By Don Taylor
My great-grandfather, John F. Montran, has been an enigma in my research. I haven’t found any information that closely identifies who he was or what his life was like. Montran is something of an unusual name. A search for Montran in the 1900 Census indicates there were only 10 people in the US with that surname and four of them were recent immigrants from Syria. The 1880 Census only indicates one individual with that surname in the US. So, it is pretty amazing to find that two John F. Montrans existed in the United States in the 1890s.
First, my John F. Montran was possibly born in Pennsylvania, probably married Ida Mae Barber about 1892, and appears to have died before 1897. He was a Christian Scientist.
Then there is John Foster Montran, apparently born in France. He probably married Maud Minnie Winter about 1893. John was a Traveler and appears to have died before 1900. Maud was a Christian Scientist. He lived in Pennsylvania during part of his life.
The overlap between the two men is striking. What kind of life do I have for John if I consider the two as one individual?
- 1892 – “Married” Ida Barber
- 1893 – Daughter Madonna Montran is born.
- 1893 – “Married” Maud Minnie Winter.
- 1894 – Daughter Thelma M. Montran is born.
- 1897 – Daughter Ruth Grace Montran is born.
- 1897 – The widow Ida Montran marries Max Fisher.
- 1900 – Maud Montran is a widow in 1900 Census.
John Montran certainly could be two different people. It also fits that he could be one person. That he married Ida, divorced her, and then married Maud. There are many possible scenarios. Although the legalities of the relationships are interesting, I’m more interested in learning if John, the father of Madonna and John the father of Thelma & Ruth are the same person.
Ida only had one child to live to adulthood, Madonna, whose father was John Montran and two grandchildren. Maude had two children with her John Montran, Thelma and Ruth and at least four grandchildren. If Madonna’s father and Thelma and Ruth’s father are the same people, their grandchildren and I would be 2nd cousins. Well within the range for atDNA testing to confirm. Now I just need to find one of those descendants and have them test.
In the meantime, I dove into understanding the life of Maud Minnie Winter, potentially, the second wife of my great-grandfather.
Maud Minnie Montran (1875-1931)
Maude Minnie Montran was born on 4 April 1874 in Canada[i]. Clearly, she passed back and forth between Canada and the United States during the 1890s.
Maude’s naturalization application indicated she came to the United States in March 1887.[ii] and her first daughter, Thelma Montran, was born in the United States in June 1894[iii] However, her second daughter, Ruth Grace Montran was born in the United States in November 1897[iv] and immigrated to the US in January 1898.[v]
Clearly, something dramatic happened in Maud’s life in 1897-1898. My conjecture is that she became pregnant with Ruth, then her husband died. She returned to Canada to have the baby with family there, then returned to the United States in 1898. The 1900 Census finds the family fragmented with Thelma and Ruth living with an aunt and uncle (Josephine & Penrose Brown) and their grandmother (Maryann Winter) in Waterloo, Seneca County, New York.[vi] Meanwhile, Maud is living 50 miles away in Rochester, Monroe County, New York. It appears that she is a live-in nurse lodging with the Sherburne family.
The 1910 Census finds to children still living with Penrose and Josephine Brown, but now in Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Penrose indicates that the two girls are his adopted daughters.[vii] Maud is living 120 miles away with the Shoe family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, working as a Christian Science nurse.[viii] That is pretty amazing because the standard for Christian Science nurses was only established in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy. So Maud must have been one of the very first Christian Science nurses.
UPDATE: It is likely that Maude Montran worked for Keystone Circulating Co., Inc., during 1916. See: Montrans in the News – Female Help Wanted.
In 1920 Maud’s path crosses with her daughter, Thelma and appears to separate from Ruth. I have searched for Maud in the 1920 Census to no avail, however, she shows up on the 1920 San Francisco City Directory living at 256 Carl Street. Her daughter, Thelma is in the 1920 Census living with her husband, Miner Babcock at 256 Carl Street. [ix] Minor and Thelma do not appear in the city directory and Maud does not appear in the 1919 or the 1921 San Francisco city directories. However, Maud does appear in the 1921 Redondo Beach City Directory living at 417 S. Elena Ave working as a C. S. nurse (Christian Science nurse).[x] Ruth married John Terell Cologne about 1920 and moved to Miami, Dade County, Florida. She remained there until her death in 1993.
By the 1930 Census, Thelma and her husband, Minor Babcock, have moved to Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California. Living with them and their two children is Maud.[xi]
Maud Minnie (Winter) Montran died in Los Angeles on 25 Jun 1931 at the age of 56. The location of her remains is unknown.
My next step:
Future activity includes tracing the lives of Thelma and Ruth and their descendants.
Asking living descendants of Maud to have a DNA test and see if the individual is unrelated or a cousin.
Proving that John Montran, the husband of Ida Barber and John Montran, the husband of Maud Winter are the same person will have a huge impact on my future research. If they are the same individual then any atDNA matches that match this Montran family lines will be important to help understand John Montran’s ancestry.
[iv] Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records – Ruth Grace Cologne.
[v] 1910 Census (FS), Penrose Brown – Shamokin, Northumberland, Pennsylvania;.
[vii] 1910 Census (FS), Penrose Brown – Shamokin, Northumberland, Pennsylvania;.
[viii] 1910 Census (A), Ancestry.Com, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ED 439, Sheet 4B, Line 77. Maud W Montran. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1910USCenIndex&indiv=try&h=25437400&indivrecord=1.
[x] City Directory, Archives.org, 1921 Redondo Beach, CA – Mrs. Maud W Montran. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2469/3694177?pid=1159334102.