Donna and “Chin Chin” play at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan, on 23 February 1920.
February 1920 was a busy month for the cast and crew of “Chin Chin.” They began the month in Minneapolis and played across Wisconsin, on to Indiana, and then up to Michigan. I know they played the Powers Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Feb 20th and 21st. They probably had off Sunday, 22 February. Then they opened for one night at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan.
A standard “To the General Public” announcement was published by Paul J. Schlossman in the Muskegon Chronical on February 18th letting the General Public know that “Chin Chin” was coming to the Regent Theatre on Monday, February 23, 1920. There would be two shows, a matinee at 2:30 and an evening show at 8:15.
The Thursday paper before the show featured an article and a photograph. The article read:
Charles Dillingham’s Chin Chin, with a record of two solid years at the Globe theater, New York , and heralded as the greatest of all musical comedies comes to the Regent theater for a matinee and evening performance Monday, Feb. 23.
In the production of “Chin Chin” the producer, Chas. Dillingham is providing a glorious festival of fun and spectacular attractiveness, demonstrations of grotesque acrobatic specialties and dancing in numerous through this very musical concoction. Those who heard “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Café” cannot fail to anticipate with pleasure the prospect of hearing further gems in “Chin Chin” from the gifted composer, Ivan Caryll.
Charles Dillingham long ago established a reputation for good taste in his production so far as color, light, groupings, music and expression go to make up an ensemble. In the company are clever comedians, talented singers and dancers, besides plenty of beautiful, radiant women. The production in its original New York entirety will be seen here. By the box office returns, the most potent argument in the theater when the entertainments such this are under consideration, “Chin Chin” is the greatest and best.
Certainly the most exacting and sophisticated taste will ask for little or nothing more in facile playfulness, pretty dresses, swift dances and prankish amusement than this production has to offer.
Ivan Caryll’s score is rich with ingratiating melodies, and the various stage settings make attractive pictures.
It is unlikely that the cast and crew had off on February 24th, so I need to continue searching for a venue that they played that day. It is probably a town between Muskegon and Bay City (but not Grand Rapids). “Chin Chin” played in Bay City on the 25th.
The Regent Theater, designed by Detroit architect C. Howard Crane, was built by Paul Schlossman in 1916. None of the theatrical guides that I have indicate the specifics of the theater, however, other sources indicate the seating was 1,100. A new façade and marquee were installed in 1939. The theater was demolished in 1972 to make way for the Muskegon Mall. The mall was torn down in 2003.[ii]
Today, the location of the Regent Theater is an open park-like area with picnic tables next to the Muskegon Area Transit System.
Find a theater guide from the 1920s and incorporate theater specifics from it into this article.
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[iii] Image 10 Of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. “. 2019. The Library Of Congress. Accessed August 16 2019. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4114mm.g04122195001/?sp=10&r=0.498,0.987,0.434,0.213,0.
Hotel Metropole – Panama City, Panama – 20 Feb 1930
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a menu from the Donna Darling Collection.
According to my memories of talks with Donna, immediately after the 1929 stock market crash, many people stopped going to the theatres for vaudeville shows. Basically, they started canceling the shows they had booked, and the performers were left high and dry. Donna and Sammy decided to go to Panama City, Panama, where the depression hadn’t come to.
While in Panama City, Donna had a birthday. To celebrate, Donna had a birthday dinner at the Hotel Metropole, Santa Ana Plaza, in Panama City, Panama. The menu for that dinner survived. Guests had options of Baked Hallibot [sic], Tenderloin Steak, and Broiled Spring Chicken.
What I found most interesting was that she was celebrating her “25th birthday.” Donna commonly lied about her age. However, the 37-year-old must have been a real beauty (or deluding herself) to have pulled of saying she was only 25.
I suspect that Grandpa Dick was at the dinner and that something happened that Sammy didn’t like. In any event, it was only five weeks after this dinner that Sammy and Donna returned to the States. When they returned, they were estranged. They were in separate cabins, and each was heading “home.” Sammy to his mother’s house in New York City and Donna to her mother’s house in Detroit.
To my knowledge, Donna’s return from Panama signaled the end of Donna’s show business career.
I often have difficulties researching ancestors who lived in Europe. Hannah is no exception. She was born, lived and died all within 50 miles of Workington, England. I am not 100% confident that all of these facts are correct or that the sources are actually for Hannah, but I have spent much time looking for alternatives to this story without success.
4th Great-grandfather: Jonathan Bell (c. 1801-____)
Hannah Bell (c. 1822-1878)
The date of Hannah’s birth is unknown; however, she was born in Workington, Cumberland county, England. However, we know she was baptized on 9 March 1823 at St. Michael’s Church in Workington, Cumberland County, England. It appears that she was the oldest of at least four children born to Jonathan and Margaret Bell.
Her siblings include a brother and two sisters.
Charles born 1824-1825
Mary born 1826-1827
Jane Born July-Sept. 1837
There wasn’t an 1831 England census and I have been unable to find anything regarding Hannah before the 1841 Census. In it, Hannah is living with her father and (implied) three siblings, Charles, Mary, & Jane. Hannah’s mother, Margaret, is not in the household and is not found in any other records, so I’m sure that she died sometime between 1837 and 1841.
On 08 Nov 1845, Hannah married Joseph McAllister in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. Hannah and Joseph had three children.
Margaret Mcallister – Born 19 Oct 1846 – Died 12 Dec 1848
Joseph McAllister – Born in 1848 – died ____
Peter McAllister – Born 12 Feb 1852 Died 16 Jan 1941.
The 1851 Census finds Joseph and Hannah living at 60 Maine Street, Cockermouth, Cumberland, England, along with their son Joseph. An Ann Calbeck is living with them; she is a 61 year old visitor.
The couple moved to Workington by February 1852, as Peter was born there and not in Cockermouth.
Tragedy struck in the fall of 1855 when Hannah’s husband, Joseph, died.
On 04 Nov 1855, Hannah married Charles Mayholland (Mulholland) in Workington, Cumberland, England. Hannah and Charles had three children.
Hannah Mulholland – 11 May 1856 – died 25 May 1856.
Charles Mulholland – Born c. 1859 – died ____
John Mulholland – Born c. 1862 – died ____
The 1861 Census finds the Charles Mayholland family living at 148 Bell St., Workington. Charles is a sawyer. Nine-year-old Peter is using the surname of Mayholland (instead of McAllister). Also, in the household is the couple’s oldest son together, Charles.
The 1871 Census finds the Charles Mulholand household living at 23 Bell St. Workington. I can’t tell if they moved or if the streets were renumbered. In any event, the household consisted of Charles, Hannah, and their son John, who was 8 years old. Charles is a Cir (Circular?) Sawyer.
Death & Burial
Hannah died on 19 September 1878 at home (23 Hill Street, Workington) at the age of 55 after a long 2-year battle with cancer of the uterus.
Workington, Cumberland, England 1923; (Baptism)
1852, 1855, 1861, 1871. (Birth of Peter,
Marriage to Charles, & 2 Censuses)
Further Actions / Follow-up
Await receipt of Hannah’s death record then incorporate.
Find out where 23 and 148 Bell Street in Workington are today.
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1841 Census – England and Wales Census, 1841, Family Search, Jonathan Bell – Arthur, Longtown, Cumberland – Image at Family History Center. “England and Wales Census, 1841,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M VXC : 28 May 2019), Jonathan Bell, Arthuret, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom; from “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey. . https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M73F-VXC.
1861 England Census, Ancestry, Charles Mayholland – Workington, Cumberland. Class: RG 9; Piece: 3939; Folio: 42; Page: 21; GSU roll: 543210 Source Information com. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: https://prf.hn/click/camref:1101l4wD7/creativeref:1101l27800 Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Oice (PRO), 1861. Data imaged from The National Archives, London, England. The National Archives gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/8767/records/15093372.
1871 England Census, Ancestry, Charles Mullholand Head – Workington, Cumberland, England. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 5243; Folio: 56; Page: 39; GSU roll: 847446. Source Information com. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Family Search, Hannah Bell – 9 Mar 1823. “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWF1-XQN : 11 February 2018, Margaret in entry for Hannah Bell, 09 Mar 1823); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 90,691, 90,692.
GRO – Entry of Birth (HM Passport Office), General Register Office, Peter McAllister – Cockermouth – Workington – 1852 Birth in district of Workington in the county of Cumberland County, England. Line 498 – Twelth February 1852 High Church Street Workington.
GRO – Entry of Marriage (HM Passport Office, ), General Register Office, 1845 Marriage – Joseph McAlister & Hannah Bell – (McAllister). General Register Office – Marriage Certificates – 1845, Quarter D, Volume 25, Page 111.
GRO – Entry of Marriage (HM Passport Office), General Register Office, 1855 Marriage – Charles Mayholland & Hanna [Bell] McAllister. General Register Office – Marriage Certificates – 466, Quarter D, Volume 10B, Page 646.
GRO – Entry of Death, General Register Office, Hannah Mullholland – 1878 Sep Qtr – Cockermouth, Vol B, Page 351, Line 35.
 The 1851 Census indicates that Hannah was born in Whitehaven, a town about 8 miles down the coast from Workington. All the other census and records indicate she was born in Workington.
I have able to find 20 of the 29 days that February the venues that “Chin Chin” played during the month. Beginning in Minneapolis, the show played across Wisconsin, they had a few shows in Indiana before arriving in Michigan. The cast and crew played in Bay City on the 25th and moved on to Saginaw on the 26th.
Saginaw News Courier – February 19, 1920 – Page 9[i]
Chin Chin Coming
Charles Dillingham’s greatest Musical Comedy success Chin Chin is coming to Saginaw Thursday, February 26, for one performance at the Auditorium. This play appeared first at the Globe Theater in New York for two solid years and is now on a transcontinental trip touring the middle-west for the first time.
In the leading roles will be seen Walter Wills and Roy Binder who come with the stamp of approval won in such productions as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Red Mill,” “Hitchy Koo, etc. The company Is the largest musical company aggregation on the road today comprising 65 people, mostly girls and Tom Brown’s famous Clown Saxophone band. Charles Dillingham’s name is associated with the biggest and best theatrical Enterprises such as the Hippodrome and Globe Theater in New York some of his latest Productions are “Jack O’ Lantern” with Fred Stone, “The Canary” with Julia Sanderson and Joe Cawthorn, “Hip Hip Hooray” with 1200 associates with “Everything” which has suppressed all records at the New York Hippodrome
Chin Chin is a fantastic production which in Oriental and Old English costuming, in seven sets, including the most startling surprises ingenious trickery and grotesque dancing in plenty, affording an entertainment that is clean and wholesome, proving hilarious amusement for both young and old, which qualities are the making of a particular success of the theatrical magnate, Charles Dillingham.
The following day, the newspaper carried a “Chin Chin” standard announcement indicating the Auditorium manager, W. S. Butterfield” was pleased to announce the coming of “Chin Chin” on Thursday, February 26th.
Also, on the 20th was a very odd article, that I’ve not seen before that may give insight into the theatre audiences of 1920.[ii]
There appears to be little doubt that Charles Dillingham’s production of “Chin Chin,” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the lead will play to a capacity audience at the Auditorium when it is presented there next Thursday evening.
R. H. Burnside of the Dillingham forces, who staged “Chin Chin,” recently said that it was only the old-time musical show—the kine put on in a hurry and made up of old stuff—that was suffering.
“If there is any trouble at all,” he said, “it comes from the growing public demand for something better, more skillful, larger. People in the road towns as a rule don’t see the metropolitan production and they are getting tirie of it. What used to go in the small town goes no longer, they demand a play as large, as clever, as sparking and as capably played as the New York audience gets. The small town mind is growing with brutal rapidity, and as it grows the old standards of musical comedy cease to please. If we are going to keep in the game we will have to give them something more stimulating to the imagination, more artistic, with more originality, and a simplier yet larger horizon. Such is exactly the case of Charles Dillingham’s only company appearing on the road this season in that everlasting and delightful production of ‘Chin Chin’ with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading comedy roles.
“People have been looking at the old things so long they are tired. For a long time they looked at them because they didn’t know the stage could offer anything better. Now they are rebellious, and it is up to the producers to make good.”
The Saginaw News Courier does a particularly good job at promoting the show. The following day is a lovely article describing the show.[iii]
“Chin-Chin” has a name of magic—music that is sorcery—bebars and little furry things that open their mouths amazingly and wave their ears when you are expecting it; coolies, little Chinese maids, mandarins, tiny children, clowns and bareback riders (with the really, truly, big white circus horse rambling gently and fatly around the ring), toys that wig-wag their little arms, a great stir of fun, a dainty little maid, a Japanese doll woman, and Aladdin—the figure that looms high in all child’s minds, be they Chin Chop Hi, the slaves of the lamp. All this and so much more that no one ever could tell you about if he thought until he went round in a circle, you can find in this clear, sweet, beautifully colored, musically rich show.
For “Chin Chin” throws the splendor of its dazzling light over your thoughts; it gilds the heart and melts the years away. There is the chop-chop song that rouses all the mirth you have under your waistcoat. There are dozens of bits of fun, or beauty, or wonder, or color, each a separate delight.
This show of wonders come to the Auditorium for one performance next Thursday evening February 26, and mail orders for tickets are now being filled as received at the Auditorium Box office.
The next day, the newspaper had a wonderful description of how many of the 30+ women in the show were selected.[iv] On the same page was an image of “Tom Brown’s Famous Clown Saxophone Band.”[v]
In the chorus of “Chin Chin” to be seen at the Auditorium next Thursday evening, there are 30 girls. More than two-thirds of those girls have never been seen either here or in New York. The chorus is said to be made up of some of the most beautiful young women ever seen on the stage. They have been chosen from the ranks of the prettiest girls of every state of the union.[vi]
By an arrangement that was made with a talking machine company, out of town applicants for positions in the chorus who were unable to go to New York were the engagements were made, had their voices recorded on disk records at the various agencies and the same were sent to Manager Charles Dillingham for consideration. All of the applicants wrote that they were anxious to begin their stage career under his direction.
The competition lasted for two months and those selected were given contracts and were notified to be ready for rehearsal. By this means Mr. Dillingham believe that he has secured a unique chorus, well chosen for voice and beauty, the engagements being unprejudiced by any personal reasons.
Among the typical beauty chorus are two from Chicago, one from Denver, one from Boston, three from California, two from Philadelphia, two from Cleveland, one from Sioux City, two from New Orleans, one from Tallas, Tex., one from Duluth and one from Cheyenne, Wyo.
One result of this original scheme of selection is the report from Mr. Dillingham’s stage manager that he find in the chorus a maximum of enthusiasm, intelligence and ambition, thus rendering his work much less strenuous and fatiguing than usual and furthermore giving promise of specially fine ensemble work. Main orders are now being filled and the regular advance sale will open Tuesday.
Saginaw apparently did not have enough hotel accommodations to meet the needs of the “Chin Chin” company. As such the show took out ads looking for “Furnished Rooms for the Members of the “Chin Chin” Company. I can’t imagine that happening today.
There were advertising articles and visual ads every day until the show.
After the show there was a rare review article about the show that mentioned Donna having a radiant voice as the Goddess of the Lamp.[vii] (Note: The bold emphasis is mine.)
“CHIN CHIN” IS PLEASING TO BIG AUDIENCE By Joseph W. Brady.
A Good performance of the long established musical comedy favorite, “Chin Chin,” was given at the Auditorium Thursday evening; and that it was good is proven by the unmistakable verdict of the large audience, which at times came near to stopping the chow by insistence upon more than full measure; as in the dance by Walter Wills and Irene McKay, and the appearance of the clown saxophone band under Lew Gould’s leadership. The much used descriptive tern, “colorful,” is decidedly applicable to “Chin Chin,” which is fairly resplendent in richness and variety of costuming and staging, abundant in incident, and replete with musical number that long since came into vogue and which prove their quality aby their continued hone on popular favor. The presenting company, Thursday night, carries a very much alive chorus and one that actually sings pleasingly and in volume sufficient to justify its numbers; in addition to all of which the girls are good to look upon. In solo singers there are also a number who actually sing and who have worthwhile voices, which is particularly true of radiant Donna Montran, Goddess of the Lamp, Ethel Lawrence, the Violet Bond of the evening, contributes to the song pleasure of the production, as does also the clever Sen Sen work of Neva Larry, and the male honors in vocalism are achieved by Stare Dunham acceptably cast in the role of Aladdin. There is also given much and good dancing, and the circus specialties introduced in the second act are highly diverting and picturesquely presented.
The musical comedy, or musical fantasy as “Chin Chin” is appropriately enough called, the strength of the whole depends upon the keystone, which is the comedy and the comedians, and the evident amusement of Thursday night’s audience is proof enough of the excellent quality of the bill of fare served. Walter Wills and Roy Binder as custodians of the major part of the fun making, and they fit to a nicety as a team. Mr. Wills carries by far the greater part of the burden of work, and carries it masterly style, throughout a succession of roles which demand versality to an unusual degree in this very difficult business of being a really artistic mirth producer. He is ably abetted by his partner and by the very clever woman, Carrie Dale, who wears the Chinese equivalent of widow’s weeds as the Widow Twankey, and mother of Aladdin.
As a matter of justice, it is due the “Chin Chin” company appearing in Saginaw to stat that in the matter of consistently sustained work and indefatigable effort to please, as well as lively personal interest in the work in hand the aggregation established a record.
According to the Cann-Leighton Theatrical Guide of 1913-14[viii], the Auditorium was, by far, the largest theatre in Saginaw at the time. Its capacity was over 3,500 compared to 3,274 for the other three theaters in Saginaw combined.[ix] The theater was built in 1908, so it was only 12 years old when “Chin Chin” played there. Seating included 1,859 on the lower floor, 814 in the Balcony, and 820 in the Gallery.
The stage was very large — 50×32 feet. It had six stage pockets and a 10-foot apron.
According to the 1920 Census, Saginaw had a population of 61, 903. A theatre that held over 5½ percent of the entire town’s population was large indeed.
The Auditorium Theatre was closed and demolished in 1972.[x]
Today the site is an AT&T Parking Lot.
My known schedule for “Chin Chin” has a two-day gap between the Saginaw show and the Whitney Theater show in Ann Arbor on the 28th. There were direct connections between Saginaw and Flint, Owosso, Lancing, and Detroit. It is likely the show went to one of those towns before going on to Ann Arbor.
One of my favorite blogs is Genealogy à la carte. One of their regular features is “This week’s Crème de la Crème.” In it, Gail Dever provides a listing of what she thinks are the best genealogical blogs and articles of the past week. It focuses on Canadian genealogy and, although I have no known Canadians among my ancestors, I invariably find something that is of interest to me. This week’s edition included a notice of Miriam Robbins blog posting “New Page: Farm and Farmers Directories.”
Using Family Tree Maker 2017, (My preferred genealogy software.) I went to the places tab and selected Sullivan County, Indiana, USA and discovered I have 88 individuals associated with Sullivan County. I started entering surnames in the search function and found six individuals that were ancestors of mine and were in the directory.
The following are entries I discovered. Facts new to me are Green bolded.
Beard, J. N. born in Crawford County, Ills., 1859. Came to Sullivan county 1894. Farming 120 acres, situated 7½ miles northwest of Sullivan, Turman township. Owner, A. Hopewell. [A. Hopewell rented 120 acres to J. N. Beard.]
Hopewell, A., born in Sullivan County, 1847. Owns 336 acres, situated in Turman Tp, 6 Miles N.W. of Sullivan. Mr. Hopewell served the last six months in the Civil war, 53rd Ind. Vol Inf.
Nash, S. W., Assessor of Truman Tp., born in Sullivan county, 1853. Farming 40 acres situated 7 miles northwest of Graysville. Owners, Barnes Heirs. P.O. Hutsonville, Ills. There are several Barnes families that could have owned this property. [I would need to do a title/deed search to determine for certain.]
Taft, Alonzo, born in Sullivan County, 1870. Farming 65 acres, situated 2 miles southwest of Sullivan. P.O. Same.
Taft, William., Born in N.Y., 1842. Came to Sullivan county, 1849. Owns 20 acres, situated in Curry tp., ¾ mile east of Shelburn.
Thompson, Albert, born in Sullivan county, 1823. Owns 260 acres situated in Fairbanks Tp., 12 miles northwest of Sullivan. P.O. Fairbanks.
None of these individuals were direct ancestors, but several were uncles and aunts.
Worth further investigation is the “Barnes Heirs” owning 40 acres. My 2nd great-grandfather, Nelson Barnes, died in 1884. Could this 40 acres be remnants of his estate? If so, why hadn’t the estate been settled in the ensuing 12 years? If not, whose estate was it that was owned by the “Barnes heirs.”
Art souvenir of leading citizens and farmers’ directory of Sullivan County,Indiana – 1896 : Sullivan Times Co. Cn : Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. Accessed July 28 2019. https://archive.org/details/artsouveniroflea00sull/page/n7.