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.


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


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.


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

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

[iii] Wikipedia – Franklin, 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.

[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]


[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”.
[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 –
[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.
[vii] Cinema Treasurers – The Strand Theatre –

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.



[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
[iv] Blaine Bettinger compiled DNA relationship data from more than 6,500 submissions of autosomal DNA test results. See:
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100 Years ago – Elizabeth Grace Darling – (1906-1987)

Today is a great day to remember Elizabeth Grace Darling, “Aunt Betty,” because today would be her 110th birthday if she were still living.  Betty is my wife’s great-aunt; the sister of my wife’s grandfather. I have written about my wife’s grandfather several times, See:
Robert Harry Darling (1907-1969)

Elizabeth Grace Darling – (1906-1987)

Elizabeth Grace Darling was born on March 22, 1906, in Pittsburgh, PA. Her mother died in 1913 and she went to live with her grandmother, Margaret Lamb McAllister. In 1915 there was a family issue that required Margaret to return to her native England.  So, in August, 1915, she took her two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Robert Harry, with her to England. Family oral history says she took the children to England so they could be “properly civilized.”
So, little Elizabeth would have spent her 10th birthday celebration in England, apparently in the Lakes Region, probably Appleby (Now Appleby-in-Westmorland), Cumbria, in North West England.
Elizabeth would have been hearing news about the war in Europe. The Russians were having success against the Germans in the north taking the Dneister Bridgehead and also defeating the Austrians in the south. She probably didn’t know that the US was fighting its own war. General Funston was asking for more troops to send into Mexico to assist General Pershing against Francisco Villa. This was really important because General Pershing telegraph communications had been cut off.[1]
Elizabeth Grace Darling Gwyer
c. 1939
Margaret and the two children remained in England until December of 1916 when they returned to the United States aboard the SS Philadelphia, then locating in the Mount Oliver area of Pittsburgh, PA. Their return was just in time.  Betty’s father, Rufus Harry Darling died just two weeks later, on 5 January 1917.
Later in January, 1917, Germany invited Mexico to join them as an ally against the United States. Germany said they would finance Mexico’s war to recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.[2] Mexico declined, but America was not pleased about Germany trying to bring the Great War to American soil.  The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.[3]
On 10 May 1927, Elizabeth married William Otis Gwyer.  They would later divorce.
On 11 October 1947, Elizabeth married Frank Howell Kemon in the chapel of Mount Vernon Methodist Church, Washington, DC with Rev. John Rustin officiating.[4]
Kemon – Glenwood Cemetery, Washington DC.
Betty Darling – Frank Howell
1906-1987 – 1906-1973
Elizabeth’s husband Frank Kemon died in 1973. In the 1980s, Aunt Betty came to live with her niece and family in Bridgton, Maine.
Elizabeth died on 10 June 1987 at her niece’s home in Bridgton. She was buried at Glenwood Cemetery, Section K, Lot 69, Site 2585 in Washington, DC next to her husband Frank Howell Kemon.[5]


[1] The Washington Post, Wednesday, March 22, 1916, Front Page via
[2] Wikipedia – World War I – Entry of the United States
[4] Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 – The Washington Post, October 1947,
[5] Find a Grave – Elizabeth Darling “Betty” Gwyer Kemon – Memorial# 133079409

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Ruth Grace Montran Cologne (1897-1993)

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

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

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

Areas for Further Research:

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


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

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