By Don Taylor
We all have surprise discoveries. Events that you had no idea occurred. That family secret that was never, never, spoken of. One of the most significant surprise discoveries I’ve had in my genealogical research was learning that my grandmother was married before she married Sammy Amsterdam. I was flabbergasted after discovering that Donna (Madonna) married Chester Fenyvessy in 1911. I talked with my mother; she had no idea about the marriage. She thought Donna’s marriage to Sammy was her only marriage. Likewise, I spoke with my Uncle Russ. He had never heard of Donna’s first marriage, either. He believed that Donna’s marriage to Sammy was her only marriage. However, Madonna Montran Holdsworth[i], whose mother was Ida Mae Barber and was from Detroit, Michigan, married Chester Fenyvessy on 1 October 1911.
This marriage fit with the oral history I knew about Donna’s life. I remember she attended the Royal Conservatory (of Music) in Toronto. After Toronto, she went to Rochester, New York. There she found a music store and played piano in their window (for free) to encourage potential piano buyers to see what could be done with the piano. The music store liked the draw, and Donna was able to practice her piano—a win-win for both. She was offered a job working at a nearby movie theater playing the piano for silent films from the exposure she received there. That’s as much as the family oral history went.
Enter Chester Fenyvessy.
Donna was 18 when she married 24-year-old Chester. Chester was the manager of Colonial Theatre in Rochester, NY. In any event, the marriage was short-lived. By 1914 Donna was in California as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty and appearing as a dancer in Birth of a Nation. By 1915, Donna had crossed the country again and was in the Boston area.
By 1912, Chester had relocated to West Hoboken, New Jersey, and by 1915, had returned to Troy, New York.
Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #6B
List of Grandparents
- My 1st step-grandfather: Chester Fenyvessy
- Donna’s 1st father-in-law: Albert A. Fenyvessy
Chester Fenyvessy (1888-1973)
1888 – Chester was born on 9 August 1888 in Binghamton, New York. He was the second of six children of Albert A and Hermine (Overbauer) Fenyvessy.
Children of Albert and Hermine Fenyvessy (Siblings)
|John||16 Dec 1886||Bessie Weber (1917)||26 Dec 1972|
|Chester||9 Aug 1888||Madonna Montran (1911)||Nov 1973|
|Florence||18 Feb 1892||Benjamin Belinson (1924)|
|Paul A.||7 Oct 1893||Jane Peck (1931)||26 Mar 1981|
|Carol M. J.||9 Apr 1899||Mella Rittenhouse||26 Aug 1990|
|Albert O||19 Feb 1909||Ruth LNU||25 Apr 2008|
1910 – Chester is reported living with his parents at 1010 Elmwood Ave in Buffalo and lodging at 10 First in Troy, New York. In the Buffalo City Directory, he was listed as the manager of Novelty Amusement Co.; in the Troy City Directory, he was identified as a theatrical manager at 324 River.
1911 – Chester is managing the Colonial Theatre in Rochester, NY. On 1 October 1911, he married Madonna Montran Holdsworth.
1912 – The 1912 Rochester City Directory indicates Chester “removed to West Hoboken, New Jersey.”
1948 – Chester married Ruth R Hosking in Rochester, New York.
1973 – Chester Died on 26 November 1973 in Monroe County, New York. His ashes were buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe County, NY, on 24 January 1974.
- 1910 Census (FS), Family Search, 1910 – New York, Rensselaer, Troy, ED 46, Sheet 21A, Line 17 – Chester Fenyvessy. “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M5H5-TFG: accessed 9 May 2022), Chester Feenynessy in the household of John Russell, Troy Ward 3, Rensselaer, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 46, sheet 21A, family 34, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1070; FHL microfilm 1,375,083.
- 1920 Census, 1920 – New York, Monroe, Rochester, ED 254, Sheet 16A – Lines 42-48 – Albert A Fenyvessy, Head. “United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (2 February 2021), Albert A Finyvessy, 1920. – Accessed 8 May 2022. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJG7-YK5.
- com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), Ancestry.com, Buffalo, New York, 1910, Page 447 – Fenyvessy. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28458430?h=1c08ff.
- com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), Ancestry.com, Rochester, New York, 1911, Page 342 – Chester Fenyvessy. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28455567?h=f13cb2.
- com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), Ancestry.com, Rochester, New York, 1912, Page 350 – Chester Fenyvessy. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28455487?h=207dab.
- com, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), Ancestry.com, Troy, New York, 1910, Page 211 – Mgr 324 River bds 10 First. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28458423?h=bbb06d.
- New York, U.S., State Census, 1905, Ancestry, NY, Erie, Buffalo, Ward 24, ED 3, Page 11, Lines 11-17 – Albert A Fenyoessy [Fenyvessy] Head. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: E.D. 03; City: Buffalo Ward 24; County: Erie; Page: 11. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28467926?h=94c15d.
- New York, U.S., State Census, 1915, Ancestry, NY, Rensselaer, Troy, Ward 3, AD 01, Page 6, Line 16 – Chester Fenyvessy. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 03; Assembly District: 01; City: Troy Ward 02; County: Rensselaer; Page: 06. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/28468068?h=5757a0.
- Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928, Ancestry, Fort Erie, Welland County, Ontario, Canada – Marriages – Chester Fenyvessey & Madonna Montran Holdsworth – 1 Oct 1911. Archives of Ontario MS932_155.
[i] Joseph A Holdsworth was Ida’s 2nd (or 3rd) husband. She married him on 16 August 1904 in Essex, Ontario, Canada.