This week for Montran Monday[i], I found two articles from The Chat (Brooklyn, New York). They both appeared to relate to Montrans that lived in Brooklyn. Neither Mr. Montran nor his wife, May, are a likely fit into my Montran Line.
The Chat (Brooklyn, New York) dated 5 December 1908, Page 27. This article is a brief mention that Mr. and Mrs. Montran and daughter attended a 25th wedding anniversary celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Seibert.
The Chat (Brooklyn, New York) dated 30 May 1925, Page 31. This article is a society page paragraph in which Mrs. May Montran attended a meeting of the Maronites’ Society[ii] along with more than 500 Syrians.
The Chat (Brooklyn, New York) Sat, Dec 5, 1908, · Page 27 – Downloaded on July 26, 2019, via Newspapers.com.
The Chat (Brooklyn, New York) · Sat, May 30, 1925, · Page 31 – Downloaded on July 26, 2019, via Newspapers.com
[i] Montran Monday – My grandmother’s father was John Montran. She used the surname, as a young child and again when she began in show business. The name is uncommon and most of the Montrans I see in the newspapers are my grandmother during her early vaudeville career. However, with the constant flow of newly digitized material, I often learn of new articles which contain the Montran name. I pay attention to the finding and try to determine a possible relationship of any Montrans to Donna’s father, John Montran.
[ii] Maronites are a Christian group whose members adhere to the Syriac Maronite Church. A mass emigration from Lebanon and Syria to the Americas occurred in the early 20th century due to famine, blockades, and World War I that resulted in between one-third to one-half of the population. Source: Internet: Wikipedia: Maronites – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maronites
“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertising regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.
This week I received a notification from Newspapers.com that I had 36 new hits on my alerts – 15 from “Montran,” 15 from “Walter Wills” (which suggests “Chin Chin”), and 6 from “Dona/Donna Darling” from seven different newspapers dated between 3 May 1920 and 5 March 1928.
The articles related to six shows during her career. Four of the shows I had previously in my list of Donna’s performances. They were:
Lyceum Theatre, Paterson, PA – May 7 -8 1920 – “Chin Chin.”
Colonial Theatre, Lancaster, PA – April 17, 18, & 19, 1922 – “Special Easter Show.”
Grand Theatre, Saint Louis, MO – July 7-9, 1923 – Donna Darling show.
Majestic Concerts – Brooklyn, NY – Mar 5, 1928 – Donna Darling and Somory [sic] Clark in “The Princess and the King.”
Adding more clippings to what I already had is always good. However, what is particularly cool about the Grand Theatre clipping is that the newspaper that speaks of Donna is written in German. I don’t know what it says. I tried OCRing the words and transcribing the text to no avail. All I really know is that the article mentions “Donna Darling” and was published during the week Donna was in Saint Louis, Mo. Hopefully, someone who reads German and German font will help me out.
The other two venues were new to me.
Fulton Opera House, Lancaster, PA May 29, 1920 – Chin Chin
Keeney’s Theatre – Brooklyn, NY – Aug 1921, Donna Montran.
So, I’ve been able to add two new shows that Donna was a part of. I will add All of these clippings to future venue writeups.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at image DSCN1422 from the Donna Darling Collection. The image consists of four items. Two are articles and two photographs.
1. Keeney’s Livingston, Brooklyn, N. Y.
(Reviewed Thursday Evening, April 8)
… Donna Darling Company., four shapely, pretty misses, in songs and dances in full stage with special drapes, brings the show to a bang-up close. The act opens with three girls dancing, followed by Miss Darling in a song, then a gypsy dance by one of the girls, followed by a toe dance by another of them, and then two of them in a wooden shoe Dutch characterization dance, Miss Darling returning for a Hawaiian dance. A trio then puts over a song after which much applause and a brief announcement preceding a change of costume, Miss Darling presents what she calls Lightening Up the Charleston, done by all four members of the act Garbed in Luminous Costumes that glow when the lights are out. It’s a tricky bit.
JACK F. MURRAY.
April 8th was a Thursday in 1926, so the date is definite. The location and the theater are also given. Hopefully, future research will provide answers for the duration.
I added a new venue added to Donna’s Career: April 8 – Keeney’s Livingston Theater, Brooklyn, NY – Donna Darling Revue.
2. Darling Revue Has Top Place on State Bill
Perhaps it is because this happens to be the season of Lent. Anyway, the vaudeville programs at the State Theater these days are very good and increasing size of audiences at the matinee and evening performances is proof of this assertation.
The Bill this week is no exception. Lead the fine array of talent is the act in which the Darling Revue strive to keep patrons interested. That they succeed was demonstrated in the liberal applause they received yesterday afternoon. Their specialty is singing and dancing. The numbers containing much that is original and enjoyable. The dances include the clog, toe and gypsy steps and the songs are of a varied nature….
I note that the other acts on the bill include the “Metropolitan Trio,” “Love and King,” “Chick & Dog,” and “William & Perry.” “Queen O’ Diamonds” with Evelyn Brent is the feature picture.
“Queen O’ Diamonds” was released on 24 January 1926, which places the show in 1926.[i] Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. In 1926 this was from February 17th to April 4th. Easter was on April 4, 1926.
I haven’t previously found a date for Donna to have been at a State Theater during Lent of 1926.[ii]
New Venue Added: Between 17 Feb 1926 and 4 April 1926 – Unknown Location – State Theater – Darling Revue – DDC-48.
Interestingly the two articles from this page of the Donna Darling Collection were from 1926; however, neither of the photographs are. Both photos are clearly of Donna’s son, Russell. Russell was born in August 1927. In both cases, he appears to be about three years old, so I estimate the photos to be ca. 1930.
One of my favorite documents to find is a Naturalization Record. I was recently researching Oscar Hopfe. Oscar was born in Germany on 12 April 1896 and came to the United States, arriving on 2 November 1911. Luckily, I was able to find a Naturalization Record for him. What a wealth of information. The process for Naturalization has three major steps. First, a person declares an intent to naturalize. Later they petition for naturalization and finally become naturalized by declaring an oath of Allegiance to the United States.
In June, 1914, Oscar filed his letter of intent. He was barber, 5’8” tall, 138 pounds, and he had brown hair and brown eyes. His birthdate of 12 April 1896 was confirmed. He arrived in New York about 2 November 1911 aboard the “President Lincoln.”
Seven years, and World War I, passed before he filed his petition for Naturalization, on 3 February 1921. At that time, he was a Chauffer and was living at 79 Avenue “A.” His dates aboard the President Lincoln were confirmed. Albert Braummer (of Wantagh, L.I.) and Ernst Wolff of 3486 9 st. attested to knowing him to have lived in the United States since 1914.
Three months later, on May 10, 1921, Oscar took the oath of Allegiance.
So many questions and areas to research further. Who else was on the President Lincoln with him? What did Oscar do during the war? Did he sit it out or did he participate somehow? Who were the people who vouched for him? Were they related?
Oscar isn’t a direct-line ancestor, rather, he is the brother of a direct line ancestor. I am researching him, in particular, to see if I can find additional information about their parents, Franz and Hedwig (Hohl) Hopfe.
Hopfe Project 2019 – Brother of Ancestor #4
List of Great’s & Grands
Grandfather: Erdman Max Hopfe
Great-grandfather: Franz Hopfe
Great Uncle: Oscar Hopfe
Oscar Hopfe was born in Blankenburg, Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis, Thüringen, Germany on 12 April 1896. That was same day as the German football club “Hannover 96” was founded. His parents were Franz and Hedwig (Hohl) Hopfe. He had at least two older brothers, Max and Oscar. He was living in Blankenburg when he left for the United States.
Oscar’s older brother, Herman Hopfe, emigrated to the United States in 1903. Another brother, Erdman Max Hopfe, emigrated to the United States in 1906. It appears that Herman returned to Germany and escorted Oscar to the United States in 1911 as they traveled together from Hamburg, Germany aboard the President Lincoln arriving in New York on November 2, 1911. Oscar was 16-years-old.
In June 1914, the 18-year-old Oscar decided to become a US citizen and filed a Declaration of intent. At the time he was living at 259 East 150th Street in the Bronx. He was working as a barber.
The 1915 Census finds Oscar living with his brother Max and family at 317 Central Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
I have found no evidence that Oscar ever married.
In June 1917, when Oscar registered for the draft, he was apparently living across the street from his brother at 314 Central Avenue. He was working as an auto Mechanic at the Leo M Car Co, 70 Albany Ave., about two miles away.
I found no evidence that he served in the war (World War I).
On February 3, 1921, Oscar petitioned for naturalization. He was living at 79 Avenue “A” and he listed his occupation as a chauffeur.
On May 24, 1921, Oscar took the Oath of Allegiance and became a United States Citizen. Within a couple of weeks he applied for a passport with intent to travel to Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy for business. He returned the United States aboard the SS George Washington on October 18, 1921.
I have been unsuccessful in finding Oscar in the 1930 census. He appears to have applied for a social security card in December 1936, but he doesn’t appear in the Social Security death index.
Death & Burial
I have found no record of his death.
Further Actions / Follow-up
The passenger list for Oscar coming to America indicates the address for his father in Germany. I’d like to try to figure out what the address is, but am having a hard time interpreting the writing.
Passenger List indicating Oscar’s Father name and address
Find a record for Oscar’s death.
Research the life of Max & Oscar’s brother, Herman Hopfe.
1915 New York State Census, Ancestry.Com, Max Hope – ED 18, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.
New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924, Family Search, Oscar Hoppe [Hopfe]. “New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JJGY-MM2 : 30 January 2018), Oscar Hoppe, 1911.
New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1940, Com, Oscar Hopfe . The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 206. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/2499/records/3852025.
Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.Com, Oscar Hopfe. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.
United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925, Family Search, Oscar Hopfe – Passport Application # 42006 – Ancestry. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1628; Volume #: Roll 1628 – Certificates: 42000-42375, 26 May 1921- 27 May 1921 – Accessed 20 May 2019.
United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Family Search, Oscar Hopfe. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXY2-GB9 : 13 March 2018), Oscer Hopfe, 1917-1918; citing New York City no 72, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,754,600.
As an “official blogger” at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC 2019), I had the opportunity to interview one of the conference speakers. I plan to attend two of Melissa Johnson’s lectures, and thought it would be nice to know more about her and some of her thoughts about genealogy.
Melissa is a professional genealogist specializing in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania research, using DNA test results, genealogical writing, forensic genealogy, and lineage society applications. Her presentations at NERGC 2019 include:
F-104: Demystifying Genealogical Terminology (Beginner)
F-117: Go Paperless! Organizing Your Genealogical Research (All Levels)
S-121 Writing Your Family History (Workshop, Intermediate)
Don: Your website indicates that you specialize in lineage society applications. What do you think are the most significant benefits of becoming a member of a lineage society?
Melissa: I am not a member of any lineage societies, so I can only speak to the reasons why my clients want to join them. Most of my clients want to become involved in society. Whether it’s the DAR, SAR, Descendants of the Founders of New Jersey, or another group, there are volunteer positions and different types of events that people can become involved in. Some of my other clients want to document their ancestral lines and the people who qualify them for membership in the society, So, in terms of the benefits, it really depends on the person. If I were ever to join a lineage society, I would do it mostly to have my lineage on record for future generations.
Don: Your bio mentions that you specialize in “forensic genealogy.” What exactly is forensic genealogy?
Melissa: Forensic Genealogy is genealogy as it pertains to the law. For example, if someone dies without a will, researching to identify their next of kin, would fall under forensic genealogy. So would any type of genealogical research that is part of a civil or criminal case. Also, research to move forward with a process that changes your legal status, such as dual citizenship, is categorized as forensic genealogy. Obtaining dual citizenship makes you a citizen of another country because it changes your legal status. Another example is a person who is applying to become a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe. That process changes a person’s race (and thus, their legal status). All those types of research fall under forensic genealogy. The use of DNA in genealogy can also fall under forensic genealogy—for example, if an individual seeks to identify their biological parents after an adoption (a legal process) took place.
Don: Interesting. It makes me wonder if all genealogists shouldn’t endeavor to treat their research as a forensic genealogist, in that they should approach their research as if they have no personal interest in the results or the findings.
Melissa: That can be a good approach. It is always good to go into a research project without any bias, but it’s often hard to do that when it’s our own family and when we think we know something about an ancestor we’ve heard it so many times before. It’s also good to treat all of your research as seriously as a forensic genealogist would. Our reports, affidavits, and exhibits are often brought before a court, so you always want them to be your absolute best work. All researchers should make sure that they are meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard.
Don: DNA testing for genealogical purposes is now very popular in the genealogy field. There is much discussion about DNA testing; my question is, when should a person not test?
Don: I am the illegitimate son of an illegitimate daughter of an illegitimate daughter. As such, I firmly believe that the truth is always better than lies or confusion. I know many people say they don’t want to know the truth if it disagrees with their current world view. Today, many genealogical ethicists seem to promote only sharing findings if they don’t “hurt” anyone. What are your thoughts about that issue?
Melissa: Many people are being provided with new information, especially as a result of DNA testing. Some of the surprises I mentioned, such as finding out that one or both parents is not biologically related, could surprise many parties—the child, the parent, the parent’s spouse, the parent’s other children—for example. Each scenario is different and there are many viewpoints and feelings to consider, and if there isn’t a cut-and-dry sort of answer in terms of making these findings public information. It depends on the situation. It’s always good for a researcher to take a step back, look at all the parties involved, and think about how the news might impact everyone. There are lots of ways to share new findings—publicly and privately within a family, published formally or informally, or published with pieces of information redacted. The impacts on all living people should be considered.
Don: What do you think is the best, or most desirable, way to preserve genealogical work for future generations?
Melissa: Writing up your research is definitely the best way. This can be done in many different ways. Some people have blogs with tons of information about their family. Blogs are great because they’re searchable, and someone who is searching for their great-great-grandfather can find that distant cousin’s blog and connect with them. You can also write up your research more formally—some genealogists have written several volumes of books on specific families. There are also other options—researchers can write a short article about an ancestor or an interesting problem for a genealogy magazine. Writing also doesn’t have to be formally published—it can be placed in a file in your local historical society. Writing is the way to go, no matter the format you choose. recommend that everyone writes up some part of their research for future generations. On Saturday at NERGC, I’ll be teaching a workshop that talks about options for how to write up your research.
Don: Excellent. I’m looking forward to it. Your workshop is on my list of things to attend at the conference. I appreciate your participating in this interview. Thank you so much.