Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Donna Darling - May 17-18, 1924 - Babcock Theatre, Billings, MT

Donna Darling in Billings, MT, at the Babcock Theatre – Date: May 17-18, 1924


I’m still looking to find more about Donna’s time in the Spring of 1924. I know she was in Bridgeport, CT in early February but have nothing on her whereabouts until she appears in Billings, Montana, at the Babcock Theater on May 17th and 18th. There is a lot of time and there are many places between the two shows. More to research.

Babcock ad featuring
Donna Darling
Billings Gazette, 17 May 1924
Courtesy: Newspapers.Com

 I know very little (yet) about Donna’s “Novel Song and Dance Romance.” We doknow that the Babcock Theater advertised it as a headline act within its vaudeville offering for the day Featuring “Donna Darling” in their “Five Big Acts” for the day. [i]
The Billings Gazette of May 18th shows a photo of “Donna and the Boys” on Page 16. [ii] 
Unfortunately, all the copies I could find of the paper, both Newspapers.Com and Newspaper Archive.Com, have really poor quality  
Donna Darling and Boys
Billings Gazette, 18 May 1924
Courtesy: Newspapers.Com

images of the paper. If anyone has access to the original papers and would do a photo image of the paper I’d really love it. In the meantime, I’ll put trying to find a copy of it on my “want to do list.”
I also know on June 2nd she is in Oakland, California. Although it is only two weeks later, I doubt she went that distance without a few shows along the way. So much more to research.


Babcock Theatre

Babcock Theatre Building, c. 1913
Courtesy: Puget Sound Pipeline
In 1896, A. L. Babcock opened the Billings Opera House. Mr. Babcock operated that theater until September 22, 1906 when the building burned. Mr. Babcock built a new theater, the Babcock, a few blocks away and opened it just over a year later, on December 23, 1907.[iii]

At the time it was built, at the time was considered the largest theater between Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide, 1922 Supplement, reports that the Babcock Theatre seated 1200 people and the stage was 36x32 feet.

On February 21, 1935, the Babcock Theatre was rented out for a prize fight. It was a real “smoker.” The fire chief ask there be no smoking in the theatre, however, the patrons didn’t listen and a fire broke out under the boxing ring. The theatre entrance lobby and 13 rows of seating under the balcony were all that survived. The roof collapsed during the night, the proscenium arch failed, the stage was ruined and the amazing pipe organ demolished. The owner at the time considered rebuilding as entirely apartments or hotel, but decided to rebuild as a theatre. Within six months it was rebuilt. The reopening was a huge affair with the street being closed to handle the crowds, bands playing, and telegrams from Hollywood celebrities including Katherine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, Mae West, and Bette Davis [iv].
Billings, Montana. the Babcock Theater
Babcock Today

Today, after extensive renovations from 2008 through 2012, it houses 14 apartment units, retail shopping, and again operates a theatre for live performances.[v] The next live show scheduled at the Babcock is D. L. Hughley[vi], stand-up comedian, the original host of “Comic View”, and the eponymous character of The Hughleys.
Ninety years after Donna Darling and Company performed, comedy is still alive at the Babcock.

Further Research
Find better quality image of The Billings Gazette, 18 May  1924, Page 16.


Endnotes



[i] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 17 May 1924, Sat • Page 3 – Advertisement: Babcock Theatre – “Donna Darling and Company “ Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[ii] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 18 May 1924, Sun • Page 16 - Feature Vaudeville_Act. Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[iii] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places , Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 13: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf

[iv] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places , Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 22: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf
[v] Wikipedia: Billings, Montana; the historic Babcock Theater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billings,_Montana
[vi] Babcock Theater website - http://www.babcocktheater.com/

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 45 – Marie C C Raasch (1868-1925)

By – Don Taylor


No Story too Small
I decided to take a look at a friend’s great grandmother.  I “picked the low-hanging fruit” to see what I could find out.  In my pickings, I start with Ancestry.Com, because I have a membership there. Then I use Family Search, Genealogy in Time, and Mocavo.  I’m also a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society, so, I search World Vital Records through them. Sadly, accessing Fold 3 through them ends this month; but, I am looking forward to seeing what the Library Edition of My Heritage will bring. 

Bio - Marie C C Raasch (1868-1925)

Homesteader NE 1866
Homesteaders in Nebraska searching for land.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Marie C. C. Raasch was born on 5 May 1869 in Dodge County, Nebraska. Some records suggest she was born in 1868, however, the 1870 census record, which was taken in July of 1870, clearly indicates she was one year old at that time.  Also, some records indicate her name as Mary; however, she went by Marie in later life for sure.  She was the fifth of twelve children born to German immigrants, John F. Raasch and Barbara Margeritta Uehling Raasch.  Her parents met and married in Wisconsin and three of her older siblings were born there. In 1865, her parents located to Dodge County, Nebraska to homestead 80 acres of land. In 1867, Nebraska became a state.

Marie grew up in the Cuming & Hooper area of Dodge County.  Little is known, yet, regarding her childhood. We do know that she had a brother, August, who was born in 1880 and who died in 1883. 

On 28 May 1886, she married William H Hoefener and shortly afterwards moved twenty miles up the Elkhorn River to West Point in Cuming, County.  The couple had ten children, three girls and seven boys, and raised them in Cuming County. The children are:

  • Emil (or Amil) Hoefener
  • Ella Hoefener [Neigh]
  • Albert Hoefener
  • Edmond Hoefener
  • Henrietta Sophia “Hattie" Hoefener [Zipf]
  • Arthur Hoefener
  • Wilburt J Hoefener
  • Martin A Hoefener
  • Paul E Hoefener (died as an infant)
  • Delilah Hoefener [Rode]
1024 S 25th as it is today
Courtesy: Google Maps
Marie’s husband William died in 1920 and she relocated to 1024 S 25th in Omaha. The house was a new, build in 1918, three bedrooms, and one bath single family home.  Living with her were her three youngest living sons, Arthur, who was a machinist at Hartung Transfer & Storage Company, Martin, who was a driver, and Wilburt (or Wilbur) who was also a driver, probably also for Hartung.

Hoefener Marker
Wilhelm, Marie, Paul
Courtesy: Find a Grave
Marie died on 30 Dec 1925 in Omaha. She was buried with her husband, William, and son, Paul, at Mount Hope Cemetery, West Point, Cuming County, Nebraska.  They share a common marker.

Further Actions:
Continue research through newspapers, Historical Societies, county histories, and more.

List of Greats
1.    Marie Raasch
2.     John [Johan] Raasch

--- DISCLAIMER ---




Monday, November 17, 2014

100 Years Ago - Arthur Durwood & Mary Elizabeth (Manning) BROWN



100 Years ago – Arthur Durwood Brown (1869-1928) & Mary Elizabeth Manning (1876-1983)


Arthur Durwood & Mary Elizabeth Brown
One hundred years ago, Arthur Durwood Brown was renting a home with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Manning Brown in Merkel Township, Kidder County, North Dakota.

Their household contained six of their children; Victoria Cecelia, Cora Elsie, Clifford Durwood, Edward Lewis, Arthur Eugene, and the baby, Charles William, who had been born in July. Two of their boys, twenty-year-old Clyde Leroy and seventeen year old Clarence Arthur had already left home. Three of their children had already died. One child whose name is unknown was born and died before 1900. Two more children, Martin and Dorothy, died as infants from the measles sometime before 1910.

Location of land patent for 120 acres.
Arthur received a land patent for 120 acres N1/2-NW1/4 & SW1/4-NW1/4 - Section 34, Township 144 North Rang 72 West of the 5th Principal Meridian. The 45-year-old Arthur and his 38-year-old wife, Mary, must have been working that land. It is unclear if he was working someone else’s land as a “farm laborer” as well.

The big news of the day was that President Wilson was preparing to visit the Panama Canal. The Canal officially opened in August, however, Wilson was going to go by ship, the steamship New York to Colon and then shift to the Oregon to traverse the Canal.[1] In addition, the twelve Federal Reserve Banks opened their doors[2]. The Federal Reserve Banks would change the way America banks.


Wrigley’s was advertising its new, launched in 1914, Doublemint Gum, which had double the flavor and was double wrapped.

The International news of the day related mostly to the War. Blizzards were sweeping over Belgium and Northern France paralyzing the war effort there. Meanwhile, on the Eastern front, Cracow in Galicia (today Poland) was burning.

Mary’s parents both died when she was a child. Arthur’s parents had come to North Dakota in the 1880s but nothing is seen from them after 1885, so it is presumed they had died long before 1914.

Arthur’s siblings were:

  • Nettie May – Life and location unknown.
  • Charles D – Life unknown. Charles moved to Montana before 1891.
  • Mary – Life unknown. Mary had married a Clark and their location is unknown.
  • Almond (Ahmond) – Life unknown.
  • Clifford Gerome – Living in Tappen Township, Kidder County, North Dakota
  • William Henry – Life and location unknown.
  • Clyde Hewett – Died in a train accident.
  • Frederick – Dead – Unknown cause.
  • Ada –Ada married Benjamin Mayers (or Meyers) their life and location is unknown. 
  • Edward Warberton was married to Dertha Merkel and lived in Merkel Township, Kidder County, North Dakota, USA.
Mary’s sister Phoebe Jane’s first husband Clyde Hewett Brown (Arthur’s brother) died and Phoebe had remarried. She and her new husband, William Richmond, lived in Sylvan Township, Cass County, Minnesota. Arthur and Mary would locate to Sylvan Township a few years later. Mary’s half brother's (Robert Manning) location is unknown.

The Browns were Methodists and probably attended church in Robinson, about eight miles away. Likewise, the children most likely attended school there.

The 1910 Census indicates that nearby Arthur and Mary Brown lived the Merkels. I wonder if Merkel Township was named after John Merkel. John Merkel was the head of the household and had seven of his children living with him. One of those seven was Dertha whose husband, Edd Brown (Arthur’s youngest brother) was a “hired hand.” Also living with them were five of Edd and Dertha’s children making for a 15 person household.[3]

Life was certainly tough out on the plains and with winter coming on preparations for the winter must have been completed.

Further Actions

In writing about Arthur and Mary's life 100 years ago I realized how little I know about their siblings. Tracing their will be an important next step in understanding the life of Arthur & Mary.
  


[1] Bismarck daily tribune. (Bismarck, Dakota [N.D.]), 17 Nov. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042242/1914-11-17/ed-1/seq-1/>
[2] Ibid.
[3] 1910 Census, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, 1910; Census Place: Merkel, Kidder, North Dakota; Roll: T624_1142; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0225; FHL microfilm: 1375155.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Donna in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, at the Walker Theatre – January 19-24, 1920


Graph by Danny Blair
University of Winnipeg
Chin Chin plays the Walker Theatre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, January 19-24, 1920


I still don’t know where Donna and the “Chin Chin” company was before they arrived in Winnipeg. The show was in Calgary, January 8th to the 10th, but where they were the 11th to the 18th is not known yet. What I do know is that it was bitter cold that week in Winnipeg.  Lows in the minus 30s; highs in the minus 20s.  Bitter Cold. It didn't reach zero the entire month. 

The first advertisement I could find for “Chin Chin” coming to Winnipeg was the Manitoba Morning Free Press dated 1 January 1920 in a short note – “Coming to the Walker”

Manitoba Morning Free Press
January 1, 1920
Courtesy: Ancestry.Com

COMING TO WALKER

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chinese Atmosphere Surrounds
"Chin Chin"

Melodious, artistic and diverting is "Chin Chin," scheduled for the Walker theatre soon. To Walter Wills and Roy Binder are entrusted the principal parts, supported by a company of clever comedians and a beautiful chorus. In their songs, "The Chinese Honeymoon," "Go Gar Gong-Jue," and "Temple Bells," the two clever comedians Wills and Binder make a decided hit and are always recalled again and again. In this charming fantasy with a Chinese atmosphere there are also a score of other songs that are the fascinating, whistling kind, and several unique dances that carry the snappy comedy along delightfully.


Both the Manitoba Morning Free Press and the The Winnipeg Tribune began running advertisements for the show on January 10th. On the 10th there was also a short blurb in the Winnipeg Tribune about the show.

Unfortunately, Ancestry.Com does not appear to have any copies of the Manitoba Morning Free Press for the week of 17 to 22 January, 1920 and Newspapers.Com does not have issues of The Winnipeg Tribune for the same period either. I have been unsuccessful finding other sources for these newspapers, so it is unlikely, I will be able to find reviews of the show.  Neither paper of the 23rd or 24th indicate anything other than small ads that typically run during the tail end of a run.

Theater

The Walker Theatre

The Walker Theatre was a pretty incredible theatre. It was built in 1906 at the cost of $250,000. It was huge. It seated 1,798 people and had a 80 foot wide stage. The stage was 40 feet deep and 70 feet high. As such it was designed for extravaganza’s like “Chin Chin” and its 60 plus individuals.

The building was initially intended to be part of a large block but only the theater was built. Consequently, the entrance juts out oddly and the theater external walls are quite blank and plain.

The building was used for live performances until it closed in 1933. It was taken over by the city for taxes in 1936. In 1944 it was sold, renovated for motion pictures, renamed the Odeon Theatre, and reopened in 1945. It operated as the premier single-screen theater in downtown Winipeg for many years.

In 1990, it was purchased by the Walker Theatre Performing Arts Group who restored the building’s original architectural features and reopened the theater for live performances in March, 1991. The theatre was also designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1991. In 2002, the theater was renamed the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.jpg
"Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba"
by 
Ccyyrree - Own work.
Licensed under 
CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Today the theater has been restored to its former glory.  It is a venue for live performances, primarily musical. For example, in March 1015 Celtic Thunder will play there. Check them out on their website.

Further Research

Continue my research regarding where the “Chin Chin” show & company was the week before and the two weeks after Winnipeg.


Sources:



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DNA, the X Chromosome & Minerva Tolliver Manning

For many years, I have been hearing the stories that my 3rd Great Grandmother, Minerva Tolliver Manning was “Full-Blooded Cherokee.” I’ve never believed it and have written about the possibility of Minerva being Native American a few times before. Please see:

Ever being the skeptic, I considered that my grandmother had really gotten pregnant from a different man other than whom she said was the father. She was apparently estranged from her husband at the time of her pregnancy and anything is possible. (She never suggested that her husband was the father.) If the man she always said was the father actually was, then my mother's half-sister will show the same genetic information on their X-chromosome.

My half-aunt was tested and sure enough, they are half sisters, which we expected. What is really cool is that for a person’s 22 chromosomes they are a mix of each of their parents, however, for the 23rd chromosome, the XX, a girl receives one X from their mother and one X from their father. The mother’s X is a blend of her parents but the father’s contribution is passed on with little to no change. That means that if two girls share the same father then one of the X chromosomes is identical between the two girls. My mother and my half-aunt share one X exactly, so we know, beyond any doubt, they share the same father.

Person
Name
% contribution atDNA
% cont. of X Chromosome
Individual
Mom & Half Aunt
100%
100%
Father
Clifford/Dick
50%
100%
Grandmother
Mary Manning
25%
50%
Great-grandfather
John W. Manning
12.5%
50%
2nd Great-Grandmother
Minerva Tolliver
6.25%
25%
3rd Great-Grandfather
Tulion Tolliver
3.125%
12.5%

As you can see from the above table, a person’s 2rd Great-Grandmother provides four times the contribution to an X chromosome than to the normal atDNA contribution. If Minerva was full-blooded Cherokee as family history says then, alternating sex through generations, her 2nd great-granddaughters should have about 25% Native American contribution. Not there.  According the test results from 23 & Me, their identical X-chromosome shows no Native American contributions.  

What is very interesting is that although both my mom and my aunt are over 99% European, there is a .2% Sub-Saharan contribution overall and it is on the X chromosome.  Looking at only the shared X chromosome it appears to be between 4% and 6% of the X contribution. That would be in keeping with a 4th or 5th Great-Grandparent’s contribution.  If Minerva were ¼ to 1/8th Sub-Saharan African, she would have had about the right percentage to “pass” as Native American.  From the DNA evidence that appears to me to be much more likely of a scenario than for Minerva to have been Cherokee.

My Mom’s X results
My Aunt’s X results






 

Future Activity

As the saying goes, a mother knows her own children, but fathers can be a surprise. As such, I’m confident that Clifford/Dick was Mary’s child. I am also confident that Enoch and Minerva believed that Mary (and her sister Phoebe) were their granddaughters. Mary and Phoebe were orphaned and Enoch and Minerva raised them for a while.

Although reasonable and likely, there is always a possibility that someone else jumped into the mix. I know next to nothing about Mary’s parents, John William Manning and Eliza Jane Fannin. It is always possible that John William Manning wasn’t Mary’s father. Mary had a half brother, Robert, but we are not certain if he was John’s child or Eliza’s child who took on the surname of Manning. In either event, I don’t believe that line will provide much in the way of proof. Rather, Minerva had five daughters, Nancy Ann, Sarah Jane, Mary Ermaline, Grisella, and Prudence Manning. Their female descendants will have the mtDNA that would show Native American ancestry if Minerva were, in fact, Cherokee.

I’ll continue research for the descendants of Minerva and see if any of them are interested in testing, but as things sit currently, I am confident that Minerva was not Native American.