By Don Taylor
[Growing up, I knew I had an Uncle Russ and that he was the child of Donna and her husband, Sammy Clark Amsterdam. I never knew that Sammy was my grandmother’s third husband. My mom and her brother, Russell, never knew Donna was married before Sammy until I discovered that in my genealogy work. It was a surprise to both of them when I found evidence of the two previous marriages. This week I’m looking at Sammy Amsterdam. He was the father of Russell and the “father of record” of my mother. My grandmother and Sammy stayed married after my grandmother was pregnant (by Dick Brown) to “give the child a name” and then quietly divorced. Such was the way of show-business marriages in the 1930s. Sammy is one of the few people I know of who served in both World Wars.]
Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #6-S3
List of Maternal Grandparents
- Grandmother: Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976)
- 1st husband of Madonna: Chester Fenyvessey
- 2nd husband of Madonna: Thomas Valentine Rooney
- 3rd husband of Madonna: Samson Clark Amsterdam
- (Not Married) Richard Earl Brown
- (Significant Other) Russell Harrison Kees
- Grandmother: Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976)
Samson Clark Amsterdam (1898-1979)
Samson Clark Amsterdam was born on 20 July 1898 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, the first child of Saul and Sarah (Gottlieb) Amsterdam. It was during the peak of the Spanish-American war. The United States was mobilizing troops to send to Puerto Rico.
Children of Saul and Sarah (Gottleib) Amsterdam—(Siblings)
|Samson||20 July 1898||Madonna Montran
|13 April 1979|
|Evelyn||3 December 1901||Al Wise
|8 August 2001|
|Elias||2 August 1905||Madelyn (LNU)||15 May 1989|
|Harold||12 August 1914||Ann (LNU)||7 June 1996|
|Bernard||12 August 1914||Doris Westbay||28 September 1975|
The 1900 Census found two-year-old “Samuel” living with his parents at 263 Division Street in Manhattan. Living with them are his grandparents, Leo & Yetta Amsterdam. Also living with them is Sammy’s uncle Abraham Reuben.
The 1905 New York Census finds the Amsterdam family living at 207 Madison Street. “Sol” works in Real Estate. The household consists of his parents, a younger sister (“Evia”), and 53-year-old “Sarra” (Sarah) Gottlieb. Although listed as a “Boarder,” Gottlieb is Saul’s wife’s maiden name. As such, she must be related. It is unclear if this is Sarah’s mother or an aunt.
The 1910 Census shows that the Amsterdam family moved to 1433 50th in Brooklyn. Saul was still in real estate (a broker now). Besides four-year-old “Eli,” Sarah’s mother, Rebecca Gottlieb, lived with them. Additionally, they had a servant living with them. Sarah’s three children were living, and Rebecca’s seven children were all alive in 1910.
The 1915 New York Census shows the Amsterdam family still at 1433 50th in Brooklyn. It documents the twins Herald and Bernard. Sarah’s mother, Rebecca Gottlieb, is still living with them. A new servant, Sadie Burcheska, is living with them. Samson is attending high school; Evelyn and Elias are also in school.
On 2 May 1917, Samson enlisted in the Regular Army at Fort Slocum, Winchester County, New York. On 18 November 1917, Samson was discharged from the Regular Army to enlist in the ERC—Enlisted Reserve Corps (now the U.S. Army Reserves). Samson was supposed to ship out on 26 November 1917 aboard the USS Aeolus (ID-3005); however, his name was stricken from the ship’s manifest. Instead, he remained stateside with the Medical Detachment of the 503rd Engineers. He was stationed at the Post Hospital, Fort Hamilton, NY, from October 1918 until January 1919, and stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, from 28 January 1919 until his discharge on 5 June 1919.
I have been unsuccessful in finding Sammy in the 1920 Census, but the 1925 New York Census found him back home with his parents and three brothers, now at 86 Halsey Street. His occupation is listed as “Theatrical.” The building at 86 Halsey is still standing.
In March and April of 1926, Donna was doing her “Donna Darling’s Little Jewel Revue” in Michigan, Upstate New York, West Virginia, and Brooklyn. So, it must have been a whirlwind romance because Sammy and Donna married on 19 April 1926 in Manhattan. The two started the Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark the first week of May.
Marriage 1 – Madonna Mae Montran (aka Donna Darling)
Children of Samson and Madonna (Montran) Amsterdam
|Russell Erwin Amsterdam [Kees]||Aug 1927||Delphine Ann Sieradski||2016|
Sammy and Donna took their vaudeville show across the country. They played in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, & Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, with stops in Ontario before returning to ending the show in July 1927, just eight weeks before Russell was born.
It appears that Sammy and Donna took off for several months but restarted the Donna Darling and Sammy Clark show in April 1928.
In 1929 Sammy and Donna went to Panama, where they worked.
Something happened between Sammy and Donna in Panama as they left the country estranged. The passenger list for their return in April 1930 shows them in different cabins and indicates Donna going home to her mother’s address in Detroit and Sammy going home to his mother’s address in New York. I have found no evidence they ever were together again.
In 1939 Sammy traveled to Cuba and returned.
I have not found Sammy in the 1940 Census. However, from May to July 1940, Sammy lived in Chicago, where he was initiated, passed, and raised as a Master Mason in the Henry Horner Lodge #402 in Illinois.
Military Service Again
By February 1942, Sammy had located to Odessa, Ector County, Texas. He lived at 613 W 9th Street and worked at a nightclub, the Village Barn, when he registered for the draft. He enlisted that following October in the Army Air Corps. His marital status was “divorced, without dependents.”
In May 1950, Sammy and his mother Sarah took a month-long trip to Europe. They sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary to Cherbourg, France, and returned aboard the RMS Caronia in June 1950. Sammy’s address was 540 West Avenue, Miami Beach. Today, that address is a modern (built in 2005), luxury, high-rise condo, known as Bentley Bay North.
Marriage 2 – Elvie (Bolton) Anderson
In 1951 Sammy married Elvie (Bolton) Anderson in Dade County, Florida.
During the 1950s, Sammy had a theatrical booking agency in Miami Beach on Collins Ave. His home address was 6295 SW 116th Street.
Sammy lived in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, when he died on 13 April 1979. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Macon
Events by Location
- Florida, Dade Marriage 2 (1951)
- Florida, Dade, Miami Beach 1950
- Florida, Dade, Miami 1954-1955
- Georgia, Bibb, Macon 1979 & Death
- Illinois, Cook, Chicago 1940
- New York, Brooklyn Birth, 1910-1915, 1925, 1930,
- New York, Manhattan 1900-1905, Marriage 1 (1926)
- New Jersey, Camp Merritt Military Service – 1917-1919
- Texas, Ector, Odessa 1942
- Texas, Lubbock, Lubbock Military Service 1942-1945
- Panama 1929-1930
Do not confuse Samson Clark Amsterdam with Sam Amsterdam, born 26 December 1899 in Manhattan, New York, the son of Gerry Amsterdam, or Sam Amsterdam, born 26 November 1899 in Manhattan, New York.
- 1900 Census (F.S.), Family Search, 1900 – Saul Amsterdam – Head. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSJG-W37 : accessed 19 January 2022), Saul Amsterdam, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 13 New York City Ward 4, New York County, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (E.D.) 80, sheet 20A, family 347, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,084.
- 1910 Census (F.S.), Family Search, 1910 – Saul Amsterdam – Head – Brooklyn, New York.
- City Directory (A), Ancestry.Com, Miami, Florida – 1955 – Page 42 – Amsterdam. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 –Miami, Florida, City Directory, 1955 – Image 23 of 414.
- Find a Grave, Find a Grave, Sammy Amsterdam (1898-1979) – No Image. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54396367/sammy-amsterdam : accessed 26 January 2022), memorial page for Sammy Amsterdam (20 July 1898–13 April 1979), Find a Grave Memorial ID 54396367, citing Riverside Cemetery, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, USA; Maintained by David Hutchins Israel (contributor 47406641).
- Florida, U.S., Marriage Indexes, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001, Ancestry, Sampson Amsterdam – Elvie Anderson – 1951. Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Marriage Indexes, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
- Masonic Record – Samson Amsterdam – ID 321333.
- New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940, Family Search, Marriage: Samson Amsterdam & Madonna Montana – 19 April 1926. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:247L-21S : 10 February 2018), Ida Barber in the entry for Samson Amsterdam and Madonna Montran, 19 April 1926; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,643,705. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:247L-21S.
- New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957, Family Search, Amsterdam, Samson – Amsterdam, Sarah. “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24TN-7NP : 2 March 2021), Samson Amsterdam, 1950; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
- New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937, Ancestry, Samson New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 – Amsterdam – Madonna Montran – 19 April 1926 – (No Image).
- New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, Ancestry, Samson Amsterdam – Arrival 8 April 1930 to New York 8 April 1930. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 82.
- New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, Ancestry, Year: 1939; Arrival:,; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll:
- New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 04 E.D. 11; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 58
- New York, U.S., State Census, 1915, Ancestry, Saul Amsterdam, Head. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 44; Assembly District: 16; City: New York; County: Kings; Page: 21.
- New York, U.S., State Census, 1925, Ancestry, Saul Amsterdam, Head. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 26; Assembly District: 17; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings; Page: 22.
- S., Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919, Ancestry, New York – Samson Amsterdam. Original data: New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919. Adjutant General’s Office. Series B0808. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
- S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,
- The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 363.
- S., Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1914-1966, Ancestry, Samson Amsterdam, Departs New York, 9 May 1950 aboard the Queen Mary. Sarah Amsterdam, Departs New York, 9 May 1950 aboard the Queen Mary. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 74.
- S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.Com, Probably. Number: 468-09-2273; Issue State: Minnesota; Issue Date: Before 1951.
- S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.Com, Number: 350-09-2088; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951.
- S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Ancestry, Samson Amsterdam (No Image). National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 00241; Reel: 24.
- S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 (National Archives), Ancestry.Com, Sam Amsterdam. National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Texas, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service
- United Kingdom, Outgoing Passenger Lists, 1890-1960, Family Search, Samson Amsterdam – Departed England 2 June 1950. Image at Find My Past.Com. “United Kingdom, Outgoing Passenger Lists, 1890-1960”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:68PV-B8K1 : 28 October 2021), Samson Amsterdam, 1950.
- United States Social Security Death Index, Family Search, Social Security Number: 350-09-2088; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951.
 My own numbering system. Ancestor #6 would be the biological maternal grandfather. The I use the “S” to indicate a step-father and the “3” to indicate it is the 3rd stepfather.
 Samson is listed as Sampson, Samuel, and Sammy in different documents and are interchangeable in this document. (I try to use the name used in the source document.)
 Born Amsterdam, Russell used the surname Kees through most of his life.
 Sammy was aboard the S.S. Columbia between Panama and New York during the 1930 Census and is not listed there.