Ancestor Sketch – Marie Louise Polk

Bradley-Hingston Project
Bradley-Taylor-Polk Line
By Don Taylor


Marie Louise Polk was born in Jan 1864 in Arkansas to John Widener Polk and Anna Eliza Kean. She had four siblings[i], Anna, Magdalen, John, and Mary. On 17 January 1887, when she was 23, she married William S Taylor, the son of Jacob H Taylor and Rebecca L Pittman, in a ceremony by J. J. Kennedy at St. Joseph Church in Jackson, Missouri. She died on 18 July 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 39 years of age.

Bradley-Hingston Project – Ancestor #BH-11


    • Grandmother: Magdalen Polk Taylor(1890-1970)
    • 1st Great-grandmother: Marie Louisa Polk (1864-1903)
    • 2nd Great-grandfather: John Widener Polk (1820-1902) [ii]
    • 3rd Great-grandfather: Robert Tyler Polk (____-____)

Life Events

Different records record Marie with several first names, Maria, Marie, and Mary. Also, some records indicate her middle name as Louisa and some Louise. I have selected Marie Louise as preferred.


Marie Louise Polk was born in January 1864 in Arkansas. That is shortly after the fall of Little Rock to the Union and before establishing a new Union government. Marie’s father was called “Colonel” in several documents. Also, her siblings were born in several states, suggesting regular moving as might be expected of a military officer. I’ll know more when I research Col. John Widener Polk in further detail.

Children of  and John Widener and Anna Eliza (Kean) Polk

Name Born Where born
Magdalen Tasker c. 1859 Maryland
Anna c. 1861 Missouri
Marie Louise Jan 1864 Arkansas
John c. 1866 Tennessee
Mary c. 1868 Missouri

1870 Census

For the John Polk family, the 1870 Census reflects one of the few times I’ve seen a family enumerated twice in the Census but very different locations.

Independence, Jackson, Missouri Wea, Miami, Kansas
John Polk, Age 52, born in Indiana John Polk, Age 50, born in Kentucky
Anna Polk, age 34, born in Kentucky Anna E Polk, Age 34, born Kentucky
Tascar Polk, age 11, born in Missouri Tascar Polk, age 12, born in Missouri
Anna Polk, age 9, born in Missouri Anna Polk, age 9, born in Missouri
Maria Polk, age 6, Born in Arkansas Maria Polk, age 6, born in Arkansas
John Polk, age 4, born in Tennessee John Polk, age 4, born in Tennessee
Mary Polk, age 2, born in Missouri Mary Polk, age 2, born in Missouri

The enumeration date for the Missouri location was 28 June 1870.
The enumeration date for the Kansas location was 20 June 1870

The differences between the two census locations are minimal. John’s age is two years different, and his birth location shifts between Indiana and Kentucky. The only other difference is that Tascar is a year older, eight days between the two Censuses. I suspect that John provided the information for one of the censuses and Anna provided for the second one.

1880 Census

In 1880, Marie lived with her sister, Madeline, and her husband, A. C. Buell, in Washington DC. The sixteen-year-old is attending school. With them are Mr. Buell’s two children, Rudolph and Augusta, ages 1 and 0, respectively. Also living with the family are two servants. Also of interest is that the Census taker reported that Madeline’s parents were born in LA and KY, while her sister’s parents were reported as being born in LA and MO. This confuses the birth locations of their parents, particularly their father.


Marie Louise Polk married William S Taylor in a ceremony by J. J. Kennedy at St. Joseph Church in Jackson County, Missouri, on 17 January 1887. After their marriage, they located to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Children of William S Taylor and Marie Louise Polk

Name Born Married Died
Dorothy 2 January 1888, P George A Rankin 1977 VA
John Polk July 1889, NY N/A (died at 20) 1909 VA
Magdalen Polk 31 December 1890, NJ Arthur Wilson Bradley 1970 VA

1900 Census

Marie was enumerated in two different Census locations, Philadelphia, PA, and Cape May, NJ.

Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Cape May, Cape May, New Jersey
William Taylor, age 43, born in Dec 1856 in Penn. William Taylor, age 40, born Dec 1859 in PA
Maria Taylor, age 35, Born Jan 1865, Penn. Maria Taylor, age 36, born Jan 1864, Arkansas
Dorothy, age 12, Born Jan 1888, Penn. Dorothy, age 12, born Jan 1888, Pennsylvania
John, age 10, born Jul 1889, New York John, age 10, born Jul 1889, New York
Madaline, age 9, born Dec 1890, New Jersey Madaline, age 9, born Dec 1890, New Jersey

Again, the difference between the two censuses is discrepancies in the ages of William and Maria and where Maria was born. In New Jersey, they have a border, 80-year-old John W. Polk. Marie’s father, John Widener Polk, was born about 1820 in either Indiana, Tennessee, or Kentucky. This census says he was born in Kentucky, so it fits that the “boarder” was really William’s father-in-law.

The Philadelphia enumeration indicates that the entire family were boarders, someplace on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Living with them was a 30-year-old Servant, Margaret Raby.

Death/Burial, etc.

Marie Louise (Polk) Taylor died on 18 July 1903; she was 39 years old. She was interred at Westminster Cemetery[iii] (Bala Cynwyd Community) in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, PA.

Events by Location

  • Arkansas        1864 (Birth)
  • District of Columbia, Washington – 1880
  • Kansas, Miami, Wea  – 1870[iv]
  • Missouri, Jackson, Independence – 1870, 1887 (Marriage)
  • New Jersey, Cape May, Cape May – 1900[v]
  • Pennsylvania, Montgomery, Lower Merion – 1903 (Burial)
  • Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Philadelphia – 1900, 1903 (Death)

Further Research

In 1880, Marie was living with her brother-in-law A. C. Buell in Washington, DC. Mr. Buell is a journalist. Research to see if he is a celebrity or otherwise famous.

In 1880, Marie attended school in Washington DC; research into what school she attended.


  • 1870 Census, NARA, 1870 – John Polk – Independence, Jackson, Missouri. “United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 29 May 2021), John Polk, 1870.
  • 1870 Census, NARA, 1870 – John W Polk – Wea, Miami, Kansa. “United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 28 May 2021), John W Polk, 1870.
  • 1880 Census, NARA, 1880 – A C Buell – Washington, DC. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 19 February 2021), A C Buell, Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, United States; citing enumeration district ED 24, sheet 28A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,122.
  • 1900 Census, 1900 Census – William S Tayler, Jr – New Jersey, Cape May, Middletownship, Angelsea borough, Wildwood borough, Avalon Borough. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 August 2018), William S Tayler Jr., Middle Township Angelsea borough, Wildwood borough, Avalon Borough, Rio Grande Village, Cape May, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 107, sheet 12A, family 308, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,960.
  • 1900 Census, 1900 Census – William S Taylor, et al. – Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 9, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0159; FHL microfilm: 1241455.
  • Find a Grave Memorial, Find a Grave, Magdalen T. Bradley (1890-1970). Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 25 August 2018), memorial page for Magdalen T. Bradley (31 December 1890–24 November 1970), Find A Grave Memorial no. 182390190, citing Lawnview Cemetery, Rockledge, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by DAO (contributor 47943782).
  • Find a Grave Memorial, Find a Grave, Marie Polk Taylor – Memorial 94300773. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 29 October 2021), memorial page for Marie Polk Taylor (1863–1903), Find a Grave Memorial ID 94300773, citing Westminster Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Shiva (contributor 47163650).
  • Jackson County, Missouri, US Marriage Records, 1826-2014, Jackson County, MO – Official Website, William Taylor & Marie Polk – 17 January 1887.
  • 1887-01-23 – Page 9 – Taylor-Polk (Marriage)., Kansas City Times, Kansas City, Missouri, online images (
  • Missouri, US, Marriage Records, 1805-2002 (Maine State Archives), Ancestry.Com, Marriage – William S Taylor & Marie Louise Polk. Missouri State Archives; Jefferson City, MO, USA; Missouri Marriage Records [Microfilm].
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. – 1903-07-21, Page 7 – Maria Louisa Polk Taylor – Death. Newspapers.Com.,
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915 (Philadelphia City Archives), Ancestry.Com, Marie Polk Taylor – Died 18 July 1903. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  • Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987, Various, Virginia, U.S., Death Records, 1912-2014 for Dorothy Rankin. 1977 > 13000-13499 – State File Number 77-913324 (Image 325 of 500).
  • Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014 (Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Department of Health), Ancestry.Com, Magdalen T. Bradley.


[i] I have confirmed four siblings. Several other researchers indicate she had many more siblings, however, I have not confirmed them. I expect I will when I research Maria’s parents John Widener and Anna (Kean) Polk.

[ii] I have not researched the ancestors of Maria Louise Polk and any date here about them is speculative.

[iii] I have requested a photo of her marker/memorial via Find-a-Grave.

[iv] Marie was enumerated in both Kansas and Missouri during the 1870 Census.

[v] Marie was enumerated in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the 1900 Census.

William Taylor & the 1880 Census

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor


In my Bradley-Hingston Project, I’ve been researching William S. Taylor (1856-1928). For my genealogical “first pass” research for an ancestor, I attempt to find vital records, birth, death, and marriages. I also try to find the individual in all of the available Census records during their life.  In William Taylor’s case, I have not successfully found him in either the 1880 or the 1910 Censuses.

William was born on 29 December 1856 in Taylorsville[i], Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Jacob H. and Rebecca L. (Pittman) Taylor. He appears in the 1860 and 1870 Censuses living with his parents as expected. During the 1870 Census, the 13-year-old William was attending school, as were all his school-age siblings, which means he could likely read and write.

In 1887, William married Maria Louisa Polk at St. Joseph Church in Jackson County, Missouri. That he was in Missouri is significant because it shows that William traveled across the country sometime between 1870 and 1887. He located back in the Philadelphia area with Maria by 1900, showing considerable mobility.

Review of the 1880 Census

A Search of Family Search for William Taylor, born in Pennsylvania in 1857, yielded 14 results.

  • William H. Taylor lived in Westport, Clinton, PA, with his mother, Sarah A. Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William C. Taylor lived in Spring City, Chester, PA, with his Father, Samuel A. Taylor. Wrong father
  • William Taylor lived in Indiana, PA, with his mother, Margret Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William M. Taylor was living in Saltsburg, Indiana County, PA. Race Mulatto. Wrong Race.
  • William Taylor was living in Dauphin County, PA, with his brother-in-law Armstead Lee. Armstead’s wife was named Mary. William did not have a sister named Mary, so this can’t be the correct William.
  • William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, with his wife Elizabeth and son William (under 1). William’s parents were born in Ireland. Wrong birthplace for Parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Wayne County, PA, with his mother, Zilpha. Wrong mother.
  • William Taylor was living in Lewisburg, Union County, PA. Race Black.
  • William Taylor was living in Philadelphia, PA, with his parents William and Elizabeth. Wrong parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Philadelphia, PA, with his mother, Elmire Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William A. Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, with his parents Samuel W. and Mary A. Taylor. Wrong parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri. His race is black. Also, his parents were both born in Virginia. The wrong person.
  • There was a (first name blank) Taylor living in Beaufort, South Carolina. A closer look at the census reveals that this person was black.
  • Finally, a William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, as a boarder at 34 Lancaster, Philadelphia. Single, His occupation was “P.R.R Co’s Men.” Over 20 men were boarding there, all of whom were P.R.R. Co’s Men.[ii] (I presume “P.R.R” to be the Pennsylvania Railroad.[iii])
William Taylor in the 1880 Census – Philadelphia, PA – ED 485, Page 4 – via Family Search

This appears to be the only William Taylor that could be the William Taylor I am looking for. This determination conflicts with several other researchers; however, I am quite certain this is the correct William Taylor. Additionally, it provides a simple explanation about how William could have gone west to meet Maria, who was from Arkansas, marry her in Missouri, and remove to Philadelphia by 1900. He worked for the Railroad.

This look at the 1880 Census shed light that there were four other 23-year-old William Taylor’s living in the Philadelphia area.

    1. William A. Taylor, son of Samuel W. and Mary A. Taylor.
    2. William Taylor, son of William and Elizabeth Taylor.
    3. William Taylor, son of Elmire Taylor.
    4. William Taylor, son of Irish immigrants and married to Elizabeth with a son William.

It will be crucial to distinguish my William Taylor from these other William Taylors as I continue my William Taylor research.


In 1880, William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, and boarded at 34 Lancaster. He lived and worked with many other employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 


[i] Taylorsville is now Washington Crossing, an unincorporated village in Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. (About 30 miles north of Philadelphia and 8 miles upstream of Trenton.

[ii] Family Search “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( 13 November 2020), Wm. Taylor in the household of J. L. Worrell, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, British Colonial America; citing enumeration district ED 485, sheet 33B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,182.

[iii] The Pennsylvania Railroad operated was established in 1846 and operated until 1968.

Chin-Chin – Wilkes-Barre – May 4, 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on 4 May 1920.


“Chin Chin” played at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown on the 3rd and cast and crew headed the 60 plus miles north to Wilkes-Barre.


Advertising for the show began a week before with a page 3 photo and both a display and a short writeup telling the readers about the coming show. Eventually, three papers[i] would all let the people about the show.

It must have been a big deal to play at the Grand Opera House. It was one of the few theaters at the time that hadn’t added silent films to their schedule and remained a strictly live theater establishment. Advertising copy was upscale and thoughtful. For example, “‘Chin Chin’ at the Grand” spoke about the popular translation of The Thousand Nights and One Night, translated by John Payne, even though “Chin Chin” only used the concept of many stories in one and not having a plot.

Sadly, Donna was never called out specifically, although some of the songs she sang were mentioned as part of the “Musically Rich Show.”[ii]

Post Show Info

I still have not determined where Donna and Chin Chin played on May 5th or May 6th, but by May 7th, they were 140 miles east to Patterson, New York.

Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA

I have never had such a difficult time learning about a theatre as I have in learning about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I’ve been unable to find photographs or postcards of the venue. I cannot even find a reliable source for its build date. Certainly, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1891 shows that the Theatre was NOT there.  Likewise, the 1892 City Directory doesn’t mention the Opera House as either a “Hall” or by address. However, the 1893 City Directory does indicate that the Theatre was there at 13 South Franklin and that Moses Burgunder was the manager. So, I believe that the Opera House was probably built in 1892.

The Joseph Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory for 1921 reported that the theater seated 1290 people, 464 on the main floor, 280 in the Balcony, 500 in the Gallery, and 46 in box sets.

Specifications for the Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Proscenium opening: 36×34 ft
Front to back wall: 36 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Apron 2 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 60 ft
To fly gallery: 38 ft
and there were 12 Dressing rooms

I have been unsuccessful in determining what happened to theater, although I know that it has been demolished.

Today the site is a parking lot.

Further Research

I have contacted several organizations in hopes to learn more about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I will incorporate that information when I learn more. 


[i] The Evening News, The Wilkes-Barre Record, and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

[ii] The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Mon, May 3, 1920 · Page 5, “At the Grand.”


Donna Montran – Lyric Theatre, Allentown, PA – 3 May 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania on 3 May 1920

 The cast of “Chin Chin” arrived in Allentown on May 2nd. Some of the cast, including Donna, performed at a church benefit “Sacred Concert” that night. (See post.) On Monday, the cast and crew continued with their regular schedule with a performance at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, PA.

Preshow Advertising

The earliest advertisement I’ve found for the show was on Saturday, April 24th. It said:

“Chin Chin.”

The Morning Call – 23 Apr 1920, Page 10.

Seven gorgeous settings make up the stupendous production of Chas. Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which is scheduled to appear at the Lyric or the evening of May 3rd.

In this musically rich show such numbers as “Violet,” “The Grey Moon,” “The Love Moon,” “Good Bye Girls, I’m Through,” and the comedy song “Go Gar Sig Gong-Ju” always receive spontaneous applause.

The riot of fun, feast of music, bevy of feminie ????ity with pret-dresses, swift and grotesque dancing, lots of prankish amusement including Tom Brown’s Clown Band as the famous Saxophone Sextette, promises a most enjoyable entertainment.

Additional articles on April 27th and 28th, further described the show, Walter Wills and Roy Binder are in the lead. The show has practically no plow. In the first act, Aladdin and Violet Bond and the remaining acts occur because of the lamp found in the tea shop of Widow Twankey. The show makes you think you “awakened in a Hong Kong dream bazaar.”

On the 29th, we see our first display ad for the show. That ad was carried on in subsequent display ads.

The day of the show, besides the display ad there was a short article:

“Chin Chin”

Chas. Dillingham’s famous musical comedy, “Chin Chin” comes to the Lyric this evening. Do you remember when you were just a tiny chap, how you would read the “Thousand and One Nights” or the wonderful adventures of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “Sinbad, the Sailor.” And all the rest of those fascinating characters, and how from out of them all emerged “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” as the prime adventure of them all? And now Alladin—a very modern Alladin—very much in love with an American girl appears in Charles Dillinghan’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Lyric for just one performance. In this musical concoction everything comes Aladdin’s way upon wishing and rubbing the wonderful lamp, thereby causing many strange and wonderful situations.

Walter Wills and Roy Binder, as the two slaves of the lamp keep the audience in constant laughter through seven scenes and the three acts that cover one hundred and fifty minutes of the most enjoyable fun.


There were no published show reviews.

Post Show Info

The next stop for the show was the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre for a Tuesday performance.

The Lyric Theatre

Photo of the Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA ca. 1905.
Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA ca. 1905

Originally built as a Central Market in 1896, it was converted to a theater in 1899 and named the “Lyric Theater” as the result of a naming contest.

During World War 1, the theatre was updated to be able to show films. In the early 1920s, the theater went back to be being the showplace for vaudeville. That is when “Chin Chin” played there.

1920 Specifications for the Lyric Theatre, Allentown, PA[i]

Capacity: 1369 — 624 floor, 337 Balcony, 400 Gallery, 8 Boxes

Proscenium opening: 32×29 ft
Front to back wall: 40 ft
Between side walls: 70 ft
Apron 2.5 ft
Between fly girders: 50 ft
To rigging loft: 64 ft
To fly gallery: 27 ft
14 Dressing rooms

Nearby Hotels: Allen, La Fayette

Newspapers & circulation

    • Chronicle 5,900
    • Item 6,275
    • Democrat 3,600
    • Reader  3,500
    • Call, 10,652
    • Welt-Bote (German) 7,000

What happened to the theater.

During the Depression, the theater stayed alive by hosting boxing matches and burlesque shows. During the 1940s the theater became a mixed venue acting as a home for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and burlesque. In 1959, the theater was saved by Donald and Sam Miller from becoming a parking lot when they purchased the building and renamed it the “Allentown Symphony Hall.”

Major restoration projects began in 1991, 2006, and 2011 saved the deteriorating building from becoming a parking lot.


Photo of Miller Symphony Hall (formerly the Lyric Theatre) in Allentown, PA
Miller Symphony Hall (formerly the Lyric Theatre) in Allentown, PA. Photo by Ken Roe, 2015 via CinemaTreasures.Org

In 2012 the name was changed to Miller Symphony Hall and the theater is in operation today with music and stage productions.




[i] The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914, Page 563, Allentown.

Donna at Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA – 2 May 1920

Donna and members of “Chin Chin” supported a “Sacred Concert” at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on 2 May 1920

I might have missed that my grandmother, Donna, helped a “Sacred Concert” at the Lyric Theater on Sunday, May 2nd, 1920, because the newspaper so mangled her surname, “Maritram.” Luckily, they mentioned “Chin Chin,” so I was able to discover a series of articles about how some of the cast of “Chin Chin” performed for a Sacred Concert.

The cast of “Chin Chin” played at Mannoy City on April 30th. I don’t know if the show played somewhere on May 1st, but I now know that the cast moved on to Allentown and was able to support a concert on Sunday evening, May 2nd.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 26 April 1920


On next Sunday evening the members, friends and well wishers of St. Catherine’s new Catholic church will enjoy a sacred concert which is to be held in the Lyric Theatre. A program thoroughly in keeping with the day and the cause will be carried out. The talent to appear will in the main be composed of professional entertainers, close friends of the men in charge of the affair, who will journey here to lend their aid in proper entertainment and assist in the commenting of the citizens in general. It is to be a gathering of citizens, regardless of creed or class of worship, you are invited to enjoy this music, song and reading festival the program of which is at once entertaining and of a distintive quality.

Prominent among the many artists, more than fifty have so far volunteered, appear the names of the famous Tom Brown saxophone sextette; Alfred Hoffman, cellist, who will be remembered by those who witnessed the performance given by Chauncey Olcott a few weeks ago. (Mr.  Hoffmn will journey from Pittsburgh and will arrive here in time for his contribution); Francis Leedom Hess, a humorous reader of prominence, John Devlin in a like number, Mr. English Cody, tenor, Miss Donna Maritram [sic], prima donna, members of the Charles Eillingham’s [sic] “Chin Chin” company, and an orchestra composed of twelve musicians form a partial list of the ladies and gentlemen who have volunteered their services. The complete program will be announced in a few days.

Invitations and reservations of seats for the occasion will be made ready at the Lyric box office on Wednesday and thereafter.

On Thursday, before the show, the Morning Call had the following article:

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 29 April 1920


The Spring music and song festival to be held in the Lyric on Sunday evening under the suspices of St. Catherine’s new Catholic church gives every evidence of being one of the most appropriate and pleasing affairs given in the city in some time.

The musical part of the program seems to have been selected with great care. Conspicuous in the listing of events appear the twelve musicians who will comprise the stringed instrument orchestra, Tom Brown’s saxophone sextet, from the “Chin Chin” company; Alfred Hoffman, ‘cellist, from Chauncey Olcott’s company; Mr. English Cody, Tenor and Miss Donna Montram [sic], prima donna with the “Chin Chin” company; John Devlin, humorist; Frances Leedem Hess, reader; Carl Wallender, violinist; a quartet composed of the fine voices of William Morrison, William Porter, George Reese and Clarence Reinert, will render selections.

Another local quartet of much ability, comprising the voices of Robert L. Wheeler, baritone; Wesley hawk, bass; Harold Snyder, first tenor, and Allen Conrad, second tenor, will contribute toward the making of this nothing short of a grand concert. The orchestra will be under the direction of Donald Voorhees.

Prospective patrons are requested to attend to the matter of securing reservations without delay.

The Saturday Morning Call has a short article, SPRINGTIME CONCERT AT LYRIC SUNDAY NIGHT,  that mentioned “Donna Montram.” [sic]

Monday, after the concert, there was an excellent article about the Sunday night concert. It called out Donna specifically.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 3 May 1920


Large Audience Delighted With High-Class Numbers on Program

A large audience last evening gathered in the lyric theatre to witness the splendid program that featured the spring time concert that was given under the auspices of the membership of St. Catherine’s Catholic church, the new congregation that has lately sprung up in the western part of the city. It was a program composed largely of musical numbers and with interspersed with reading apropos to the occasion; in fact, it was a program that was pleasing to even the skeptical and most fastidious. The proceeds of the affair are to be used as a part of the building fund for the new church.

A number of the members of the “Chin Chin” company, which plays at the Lyric tonight, assisted greatly in the make-up of the program. The success of the affair is due largely to the willingness with which these performers, as well as the others on the program, volunteered their services for this occasion. Included in the personnel from the company on the program was Miss Donna Montram, the prima donna, who favored with a beautiful vocal solo, and as an encore sand a selection of her own composition entitled “My Mother.” The latter part of the program was ably held down by Tom Brown’s Saxaphone Band. Their performance attested to this fact. Another member of the company on the program was English Cody, who gave a vocal selection.

Alfred Hoffman, cellist for the Chauncey Olcott company, played the Irish Fantasy, his own composition, and later delighted with the “Nocturne” and “The Rosary.” Carl Wallander, leader of the Lyric Orchestra, gave a violin solo. Meditation from Hais; John Devlin delighted with a number of humorous stories. Humorous impersonations of two ladies trying to buy theatre tickets were given by Frances Leedom Hess, of Philadelphia.

Selections were given by a male quartet, composed of R. R. L. Wheeler, baritondl Wesley Hawk, bass; Edward Hagenbuch, first tenor, and Harvey Snyder, second tenor. The Aeolian Quartette, of this city, also favored with several selections. The member of this quartet are Wm. Morrison, first tenor; William Porter, second tenor; George Rees, baritone; Clarence Reinert, bass, and So. W. Unger, accompanist. The members of the orchestra, who rendered several selections, interspersing the other numbers are as follows, Donald Voorhees, conductor Messrs. Wallander, Wavrek, Hoffman, Schatlein, Heintzleman, Wavrek, Brian, Meyers, Schlicher and Schaffer.

Donna registered her song, “Beautiful Mother of Mine,” in 1923. Could this “My Mother” song of hers be an earlier version of “Beautiful Mother of Mine,” or could it be a here-to-for unknown song written by Donna before May 1920.  I’ll continue looking for the music of Donna.

St. Catharine’s Catholic Church

St. t. Catharine Chapel, 1920-1927 – Photo courtesy St. Catharine of Siena website

In October 1919, Rev. John C. Phelan was appointed founder and first rector of a new parish in Allentown. A month later they purchased land, with a house, and set to convert the home to a rectory and acted as a temporary place of worship. In November, they celebrated Mass in the new rectory; by the end of the month, they performed their first marriage.

By the spring of 1920, the parishioners began converting a stable and carriage house into a chapel. The concert to help raise money for the church took place in May 1920. By September, thy completed the carriage house conversion to a chapel. The chapel served the parishioners until 1927 when a new church and school were built.[iv]

I’m proud that Donna helped, through her talents, to raise money to build a new Catholic church in Allentown.

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at


[i] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · Mon, Apr 26, 1920, · Page 5  – “Sacred Concert at the Lyric on Sunday Night,” via Newspapers.Com

[ii] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · 29 Apr 1920, Thu · Page 5 – “Music and Song Festival for the benefit of Church,” via Newspapers.Com.

[iii] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · Mon, May 3, 1920, · Page 5 – “Sunday Concert is Enjoyable Affair – Large Audience Delighted with High-Class Numbers on Program, via Newspapers.Com.

[iv] “A History of St. Catharine of Siena Parish (Allentown, PA)” – 2020. Cathedral-Church.Org. Accessed January 29, 2020.


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