Donna Darling Collection – Part 27 – Three Colonial Theaters

Three Colonial Theaters
Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at several vaudeville clippings from three different pages of the Donna Darling Collection. All of them relate to the Colonial Theater. One to the Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. The second one the Colonial Theater in Washington DC, and the third Colonial theater in Detroit, MI. Determining the various locations and dates was challenging but led to new words for my vocabulary and some amazing finds.

Lancaster, PA – Colonial Theater

The first venue was easy to analyze. Donna wrote on the clipping “Lancaster Pa Apr. 15.” It appears that she also wrote “Intelligence.” but I have no idea what that might mean in this context.

DD Collection – Scan 0107

Colonial – Keith Vaudeville – Best in the World
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—April 17, 18, 19

Special Easter Show
Miss Donna Daring and Co….
Bruce Morgan and Tom Moran,

Valentine Vox,
Transfield Sisters,
[Movie] “Haunted Spooks: A Two-reel Lloyd Comedy…

Article: "Program at Colonial Starts with Whirl"
DDC – Scan 0107

PROGRAM AT COLONIAL
STARTS WITH WHIRL

Yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s program at the Colonial Theatre, opened with a whirl at last evening’s show. “A Song, A Dance and a Cocktail,” was the feature of the show. Miss Dona Darling eclipsed the limelight in brightness, wit and personality of exceptional quality combined with a vein of rascality that had the audience in constant bursts of amusement.

The rest of the program….

Analysis

Donna Darling and Company was a show that she had during 1922. A quick check of a 1922 calendar confirmed that April 17th, 18th, and 19th, were Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in 1922. Then on Cinema Treasures, I confirmed that there was once a Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. It opened before 1914 and later became the Boyd Theater. Besides the newspaper ad there were two short write-ups regarding the show.  This was a new date and location for me. Of particular interest is that the newspaper clearly says, “Donna Daring.”  This is a new search parameter for me to use in the future.

Washington, DC – Colonial Theater

Image of newspaper clipping - Colonial Theatre
Donna Darling Collection – Scan 0073

Colonial Theater – Two Shows 2 P.M., 7:30
Tom Rooney Presents
Donna Montran and Her California Bathing Beauties
presenting “A Classy Beach Promenade”
An Up to the Minute Musical Tabloid
A Carload of Scenery and Fetching Costumes

Also, on the bill:

Little Dolly Dimples and her “Man O’ Wars Man”
Taylor & Brown – Daring Doings
Herbert Trainor – Pleasing Magic
Davis & Kidaire “Make ‘em Smile Boys”
[Movie] Alice Calhoun Vtagraph [sic] Favorite in Princess Jones (6 Parts)

Analysis

The second clipping was dated March 15th. Donna still went by Montran and she did her California Bathing Beauties in 1921. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of March 1921 were the 14th, 15th, and 16th. Her mentioning it was the Washington papers that the ad ran in, tightens the location to the Colonial Theater in Washington, DC.

Detroit, MI – Colonial Theater

Image of newspaper clipping "Featured in Vaudeville" from about 19 December 1926.
Donna Darling Collection – Scan 1451

Featured in Vaudeville

The following features are announced for the week by the leading vaudeville houses:

Temple –May Wirth….

Colonial – A beautifully stages singing and dancing act in a futuristic version of the nether regions[ii], offered by Donna Darling, former Follies performer, is to headline the vaudeville. Miss Darling and Sammy Clark are both well known stars of terpischore[iii] and are assisted in the act by Barring, Lazure and Hal Dixon. Other acts include….  The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.

Analysis

This third clipping confused me a bit. I misread the last sentence which says, “The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.”  I misread that it to mean the special show was while Donna was playing there. I searched and searched for a place that had both a Temple Theater and a Colonial Theater. I could only find two places, Chicago and Detroit. Being in Detroit during the holidays made sense as Donna’s mother lived there. I found she played at the Palace Theater in Rockford during Christmas and at the Orpheum in Des Moines in New Years. During my search I used many new search parameters to look for Donna. I ended up finding well over a hundred new dates and venues. It was truly amazing what I found. I have added the new dates and venues to my Donna Montran page.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the note regarding a New Year’s Eve show doesn’t apply to Donna’s show.

Conclusion

Three new dates and venues directly identified because of Donna’s Colonial Theater clippings.

  1. Mar 14-16, 1921 – Washington, DC – Colonial Theatre – Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties. DDC Part 27
  2. April 17-19, 1922 – Lancaster, PA – Colonial – Donna Daring and Co., DDC Part 27
  3. December 19, 1926 – Detroit, Michigan – Colonial – Donna Darling Revue – DDC Part 27 –  Also see: Genealogy Bank

There were also over 100 new dates and performance venues I discovered while doing this research. They have been applied to the Donna Montran Vaudeville Page.


Genealogy Bank was used extensively during this research.


Follow-up

Further search my newspaper sources for “Donna Daring.”

ENDNOTES

[i] I have cropped and sized all images for the web – Original scan’s available.

[ii] Wikipedia – Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering

[iii] [sic] “terpischore” should be terpsichore – Wikipedia – In Greek mythology, Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkəriː/; Τερψιχόρη) “delight in dancing” was one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus. She lends her name to the word “terpsichorean” which means “of or relating to dance”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsichore

 

Donna Darling Collection – Part 25

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection

I have cropped and resized this photo for the web.

I love Google Search.  A quick search for “ *stnut “Opera House” *nbury “ quickly found the Chestnut Street Opera House in Sunbury, PA. The clipping from Donna’s collection provides the other information.

  • The venue is the Chestnut St. Opera House in Sunbury, PA
  • The date was February 6, 7, & 8, 1922.
  • The show is “Miss Donna Darling”
  • Also on bill
    • Lane & Whelan
    • Coogan & Casey
    • Jones & Crumley
  • The theater was part of the B. F. Keith’s Vaudeville.

Conclusion

Added another new venue for Donna – February (6, 7, & 8) 1924 – “Donna Darling Presenting Her Newest Vaudeville Revue,” at the Chestnut Street Opera House in Sunbury, PA.

Donna & “Chin Chin” play Franklin Opera House – 12 Mar 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Franklin Opera House in Franklin, Pennsylvania on March 12, 1920

Ad for Franklin Opera House, showing "Chin Chin" is coming, Friday Mar. 12th 1920
Franklin Opera House, Friday Mar. 12th – “Chin Chin”

“Chin Chin” came to the Franklin Opera House for a show on March 12th, 1920. It had played at the Lyceum Theater in Rochester, NY, sometime during the week of March 5th. I am not sure where the show was during the week between Rochester, NY, and Franklin, PA.

Ad showing Walter Wills, Roy Bender, & key cast members of "Chin Chin"

Preshow advertising begins with a standard “Chin Chin” ad and a photo of the famous Tom Brown clown band, three days before the show.[i]  Additional ads ran on the 10th and the 11th. Finally, on show day (March 12) there were several ads and illustrations printed in the paper[ii] –  Page 2 had a photo showing key cast members and page 7 had a normal ad.

Reviews

Interestingly enough, I was unable to find a pre-production story about the show nor a post-production review of the show

Theater

Franklin, PA was one of the smaller towns that the show played at. The 1920 Census indicated that the population was just under 10,000.[iii] The “Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914” indicates that the Franklin Opera House seating capacity was 925 people, 401 on the lower floor, 200 in the balcony, 300 in the gallery, and 24 boxes. The stage was 28×22 feet with a 6-foot apron.[iv]

Image of parade of the Grand Old Army, Franklin, PA, Aug 1887.
The Franklin Opera House is the second building from left (with 2nd-floor awnings. SOURCE: Facebook-Venango County Historical Society – GAR Parade – Franklin, PA – Aug 1887.

I have not been able to find a good, clear photo of the theater, however, the photo of the Grand Army of the Republic in Aug 1887 parading does show the theater. In that photo, the building on the left is the town hall, next to it is a building with awnings on the second-floor windows. Looking closely, you can see it says “Opera House” across the building.

The Opera House opened in 1866 and provided theater presentations and speakers for many years. In 1883 the city hall was built next door on the Corner of Thirteenth and Buffalo Streets. The opera house was on the Thirteenth side of city hall. I have not found any evidence that the Opera House ever make the switch to movies, nor have I found evidence of exactly when the theater closed or was demolished. However, it was clearly gone by the time the old city offices, were demolished and the new city hall was built during the 1960s.[v]

In 1864, John Wilkes Booth formed an oil company in Franklin and resided in Franklin when he performed at the Franklin Opera House.[vi] Besides theater productions, the Opera House provided a venue for famous speakers such as Samuel Clemens and Susan B. Anthony.[vii]

Today, the site is the location of the Franklin City Hall.


Endnotes:

[i] The News-Herald (Franklin, PA) March 9, 1920 – Page 2 – Tom Brown Band image, column 6&7. Newspapers.com

[ii] The News-Herald (Franklin, PA) March 12, 1920 – Page 2 – Cast image, Column 3. Bottom. Newspapers.com

[iii] Wikipedia – Franklin, Pennsylvania – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%2C_Pennsylvania

[iv] The Cahn-Leighton official theatrical guide. (1913). New York, N.Y: Publication Office, New Amsterdam Theatre Building.

[v] Internet:  City of Franklin, PA – Old City Hall and Opera House. https://www.franklinpa.gov/files/part4.pdf

[vi] See Endnote i above.

[vii] See Endnote iii above.

Carlisle Opera House, 23 April 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play the Carlisle Opera House on 23 April 1920 

Finishing their one-night show On April 22nd at the Frederick City Opera House, the cast and crew of “Chin Chin” packed up and rolled the 65 miles north to Carlisle, PA for the show the next night at the Carlisle Opera House.

Photo of Cast of Chin Chin on stage - Carlisle Opera House
Cast of “Chin Chin” – Carlisle Opera House – 23 April 1920

Pre-show advertising on April 17th indicates, “there is no leading lady in this organization, although a number of beautiful women, principals and otherwise, song birds and actresses are in the cast. It appears that she who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.”[i]

However, two days later there was an advertising article which called out Donna specifically – “Miss Donna Montran as the goddess of the lamp sings some pleasing songs and has a very attractive personality.”[ii]

The show appears to have gone on without a hitch, and the show packed up and headed east to Reading for a show the next night.

Carlisle Opera House

photo of Carlisle Opera House - Decorated for Jim Thorpe's homecoming in 1912
Carlisle Opera House – Decorated for Jim Thorpe’s homecoming in 1912 (Courtesy: Ohio History Connection)

Carlisle is the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Currently a small town of about 20,000, in 1920 the borough’s population was about 11,000. The theatre is said to have seated over 1000 people; however, the stage size was relatively small.  The proscenium opening was only 26 feet wide and 20 feet high.[iii]

It is unclear to me when the Carlisle Opera House was built; however, it was certainly in operation before 1888, when the Dickenson College Glee Club sang there.[iv]

In 1898, the Carlisle Opera House building in Carlisle housed a barber shop, billiard room. and bowling alley on the ground level, with the opera house on the second floor, and Masonic meeting rooms on the third floor.”[v]

It appears to have been closed sometime between 1955 and 1959 as it was opened on May 9, 1959, for a presentation of “Hansel and Gretel” put on by the students of Dickinson College.[vi]

The building was destroyed by fire in August 1972 in a fire that killed two people.[vii]


Endnotes

[i] Carlisle Evening Herald (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) – Sat, Apr 17, 1920 – page 5 – “The Musical Melange of Chin Chin.”
[ii] Carlisle Evening Herald (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) · Mon, Apr 19, 1920, · Page 7 – “CHIN CHIN”. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/269958879.
[iii] The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide – 1910, Page 679, Carlisle.
[iv] “The Dickinsonian – Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, March 1888, Page 10, THE COLLEGE GLEE CLUB CONCERT – http://deila.dickinson.edu/cdm/ref/collection/dickinsonia/id/28932.
[v] Condee, William Faricy – Coal and Culture: Opera Houses in Appalachia – Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio 45701 (c) 2005 – Pages 54 & 55.
[vi] “The Dickinsonian” – Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, Friday, May 1, 1959, Page 3, ‘BUCKET’ OPENS FOR DICKINSON PRESENTATION. http://deila.dickinson.edu/cdm/ref/collection/dickinsonia/id/18415.
[vii] Cinema Treasurers – The Strand Theatre – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/23000

Once Again, DNA Provides a Clue – Trumpi

By Don Taylor

A recent experience with Ancestry DNA reminds me that even fifth to eighth cousins on Ancestry DNA can provide a clue, possibly the big clue, to a breakthrough.

I was recently contacted via Ancestry DNA messaging by a 5th-8th cousin of my mother-in-law. She (I’ll call her K.B.) was excited because she had only encountered Trumpe’s[i] before that were known relatives. Her 3rd great grandfather was John Frederick Trumpe and was from the same place, Glarus, Switzerland, as my mother-in-law’s great-grandfather, Bernhard/Bernard/Benard Trümpi. There were some coincidental matches in our two trees. For example, K.B.’s John Frederick named one of his children Bernard and my mother-in-law’s Bernhard named one of his children Frederick. John Frederick Trumpe and his wife Catherine settled in Pittsburgh, PA.

The next piece of the puzzle came from family oral history. My mother-in-law’s grandmother, Bertha Barbara Trumpi, was said to have come to the United States with an aunt and uncle who were living in the States already. It was also family oral history that she came over “above decks” (not steerage). I had long suspected that it was her aunt and uncle, Rachel and Fredolin (Fred) Sigrist, but I had never found any support for that. Rachel and Fredolin had settled in Pittsburgh, PA, and traveled back and forth to Europe often above decks during their many trips but I hadn’t found any evidence of their traveling in 1901-1903 when Bertha came across.

Fritz, Katherine and Bertha Trumpi
Passenger List, S.S. Philadelphia 26 July 1902
Source: Find My Past (See Endnotes)

I revisited Bertha’s immigration and still didn’t find anything on Ancestry.Com, Family Search, or Ellis Island Foundation. Then I searched Find My Past and found a record of Fritz (Frederick) and Katherine (Catherine) Trumpi, who left Southampton on 26 July 1902, aboard the S.S. Philadelphia bound for New York with a 19-year-old spinster, Bertha.[ii] They are listed in the passengers with cabins section of the passenger list. I looked closer and couldn’t find and arrival document on Find My Past. I went back to Ancestry.Com and Ellis Island Foundation websites and looked at the passenger lists for the S.S. Philadelphia arriving in New York on 2 August 1902. Nothing. I browsed the images painstakingly several times and still didn’t find any arrival information. I noticed that the images only included people in third-class (steerage); none of the images included first or second class passengers. That is why I never found them before.

If Fritz Trumpi is John Frederick Trumpe and John Fredrick and Bernhard Trumpi are brothers, then we have a match. All the pieces seem to fit, all the ages are right for Fritz and Katherine to be John Frederick and Catherine. Also, the age for Barbara Bertha Trümpi is correct. With all the circumstantial evidence I have found I am going to tentatively associate John Frederick and Bernhard as siblings. What makes this association even more important is that, when John Frederick Trumpe died in 1917, the informant indicated that his parents were Benhart and Anna Oertli Trumpe.[iii] That information potentially extends the Trumpi line back another generation.

Back to the DNA

If Benhart and Anna Oertli Trumpi from Glarus, Switzerland, are the common ancestor for K.B. and my mother in law they should share, on average, 76cM of DNA. They share 16.8cM of DNA, quite a bit less than average but still within the range for third cousins once removed.[iv]

Is it possible that Benhart and Anna are not the common ancestors? Absolutely. It may be that Benhart’s parents are the common ancestor, or even back another generation. Time and further research will tell, but so many circumstantial bits of evidence fit that between the DNA and the paper trail, I know there is some kind of relationship.

Future Actions:

Visit Ellis Island and see if they have passenger records at Ellis Island that include the above deck passengers for the S.S. Philadelphia that arrived in New York on 2 August 1902.
Research the Trümpi family in Glarus, Switzerland further.
Consider doing a Trumpi family of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and determine additional information regarding potential family members.

ENDNOTES

 

[i] Trumpe, Trumpi, and Trumpy are all forms of the same surname. Often spelled with an umlaut as in Trümpi.
[ii] Find My Past – Passenger Lists leaving UK 1890-1960 – Trumpi http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=tna%2fbt27%2f0390000036%2f00509
[iv] Blaine Bettinger compiled DNA relationship data from more than 6,500 submissions of autosomal DNA test results. See: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/573857177499027891/
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