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.
[iv] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSGZ-6PY : 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.
[vii]Ancestry.com, 1930 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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.
52 Ancestors # 14 – John Montran (c1874-bef. 1911)
John Montran is the most mysterious of my ancestors. My grandmother, Madonna, never spoke of him and I didn’t have the where-with-all to ask her about him before she passed over. I didn’t know his first name until I received a copy of Donna’s application for a Social Security number.
When Madonna was married in 1911, she listed her father as Robert Montran and indicated that he was deceased. So, I’m not really certain if his name was John Robert or Robert John.
When Madonna’s mother married Max Fisher in 1897, she indicated her name as Ida B Montran Barber and she had been married one time before although reading the entry, the clerk may have written Montrani or possibly Montram.
Assuming that Ida married Montran before Madonna was born, Ida and John were probably married in 1892. I also assume that John was a contemporary of Ida, that is to say about the same age, that would put his birth about 1874.
In 1900, Madonna’s step-father was Max Fisher. He was identified as having been born in Wisconsin and Madonna’s father is identified as having been born in Michigan. In 1910, Madonna’s father was again identified as having been born in Michigan. Because her stepfather at that time, Jos Holdsworth, was born in New York, I am fairly sure that John Montran was born in Michigan. However, the 1920 Census indicates that Madonna’s father was born in Pennsylvania. Madonna was on the road with the show “Chin Chin” at the time so the information was probably given by her grandmother, Sarah Barber, who may or may not have known for certain Madonna’s father’s birthplace. Madonna was out of the country for the 1930 census so that census adds nothing additional.In searching a bit more for John Montran, I found that he was father of bride for “Mae Donna Montran” who was married on 24 Nov 1915 to Thomas Valentine Rooney in Waltham, MA. This was a completely unknown marriage. It is interesting to note that it indicates that this was the first marriage for both. I guess Madonna was thinking it was her first US marriage or else she forgot about her 1911 marriage to Chester Fenyvessey in Canada.
Born about 1874, probably in Michigan (possibly Pennsylvania).
Married Ida Barber about 1892, probably in Michigan.
Died before 1911, probably before 1897.
Montran is an uncommon surname; so, when I do find something about Montran I get excited to investigate more. For example, in the 1920 San Francisco city directory indicates that a Maude Montran was living there and Maude was the widow of John F Montran. I didn’t find Maude in any earlier city directories or elsewhere. I certainly can do much more research in this area. As more and more birth, marriage, and death records, as well as newspapers come on-line I hope to find more about John Montran.