Chester Parsons in the News – Lawsuit Settled & Real Estate for Sale

In the News
By Don Taylor

 In the News” is my reporting of discovered newspaper articles and advertising regarding ancestors I am researching.  Chester Parsons is a fourth great-grandfather of mine. The information found in newspapers often raises more questions and more research areas, but invariably provide fresh texture to understanding the life of an ancestor.

Chester Parsons’ Lawsuit

This week from The Statemen, (Marshall, Michigan) dated 11 December 1885, Column 4, Paragraph 4.  

Circuit court convened Monday afternoon and up to date the following cases have been disposed of: … Chester Parsons vs. Eva E. Jewett, settled; ….

So, we don’t know what their beef was, that will take further research with the circuit court, but it might be interesting to learn.

 

Chester Parsons’ Real Estate Sale

This week from The Daily Chronicle, (Marshall, Michigan) dated 11 December 1885, Column 4, top item.

REAL ESTATE FOR SALE—State of Michigan, County of Washtenaw—as.

In the matter of the estate of Chester Parsons deceased.

Notice is hereby given, that in pursuance of an order granted to the undersigned administrator of the estate of said Chester Parsons by the Hon. Judge of Probate for the County of Washtenaw, on the twenty eighth day of January A. D. 1888, there will be sold at public vendue to the highest bidder, at the front door of the store building on the premises below described in the city of Marshall, in the county of Calhoun; in said State, on Wednesday the 21st day of March A. D. 1888, at two o’clock in the afternoon of that day (subject to all encumbrances by mortgage or otherwise existing at the time on the death of said deceased the following described Real Estate, towit:

All that certain piece or parcel of land situated in the city of Marshall, in Calhoun county and State of Michigan, known and described as follows towit: Commencing at a point seventy (70) feet and three inches east from the south west corner of block thirteen (13) according to the recorded plot of said city, running thence north one hundred and twenty two (122) feet to an alley thence west along the north line of State Street to the place of beginning.

Dated, Ann Arbor, January 28, 1888
         COMSTOCK F. HILL
            Administrator

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Marshall, Michigan, Block 13, showing the property described above.

Chester Parsons died in 1887, so his property going into probate sale in 1888 makes complete sense. From this article, I learned that besides the farm out on Clinton Road, Chester owned property in nearby Marshall.  Looking at the Sanborn Fire Map from the year indicates that he owned a restaurant.

Today, the (apparent) location is “The Mole Hole” a unique gifts shop.

Follow-up

Who was Eva E. Jewett and what was the lawsuit that Chester and Eva settled?

What was Chester Parsons’ interest in the property in Marshall?

Letter of Elizabeth Jane (Swayze) Darling – Kalamazoo First Methodist Church

Darling
Transcribed by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Another article discovered on Genealogy Bank
that provides insight into the lives of the Darling family of Kalamazoo during the mid-1800s. The Darling’s and the Swayze’s were involved with the First Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI) – August 14, 1916, Page 6

Pioneer’s Letter Tells History of Kalamazoo first Methodist Church

MISS EMMA DARLING FINDS
EPISTLE PENNED BY HER MOTHER YEARS AGO.

Kalamazoo Gazette 14 August 1916, Page 6.

In looking through some treasures in her desk the other day Miss Emma Darling*[1] came across, a paper in the handwriting of her mother, who had jotted down a few incidents in the history of the First Methodist church that are of moment and are certainly not known by many today though familiar facts In pioneer days.

Miss Darling’s parents and grandparents were pioneers and did much to make history for this section of Michigan. And today Miis Darling resides on a portion of the land purchased by her father Rufus H. Darling*[2] when he came to Michigan in (hose days when hardships were aplenty and luxuries a. thing unknown.

Of the Methodist church Mrs. Darling*[3] writes:

“My father’s family came here in the spring of 1840 and united with this church by letter. This Methodist people were then holding- service in a little old schoolhouse on ‘ South Rose street where the Jewish synagogue now stands. Mr., Richards came here as pastor the next, fail after we did and.the church then began plans for building a church.

Gen’l Burdick Gives Lot

“Their means were limited for their number was small and they met with many discouragements. The sister churches thought we never could build and pay for as large a church as we planned to have. But these things only made us more persevering.

General Burdick gave the church the lot where the Dutch Reformed church now stands and, Mr. Wiseman*[4] drew the plan for the church hut he died before the church was completed. But he made a request that they would use hie Bible at the dedication.

“Mr. Richards stayed hero two years in all and Rev. Range followed and the church was completed during this time, for the church was dedicated in the year 1842. If was not entirely free from debt until 1850.

“Mr. Watson preached the sermon at the dedication.’ There was only one class at this time, led by my father, David Swayze*[5], and father and sister, Emily*[6] led the singing.”

The late. George Torrey in his history of Kalamazoo says in regard to the Methodist church: “The first sermon preached in the town, was by Rev. James Robe, who was appointed to the Kalamazoo mission by the Indiana Conference, in “1822; and who is, now, a resident of the place. (This history was published to 1867).

Service in Titus Bronson home

The service was held in the house of Mr. Titus Bronson after whom tho place was named. The first-class was organized in the Year 1832 and was composed of eight members of whom Harrison Coleman was leader.

“The first board of trustees was organized at the house of Mr. C. Walters, on February 8th, 1841, and consisted of, David Swayze, C. Walters, Luke Olmsted. Isaac Tewkesbury, Amos P, Bush, Isaac Wiseman, William E. White, and David J. Davidson.

The 1842 Methodist Church on Academy St. – Photo Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Public Library

“The first church edifice was dedicated in 1842 on the church square, Church and Academy streets, and was occupied until the spring of 1866 when it was sold to the Dutch Reformed church.

“The society are now erecting what is intended to be one of the largest and most costly churches In the state, which will be completed during the year. They have flourishing Sunday school of about 250 scholars under the superintendency of Mr. Geo. H. Lyman, and a membership of nearly three hundred communicants, under the pastoral, care of Rev. Charles Shelling. The Kalamazoo District is In charge of Rev. R. Sapp, presiding elder.”

Facts:

  • The [Swayze] family came to Kalamazoo in the spring of 1840.
  • David Swayze led a class at the church (ca. 1842)
  • David Swayze and Emily [Emily Ann Swayze] lead the singing at the church (ca. 1842).
  • David Swayze was a member of the first board of trustees for the First Methodist Church in Kalamazoo in 1841.
  • Isaac Wiseman was a member of the first board of trustees for the First Methodist Church in Kalamazoo in 1841.

Sources:

  • Image: The Methodists’ 1842 building on Academy. Map of Kalamazoo, Michigan. H MAP 912.77417 M6475 1858 | Source: “First Methodist Church — Kalamazoo Public Library”. 2019. Kalamazoo Public Library. Accessed December 19 2019. https://www.kpl.gov/local-history/kalamazoo-history/religion/first-methodist-church/.

*Endnotes – Relationships

[1] Emma Darling, my wife’s 2nd great aunt.
[2[ Rufus H. Darling, my wife’s 2nd great grandfather.
[3] “Mrs. Darling” refers to Emma’s mother, Elizabeth Jane (Swayze) Darling, my wife’s 2nd great grandmother.
[4] Mr. Wiseman refers to Elizabeth Jane (Swayze’s) first husband, Isaac Wiseman.
[5] David Swayze was my wife’s 3rd great grandfather.
[6] Emily Ann Swayze, my wife’s 3rd great aunt.

 

Step 2a – Newspapers – My Favorites

Using “Step 2a” to Research Rufus Harry Darling.

After I had done my initial research on a person, (Birth, Marriage, Death, Censuses, and “happen upons,” during the individual’s life, I begin my Phase 2 research. In the case of my wife’s great-grandfather, Rufus Harry Darling, I found many key points in his life. His life was complicated. He appears to have lived in Kalamazoo until he was about 30. Then as a “railroad man,” he lived in many locations, Chicago, Kansas City, and Texas. He may or may not have lived in Buena Vista, Colorado or Kittanning, Pennsylvania, where he married his first and second wives.

Where Rufus Harry Darling lived during known events in his life.

  • 1857 (Born), 1860, 1863, 1864, 1870, 1877, 1895 1911, 1917 (Death) – Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • 1876    Kalamazoo, Michigan – 12 Cedar
  • 1880    Kalamazoo, Michigan – 42 Rose
  • 1887    Kalamazoo, Michigan – 209 Edwards
  • 1889, 1907      Chicago, Illinois
  • 1890    Buena Vista, Colorado
  • 1891, 1896, 1900, 1910 – Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1894    Texas
  • 1907    Kittanning, Pennsylvania

I consider it possible that a person could have located to a new location the day after the previous event and the day before the next event in their life. With day in mind, I develop a search plan.

I also look for the first name, first name with middle initial, first name with middle name, and first and last initial in the newspapers. Also, when I know a person’s address, I search for the address also. Finally, I also search the name in a last name first format. So, in the case of Rufus I have the following searches to do.

  • Rufus Harry Darling
  • Rufus H Darling
  • Rufus Darling
  • Darling, Rufus
  • Darling, Rufus H (unnecessary if no “Darling, Rufus” results are found.
  • Darling, Rufus Harry (unnecessary if no “Darling, Rufus H” results are found.
  • 12 Cedar
  • 42 Rose
  • 209 Edwards

All during the appropriate years and locations.

The Dates and Locations are:

  • Buena Vista, Colorado 1889-1891
  • Chicago 1887-1910
  • Kalamazoo – 1857 to 1907 – It is possible that Rufus was in Kalamazoo anytime from his birth to his death.
    • Kalamazoo at 12 Cedar 1857 to 1880
    • Kalamazoo at 42 Rose 1876-1887
    • Kalamazoo at 209 Edwards 1880-1889
  • Kansas City – 1890-1911
  • Kittanning, PA – 1906-1908
  • Texas – 1891-1895

For this search I have three source search categories.

A.  My favorite sites.
B.  Location sites.
C.  Sites of Sites.

My Favorite Paid Sites

 My Favorite Free Sites

In my browser, I have all of the above entries in a single folder of Genealogy/Newspaper bookmarks. I hover “Newspaper” right click then open all and all 12 of the sites are opened. I then work through each of the web sites for my search criteria.

Discovery – Marriage Clarification

For some time, I’ve had two marriage dates for Rufus and his first wife, Ida.

  1. June 1889 – When Rufus married Anna (Hannah) McAllister he indicated that he had been married previously, in June 1889 and that his first wife died in September 1898.
  2. September 1890 – Rufus H. Darling married Ida Ready in Buena Vista, Colorado.

The Michigan State Census of 1894 shows the Elizabeth Darling household included two of her daughters, Mary and Emma, her son, Rufus H, and her daughter-in-law Ida. That census is what told me that Rufus’ wife’s name was Ida. So, when I found a Rufus H. Darling marrying an Ida Ready, I ascribed that to my Rufus. I hypnotized that the June 1889 marriage was a mistake of some sort, either by the clerk or, possibly, Rufus said the name he began living with Ida and not the date of their actual marriage.

I always had a bad feeling about that marriage location and date. Nothing in my research, other than Rufus H. Darling marrying Ida Ready, suggests that Rufus was ever in Colorado.

That was before I found an interesting article during this search. On page 5 of the September 27, 1889 Kalamazoo Gazette[iii], it said:

Kalamazoo Gazette – 27 September 1889, page 5, via Genealogy Bank.

“The Chicago Herald of a recent date states that the police of that city are looking for Mrs. Rufus Darling, a runaway wife. It is claimed that she left her husband at St. Louis to come to this city, but nothing has been heard from her since her departure. Darling is having great times with his wife and other women since he left here.”

That Mrs. Rufus Darling appeared to be a “runaway wife” and learning that Rufus had “great times” with other women since he left Kalamazoo seems to fit with his personality.

The article confirms that Rufus was married in 1889, So I now believe that it was a different Rufus H Darling who married a different Ida in 1890.

UPDATE: Marriage: June 1889 Rufus Darling to Ida LNU.

Marriage: September 1890 was removed and added as a note of unlikely possibility to the June 1889 marriage notes.

Discovery 2 – A “Happen Upon”

During my search for Rufus on Hathi Trust, I happened upon a Report of Accidents for Michigan during the year 1887. Under “Injured” I found an entry which read:

“March 5. Rufus Darling, brakeman, Northville, fell from engine, shoulder blade broken.”

Commissioner of Railroads Report – 1888, Page 380 via Hathi Trust.

We know that Rufus was a “railroad man.” Also, search for Darlings in Northville, Michigan failed to yield any Darlings living in the township.,” As such, I’m pretty sure the “Northville” reference is to where the accident occurred. Even though the railroad was the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad Co., I suspect that this was our Rufus. Today, Northville is a suburb of Metropolitan Detroit.

Also, such an injury might have been the prelude to Rufus becoming a clerk for the Midwest Central Railroad shortly after that. I added a new “tentative” event:

NEW Event: 5 Mar 1887 – Rufus Darling, a brakeman, fell from an engine and broke his shoulder blade.

Conclusion

It is always a good genealogy session when I can clarify a fact, learn a new fact, and can add a specific search for further research.

Future Actions

Specifically search the Chicago Herald in September 1889 for mentions of Rufus and his runaway wife.

Continue my newspaper searches using “state newspaper sites.” (Step 2B)

Using the “Sites of Sites” to determine if I’ve missed any appropriate newspapers that should be searched. (Step 2C)


Endnotes

[i] I generally have a subscription to two Newspaper subscription services at a time and rotate between several newspaper services.  Currently, I have Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.Com subscriptions.

[ii] Chronicling America is searched when you do an Elephind search. I often skip using Chronicling America and only search Elephind, particularly if there are few hits for newspaper articles.

[iii] This article was repeated on page 3 of the October 4, 1889 Kalamazoo Gazette. See Genealogy Bank.

Chin Chin – Regent Theatre – Muskegon, MI – 23 Feb 1920

Donna and “Chin Chin” play at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan, on 23 February 1920.

Background

February 1920 was a busy month for the cast and crew of “Chin Chin.” They began the month in Minneapolis and played across Wisconsin, on to Indiana, and then up to Michigan. I know they played the Powers Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Feb 20th and 21st. They probably had off Sunday, 22 February. Then they opened for one night at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan.

Advertising

A standard “To the General Public” announcement was published by Paul J. Schlossman in the Muskegon Chronical on February 18th letting the General Public know that “Chin Chin” was coming to the Regent Theatre on Monday, February 23, 1920.  There would be two shows, a matinee at 2:30 and an evening show at 8:15.

Muskegon Chronicle – 21 FEB 1920, Page 2 (Via Genealogy Bank)

Articles

The Thursday paper before the show featured an article and a photograph. The article read:

Muskegon Chronicle – 19 Feb 1920, Page 10 via Genealogy Bank

Charles Dillingham’s Chin Chin, with a record of two solid years at the Globe theater, New York , and heralded as the greatest of all musical comedies comes to the Regent theater for a matinee and evening performance Monday, Feb. 23.

In the production of “Chin Chin” the producer, Chas. Dillingham is providing a glorious festival of fun and spectacular attractiveness, demonstrations of grotesque acrobatic specialties and dancing in numerous through this very musical concoction. Those who heard “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Café” cannot fail to anticipate with pleasure the prospect of hearing further gems in “Chin Chin” from the gifted composer, Ivan Caryll.

Charles Dillingham long ago established a reputation for good taste in his production so far as color, light, groupings, music and expression go to make up an ensemble. In the company are clever comedians, talented singers and dancers, besides plenty of beautiful, radiant women. The production in its original New York entirety will be seen here. By the box office returns, the most potent argument in the theater when the entertainments such this are under consideration, “Chin Chin” is the greatest and best.

Certainly the most exacting and sophisticated taste will ask for little or nothing more in facile playfulness, pretty dresses, swift dances and prankish amusement than this production has to offer.

Ivan Caryll’s score is rich with ingratiating melodies, and the various stage settings make attractive pictures.

Post Show

It is unlikely that the cast and crew had off on February 24th, so I need to continue searching for a venue that they played that day. It is probably a town between Muskegon and Bay City (but not Grand Rapids). “Chin Chin” played in Bay City on the 25th.

Regent Theater

Theater Image[i]
The Regent Theater, designed by Detroit architect C. Howard Crane, was built by Paul Schlossman in 1916. None of the theatrical guides that I have indicate the specifics of the theater, however, other sources indicate the seating was 1,100. A new façade and marquee were installed in 1939. The theater was demolished in 1972 to make way for the Muskegon Mall. The mall was torn down in 2003.[ii]

 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map[iii], Muskegon, Michigan, 1940, Image 10, Block 564 – Library of Congress

Today

Today, the location of the Regent Theater is an open park-like area with picnic tables next to the Muskegon Area Transit System.

Further Research

Find a theater guide from the 1920s and incorporate theater specifics from it into this article.

Disclaimer

The ads and some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission which will help me pay for this site. Please see my Disclaimer Page for more information.



Endnotes

[i] Regent Theater in Muskegon, MI – Cinema Treasures. 2019. Cinematreasures.Org. Accessed August 16 2019. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/41270

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Image 10 Of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. “. 2019. The Library Of Congress. Accessed August 16 2019. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4114mm.g04122195001/?sp=10&r=0.498,0.987,0.434,0.213,0.

Donna and “Chin Chin” at The Auditorium Theatre, Saginaw, Michigan – 26 Feb 1920

Vaudeville
Chin Chin
Donna Montran

I have able to find 20 of the 29 days that February the venues that “Chin Chin” played during the month. Beginning in Minneapolis, the show played across Wisconsin, they had a few shows in Indiana before arriving in Michigan. The cast and crew played in Bay City on the 25th and moved on to Saginaw on the 26th.

Preshow Advertising

Saginaw News Courier – February 19, 1920 – Page 9[i]

Chin Chin Coming

Charles Dillingham’s greatest Musical Comedy success Chin Chin is coming to Saginaw Thursday, February 26, for one performance at the Auditorium. This play appeared first at the Globe Theater in New York for two solid years and is now on a transcontinental trip touring the middle-west for the first time.

Saginaw News, Feb 21, 1920, Page 4

In the leading roles will be seen Walter Wills and Roy Binder who come with the stamp of approval won in such productions as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Red Mill,” “Hitchy Koo, etc. The company Is the largest musical company aggregation on the road today comprising 65 people, mostly girls and Tom Brown’s famous Clown Saxophone band. Charles Dillingham’s name is associated with the biggest and best theatrical Enterprises such as the Hippodrome and Globe Theater in New York some of his latest Productions are “Jack O’ Lantern” with Fred Stone, “The Canary” with Julia Sanderson and Joe Cawthorn, “Hip Hip Hooray” with 1200 associates with “Everything” which has suppressed all records at the New York Hippodrome

Chin Chin is a fantastic production which in Oriental and Old English costuming, in seven sets, including the most startling surprises ingenious trickery and grotesque dancing in plenty, affording an entertainment that is clean and wholesome, proving hilarious amusement for both young and old, which qualities are the making of a particular success of the theatrical magnate, Charles Dillingham.

The following day, the newspaper carried a “Chin Chin” standard announcement indicating the Auditorium manager, W. S. Butterfield” was pleased to announce the coming of “Chin Chin” on Thursday, February 26th.

Also, on the 20th was a very odd article, that I’ve not seen before that may give insight into the theatre audiences of 1920.[ii]

“Chin Chin”—Auditorium

There appears to be little doubt that Charles Dillingham’s production of “Chin Chin,” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the lead will play to a capacity audience at the Auditorium when it is presented there next Thursday evening.

R. H. Burnside of the Dillingham forces, who staged “Chin Chin,” recently said that it was only the old-time musical show—the kine put on in a hurry and made up of old stuff—that was suffering.

“If there is any trouble at all,” he said, “it comes from the growing public demand for something better, more skillful, larger. People in the road towns as a rule don’t see the metropolitan production and they are getting tirie of it. What used to go in the small town goes no longer, they demand a play as large, as clever, as sparking and as capably played as the New York audience gets. The small town mind is growing with brutal rapidity, and as it grows the old standards of musical comedy cease to please. If we are going to keep in the game we will have to give them something more stimulating to the imagination, more artistic, with more originality, and a simplier yet larger horizon. Such is exactly the case of Charles Dillingham’s only company appearing on the road this season in that everlasting and delightful production of ‘Chin Chin’ with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading comedy roles.

“People have been looking at the old things so long they are tired. For a long time they looked at them because they didn’t know the stage could offer anything better. Now they are rebellious, and it is up to the producers to make good.”

The Saginaw News Courier does a particularly good job at promoting the show. The following day is a lovely article describing the show.[iii]

“Chin Chin”—Auditorium

“Chin-Chin” has a name of magic—music that is sorcery—bebars and little furry things that open their mouths amazingly and wave their ears when you are expecting it; coolies, little Chinese maids, mandarins, tiny children, clowns and bareback riders (with the really, truly, big white circus horse rambling gently and fatly around the ring), toys that wig-wag their little arms, a great stir of fun, a dainty little maid, a Japanese doll woman, and Aladdin—the figure that looms high in all child’s minds, be they Chin Chop Hi, the slaves of the lamp. All this and so much more that no one ever could tell you about if he thought until he went round in a circle, you can find in this clear, sweet, beautifully colored, musically rich show.

For “Chin Chin” throws the splendor of its dazzling light over your thoughts; it gilds the heart and melts the years away. There is the chop-chop song that rouses all the mirth you have under your waistcoat. There are dozens of bits of fun, or beauty, or wonder, or color, each a separate delight.

This show of wonders come to the Auditorium for one performance next Thursday evening February 26, and mail orders for tickets are now being filled as received at the Auditorium Box office.

The next day, the newspaper had a wonderful description of how many of the 30+ women in the show were selected.[iv] On the same page was an image of “Tom Brown’s Famous Clown Saxophone Band.”[v]

Saginaw News, Feb 22, 1920, Page 12

“Chin Chin”

In the chorus of “Chin Chin” to be seen at the Auditorium next Thursday evening, there are 30 girls. More than two-thirds of those girls have never been seen either here or in New York. The chorus is said to be made up of some of the most beautiful young women ever seen on the stage. They have been chosen from the ranks of the prettiest girls of every state of the union.[vi]

By an arrangement that was made with a talking machine company, out of town applicants for positions in the chorus who were unable to go to New York were the engagements were made, had their voices recorded on disk records at the various agencies and the same were sent to Manager Charles Dillingham for consideration. All of the applicants wrote that they were anxious to begin their stage career under his direction.

Chin Chin display ad, Saginaw News, Feb 25, 1920.

The competition lasted for two months and those selected were given contracts and were notified to be ready for rehearsal. By this means Mr. Dillingham believe that he has secured a unique chorus, well chosen for voice and beauty, the engagements being unprejudiced by any personal reasons.

Among the typical beauty chorus are two from Chicago, one from Denver, one from Boston, three from California, two from Philadelphia, two from Cleveland, one from Sioux City, two from New Orleans, one from Tallas, Tex., one from Duluth and one from Cheyenne, Wyo.

One result of this original scheme of selection is the report from Mr. Dillingham’s stage manager that he find in the chorus a maximum of enthusiasm, intelligence and ambition, thus rendering his work much less strenuous and fatiguing than usual and furthermore giving promise of specially fine ensemble work. Main orders are now being filled and the regular advance sale will open Tuesday.

Ad – Saginaw News, February 26, 1920.

Saginaw apparently did not have enough hotel accommodations to meet the needs of the “Chin Chin” company. As such the show took out ads looking for “Furnished Rooms for the Members of the “Chin Chin” Company. I can’t imagine that happening today.

There were advertising articles and visual ads every day until the show.

Reviews

After the show there was a rare review article about the show that mentioned Donna having a radiant voice as the Goddess of the Lamp.[vii] (Note: The bold emphasis is mine.)

“CHIN CHIN” IS PLEASING TO BIG AUDIENCE
By Joseph W. Brady.

A Good performance of the long established musical comedy favorite, “Chin Chin,” was given at the Auditorium Thursday evening; and that it was good is proven by the unmistakable verdict of the large audience, which at times came near to stopping the chow by insistence upon more than full measure; as in the dance by Walter Wills and Irene McKay, and the appearance of the clown saxophone band under Lew Gould’s leadership. The much used descriptive tern, “colorful,” is decidedly applicable to “Chin Chin,” which is fairly resplendent in richness and variety of costuming and staging, abundant in incident, and replete with musical number that long since came into vogue and which prove their quality aby their continued hone on popular favor. The presenting company, Thursday night, carries a very much alive chorus and one that actually sings pleasingly and in volume sufficient to justify its numbers; in addition to all of which the girls are good to look upon. In solo singers there are also a number who actually sing and who have worthwhile voices, which is particularly true of radiant Donna Montran, Goddess of the Lamp, Ethel Lawrence, the Violet Bond of the evening, contributes to the song pleasure of the production, as does also the clever Sen Sen work of Neva Larry, and the male honors in vocalism are achieved by Stare Dunham acceptably cast in the role of Aladdin. There is also given much and good dancing, and the circus specialties introduced in the second act are highly diverting and picturesquely presented.

The musical comedy, or musical fantasy as “Chin Chin” is appropriately enough called, the strength of the whole depends upon the keystone, which is the comedy and the comedians, and the evident amusement of Thursday night’s audience is proof enough of the excellent quality of the bill of fare served. Walter Wills and Roy Binder as custodians of the major part of the fun making, and they fit to a nicety as a team. Mr. Wills carries by far the greater part of the burden of work, and carries it masterly style, throughout a succession of roles which demand versality to an unusual degree in this very difficult business of being a really artistic mirth producer. He is ably abetted by his partner and by the very clever woman, Carrie Dale, who wears the Chinese equivalent of widow’s weeds as the Widow Twankey, and mother of Aladdin.

As a matter of justice, it is due the “Chin Chin” company appearing in Saginaw to stat that in the matter of consistently sustained work and indefatigable effort to please, as well as lively personal interest in the work in hand the aggregation established a record.

Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre – Photo courtesy Don Harrison via Flickr- (CC BY NC-ND/2.0.)

According to the Cann-Leighton Theatrical Guide of 1913-14[viii], the Auditorium was, by far, the largest theatre in Saginaw at the time. Its capacity was over 3,500 compared to 3,274 for the other three theaters in Saginaw combined.[ix] The theater was built in 1908, so it was only 12 years old when “Chin Chin” played there. Seating included 1,859 on the lower floor, 814 in the Balcony, and 820 in the Gallery.

The stage was very large — 50×32 feet. It had six stage pockets and a 10-foot apron.

According to the 1920 Census, Saginaw had a population of 61, 903. A theatre that held over 5½ percent of the entire town’s population was large indeed.

The Auditorium Theatre was closed and demolished in 1972.[x]

Today the site is an AT&T Parking Lot.

Next Show

My known schedule for “Chin Chin” has a two-day gap between the Saginaw show and the Whitney Theater show in Ann Arbor on the 28th.  There were direct connections between Saginaw and Flint, Owosso, Lancing, and Detroit. It is likely the show went to one of those towns before going on to Ann Arbor.

————–  Disclaimer  ————–


Endnotes

[i] Saginaw News Courier (Saginaw, MI) dated February 19, 1920, Page 9. “’Chin Chin’ Coming.” Via Genealogy Bank.

[ii] Saginaw News Courier (Saginaw, MI) dated February 20, 1920, Page 9. “’Chin Chin’—Auditorium.” Via Genealogy Bank.

[iii] Saginaw News Courier (Saginaw, MI) dated February 21, 1920, Page 5. “’Chin Chin’—Auditorium.” Via Genealogy Bank.

[iv] Saginaw News Courier (Saginaw, MI) dated February 22, 1920, Page 12. “’Chin Chin” Via Genealogy Bank.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Apparently, an exaggeration. There were 48 states in the union in 1920.

[vii] Saginaw News Courier (Saginaw, MI) dated February 27, 1920, Page 9. “CHIN CHIN” IS PLEASING TO BIG AUDIENCE By Joseph W. Brady. Via Genealogy Bank.

[viii] Cahn Leighton Theatrical Guide – 1913-1914 – Pages 322, 323 – Saginaw – is available online through Google Books.

[ix] Ibid. (Academy of Music 405, 373, 500, 60 = 1338; Jeffers Theatre 454, 371, 450, 36 = 1311, and Bijou Theatre    625.)

[x] Internet: The Concert Database – Saginaw Auditorium – https://theconcertdatabase.com/venues/saginaw-auditorium