“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 learn of a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.
Three New Venues discovered.
Another great week of Donna in the News with three new venues discovered and an intriguing note about Donna having been in a train crash.
The Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois) newspaper dated 29 March 1924 shows that Donna Darling and company played in a song and dance revue at the Fort Armstrong theatre. In another article, from March 31st, the paper indicated that she missed her first show at the Fort Armstrong because of a train crash. I wonder how bad of a crash was it? The crash has the potential of making another great story. I’m looking forward to additional research.
Next, is an ad from the News Record (Neehah, WI) newspaper dated 5 December 1924. The ad shows that the California Motion Picture Bathing Beauties, featuring Donna Darling played at the Neehah theatre on December 8 & 9.
Finally, from the The Record (Hackensack, NJ) dated 23 February, I learned that Donna Darling and Company played at the Lyric Theatre in Hackensack, for three days beginning February 24th.
Tracing female ancestors is often difficult in 19th century America. As I continue my research into the siblings of Rufus Holton Darling, one of his sisters, the oldest sister, was quite easy to follow. The other two sisters have been very problematic. I wrote about Deidamia, the oldest sister, previously. Basically, she born in New York, married Lawrence G. Limbocker, moved to Michigan, had three children, and probably died in Michigan. Hannah and Sally Ann are a different story.
The only real source I have regarding Hannah is the 1850 Census. In it, she appears to be living with her brother, Andrew/Andress Darling, his wife Antoinette and their two children, Sarah and Alice. In the same household appears to be Hannah’s youngest brother, Franklin, and her mother, Sally A. (Munsell) Darling.
The 1830 Census does not provide the names of anyone in the household except for the head of household. The 1830 Census indicates the following females in the Abner Darling household of Clarkson, Monroe, New York:
Females 5 thru 9 2 (Probably Hannah, age 6, and Sally Ann, age 9.)
Females 15 thru 19 1 (Probably Diedamia, Age 16.)
Females 40 to 49 1 (Probably Sally, age 45.)
Hannah’s father, Abner died in 1839. In the 1840 Census, Abner’s son, Rufus, is the head of the household. Living with Rufus in 1840 are the following females:
Females 15-19 2 (Probably Hannah, age 16, and Sally Ann, age 19.)
Females 50-59 1 (Probably Sally, age 55.)
I have been unsuccessful finding any references to Hannah after the 1850 Census. She is not mentioned in her brother’s (Abner C. Darling’s) obituary in September 1880. As such, I believe Hannah probably died between 1850 and 1880.
Family Search has Hannah in their Family Tree. She is person KJ6Z-V1S. All entries for her are by “Family Search” and have no sources for information. It does suggest an 1820 birth year.
On Ancestry, there are five trees that appear to include Hannah. Two of them are mine. The other three are private. I have sent contact messages to the two individuals managing the three private trees. One tree indicates Hannah Darling being born in 1820. I’ve selected the 1824-1825 birth year in my tree because of the 1850 Census and that she fits into the 1830 and 1840 censuses by speculation. I would be a lot more comfortable that Hannah was actually a child of Abner and Sally Ann (Munsell) Darling if I could find a record that clearly shows the relationship.
The second private tree on Ancestry did not have Hannah identified but did have Abner and Sally Ann (Munsell) Darling but none of their children.
I have not heard back about the third private tree yet.
A fairly exhaustive online search, including newspapers and other resources has not provided any further information.
 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – A M Darling – Utica, Winnebago, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch : 12 April 2016), Am Darling, Utica, Winnebago, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 1092, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4DT-3L6.
Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Rex Theater in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, on 11 February 1920
We know that “Chin Chin” played at the Metropolitan Opera House in Minneapolis from February 1st through the 7th. I do not have any known venues the 8th, 9th, or 10th, but on the 11th, “Chin Chin” played at the Rex Theater in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
Newspapers Mentioned “Chin Chin” was arriving on the 4th of February.[i] A standard full column ad played on February 6th, as did the familiar Wills, Binder, and Girls looking like Brussel sprouts on the stars’ queues.
An article the day before the show said
“Chin Chin” a Show of Good Music
The music of Ivan Caryll, which serves to illustrate the story of “Chin Chin” which comes to the Rex tomorrow and in which Walter Wills and Roy Binder demonstrate their wonderful powers of drollery, to say nothing of their skill in dancing, is a demonstration of the wisdom of serving the best kind of music even to an extravaganza. “Chin Chin” is one more proof that good music pays. Music and dancing are so closely allied in these latter days.
Ethel Lawrence as “Violet Bond” the American girl in “Chin Chin,” is a charming little actress and always succeeds in winning the good graces of the audience. Her rendition of the duet, “Love Moon,” with the aid of George Usher as Aladdin, is one of the particular bright spots of the show. We advise that you procure your tickest now. The sale is heavy and the theatre management cannot guarantee to hold any reservations after 6 p. m. Wednesday.
The day after the show, the Chippewa Herald reported that:
“Chin Chin” proves Fine Attraction.
Capacity House Pleased with Production at Rex Theatre Last Evening.
Chin Chin came up fully to all expectations….
The Rex Theatre was originally built in 1906 and named the Victor Theatre. The Victor was a modest theater with a seating capacity of 900 people. The theatre changed its name to the Rex Theater sometime between 1918 and 1920, when “Chin Chin” played there.
In 1930, the theater was renovated for motion pictures, and was reopened as the “Ravoli Theater.” The Ravoli closed sometime before 1960. The building was demolished by 1962.[ii] Today, the location is a Holiday Gas Station.
[i] Chippewa Herald (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin) · 04 Feb 1920, Wed · Page 3
One-year-old Henry appears to be enumerated in the 1820 census as one of the males less than ten years of age in the household of Abner Darling in Paris, Oneida, New York. His siblings are all accounted for however there is one unknown female age 10 to 16 in the household. She may be an older sister, aunt, cousin, or family friend.
In the 1830 census, it appears that Henry was enumerated as one of the children in the household of Abner Darling. The family seems to have moved 155 miles west from Paris to Clarkson, Monroe County, New York. Abner’s household includes Abner, his wife, and eight children, five boys and three girls.
In 1839 disaster struck with the death of Henry’s father, Abner. Abner had a will, signed three days before his death, and Henry was named.
Rufus Holton Darling then took over as the head of the household. The 1840 Census shows Rufus as the head of the household with two other males and three females. A review of the record suggests the family consisted of 29-year-old Rufus with his 55-year-old mother, Sally Ann and his siblings, Henry (22), Franklin (13), Sally Ann (18), and Hannah (15).
In 1846, Henry headed west. He supposedly left New York with only $5 in his pocket and walked all the way to Racine, Wisconsin Territory, 625 miles away. Later, that same year Henry located west again 90 miles north-west to Fox Lake, Dodge County Wisconsin. Henry was part of the massive influx of people who settled the area. In the 1840 Census, Dodge County had a population of only 67 people; in the 1850 Census, Dodge County had increased its population to over 19,000. In 1848, Wisconsin became a state,
It is not clear exactly when, but probably in 1849 or 1850, Henry married Adaline Learned/Leonard; Henry is ten years older than his bride. They are found living together in Trenton, Dodge County, Wisconsin with no children, yet. Trenton is immediately east of Fox Lake, Wisconsin.
The 1860 Census finds the family together in Fox Lake with a household consisting of Henry, his wife Adeline, two children, and what appears to be a hired farm laborer, from Maine, John Weymouth. The children are:
Reuben H Darling, Age 10
Nancy D Darling, Age 4
The 1870 Census finds the family with a new addition, 6-year-old Abner M. Darling. All three children are attending school, Henry is farming, and “Adalin” is keeping house.
By the 1880 Census, Reuben and Nancy have moved on and the household then consisted of Henry, Adaline, and son, Abner M.
Henry was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he is presumed to have been a Baptist.
Death & Burial
On 12 April 1890, Henry W. Darling died leaving his wife, two sons and a daughter. His service as at a Baptist church. He was buried two days later in Plot 299 at Riverside Memorial Park, Fox Lake, Wisconsin.
In May and in June of 1890, “Notices to Creditors” ran in the newspaper indicating that Henry W. Darling had probate.
Further Actions / Follow-up
Find the probate records for Henry W. Darling.
Find a record of Henry and Adaline’s marriage.
Research town and county history, looking for Henry and his family.
Find original death record for Henry W. Darling’s death.
1820 Census, 1820 Census – Abner Darling – Paris, Oneida, New York
1840 Census (FS), Family Search, New York, Monroe, Clarkson, Page 177 – Rufus H Darling.
1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Henry W Darling – Trenton, Dodge, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4DF-7G8 : 12 April 2016), Henry W Darling, Trenton, Dodge, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 245, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4DF-7G8.
1860 Census (FS), Family Search, 1860 Census – Henry W Darling – Fox Lake, Dodge, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWM5-QGT : 13 December 2017), Henry W Darling, 1860. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWM5-QGT.
1870 Census (FS), Family Search, 1870 Census – Henry W Darling – Fox Lake Village, Dodge, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Henry W Darling, Wisconsin, United States; citing p. 15, family 126, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,209. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN9H-1DM.
1880 Census (FS), Family Search, 1880 Census – Henry Darling – Fox Lake, Dodge, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4D-R6B : 15 July 2017), Henry Darling, Fox Lake, Dodge, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 12, sheet 157A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1423; FHL microfilm 1,255,423. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4D-R6.
Find a Grave, Henry W Darling (1818-1890) – Death – Memorial 61525205. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 18 March 2018), memorial page for Henry W. Darling (18 Sep 1818–12 Apr 1890), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61525205, citing Riverside Memorial Park, Fox Lake, Dodge County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Steve Seim (contributor 47256753). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/61525205/henry-w.-darling.
The Representative (Fox Lake, Wisconsin, ), Com, 1890-04-18 – Henry W. Darling Obituary. See file: Obituary – Henry W Darling 1890 (N).PDF.
“Wisconsin, Death Records, 1867-1907,” database, FamilySearch ( 10 March 2018), Henry W. Darling, 1890; citing Death, Fox Lake, Dodge, Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison; FHL microfilm 1,310,179.
I continue investigating the siblings of Rufus Holton Darling. In this research, I was able to extend my knowledge of Rufus’ mother Sally Ann (Munsell) Darling. I learned that Sally moved in with her son, Abner, and his wife before the 1860 Census. By knowing Sally was in Wisconsin in 1860, I may be able to find her death records.
Indeed, the building of the Erie Canal was a big part of his childhood. Construction began in Rome on July 4th, 1817, with the canal connecting Rome to both the Hudson River and the Great Lakes by 1825.
By 1830, his family located further west, to Clarkson, Monroe County, New York. Clarkson is about 18 miles west of Rochester and about 8 miles from Lake Ontario. The 1830 Census appears to include a household of Abner senior and his wife, Sally.[ii] Also, are five boys and three girls. They appear to be:
Franklin (age 1)
Hannah (age 6)
Sally Ann (age 9)
Henry (age 10)
Rufus (age 14)
Deidamia (age 16)
Abner (age 19)
Unknown (Possibly Andrew)
One child’s identity is unknown, but his age is 15 to 19. It is possible that this child is Andrew, but other records suggest Andrew should be age 25 during the 1830 census.
About 1834, Abner married Nancy Anne Green. They had two children while living in Clarkson, a daughter, Lucinda, (born 1835) and a son, Ned, who was born before 1840. The family moved from Clarkson, New York to Racine, Wisconsin about 1840. It appears that Ned died there before 1840.
Abner started a business in Racine and went bankrupt. After the business problems, Abner and Nancy moved on to Grand Chute, Wisconsin, where he began another business. I have not been successful finding him in the 1840 Census.
During the 1850 census, the family consisted of Abner, his wife Nancy Anne, and their daughter Lucinda.[iii] They lived in Grand Chute, Brown County, Wisconsin. In 1851, Brown County was divided, and part of it became Outagamie County.
The 1855 Wisconsin census indicates they were living in Appleton, but it is unclear if they moved from Grand Chute or if only the “closest post office” change.[iv]
In 1860, they had a very complex household. Besides Abner, Nancy, and Lucinda there are five other individuals in the house.[v] Sally A. Darling, Abner’s 75-year-old mother is living with them. Also, there are four young adults living with them. Harriet Reed, Wilbur Yoenne, Joseph Hammend, and Jos Colman. All ages 20 to 25. Jos Colman is interesting because, later that fall, Lucinda marries Henry Colman. I need to research and find out what the relationship might be between Jos Colman (b. 1840) and Lucinda’s husband, Henry Colman (b. 1834). I suspect they were all students at Lawrence College.
Education appears to have been very important to the Darlings. Lucinda, Abner and Nancy’s only daughter, attended Lawrence College and was the first woman to graduate from the school (in 1857). She went on to be an instructor in Latin at Evansville Seminary in the 1860s and later taught in the Madison and Sheboygan public schools. The Lawrence University 1930 yearbook, The Ariel, was dedicated to her.[vi]
Abner’s wife Nancy died in April 1867. That following October he married Nancy’s niece, Sarah Green.[vii] The 56-year-old Abner was 27 years her senior. They had three children together.
Alice Wells Darling (1869-1920)
Jessie Lucy Darling (1870-1917)
Helen S. Darling (1878-1949)
The 1870 Census finds the family consisting of Abner, Sarah, and their daughter Alice.[viii] Also living with them are three other individuals. Louisa Lowell, a 20-year-old domestic servant, and May Welland, a six-year-old girl whose relationship is unknown, lived with them. Also was 68-year-old R. H. Green. This is apparently Robert Hunter Green, Sarah’s father.
The 1880 Census finds the family back down to Abner, Sarah, and their three daughters.[ix] Living with them still is Abner’s father-in-law, the 78-year-old Robert Green.
Abner Darling died in the fall of 1880. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery, Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin.[x]
Further Actions / Follow-up
Document Abner’s property ownership in Outagamie County.
Document Abner’s bankruptcy in Racine.
[i] This date is consistent with his Grave Marker and the 1850 and 1860 Census records.
[ii] 1830 Census (A), Abner Darling – Clarkson, Monroe, New York – Page 271. Source Citation 1830; Census Place: Clarkson, Monroe, New York; Series: M19; Roll: 94; Page: 271; Family History Library Film: 001715 4
[iii] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Abner Darling (c. 1812) – Grand Chute, Brown, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4D6-G1L : 12 April 2016), Abner Darling, Grand Chute, Brown, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 640, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4D6-G1L.
[iv] Wisconsin, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1820-1890, Ancestry, WI 1855 State Census Index – A. C. Darling – No Image. Outagamie County, Appleton Village, 1855. Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1820-1890 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999. Original data: Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. Wisconsin Census, 1820-1890. Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes.
[v] 1860 Census (FS), Family Search, 1860 Census – A C Darling – Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9J-N11 : 1 October 2017), A C Darling, 1860. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9J-N11.
[vii] Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911, Family Search, Abner C Darling & Sarah A Green – 1867. “Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK85-MHDG : 9 March 2016), Abner C Darling and Sarah A Green, 26 Oct 1867; citing Rock, Wisconsin, United States, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison; FHL microfilm 1,275,527.
[viii] 1870 Census (FS), Family Search, 1870 Census – Abner C. Darling – Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNSM-K4W : 12 April 2016), Abner C Darling, Wisconsin, United States; citing p. 84, family 631, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,229.
[ix] 1880 Census (FS), Family Search, 1880 Census – Abner C Darling – Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNHH-VFZ : 14 September 2017), Abner C Darling, Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 126, sheet 238C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1440; FHL microfilm 1,255,440.
[x] Find a Grave, Abner Darling (1811-1880). Citation: Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 February 2018), memorial page for Abner Darling (1811–1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 184635832, citing Riverside Cemetery, Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Jeanne Weiland (contributor 49074152).