have an atDNA test, I can prove that the two John’s are the same person.
These are exciting times in genealogy.
————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-

Happy New Year – 2015

Happy New Year!  

I hope your holidays have been a lovely and joyous as mine and that your New Year be safe and prosperous. In ending my 2014 year I thought I’d update everyone on what I anticipate for the new year. The big news for the new year is my new domain.


I’ve decided to add a more professional look to my
genealogical efforts.  To help that look,
I have gotten an internet domain name:

The first thing you may notice is that when you go to this
blog via a bookmark, or direct entry, to you will
find that you are directed to  I am still using Blogspot to host my blog but
have made an entry in my domain to direct to the
Blogspot site.
I also added a Google Sites website for “D Taylor Genealogy”
and have directed
to the Google site. It is still under construction but I plan to use it as a
location to show the kinds of things that I can and will provide as
genealogical services.

Next, I created an email account through Go Daddy.  I am still having trouble with it.  I am receiving email through them okay but
can’t seem to send email from Apple Mail or Outlook. I can send from the web
interface fine though.  I’ll see if I can
fix it soon.  In any event, you can send
mail to me via “don (at)” and I’ll receive it.


Over the past few weeks I’ve received a lot of things to
work on.  On the Brown/Montran
Research I’ve received a letter and some eMail’s from my Uncle Russ that will
help put some additional information regarding my great grandmother, Ida Mae
Barber, and her husband Harvey Knight.  I
also received over 800 photos of various relatives from a cousin.  It will take some time for me to categorize
those photos and incorporate them into my research.

On my Madonna Montran
research, I have dozens of additional bookings that I know of and will continue
bi-monthly posts regarding her vaudeville life.

Joyner Library
Clock Tower – Joyner Library
East Carolina University
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons 

On the Howell/Hobbs
research, I recently received a book through inter-library loan from the J. Y. Joyner Library about Martin County History. It is a two
volume set and has dozens of references in it regarding the Howells including
the Armstrong, Bryan, Hobbs, Howell, Johnson, Long, and Price families that
lived in Martin County.  I’m looking
forward to researching them. I am so grateful for the interlibrary loan system.

On the Darling/Huber
research I have several areas of research that I’m going to pursue.

Finally, on the DNA research front,
I’ve encountered another person for whom I have a DNA match on my paternal
side.  Unfortunately this individual only
has the surnames for 9 of his 16 2nd great grandparents named and
only 10 of his 32 3rd great grandparents.  Family Tree DNA is suggesting that he and I are
related as 2-4th cousins so we are likely to need to go back to the
3rd greats to find a common ancestor. We will see.


One minor project I’m doing is posting poetry written by my grandfather, Dick Brown, to my facebook wall. I typically find an appropriate graphic to accompany it and post it as public.

On my projects for friends, I have six different ones.  I use these
projects to help hone my skills by exploring other people’s family histories.  I try to give each of these projects a day’s
work every 6 to 8 weeks. The projects I am working on include
the following:

Adair,  Burlison,  Kirks*,  Pettus,  Rode,  and Smith.
I will be replacing my “Web Pages” tab on the blog with a
page that speaks about these projects and moving “Web Pages” to the www site. 


I have recently updated my “Getting to Know You”
presentation.  I don’t currently have a
good way to display the presentation.  The last time I gave the presentation, I
copied it to a thumb drive, and connected the thumb drive to someone else’s
computer that was connected to a large screen TV.  It worked fine for the venue I was at, but probably
won’t work well elsewhere.  I will
probably need to get a projector and a way to connect it to my iPad to better show
it to groups.

Also, I’ve been thinking
about putting together a networking presentation that describes how to use social
networking to improve your genealogical research.  I have a lot of the material and many ideas about
how to approach it.  I just need to put the
presentation together.  I know I can get
some offers to present that type of material.

* Note: I am a contributor for the Kirks tree, not the owner/manager
of that tree.
————Disclaimer ————-